Kaptain's Blog

The writings and musings of The Kaptain

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Number One Under Heaven (12)

Elle So sensed that she was finally on the cusp of something great. For years, she had painstakingly worked towards this moment and the fruit of her labour was about to be harvested, she believed. Her skincare business was situated within the island’s bustling SoHo district, where she rented a large studio above a row of clothes shops. A former model, Elle’s striking figure could often be seen around the area, perhaps striding back up the hill after her daily workout, or running errands in support of her business. Taller than most Hong Kong-Chinese women, Elle had a character to match her imposing physical presence: much of her outgoing personality being derived from a lifetime growing up in Los Angeles. But while there were some in the neighbourhood who were intimidated by her brash style – mistaking this for arrogance – there was in fact nothing aloof about this modern businesswoman. Inside, Elle was a warm person – a woman who, to be sure, had the steely determination needed to develop a business from scratch, but who beneath her assertive exterior was the owner of a kindly soul: Elle So was truly someone with much to give.

In addition to these qualities, Elle was blessed with an insight that made it relatively easy for her to make the decisions critical to the success of her business. When undertaking her extensive research into the local skincare sector, it had been a fairly straightforward matter for her to pinpoint the factors that led to her competitors’ success, or failure. And so rather than trying to develop a sweeping range of products to suit the broad requirements of the many, she decided instead to focus upon a core collection of well-defined skin treatments that were ideally suited to her target market: the middle-aged, predominantly female Hong Kong socialites whose wealth enabled them to spend as much as they wished in their attempts to hold back the aging process.

Her instinctive ability to market her particular concept had also led to today’s vital meeting with Skin Sanctuary – a major player in the field, which owned a chain of beauty therapy clinics located throughout Hong Kong. Even more importantly, the company was now beginning to make its first inroads into mainland China. Skin Sanctuary’s executives had shown a good deal of early interest in Elle’s carefully crafted product range, partly because it would be easier to sell from a narrower, but more focused collection. So long as the details could be worked out, the deal would be the most lucrative she had signed, dwarfing all her other contracts. And because of China, it would also have the potential to make Elle a very rich woman indeed.

Although inwardly she had felt a good deal of nerves at the outset of the meeting, Elle managed successfully to conceal her anxiety. And once she then got into her stride, there was only ever going to be one outcome of events…

“And so,” she concluded her presentation with a flourish, “that’s why I’m convinced we have a winning range of skincare treatments that will further enhance Skin Sanctuary’s growing reputation in the market. We will create Hong Kong’s first home-grown, co-branded beauty therapy partnership: a joint venture that will ultimately take us beyond the confines of the S.A.R. and into the almost limitless potential that is offered by the mainland.”

Whilst Elle was a little embarrassed by the subsequent applause that rang out around the room, she was inwardly thrilled at making it through this test – evidently with some panache. Taking her hand in his as she made to leave the room, Skin Sanctuary’s Chairman beamed his congratulations: “Miss So, that was an outstanding presentation. I and my Board greatly look forward to working with you. A formal contract will be with your solicitor within the week.” Blushing, Elle waved a final good-bye, before rushing from Sanctuary’s plush Central district offices, when she immediately called her closest friend. “Cindy! Cindy! I’ve got it! I’ve won the Skin Sanctuary contract!” “Wow, that’s fantastic! You’re such a clever girl. Ooooh… I’m so happy for you, Elle… I’ll call the others, OK? Lan Kwai Fong, thirty minutes?” her friend enthused.

posted by Kirk at 3:56 am  

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Through The Godless Hours (31)

Four more figures emerged from the shadows – rough kids of descending height dressed in filthy, tattered rags. The street urchins he had hired for the paint job. They crept up to Adi under the dim lamplight, cautious but eager to claim their reward. Looking up at him in what amounted to hero worship, their expressions conveyed a mixture of pride and hope. Pride that they had successfully carried out what the figure now towering over them had asked; hope that he would be keeping his side of the bargain, by doling out an appropriate reward. “Well done, boys. Bagus,” Detective Adi simply said. “OK. What I want you to do now is paint over it, this time in white,” he continued, tracing an arc through the air with his hand. The group of boys looked puzzled. “And then, when it’s dried, paint these words on the new background.” He handed the tallest of the boys a small piece of paper on which three words were written, before reaching inside his jacket to fish out his wallet. “And here’s some money.” Adi counted out forty thousand Rupiah in filthy, low denomination bills into the same outstretched hand. Although the equivalent of just a few US dollars, it would be enough to put rice in the four scamps’ bellies for up to a week. “Do a good job, boys,” Adi instructed the wide-eyed waifs. “Just like you did tonight. I’ll meet you here at the same time tomorrow. Give you some more money. OK?” “Yes, Boss!” the tallest of the boys shrieked, with a giggle. Adi smiled and turned to begin walking away. “Hey, Boss!” the kid added. “What colour the new words?” “Any colour you like.” Adi knew that his military adversary would not be able to resist returning to the scene. He just knew it.

It had been a bad night’s sleep for the Captain: tossing and turning in fury and frustration, his plans for a spell of restful relaxation with his wife obliterated by this latest audacious trick played on him by the Detective. The filthy, prying Dick. But there was also something else nagging him, something that was trying to force itself from within his subconscious mind, to alert him to an obvious clue. For whatever reason, it could not presently emerge, becoming instead a source of further frustration. As a result, this ordinarily forceful presence had spent much of the next day sullenly going through the motions, shying away from conversation while putting most of his chores on the back burner. As dusk then approached, he decided to get away from the place early, to attempt again what he had set out to do the previous evening. He would endeavour to patch things up with his wife, who remained upset after the vile fury he unleashed in her direction upon returning home the night before.

His driver was dutifully holding open the rear passenger door of the army issue Timor as he exited the barracks administration block and walked gloomily over to the car. “Home,” he barked, after the driver had slid inside and closed his own door. They drove along the same route as always, a little earlier than usual, confronted by lighter traffic as a result. Approaching the spot where they had turned off in detour the previous evening, the notion that had been attempting to break free from the shackles in his mind began making a final push for freedom. As the car sped along, the Captain’s mind was also moving up through the gears, accelerating fast. “Turn off the highway at the same place we did last night,” he suddenly ordered. “What…?” his nervy driver questioned. “Just do as I say.”

They slowed in order to take the same exit as before, the driver subsequently negotiating the twists and turns of the narrow back street more quickly on this occasion, as if he wanted to complete the journey in as short a time frame as possible. Which, of course, he did. “Slower.” Another abrupt command, barked from the rear seat. The driver swallowed, gulping down the bile that was beginning to creep up the back of his throat. As they neared the point to where the car had been reversed the previous evening, the Captain reached forward and once more gripped his driver’s shoulder, causing him to jump. “Stop here.” “B-Boss?” “I said stop!” This time the car was brought quickly to a halt, when the Captain disembarked to walk a little further up the alleyway, to the exact spot where he had seen his name scrawled the night before. Once more he stared at it in disbelief, his jaw agape…


…was what he now surveyed, painted over his name, some traces of which could still be seen, peeping through the white background. The letters making up the words had this time been sprayed in alternating red, yellow and green lettering. Looks like some fucking Rastafarian doodle, he seethed, inwardly. Who is this fucking monkey? And just as on the previous occasion, he then leant across the storm drain to touch the paintwork. Dry this time. He knew I would come… Fuck! Job done – easy, Captain Farid Azasti, of the elite Marine Corps began to ponder, angrily. Planned and executed at will, in the ass-hole’s own time… At his convenience… Like I’m putty in his hands… As if he’s able to second-guess me all the fucking time… Fuck! I’m being totally manipulated, here!

And then the penny dropped…

The Captain suddenly span on his heels and looked back at his car, staring straight through the windscreen and into his driver’s eyes. Slowly, he walked towards it. “Get out,” he spat, tersely. The driver was already shaking as he swung his leg out of the door and stumbled on to the road. He was also on the verge of pissing his pants. “Why did you bring me this way last night?” the Captain then snapped, coldly. But before his driver had a chance to blubber a response: “No, let me rephrase that,” he added. “Who asked you to bring me this way last night?” The driver began to mouth something, but once more the Captain cut him off. “Give me the keys, you piece of shit!” Fumbling, the driver dropped the fob, forcing him to stoop over and reach down a hand to scratch around in the dirt.

With the man disadvantaged, Captain Farid calmly drew back a boot before landing a heavy kick squarely in his driver’s face, crushing his nose instantly and sending a tooth spinning away through the air, in a spray of blood and spit. Reeling away in agony, the hapless driver brought up both hands to cover his face, in protection from what he assumed would be a further violent onslaught. Dispassionately, the Captain recovered the key fob from the ground and pressed one of its buttons, watching as the boot of the car then sprang open. “Get in!” he ordered. Fearing the worst, the defeated driver slowly clambered over the lip of the boot and slumped inside, at once assuming the foetal position. Blood continued to flow freely from both his nose and mouth, while the muscles in his body began to stiffen with fright. Furious, the Captain slammed the lid shut, before walking around to the driver’s door and getting in. Pushing the key into the car’s ignition, he then calmly adjusted the seat position and the mirrors – first the rearview, which he managed with a perfectly steady hand, and then remotely those protruding from each of the front doors, using a set of buttons in his armrest. Never again would they need readjusting to the driver’s settings, he now began to console himself, deciding there and then to despatch the traitor. Fucking piece of dogshit. He’ll live to regret his treachery. Fucking piece of shit!

The Captain drove aimlessly for a while, at a moderate speed and without any particular destination in mind. He started to relax, the calming effect a result of his finally having done something to combat the Detective’s rude incursion into his private affairs. Consoled, he sensed that he was partly back in control of this… this outrageous situation, that had arisen from… nowhere: out of nothing. Hyatt lobby, midnight, eh? he thought. Well fuck you, monkey. For this Captain did not take orders from just anyone. And in any event, he had other business to attend to tonight, he now determined, as it occurred to him what to do next with the dog turd in the boot.

posted by Kirk at 10:38 pm  

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Number One Under Heaven (11)

“OK, children. Children, quiet please. OK. Now, don’t forget. Tomorrow there is no class, because…? Because…? Come on now, who can tell me…?” A dozen hands were launched excitedly into the air. “Sophie Blake?” “We’re going on the school trip! To Guilin, Miss Henderson! Yay!” A chorus of happy cheers rang out. “Shhh… Quiet please. OK. Thank you. Now, normally you come to school at eight-thirty, right? Tomorrow, what time should you arrive?” “Twelve–o–clock!” the class responded, in unison. “And how many bags are you allowed to bring with you?” “One, Miss Henderson!” “That’s right, because there won’t be a lot of room on the bus that’ll be picking us up from the airport when we arrive in China,” the teacher lectured. “Now, don’t forget to tell Mummy that twelve o’clock is the earliest we want you here. The school bus is not leaving until after twelve-thirty, so we don’t want any of you here earlier than noon. Got that?” “Yes, Miss Henderson.”

Like her classmates, young Sophie was excited by the prospect of travelling so far away from home without her parents: this would be the first such occasion, in fact. The trip to the historic town of Guilin in China’s southern province of Guangxi was an annual school event: its dramatic scenery providing a delightful backdrop to the children’s introduction to a foreign culture. And although there had been problems on previous trips – in particular, the pickpockets that infested the town’s ancient market place – the school Principal still considered it to be a valuable part of the children’s overall education. This year, however, there was a further problem – one of the school’s own making. For ordinarily, there would be at least three experienced teachers joining the tour, veterans of countless previous trips. A private institution, Sunny Cape International School had recently undergone a change in its board of governors, however, after which a wholesale change in staff had ensued. As a result, two of the three tour regulars had been forced to take early retirement, which meant that only one remained available. And so for the trip that Sophie would take, just one of the four teachers had any relevant experience. The others were complete novices, Sally Henderson among them, and with an average age in the mid-twenties.

Kate was once more chatting to some of the Cape’s contingent of bawdy Canton Air wives as Sophie came skipping across the field, beaming her usual pretty smile. “School trip tom-o-rrow! School trip tom-o-rrow!” the ringleted girl sang, gaily. “Hi, sweetie! Yes, it’s the school trip tomorrow. Are you excited?” her mother asked, already knowing the answer to her question. “Mummy–” Sophie’s expression had suddenly changed, becoming as deadly serious as a seven-year-old could muster. Walking beneath the shade of the trees, Kate was forced to suppress a giggle – her little girl now suddenly all grown up. “We mustn’t be at school tomorrow before twelve moon. Got that?” she continued, nearly managing to replicate what her teacher had said. “Noon, sweetie. It’s noon. Not moon. Twelve noon.” “That’s right. Got it?” “Got it,” Kate replied, giving her daughter a mock salute. “Now come on, we’ve got a bit of shopping to do.”

Strolling lazily in the autumn sun, they arrived eventually at the Cape’s sole supermarket, where they bought some essentials plus a selection of snacks for the journey. God, it’s expensive in this place, thought Kate, doling out yet another five hundred Hong Kong dollar bill. Her complaint was addressed as much to Hong Kong as a whole, as it was to this particular store. It was a pleasant day and so they then sat for a while at one of the bench tables in the centre of the piazza, eating ice cream. Once again, Kate was about to discover new evidence of her daughter’s rapidly developing maturity. “Mummy, is Daddy OK?” the young girl asked. “Of course he is, sweetheart.” “I mean – with you. Is he OK with you?” “Pardon?” Kate asked, a little taken aback. “Are you and Daddy OK? You know, together? You’re not getting divorced, are you?” At this, Kate let out a nervous giggle. “Whatever makes you ask that, Sophie?” she enquired, trying but failing to feign indifference. “Well, there’s this boy in my class. Evan. He said that his Mummy and Daddy don’t love each other anymore. They’re getting divorced. He told me. And then he’s going to live with his Mummy in Australia. His Daddy’s staying here. He’s a pilot.” “No, sweetheart. That’s not what Mummy and Daddy are going to do.” “You and Daddy do love each other, don’t you?” the young girl then pleaded. “Of course we do, silly!” replied her mother, smiling broadly while grabbing her daughter by the waist and tickling her, much to the girl’s delight.

But Kate’s heart was not really in it, and she was quick to change the subject. For in truth, she did not know where the fractious relationship between her and her husband was heading. And right now, there was only one man of whom she was thinking. The tall, blonde tennis coach whose rock of a body excited her so. Whose cock she had stroked last night, albeit through his shorts.

posted by Kirk at 2:36 am  

Friday, February 1, 2008

Through The Godless Hours (30)

That evening shortly after dusk, just as the first scraping cicada choruses began to ring out from the trees that lined the driveway into the barracks, the Captain got in the rear of his car and instructed his driver to take him home. Still smarting over the events of the previous day, he was angry with himself for his failure to find a way of dealing with the upstart Detective. But tonight I’m going to take my mind off things, he determined, for once trying to relax. Give myself some space… stop beating myself up… Distinctly out of character, Captain Farid was planning to surprise his wife by offering to take her out to dinner – something he seldom did, these days. Tonight, he would encourage her to drink a little too much wine, relax and then…

Well… who knows…? Maybe the alcohol will lubricate her… Loosen her up… Create the right sort of mood, perhaps, to lead to a little play afterwards…? I should take her out more often… I’ll be able to afford it, once the money starts coming in from those greasy fucking Colombians… But I’ve go to get rid of that jerk of a Dick, a.s.a.p…. Hey, don’t go there… Relax… Remember…? Think dinner… dinner with Mira… Frigid Mira, the ice queen… Loosen her up… have a little play… Who knows…? May even result in… Say it…! In a child… A child… A son… We’ll go to her favourite Italian restaurant… drink a little too muc–

The Captain’s mind was drifting absently along these lines when the driver suddenly interrupted his thoughts. “Er… sorry, Boss… sorry, ya?” “What is it?” the Captain snapped, irritated by the distraction. “It’s just that… well… I – I heard from some of the other drivers, ya?” “Heard what?” “There’s a problem down the main road – accident or something – big jam. Macet.” The Captain sighed, rolling his eyes. “Delay one hour, maybe two,” the driver went on, more nervously now. For if his Boss were ever to find out that he was lying, he knew the consequences would be dire. Catastrophic, in fact. “Better we take the back streets, B-boss… O-OK?” he continued, stammering. The Captain looked quizzically into his driver’s eyes, reflected in the mirror. “OK – but make sure we don’t take any longer than usual,” he finally relented, still annoyed that his train of thought had been disturbed.

He leant his head against the window as the driver then turned off the highway into a narrow back street and began steering through a succession of right-angled corners: first left, then right, then left again, down a track that was barely wide enough to let two cars pass, side-by-side. Gazing out at the graffiti that covered every last square centimetre of every available wall lining the alleyway, his mood once more darkened. Silently, he began cursing the adolescents that were responsible for defacing so much property, right across Jakarta. Fucking lowlife scum… No discipline… no fucking disci–


“Stop!” the Captain suddenly yelled. The driver froze, hesitating momentarily. Although he had been expecting something, he had no idea what. Still unaware, his breathing quickened, the look he cast in the rear view mirror one of helpless, abject fear. Like a winged sparrow crouching low, awaiting the tread of a tyre. “I said stop, you fucker!” the Captain barked again, now leaning forward to grip the driver’s shoulder, vice-like. Shocked into action, the driver slammed on the brakes, throwing the Captain face first into the back of the front passenger seat. “Reverse! Back up! Go back!” he instructed, urgently, recovering his posture whilst gesticulating with a thumb. Twisting his head around to look behind, facing the direction in which they were now travelling, he studied the urban mural as it was replayed, like a film being wound backwards. “Keep going!” Petrified, the driver reversed the car in a faltering weave. By now, his hands were beading with sweat, but this was no result of the tropical climate. And then, suddenly, it came into view again. This is almost surreal, he thought, for a moment forgetting his fury. But it was just as he knew he had seen it, when speeding past only seconds earlier. “Stop!” he ordered. Getting out as the car came to an abrupt halt, he left the door swinging on its hinges, his mouth gaping while his lower jaw jutted out slightly, his breathing heavier with each passing moment, seething in disbelief as he stared up at it…


…the words sprayed in metre-high, bright red lettering over a faded graffiti backdrop, along what was once the white perimeter wall at the rear of someone’s property. In its glory all of twenty metres long.

The Captain leant forward, managing to maintain enough presence of mind to avoid falling into the deep storm drain that ran the length of the winding alleyway, and touched the paintwork, before looking at his fingertips. Still wet. You will pay for this… you will fucking pay for this! he screamed inwardly. He glanced around him, seeking signs of life. Where is the bastard? Where is he? Nothing. Total silence. No movement – not a sound. Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck! “Sisterfucker!” he then bellowed, at the top of his voice. Then quieter and more deliberate, whispered in an altogether more menacing monotone, he continued: “I will have your fucking balls for this, you cunt…” Launching himself back into the car he pulled the door shut behind him with a shocking amount of force – bang! – causing the air pressure inside the cabin to suddenly increase before it dissipated with a quiet hiss. The driver’s hands were now shaking, something he disguised by gripping the wheel ever more tightly. This was a real life white-knuckle ride, all right. “What are you waiting for? Go!” was all the Captain then instructed, remaining silent for the rest of the journey home.

Stepping out of the shadows a block further down the dark alleyway, Adi allowed himself a smile. He had barely been able to suppress a snigger when hearing the Captain yell out. Sisterfucker? Sisterfucker…? Another round to me – and better executed, he thought. The young Detective was growing in confidence; felt he was learning, improving all the time. But from his secluded vantage point past which the Captain’s car had just sped, he had once more witnessed the embodiment of evil his adversary seemed able to summon at will. It was as if his power and sheer menace, focused as it was with such intensity, was somehow inhuman. And although Adi would still not admit it, this guy frightened him – a lot.

posted by Kirk at 4:36 am  
« Previous Page

Powered by WordPress