Kaptain's Blog

The writings and musings of The Kaptain

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Number One Under Heaven (19)

From his office overlooking the port in Vietnam’s northern coastal town of Hai Phong, Nguyen Tran pondered his next move. Tapping a rolled-up magazine against his lips while staring absently out of the window, he instinctively sensed that he would not be able to refuse the huge payout on offer. But the arrangements he would need to make in order to comply with the unusual request he had received would not be easy, carrying with them considerable risk.

For years, Nguyen’s freight forwarding company had acted as a front for his real trade, a much more sinister business. Indeed, a form of commerce that surely counted as the vilest of all: the trafficking of children. A cold and unprincipled man, Nguyen had no moral issue with the business of supplying children to whomever should ask. He considered the fact that most ended up being sold on to Asia’s growing paedophile network none of his business, acting as he did solely as a middle man, unknowing and uncaring of the consequences of the wicked trade he plied. His unfortunate victims were usually picked up straight off the streets: orphans, street urchins, beggars, for whom subsequent captivity, he figured, meant at least one nourishing meal each day.

But this latest request, which had just reached him through a trusted contact, was stretching the limits of even his dark resourcefulness. Nguyen Tran did not know the identity of the ultimate customer, but was aware the wealth of the man permitted him to own a luxury yacht, which would be moored the day after tomorrow in Ha Long Bay, a world heritage site just off the coast of Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin. The drop had to be made directly to the yacht, reducing the client’s risk of being seen together with the child. But it was not the logistics of the exercise that troubled him.

It was that the client has specifically requested a young, western girl.

Ultimately, Nguyen would do as he was asked, because the one million US dollar payout he stood to receive would set him up for life; was in fact more money than he had ever dreamt of, especially when resulting from a single transaction. Indeed, he had not been able to resist taking the down payment the contact had offered. The two hundred and fifty thousand US dollars bait was already stashed inside his office safe. And whilst the mission he had thereby tacitly accepted would prove risky, Tran would make sure he was as far removed from the action as possible.

Picking up the phone, he dialled the number of one of his oldest business associates, a man who was now based in mainland China, having had to move there and reinvent himself, when things became too sticky in his home town of Hanoi. “Cam,” Nguyen began. He was the only one who still called the man who was now known as Bei Din Din by this name. “Hey, careful. Someone might be listening in, prick,” replied Din. “But how are you anyway, my mongrel friend?” “I’m well. Very well, in fact. I am a man who is obviously blessed by some God or other, despite his loyalty to the Communist Party,” Nguyen joked. “A result of your charitable work in finding homes for the poor orphans of Hai Phong’s gutters, no doubt,” chuckled his friend, casually. “But why so blessed?” “I don’t want to say anything about it on the phone. Except to say the number two hundred thousand. US. Want to split it with me, Cam?” “What? Do the Heilongjiang eat dogs? Where shall we meet?” “Nanning. As soon as possible. When can you get there?” asked Nguyen. “I can set out this afternoon. Could be there by tonight.” “Good. Usual place?” “Yeah. Meet you in the bar at the Three Time Lucky, late. We’re bound to get lucky ourselves.”

After placing twenty-five thousand dollars in a briefcase, Nguyen quickly returned to his home to pick up an overnight bag, not missing the opportunity to scold his wife over some trivial matter. She had learned to take his verbal assaults without resistance, lest the bullying escalate to physical blows. It often had, during the early years of their marriage, before she was house-trained.

Nguyen then took the express train to Hanoi, a journey of just under two hours, before boarding the Vietnam Airlines flight to Hong Kong, where he would make the connection with Kowloon Airways’ daily flight to Nanning. It was a circuitous route, but one that did not bother him, for his detour to the S.A.R. gave him a certain amount of cover, should this ever be required.

posted by Kirk at 7:07 am  

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress