Fear and Loathing in Pattaya. Part Seven: Goodbye Farang
“What happened?” I said as Baey took off his jacket and sat down.
“A couple of small time mafia guys harassed me as I was leaving the hospital” he said shaking his head and smiling.
“I was walking through the parking area, in front of the hospital, when two guys came out of nowhere and started asking me who I was, where I was from, and why I was seeing Fon”
“What did you tell them?”
“Well, I just said that I was a relative from up North checking in on her” he said still smiling.
“Obviously they didn’t believe you?”
“Yeah, one of the guys grabbed me by the shirt, here, started shouting at me and calling me a liar”
“Mistake?” I said.
“Yes, big mistake and very impolite for a Thai person to do that to someone he doesn’t know”
“What did you do?”
“I grabbed his wrist and twisted it into a lock. He kept trying to kick me so I broke his wrist. The other guy came in from the side and threw a kick to my head as I was bending over. I moved out of the way but he still got me a bit. I managed to grab his leg and then I dropped him onto the road headfirst. I think he was concussed. After that I left quickly because a few people were starting gather around”
“What about the bike?”
“No problems, I parked it a couple of hundred meters down on Pattaya Klang before going into the hospital”
“You’re good mate” I said impressed again with his professionalism.
“I think I could do with another Saeng Som”
“Yeah, no worries, you’ve earned it mate. Let’s go out to the lobby area again. Considering what’s happened, I think it might be better if we go over to the condo early tomorrow morning”
“Yes, that might be better” said Baey nodding in approval at the change of plan.
We sat down at our usual table overlooking the pool. The rain had stopped but the humidity hung thick in the evening stillness. The waiter bought over a bottle, glasses, ice, and soda and poured out a healthy measure for both of us. I looked at Baey and had to admit that I was hugely impressed with his tenacity. I didn’t have many Thai male friends, in fact I didn’t really have any, but Baey was someone who would be one of the best people a guy could have as a friend. He was tough, resourceful, reliable and, in that typical Thai stoic manner, he never complained.
“Look mate, I don’t know what Barry is paying you but you can take it as a given that I’m going to give you a healthy bonus for your time and efforts, you’ve earned it already” I said looking at the bruise on the side of his head.
“Thanks Mike, your merit is going up again” he said as we raised our glasses.
“Do you want to put some ice on that?” I said indicating to the side of his head.
“We can put some in a plastic bag, wrapped in a towel. It will take down the swelling” I said putting my first aid knowledge into action.
I called the waiter over and told him what we wanted. A couple of minutes later Baey was holding the ice pack to the side of his head.
“It looks as though someone is watching Fon all the time for people coming and going” said Baey taking a healthy slug of his Saeng Som and soda.
“Yeah, it seems as though Barry was right after all. Some one’s keeping an eye on her to see if I turn up” I said considering the fact that things had just got a bit more complex again.
“Yes, I don’t think you can go down there at all Mike. The guys watching might be under instruction to shoot you if you show up there”
“You think so?” I said a little surprised at his take on the situation.
“Yes, I’m sure. Fon told me that the cop boyfriend, of Ning, had come to see her and told her she must tell him if you come to Pattaya. It looks as though Ning, and her cop boyfriend, see you as a threat to their plans”
“Fuck, it certainly looks that way. Does Fon know that my photo is being shown on the Pattaya News every time her story is being run?”
“Yes, but she said she already told the Police, that first interviewed her, that it was a couple of bad Thai men who assaulted her. So, they know that already. Ning’s cop boyfriend went to see Fon after the other cops had been to see her. Maybe someone is paying the Pattaya News Service to make a false story about you”
“Maybe, but it might also be that the police want to talk to me anyway”
“Why would that be if Fon told them it wasn’t you?”
“They might think I can give additional information to help them catch the guys that did it”
“That won’t be easy. Fon told me that the guys were wearing masks”
“Yeah, but I already know who one of them is”
“How could you know that?” said Baey glancing at me with a hint of doubt
“Because of something that happened down at TukCom that I didn’t tell you about” I said feeling a little guilty that I hadn’t filled him in on all the details.
“Hmmm, I think you’d better tell me”
“The sleazebag that chased me shouted out something which left no doubt about the identity of who assaulted Fon”
“Why, what did he say?”
“Just before I accelerated away from his grasp he yelled out; farang, I fuck your girlfriend”
“Oh Buddha, that’s one evil bastard” said Baey shaking his head.
“There’s something else”
“I got a glimpse of something on his upper arm”
“I wasn’t certain at the time, because it was only a quick glance, but I’m sure he had a tattoo, the same as yours”
“Fuck, one of the bad ones” said Baey shaking his head.
“What do you mean by that?”
“Hit man, gun for hire, drug dealer, mafia guy. A bad ass”
“Should we be worried?” I said feeling a bit anxious.
“Yes, these guys are ruthless. They kill and beat people up as though they are having a plate of som tam. Poor Fon, they really hurt her”
Anyway, how is Fon?” I said almost as an afterthought.
“She’s okay but she was quite badly beaten up. She’s got black eyes and broken nose”
“Those bastards” I said shaking my head in disgust.
“She’s a tough lady, she’ll get better. She was very grateful for the money” said Baey looking me in the eye.
“Really?” I said smiling.
“Yes, she started crying when I gave it to her. I think she likes you a lot Mike. Maybe she even loves you already” he said continuing to look at me.
“I know but I can’t get serious with her, there’s someone in Bangkok that I can’t forget” I said thinking of Nat.
“Ahh, a Bangkok lady. Is she hi-so Mike?”
“Yes, she is and she’s also very intelligent. That’s why I like her. I don’t get bored with her like I do with the simple village girls”
“Sometimes Mike, the simple way is easier. Be careful what you wish for”
“I’ll keep that in mind” I said taking another sip on my Saeng Som.
“Did you ever just try to warn your friend about his girlfriend?” said Baey
“Yes, a few times but he won’t listen to me. He thinks I don’t know what I’m talking about” I said shaking my head at the thought of it.
“Hmmm, then she must have some spell, or power, over him”
“Are you serious?” I said a little taken back by what he’d just said.
“Yes, it’s very possible. If your friend is blind to her ways then that could explain why he won’t listen to reason. She may be using black magic to control his emotions. His mind would be clouded with passion for her and nothing anyone can tell him would be able to change the way he thinks, or feels, about her. He cannot see any bad in her”
“Hmmm, that’s something I’ve not really considered?”
“Does your friend seem vague, or distracted, when you talk with him?”
“Now that you mention it, he does seem different to when I knew him down in Phuket”
“That is how the black magic works. It keeps his mind always focused on the perpetrator of the spell; in this case his girlfriend”
“But why would she do this, she has a good life with him already?”
“It is not up to her Mike, it is because of the master she answers to”
“Yes, the one who she originally went to for the casting of the spell. That person is controlling her as well. It might be a mor doo (witch doctor), or a boyfriend, but that is the one who creates the misery”
“But for what?”
“It’s usually for money, Mike. Your friend’s girlfriend will be giving money to her master”
“Fuck, this seems incredible” I said feeling a little out of my depth.
“Yes, it might seem incredible, or unbelievable, to many farang but that is only because you have no knowledge, or experience, with this type of thing. But, believe me, this is something that is very well known in Thai culture. The use of black magic, by witch doctors, is well known throughout our history for people to try and gain control, or power, over others and it’s usually for a bad reason such as getting gain or revenge.”
“Okay, but how does she gain control over his emotion or thinking?” I said still doubting something like that could really work.
“Well there are a number of ways. The use of a voodoo doll which includes something from the victim’s body such as hair, nail clippings or blood. She could also be putting something into his food which might include her menstrual blood or some kind of drug.”
“Do you believe this kind of thing really works?” I said still doubting.
“Well, the victim must be receptive to it of course but if he is completely infatuated with her then it would become much easier for the spell to work because his emotional thought processes are already attached to her. She can use her passion to control him.”
“Hmmm, there may be something in this. When we were checking out the room, at the condo, today did you see the guy that came out onto the balcony?”
“Yes. That was your friend Chris, wasn’t it?”
“Yes and, compared to a few weeks ago, he looks really in poor condition. Very unhealthy and I’m sure it’s not just because of the wound from the gunshot” I said considering what I’d seen this afternoon.
“Well, it can take a while for someone to fully recover from a gunshot wound” said Baey offering insight from experience.
“Yeah but it’s not just that”
“You mean he is overweight?”
“Yes but he looks to have really aged. His face looks almost distraught or sad”
“Hmmm, it could be that she is using a combination of black magic and poison to kill him slowly”
“Could that be true? It sounds like something out of a Twilight Zone movie” I said thinking the idea seemed a little farfetched.
“Well, if his health is slowly deteriorating then it has to be for some reason. As I said she can use poison, in his food, to slowly kill him and the black magic to control his thinking so he doesn’t notice what is happening to himself. Does she have any tattoos?”
“Yes, she’s got one of those temple tattoos on her left shoulder; the five lines of vertical script. Why, what significance is that?” I said remembering back to the time that I’d bar fined her out of Snappy’s.
“Hmmm, that is the power tattoo for creating heat and lust. It’s advertised simply as a lucky charm but the real story is that it’s always applied with an incantation of black magic, or a spell. This, supposedly, is done to activate the power of the tattoo.” Said Baey looking at me with complete certainty of what he’s just told me.
“Do you really believe a tattoo can have that kind of power or be able to control, or influence, someone’s emotions” I said still not completely convinced.
“Well as I said the person the black magic is being directed to must be receptive to it. If they are emotionally unstable or lusting for the woman, who’s using it against them, then yes, it has a much greater probability of working.”
“I need to get some solid evidence against her, and, as quickly as possible” I said as Baey poured another round from the bottle.
We raised our glasses again and started to relax in the ambience of our surroundings. The frogs were going full bore in the dampness of the night as we continued to shoot the breeze and cut out the bottle of Saeng Som. All too soon the bottle was gone and we wandered off to our rooms for some well earned rest. It had been a busy day.
After a fitful sleep I woke to the buzzing of my watch alarm; I’d set it to seven am. We’d agreed to meet out in the lobby area at seven thirty for breakfast before our planned move down to the condo. I’d figured that we would still get there early enough not to attract any undue attention to ourselves and settle in before Baey went off to begin his day’s surveillance. After a quick shower I wandered out, with my gear, into the lobby area to find Baey already seated at our favorite spot on the patio. It was already steaming as the humidity was quickly being burned off by the heat of the rising sun.
“You sleep okay” I said looking at the bruise on the side of his face.
“Yes, good thanks Mike. This has gone down a bit. The ice helped a lot” he said touching the darkening patch on the side of his head.
“Yep, it looks better. You up for some breakfast” I said as I sat down.
“Yes, I think I’m going to be busy today” he said patting his camera bag.
“I certainly hope so mate. We may be holed up over there for a few days so I was thinking it might be a good idea to pick up some supplies for our stay there”
“I was thinking of grabbing a few packs of mama noodles”
“Yeah, good idea” I said as the waiter handed us the menus.
Thirty minutes later we were fed and watered and on our way over to the condo building. I went directly there while Baey stopped off at a seven eleven to pick up some noodles and water. By eight forty five we were both in the condo and sorting our gear for the surveillance. Because the front face of the condo, we were in, was set back approximately thirty meters behind the front face of Chris’s condo, we only had a view of the side balcony which was actually part of one continuous balcony which ran, unbroken, around the front, and side, of the living room. We had a line of sight through the side sliding doors into the living area. I reached for my camera bag.
“I figure if I set this up on a tripod, but set back from this window, I’ll still get a good view into the living room with this five hundred mill lens”
“That should be good but the curtains are going to make it hazy” said Baey.
“Yeah, I’ll open them up a touch to allow an uninterrupted picture” I said as started setting up the tripod.
“That will be okay during the day but at night you’re going get a fairly dark shot”
“It should be okay. This camera is fifteen mega pixels for stills and half lox for video” I said setting the tripod into position.
“Okay, that will definitely give you good resolution” said Baey as he started sorting out his own camera gear.
I connected the five hundred mill lens onto the camera and then mounted the whole unit onto the tripod. Because I was set up two meters back from the window, the angle on the camera was fairly acute due to the height of the base plate on the tripod. I moved a lounge chair across and positioned it behind the tripod.
“It looks as though I’ll need to stand on this to be able to look through the view finder” I said getting up and putting my eye to the back of the camera.
Baey walked over, flipped open a drop down LCD screen, on the back of the camera, and pushed the power on button.
“You’re not very familiar with this camera, are you?” he said as we both laughed.
“No, thanks for that. I can stand down here now, once I’ve got the focus and zoom set, and just watch the viewing screen” I said as I made the adjustments I needed for a clear and focused picture.
I could see right into the first half of the living room. Chris was already up and enjoying a cigarette as he watched TV. I felt like a bit of dirt bag spying on him like this but, I figured, it was the only way to get some proof of the conniving ways of his girl friend. Ning appeared in the viewing screen and placed a beer in front of Chris. I looked at my watch; it was only just after nine am.
“Fuck me, that’s not good”
“What?” said Baey.
“Chris’s just opened his first beer for the day”
“Is that normal for him?”
“No, he would usually only start drinking in the afternoon. He doesn’t look too good” I said continuing to check the viewing screen.
“Then he isn’t his normal self and you must consider what I said last night” said Baey still sorting out his camera gear.
“You might be right”
“When do you want me to go down to Soi five?”
“As soon as you’ve sorted out your gear and are feeling comfortable. I’ve also got to give you a couple of photo’s of Ning and the vehicles that she and Chris drive” I said feeling pleased with the way things were progressing.
“Okay, I’m just about set” said Baey as he dropped his camera gear into his rucksack.
I reached into my rucksack and pulled out the A4 sheets that I’d run off the printer at Marks condo. There were one each of the vehicles and two of Ning.
“Take these with you mate. You can study them when you’re sitting in the noodle shop. Give me a call when you get down there and again if you’re going to tail her”
“Okay, no problems” said Baey as he grabbed the printouts and moved towards the door.
“One last thing mate” I said with a slightly serious tone to my voice
“Don’t put yourself at risk. At the first sign of a problem just get out of wherever you are” I said knowing there was an element of risk in what we were about to do.
“I’ll keep you updated” said Baey touching his phone.
“Cheers mate” I said as he stepped out into the corridor.
The door closed and he was gone. I went back to monitoring the viewing screen. It was about as interesting as watching paint dry. Fifteen minutes later I got a call from Baey telling me he was in position. Over the next couple of hours Chris hardly moved except to grab another beer or light up a cigarette. Ning was largely unsighted but, at around midday, she appeared back in the living area. All dolled up, she gave Chris a peck on the cheek and then moved towards the door to leave. I grabbed my phone and hit the speed dial for Baey.
“Baey, it’s Mike. She’s on her way down now” I said fairly certain that she was about to leave.
“Okay Mike. I’ll let you know when I start tailing her”
I looked back at the viewing screen on the camera. I had to admit that Chris didn’t look to healthy at all. Maybe he was in some state of trauma after being shot, a delayed reaction, whatever the case; it looked as the life was being sucked out of him. Perhaps Baey was right in what he had told me. My phone started buzzing again.
“Okay, she’s leaving the condo now. I’ll give her a few seconds and then I’ll be on her tail”
“Okay mate, keep me updated from time to time”
“Okay Mike, going now”
I put the phone down. I was probably going to have to wait all day in the unit; no doubt it was going to be a fairly boring assignment. I looked up at the camera again; Chris was still sitting in the living room. I picked up my phone. As much as I didn’t want to do this I couldn’t resist it any longer. I dialed Chris’ number.
“Hello” said a voice that seemed vague
“It’s Mike” I said calmly.
“Jesus Mike, where are you. The Pattaya cops are looking for you over what happened to that girl from Snappy’s”
“Yeah well the fact is that I had nothing to do with it and the Pattaya cops know that as well”
“Well that’s not the impression that people are getting from the Pattaya News mate. The rumour is that you beat her up because you found out she had a German boyfriend”
“Yeah well news services have a tendency to sensationalize things with poor information that’s sometimes misleading and incorrect. Anyway, the cops know that I didn’t do it” I said feeling myself getting annoyed with his naivety.
“How would you know that if you haven’t been in Pattaya?”
“Let’s just say that I’ve got my sources of information”
“Well if the cops know that you didn’t do it, why is your photo being shown with the story on Fon?”
“Perhaps the cops think that I can help them with their investigation by providing them with some other helpful info. Who knows, maybe someone else is paying the Pattaya News service to show my photo to make me look bad”
“That’s ridiculous Mike. Why would anyone want to do that?” said Chris beginning to sound slightly defensive.
“I don’t know mate. Why would a cop, who doesn’t even know me, want to talk to me about your shooting when everyone knows I wasn’t even in the country at the time?”
“Are you talking about Ning’s brother again?” said Chris sounding even more defensive.
“Is that what you call him?” I said feeling myself getting angry at his stupidity.
“Fuck you Mike, this conversation is over”
The phone went dead.
I stood there feeling my blood pressure start to rise. Calm down man, take a few deep breaths. I looked around the room and considered why I was wasting my time, and money, on someone who was completely clueless about what was going on around him. Maybe Nat was right after all; Chris had made his own mess and I should just leave him to his own devices. I looked down at the ring on my right hand knowing that Chris had one as well. I couldn’t just walk away. I had taken an oath to protect and help fellow members of the order. It was our moral duty. I sat down and looked up at the camera again; Chris was having another beer and a cigarette. Maybe he was feeling stressed after our conversation. I laughed; this was ridiculous.
Buzz, buzz. My phone was ringing again. I looked at my watch, it was one thirty pm. I must have dozed off again.
“I followed her down to Jomtien. She picked up the cop boyfriend of hers and then they drove back over to Pattaya to some small back soi in behind Big C in North Pattaya. They’re in a Thai restaurant meeting with a couple of mafia looking guys. Was the guy you told me about yesterday a bit tall and wearing dark sunglasses and a cut off denim jacket?”
“Yes mate, that’s him”
“Well they’re meeting with him and one of the guys that attack me at the hospital”
“Hmmm, this is beginning to get a bit weird mate. Have you got any photos yet?”
“Yeah, got some already but they’re a bit distant as I’m at another restaurant across the road. I’m going to try and get a bit closer. I’ll call you later”
“Okay mate, good work. Talk to you later”
I put the phone down. Baey was doing a good job. The afternoon dragged on and nothing much happened in Chris’s condo; he just continued to knock bag one beer after another. I hadn’t heard from Baey for at least three hours and I was beginning to get a bit concerned so I sent him an SMS. An hour, or so later, I still hadn’t heard from him so I tried calling only to find that his phone was switched off. I was now beginning to get worried. At around six pm Ning appeared back in the camera’s viewfinder so I started paying a bit more attention. Chris appeared to be well and truly plastered and tried getting amorous with Ning. She pushed him away and it seemed as though they had a bit of an argument. Chris sat down in front of the TV with another beer. Thirty minutes later Ning placed a couple of plates of food in front of him and, a few minutes after he finished eating, Chris slumped over on the sofa. He looked completely out to it. Was it the beer or was it something that his missus had put in his food? Baey had me thinking the worst of everything now. By seven pm I still hadn’t heard from Baey and I was getting really concerned. I tried calling him and again and the phone was still switched off. I had a bowl of noodles to satisfy the grumbling stomach; I hadn’t eaten all day.
Buzz Buzz, Buzz Buzz. It was my phone and I’d been out to it again. I looked down at the Casio; it was showing nine pm. I picked up the phone.
“Hello” I said a bit groggily after being jolted awake.
“It’s Barry, we’ve got a serious fuck up on our hands”
“Yes, Baey. The cops picked him up this afternoon after he wandered into the middle of their surveillance operation”
“Oh fuck. I hope he’s okay?”
“He’s okay but the Pattaya Police are seriously pissed off mate. I’ve spent the entire afternoon trying to smooth things over. I had to call in a few favours, of police I know here in Bangkok, to avoid having Baey locked up indefinitely. It’s also going to cost you a bit in bail money which, I might add, you’ll probably never see again”
“No problem, Baey’s a good bloke. I’ll pay, how much is it?”
“Fifty thousand. Don’t worry; I’ve fronted with it already. You can drop it off to me when you’re next in Bangkok. The cops have told me to warn you off. Whatever you’re doing you’ve got to stop now. You’re seriously jeopardizing their drug surveillance operation on your mate’s girlfriend and that bent cop. Luckily they didn’t catch on to what was happening as the cops grabbed Baey while he was still hidden from view”
“Where is Baey?” I said feeling genuinely concerned for his safety.
“The cops have just put him on a bus back to Bangkok mate. Whatever you and him were up to you’d better pull the plug on it now” said Barry in a very serious tone.
“Yeah righto mate, I got the drift. Thanks for taking care of things for me” I’ll lay low for a while.
“Yes mate” I said knowing what to expect.
“Don’t fuck up again. This is serious”
“Roger that mate”
The line went dead. Fuck, fuck, fuck, well that was it now; nothing to do but wait until morning and pack up. The room was pitch black because I hadn’t turned on any lights. I checked the camera’s viewing screen again and was immediately drawn to what I saw. Chris had woken but was looking really groggy and, to make matters worse, Ning had been joined, in the condo, by her cop boyfriend and the thug that had raped Fon. I focused in and, after banging off a few stills, switched it into video mode. It appeared they were doing some serious drinking; there were a couple of bottles of what appeared to be Black Label sitting on the coffee table. Another mafia looking type appeared in the viewing screen. He picked up a glass with what looked to be a heavily bandaged wrist; it must’ve been the one who had it broken by Baey. Buzz Buzz; it was my phone again.
“It’s Baey” said a calm voice on the other.
“Are you okay?” I said happy to finally hear his voice.
“Yes but I’m on the bus to Ekamai” he said seeming to be in good spirits.
“Okay. Barry called and told me what happened. I’m just happy to know that you’re not in the monkey house. What’s the story with the cops? Did they give you a hard time?”
“Not so bad. They saw my tattoo so they backed off a bit” said Baey laughing.
“You bad ass. What did they want to know” I said laughing as well.
“Well they saw the printouts you gave me so they know I’m doing surveillance on Ning. I just told them that I’m working for Barry; doing a private job taking photos of her. When they asked me why, and for whom, I just said I don’t know. I said I never ask, I just do my job.”
“Okay, very good. So they don’t know about me then?”
“No, nothing was asked or mentioned even though they went down to the Eden Hotel to check my room. It’s a good thing we moved over to the condo this morning because they didn’t find anything in the room to incriminate you”
“Yeah, that is a good thing” I said breathing a sigh of relief.
“Look mate, thanks very much for your help. I’ll come over to Bangkok, in a couple of days, and give you that bonus I talked about”
“I coming back tonight Mike as soon as I get down at Ekamai”
“Really? Why can’t you just get off somewhere now?”
“Because there’s going to be a cop waiting at Ekamai to make sure I get down there. But, no problems, I got my cousin coming to pick me up and drive me straight back to Pattaya”
“There’s no need mate, we’re finished here. Barry told me the cops are really pissed off and we’ve got to stop what we’re doing”
“You not understand Mike. Something bad is going to happen to Chris. Maybe even tonight”
“Are you sure? How do you know that, Baey?”
“Because I saw them speaking Mike. Just before the cops got me I was looking at the group through my zoom lens. I was trained to lip read and I saw Ning, that cop and that ex Thahan Phran mafia guy talking about finishing the job on Chris”
“Jesus H. Christ. That might be happening tonight. They’re all in Chris’s condo now getting seriously drunk. What time do you think you can be back here” I said feeling really worried about what he’d just told me.
“It’s nearly ten pm now, so maybe about three am. My cousin is going to take me straight to the motor bike impoundment yard over in Jomtien. The cops put my bike there but they gave me the receipt for it. I’ll get my cousin to go and get it and then I’ll be straight back to join you at the condo”
“Okay, good man. I’ll be waiting for you then”
“Okay Mike, see you soon”
I put the phone down and moved towards the camera again but thought better of it for the moment. The lights were still off; I decided to leave them that way. I stumbled around the room, found my gear bag and, after a quick rummage, pulled out the miners head set I had.
It was basically a single, low wattage, white light on a head strap. In place, and activated, I moved easily back over towards the camera tripod. Looking in the viewing screen again the scene was pretty much the same as the last time I’d looked; a bunch of people getting seriously plastered. I had to warn Chris. I picked up my phone, keyed through to logged calls and hit dial. Nothing, his phone was off. I decided to send an SMS which basically said “your life is in danger, get the fuck out of there now. Mike.” After sending it I deleted all the calls and messages. I sat down and cracked one of the cans of Heineken I had stuffed in my gear bag. It was warm but, what the hell, I’d grown up drinking warm beer. I finished the first one effortlessly and grabbed the other.
Crack!! Holy guacamole, what the hell was that. I sat bolt upright in a state of near shock. I’d been out to it again after those beers. I checked my watch; it was nearly two thirty am. Crack, again. It was a massive thunder clap over head. We were about to get some serious weather. I switched on my miners light and moved towards the camera again. Looking into the viewing screen I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing; oh fuck, oh hell, holy Buddha, no. I felt as though I’d been punched in the gut; Chris was completely out to it and was being maneuvered towards the handrail, of the balcony, by the two mafia thugs while that bitch stood by and watched. Oh fuck no, please, holy mother of god, no. My heart was pounding as I reached towards the record button; I now knew how those camera men in Vietnam felt when having to film people dying all around them. I felt sick but I had to get it on film. I hit the play button just as they were maneuvering him up, and over, the handrail. Oh dear god, they’ve done it, they’ve thrown him off. Jesus no. Chris, mate, why the fuck didn’t you listen to me. There was another crack of thunder and then the rain came down in torrents. I felt like I was detached from the present, like time was standing still. And, in that moment of detachment, I felt my heart beating, pounding, as I tried to figure out what to do next. How could people be so fucking evil. God, if you’re up there? Why? There was another crack of thunder which shook me out of my trance like state. I switched off the record button, hit rewind and played the grisly scene again. The image was good and showed, clearly, the whole disgusting act of murder. I felt sick to my core. I hit the stop button and stood there getting my bearings. My brain clicked into gear. Chris, he was probably dead but I wanted to check on him anyway. I grabbed the room key, and swipe card, and made my way down to the condo’s lobby.
The rain was torrential as I stepped out of the lift and looked outside. I was in running shoes, shorts, a T-shirt and I was about to get seriously soaked. The border of the condo, that fronted the beach, had a low fence and a small access gate, through which, I could make my way to the access gate of Chris’ condo building. I was soaked completely as I made my way along the border fence to the adjoining one. It was at chest height. I looked over and saw my mates’ body lying there, on the driveway, in a pool of blood. After stepping through the access gate I walked slowly towards the unmoving form of Chris. My vision was reduced by the intensity of the rain so I switched on my head set light again to get a better view of the body. There was a large crack in his skull; I didn’t think there was any doubt that he was dead. Oh Chris, mate. Dear God why? As I moved in closer on Chris’ body I was a little surprised that the security guard hadn’t arrived on the scene yet. Perhaps the heavy rain, combined with the distance back around the building to the guard’s box, had the effect of muffling any noise. I was a couple of meters from the corpse when I heard a hysterical scream that sent my blood cold. It was her.
I looked up and my headset light picked out the three of them looking over the balcony. The bitch pointed at me and yelled out again. I looked into her eyes and all I could see was two burning coals of pure evil. I raised the middle finger, of my right hand, and mouthed “fuck you bitch” before turning and walking quickly away; the sound of “farang, farang” still ringing in my ears. I ran back towards the entrance of my condo in a near panic; they knew that I knew and it would now be game on. The adrenaline was racing now; I needed to get away from the building but I also knew that I had to get that memory card out of the camera. It wouldn’t take them long, maybe three minutes, and they’d be over here trying to flush me out. I ran the swipe card through the main door into the building and looked at the lift; it was still on the ground floor. The bike! Fuck, it was parked right next to the lobby and it was my only means of escape. They’d see it straight away when they arrived here. There was only one thing for it, I was going to have to drag the bike into the lift and take it with me up to the ninth floor otherwise it would be too late if I left it sitting where it was. I ran over to it and kicked the stand away. The steering was locked and I didn’t have the key with me. I got under the handle bars, picked up the front wheel and started dragging it towards the lobby door. It was heavy but I had to get on with it. I reckon a minute had elapsed since I’d run back over from Chris’ condo; they’d be here within the next couple. Puffing and grunting I heaved the bike into the lobby area and hit the lift button. The doors opened as I turned the bike around and backed it in. It was tight but, with the handle bars in the locked position, it just squeezed in. I ran the card through the lift security swipe and hit the button for the ninth floor. Seconds seemed like minutes. The doors started closing and through the last ten centimeter gap, before it sealed, I saw the first thug appear at the door of the building. There was a black metallic object in one of his hands. I had no doubts as to what that was; my fate was to be the same as Chris.’ Fuck, I forgot to close the main entrance door; they’d be into the building even quicker.
I hit the button for the eighth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth floors, as well, as the lift moved off. The floor indicator lights would show all floors I’d pushed; hopefully this would create a bit of confusion and slow them down. The fire well access door could only be opened from the inside, however, locks only kept honest people out. The lift arrived at the eighth floor and, for what seemed like an eternity, the doors opened and closed and the lift moved off again. My mind was racing as the adrenaline pumped through my veins. I knew exactly what I needed to do and, with the delay caused by the lift stopping at all the floors up to the twelfth, I figured I’d have just enough time before it was back down on the ninth. The door opened again and I squeezed out past the bike, leaving it in the lift, and ran down the hallway to the room. Key in the lock, and door open, I switched on my head set light again; I didn’t want to alert them to witch room I was in by turning on the lights. I grabbed a traveler’s hip pack, out of my gear bag, and stuffed in my phone, the room key and swipe card, my wallet, a roll of cash in a plastic bag and, finally, the SD memory card from the camera. I didn’t know where I was going to; all I knew was that I had to get away from the building, and the bad guys, as quickly as possible.
I grabbed the bike key, and helmet, closed the door and sprinted back down to the lift; it was at the twelfth floor as I hit the down button. A few seconds later the lift doors opened again. I stepped in, with the helmet already on, and hit the ground floor button. Bike key inserted, steering lock released, I gave it a bit of choke and pushed the start button; the bike kicked into life. I didn’t want to rev it too much as the carbon monoxide fumes, in the confined space of the lift, would overwhelm me very quickly. As the lift passed through the third floor I mounted the bike, kicked the stand up, and got ready for my mad dash out of the building. I didn’t know what was waiting for me but I knew that these guys had serious intentions of silencing me. My heart was pounding again as the lift arrived at the ground floor. The doors began to open and I hit the throttle on the bike. The fumes were noxious as the doors parted fully open into the lobby area. There was one bad guy, with a gun in his hand, standing side on to me in the lobby. He turned, probably surprised by the racket coming out of the lift, as I accelerated straight out of the lift towards the lobby door which, to my good fortune, was still open. The bad guy raised his arm in reaction but, too late, as I barreled past him, knocking him out of the way, and flew out of the lobby into the parking area. The ex Thahan Phran bad ass, the one that had assaulted Fon, was standing outside the lobby, next to a parked SUV, also with a gun in his hand. His reaction time was faster than the other guy but, also, too late as I swerved past him and gunned the bike towards the buildings’ exit. Bang, bang, rounds were zinging past me as I went through the gateway. The rain was still pouring down as I turned right into Soi five and aimed the bike towards the top of the hill. I knew it wouldn’t be long before they were in hot pursuit.
Within seconds I caught the reflection of headlights in my rearview mirrors; the bad guys were coming to get me. I changed up a gear and opened the throttle for all it was worth; the bike racing on towards the top of the road. I could hear the heavy acceleration of a car’s engine behind me; they were gaining. The road leveled out as I arrived at the top. I kicked it back another gear and powered through the corner taking a left turn. The bad guys lost some time as they slowed to take the corner behind me. The rain was still pelting down as I accelerated towards the junction of the Buddha View entrance road and the road down the hill to Pattaya. For a moment I was undecided where to go and then I saw the back road that runs down to the lighthouse. I aimed the bike towards that, and changed down a gear, as I charged across the intersection and gunned it, for all it was worth, back down the hill. The road was awash with water from the rain but the knobby tires, on the bike, gave me a bit of extra traction in the high risk conditions.
Once again the lights of the chasing vehicle flashed up behind me. I knew this road well; I’d run the lower section of it many times during my previous stays in Pattaya. Up ahead, the road went into an s-turn. It was the section of the road which had two smaller side roads branching off into the surrounding recreation park. The s-turn was like a paved area that bulged out from the left side of the road; the intention being of slowing down the traffic at the road junction area. There was no doubt that I would gain a bit of distance here. More so if I just gunned the bike straight across the paved bulge instead of going through the s-turn. There was a driveway, halfway along the curbside of the bulge. I kicked the gears up one notch and swung through and onto the flat, paved expanse of the bulge. There was a pile of sand on the far side and the bike took off as I drove up, and over it, and shot between the perimeter trees of the bulge. The bike sailed for some distance and came down hard on both wheels. The tires gripped but not before going into a small slide towards the curb. I angled the front wheel in the same direction as the bike was sliding and, within a couple of meters, my momentum was corrected as I accelerated off down the final slope. The road leveled out to reveal the parking area of the seaside restaurant next to the lighthouse.
The lights, of the chasing vehicle, were in my rearview mirrors again. I swerved between the gap in the metal barriers and powered down the access slope into the car park. Hitting the brakes and backing the gears up, once again, the bike went into another slide. I laid it down and came to a shuddering halt as the wheels banged into the car park perimeter fence. I looked up and was blinded by the high beam of the approaching chase vehicle. Snapping into action, I whipped off the full face helmet, pulled the bike key out of the ignition and hurdled the perimeter fence as the bad guys gunned their SUV into the car park. I heard the SUV skid to halt and doors opening as I scrambled down the rocky slope towards the safety of the wide expanse of the ocean in front of me. Luckily the tide was in as I bounded across the water covered rocky reef; I had some ways to go before getting into any real depth. Within seconds, of beginning my stumbling, desperate dash across the reef, I heard voices and then, the sound that I feared the most; crack, crack as rounds began zinging past me. I glanced back and could see that I was twenty meters, or so, ahead of them. I just kept pushing on, stumbling, tripping and grazing my legs on the jumbled mass of reef and rock that lay under foot. The rain was still torrential and the ocean was a congested mass of white caps as I worked my way, finally, into waste deep water. I took a deep breath and plunged into the swirling mass of salty liquid. Shots were still zinging by as I pulled myself under into blackness. I felt a sharp stab in my calf as I got a hold of the reef. I was hit but I kept pulling myself forward, one hand over the other, into the, increasingly, safe, warm depths.
Slowly, but surely, I was working my way out of sight of the bad guys. My lungs were desperate for fresh air but I ignored the carbon monoxide induced pounding in my head and kept moving my way out into the safe depths of the ocean. Finally, fit to bust a gut, I shot to the surface gasping. I figured I was in at least three meters of depth as I lay over on my back, facing the shoreline, and took a big lung full of air. I was only sixty meters off the beach and still within the light zone created by the lighthouse; I needed to move further out to sea. The bad guys spotted me, between the white caps, started shouting again and leveled their guns in my direction. I relaxed a little, knowing that I was out of range for any real accuracy, as I heard the telling sound of rounds popping off again. I took another deep breath and plunged under the white caps again safe in the knowledge that those bad ass Thai boys weren’t going to follow me, anytime soon, out into the storm affected seas; swimming was probably not their strong suit and, besides, their superstitious minds probably had them conjuring up all kinds of imaginings of serpents and monsters out in the blackness.
I surfaced again, to get some much needed oxygen into my exhaustion induced circulatory system, and rolled onto my back to see how far I’d come. I was now a good hundred meters, or so, off the shoreline. In the diminishing glow of the lighthouse I could see that my adversaries had climbed back over the fence and were standing next to their vehicle. It was still bucketing down but the signs were there that it was easing up a little. I looked at my watch; it was just after three ten am. It seemed incredible to think that it had only been forty five minutes since I’d witnessed the horrific scene of Chris being thrown off the balcony. The white caps were still providing excellent cover as I turned and began to breaststroke steadily out into even deeper water; my intention then being to round the point of the lighthouse and swim in towards Pattaya Beach.
As I began to move steadily out into deeper water the prevailing wind born surface current began to push me around to my intended destination. Rather than fight it, for more direct distance from the shore, I just relaxed and went with it. The adrenaline was still pumping but I was beginning to tire and, to make matters worse, my lower leg was beginning to lose some feeling from the gunshot wound. I felt around my left calf muscle; there was an entry wound but no exit. No doubt the density of the water had reduced the rounds’ velocity before it entered, and lodged, in the soft flesh. I continued to swim steadily and, as I rounded the lighthouse, estimated that I was a good one hundred and fifty meters offshore. The white caps were still rolling through and I was starting to feel the effects of fatigue setting in; I was beginning to cramp up. That and the fact that my eyes were burning from being buffeted by salt laden, choppy seas made me decide on a change of plan. Up ahead was a dump barge straining on a mooring. I’d seen this barge during the day; it was used to transport refuse from Koh Larn back to the mainland. A couple of minutes later I was drifting along the hull of the barge looking for some access up onto its deck. Towards the stern there was an old truck tire hanging down the side on a chain. I grabbed the tire and started to pull myself up the side of the vessel. It was exhausting, and slow going, but I eventually had both feed standing in the base and then, with a little bit more effort, heaved myself over the gunwale and onto the deck. There was no doubting what the vessel was being used for; the smell was putrid as I stood there getting my bearings and bringing my breathing rate back down to a near normal level. Even though the barge was in darkness, the ever present glow of the lighthouse made for reasonable viewing of the shoreline, two hundred meters distant. Suddenly, the black SUV appeared from around the corner, and slowly moved along the shoreline road that leads back to Pattaya. Even though I had good cover I crouched down behind the barges’ gunwale to observe the movement of the vehicle. It slowly moved on down the road and, eventually, was out of sight.
The delayed trauma of what had happened began to hit me. My adrenaline was spent and I began to shake uncontrollably. “Breathe deeply man, regain control” I said to myself. The shaking subsided and I was left with some shivering from the lowering of my body’s core temperature. I needed medical attention and fairly soon otherwise the slow blood loss, from the wound, would weaken me even more. The plan to swim all the way into Pattaya Beach would have to be abandoned; I was going to have to take the shortest route to the shoreline. The rain was beginning to ease up, the wind was dropping and, as it did so, the white caps were diminishing. My two hundred meter swim, to the shoreline directly across from me, would be tough but it was doable. My only concern was if any of the bad guys would be waiting in ambush; I didn’t think I’d have the strength to fight them off. I really needed Baey.
I looked down at my soaked hip pack; I wonder? Is the Nokia 3720 waterproof phone just splash proof, or, is it soak proof. I pulled the zip back, grabbed the phone and, in the darkness of my confined quarters, hit a button on the keyboard; it lit up instantly. It was a bloody miracle. I went to messages and punched in a quick, but to the point, paragraph – at the lighthouse, really need help now, Mike – and then hit send. I put the phone back in the hip pack and readied myself for the swim across to the shoreline. I didn’t want to alert the attention of any potential ambushers so, instead of just diving over the side and making a splash, I decided to climb back down the side of the vessel. I swung my legs over the side of the barge and stood in the bottom of the tire again; fuck I felt tired. Just as was about to drop back into the briny, my phone started buzzing. I smiled as I zipped open the hip pack again and look at the screen; it was Bae – on my way now see you soon, Bae – and he was a bloody life saver if ever there was one.
I felt better as I dropped back into the ocean and began my slow swim across to the rocky shoreline. The weather was easing up; the pouring rain had become a light drizzle and the seas were settling down as the wind abated. A few minutes later was I clambering up the jagged slope towards the paved concourse that borders the sea all the way along the road. I stood up, held the handrail to steady myself and checked my surroundings. I felt totally exhausted and, to make matters worse, my lower left leg was throbbing with pain from the gunshot wound. I climbed over the handrail, gingerly, and lowered myself onto the paved expanse of the concourse. The light, from a nearby street lamp, revealed the extent of the cuts and grazes, encountered during my dash over the reef, on the exposed areas of my arms and legs. I was, to put it bluntly, a bit of a mess. I looked up and down the concourse; there was no movement anywhere and the misty haze, in the glow of the lights running along the concourse, gave the place surreal mood. I considered going back over to the bike but realized that the bad guys would, more than likely, have sabotaged it to reduce my options of leaving the area; I was going to have to walk into Pattaya. I resigned myself to that and, just as I stepped off, I caught movement up ahead. Ten meters, or so, further along the concourse, two bodies stood up from behind a large potted tree. Fuck, it was Chris’s murderers. My heart sank.
“Hey farang, where you go?” said the ex Thahan Phran bad ass.
I just stood there, looked him in the eye and remained calm. There was no point getting upset because there was very little I could do as they were both carrying weapons; my antagonist had what looked like a large caliber revolver and his sidekick was waving around a long bladed knife.
“Ah, maybe you want go see your girlfriend?” he said breaking into an evil grin.
I continued eyeing him off and saying nothing. Bae was right; this guy was the type that could rape and murder without batting an eyelid.
“No problem, you not need to see her. I fuck her already for you” he said laughing tauntingly.
I felt the anger well up inside me but, even though every instinct was telling me to just attack them, I knew it was pointless. I was unarmed; they would kill me in a heartbeat.
“No farang, I think you not go anywhere” he said chillingly as he raised his gun and pointed it straight at me.
I stood there emotionless. This was it then, there was nothing I could do as I steered down the barrel. It all seemed so pointless. It makes you realize that Hollywood really is a crock of shit; most of the time the bad guys come out on top. I looked at my ring; supreme architect of the universe, if you are out there, I need some intervention.
“Good bye farang”