See Phuket And Die, Chapter Flour
Jipthep had hardly slept at all. He was exhausted and had a long night ahead of him. He almost did not see the man
standing in the hallway, waiting for him. It was Captain Ritak.
‘Today is payday. It’s almost six o’clock. Do you have my money?’
‘I completely forgot about this situation. I have a great deal of work to do. Can you make an exception, forget about me? It would be better for both of us.’
‘I can’t make any exceptions. First it will be you and them someone else. Discipline and order must be maintained.
It may be better for you but it would not be better for me. I’ll wait for you outside. Join the club or go to the hospital, up to you.’
Jip took his time changing in the locker room. He was not afraid but the man was way too big to fool with. His reach
advantage was enormous; he had a good sixty kilos extra weight and it looked to be all muscle. Jipthep took a deep breath and headed towards the parking lot. When he reached the outside he was mildly surprised to see forty or fifty men standing around. They were waiting to see the show he supposed. He could take advantage of this. Jipthep hopped onto the hood of a car and held up his arms.
‘I am glad you are here. I am disbanding the Phuket Civic Association as of today.’
Jipthep’s eyes searched for Captain Ritak. He would look different in civilian clothes. Jip spotted him at the edge of the crowd dressed in a black T-shirt. His biceps bulged out of the fabric as he pushing his way through – towards Jip.
‘The club is finished as of right now. If the club starts up again a vote must be taken and officers elected.’ Jip was
looking straight ahead, still talking to the crowd when Ritak reached the car and grabbed for Jip’s legs. Jip thrust out a solid side kick and caught the captain squarely in the face. He felt the man’s nose cave in underneath his heel. Ritak fell backwards onto the ground, blood pouring from his face. He lay there dazed. Jipthep sprang off the car and landed on the man’s chest. The cracking sound of ribs breaking was audible. Jip could only hope a bone had not pierced the man’s heart or a lung.
Captain Ritak was game, Jip had to give him that. Possibly it was the thought of the club disbanding, all that money gone.
The man got to his knees and when he started to stand up, Jipthep put both hands on the back of the man’s head and pushed down while he brought his knee up as hard as he could. It was a tremendous blow and when the man fell back you could see the white of his skull where the flesh on the forehead had been split open. Jip did not want to think about it, but he had felt another crack when his knee hit the man’s head. He turned and walked away. Someone else would call an ambulance.
Midnight came soon enough and Jip gathered his men around him. ‘We are going to need to communicate on this.
Everyone punch your name and phone number into my cell phone. Then I want you all to have each other’s phone numbers.
If we need to meet I will call Sergeant Lek first. He in turn will call two men and the two men will each call another two men to relay my commands. Each of you will stop twenty civilians apiece and copy down their identity information in your note books.
I don’t have to tell you it’s not necessary to stop a man walking with his wife and children. The person that we are searching for is about my size and skin color. He may have had some medical training. He might be a nurse or have access to a hospital.
We do not seem to be looking for an European, however we don’t really know who we are looking for. You can stop anyone but be polite. All of your note books will be on my desk at the end of your shift which ends at five o'clock in the morning. If a lead comes out of this, I guarantee a promotion for that man. If you find anyone without identification, arrest him and put him in the jail cell here at the station. Call in and a traffic control truck will pick you up. Everyone put some plastic strip cuffs in your pocket and good luck.’
The identification check would stop the officers from lounging around and might even produce some information, you never knew, thought Jip. He put eighteen men along the beach road and another eight on Bangla. He and the Sergeant would ride around on their Hondas.
The visitor to Phuket planned to stay only a few more days. He would relax by the pool in the afternoon and have a
frozen drink without alcohol, possibly a Pina Colada. He knew that he should stay in his room and just wait for Saturday to come but he was starting to enjoy the surprises he would leave for the vile shameless women. He was reviled to see girls wearing so few clothes. He had seen more bare flesh here than he had ever seen in his life. He left the hotel at two o’clock in the morning wearing a thin windbreaker. He pulled a baseball cap from his pocket and pulled it down in front. He took a large pair of sunglasses from another pocket, put them on and turned up his jacket collar. He would keep his head down and try not to be noticed.
Unfortunately he could not hide his beard.
The street was alive with people. He wondered if he could fix two girls tonight. He should have enough time; it was
just a problem where to take them. He did not want to go to a bar and be seen leaving with a prospect either. He strolled along the beach road, away from Bangla and the crowds.
A girl smiled at him. ‘I go with you.’ There was no mistaking her intent.
‘Yes, do you have a room?’
‘We go hotel. Five-hundred baht for room; two thousand for me – short time.’
‘I want to go back to where you stay.’
‘Take too long. Live too far. Short time only.’
He kept on walking. It was just a matter of finding the right girl and being careful not to be seen.
He hadn’t noticed the man ahead watching him and when he went to pass, the man stepped in front of him.
‘May I see some identification please?’
What could this man want? He stared at him as the man produced a police badge and spoke in Thai this time.
The visitor did not like to walk around with his credit card or passport or even his driver’s license in this town.
‘I left it at my hotel. I can show it to you there.’ He would have to figure something out.
‘You’ll have to come to the police station with me and wait until the morning.’
‘I don’t want to do that. Can I just pay a fine here?’ The visitor pulled a few thousand baht out of his pocket and edged closer to a parked truck to shield the transaction.
The officer seemed to think it over for a second and then said. ‘Hold out your hands.’ He pulled a plastic strip
from his pocket.
‘You’re not going to arrest me are you?’ The visitor said in amazement.
‘I have no choice; put your wrists together in front of you.’
‘Wait. I just remembered I have my wallet.’ The visitor removed a leather billfold from his back pocket which he
carefully unzipped. He left it open as he slipped a scalpel from the holder. He held the billfold out with both hands and took a step closer. As the officer peered at the wallet, the visitor thrust the scalpel forward and his swept his arm in an arc, stepping to the side to avoid the arterial spray that he knew was coming as he slashed the man’s throat.
The officer fell to his knees making gurgling sounds as if he were drowning and indeed he was, for when he inhaled,
instead of air, his lungs filled with blood which was pouring from his severed carotid artery. Both of his hands were to his neck trying to stem the onslaught.
The visitor replaced his blade and stared down at the man. He pushed him over with his foot and then into the
gutter almost underneath the truck. He walked swiftly away. What had happened? Could they be looking for him already? Surely two whores attacked in two nights can’t be an unusual occurrence in a town like this. These things must happen all of the time.
He was more determined than ever now to find a girl. He would leave her as a calling card and then retire to the safety of his room and wait for Saturday night.
He met another girl a block later. She was beautiful and too young to be doing this sort of thing. ‘I can pay you,’ he said. But I am a bit nervous. I don’t want to go to a hotel. I have never done this before. Do you have an apartment close or is your motorbike here?’
‘Hotel right there,’ she said impatiently as she pointed down a small soi just past Sawatdeerak Road. ‘Give me
one-thousand baht for room, wait outside. No one see you. Three-thousand baht for me, half-hour only.’
He counted the money and handed it to her. ‘You go first. I will follow you.’
He walked behind her and as he waited in the small parking lot he prepared a syringe. He would be ready this time.
The lot was lined with small attached cement rooms running around three sides. It looked more like a short time motel for Thais than tourists and from the looks of it he was sure that she had overcharged him. Well, she would get more than she had bargained for. The girl came back with a big smile and a key. ‘See, easy, you come.’
She turned the key in the lock and switched on the light in the small musty room. He grabbed her from behind,
clamping his hand over her mouth and kicked the door shut. He jabbed the needle into her leg. She struggled for only a few seconds. He placed her on the bed and unbuckled her belt, sliding down her pants and then her underpants. They all seemed to wear thongs as if they were in some sort of porno movie. He locked the door and then laid his tools next to her on the bed.
Her vagina was shaved and her stomach was flat and smooth. He felt an urging between his legs and forced it from his mind, a natural reaction he insisted to himself. He knew that he should not be doing these operations. He denied to himself that it was an obsession. It was just a passion, one that he enjoyed and it would benefit everyone. He was putting himself at risk and he knew it but he did not want to stop.
The operation went swiftly. He was out of the room in ten minutes. He locked the door and threw the key into the bushes.
He kept alert walking back to his hotel. He didn’t know if there were more policemen out there or not. One thing was for sure. They would be out in force tomorrow. He had already made the arrangements with the Crystal Massage Parlor so all he had to do was sit back and wait.
At three o’clock Lieutenant Jipthep phoned all of his men to see how they were doing. Everyone answered and reported
nothing unusual except Officer Nopi who didn’t answer at all. Jip punched Sergeant Lek’s number into the mobile phone.
‘Have you heard from Officer Nopi? I can’t get him on the phone. He doesn’t answer. Where did you place him?
Get over there and find him.’
Sergeant Lek tried Nopi’s mobile. No answer. Damn. Lek drove down the beach road. He had placed Nopi near Kelly’s Shamrock Beer Bar on the beach road, giving him four blocks in both directions and told him to watch both sides of the street. That would keep him busy. The Sergeant drove up and down the area twice then called Jipthep. ‘He’s not here. I can’t find the son of a bitch.’
‘I’ll be right over.’ Jip turned his Honda around and saw Lek slowly cruising the beach road. Jip blew his horn and they
stopped. ‘Park your bike here. We’ll do this on foot. You search the bars and I’ll take the beach.’
‘If I find him in a bar, I’ll break his neck.’ Sergeant scowled and made long strides towards the bar area.
Jipthep took the sidewalk, scanning the beach. There were bushes and grass in parts, waste receptacles with more trash littered around than inside. He didn’t expect to find Officer Nopi. There was street parking available on one side of the street only, alternate days. Today was the beach side. It was always difficult to park and the street was jammed with vehicles.
Jipthep meant to ask the sergeant why there were so many bars with Irish names. Molly Malone's, The Irish Xchange,
O’Brians Irish Bar. They were all busy. Surely people didn’t come here to go to Irish bars? It was amazing, Jip thought.
Then he saw the body face down in the gutter almost wedged underneath the truck. Jip felt the wrist for a pulse and
saw the enormous amount of blood. He turned the man over. It was Officer Nopi with a gaping wound in his throat. The body was not completely cold. Jip stood up and flipped open his phone. He called Sergeant Lek. ‘I’m across the street. Call everyone.
I want them here now.’
Lek came first and then the others. The men gathered around Jip who was standing near the body. ‘This shift will not
end until I say so. One of us has been killed. We’re dealing with a very dangerous person or it could be possibly more than one person. We don’t know. The first body was found only a few blocks north of here. The killer could be close by. Stop and search every man on the street, everyone. Any bars that are still open – search every man in them. Go into every hotel, the short time ones first. I want all the rooms checked. The killer may have blood on his shirt. I don’t have to tell you to be careful. Partner up, we’ll search in teams of two. If you have any problems gaining entrance to anywhere, call me. I’ll take care of it. Sergeant, you spread the men out. Now go.’
Jip waited with the body until the ambulance came. The body would go to Vichira Phuket Hospital and Jip would
see the coroner, Doctor Vichit again. It was just a formality; the cause of death was all too apparent. Jip tapped in Lt. Col. Sanitasut’s number. It was four in the morning. He would wake him up for sure but it was better to tell the colonel himself.
‘What? How could you let this happen? I give you twenty men and you get one of them killed. Good God, we’re screwed.’
‘We’ll catch this guy soon. He’s too bold.’
'I’ll be in my office at seven. Meet me there with all of your men. I want everyone on the street until then.’
‘They’re all out there now. We’re doing everything we can.’
‘Not enough apparently.’
The line went dead. Sanitasut had hung up. Jip could imagine him screaming and raging at this very moment.
Okay, let him get some of it out of his system before he would have to face him again. Jip had no sooner closed his phone when it rang. It was a traffic officer that had been assigned to him.
‘I’m at the Sawasdee Mansions, Soi One, Sawatdeerak. You better get over here right away.’
‘What’s going on?’
‘It’s another girl. Looks like she was sliced up and then bandaged. Strangest damn thing. She’s unconscious. I called an ambulance already.’
‘I’ll be right over.’
The motel and Jip’s bike were about equal distances away. He chose to run to the motel and was there in a few minutes.
The officer was standing outside the room with the door open, waiting for him and the ambulance. Jip entered the room and saw the girl on the bed. Her legs were open exposing a blood stained clean white gauze taped in place. Jipthep decided not to touch her. She was breathing normally and appeared to be well considering the circumstances. When she woke up she would start screaming.
The ambulance attendants came and gently placed the girl on a stretcher.
‘Are you taking her out now? I want the room back. She’s way over her time. She only paid for a half hour.’ The woman speaking was at least fifty or fifty-five years old with the sturdy build of an Isaan rice farmer. Snarling tattooed dragons peeked out over the top of her low cut blouse. Jip held up his hand. ‘Please stop. Who are you?’
‘I’m the owner and it’s a busy night so if you will please get out now, I’ll have the room cleaned. Look at the blood
on the sheets. I hope it comes out.’
‘Did you see the man that came in with her?’
‘She came in alone.’
‘Who paid for the room?’
‘She paid; said it was for only a half hour. Time’s up.’ The woman, hands on hips, glared at the officer in front of her.
‘Lady, we need to know what you saw.’
‘I didn’t see anything. Now get out of the room please.’
‘We’re sealing the area off. You can have the room back in a few days after forensics gets done with it.’
Jip and his men spread out and made a full canvas of every hotel, bar and male person that they could find. He reminded his sergeant that everyone had to turn up at the station at seven o’clock. Then he did something that he was dreading but he had no choice. He called Lt. Colonel Sanitasut again and give him the bad news about finding another girl.
‘God Damn it Jipthep. How many people are out there doing this? Don’t plan on going anywhere. I want you in my office at six-thirty.’
Jipthep pocketed his phone and adjusted his revolver on the side of his belt. It was an old .38 caliber Colt, six-shot
weapon. The police were responsible for buying their own pistols and this was his father’s gun. It was good enough for Jip and he did not want to spend the money for one of those fancy nine millimeters that held a dozen or more cartridges. Jip searched the immediate area for anything that might have been dropped or overlooked. By the time he was finished it was almost six in the morning. Just about the time that he would take his run along the beach. He was thinking that it might be a while before he had the opportunity to run again as he walked towards his motorcycle. The beach road was quiet now. He heard the Honda Dream approaching but just glanced up. Two kids speeding along as they all did. When they came closer the passenger seemed to stare at Jip, then raised his arm straight out towards him, something black in his hand.
Blat. Blat. Jip dove to the ground both arms out to break his fall. Blat. Blat. Blat. Three more shots in quick succession. Jip rolled towards the beach. He didn’t think for a second to return fire. Cover was his main goal as he scrambled behind a tree. The bike sped past and roared away. If he had heard it stop he would have been up, pistol in hand but drive-bys hardly ever stopped. Jip got to his feet and brushed the sand and dirt from his clothes.
That was just about the last straw. What else could happen? He could not remember the last time that he was so discouraged and the day was just starting. He moved along the street. Jipthep didn’t find what he was looking for but he would not give up so easily.
He remembered digging worms for fishing when he was about five years old. The chicken yard was the best place because of all the poop. He had turned over many pitchforks of dirt but the chickens always spotted the worms first. His grandfather was leaning
against the wire fence, watching him. He smiled and said, ‘Do you know why you’re not getting any worms?’
Jipthep stopped and looked up at his grandfather.
‘It’s because the chickens have their noses to the ground and you don’t.’
Jip took a much shorter grip on the handle; got right down there and started snatching up more worms than the
chickens. After he had brought home a nice catch of river fish for his mother and she made a delicious dinner, he began to think about what his grandfather had told him. He thought that this piece of casual advice might be a clue to success
in the future.
Many Thai people believed in luck. Good luck and the possibility of bad luck played a large part in their lives; they prayed in the temple, lit candles and incense, made merit, not unlike many other religions.
One day Jip’s grandfather asked if he knew what good luck was and how he might be able to obtain it. Jip shook his head and stood very still.
‘Luck is when hard work and preparation meet opportunity. Listen to me. It’s all hard work and preparation; opportunity may come but you have to recognize, seize it, act on it and one more thing, never give up.’
Jipthep graduated from Kasetsart University at the top of his class. He had a degree in business and had offers from many companies even before graduation. His father, a sergeant on the Bangkok police force was gunned down in the middle of the night and died alone in the street. All thoughts of business vanished from his mind and he became a police officer. It took him thirteen years, every day remembering what his grandfather had told him, never give up, ever. He found his man. Jip thought that he would strangle him with his bare hands, looking into his eyes, watching him gasp for breath.
He would take his time. Jip’s friend convinced him to let the man live and spend the rest of his days in prison. And then his friend Rick shot and killed Khun Rawy, said it was an accident. Jip often wondered about that.
Jipthep, still thinking of his grandfather, squatted down with his nose to the ground and slowly duck-walked along
the street, searching every inch, looking under cars and into the gutters. Possibly they would not be here if the man had a revolver.
He was busy searching when he came to a pair of small dark feet, pointing straight at him. Jip saw thin very dark brown legs, ragged shorts, a baggy T-shirt and a good looking smiling face with bright white teeth, made even brighter by the boys almost black skin. Thai he was not, Jip thought.
The boy was small and had an uneven bowl hair cut as if someone had put a round black mop on top of his head, not
the usual close cropped sides that every Thai kid had. His black hair was curly and had a red sheen to it as if the sun had touched it mid-day and left it’s mark. The boy held out his closed fist, palm side up, still smiling.
The boy opened his fist to reveal two brass shell casings.
Jip plucked them from his hand. Nine millimeter, had to be an expensive weapon. Jeeze, usually these kids had home-
made shotguns and .22s built from pens. A Nine was expensive. How many damn people were involved in this mess? A police officer murdered, another girl slashed and now this.
‘Did you see who shot at me?’
The kid nodded yes.
‘What’s your name?’
The boy looked a little uncomfortable and mumbled, ‘They call me Goby.’
‘What does it mean? I never hear that before.’
‘It’s small fish with round head. I am Moken, Chao Lay, people of the sea.’ The boy stood a little straighter.
‘So why aren’t you fishing?’
‘My father fishes.’
‘Where do you live? If we find the shooter I may need you to identify him.’
'Nowhere. I sleep on the beach.’
‘Where is your home, your parents?’
‘Were they injured by the tsunami?’
‘The sea sprits told us to go to the mountains. No one was hurt.’
‘Really? That’s good. We still have to stay in touch.’
‘Aren’t you going to ask me anything else?’
‘You can speak the Moken language?’
‘Of course, I am Moken.’
‘And Thai too?’
‘We’re in Thailand, aren’t we?’ The boy was annoyed by the seemingly silly questions.
‘Where did you learn to speak English? Sea Gypsys can not go to Thai schools.’
‘Ha! I have private English teachers. I don’t need school. Ask me something else.’
‘Like what? Do you want something to eat?’
The boy arched his eyebrows as if to say, what’s the matter with you? ‘Don’t you want to ask me about the motorcycle license plate number?’
‘Don’t tell me’, Jip exclaimed in surprise. ‘Do you know it?’
‘Numbers 493, Phuket plate.’
‘Damn, that’s great. How old are you?’
‘I am twelve.’
Jip looked at the boy dubiously. ‘Do you want to be my partner?’
‘You bet. Can I have a gun and a badge?’
‘No to both questions but you do have to tell me the truth.’
The boy put his head down. ‘I am ten years old, I think.’
Jipthep glanced towards his motorbike. ‘Okay, jump on we’re going to the police station.’