The Bangkok SAS
Friday July 1st.
Sir Peter Dance, the commanding general of the British Special Forces Regiment, 22nd SAS, held up a thick, paperback book. “It’s absolute nonsense, James. It’s poorly written, completely fabricated and highly inaccurate cheap war fiction. It’s total bullshit.” He tossed the book onto the desk.
James Fallon picked it up and examined the cover; a photograph of a smiling soldier in battle-dress, rifle in hand, standing over several prostrate men in Islamic garb. The title was in black, embossed, letters:
Jihad in the East:
The SAS Secret War in Afghanistan
“Is that him, Ince, on the cover?”
“Yes, it is. The publisher obviously set that up.”
Fallon smiled. “It sold very well they tell me,” he said.
“Like bloody hot cakes,” Dance said. “The publishing house pulled out all the stops. They published it in hard-back; it some got mixed reviews, but sold well. And then, as a paperback, it took off. And now there’s an Amazon digital version. He has two other SAS books out. He’s doing book signings, giving interviews, writing articles. Now he’s begun writing SAS novels.”
Fallon shrugged. He said. “He’s just following marketing rule number one: find out what people want and give it to them. He wrote what the people want to read. He wrote for the masses. And they want trashy page turners they can read inside an hour or so, and he’s given it to them. Look at some of the stuff that sells on Amazon Kindle. And there’s a huge market for SAS piffle. Just look at the stuff Mitchell and Armstrong* churn out. I can’t believe people read this shit, but they do. They can’t get enough of it.”
“But Ince is not SAS and never has been, though he claims to be. He tried out twice and failed, miserably. They had to stretcher him off Pen y Fan and then helicopter him to hospital.”
“Does his publisher know this?”
“Of course. Via the Ministry of Defense, we informed the house he was fake, and they were publishing rot, but they went ahead. The war in Afghanistan was a hot item and all they’re interested in is making money.”
They sat at Fallon’s desk in Global Solutions Inc’s Head Office. A cold, wind-driven rain battered the windows. “What bloody awful weather,” Fallon said.
“Yes. I should have stayed in Marrakech,” Dance said. “The desert was
Fallon checked his watch, pushed back his chair and stood up. “It’s 11:35,” he said. “Put your coat on, Peter. I suggest lunch and further discussion over a pint of good beer.”
“Good idea,” Dance said. “Where?”
“The Hare and Hounds, my local in the village; they do fine food and the beer’s good.”
After their meal, Fallon ordered two pints of Marston’s Pedigree bitter at the bar, and they moved into the Lounge and took a table by a hot coal fire.
Dance and Fallon went back a long way. Dance had been a battle-hardened Major when Fallon had joined the regiment, coming in as an eager twenty-four year old from the Parachute Regiment. Over time, they had shared many tough assignments and had become close friends. Fallon took out a cigar case, selected a panatela and lit it with a Swan Vesta match. “Where is Ince?” he asked.
“He’s in Thailand; Bangkok. That seems to be his base now.”
“Really? Well, he’s in good company. Bangkok is full fake SAS jokers hiding behind aliases. You could form a battalion with them. So, what’s your beef with him?”
Dance leaned forward. ”James, as you know, our aptitude testing is the toughest in the world. We’re the elite of the elite; the finest special-forces regiment in the world. Others model themselves on us. We often have American Special Forces and others come over to take our courses. We even get an Israeli contingent from time to time. But the last twelve months have been tough for the regiment.
“During the summer, we lost three men on the Fan Dance** in the Brecon Beacons; they died of heat exhaustion and dehydration. It was unfortunate, but these things happen. They’ve happened before. But this time there was a big inquiry, a criminal investigation, involving the police and the Crown Prosecution Service; it wasn’t pleasant. I was personally interrogated. And it’s not over yet. Now, we’re under pressure to modify our demands. They want us to lower the bar; water down our standards. And you know where that leads us.”
“Downhill all the way,” Fallon said.
“The world has gone soft, James. I mean, if you decide to climb a dangerous Himalayan mountain, you do so knowing the risks. It’s the same with us. If you want to join the SAS, you perform the aptitude tasks accepting the risks.
“We do have a high failure rate: less than ten percent pass out. But that’s the way it should be. We do need new recruits, but there’s no benefit in lowering the bar to get them if their ability is going to be in question. Special Forces recruit special people. But now we’ve been forced to cooperate with the Health and Safety Executive, which incidentally is under the direction of a woman, Heather Holmes, who’s nephew failed our tests a couple of years ago. She’s taken a shine to Mike Ince, and she seeks his advice on safety matters.”
“Christ, that’s hard to believe.”
“Nevertheless, it’s true. His two other books: Inside the Regiment: an SA S Diary and SAS Days, are both highly critical of our training, aptitude testing and selection. She’s read them and likes them.”
“So, where do I, or should I say Global Solutions, fit in this?”
“I’m not sure. We want to shut Ince down, totally. But our hands are tied. I thought maybe you’d think of something. I’d appreciate any help, James.”
“Yes, let me think. I’m proud of my SAS days and I have little time for people who sully the regiment. Quite obviously, this Ince needs to be exposed and discredited.”
“You still have a presence in Thailand?”
“Oh, yes. Since we now do an annual three-month training exercise with Thai Special Forces, we keep a liaison office in Bangkok. In fact, I’m due out there soon. So let me think about things, Peter. If I can fxxx this Ince up, I will. What I’ll do is visit a few of the boys in Hereford. I’ll get the full lowdown on him. Then we’ll go from there.”
Dance smiled. “That cheers me no end, James. And you’re right; this beer is good.”
Monday July 4th.
“Mike Ince was a real doozy. I was tempted to fill him in on a few occasions, but managed to hold off,” Peters said with a grin. He reached for his beer.
Fallon smiled. Major John Peters was probably the hardest man he’d ever known. They were in the Lounge Bar of the Spread Eagle Inn.
“Is that his real name: Mike Ince?” Fallon asked.
“Oh yeah. He’s not like McNab or Ryan in that respect. He’s right in your face. He wants you to know who he is and where he’s coming from.”
“What was his regiment?”
“The Royal Signals. He was 2nd Lieutenant. He went to Eton, believe it or not, but wasn’t smart enough to go on to Oxford as they, usually, do. So he went to Sandhurst instead and got commissioned. And then he tried out with us.”
“And failed, miserably I’m told.”
“And how. He failed the Fan Dance. When I pulled him off Pen y Fan, he was staggering around, completely disorientated and babbling. He’s a big man and it took a few of us to get him down. We had to strap him tight to the stretcher. Then I called in a helicopter. As I say he’s big, six three tall and around ninety kilos. I have to say; he looks the part. He looks like a bloody film star. You’d cast him in an SAS movie. But he hasn’t got it in him; he’s all show and no go. He’s a wimp.”
“He tried a second time, right?”
“Yes, and he failed again. But he wouldn’t accept it.” Peters picked up a dog-eared paperback. “This is his book: Inside the Regiment: an SAS Diary. He writes about how tough the physical aptitude tests were. He claims he passed all aspects of the tests, of course, including the six weeks in the Borneo jungle which he never even went on. He claims he finished the Fan Dance in thirteen hours, but would have been quicker if he hadn’t stopped to help out another recruit who had to be evacuated. Just listen to this:
‘He was delirious, staggering, barely able to stand and desperately thirsty. I stood by him, gave him the last of my water and called for help. Only when the chopper touched down and the paramedics came over did I press on, leaving him in their capable hands. From this incident and other experiences, I’ve come to believe that the SAS aptitude tests are far too tough even for tough guys.’
“What utter crap. It was him, Ince that got taken off, but he’s used the experience to make out how tough and resilient he is.”
“Did he return to his regiment?”
Peters laughed. “Return to unit and face all that shame? No way. He resigned and hung about Hereford. He became the top SAS groupie. There were lots of them; still are. You’ve seen them. They hang around the pubs, mainly the old David Garrick, posing for the tourists, sporting the correct haircuts and dressing in SAS mufti. They’ve been a regimental joke for years. I have to say most are quite harmless, but he was a special case. He acquired a house near here. He bought a Landrover and had it done over in camouflage. I often saw him driving around town in it, or strolling down High Street, posing in battle dress, in slouch hat and his fxxxing Serengeti sunglasses, usually with a lovely bird on his arm. Even in civvies he copied what the lads wear. I’m told he also carries a tattoo of the regiment insignia on his right bicep, but I’ve not seen that. If I had, I’d have definitely duffed him up.”
“Did he work?”
“You’ve got to be joking. He’s a remittance man. He clips coupons. He’s never had a job. He’s a handsome bastard, and a ladies’ man.”
“One of those.”
“The thing is, if he’d been a nice guy, I’d have just laughed and accepted his antics. But he’s such an unpleasant, superior toss pot.”
“I had a talk with General Dance,” Fallon said. “He sees Ince as a threat to the regiment with his books.”
“He is. Those fxxxing books of his are something else. I’ve read his books; they’re crap. But do they ever sell. He writes SAS novels too now and makes out like a Chinese bandit. He even has an SAS survival guide which outsells the official one.”
“There’s no justice, John; unless you do it yourself of course. What’s his weakness?”
“Women, I’d say. No question about it. As I say, he’s a ladies’ man.”
“I’ll note that.”
Peters grinned. “You’re planning something,” he said.
“Am I?” Fallon returned the grin.
“Tell me James; in confidence of course.”
“OK. In the strictest confidence, John, I intend to put Mike Ince out of business. And I’ll do it in Bangkok.”
“Bangkok? Thailand? Why Bangkok?”
“Because that’s where he lives now.”
“Really? In Bangkok? Christ.”
“Yes. Apparently he hangs around a pub called The Mad Hatter. I’ve been there. It's a decent place run by a Brit from Manchester. It was Simon Pierce who discovered it when he was out there. But lately it’s become a meeting place, a gathering ground, for the “Bangkok SAS,” Fallon chuckled. “Most of them wouldn’t recognize the business end of a Heckler & Koch MP5 if it got rammed up their backsides.”
“So, that’s where you’re headed. When?”
“I hope within the next week. Let’s have another round, John,” Fallon said as a waiter approached. He ordered two more beers.
Tuesday July 12th.
At 11:15, the taxi entered the narrow lane and stopped by the house gate. Fallon paid the fare and got out. He retrieved his valise and closed the trunk lid, and the taxi moved on. An ancient two stroke scooter ridden by an old lady rattled past him on worn out tires, belching the black smoke of badly burned oil. Dogs barked; the whine of a circular saw and the loud babble of radios and televisions mingled with shouts and laughter. The smoke of charcoal fires and the smell of cooking filled the atmosphere; Thailand. He smiled, opened the gate and went inside. And, as always when he entered the yard, he recalled the Tuesday night, three years ago now, when he’d shot down his friend, Simon Pierce. His eyes locked onto the spot where Simon had fallen; murdered in cold blood.*** An expedient killing, but……he missed Simon, immeasurably. He bit his lip and went inside. Tired after the long flight from London, he peeled off his jacket. He’d shower and get some sleep.
It was almost 9:00pm when he reached the pub. Tuesday was darts' night, and The Mad Hatter was well-packed, the air pungent with cigarette smoke and the odor of unwashed farang. Fallon hustled his way to the bar, found a vacant stool and ordered a Singha beer.
He looked around him. It appeared that most, if not all, the customers were white Western males of various ages, many with young Thai women.
“Game on,” a voice with a Yorkshire accent boomed from a microphone; the darts' match was getting underway. Fallon’s watched the play. He identified Mike Ince immediately, sitting at a table with a group of four others men, an attractive Thai girl by his side.
When his turn came, Ince stood up and got in position behind his opponent, a bald, sweaty, overweight European, his belly bulging in a black singlet vest who was to throw first. Not taking proper aim, he threw quickly and badly, scoring low and earning loud derision. Ince stepped forward briskly, with a grin. Tanned, in khaki Chinos and white t-shirt a size too small, he looked solid and fit. As he raised his arm in careful aim, Fallon noticed the SAS insignia tattooed on his upper arm; the winged dagger with Who Dares Wins below. Beneath the insignia his name: Ince. He threw a high score, bringing a grin to his face and cheers from his supporters. Fallon reached for his beer and took a long drink, his attention now drawn to an array of posters on the back wall.
Dominant, in dark monochrome, was the iconic, and chilling, photograph of four SAS troopers led by John McAlese mounting their assault on the Iranian Embassy in London in May 1980. Seventeen minutes later, all but one of the terrorists would lie dead.
Beneath it was a poster version of the cover of Ince’s book: Jihad in the East. Other, smaller, posters and photos covered the wall. Fallon went over. Most were black and white prints of Ince in action shots. One featured him carrying a Bergen pack uphill in the Brecon Beacons. Another showed him firing an MP5 sub-machine gun while lying on the ground with blackened face. And yet another had him sitting in a group by a campfire. But one was in color. A studio portrait of Ince, strong-jawed, eyes bright with the faintest of smiles, wearing the sand colored beret and SAS insignia badge that only the successful recruit gets to wear.
Below the prints was an Asia Books poster advertising a Mike Ince book signing event at their store in the Landmark Hotel on the coming
Saturday, where: “ ‘Mad’ Mike Ince will be signing copies of his new, best-selling, SAS adventure novel: Strike Force: Hidden Target.” Beneath was an illustration of the book's cover.
Fallon smiled. “I’ll be there, ‘Mad’ Mike,” he promised. He went back to the bar and ordered another beer.
Wednesday 8: 15am.
Fallon picked up a Bangkok Post newspaper and boarded a westbound Skytrain at Thong Lo station, alighting at Siam Square and walking the short distance to the office of Global Solutions.
Wearing a dark grey business suit, Ana twenty-two sat behind her desk reading a magazine. With a bright smile, she checked her watch as Fallon entered. “Almost nine; on time as usual, Mister Fallon,” she said. She came around the desk to greet him.
“Good morning, Ana,” he said, embracing her and kissing her cheeks.
“And cut the bloody formalities; it’s James.”
“When did you arrive?”
“Why, unfortunately,” she laughed. “You should be more patriotic.”
Fallon chuckled. “I wanted to fly Thai Air for the beautiful flight attendants and the great food, but the flight was full.”
“And Chantal, how is she?”
“She’s in Australia, promoting her legal software at symposiums. She makes more money than me. And so how are things here?”
“Fine. There are no surprises and everything is under control. I’ve just emailed you with everything translated and explained.”
He embraced her again. “What would I do without you,” he said.
“You’d find someone else,” she said, laughing. “I'm so happy to see you, James.”
“It’s good to be back in Thailand.”
“But you’re early. I expected you back toward the end of next month.”
“Yes, I know. I have a special assignment the needs handling. I may need your help in it.”
“That sounds exciting.”
“Are you free this evening?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Good. We’ll have dinner.”
“You like Italian food don’t you?”
“We’ll go to Lido. Their cuisine is superb, prices reasonable and they stock a good cellar. Now, I’ll check that email and do a little work.”
It was a little after 10:00am and already 32 degrees in the shade when Fallon crossed the patio of the Landmark Hotel and went inside. He paused, appreciating the chill of the air-conditioning, and then he crossed the reception area toward the Asia Books store.
Ince was sitting at a table outside the door surrounded by a group of farang men holding copies of his novel, bantering while Ince signed. Fallon went inside.
Normally quiet at this time, the store was busy, with a lineup at the checkout desk. He found Ince’s novel on the War Fiction shelf alongside the novels of Andy McNab and Chris Ryan. He selected a copy. At 434 pages, it was a thick brick of a book. The cover artwork was dramatic; five men in black SWAT combat array, carrying MP5 sub-machine guns coming forward in a running crouch against a background of flaming chaos.
Embossed in big, bold black letters above the center: Mike Ince while below it the title: Strike Force: Hidden Target. At the top of the page, in small print: Book 3 in the Nick Brennan Strike Force Series.
He turned to the back cover and read the publisher’s blurb:
After beheading an American journalist, held hostage for
six months, ISIS fanatics prepare to kill five more, three
of them British, in their secret desert base-area, despite
international pleas for the release of their captives.
But when their location is finally revealed by a GPS
transponder fitted in a captured journalist’s camera, the British
PM calls in Special Forces. And SAS Sgt. Nick “The Mole”
Brennan and his Strike Force team take on the task;
a rescue mission against impossible odds.
Fallon paid for the book at the cash and went out. The group around the desk had moved on, and Ince sat alone, drinking coffee, awaiting more. Fallon handed him his copy. “Good Morning,” he said.
“Good Morning,” Ince grinned and was opening the book when Fallon slipped him a business card.
Ince took it and sat back. “Global Solutions International Security Incorporated,” he read. “James Fallon.” He looked at Fallon at length. “You’re Fallon?”
“That’s right. You know of me it appears.”
“Didn’t you lead that SAS assault on the Libyan Embassy in Tunis some years ago?”
Fallon smiled and nodded. “I have a proposition that may be to our mutual advantage, Mike,” he said. “Interested?”
“I could be. Yes.” Ince seemed awestruck.
Fallon handed him a slim booklet. “That’s Global Solutions prospectus. It’s worth your time.”
“What’s the proposition?” Ince asked.
“I’ll explain that when we meet. Are you free Monday morning?”
“Yes I am.”
“Then meet me at my office at ten o’clock. The address is on the card.”
“Okay. I will,” Ince said. He opened the novel at the flyleaf and signed.
“Thanks, Mike,” Fallon said. He picked up the paperback and headed out.
Monday July 18th.
Unshaven, wearing an old khaki sweater, well-worn drill trousers and running shoes, Fallon was at his desk drinking his third coffee of the morning when the intercom buzzed. He flipped the switch. “Yes, Ana?”
“Mike Ince is here to see you, Mister Fallon.”
Fallon grinned. He said. “Show him in.”
Ince entered. Clean shaven, he was wearing a well-cut, dark blue tropical suit, a white soft cotton shirt, no tie and supple tan deck shoes without socks.
“Good morning, Mike,” Fallon said, indicating a chair.
”Good morning.” Ince took the chair Fallon indicated.
Fallon thought Ince looked good. He spun his chair around and pulled out a book from the bookcase behind him. He held it up, the cover facing Ince. “Jihad in the East,” he said, smiling. “Yours?”
“Yes,” Ince said.
“It’s bullshit; all of it. You didn’t lead Operation Nightfall, largely because it never took place.” Fallon tossed the book on the desk. He pulled out two other books and held them up. “Inside the Regiment: an SAS Diary and SAS Days are also yours and also total fabrications.” He tossed them on the desk.
Ince leaned back in his chair his hands clasped behind his head. He offered Fallon a wide smile. “Did you invite me here to tell me that?”
“No, that’s just my opening gambit.”
“I was never in the Special Air Service as you must know.”
“Yes, I do know,” Fallon’s grin matched that of Ince. “You tried out twice and failed.”
“I never intended to pass.”
“Really?” Fallon said.
Ince laughed. “You look surprised, Mister Fallon.”
“Please call me James. And tell me why?”
“What, risk losing my balls, not to mention my life to some primitive Islamic rag-head on some daring raid? That’s not for me, James. I leave such heroics to the likes of John McAlese; and, of course, yourself.”
“So what was the point of the exercise?”
“Simple. I wanted to get to know as much as I could about the SAS. I wanted expertise. I met people and talked to them. I saw the way it worked. I kept a diary and took lots of photographs.”
“For future reference?”
“Right. I’ve also taken the time to read most of the histories and biographies on the regiment since its inception; I steeped myself in it. I’m quite an SAS expert. Ask me a question, and I’ll have the answer. So I know that real SAS men don’t talk about things. They don’t give interviews, write books and tell tales out of school. They do their stuff, and then quietly take their retirement. They may open a pub, a shop or take on private security work. But they remain anonymous heroes all their lives. It’s very admirable; but not for me. I didn’t want that. I want fame. I want the glory of being a known SAS trooper, but without the risks.”
“You want the pluses without the minuses, right?”
“Of course. And by inventing Operation Nightfall and my role in its success, I achieved it. Most people believe that book, Jihad. And then in my book, SAS Days, I expanded into further dangerous adventures.”
“This is far more than I expected,” Fallon chuckled. “You’re right up my street, Mike. You’re just the man I want.”
“You’re not serious?” Ince looked skeptical.
“You’d be surprised,” Fallon grinned. “But first, I believe a drink is called for.” Fallon went over to a wall cabinet and open the doors to reveal a bar stocked with liquor bottles. “What’s your poison, Mike?”
“I’d like a Jack Daniels,” Ince said.
“On the rocks?”
“I’ll join you,” Fallon said, selecting the bottle, two glasses and a bowl of ice cubes from a fridge below the bar. He sat down, filled the glasses with the whiskey and shoved one over to Ince. “I heard you got expelled from Eton College. Is that true?”
“Sent down is the term they use, James. Yes, I got booted out for gross moral turpitude,” Ince laughed. He added ice cubes and took a long drink. “That’s nice,” he said. “I’ve not had a Jack in a while. I, usually, drink beer. I should change. And as I’m one of the most famous ex-SAS men in the world, Jack Daniels is better for my image.”
Fallon laughed and savored his whiskey. “And once you’re really famous you might try them out for a commercial endorsement.”
“That’s a thought,” Ince laughed. “You know, James, through their mouthpiece, the Ministry of Defence, the SAS brass has denounced me and tried to expose and discredit me. They went to my publisher. A television program was staged on BBC saying my books were phony and I was a fake. They invited me to attend; naturally I declined. Some reviewers on Amazon have said my books are poorly written war fiction and I was an SAS wannabe. They blew the whistle, but few listened. I have maintained a dignified silence and refuse to be drawn. My agent gave out a press release indicating that the SAS and the military establishment are going after me because I’ve exposed secrets and the truth and know too much. I posted it on my website and Facebook page and sent out appropriate tweets on Twitter. It’s worked. I have lots of support. My fan base and readership is growing. And now I’m moving into fiction,” he grinned. “Proper fiction.”
“I would have thought McNab and Ryan had cornered the market on SAS fiction,” Fallon said.
“I believe there’s room for at least one more at the trough,” Ince said. He giggled, drained his glass in a single gulp and refilled it. “And I have so many book plots you wouldn’t believe, and so much better than theirs. Ever heard of an older SAS Sgt named Ian Collins?”
“Yes, I knew him reasonably well. Why?”
“Well, I got on well with him. We had quite a few drinking sessions together. He was close to retirement. He took me under his wing during the trials. After one particular session in a Hereford pub we went back to his quarters with a bottle, and he divulged to me his secret; his diaries. Journals, recording everything he’d done and seen done in his time in the regiment. There were three actually, big, thick tomes covering secret ops over the years. Some ops he’d been on, others he just knew about. They were meticulous and detailed with names of places, people and complete with maps; everything. This was to be his retirement project; writing a book about it all. He’d ask for permission of course. I told him they would turn him down. He said he was prepared for that. And if it were refused, he’d write it regardless and have it published after his death.” Ince took a pull on is whiskey. “Not boring you am I, James?”
“Not at all, Mike. I’m fascinated. Please go on.”
“I don’t mind telling you; I wanted those diaries pretty badly. I recognized their possible future value to me. But getting my hands on them wouldn’t be easy. I was working on it when fate took a hand. They failed me on Pen y Fan for the second time, and so that was it; I was out. But, as luck would have it, as I’m packing my bags, Ian Collins picked up serious viral pneumonia and was rushed to the hospital. I moved quickly. I went over to his quarters expecting to have to break locks, but no; it was wide open. I was in like Flynn. I grabbed the diaries and scarpered.”
“You half inched his journals?”
“It doesn’t bother you? After all his years of work, taking away his retirement project?”
“No,” Ince smiled, his eyes sharp and hard. “I had nothing against Ian personally; you should understand. I enjoyed his company. I even visited him in the hospital and took him some fruit and chocolate to make it look good. Swiping his diaries was purely a business move, and, as things turned out, a smart one. Those diaries will supply me with stories for my SAS fiction works for years. All the work's done; the story ideas, the plotting; everything. All I have to do is write it.” He laughed and topped up his drink.
“Did Collins come after you?”
“No. Maybe he didn’t suspect me; there may be others who knew of the diaries existence. But he couldn’t do too much since he was breaking the regimental regulations in keeping those records. Had the brass known they’d have confiscated the diaries and kicked his arse. Even if he knew it was me, any legal moves would have exposed him. He was fxxxed.”
“You’re a hard man, Mike,” Fallon said. He gave Ince a long stare. “Now, listen to my story.
“I was proud to be an SAS trooper. I intended to serve my time as a good soldier and retire with honour. Upon retirement, I’d remain anonymous. I had no intention of writing books or making money in any way from my time in the SAS. I would be true to my warrior’s oath. Yet, I left the SAS under a cloud.”
“I’d always believed the regiment had a purity of purpose like no other with promotion based on proven ability alone; not ticket punching as in other regiments, other armies. Then, I found that it was not always the case. Due for promotion, I was passed over for a younger, less experienced man. The man had good connections; mentors in the military establishment. I then found out he’d failed some of the aptitude tests. He’d crossed Pen y Fan on the Fan Dance but was outside the twenty hour time limit; twice. He also performed poorly on the Long Drag.**** They covered up for him. I refused to accept that. I challenged it and fought it all the way up to General Dance. I got nowhere. The promotion stood. And I resigned.”
“Of course. I was bitter. And that led on to me forming Global Solutions, the best move I ever made. That was seven years ago, and we’ve been growing ever since. Did you read our prospectus?”
“Yeah, I did; very interesting. So, what’s the proposition you’re offering me.”
“I’m coming to that. As you may know, we’re involved in training Thai Special Forces and engage in military exercises and war games with them for three months every year; September to December. I send over around three hundred crack soldiers, all ex-SAS and ex-SBS and all in top shape. I, usually, come over with them. It’s an intensive, hectic three months; then nothing for nine months. I could close the office. But good business sense has me keep it open in case of contingencies and because it looks good. And Ana drops by, checks the mail and takes care of things; she’s wonderful. But we need a man, a Special Forces soldier, up front in a liaison role. It’s for appearances sake mostly. It’s window dressing. He has nothing to do, but be available.”
“And that’s the post you’re offering me?”
“Even with what you now know?”
Fallon grinned. “Yes.”
“But you have access to the real thing, so I must ask, why…..”
“Two reasons,” Fallon raised a palm. “I’ve tried using my people; it didn’t work. They get bored and lonely. They miss their families and friends. They start to drink heavy. They hit the beer bars and go-go bars in places like Nana Plaza, Soi Cowboy and Patpong. They take up with prostitutes. They fall in love. Three of them ended up divorced, one ran off with a bar-girl. I’ve recalled so many of them home. I even tried three-month postings, but that didn’t work either. It seems the temptations of Bangkok are too much for them. You live here. I feel you can handle things, Mike.
“The second reason is, the regiment will get to hear of it. And the sweetest thing about that is: I’ll be sticking it to General Dance who
fxxxed my promotion. And as Dance also hates you it makes it even
better. That’s why I want you as Global Solutions liaison officer in Thailand.” Fallon refilled the glasses. “And from your standpoint it will
look good on your CV, or on your website. It will give credence to your claim to legitimacy. You just have to drop in one or two days a week or when Ana calls you to sign some document. It’s money for nothing.” Fallon took out a sheet of foolscap from a drawer and handed it to Ince. “That will be your monthly remuneration.”
Ince appraised it and smiled. “That’s nice,” he said.
“Yes it is.”
“Good. The bonus is, you could write your novels here if you wished. It’s quiet and you even have a superb military library to use as reference.” Fallon indicated the book case behind him.
“That’s a thought,” said Ince, surveying the books.
“But there’s no hurry, Mike. Think it over.”
Ince grinned. “I already have. I’ll take it, James. I’ll be your liaison officer.”
Fallon grinned. “Good boy. Let’s drink a toast to that.” They chinked glasses.
“So when do I officially start.”
“I’m leaving for England on Friday. Why not start next Monday, a week today? Come in and Ana will sign you up.”
“Okay.” Fallon tripped the intercom. “Ana, a moment, please.”
Ana came in, a notebook and pencil in hand. She took a chair next to Ince and offered him a smile.
“Mike is coming on board, Ana, as our new liaison officer. He commences officially next Monday. As you know, I’ll be in England. So, I’d like you to prepare his paperwork and sign him up.”
Anna nodded. “Welcome aboard, Mister Ince,” she said.
“Thank you, Ana,” Ince smiled.
Ana went out, and Fallon topped up the glasses. He raised his. “One for the road, Mike,” he said.
“One for the road, James,” Ince grinned and reached for his drink.
At 11:45. Fallon placed the now empty Jack Daniels bottle in the waste basket. Ince had drunk the lion’s share and had been well in the bag when he’d gone out the door. Fallon took down a bottle of Lagavulin Cask Strength Single Malt whisky and poured a liberal amount into a crystal glass and filled another glass with iced water. In his chair, he selected a Romeo y Julieta panatela from a humidor, cut the end and lit it with a desk lighter, leaned back and blew a perfect smoke ring toward the ceiling. He began thinking about Mike Ince and how he was going to handle him.
At 12:30, he flipped on the intercom. “Ana, let’s take lunch.”
“What a good idea, James. Where?”
“Enrico’s. It’s Italian, close by, and I’m hungry.”
“The service is slow,” she said.
“That’s Okay. We’ll drink red wine and plot while waiting. Give me fifteen minutes to shave, shower and change.”
“I’ll be here.”
“So, Ana, was the Fusilli al Salmone good?” Fallon swilled the wine around his glass and savoured the bouquet.
“It was excellent, sir. And your…..what was it?”
“Tagliatelle alle Capesante e Scampi,” he said with a soft smile. “Yes it was fine.”
Ana drank her wine. “I like it here. But the service is so slow.”
“Is that the reason you don’t come here for lunch often, despite its proximity?”
“That is one reason. The other is; I simply love Thai food.”
“As you’re Thai, that’s understandable.” He took the bottle and refilled their glasses. “So what do you think of Mister Ince?”
“I’m sorry, but I did not like him.”
“Why be sorry?”
“Because, I will have to work with him.”
“But not for too long.”
“I don’t understand?”
Fallon took a sip of wine. “You recall I said I might need your help on a special assignment?”
“Yes,” she said, her smile wide.
“Well, Mike Ince is the special assignment. And it turns out I do need your help. I’m going to ask you do something not very nice. But then Mike Ince is not a particularly nice man.”
“But you have hired him, James. Why?”
“That’s all part of my plan. If you dislike it, you can refuse, and I’ll think of something else.”
“It all sounds so very mysterious, and exciting.”
“Okay,” Fallon smiled. “Now listen carefully to what I want you to do.”
Tuesday July 26th
Ana sipped her beer; it was cold and not unpleasant, but she didn’t care for beer. A glass of cold ale on a hot afternoon after a tennis game was enjoyable. Otherwise, she preferred wine. But The Mad Hatter didn’t serve wine, only beer and whisky. It was that kind of place.
She turned her attention back to the darts' match and watched Ince prepare to throw. He looked good; she had to admit that, and he moved well. She found him handsome in a rugged way, well built, trim, hard and lean; he obviously worked out. If she didn’t know better, she might have considered him cool.
Twirling his darts in his fingers, Ince came to the line, aimed carefully and threw with poise. “One hundred and forty,” the announcer called through the microphone to rising cheers and whistled. Ince caught her eye and grinned. He gave her the two-fingered victory “V” sign as his opponent stepped up to the line. She tendered a smile and wave of her hand.
It was just after 10:30pm and the pub was filled with standing room only at the bar. She examined the groups at the tables. All were farang, expats mostly, some young, but most of middle age, many accompanied by young Thai women, a few with farang ladies; most probably their wives. She noted that the men consumed beer at an incredible rate, keeping the serving girls busy. Few used glasses, preferring to guzzle from the bottle as they engaged in avid conversation, ignoring the women with them. The Thai girls looked bored and talked among themselves. The scene amused her but only slightly. She wanted to leave, to get out of the oppressive stink of nicotine and body odor. She took another sip of beer and turned her attention to the men at the tables around the darts' match.
Friends of Ince, they had the affected military look that James had mentioned; short haircuts, tan bush shirts, khaki or camouflage trousers and combat boots. Several wore t-shirts that revealed the SAS tattoos on their upper right arms. But, unlike Mike Ince, they were all grossly out of shape. Their faces weary, carrying the lined, dry skinned haggard look that heavy smoking and hard drinking imparts. “The Bangkok SAS” Fallon had called them in his dry amusing way. She smiled at the recollection when, with a full-throated cheer, they came to their feet, yelling and clapping as Ince threw home the winning darts. He performed a little tap-dance and raised his hands above his head, grinning, like a victorious prizefighter after delivering a knockout punch. He came back to his chair, took up his beer and chinked Ana’s glass. “Cheers,” he said.
“Cheers, Mike,” she smiled. “This is fun. You throw good darts.”
“I’ve had a lot of practice,” he said.
“Tell me, what days does this place close?”
“Close? It doesn’t open Monday so the staff can enjoy a break. Phil also likes to close early on Sunday as he does little business. Why do you ask, Ana?”
“I’d like to hire it?”
“What?” Ince looked puzzled. “Hire The Mad Hatter? Whatever for?”
“To celebrate my birthday; I turn forty-five next Tuesday.”
“You look no more than thirty.”
“Thank you, Mike. We could also celebrate your joining Global Solutions. You invite all your friends. I invite a lot of girls.”
“That would be fantastic. But who will pay for it?”
“Global Solutions. They’ll pick up the tab.”
“Does Fallon know?”
Ana smiled. “No. But he has no need to know.”
“He’ll be paying for it.”
“Leave all that to me.”
“Okay,” Ince said, sounding eager. “I’ll speak to Phil. I’ll go do it now.” He went to the bar and engaged the manager, a well-dressed middle aged Thai lady, who sat by the cash register. She opened the small gate, and he went through and into the back office behind the bar.
Ana sipped her beer, her eyes focused on a wall print, her thoughts on James Fallon and her secret unspoken love for him. In the three years she’d known and worked for him, he’d never made a pass; always the perfect gentleman. Did he know? Was he aware of her feelings? No. He’d never even guess that the last thing she looked at before turning out her bedroom light was his picture, framed on her bed-side table. James was far too much in love with Chantal; his French wife to notice anything. She reached into her bag for her mobile phone. She retrieved Fallon’s number and was on the verge of calling him when Ince came from behind the bar and back to the table.
“He’ll do it,” Ince grinned. “Twenty thousand baht gets us the place from Sunday afternoon, night and all day Monday.”
“That’s perfect, Mike,” Ana said.
“We must supply our liquor and food.”
“I’ll handle that. I’ll also sort out a good supply of ladies.”
“I like that. We could start with a barbecue in the beer garden out back near the guest rooms.”
“Yes. Phil has a few cabins behind the bar.”
“This is fantastic idea, Ana.”
“And now I must leave you, Mike.”
“Oh, no; the night’s young.”
“Perhaps. But I have a busy day tomorrow, and I need my sleep.”
Ince shrugged; he looked disappointed. “Okay,” he said.
“Come to the office on Friday morning and I’ll have the twenty thousand baht ready.”
“Sure. I’ll see you Friday.”
“Good.” Ana kissed his cheek and went out.
Wednesday July 27th
It was 11:00 am when Ana stepped out of the taxi outside Nana Entertainment Plaza. For many, NEP is the largest commercial sex complex in the world She looked up at the decrepit neon sign and smiled. NEP was just a vulgar, rundown and overrated whorehouse designed to rip off dumb tourists.
And already it was business as usual for Big Dogs and Lucky Lukes, the two seedy, bars that stood, more like shabby tigers than sentinels, either side the gateway portal. Despite the hour, Western tourists sat perched on stools drinking their cold Chang beers, observing the passing crowd; for Ana they looked as decrepit as the sign. She went inside the Plaza. Apart from cleaners and maintenance crews doing repairs, the place was dark and dead, the bars closed, the smell of disinfectant strong. A tall, elegant ladyboy passed her as she took the stairs up to the first floor. On the landing, she headed straight for La Dolce Vita Go-Go Bar.
Inside, the venue was being cleaned under the harsh glare of fluorescent lights. Vacuum cleaners hummed, and the smell of cleaning fluids strong as workers tackled their morning duties.
In a black silk business suit, Anong “Patcha” Kongkuna, the owner, manager and sometimes mamasan, was checking the bar’s hard liquor stock against a manifest. At 175 centimeters, Patcha was tall for a Thai woman, and tipping the scales at 68 compact kilos, she was powerful with it. She talked to herself, laughing and muttering as she worked.
Ana came to the bar. “Patcha,” she said, softly.
“What is it?” Patcha turned her head. “Ana,” she shrieked and came around the bar. The women embraced tightly, Patcha lifting Ana clear off the floor in a bear hug. “Come,” Patcha took Ana’s hand and led her to her office behind the bar. Inside she kissed Ana’s cheeks, and they embraced again. “It’s been years, Ana,” Patcha whispered.
“Far too long,” Ana agreed.
“We must drink,” Patcha said. She eased Ana into a chair by the desk and turned to a wall bar. “Red wine for Ana.”
“Yes,” Ana laughed. She watched her fix the drinks.
Patcha Kongkuna was her oldest and possibly closest friend. They’d met as young girls, privileged students at Lanna International School in Chiang Mai. For a time they’d been teenage lovers.
Academic study had held little interest for Patcha, but being tall and well developed, she’d excelled in sports and became the school’s top athlete, winning in all events.
At eighteen, Patcha had completely abandoned any ideas she may have held regarding education and conventional career paths, and, spurned all advice. A masterpiece of female beauty, she moved to Europe to work in exclusive escort salons in Paris, Brussels and London servicing rich political and business elites. At twenty, envisioning herself a courtesan, she went freelance in Paris and became more discrete and selective as well as more expensive. Money alone could not buy her; she turned down most would be clients, taking on only men she liked and found attractive.
At twenty-two, she met and married a handsome French Count, bore him a son and settled down to domestic life in a chateau. The Count was an athletic playboy; a fine tennis player and well rated and ambitious motorcycle road race rider. He was also a womanizing philanderer. After finding him in bed with two teenage girls, Patcha left him and returned to Thailand where she opened a restaurant. A small hotel had followed before she founded La Dolce Vita.
Patcha came away from the bar and handed Ana a big glass filled to the brim with dark red burgundy. She sat down in the big director’s chair behind the desk, nursing a glass of whisky over ice. She lit up a black cheroot. “So tell me Ana, what have you been up to?”
“Not much,” Ana shrugged.
“Yes. I work for a British security firm. It’s fine. I don’t live an exciting life on the edge like you do, Patcha.”
Patcha laughed, loudly. “You think supplying entertainment for stupid sex tourists is an exciting life?” She exhaled a cloud of smoke. “On the edge?” She laughed again.
“You must make good money.”
“True. But I have more of that than I will ever need. I’m bored. One more year and I’m out.”
“What next?” Ana grinned.
Patcha took a big gulp of her whisky. “Retirement. I’ll maybe buy a place on Kho Chang, in the mountains and take up painting. Maybe I’ll go back to France. I loved my life there.” She shook her head. “If Ives hadn’t been such a fool I’d still be there. I loved him. I treated him like a king. I gave him the best sex he could ever have; every morning a great blow job. But he just had to cheat. Men are so stupid.”
Ana chuckled. “Any boyfriends, Patcha?”
Patcha shook her head. “The only man in my life, Ana, is my son, Sacha.” She turned toward the array of framed photographs adorning the wall behind her. She stood up and faced the wall. “Is he not handsome?”
Ana joined her and surveyed the photographs. “Yes, he is. He looks great in uniform. A pilot right?”
“He’s an officer, a lieutenant, in the French Air Force. He flies fighters. He’s so much like his father, but he has Oriental eyes from me. That’s his beautiful plane, a Mirage Rafale. I went to Paris last year, for the Air Show and watched him fly it.” Animated, Patcha turned to Ana. “He flew it over me, just above my head and flipped it over many times in what is called a barrel roll. For his mama, he did it. I was so thrilled.” She sighed, shrugged and sat down.
Ana, returned to her seat. “This wine is lovely,” she said. “And it’s so good to see you again, Patcha.”
Patcha looked at Ana; her smile faint. “But you didn’t come here just to see me and drink my lovely wine. So I must ask what brings Ana Menong to La Dolce Vita?
“I need some girls.”
“Girls?” Patcha feigned shock. “What kind of girls? And what for?”
“I’m throwing a party; a wild party. I need wild girls for whom anything goes.”
“Well, I never. Little Ana,” Patcha giggled. “How many girls?”
“Around twenty-five, maybe thirty.”
“Where and when?” Patcha’s look, serious now.
“A pub called The Mad Hatter. The party will kick off around five in the afternoon next Sunday.”
“I know the place. Any men going,” Patcha smiled.
“Of course. All British.”
“I like Brits; when they bathe. I’ve had British lovers. They were fine once they were house trained and taught to shower.” Patcha leaned forward. “Am I invited?”
“I don’t think you would like it, Patcha.”
“I’m sure I wouldn’t.” Patcha finished her drink and went to the bar to replenish. “All right. I’ll supply your girls on condition you take a vacation with me.”
“I’d like that. When?”
“Soon. I’d like it to be like old times. Leave me your phone number and I’ll let you know. And the girls will arrive in a bus at The Mad Hatter at five thirty next Sunday afternoon. Okay?”
“Okay. Thank you, Patcha.”
Sunday July 31st
The Doors’ LA Woman was booming out the speakers; Jim Morrison’s potent baritone delivering the vocals:
Well, I just got into town about an hour ago
Took a look around, see which way the wind blow
Mike Ince leaned on the bar, a bottle of Chang in hand. “Christ, Ana, but I’m getting royally pissed,” he said, taking long swig from the bottle.
Standing beside him, Ana said. “That’s Okay, Mike. It’s allowed.”
“It’s been a fantastic party, Ana.”
“Yes, it’s been great.” Devastating would be a better description she thought, surveying the mess around her; the spilt liquor, vomit and broken bottles and glasses that covered the floor; the broken furniture.
She’d wanted a wild party, and she’d got one beyond belief. She had a feeling that Fallon would be delighted. And it was not over yet.
L.A. woman, Sunday afternoon
Drive through your suburbs
Into your blues
Into your blues, yeah
Events had started quietly with the barbecue, until failing light and falling rain had pushed the men inside where they drank and played darts until the arrival of the women; an event that changed everything.
The girls had arrived on time, thirty-two of them and very attractive. “A little past their prime, Ana,” Patcha had primed her. “But still lovely; they’ve still got it,” All over thirty, the girls were no longer employable by the prime go-go’s such as Angelwitch, Carousel or La Dolce Vita. So, they now danced at smaller venues or “worked” freelance.
Drivin' down your freeway
Midnight alleys roam
Cops in cars, the topless bars
Never saw a woman
Coming off the bus, the girls had poured into the pub and engaged the men. After an exchange of pleasantries and a few drinks, eight of the girls had casually stripped down to brief bikinis, put on their favorite music and danced some of their old Angelwitch routines. The rest worked on the men at the tables, introducing them to amphetamines and cannabis, bong pipes and other paraphernalia; and illegal fun.
Motel money murder madness
Let's change the mood from glad to sadness
It was not too long after, that someone foolishly telephoned a friend and told him about the outrageous party playing out at The Mad Hatter. Within thirty minutes, a crowd of farang men, twenty-six strong, came through the doors to join in. And they instantly tipped the balance in favour of the ladies who were now using the guest accommodation cabins as short time rooms.
Around 10:30, the hard liquor ran out, and the beer supply was running low. Someone broke the locks that Phil, the bar owner, had installed on the doors of his bar liquor and cleared the shelves. The locked storeroom next to the office was also broken open and looted of its cases of liquor and beer. And the party, fully refueled, raved on.
Around midnight, Ana took charge of Ince, who was getting seriously out of shape. “Mike. Take me back to your place.”
“Back to my place? You serious?”
“Of course. That is if you want to?”
“Want to?” He put his arm around her. “Let’s go, honey. Let’s go home.”
Ana picked up a small duffle bag from behind the bar, took a bottle of champagne from the bar refrigerator and steered Ince through the doors. Outside, she hailed a taxi. Ince gave the driver directions. “It’s close by,” he told Ana.
Ince’s residence, a small cottage, was midway down a quiet lane three kilometers from The Mad Hatter. Ince opened the gate and pulled Ana inside the yard.
In the house, Ince led the way to the bedroom where he seized her in a bear hug, kissing her roughly. She pushed him away. “First you shower. I’ll prepare the drinks, and then I will shower.”
“You Thais. You are soooo clean,” he giggled.
“Yes we are. Now, take your shower.”
“Yes, mistress,” he grinned and staggered into the en suite bathroom.
In the kitchen, Ana retrieved two glasses. From her purse, she took out a container holding a fine white powder which she poured into one of the glasses. She took out the champagne bottle and filled both, taking a long sip from hers; it was still cold and tasted good. She listened to Ince trying to sing LA Woman.
He came out wearing a towel around his waist reminding Ana of a photograph she’d once seen in an art book; a photo of a statue in Florence, Italy. “You look like Adonis,” she said, handing him his drink.
“Thank you,” he said. “It’s hard work keeping in shape.” He drained the glass in a single pull and extended it to her. “More, please.”
She refilled his glass. “Now, get into the bed. I will be a few minutes.”
“Of course, mistress,” Ince slid between the sheets and sat back against the headboard. “Don’t be too long, girl.”
“And prepare for pleasure. I’m very demanding.”
“Me too,” she winked and went into the bathroom. She went to the mirror and examined the tired face that looked back at her. She felt fatigued. She washed her hands and face and applied a little makeup and went back to the bedroom.
Ince had managed to finish his champagne before the drug had taken him down. Comatose, he lay on his back, breathing deeply. Ana called Fallon giving him the house location. She picked up her glass and checked her watch; it was 1: 25am Monday morning.
At 1: 50am the yard gate bell tinkled, and she went outside and opened it. Fallon along with two young women and a man in military uniform, were standing by a jeep-like Toyota military vehicle. She recognized the soldier as Supakit “Kit” Wattana, a Brigadier in Thai Special Forces and a good friend of Fallon’s. They came into the yard.
“Ana, you’ve met Brigadier Wattana.”
“Yes.” She brought her pals together and wai-ed the soldier, and he returned the gesture with a smile.
Carrying a small bag, Fallon went inside, and Ana followed. After giving Ince a long cold stare of contempt he put on surgical gloves, opened the bag and took a six small packages, syringes and drug paraphernalia.
“What is that, James?”
“Well, I can assure you it’s not baking powder,” he said, grinning. He placed the packs in Ince’s hands, impressing his fingerprints onto them. Then he placed them with the paraphernalia in the dresser draws and covered them with clothes. “Now, I need to find Ian Collins’ diaries.”
Scouting the house rooms, he found them; big journals, in an office Ince obviously used for his writing. He placed them in the bag. “Now, I’ll go and get the girl,” he said and went out. He came back with the youngest of the girls. “This young lady is from Myanmar, Ana. But she does speak Thai. I’ll leave it to you,” he said and left the room.
The girl, dressed in a cheap dress and holding a small shoulder bag, looked young, filling Ana with a sense of disquiet. She addressed her in Thai. The girl nodded, removed her dress and wearing only her underwear, slid into bed beside Ince. She smiled shyly at Ana.
Ana returned the smile. She said. “You know what to do. What to say?’
“Yes,” the girl nodded, eagerly.
“Alright,” Ana said. She closed the bedroom door and went outside.
In the lane, the older girl wai-ed Fallon and Ana, reverently, picked a small backpack and climbed inside the truck. The Brigadier wai-ed Ana, shook Fallon’s hand and climbed in after the girl. The engine fired, and the truck rolled out of the lane.
Back inside the house Fallon took out his cell phone, removed the SIM card and replaced it with another. He handed her the phone. “Now call the police,” he said.
“Okay,” Ana said. “But first I will warn the girls.” She stabbed the keys. The connection made, she spoke rapidly for a minute, then closed the line. “Give then ten minutes then I call the police,” she said.
“Fine,” he said. “You have all your stuff? Forgotten nothing?”
“Yes. I have all my things.”
“Good. Now, let’s go.” Fallon took her hand, and they left the lane toward the main road. At the junction, he checked his watch. “Now call the police,” he said. “Give both locations.”
“Okay,” Ana said and punched the keypad. She spoke at length reading out the locations from a sheet of paper. “It’s done,” she said handing back the phone. Fallon removed the SIM card and dropped it down a sewage drain. A taxi passed them, slowing down, and he hailed it.
“Where we go?” she asked.
“My place,” he said.
After an hour’s languish in a hot bath followed by a cold shower, Ana dressed in clothes she’d found in one of the bedrooms. Fatigue and lethargy banished; she felt thoroughly refreshed. She joined Fallon on the yard verandah.
“Those clothes look good. They suit you,” he chuckled as he poured her a glass of wine.
“Are they Chantal’s things?”
“No. The house is full of ladies' things left by girls the men doing liaison duty have brought home.”
“Bar-girls I imagine,” Ana laughed. “Now, James. Tell me of that young girl with Ince.”
“The girls are sisters. They came down from Burma, or Myanmar as it now calls itself. They come from poverty. They came to find work in Thailand to help their family. I’ve no doubt they would have ended up in the commercial sex world.”
“The one with Ince, she is so young. I did not like that.”
“She’s not that young. Though she looks very young, she’s twenty years old. She looks sixteen and the ID I’ve supplied her with supports that. And it’s good enough to convince the Thai cops and do for Ince. But she is, in fact, twenty. Her sister is twenty-two.”
“What will happen to them now?”
“Right now the older girl is on her way to Mai Sai in that military truck. She’ll cross the bridge into Myanmar and await her sister’s arrival when the police release her. The good news is that, courtesy of Global Solutions, their financial problems are over. I opened a bank account here in Bangkok with more than enough money for them to build their family a good house in their village as well as open a village store which is what they wanted. I gave the elder girl the bank-card and the pin code.”
“That makes me feel much better, James. What about Mike Ince?”
“What will happen to him he’s not going to like. I expect he’ll get busted and charged with possessing enough heroin and morphine to kill a bull elephant plus sex with a minor. You can imagine the rest.”
“I fly back to Britain tomorrow night. But I’ll be back in September with my little army.”
“Good. I’ll miss you, James.”
Fallon put down his glass and pulled her to him. “And I’ll miss you,” he said. He lifted her chin and examined her face. “Yes, I shall miss you very much,” he said and kissed her on the mouth.
Friday August 5th.
Fallon relaxed in his study and listened to his phone messages. Three, came from a delighted Chantal; she had landed four big contracts with Australian legal firms to purchase her software. One call from Ana in Bangkok told of the Thai press’ lurid coverage of the police raid on The Mad Hatter with photographs and the arrest of Mike Ince. The English language newspapers, the Bangkok Post and The Nation had both covered the events extensively. The last message, a long one, was from an excited Peter Dance.
It seemed that with the British media covering the events in Bangkok, Mike Ince’s publisher had finally called time on the rogue, and ripped up his contract. Waterstones and other book stores had begun withdrawing his books from their shelves. And after refusing comment for several days, Amazon had finally yielded and reluctantly closed his account and removed his books. And there was going to be a regimental party in Hereford, soon with James Fallon invited to attend.
Fallon grinned. He poured a cognac, a Hennessey VSOP, took a long sip and watched a gale driven rain hammer the French Windows. He selected a Romeo y Julieta Cazadores from the humidor. He cut the end neatly and lit it, drawing strongly on what he firmly believed to be the finest cigar in the world.
*Stephen Mitchell and Colin Armstrong are two former SAS troopers who write top selling SAS novels under the pseudonyms: Andy McNab and Chris Ryan respectively.
**The Fan Dance is part of the Fitness and Navigation phase of the selection process of the British Special Forces.
It is a 24 kilometer long distance march in the Brecon Beacons in Wales. It includes the climbing of Pen Y Fan, the highest peak in Southern Wales then a descent on the mountain’s far side. Carrying an 18 kilogram backpack, a rifle and water bottle, candidates are then obliged to turn around and reverse the route. It’s a grueling test. Three reservist soldiers died during the Fan Dance in the summer of 2013.
*** see my short story: A Bangkok Solution.
****The Long Drag is a term that refers to an event that marks the culmination of the Fitness and Navigation phase of British Special Forces selection.
It involves a 64 kilometre (40 miles) long distance march over the Brecon Beacons. Candidates carry a Bergen backpack weighing 25 kilogrammes (not including water, food and rifle, and they must complete the route in less than twenty hours. Candidates are prohibited from using established trails, and all navigation must be performed by map, compass and memorized grid references. The event is especially demanding because it comes at the end of an intense four weeks of marches and runs.