See Phuket And Die, Chapter Five
When they arrived at the station, Jip pointed to a chair. ‘Sit and be quiet.’
‘What the hell is going on out there? I give you twenty-six men and this is what happens?’ Lt. Col. Sanitasut was in a rage, screaming at the top of his lungs. He had been pacing in the front entrance room and looked as if he were about to jump on Jipthep as soon as he had walked in and then throttle him.
‘When the men return, tell them to go home and get some sleep and report back here out of uniform. They can knock on hotel doors all day and then go right to night duty. You can go home after you go through the note books; bring your full dress uniform. You’re going to need it. Report back at fourteen-hundred hours.’
‘One more thing,’ Jip said. ‘There was a drive by shooting and I retrieved these shell casings. I want to turn them into the evidence room and need an address for a motorbike registration.’
‘What the hell is going on here? Who did they shoot at?’
Sanitasut waved him away in a ‘do what you want motion.’ He had really had enough for one day.
The desk sergeant jumped up from his chair. ‘There you are, you little son of a bitch.’
Goby leapt towards Jip, grabbing onto his leg.
‘What? What is it?’ Jipthep held up his hands.
‘He was arrested for stealing an Australian guy’s wallet and when no one was looking he ran out the door and disappeared.
‘He dropped the wallet and I was returning it to him.’ Goby held on to Jip’s leg even tighter.
‘Is the man still in town?’
‘So let’s forget it and besides this boy is helping me on a case. Please find out where this bike is registered.’
Jip handed over the numbers and motioned to Goby. ‘Come with me.’ They went into Jip’s tiny office and the note books started coming in. Jip poured over the entries but did not find anything that stood out. The desk sergeant came in and dropped the bike address on his desk. It was in the south of Phuket Town, near the Ratsada Harbor. It was a tough section, lots of Burmese fishermen there, always killing each other with a sharpened piece of rebar; seemed to happen every week.
Since the first victim was killed with a length of rebar, there could be a tie in.
‘Do you want to tell me about your English teachers?’ Jip put his hands together and leaned forward. Goby smelled of
seaweed and sweat, dirt, stale tobacco smoke and the dampness of the ocean.
Gorby shrugged his shoulders.
‘Whatever you say will not be repeated. You are safe here with me.’
The boy shrugged his shoulders again and began his story. ‘You know many men come to Sea Gypsy village, look for small boy like me.’
Jip nodded his head.
‘When I see man, I say you want me?’ If they say yes, sometimes they ask if I can come home with them but I say no, I have room here. But first I need a drink and we have some Mekong whisky and we talk. I can learn English this way, a free lesson. In return I can give man lesson. We drink in small Thai bar. Owner sleep in back room. I take man by hand to room and close door. I say we must must wash now but you go first as I am shy. If man leave wallet in pants, I take all money out of wallet and run away. This good lesson for man. Ha-ha. Sometimes man think he very smart and take shower holding wallet.
Then I take all his clothes and wait outside in bar.
Man come out very angry and he go to grab me but by now I have four or five Thai men sit around me. They stand up and man stop coming. I say, ‘You want clothes, no problem, put wallet on table I look inside.’ When he does this, I take out all of the money. One time it was twenty-five thousand baht. Man really angry, say he go to police. I say, ‘Go ahead. You know what happen to pedophile in Thailand? Go monkey house long time.
‘I never touched you.’ He say.
I say, ‘You did. Who police believe, me or farang?’ The boy said the word disdainfully as if it meant pig or dirt or poop.
‘At first the bar owner wanted to keep all of the money but I said if he did I would never come back. Now I have to give him and the men half to share and I keep the other half. I give my mother some money and father not make me fish. Mother big
boss of family.
Jip held his hand up. ‘That’s enough. If you are going to be my special assistant, all of this business has to stop. I have to go to the hospital and interview a girl that was attacked but first I want to check out this address. Get the shooter off the street. Do you want to go along, see if you recognize this guy.’
‘You bet. Do you have a gun?’ Goby grinned, his eyes widening.
‘Of course but I don’t usually shoot people so don’t be too disappointed if I don’t fire my weapon.’ Jip smiled.
It took the better part of an hour to drive from Patong to the end of Phuket Town; they found the address on the end of a small dirt soi. It was a tin shack with the words ‘X-MEN’ spray painted on the front wall along with the words ‘STAY OUT’. A dozen bikes were in front including one with the white license plate number 493.
Jip pulled up in front and got off his Honda. Goby was right behind him.
‘Jip, I know this place. These are really bad guys.’
‘Stay here and don’t move. I’ll bring them out one at a time but don’t let them catch on if you recognize the two guys on the bike this morning.’
Jip stepped into the room, loud music, laughter, three guys weighing cocaine mixed with Johnson & Johnson baby laxative on a scale, then into aluminum foil wrappers. The place was dark and dank, reeking of marijuana, a few of the guys smoking large blunts, cigars with the tobacco taken out and filled with marijuana. About six guys lounging around, a mattress on the floor and a few old chairs.
‘Who owns the bike outside, 493 plates?’
‘Who wants to know?’ Only a few men looked up; the rest paid no attention to him; he did not matter in the slightest.
‘Police, official business. I want the owner to step forward now.' Jip held his badge up.
Three guys laughing out loud, one choking on the smoke in his lungs, the guys at the table turning around.
‘You got a truck filled with cops outside?’
‘Don’t worry about that. Either the owner steps forward or everyone gets on the floor face down, you’re all going in.’
Howls of laughter, two men on Jip's left, close to the wall, advancing forward, Jip slamming the first kid in the
head with both hands banging his head into the next kids, both going down. Jip feeling someone close, torquing his body around with a left hook almost without looking, catching the man square on the jaw. Jip's body sideways now, close to the next man, turning his torso around putting his stomach and legs into to a straight right to the face, the guy crumpling to the floor.
A man bringing up a black pipe towards Jip, a rock the size of a small mango flying through the air smacking into the man’s forehead, his legs crumpling underneath him. The next man swinging a machete at Jip's neck; Jip catching the man’s hand and wrist, turning him around over his hip, slicing the blade into the face of the guy behind him. Jipthep holding onto the machete man, turning his hand down, snapping the man’s wrist and then smashing the man's elbow over his knee, breaking his arm.
Still two guys on the other side of the table, rising from their chairs, Jip overturning the table, slamming it into the men, swinging the machete at the first man’s shoulder, sharp side up, a cracking sound, the man screaming, the next man coming around the table, holding a knife in front of him reaching out for Jipthep and catching a hard slap on the head with the side of the blade, stumbling to the floor.
Jip threw the machete aside and took a bunch of plastic flex strips from his pocket. The boy was standing beside Jip.
‘I told you to stay outside.’
Goby went over and picked up the iron pipe. It had a small wood handle wired to it and a homemade metal hammer held on with a bunch of thick elastic bands. There was a single twelve gauge shotgun shell in the chamber.
Jip threw a few plastic strips to the boy. ‘Since you’re here make yourself useful. Pull them tight.’
A few of the men were starting to starting to stir. Their ages seemed to range from eighteen to twenty-eight but it was really hard to tell. ‘If anyone stands up, I’m going to kick them in the face so just relax and wait for your ride.’
Jip took Gorby as far as the front door and whispered, ‘Can you spot the shooter?’
‘It’s the man with the white shirt and the driver is the guy with the slash on his face.’
Jip got a rag and pressed it to the man’s face. ‘Try not to bleed to death will you.’ Jip pulled out his mobile phone and called the Phuket Town Police Station. ‘This is Lieutenant Jipthep of the Patong Police. I’ve just arrested, let me see, nine guys over at this X-Men's club or what ever it is. I am charging them all with drug possession and two with attempted murder.
Can you send a truck over and pick them up?’
‘A long way from home, aren’t you? Why don’t you just put them in your own truck and take them back to Patong where you came from?’
‘I don’t have a truck and they are in your jurisdiction.’
‘Listen, we’re a little busy right now, can you wait a few hours? How did you get all of your men there with no truck?’
‘I came by myself, no, that’s not really true. I have a trainee with me. Tell you what, I’m going to call my boss, Chief Inspector Lt. Col. Sanitasut, let him ask you himself.’
‘No. No. Don’t do that; we’ll be right over.’
Jip had to smile, no one wanted to speak to The Can. Jip dragged the shooter to his feet and slammed him against the wall. He spoke in a low voice. ‘Okay, who put you on to me?’
Silence. The kid just glared at him.
‘I’m doing you a favor here. I have an eye witness. You’re going away for twenty years. Help me out and I can get you two to five. Just give me a name.’
‘I won’t live two days if I give you a name.’
‘You’ll be safe. You' be in police custody.’
‘Do you know the slicer? The person that’s cutting girls up?’
The boy just turned his head away. Jip kicked around the room, turning over the chairs, sofas and mattresses.
He found a 9 mm Glock, a beautiful weapon. Seventeen cartridges in the magazine. He just wished that he could afford one and this pistol looked brand new.
Jipthep waited for the police van to come, It was dirty orange with grill work for windows. The officers picked up the prisoners and threw them in as if they were sacks of old rice. Jip put the boy on the back of his bike and drove to the hospital.
Much to Goby’s dismay, Jip assigned a seat to him in the waiting room and said, ’Don’t move.’
Jip first checked in with Doctor Vichit in the morgue who showed him Officer Nopi’s body.
‘A very professional job I would say. A perfect clean slice, caught the arterial vein and also the windpipe.
No way this man could have been saved. What the hell is going on out there? I understand there’s another girl upstairs with her clitoris cut off.’
‘Beat’s me. I have no clue except that it's going to be a long hard day with The Can on top of me. I’m going upstairs to check on the girl.’
Jip stopped at the lobby to see if Goby was still in his seat. He was fidgeting impatiently. Jipthep entered the elevator with a group of waiting people and pushed the button for his floor. The elevator was crowded and he felt something being pushed into
his leg. It was Gorby.
‘I told you to wait downstairs.’
‘I heard you say I’m your trainee. I heard you say it over the phone. Why can’t I come and train with you?’
Jip looked down at the boy. ‘Listen, this is a sensitive case involving a young girl so we have to be discreet. You can come but stay behind me and don’t say a word.’
Jip went up to see the girl on the fourth floor. She was in a ward with eight other people and Jip had to peer through the curtains to find her. She had an IV drip and was sedated, just slightly awake.
‘I’m from the police. I’m here to help you,’ he said softly. She turned towards him. She looked so young.
‘What’s your name? How old are you?’
‘My name is Nok. I’m from Udon. I’m seventeen. I was not working in a bar. I am visiting a friend.’
‘I want to find the man that did this to you. Did you see his face. This is very important.’
‘He had a hat and sunglasses and a jacket on and he had a black beard.’
‘And his nose was it European or Thai?’
‘Not Thai, it stuck out even with the sun glasses, kind of a farang nose and he had skin the color of mine.’
‘How did he speak? English or Thai? Did he have an accent?’
‘He wasn’t American or English. He spoke English with a slight accent but pronounced every word precisely, as if he was reading it from a book. He did not want to go to the hotel lobby with me. Said he was not used to doing this.’
‘Yes, he didn’t want to be identified. I’m going to leave you my card. If you think of anything, no matter how small, please call me.’
Since Jip was at the hospital he thought he would make one more call. He found Captain Ritak’s room.
It was a private room, benefiting his status. Jip walked in and they stared at each other for a while. Rumjam’s head was swathed in bandages, an IV drip in his arm and white tapes over his chest. There was a large bandage tented over his nose.
‘How are you feeling?’ Jip finally said.
‘What do you care?’
‘I am here to tell you to call off your dogs .’
‘After you you embarrass me in front of everyone? Make me lose all of my face, close my club.
You must be crazy. I can’t let you get away with this. How can I walk the streets, scorned and shameful? You have to die. There’s no other way.’
‘Do you remember when I asked you to leave me alone? Not make me join your club? Look what happened.
If you persist I will give you a real beating when you come out of here.’
‘You’ll be dead by the time I get out out of the hospital. My mistake was to give a few kids a new nine.
The next time it will be professional policeman with automatic weapons. You’ll be slaughtered.’
‘Okay, you know what happened the first time. I’m trying to let you off. Live and let live. Let’s call it quits.’
‘Get out. I don’t like talking to dead men, it’s bad luck.’
Jipthep turned and walked out the door, at least he knew that the shooting was not connected to the cuttings but it was still going to be a problem. He had no idea what to do about Captain Ritak. He would transfer himself right back to Bangkok if he could.
He put Goby on back of the bike and started driving back to Patong.
‘Where do you want me to drop you off?’
‘The beach is okay.’
‘You better stay at my apartment for a while. If there are any X-Men left or whoever they think they are, they might try to find you.’
‘Never mind them, you know those guys you arrested and sent to jail today?’
‘They’ll be out today.’
‘Not the shooters.’
‘Man, what country are you from?’
‘Okay, you’ll stay with me. When we get home I’ll give you a key. In fact we’ll go now, I have to pick up my dress uniform for some reason.’
It was only a small room but Jip had a sofa. ‘That’s yours, do you have a tooth brush or some extra clothes?’
The boy shook his head.
‘What do you have?’
‘Just this.’ Goby held up his arms.
‘Okay, later, we’ll go to the outdoor market, pick you up some stuff. Just one more thing. If you want something or need something, ask me. Do you understand?’ Jip bent over and looked into the boy’s eyes.
‘No more of this I found a wallet crap. Got that?’
‘Okay, hold on to this for me.’
Jip shoved his uniform and cap at the kid and climbed back on the bike.
There was a surprise when they reached the precinct. There were a half a dozen trucks outside and a crowd of people. Most of the trucks had satellite dishes on top. Jip shook his head; ITV was here, that was an international station, seen in the United Kingdom; there were the big local stations, Democratic News Service, CCTV9, Channel Three News. Jipthep recognized reporters from the Post and Nation and of course the Phuket Gazette was here also. It was going to be a tough afternoon for Col. Sanitasut. The guy was in deep shit, might be good for him to see how it feels.
Sanitasut screamed at Jip as soon as he entered the office. ‘Where the hell were you? Get into your uniform right now.’
‘I picked up the kids that shot at me.’
‘Never mind that. Tell the reporters as little as possible. Don’t mention the clitoral cuttings if you don’t have to. Tell them that we’re close to catching the killer.’
‘Wait a minute. This is your news conference. You’re the boss. Why are you telling me this? This is your police station’
‘You know very well that you are fully in charge of this operation. I have an important lead to follow.
I’m on the trail of the killer. I am risking my life right now to confront him personally.’
Col. Sanitasut headed for the back door. ‘If anyone inquires about me, that’s where I am. Now get out in front and do your job.’
Jip changed into his uniform and hesitantly opened the door and stood on the front steps.
A shout came from the crowd of reporters. ‘Three days ago we found a man beaten to death on the beach.
‘Is it true that he had breast implants and his sex organs were cut off.’
‘He did have breast implants and I can confirm that he was murdered. Then a second girl was abducted and she is safe and resting in the hospital. Unfortunately one of our men, Officer Nopi was killed when he confronted the cutter. Damn, I didn’t mean to say that.’
‘That’s okay, we can use it, “Crazy Cutter Clips Clitoris.” Can I quote you on that?’
‘It’s true isn’t it, that every victim has been mutilated?’
‘No, that’s not true and you can not use that quote.’
But Jip was already being broadcast live on four television stations.
All of the reporters started talking and shouting at once. ‘Are you in charge of the investigation?
Where is Chief Inspector Lt. Col. Sanitasut? What are your plans now? Should the public stay off the streets until this
maniac is caught? Is it a gang of people?’ The reporters shoved in closer.
Jip held up his hands. That’s all I can say for now.’ He felt like bolting for the police station door but kept an even pace and took a deep breath when he got inside to the relative safety of the police station lobby.
Gorby stood in the far corner staring at a compactly built man sitting in an overstuffed easy chair.
The chair was large with shabby imitation leather, peeling in places. The man’s body filled the chair without effort. He would be hard to place by his clothes, just average, not fashionable or really noticeable. If you looked at his face, it would not be for long. It had Nakhon Si Thammarat written all over it. Of course that did not mean the man was a mobster or gang related but he certainly could be. The man scared Goby but he could not stop watching him. When the man looked at people it was as if he knew that they were already dead. Goby was afraid the man would see him, glare right at him with the death look.
The man was smiling and clapping his hands very slowly, CLAP…….CLAP……..CLAP.
‘I have never seen a better fucking in my life.’ The man stood up from his seat and approached Jip.
The stranger actually smiled while he and Jip embraced for a minute.
‘You mean the way I stumbled during the interview?’
‘No, the way Sanitasut slipped it to you. If this case goes bad and it’s almost there now. He’ll be in the clear. Not many guys can come to a new job and end up in the toilet in a matter of a few weeks. I really have to hand it to you Captain, oh, excuse me, I meant Lieutenant.’
‘You haven’t heard the rest of it. Let’s go into my office.’ Jip put his arm around his old friend.
As soon as they sat down they saw a small boy standing silently against the wall.
The stranger raised his eyes and smiled.
‘May I present my assistant trainee, Goby’ This is an old dear friend of mine, Colonel Jammeri.
Goby made an impressive wai. The boys hands were high above his forehead which at this point was almost touching the floor. Jammeri merely nodded in the boy’s direction.
When Gorby looked up, Jip nodded to the door, ‘Keep your ears open, try to hear what the reporters are talking about.’
‘He’s a witness in a case, a drive by shooting and he’s staying with me for protection.’
‘Who got shot?’
‘Nobody, but it was not for lack of trying. It was me they were shooting at.’
Jipthep told him the whole story.
‘Where’s the big black SUV you guys from the Crime Suppression Division always drive and what are you doing? Come down here on a holiday?’ Jip smiled as he had never known the man to take a day off.
‘There is quite a lot doing. I have been promoted to the Internal Security Operations Command – the ISOC. I’m a full Colonel now. I am here with four of my men. We are going down to Narathiwat to meet with someone and we are traveling with false identification. We don’t want to let on to the the police that we are in the neighborhood if we don’t have to. There is so much drug smuggling down there with police collusion among the smugglers and the separatists, that the less anyone knows about us the better. I’m riding in that beat up old Honda four-door outside but it has a good engine and a trunk packed with automatic weapons, suppressors, explosives, grenades, land mines, you name it.’
‘Sounds like trouble. I don’t suppose you're going there just to deliver your load.’
‘Well, in a way, yes. I doubt that they will want to accept everything. But you know how these things go.’
The man smiled and placed his finger tips together. To tell you the truth we drove all the way from Bangkok without
stopping and we could use a day’s rest. I’ll just have a chat with your Captain Ritak. Ask him to forget about this matter.
You know I’ve always been a much better negotiator than you have Jip. Do you know where he lives?’
Jip grimaced. ‘The last guy, you snipped all ten of his fingers off, one knuckle at a time and Ritak is in the hospital. He’s not home.’
‘That was the Sergeant Major’s work. You know how impulsive he can be. He likes to see results for his efforts.
I’ll speak to you before we leave town.’