See Phuket And Die, Chapter Twelve
The road was a two lane blacktop, very few street lights and little traffic. Jipthep drove as fast as he dared with the limited visibitly of only one headlight. Jipthep thought he had seen the glare of streetlights reflecting off what could have been
the aluminum suitcase full of cash on the bed of the trunk. This was no time to stop to check he thought as he peered through the windshield into the night. His immediate concern was to put as much distance between himself and the mosque as possible.
Goby still hugged his knees to his chest. He wore a throwover white robe and had no shoes. His eyes were red from crying but he was starting to be his old talkative self.
Goby turned in his seat. ‘What’s oxycotton?’
‘It’s the same as opium or heroin and used as a pain killer. And like heroin it rearranges your brain circuitry, takes over your central nervous system, releases dopamine into your system to produce an exorbitant amount of euphoria.’
Goby was a bit bored, his chin still resting on his knees, when he said, ‘So what’s euphoria?’
‘It’s a feeling that’s so good you want it that way all the time. You feel loved and powerful and happy. But you can’t stop taking this drug as your body demands that you have it. That’s why you can’t take it.’
‘So can I try it?’ Do you have any?’
‘The answer is no and don’t start feeling too smart. I’m putting you back on assignment as my assistant.
Neither one of us are working for Colonel Jammeri any more.’
‘No kidding.’ Goby raised his eyebrows at Jip as if to say ‘how can you work for a dead man?’
‘Did you see the doctor?’ Goby was feeling better and was talking a mile a minute.
‘What doctor?’ Jip did not look over but squinted through the windshield. He was doing a hundred and twenty kilometers now.
‘The Egyptian doctor that you were looking for in Phuket.’
Jip shook his head. ‘We never found him. We searched all over Phuket and never saw him.’
‘I did. He was at the mosque. I think it was him anyway. I saw his picture on all those flyers that everyone was handing out. I was afraid to say anything at the mosque.’
‘Are you sure? How would he get there and what would he be doing all the way down in the South?’
‘The Iman gave him a car. He said he would go back to Phuket to finish his mission.’
‘What car? Where was the car?’ Jip was almost scolding Goby now, unsure if he was telling the truth.
‘A black SUV in the front yard but I think it was gone. I didn’t see it when we ran out.’
Jip kept both hands on the wheel and drove straight ahead. He had to think. He had heard shots from a heavy weapon and saw Jammeri’s soldiers down on the sidewalk but no one had fired at him. The shooter seemed to have dissapeared. Could it have been the doctor making his escape? He knew one thing and that was he had to get back to the station house as soon as possible, file a report and turn in the money if it was in the back of the truck, but who would he turn the money into – Colonel Sanitasut? Would that make sense?
Up ahead, on the highway, Captain Ritak, in the passenger’s seat of the big Landcruiser, rested the heavy automatic weapon in his lap and kept one eye on the driver and the other eye on the road. ‘Keep your mouth shut and keep driving and be careful. You know, you look very familair. I’ve seen you somewhere before.’
The driver kept his eyes on the road, not looking over, ‘I doubt it and would you mind taking that muzzel out of my side. I hit a bump, the gun goes off and we’re both in trouble.’
Ritak poked the driver in the head with the business end of the weapon. ‘I do know you. You’re that damned Egyptian doctor. The terrorist that had all the explosives in the truck. Did you know that it was me that stopped your truck and ruined your plans? It was an accident; I was trying to kill someone and got your truck by mistake. I think I’ll just blow your brains out right now.’
Doctor Hussein turned his head to smile at his passenger. ‘You mean you don’t want to turn me
in for the reward?’
Ritak lowered his weapon. ‘What reward?’
‘Shouldn’t there be a reward out for me? And then there’s the fame and glory of bringing me to justice.’
Ritak glared at the doctor. ‘Be easier for me to shoot you, bring you in dead and I’ll still get a medal.
I don’t think there’s a reward out for you yet and I can’t spend fame and glory.’
‘But you can spend five million baht. I have the cash tucked away and I’ll trade you for my freedom.’
‘How do you know I wouldn’t just shoot you after you hand me the money?’
‘I’ll give you the cash only in a crowded area, a place full of people and you leave your gun in the truck.’
‘Suppose I just arrest you after I have the money.’
Hussein thought about this for a minute. ‘I’m still pretty fast and you will not have a weapon. You have to promise me an hour’s head start, then you can do what you like.’
‘So you think you can get away again?’
Hussein shrugged his shoulders. ‘I did it once, I can do it again. Listen, do you mind driving for a while? I didn’t get much sleep last night. Don’t worry I not going to jump out of the car or anything. Just let me pull off the road and you can drive while I try to get some sleep on the back seat.’
Ritak nodded to the side of the road. ‘Okay pull over. I’ll drive for a while and I’m not worried,
if you try to run away I’ll blast you to pieces.’
The doctor slowed the truck to a stop. The highway was dark, the air hot and still. Hussein slowly climbed out of the drivers side door, not wanting to excite Ritak unnecessarily, piled into the back and streched out, his hand reaching down along the seat; possibly he could sleep a bit.
Lt. Jipthep of the Royal Thai Police kept his foot on the gas and drove steadly for the next few hours.
It was six in the morning and the sun had not yet appeared but the sky was much lighter and Jipthep could see that they were alone on the two lane black top. Goby had been laying on the seat and slowly stretched his arms and yawned.
‘I have to pee.’
‘Well, that’s a fine good morning,’ Jip smiled. ‘How are you feeling?’
‘My side really hurts. The colonel was really holding me tight.’
‘Everyone knows that goby fish are slippery customers.’ Jip laughed. ‘Hey, what’s your real name anyway?’
Jipthep stopped at the side of the road and Goby jumped from the cab without answering. Jipthep swung on to the back of the truck and inspected his load, three large plastic gasoline containers and the aluminum suitcase. He unscrewed the large cap on one of the containers. It was filled to the top with while capsules. He flipped the snaps on the suitcase and it popped open, still stuffed full of crisp thousand baht bill, one million baht worth the iman had said.
Jip climbed back into the truck. Now’s as good a time as any to call Colonel Sanitasut he thought.
He punched in the numbers and waited for the loud grating voice. Jipthep identified himself and started to report in. ‘For God’s sakes. Where the hell are you?’ Sanitasut shouted into the phone.
‘I’m on the highway about six hours south of Phuket. I should arrive around two o’clock but what’s important is that I have reason to believe the Egyptian is headed towards Phuket in a new black SUV and it may be loaded with explosives. We’ll have to set up a road block and stop the cars at the bridge. We can catch him for sure.’
‘Is that right? What makes you think that he even left the island.’ The colonel’s voice was full volume now and Jip could picture him starting to get red in the face and puffing up like a large toad. ‘I’m not stopping anyone. Your damn Colonel Jammeri ordered me to search all the vehicles leaving Phuket on the Sarasin Bridge and we fouled up the traffic for days until the governer came down and kicked my rear end. Who ordered this to be done he said. Colonel Jammeri I replied. Where is he? Where are your orders? I’m lucky I still have a job left.
Where is that son-of-a bitch anyway? I hope he’s not coming back here.’
‘He’s not coming back. I’ll file a full report when I arrive. Are you still searching for Doctor Hussein?’
‘Why are you questioning me? You’re not in charge any more and neither is your damn Jammeri.
Report to my office as soon as you arrive and be in uniform.’
‘If you want me in uniform I’ll have to stop at my apartment first to get changed.’
‘Damn you Jipthep, don’t argue with me.’
The phone went dead and Jip imagined the Can slamming down the receiver as hard as he could.
Jip shook his head. Not much progress with the Can. Jipthep still had to think of a way to safely dispose of the money and drugs and start a concentrated search for Doctor Hussein at the same time. Jip needed help on this one and he thought that he knew who to call. He had met English Christopher last week. Chris worked for the Phuket Gazette and had that lean and hungry look, an alertness and intelligence that were easy to spot. Chris had wanted to make friends with Jipthep also; a newspaper man could never have enough contacts on the force. Jip doug out his card and dialed the number. After a few rings the phone connection came on. ‘Christopher here. It’s six AM for Gods sakes.’
‘Chris it’s me Jipthep. I’ve got a big story for you. I should be pulling into the police station in about six hours, that’s about two o’clock. I’ve got a truck load of cash and drugs to turn in and I’m going to need some press on this. You know, so they don’t get lost if you know what I mean. I have a hundred million in cash and say.. nine hundred million street value in Oxy Contin. Can you get me some TV cameras there, say the Post Newspaper and some big boys from Bangkok?’
‘Sure I can. But you had better show up or I’m finished in this business. I’ll call some police and politicians in Bangkok. Bangkok is closer to Phuket than you are if they fly; just be sure to show up. And how is this going to be for me if I have to call in the TV stations and the Post?’
‘Okay, okay, you get an exclusive story from me when the dust clears.’ Jip snapped the phone shut and started the truck. He still had a long ride ahead of him.’
Excellent. Just one more part to go.