Kaptain's Blog

The writings and musings of The Kaptain

Monday, March 24, 2008

Through The Godless Hours (41)

That afternoon, Adi returned to Endang’s. Entering the lift in the spartan lobby of the innocuous looking building, he re-emerged a short ride later into a poorly lit corridor on the sixth floor. An arrow then led him left, in the direction of the reception counter. Adi felt his way along the corridor’s snaking S-bends that, acting as light traps, quickly enshrouded him in near total darkness. As he finally reached the counter, he could just about make out the shapes in the room that was situated to one side. Objects which, as his eyes became better accustomed to the poverty of light, gradually morphed into young, scantily clad women, with eyes that stared at him seductively, urging him to bring his trade their way.

“I came here a week ago, saw a young girl called Lulu in room… thirty-something?” he began. The woman at the counter threw him a blank look. “Young, perhaps eighteen. Long dark hair, brown eyes…” “That description fits everyone here, sayang,” the woman replied, sighing. Then Adi remembered the tattoo – Lulu’s branding, courtesy of the Laba-Laba gang. “Oh – she has a tattoo of a spider just above her… well, here.” He twisted his upper body and reached around to point at his coccyx. “Oh ya, sayang. I know her with tattoo.” “OK, can I–” “You can’t go her now. You wait with other girl over there.” “Why not?” “She with… friend.”

At this, Adi rushed past the woman, following the same route along which he had been led the previous week. As he arrived at her door a stout, balding expatriate was just emerging, while fastening the belt of his trousers. The bule shrugged as Adi flicked him a look of disgust, before chuckling to himself and going on his way. The young Detective then entered the room to be greeted with a flashing smile. In his mind, he tried desperately to convince himself that her welcome meant ‘recognition’, while in Lulu’s nothing registered, in particular. For it was a duty, something she gave freely to all customers. She was wearing nothing but a single garment – orange-red, long and silken – that perfectly complemented her skin tone. Wrapping her hands around his neck, Lulu looked up into Adi’s chiselled face as the sarong then fell open a little, parting up the middle to reveal the velvety skin in which her slender young body was sealed. For a moment, she appeared to him to be floating. High? thought Adi, silently. But when she spoke, her voice had a soft clarity. “I knew you’d come back,” she purred. Adi felt good upon hearing this – special, even. But the phrase was one she used with everyone. It carried with it no emotion.

There was a distinct stirring in Adi’s groin during the pause that followed, as she waited for him to make the next, obvious move. But Detective Adi was in no mood for self-indulgence at this time. For as he stroked her long, shiny hair, staring all the while into the deep wells of her eyes, the death mask of the driver was once more all around him, swamping his mind. “If it’s OK with you,” he said after a while, “I would just like to sit and talk.” And then the handsome young Detective told the girl everything…

When he was not trying to improve his mind or simply counting down the hours of another dull day, Anath spent his time contemplating the father he had never known. He was aware from the rare conversations he had had with his mother on the subject that there was a close physical resemblance between them. He also knew that his father was much loved. For despite the fact that he had apparently fled the scene at a time he was needed most, Anath’s mother had always been full of forgiveness, never allowing a bad word to be said about the man. And above all else, the fact that he had never known her to look at – let alone date – another man told Anath the most important thing of all about his parents: that at least one of them harboured the hope that they would one day be reunited. That coursing through the aether there was a vein of love that ran deep – reaching out constantly, to find its mate. And far down, within his anguished soul, Anath loved his father, too. Perhaps in a confused way – where twin brothers called anger and frustration also interloped – but with a flaming passion, nonetheless.

Sitting at his newsstand as a gust of wind suddenly blew up the dust all around him, Anath had an overwhelming urge to act – to simply walk away from his situation and search ceaselessly for the one thing that was missing from his life. He knew that his father had gone away to some foreign place, perhaps never intending to return. But did he come back, after all? And if so, where is he now? Here in Jakarta? What is he doing? Does my father have another family? Do I have any half-siblings? Defeated, Anath breathed in deeply, determining that some day – some day soon, now that he had established himself in the city – he would take time out to find this man, his father. The man he wanted to know, with whom he would share his thoughts. To whom, importantly, he wished to express his love, in spite of the man’s total abandonment of his family; his absence from the events and experiences of the first quarter-century of Anath’s life.

posted by Kirk at 1:11 am  

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Number One Under Heaven (21)

The boat-ride down the Lijiang was well underway when the children passed Elephant Rock, a popular Guilin tourist attraction. This massive natural structure arched into the river, leaving a perfect hollow beneath. It had the appearance of a huge, prehistoric mammoth, whose trunk was sucking greedily from the sparkling, clear waters of the river Li. The children were euphoric, having earlier seen off the wicked turtle soup seller, courtesy of Abigail Newton’s frenzied shrieking. Shooing him away with her banshee wailing, the poor man had thought she was possessed by some guimei ghost and paddled rapidly away in fright, lest the ghoul find a way to cross over and invade his body, too. The schoolkids had cheered at this apparent victory for nature, despite Deputy Principal Gavin Hewitt’s obvious disgust at the vegetarian teacher’s hysteria. Some other folk would still be eating the flesh and broken bones of the dead creatures in the man’s voluminous tureen, after all.

Neither Brad Taylor nor Sally Henderson had fully witnessed this episode, taking the opportunity of its distraction to instead sidle around to the other side of the boat for a quick grope, and exchange of tongues. They had always had eyes for each other back at the Cape school, but neither had quite expected the rapid acceleration in the intimacy of their relationship that the trip to Guilin had brought on. Its romantic atmosphere had already seen him visit her room at the Goldfish in the still of the first night, while the children were fast asleep after the exhaustion of their journey. And this would prove to be not the last time that red and white watches were absent from duty.

The boat continued to pull slowly up the river, past some local children with their makeshift fishing nets, for who school was an abstract concept, something outside the world of harsh realities that formed their eat-what-you-kill existence. Then further upstream, the party arrived at the chili pepper farms that gave the local food its distinctive, fiery flavour. Laid out to dry on matting, the vivid red of the peppers contrasted with the verdant hues of the spiky hills in the background. Formed two hundred million years earlier, when huge crustal movements thrust limestone rock thousands of feet upwards from the seabed, through the oceans and beyond, to burst into the brightly-lit sky, these mountains were an essential part of the Guilin experience. The group of seven-year-olds was only half interested in this natural spectacle, however, being perhaps a little young to appreciate its grandeur. In stark contrast, their joyful enthusiasm was rekindled when, a while later, they arrived at their lunchtime destination – a Chinese imitation of Kentucky Fried Chicken, where Chairman Mao took on the cameo role of Colonel Sanders as the silent, plastic greeter. “Yay! KFC!” squealed Sophie Blake, delighted, recognising the familiar red-and-white colour scheme but not understanding the blatant theft of intellectual property. “Woohoo!” the other kids yelled, in their excitement.

But as Sophie then sat in her own private world, oblivious to all around her while happily munching through a chicken leg, something funny happened. Suddenly, she stopped eating and instead probed around her front teeth with her tongue. Nothing. Frowning, she half-shrugged before resuming, only to feel the sensation again. Yes, there it was. Once more she felt with her tongue, slightly afraid now of what might happen if she pushed too firmly, or in the wrong way. And then it was confirmed. Yes, it was true all right. Sophie Blake had a wobbly tooth.

posted by Kirk at 11:32 pm  

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Through The Godless Hours (40)

It had almost broken Daman to be sent away, to be wrenched from his love and the life he thought he had been building – banished once more to the familiar territory of a university campus in a foreign, if hospitable, place. It felt to him as if there were a scratch in the record, that the needle had bounced back a number of grooves to re-run the previous few bars of a song. Early on in the course of his second degree in economics he had contemplated quitting, disappearing silently to elope with his heavily pregnant child bride; taking her somewhere – anywhere – in order to make a fresh start and live the life upon which his heart insisted, however simple or poor. But ultimately, his head had held sway and his devotion to his parents – in particular his father – kept him at the university until graduation. At first he had tried writing to her, but he knew of no real postal address and there had never been any reply. Eventually, he accepted that his father had once again been right: that the only way to deal with the crushing sadness he felt was to obliterate her memory from his mind. He knew she was being taken care of; that was his father’s side of the bargain. All he needed to do to keep his was stay away from her and get his degree, killing the pain he felt in the process. And so, with a heavy heart, this is what he had tried.

Forget her, forget her, forget her.

Upon returning to Jakarta after this, his second graduation, he had been greeted as if coming home from a war, still alive, and a number of parties were held at the family home in his honour. It was at one of these that he had first met his wife. She was an elegant but plain woman, well-educated and faultlessly polite: the ideal partner for any aspiring young man, as his father had been quick to point out. Pretty soon, he had deciphered his father’s message, and begun regularly to date her. He thought of her as pleasant if a little dull and although they shared a common social background he had never loved her, no matter how hard he tried. Their wedding was celebrated six short months after they had first met and Daman had then settled into a steady routine in the city offices of PT Bambang Edible Oil. For most, his comfortable lifestyle in the heart of an adoring family would have been everything they had aspired to. Even his sisters – the spoiled princesses who as a child he would taunt – enthused ceaselessly about their smart kid brother without the slightest hint of jealousy. Positioned as he was beside a devoted wife, and with an assured career already beginning to blossom, Daman was the role model that many set out to imitate but commonly failed. His was an ideal situation by any standards, and a firm platform on which he could build the rest of his life.

And yet the emptiness in his heart would not go away, had persisted throughout the years despite the healing qualities that time was meant to offer. Perhaps if they had managed to produce a child, he would have been better able to close the book of his past and move on to a new chapter in the present. But for whatever reason this was not to be and she had never been able to produce him an heir. Why has fate treated me this way? he would often ask. To which, in the darker moments, he would provide his own, poignant answer: Because I betrayed love. No, it was impossible for Daman to forget Ramani, his only love. And whatever his wife did, and however hard she tried, she could never satisfy him. Her unswerving devotion would never suffice to deflect his soul from the woman he dreamt of in the night. Every night.

After a few years of working his way through the ranks at the firm’s city headquarters, and now a little over thirty years old, Daman eventually gained the chance to be groomed as his father’s successor. Before long, he was reunited with the plantation and its loyal workers, most of whom he still recognised from the time he had spent there, before the incident. It was now some six years since he had visited and his arrival was greeted with much enthusiasm by the staff, all of them privately relieved to see that the relationship between father and son had endured, despite the events of which no-one spoke. They were keen to see him eventually succeed his father, establishing the dynasty, because it was obvious to all that he had inherited many of his father’s traits. But whilst all was progressing well on the surface, Daman continued to suffer inside: an emotion exacerbated by a pledge he had given his father: that he would never again venture into the Kampung. For although they had told him the girl had gone – had left the village long ago, with her boy – he knew this to be a falsehood and could sense their presence, close by.

posted by Kirk at 11:25 pm  

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Number One Under Heaven (20)

Billed as a ‘green city’, the capital of Guangxi autonomous region was in fact a typically dreary, pollution-shrouded place. Nanning’s agglomeration of shop-houses, high rise buildings and residential developments, all thrown together with little or no appreciation for the science of town planning, projected a familiar, unattractive backdrop to the fundamental culture in this part of the world: money. And it was the lure of money – a large amount of it – that had drawn the co-conspirators to the 888 bar in the basement of the two-star Three Time Lucky Hotel this night. Several scantily clad girls were hanging round the necks of Nguyen and Din as they discussed – in Vietnamese, lest they be overheard – how it was that they would execute their plan. “I know some men in Guilin. Petty criminals,” said Din, gesturing animatedly as his state of inebriation advanced. “They’re idiots, but I think they could pull it off, with some proper planning and supervision. They’ll need a vehicle, which I can arrange. Also a down payment. Did you bring some cash with you, shit-head?” he chuckled. “Of course I did, you fucking shrimp-brain. How much do you need? We’ve got to move fast or we may lose the opportunity.” Nguyen was in a good mood despite his concern, playfully grabbing one of the girls as he spoke. “I reckon about ten thousand US plus expenses should be enough to get them to take on the risk, with a bonus of the same amount again once the drop has been made. We’ll arrange for them to drive South to the coast, to Qinzhou. I’ll have a boat there, waiting,” Din continued loudly, competing with the music. A menacing glance at the bartender was all it took for the volume to be lowered a little. These men had reputations. They were bad. “We’ll need money for petrol and about a thousand US to bribe Customs, if that becomes necessary,” he continued. “I’ll go to Qinzhou personally, to oversee everything. All told, I’ll need around fifteen thousand to get things started. Put another five on top of that for my troubles and we’re in business.” “I have it in my room. Let’s meet tomorrow morning for breakfast. Then you’ll need to start moving – fast,” insisted Nguyen. “And don’t fuck it up, mouse-balls! We’ll be splitting two hundred thousand US, don’t forget.” “Not bad for a day’s work,” Din laughed, squeezing of one of the girls’ tits. “You’ve got a deal, my blessed mongrel friend.”

The two men shook hands, happy with arrangements which, for the price of a bottle of vintage Petrus, would set in motion events designed to destroy the life of an innocent young child. “Now, let’s drink some mao tai!” yelled Din, at once urging the bartender to turn up the music – loud! – while gyrating his hips, to the amusement of the giggling bargirls. It was fortunate that none of these naïve teenagers was aware of his true identity, or why it was necessary for him to get out of Vietnam, quickly. For the man who at birth was named Cam Pho was not just a notorious drug dealer who was still high up on Vietnam’s most wanted list, but someone whose temper had led him to kill on several occasions – sometimes for nothing more than a wayward look.

posted by Kirk at 10:48 pm  

Friday, March 21, 2008

Through The Godless Hours (39)

Storm clouds were gathering above, in preparation for the afternoon’s downpour, as Ramani sprinted frantically from her kitchen to the house of her nearest neighbour, where she rapped urgently on the door. Having worked herself into something of a frenzy, she knew that only direct contact with her son, albeit by phone, would bring relief. She simply had to hear his voice. To hear him tell her that everything was OK. “’Bu Yanti!” she called out. But there was no answer. No-one was in. “’Bu?” Dear God, help me. Where are they? she screamed, silently. There were few she trusted in the village, and only a handful of whom owned a phone. Ramani had little option but to wait, despite her urge to act in some way – to run wildly, perhaps, from house to house until she found what she needed. A phone. Like the one that is just behind this door, she reminded herself. Please, God. Don’t let them be long… Please… Come on… Come on! she urged, pacing up and down the wooden verandah. Then collapsing, defeated, she sat on the step in front of the house, quietly sobbing into her hands as the first spots of rain began to fall…

Adi lay on his bed, alone with his thoughts. The terrible scene that had confronted him in the early hours of the morning replayed itself over and over in his mind, mercilessly tormenting him. I killed him, he repeated to himself. As surely as if I had put a loaded gun to his head and pulled the trigger, I killed him. It was already ten a.m. and he had barely slept since returning from the Veza Hotel. In addition to the guilt he felt, there was also somehow a sense of shame, of embarrassment that it had been necessary to smudge out the message scrawled on the dead driver’s clammy skin, which had left him looking as though he had been smeared with blood, perhaps as part of some perverted sex ritual. And although this strange aspect of the man’s appearance in death would, together with the syringes lying everywhere, make it seem like a straightforward example of death by misadventure – an open and shut case of a lowlife and his whore getting out of their depth, experimenting with sex and drugs only to pay the ultimate price – the Detective’s instinctive piece of quick thinking before leaving the scene made him feel no better.

In fact, he felt sick. Sick that he had imagined he was in control, cocky enough to expose the hapless informant, a man who had pleaded with him to desist from what he knew was a suicide mission. Except it wasn’t suicide, was it? Adi now contemplated. No – in a court of law I might even be classified as an accessory to murder, given the role I played in the poor bastard’s demise. Once more he turned over in his bed, pulling the covers over his head, and tried again to sleep. His cell-phone was switched off and his door locked and bolted. Adi needed time to think about what to do next, now that the stakes had been raised by that sick fuck of an army Captain – who had no doubt grinned his way through inflicting the macabre death on his driver and what appeared to be a hooker, Adi believed.

And then it occurred to him.

Who is the girl, and why had Captain Fucking Farid involved her – killed her, for God’s sake? There had to be something in it. Because although the army ice-man was a merciless killer, undaunted by the prospect of snuffing out anyone – innocent civilians included – he had not chosen just anybody to accompany his driver into the next life. No. He had chosen this particular girl, and Adi was going to find out why. Finally, he had the essence of a plan. For the first time in a good few hours he was able to relax sufficiently to fall into a deep sleep. And although he would not be able to bring back the driver, he now at least had the next moves in his campaign to snare the Captain mapped out. For whilst presently he did not even know the girl’s name, he would find out – and along with it the secrets she must have held in order for the ruthless officer to have wanted her put firmly out of the way, for ever.

posted by Kirk at 10:43 pm  

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  

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Through The Godless Hours (38)

When Anath first arrived in the capital, he quickly realised that he had effectively swapped one village for another. For throughout the vast, sprawling metropolis that Jakarta was, a patchwork of small communities made up the fabric of this great but distressed city, providing mutual support, sharing responsibilities and, to the best of their ability, seeing to it that everyone was suitably provided for. In this way, the humble people of the Kampungs took care of their own, within the confines of their allotted sub-districts. And unlike those he had left behind in the rural place of his birth, these Kampung folk looked out for one another unhesitatingly – for history had taught them that it paid to care. The harsh realities of city life had, over generations, convinced them that a system of mutual support was the most effective way of perpetuating their existence and this principle was continually being handed down from grandfather to father to son, and over again.

Because of his acceptance into their community, Anath had been fortunate to strike up immediate friendships with a variety of neighbours from many different walks of life. He was quite naturally a likeable young man who, in return for their kindness and impartiality, returned whatever favours he could, whenever his strictly disciplined work regime would permit. And so each afternoon he would remember to sprint a free copy of The Jakarta Post to the infirm old woman who lived three blocks South of his newsstand. The round trip would take a little over fifteen minutes – unless she insisted he stayed for a glass of hot tea – during which time one of the obliging waiters from the restaurant would be on hand to watch over his stall, perhaps taking the opportunity to flick through a magazine whilst casually smoking a cigarette.

Maybe it was this camaraderie – a sense of belonging he was experiencing for the first time in his life – that had kept Anath at the same location he had first arrived at in the big city, diligently working his newsstand while carrying out the same uninspiring daily routines. For sure, there could be no other reason. Because from his pre-dawn preparations throughout the hot, sticky and pollution-filled roadside days, Anath would be counting the minutes: alone with his thoughts, biding his time. To an active mind like his, Anath’s life was a dreary soap opera in which he played a part far beneath his calling. He was the prodigy cast as a bit-part extra, an overlooked virtuoso forced to eke out a living on the sidelines.

The only real satisfaction he experienced was when, on returning each evening to his rented digs, he would hungrily gulp down his main meal of the day – something he often garnered from Sate Blora. But after this mundane ritual, his remaining energy would permit him only to collapse in a heap on to his bed, exhausted. The question in his mind, then – one that had been festering for some considerable time – was when would he have the courage to break free of these circumstances and proactively seek out a greater challenge?

From the large family home in the same suburb, ’Pak Bambang was meanwhile becoming concerned that his grandson’s progress appeared stymied – that the boy was suffering from a form of paralysis, brought on by indecision. The old industrialist’s direct observations were sporadic and of necessity never involved open discussion, but he knew from the lack of talk about Anath around the Kampung that nothing ever changed, that life instead went on in its unexciting way for the solitary young man. Frustrated, ’Pak Bambang felt an increasing urge to intervene: indeed, if it were possible, he would opt to walk straight up to the boy, look him squarely in the eye and shake him from this stasis – tell him to move on up; seek out a better life and career.

For although he was proud of the way Anath pushed himself through each uneventful day; knew that this was still building a solid platform upon which his grandson would later mould his ideals, he was also keenly aware that the ticking of the clock was slowly turning this fresh young boy into a world-weary, down-trodden man. Moreover, he understood that the passage of time was making it ever less likely that he would see the day when this gifted child could be announced and formally accepted into the family: something that was his ultimate dream. Because he knew that his own time was short. Had known it, in fact, for a while.

Ever since his early forties, when he had stopped smoking for good, ’Pak Bambang had counted the passing of each birthday as a blessing to be treasured, a gift from God that reinforced his faith and, in turn, contributed to his benevolence. “All I want for my birthday… is another birthday,” he would quip, when his children asked him each year what gift they could offer their beloved patriarch – a man who already had almost everything one could wish for. But behind the veneer of his smile there had always lurked concern, a fear that to his great dismay had ultimately been confirmed when, on a routine visit to his trusted doctor he had been sat down in the surgery and given the bad news. Cancer. Throughout his lungs. Inoperable. Twelve months – perhaps more if he were lucky.

Oh, how he wished he could have turned back the clock and refused that first cigarette that had set him along this path, a path that was now about to end – abruptly. But this journey was along a conveyor belt that was about to disappear from under his feet – and there was no other way of getting off, except at the end.

posted by Kirk at 6:55 am  

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Number One Under Heaven (18)

Kate had been mightily relieved to hear her husband’s loud snoring from the bedroom as she tiptoed quietly back into the apartment just before midnight. Excited and still wet, she had been careful not to make a sound as she glided through to the bathroom, closing the door behind her. Under a luke-warm shower she touched herself constantly, recalling the sensation of Tommy’s tongue, and then the deep penetration of his cock, pushing hard inside her. Re-living the experience with her fingers she brought herself quickly to another frenzied climax, though observing a careful silence this time, lest she disturb her sleeping husband.

What a physique he has, she continued to ponder, dreamily: her eyes closed while she relaxed under the pitter-patter of the shower-head’s steady flow. He had not disappointed her with his performance, either, and it elated her to know that she would be getting much more of him, over time. By morning, however, such thoughts had turned to guilt and she had allowed Adam to sleep through his alarm, nudging him gently awake almost two hours later. She had even had the presence of mind to place some Panadol and a glass of water at his side as she left, in the knowledge that he would, as usual, be waking to a raging hangover.

But now, skipping along once again in the direction of the tennis courts, there was a bounce in Kate’s step, and she had recovered from her earlier, fleeting remorse. For she was about to see him again. Her man. The one with the steel cock…

Blake had wandered around the streets of Hong Kong’s Wanchai district for a while before hailing a taxi, which he did in part simply to get out of the heat. “Central,” came his abrupt instruction to the driver. In the car’s cool interior he thought about calling John, to give him the news and perhaps have a last lunch at the company’s expense. His corporate charge card was still in his wallet, after all. But for whatever reason he eventually decided against this, perhaps not yet ready to recount the morning’s boardroom dialogue. Monologue, he corrected himself.

Suddenly remembering the business card that had fallen from his pocket in the office, he then reached into his jacket to take it out. Elle So – Skincare Solutions, it read. But who was Elle So? Taking out his cell-phone he decided to call her, to find out. After three rings, the purring voice of what was clearly a sophisticated woman came on the line. “Skincare Solutions, how can I help?” the voice said. “Er… Hello. Sorry to trouble you. Er… my name’s Adam Blake,” he began, a little nervously. “And, er… I found your name card in my jacket pocket. I was just, er… trying to figure out how or where we’d met,” he explained. “I see.” There was a pause while the woman thought. “Oh!” she then exclaimed, remembering. “Did you happen to be in Bar George yesterday afternoon?” “Possibly,” he replied, scratching his head. “No – I mean yes!” he added, excitedly. “I remember now. Yes, I was!” “Then I offered you a glass of champagne, but I must’ve made the wrong impression, ’cause you fell off your stool.  Are you OK? You took quite a fall.” Blake was now feeling gingerly around the bump that still protruded slightly from the back of his skull. “I’m, er… so sorry about that. I hope I didn’t cause any concern.” “Not at all,” replied Elle. “I’m glad to hear you’re still in one piece.” “Champagne, was it?” Blake said, now moving up a gear. He liked the sound of this lady. “You must’ve been celebrating something.” “I was. I’d just won a major new contract, so I was having some bubbles with a few friends.” “Tell you what,” said Blake. “How about I buy you a celebratory lunch somewhere?” “Er… sure… When?” “Now?”

There was a moment’s silence at the other end of the line and Blake found himself looking skyward, albeit only as far as the taxi’s interior ceiling. This woman sounded like someone he could talk to, with whom he might share his problems, get things off his chest. Please, please, please say yes… “OK then. Where and what time?” Elle finally said, after what had seemed an eternity. “I’m easy. Do you want to go upmarket, or keep it simple?” “Oh, simple is cool for me. No need to go overboard.” “In that case, why don’t I meet you at Bar George? I’ll sit on the same stool as yesterday and try not to fall off this time! Probably owe the guys there an apology, anyway.” “Sure. See you there in twenty,” Elle confirmed, ringing off, while Blake slowly closed his cell-phone, a broad smile writ large across his face. Today is certainly turning out to be unusual, he mused, with considerable understatement. I wonder what she looks like?

posted by Kirk at 12:33 am  

Friday, March 7, 2008

Through The Godless Hours (37)

Not without trepidation, Adi drove the thirty minutes it took to reach the vicinity of the old masjid, where he turned off Pura Street into a side road and parked. Being unfamiliar with the area, he took some mental notes as he walked the last few hundred metres in what he imagined was the direction of the hotel. The minor landmarks he stored in his head would later help guide him back to his car – in a hurry, if necessary. Adi was acutely aware that what was happening now was no longer being read from his script. He sensed instinctively that he should not be taking the Captain’s bait – that he should ignore the lure and go home to rest… and think. Over and again, he reminded himself of the nature of his adversary – of the terrible fury that was cooking away inside him, bubbling just under the surface. Adi thought of the examples of the terrifying, unnatural menace the Captain had, on occasion, revealed. But despite his misgivings, the young Detective could not resist the temptation offered by the note in his pocket. 2-8-3-9… 6-6-4-4… room 414.

After a few minutes’ walk he spotted the Veza Hotel, to his left. It was a large detached building, laid back off the street with what appeared good access around both sides to the rear. So far, so good. Adi did not want to take the risk of going through the lobby, perhaps inviting the challenge of the desk staff, or security. The last thing he needed was any further complication. Instead, he slipped around to the rear of the building, quickly finding a fire escape, which was conveniently wedged open with a brick. Moving cautiously into the dimly lit interior, he began slowly to climb the stairs. On the assumption that room 414 was on the fourth floor, he paused for a few moments upon arriving at the appropriate landing. Then, after a few deep breaths, he slid around the half-opened fire door, entering the corridor to creep stealthily along, in the direction of room 414. Punctuating the stillness, the muffled moans of a couple could be heard, from behind a door. 410. He moved further down the corridor, the carpet sticking in patches to the soles of his shoes. 412. And then, finally, he arrived at his destination. Removing his pistol from inside his jacket, Detective Adi knocked firmly on the door. Nothing. He knocked again. Still nothing. Nervously, he took the risk of pressing an ear against the flimsy door panel, but still heard only the sound of the lovers from along the corridor. For a third time he rapped on the thin wood – a loud staccato this time, conveying urgency. But there was still no response; no shuffling of feet from within, no sound. His mind racing with all the possibilities of what might lie in wait inside the room, Adi knew that he had come too far to simply turn back. Panic was now beginning to rise up inside him, compelling him to act on instinct. Moving back a step, he made a sudden lunge at the door, throwing all his weight against it. The weak structure gave way easily, Adi bursting with a crash into the dank stillness within. Where is he? Standing just inside the doorway, his pistol raised, Adi’s eyes darted furtively around the room, trying to capture movement from within the shadows. Where is he? The young Detective was panting now – short breaths that came and went too quickly; failed to quench his thirst for air. Confused. It’s a trap. A fucking trap. Think! He wanted to run across the room and kick in the bathroom door; fire wildly at whatever – whoever – was inside. But his feet were rooted to the ground, as heavy as lead. Then slowly, emerging as if from another world, entering his peripheral vision from within the shroud of the dim light, the shapes on top of the bed began to assert their presence. There was no movement to be detected, and he could hear no sound – not even the purring breaths of slumber. Half expecting the Captain to jump him at any moment, unleashing all his terrifying fury, he took a few faltering steps forward, to make a closer inspection. Glancing around furtively, Adi crept across the darkened room with extreme caution, making warily for the bed.

What greeted the Detective as he neared the humps resting above it was a sight for which he was not prepared. Abruptly, he stopped: stock still now. Oh, fuck. In the ethereal calm, illuminated by the dim bulb of a single bedside lamp, were two figures. Bodies. Dead. One male, one female, draped across the bed in some macabre, otherworldly coupling. Adi studied the scene, calling upon his instincts to make some sense of what he now realised he had been summoned to witness. He lowered his pistol and took a deep breath. Regaining some of his composure, he now saw that the man’s body was twisted so that his head and chest were pressed into the side of the woman, obscuring his face completely. His clarity of purpose restored, Detective Adi walked back across the room and flicked on the light switch near the door, before returning to the bed. He observed that the woman was lying on her back, eyes open, staring vacantly at the ceiling. There was no blood, apart from a slight caking around her nostrils, and judging by the colour of her face – flushed pink – it appeared that she was probably the victim of a drug overdose. Except that there are never two bodies in an overdose scene – only one. No. Wait a minute. There can be two, Adi corrected himself, but only when it’s a double murder.

All thought of the Captain and the terrible threat he represented had been banished, there in the room of this tawdry motel, as Adi’s mind began instead to focus on what he knew had been deliberately laid out before him – a presentation, almost: a gruesome still life. And while the dead woman’s face registered nothing within his memory banks, correlated not with any of the images they stored, there was something vaguely familiar about the man… Suddenly, Adi felt himself reaching down to place a hand on the shoulder of the dead male, prising him apart from the woman, his body flopping grotesquely away from her, on the bed. Now also lying on his back, his eyes wide open in peaceful release, and with a half-smile detectable around his lips, the dead body of Captain Farid’s driver stared vacantly into space. “Aah, fuck! No! No!” Adi screamed, jumping back, away from the nearness of death. Of someone he knew. No way! No fucking way, man! he gasped, struggling for breath. For the driver would be providing Detective Adi with no more inside information and the Captain, who had signed off his work with a droll




scrawled in the woman’s red lipstick on the driver’s torso, from his chest down to his navel, was back in control of the situation. Knew everything. Would, in all likelihood, come after him and try to kill him. Soon.

Running his hands through the spikes of his jet-black hair, the young Detective despaired. No, no, no… Not like this… Fuck it… Fuck!

It was his first big fall, the first true test of Adi the man.

posted by Kirk at 11:26 pm