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See Phuket And Die, Chapter Six




Colonel Jammeri picked up just two men at the hotel. This would not take long at all. He made a short stop first and then continued to the hospital. The Colonel stationed one man at the door in the hallway and the other man stood next to Ritak, pressing his body against the bed by the man’s shoulder.

Jammeri smiled and handed the Captain his identification. ‘We are on our way down South but I have heard of possible terrorist activity here in Phuket. I hope that’s not so.’ He placed a small gym bag on the bed and removed a package about the size of a brick wrapped in thick brown waxed paper.

‘Can you tell me what this is?’

Ritak opened the package a bit before saying, ‘It’s Semtex. Everyone knows what that is.’

He tossed it back.

There was a call switch hanging in a thick light grey plastic casing at the side of the bed.

The Sergeant Major was tying it in a big loop so the button was out of reach. He suddenly slammed the flat of his hand down hard on the Captain’s chest, where it was taped, then put both hands over the man’s nose and mouth, holding them shut while the man convulsed, shook and tried to scream. After the man in the bed was almost unconscious and had stopped struggling, the sergeant removed his hands. Colonel Jammeri nodded at the water pitcher beside the bed. The sergeant emptied it over the captain’s head.

‘What’s the matter? Don’t you know my ribs are broken?’ The man gasped.

‘I would like to apologize for my sergeant. He’s a bit hasty sometimes. He thinks that you disrespected me when I asked you to examine the package and then you threw it back to me. Let’s try again, shall we.’

Colonel Jammeri threw the package on the man’s chest. ‘Open up the parcel, examine it carefully, press your fingers into it, then wrap it up again and hand it to me this time.’

Ritak did so without question. Jammeri then handed him six sheets of printed paper.

‘These are flyers of a subversive and traitorous nature. They may all look the same but I want you to inspect each one very closely. When you are finished you may return them to my gym bag.’

Captain Ritak read the flyers; they all exhorted Muslims to leave their present organizations and join The Pattani Freedom Fighters, just another terrorist group trying to gain control in the South, nothing new here. The Captain slipped the papers into the gym bag and spotted a familiar looking object. He pulled it out. It was a gold Tiffany desk clock worth at least one hundred thousand baht.

‘For God’s sake. Is this mine? It was a gift for a favor that I did. You were in my house?’

‘We just stopped by for a chat and were lucky enough to find your wife and son at home. Charming boy. How old is he? About twelve? We showed them the play dough. They were quite fascinated; they enjoyed handling it. We found these flyers with your fingerprints on them under your clock so we took that for evidence also. Now don’t speak. Just listen.

The new government has just passed the Draft Act. It is closely copied after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, you know, as far as arbitrary detention is concerned. That along with the Emergency Decrees, it gives us, the government, me that is, sweeping powers. I don’t need an arrest or search warrant if I believe that our national security is in danger. Do you know that I can at this very moment arrest you and hold you for thirty days or I can send you for special training at an undisclosed location for six months without any evidence at all. I’ve seen the prisons, helped train a few guards in fact. The facilities make Abu Ghaib and Guantanamo look like a pleasant day at the beach, a walk in the park.

Suppose that I were to take you and your wife and child back with me for a few months.

We have some very cozy jail cells, no really, I mean it. Just bars between you and them and you would be able to see each other.

We would be considerate and let you keep your belt. I would be curious to see how long it would take to go from your waist to your neck, seeing your wife raped every single day by twenty soldiers. When the women faint and don’t wake up, we have a special treat. We rape them with a cattle prod, oh it’s quite amusing, they squirm like a fish at the end of a spear – and then your poor son. Such a handsome boy watching his mother go through that and then his turn next. Maybe we’ll tie you to a chair for two months, let you see everything. Then, of course, you really would have to hang yourself in your cell. You would not want to live after that and we would not want you to either.

Sergeant, please go out and find a wheelchair for the Captain and tell the head nurse that we are checking out now.’

‘Please, please, don’t do this. I am begging you. I’ll do anything for you, anything you want.’

‘What could a two baht piece of trash like you possibly do for someone like me?’

‘Just name it. Anything, for God’s sakes have mercy.’

‘Okay. I’ll give you one chance. I have a friend working in Phuket. His name is Lieutenant Jipthep.

There’s a rumor going around that you have had an argument and you’ve sent some individuals to try to kill him. Oh, there’s a little boy with Jipthep. If you don’t know who he is, find out. These people are under my protection and your family’s lives depend on their safety. If there’s a contract out on Jipthep, you better get on the phone right now and while you’re at it spread the word that they are under your protection also. If the boy should drown in the ocean or Jipthep is run over by accident…’

Jammeri shook his head. ‘If Jipthep gets shot by a criminal, I will come down here and kill them and their entire family and then I will kill you and your entire family. Do you understand me?’

Colonel Jammeri turned and walked towards the door. ‘Say goodbye Sergeant.’

As the Colonel opened the door, the hard slap echoed in the hallway followed by a terrible scream.

Nurses and aids came running but the three policemen were already walking to the elevator.

It was four in the afternoon when Colonel Jammeri reached the Patong Police Station and found Jipthep asleep in his office.

‘For God’s sake, Jip, go home and get some sleep.’

‘I can’t. I’ve got to find this guy. What happened at the hospital?’

‘I asked Captain Ritak to see to it that you would be protected here and he promised me his full cooperation. Really. It’s true. He’s going to be fine until I get back at least and then I can close the books.’

‘Books?’

‘You see, once you have a book that’s still open, one that you have not finished, it stays on your mind. Oh, you can put a bookmark in it, let it lay on your desk, pick it up later, but until you come to the conclusion and put it on the shelf and forget about it, it will always be in the back of your mind. Do you know what I mean?’

‘Yes, it’s like closing a case. It’s never over until it’s over.’

‘I will be leaving for the South in a day or two and stay possibly four days. I’ll stop here on the way back. Ritak may be out of the hospital by then and then things can come to their inevitable finale.’

‘Look, I’ll take it from here. Don’t worry about it.’

‘You know me Jipthep. I’ve never left a book open when I have the opportunity to finish it.

That’s why I’m still alive. That’s why I have risen in the ranks of my profession.

Jipthep frowned. He wanted to change the subject. ‘Can you tell me what’s going on in the Southern provinces?’

‘There has been a lot of unrest there. Unnecessary murders. Thai Muslims shooting other Thais just because they are Buddhists. Violence is used by separatist militants against civilians, teachers, policemen and so-called infidels to carve up the southern border provinces for themselves. Of course things did not get better after the government’s Southern Peace Enhancement Center, which is a wing of the Thai Army, murdered dozens of insurgents seeking shelter in the Krue Sae Mosque. The prisoners' hands were tied behind their backs and they were shot in the head. That was in Pattani.

About six months later in the town of Tak Bai, Narathiwat, a half dozen locals were arrested on suspicion of supplying arms to the insurgents. A demonstration was quickly organized to demand their release and the police arrested over a hundred of the demonstrators and threw them into trucks, one on top of each other. By the time that they had reached their destination five hours later seventy-eight men had been suffocated to death. It was a big mess and only increased the local violence and it’s getting worse every day.

There are at least forty armed groups, some smaller than others, all shooting civilians, blowing up police stations and even schools. Mostly they are not aligned with each other; they just go out and kill people who are not Muslim. Much like the Sunnis and the Shites in Iraq who not only shoot at the occupation troops but at each other and as if that’s not enough, different branches of the Sunnis are murdering each other for supremacy. Same with the Shites.

It’s a giant goat-fuck over there.

There is a very charismatic Iman down in Narathiwat, head of the so-called Muslim Brotherhood.

They are trying to bring together the local gangs and insurgents, make one big army. This man’s name is Mohamed Hussein Mohamed. Amazing how they all seem to have the same names, isn’t it? He is a very dangerous man and growing more powerful by the moment. If he manages to organize everyone, he will be a very formidable figure indeed.

The Patani Freedom Fighters are against him and are trying to gain control of their own villages.

I had some flyers printed up exhorting the locals to join The Freedom Fighters. In fact I showed these to Captain Ritak.

Anyway, the Iman has to be stopped and not so it looks like it’s by the government either. We’re going down there in civilian dress and we would like to capture Mohamed. Not that it would do much good to bring him back alive. You tell them that you will roast them over hot coals if they don’t talk and all they say is inshalla, if Allah wills it, no matter what you do to them. We need him out of there dead or alive and we will leave some flyers behind to throw suspicion on the Patani Freedom Fighters. Doesn’t matter if people believe it or not as long as we get the body out of there so there’s no big hysterical memorial funeral and more demonstrations.’

‘This can’t be so easy. He must have a ton of bodyguards.’

‘He does and he almost never leaves his mosque. This has to be a quick wing raaw, a snatch and run.’

‘Jipthep, phone call, line three,’ a voice from the front desk shouted.

Jip put the phone to his ear. ‘Yeah.’

‘This is Doctor Vichit over at Vachira Phuket Hospital.’

‘Please no. Don’t tell me you’ve got another one.’

‘Is that anyway to talk? The answer is no, we do not have another one, but I would like to ask you something. How much do you know about female genital circumcision?’

‘Just what I’ve seen here and it looks pretty nasty to me.’

‘Have you thought that instead of pounding the sidewalks, you might pound your computer keyboard?

‘Why?’

‘I’ve been doing some research. What country do you think has the most female circumcisions?’

‘Africa?’

‘That’s not a country, it’s a continent.’

‘You know what I mean. Some country like Somalia, Ethiopia, someplace like that.’

‘How about Egypt. Did you know that most of the women in Egypt have been circumcised?’

‘You’re kidding.’

‘A survey two years ago said that ninety-seven percent of married, divorced or widowed women had been circumcised. The government is trying to ban the practice but it’s been passed from generation to generation and to them it seems like the natural thing to do. They believe it helps preserve the family honor. It’s usually done by a doctor in a clinic but in the small villages the local barber or the village midwife does it.’

Jip cut off the connection and called Immigration at Phuket airport.

‘This is Police Lieutenant Jipthep. I need a list of every Egyptian that has arrived in the past two weeks and where on their visa they said that they were going to stay. I need it right now.’

‘Is that right? I just got three 747’s landed at once. We’re up to our ears for the next three hours trying to process them through. You know the governor had a fit last month because the tourists had to wait so long.

He came down here and chewed everyone out in person. We had five airplanes land at almost at the same time; it was a nightmare.

I have every available man at the counter. You can come here and look yourself or I’ll have it for you in about four hours.’

Jipthep jumped up and ran into the front room and shouted to the desk sergeant.

‘Get everyone in here and start calling all the hotels in Patong. We need to see if an Egyptian has registered in the past few weeks. We’ll do this instead of going out on patrol tonight. If you get a hit, send two officers and bring the man here. If it’s a few men together you need more officers. Let’s not take any chances. Put everyone in uniform so it looks more official.’

Stickman's thoughts:

There is only one word for this story – EXCELLENT!