Stickman Readers' Submissions September 5th, 2012

Jakarta Diamond

We both finished our whiskey, grabbed our cigarettes and ran laughing out of the bar and into the sticky January evening, its moon curtained by the season's cloud. I grabbed at Indri and she squealed with teased delight, slapping at my improper hands as she escaped my grasp. She was gorgeous and I wanted her.

I was a naive know-it-all 21-year old man and Indri was a well rehearsed, exotic beauty who had found her mark. The invitation to join her at her place promised we might know each other in different ways and this was almost to be the final card played in her fast moving charade. Soon the rabbit would be pulled from the hat.

Mounting her motorbike that had lay hidden down a small alley at the back of the bar, we started to work our way through the heavy traffic of Jakarta, me using the excuse of momentum every time we slowed to lean my chest against her back and grip the outside of her thighs with my knees. Indri would respond with a soft pat of my leg and I would try to imagine what might lay behind the remainder of the night with this Javanese beauty. My imaginings were so far removed from my reality that I would wish I had never met her. I know for certain I will never forget her.

Assuming Indri lived close to her hunting ground of Jalan Jaksa I was surprised after 30 minutes not having arrived at her apartment. I leaned close to her ear and asked when were we going to arrive, her reply being "Not Far Now" and she would bring me back in the morning. With that Indri powered the bike on and strands of her hair licked at the sides of my face as we sped toward her home.

Soon we veered off main arterial road into side streets, winding our way into darker quarters on worsening roads until eventually I hadn't a clue where we were or how I would get back if I was left to my own means. After a short time we finally pulled up outside a small block of rooms that was in almost complete darkness except for a single light that shone from the porch of the apartment furthest left, Indri's home.

Dismounting her bike I looked back over my shoulder down the small street. It was vacant of life and very dark. I also noticed how very quiet it was for a suburban Indonesian street. Turning to follow Indri to her flat I saw a small laneway that ran alongside her room that seemed to end at a brick wall. Indri called to me so as to hurry me up and it was only now I considered all may not have been what it seemed.

Her home was a simple affair. One large room sparsely furnished with a double bed, a small table and two chairs, a dresser with lots of make-up strewn across its top, a gas stove placed on top of a small cupboard and a pantry. She had made a reasonably successful attempt at warming the space up with a couple of sarongs, photos and a print on the wall. Other than a small attached bathroom with a squat toilet, this was her home.

We seated ourselves at the table which sat against the same wall as the door. If the front door were to open any more than half way it would hit the back of my chair. Conversation had become uneasy and I noticed Indri becoming agitated and I worried perhaps she had changed her idea as to what the remainder of the night might hold for us. The knock at the door gave me something else to worry about.

Indri jumped when the sound of our visitor made himself heard. I started to jump to conclusions as to who I thought it might be. An angry boyfriend she had forgotten to tell me about, an over protective father who had heard she was cavorting with a westerner or perhaps corrupt police officers wanting a bribe with the very real threat of me being locked up for a few days if I didn't have enough money to give them.

Opening the door I heard the quiet, controlled voice of a man. Indri never once spoke. At the first pause in his dialogue I felt the hand of my host on my shoulder, gently, and then the last thing I wanted to hear. It was the polisi and I was to go outside.

I rose and went to the door, fully understanding my predicament as I did so. And fully understanding the little scam these people had working. Find a fresh young westerner and lure him with a beautiful Javanese woman to a dark and dangerous part of Jakarta, scare the bejeesus out of him into giving you as much money as you can. I threw Indri a disgusted look and went to the door to be confronted with a short man in a uniform covered in various shapes and sizes of polished silver and brass. He stood with the palm of his right hand resting on the butt of his gun which was holstered at his hip. He looked at me initially with no emotion at all then with a voice much louder than the tone he used with my host, he demanded my passport.

Silver and brass waved me outside to follow him and I saw over his shoulder four other officers leaning against a Polisi personnel carrier, each of them smoking lazily, AK's cradled lightly in their arms like fragile babies. To this day I still don't know how I didn't hear them arrive. The officer turned and as he did so I heard the door close behind me. Indri had played her part perfectly, and now it was up to the polisi to extract her reward.

He read aloud the details from my passport then looked at me with an enormous smile. I wasn't sure if he wanted me to be astounded at his ability to read English, or whether it was the fact I was an Australian, a very good catch, that brought him such glee. I didn't respond to his self approving grin. I just stared at him. He didn't like it.

Giving the universal sign for intimate relations, while still holding my passport, he burst into a rave about western men and Indonesian women being engaged in that type of behaviour. How it was against the law and I could expect to spend a long time in an Indonesian jail, which was going to be much worse than anything I could imagine. Throwing my document to the ground the policeman then screwed it into the muddy soil with his shiny boot. After disfiguring my passport he told me to pick it up. He stood so very close to my passport as I lent down to retrieve it, no doubt to suggest he could kick me to heaven if he wanted. I really wanted kick this cxxt in the nuts.

Placing his hand in the small of my back this horrible little man pushed me toward the alley. I looked again to the other Polisi, and they were now following as we headed into the dark lane, stopping so as to stand across from the building wall, blocking any way of escape, all now grinning.

It eventually played out as I expected, more yelling followed by feigned concern. Finally I had had enough, withdrew my money belt, opened it to show everything including the three hundred Australian I had, and handed it over. Silver and Brass gave my muddy passport back and pointed toward the road telling me to leave. The others parted and I walked through out onto the lane with no idea where I was but grateful not to have to listen and see that horrible little cxxt any more. I needed to find light. I needed to get out of the darkness where I was now, a soft target. I was more nervous walking here than being rolled by Silver and Brass.

Looking around I could see a concentration of light being reflected off the low lying cloud about a few kilometres away and set off in that direction to a chorus of barking dogs. After about ten minutes with lights flashing and sirens blaring the Polisi were back and pulled up along side. One of the officers jumped out of the back and approached me. He told me to get in the back of the personnel carrier. "Fxxx" I thought ,"Looks like we are off to the ATM." Then the cop tells me it isn't safe here and they would take me back to Jalan Jaksa. I just fxxxing burst out laughing, everyone else joined me . We laughed a lot on the way back, me and my new pals.

They did take me to Jalan Jaksa, Margot Hotel, gave me a packet of cigarettes, 50,000 rupiah and a fond, back slapping farewell. I went to the deli got a large Bintang , sat on the kerb, lit a smoke and laughed again as they left. Fxxxers.

Stickman's thoughts:

Is this for real? I have never heard of anything like this from Indonesia before and for that reason alone, it sounds "unusual", especially with no explanation for why it happened. I mean, it may have happened if you did something illegal which was not mentioned in the story. I am happy to run fiction, but articles of fiction should either be obvious or stated as so – or at the very least should be like one of Korski's entertaining missives where you're wondering if it really could be real or not.

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