Crime Suppression Unit Part 14
Help from Bo
Rick and Sonia still had automatic pistols in their belts as they followed Bo into the forest. Andrew and Rick shouldered the heavy Kalashnikovs.
'Give me that pistol,' Rick held out his hand.
'I will not.'
'Give me the gun. I don't want you to get involved if there is any shooting.'
'So if someone shoots at me I can't shoot back? I will not and you can go to hell. Just because you love me, don't think you are my boss.'
'Who said I loved you?'
'You did, that's who, when I was sobbing on the street, talking about my parents. Don't try to deny it now.
'Okay Sonia. If you take that pistol out just let me know. I don't want to get shot by accident.'
'If I shoot you it will not be an accident.'
Rick turned and kept walking. When Sonia put her mind to something there was no talking her out of it. There was a small footpath leading into the dense forest. Sonia conferred with Bo for a minute and held up her hand. 'Bo will go ahead and we will follow thirty feet behind. Don't step off the path even to go to the bathroom. There are land-mines everywhere.'
Bo was eleven years old, small and lean. He wore shorts, a dirty t-shirt and sandals made from old truck tires. He carried a rattan basket on his back with two plastic bottles of water, a blanket, small machete and leftover rice wrapped in banana leaves.
He knew the way. This was the path he and his father always took when they needed to trade in Thailand. You could get so many amazing things across the border, not like here. He had never seen such wealth. They had everything you could ever want: piles of plastic buckets, sewing needles, radios, televisions, cooking pots, axes and motorbikes just waiting for anyone with enough money to buy them.
His father had cleared a small field on the sunny side of the mountain and grew poppies there. Bo helped him to harvest the resin, which Bo rolled into tiny balls. His father would trade these for things that they needed to survive, like corn, rice or a hoe to work the ground. Bo missed his father and wished he was here to help him guide the strangers. His father had left one morning with most of the men in the village and had not returned. Bo had ben walking for hours now and it was beginning to get dark; they would have to stop soon. The moonlight was not strong enough to filter through the jungle canopy and show the way. You needed to stay on the path and not step off or you could explode. Bo remembered that when he was very young he did not have to worry but the soldiers came and planted the small round disks and he and his brother had to stop running through the woods. Another of hour passed and they came to a very small clearing near the path. He lay the blanket down and waited for the others to catch up with him. The group gathered together and Rick spoke softly. 'We can sleep here for the night.
Andrew and I will take turns standing guard. I'll walk about a half mile back to where the trail comes over a ridge. I'll be able to see the silhouettes of anyone coming over the hill.'
'Sonia raised her hand, 'You didn't say my name.'
'You can go to sleep, girls don't stand guard duty.'
'No? What do they do cook? Sew your clothes? I want to stand guard duty like you and Andrew.'
'All right, you take the first watch. If you see anyone come right back here.'
Sonia smiled to herself as she reached for a big automatic rifle.
Rick grabbed her arm. You don't need a gun to look; now get going. Come back in an hour or so and wake me up.'
He was more tired than he thought. It would be good to sleep for a few hours. Rick closed his eyes and the next thing he knew Sonia was shaking him. 'Wake up. Someone is coming.'
'I don't know. I was out there for about an hour and I saw heads coming over the rise. They will be here in about five minutes.'
'About eight at least'
Rick woke Andrew and told him what Sonia had said. 'Take cover behind a tree. We'll catch them in a crossfire.
I'm taking Bo and Sonia with me down aways so I can shoot straight up the path. Do not step out on the path what ever you do.
If they have any sense they will have a scout ahead of them. Let the first man go by before you fire. In fact let five go by.
If we are lucky they will be lazy and bunched up but if they maintain discipline they will be at least thirty feet apart and it will be difficult.'
'There must be another way around a confrontation with armed professional soldiers. Not only is it dangerous but as a representative of the United States Government, I can't fire on government troops here.'
'Sonia, ask Bo if there is a way out of here.'
Sonia bent over the small boy for a few minutes. 'The trail splits in a kilometer or two. If the soldiers know the way they will take the direct path. We can let them go by and take the longer path to avoid them.' It's to the north and a day longer.
'Okay, let's take cover, keep your heads down and resist the temptation to look up, it's movement that's detected easiest.
Wait a half hour after they go by before you move at all.'
Rick took Bo and Sonia by the hand and stepped back into the undergrowth. There was a fallen tree and he stepped over it. The ground and leaves were soft and he scooped out a hollow to lay in. Rick held Sonia and kept the rifle in-between them to keep it clean.
'Is that a gun you have there or are you glad to see me?' Sonia said as she held on to Bo with one arm and cuddled close to Rick.'
'Been watching those old late night movies on TV have you? I want you to be quiet and I mean it. I know that's going to be hard for you.'
Sonia kissed Rick lightly on the mouth. 'Yes but will it be hard for you?' She rested her head against his chest and was silent. There were just the geckos calling the same sharp sound and a constant buzzing of insects. Then there were soft footsteps on the path and then silence mixed with the rustling of bushes as men passed by. It sounded as if they were keeping their distance from each other. Andrew was right it would have been a tough fight in the dark. Rick let an hour go by before getting up.
Andrew brushed the dirt from his clothes. 'There were twelve of them and loaded for bear from the looks of it.
I would say they were an elite ranger team. We have to get started. When it gets light enough to see the trail they will realize that they lost us and will double back. These guys are hunters and they're good at it. When we cross the border we have to keep going. International boundaries are not respected here. I hate to say it but these guys will chew us to pieces in a fire fight.
The group started to move in the same formation. Bo leading with Andrew, Sonia and Rick behind. They walked for an hour, found the trail north and kept going. The forest was full of hills. It was not often that they walked on level ground.
Dawn came and the sun started to rise ahead. Sunlight filtered through the trees catching the early morning mist which rose a few feet from the earth. Everything was bright green – it was stunning scenery. They walked for another hour before they stopped to rest. Sonia sat next to Rick as they passed the small bottle of water around. She never once complained about the trek, in fact Rick was sure she could easily out walk both him and Andrew. Bo smiled as if was just another morning stroll and sat close to Sonia, right up against her.
Everyone ate some rice. It had bits of vegetables and meat in it and Rick ate his share. 'Rick, we have been together all this time and we haven't had a serious talk yet,' Sonia nuzzled closer.
'Are you kidding? What about the doctor trying to kill Aung San Suu Kyi and the CIA plot. I'd say that's pretty serious.'
'Do you have any idea what I am talking about?'
He sure did and being a man Rick had heard this many times in his life so he responded in a rational manner. 'Yes and I don't think that the trade embargoes will be lifted on Myanmar anytime soon.'
'You know perfectly well what I am talking about.' Sonias voice rising to a high pitch.
'You said you wanted to talk about serious things.'
Sonia was on her feet now, looking down at Rich, her fists clenched. 'I hate you Rick Randel.
Don't you speak to me for the rest of the trip.'
'I thought we were supposed to be quiet anyway.'
Sonia crossed her arms and turned away from him. Anytime a girl says she wants a serious talk, it's time to head for the door or dummy up, Rick thought.
'When you two lovebirds can tear yourself apart it's time get started again.' Andrew rose to his feet.
Rick stood up and put his hand on Sonia's arm, 'Come on honey, we'll have a nice talk when we get to Bangkok.
Sonia jerked her arm away. 'You better stay away from me.'
Bo and Andrew had already started down the trail.
Always a good read. (Sorry Frank, not sure what else to add here!)