Here Siam Without Remorse
Here Siam Without Remorse
‘I’m authorized to take you to a special training facility.’ Kareem had not extended the offer to the girl after all. ‘Your daughter is welcome to come along on our flight, but only to stay in the nearby city.’
As Tariq pulled his luggage from a lavishly decorated lorry, he recalled the invitation. The ex-cop hadn’t seemed overly disappointed when I told him Fatima left suddenly to tend a sick aunt.
[Osama bin Airlines has some state-of-the-art equipment.]
“We’re flying on that?” Tariq asked on seeing a chartered aircraft that could’ve been acquired as Vietnam War surplus.
“It’s slyly listed as carrying a cargo of vegetables.” Kareem bragged.
“That freight seems too valuable to risk in an antique plane like this.” Tariq muttered to himself as he ascended a wooden crate step to enter the seat-less cabin. Onboard, he sat on a pile of cargo netting, then closed his lids and tried to shut out the rattling take-off.
“Rivets pinning the plane’s skin are so loose that we may shed like an airborne snake.” The Iranian self-commented after the craft had lurched aloft. “I hope the bolts securing the wings aren’t similarly slack.”
The programmer pushed the airplane’s mechanical condition from mind by revisiting his final evening with his girlfriend.
‘I’ll wait in Karachi, until you know where that nearby city is.’ Fatima had offered. ‘You might need me and your computer handy.’
‘You’ll go straight to Toronto.’
‘Okay,’ the girl had her one condition, ‘but tonight is our last one for awhile and we’ll play by only my rules.’
‘Won’t we get complaints from the neighbors for our being obnoxious.’
‘We’ll be gone before any eviction orders.’ Fatima looked playfully quizzical. ‘Don’t you really mean obstreperous? They shouldn’t find us unpleasant and offensive but we will definitely be noisy and boisterous.’
‘I used the wrong word but you were persnickety in pointing it out.’ Tariq thought about her faultless command of English and extensive vocabulary. ‘How did you come by such an astonishing linguistic talent?’
‘My grandfather was American and my grandmother was East Indian. Both were well educated. My mother grew up speaking English and Hindi. She was abducted and lived in the Soviet Union where she spoke Russian. During my childhood we switched between her three primary tongues.’
‘Those are your best ones then?’
‘Yes, but living in other countries I picked up marginal ability in more.’
“We were certainly rambunctious enough to disturb folks living next door.” Back on the ramshackle flight and with a smile, Tariq’s memory skipped pleasurably to the last portion of the night.
[Bubblegum and duct tape keeps the parts flying united.]
I presume you referred to the airplane and not some kinky aerial sex techniques practiced behind the sacred gates of Asgård.
[Don’t be blasphemous. I’m not a good-standing member of the Æsir.]
I just provided you with ambrosia for your prurient thoughts.
[And given yourself puerile grist to prevent your mind from chewing through the assassination cud.]
“I was more surprised than she was.” Tariq recalled her reaction. ‘You sick, twisted bastard.’ He wondered whom was Zafira referring to? ‘Were my marital infidelity and my life only grizzly notches on your bedpost?’
“I’m certain she wasn’t talking to Kareem: Zafira gave no indications of having ever seen him before.” The programmer’s words were whispers but even a shout wouldn’t have carried far over the old aircraft’s noise. “I am so glad my Fatima will never see that remorseless killer again.”
“Bangkok?” Tariq emerged from his reverie as the plane clattered into an approach to the airport. Seen from the aircraft’s window, ‘the City of Angels’ was shrouded in an omnipresent haze of vehicle emissions. With canals randomly crisscrossing the city, it looked like lush tropical Venice.
[There were once more waterways and it was called Asia’s Venice.]
I suppose that’s a snippet I read somewhere and have since forgotten.
They had left Pakistan as cargo and they arrived as freight as well. An open-boxed transport truck met the plane on the ramp and the ten bags of produce unloaded themselves. Men sitting as uncovered cargo might raise suspicions if seen in North America, but here the sight was commonplace. As the vehicle trundled through Bangkok’s early traffic, he saw numerous people on the non-passenger parts of transports: Tariq even saw four Thai men riding a tanker-truck like it was a saddled water buffalo.
They entered a private road south of the main city of Bangkok but it soon came to a barricaded chicane and a security post. Thai guards, who awakened as the van snaked around the offset fences, gave an impression of this being a lavish resort. Inside the high chain-link fence, the grounds were tended but there were also sections of natural jungle. Doubtlessly, the water frontage on a thick channel of the muddy Chao Phraya River was a 4-star hotel at one time and the guest rooms were individual cabanas.
“That area is the private dwelling of our host,” Kareem nudged Tariq and indicated an upstream portion of the complex divided from the rest with a wall, “but I doubt you’ll be invited in to meet Osama quite yet.”
“He’s not in Afghanistan!” The programmer nearly dropped his bag.
[A matador in a turban has the NATO bull charging at only a red cape.]
“People assume the world’s most wanted man is holed up in a remote spot,” Kareem snickered, “but he’s hiding in a throng of the onlookers.”
“I wish I could say it good was to be back.” Katya gave her godfather a hug: she had switched identification after Fatima’s landing in Toronto.
“Let’s have a cup of Earl Grey and you can tell me all about your trip.”
“It was a long and lonely series of flights.” The female collapsed into a chair and she rested her tired head in her hands. “I fretted the whole way.”
“I didn’t mean just the journey back.” Sam set a cup in front of her and poured: he already had it made before she had arrived.
“I don’t even know where in the world Tariq is right now.” She stared into the liquid and the color reminded her of his skin. “When I learned of the assassination in Quetta, I felt a chill and immediately thought of him.”
“We didn’t talk much about this,” the godfather changed the subject: this one was obviously painful, “but I owe you a substantive amount of money in accumulated maintenance payments.”
“Okay?” Bemused, Katya looked up at his twinkling old eyes. Where does this topic come from? She didn’t really care squat about money and especially at this moment, it was unimportant to her.
“Alas, but you’ve caught me rather short of funds.” Sam Levy tried to appear contrite. The programmer had phoned after her plane departed: he asked the forger to keep the girl’s mind as occupied as possible. “I used to pay part of my obligation to you and your mom in the documents I made.”
“There’s no hurry.” The girl was puzzled about where this was coming from or headed towards. She turned it around slightly, with a wink. “I am shy of a man right now and am more than willing to take it out in trade.”
“Oye vey!” Sam hooted. “My stiff corpse better end up with a stiffy-on or I’ll still be indebted to you, even after my very early death.”
“Alright, what else did you have planned?
“To young people, a decent education is worth more than wealth. If I teach you what I know—would you call us square?”
“Would you?” Katya asked excitedly.
“I’m far too near to mandatory retirement age to fear an apprentice opening up a shop in competition.” The antique forger was already well in advance of that number of years. “I don’t actually have to worry either: it would take both of your scrawny feet to fill even one of my shoes.”
On the comment, Katya pointedly looked at his footwear’s dismal state of disrepair. Her smug smile was a vicious retort that needed no words.
“I didn’t buy this building because I liked my neighbors.” Sam led to the alley entryway and moved aside a door-sized shelving unit: it swung on well-oiled hinges. “It was built in the mid-sixties and the owner thought surviving to see a nuclear winter might make for some great skiing.”
“This room is even below your cellar.” Katya estimated. The forger’s pupil was astounded at his ultra-modern computers and advanced gear. I suspected we’d be surprised—but I’m staggered beyond any fore-inkling.
How can Osama be here without being noticed? After stepping on the captain’s claymore mine of surprise knowledge, Tariq walked in a mist of frenetic mental activity. He was barely aware of being shown to his hut.
“Drop your bag,” Kareem held the door, “and we’ll go for a coffee.”
If the recognizable personage travels at all it would be in a limousine with shaded windows. After tossing his suitcase on the luggage stand, he took the proffered key and trailed along behind. It makes sense: anyone’s going to the Thailand capital to meet him, isn’t likely to arouse suspicions.
[It’s a secure keep with a moat and 10 million shield-maidens.]
A western-leaning population center is safe from being bombed to target only one man. Although, I’m not certain I would put much beyond the current American presidential administration.
From the room, the two strolled along a flagstone sidewalk bordered with lawns and shrubs. The twisting way had a few forks to the other guest rooms and circled past a tennis court, before arriving at the café. This was an open air dining area with a terrace over the water. A few Arabic men with female companions were sparsely occupying the tables.
“Is this place a type of school?”
“What we learn here is more valuable than education.” Kareem spoke guardedly. “It’s also a staging area with amenities for rest and relaxation.”
“My impression,” Tariq saw scantily clad Asian girls frolicking around a kidney shaped pool, “is that this retreat is in breach of Koran Laws.”
“This is where potential martyrdom,” Kareem signaled for service, “is edited from a rough sketch into Technicolor cinematography.”
[Osama’s soldiers come here to partake of earthly pleasures.]
Immorality is against the religious articles even when fighting a holy war. Tariq flicked his eyes to the relative safety of the menu. He needed a moment to decide what attitude to display.
“How about a drink?” The overweight commander asked. “If the bar in the coffee shop doesn’t have what you want,” he nodded over a shoulder at another building, “we’ll have it sent over from the lounge.”
“I’ll start with an orange juice and call it breakfast.” Tariq avoided the offer of liquor until he finished thinking. He looked at indicated structure.
Gables and peaks on the pitched roof were decorated with traditional Siamese carved spike accoutrements. Frosted glass doors opened a few times before their order arrived. Once was admitting a trio of single men: the other was as some emerged—each with a female date on his arm.
He was zoned and watching out while the jihad captain ordered the juice. Coffee for both and a tray of fruit had been brought over on spec.
“My mind was wandering,” the Iranian heard disjointed words and he realized Kareem had finished talking with the waiter and said something to him—he had missed it, “in trying to understand what I’m observing.”
“That’s understandable as this is your first time here.” The portly Al Qaeda man had also been absorbed in a study of the writer’s expressions. “After the rigors of our missions, some troops like female companionship.”
“Isn’t decadence what the Jihad is against?” Tariq sipped his coffee: in contrast to Afghanistan’s strong brews, this was like hot muddy water.
“The Koran tells men how they should behave and the official rules of personal conduct remain true to scriptures but here, adherence is up to each man’s personal choices. Our commitment to the cause brings us special dispensations and a soldier isn’t chastised for his off-duty behavior.”
“My one guess would’ve been this place was to test a man’s resistance to temptation but you’ve just confirmed that it isn’t the case.”
“If a man dies in a jihad,” Kareem explained a Koran principle, “his soul goes to paradise: despite how piously the warrior conducted his life.”
“I doubt many Mullahs would approve.”
“Some do.” The officer took a fork and speared a slice of watermelon. “Why should a soldier be denied some pleasures in life, when his death in service of Allah will offset all earthly sins anyways?”
[The root of human problems is in rationalizing wrong for right.]
The captain didn’t stop with one fruit sampling. He took bite after bite.
“That holds a certain common sense.” But it’s based on warped logic. Tariq considered the reasoning. If a jihad warrior had a heart attack while with one of these girls, would it count as a death in the throws of battle?
[Can a holy war be fought by impure troops?]
“Every Islamic man is responsible for his own decisions in life.” Tariq offered a platitude to avoid sounding either self-righteous or willing to debauch until he decided which to portray. I need to balance an illusion of Islamic fervor that brought me here—with being amiable enough to stay.
[Oarsmen who backstroke are tossed from the longboat.]
“Osama has provided houris,” as the jihad man was finishing the last of the fruit, the programmer summed up what he was witnessing, “to grant the thousand-year orgasm ahead of death’s reward.”
“In life,” Kareem laughed and some honeydew juice dribbled down his whiskers, “that’s far beyond a normal man’s stamina.”
“I still taste exhaust fumes from the trip.” Tariq’s tongue licked around the inside of his mouth. “I need to brush these diesel filters off my teeth.”
“I’ll stop by your room later and we can visit the lounge together.”
[This place is as insidious as a cult.]
“Yes, disenfranchised Arabic young men gravitate to the Jihad in hopes of changing the world. Yet they love life and really don’t want to die.” As he meandered to his billet, his vocalization was an unintelligible mumble: it was just for himself and his soul rider. “After the inductee’s urges have been indulged there is doubtlessly indoctrination. They come to realize the way to offset their sins and gain paradise will be to die when instructed to.”
[Hence, there is no shortage of volunteer for suicide bombs.]
“The Al Qaeda organization has spoiled their chances of eternal reward in any other way. This terror sect takes brainwashing to a lower plateau.” The Iranian arrived back at his bungalow. “First they help the conscience to get dirty and then launder it with propagandized detergent.”
[You’ll have to soil your clothes too, and put them into the hamper.]
“I don’t want to think about that quite yet.” Tariq stretched out on the coverlet and put his hands behind his weary neck. One or more of the 911 terrorists may have slept and sinned in this very bed. He watched a skink run along the upper portion of the teakwood wall and his imagination gave the creature the wings and fuselage of a 767 jumbo jet.
“That lizard is clever.” The Iranian watched the creature scoot over to a fire protection device mounted on an upper wall molding, and then skitter across to the ceiling and hide in the light fixture. “Flies are drawn to the bulb and they end up in his hungry gullet.”
Wait a second, his eyes backed up, smoke detectors don’t work there. A corner between a ceiling and wall is a dead air space. To do its job best, the unit needed to be on the flat of the ceiling and preferably at mid room. Is that a lens in the center? Again, this was at odds with his fire services training. A detector used a lens and a mirror but they were internal, to look for smoke particles inside the unit. That’s a crafty surveillance camera.
The scaly creature had now secreted itself away from sight, but the man realized that his entire room was under observation.
[Are skinks reptiles or amphibians?]
“One species is a homo-sapient and it has a hyper-active mating urge.” Under scrutiny or not, the long journey caught up and he closed his eyes. Kareem knew what was here and he knows how it will be to his benefit.
[He wants leverage on you—set on Osama’s fulcrum of vice.]
“You may want to see this.” Katya hollered out: Sam had just flushed the toilet. “Someone just tried to assassinate the American President.”
“Did he kill him?” The old man shuffled faster than his frail legs could safely move. He cut a corner sharply and cracked an elbow on the wall.
“Be careful!” The girl watched Sam quicken his pace after the impact. With eyes wide, the forger leaned towards the picture tube. He’s so enrapt that I’m worried he’ll fall. She took his hips in her both hands and guided him to sitting on the sofa beside her. The two watched the breaking story out of Akron, Ohio. Is this the season for assassinations?
“The shootings at a rally are still occurring.” The anchorman’s voice was tense as visions of carnage flooded across the screen. “This graphic footage is live and viewer discretion is advised.”
‘Bang!’ The view panned to an unfurled banner fluttering in a breeze. Words were boldly lettered. ‘Shiva’s Messenger has spoken’.
“Finish it boy!” Sam was so engrossed in his viewing that he forgot he wasn’t alone. “You’ve said Shiva—so now you have to kill him!”
Sam knows what’s really happening here! Katya had watched the news with interest. Now, the more riveting drama was on the couch beside her.
The final shot of the day, at least as far as the TV covered it live, was a bullet aimed at the president, that struck a female Secret Service agent.
“How could you possibly miss him?” Sam Levy gripped his face with both hands. Suddenly, but much too late, he remembered he wasn’t alone. The old man turned to face the inevitable questions.
“Who is Shiva?” Katya looked accusingly into his guilty eyes.
“The name Shiva,” Sam Levy withered under the girl’s stare, “hasn’t been said aloud in a long time.” What can I safely tell her?
“It’s been chanted plenty often enough. My mother instructed me in Tantra and the Lord of the Dance is a very important figure in our faith.”
“Your mother was a follower,” Sam nervously laughed at the absurdity of so much happening that he was still unable to explain to her, “and even a precursor of Shiva in more ways than you could possibly guess at.”
“And?” Katya urged for an explanative follow-up. “You can’t stop now after dropping that ultra-tantalizing tidbit!”
“And yes, I do know who the shooter in Akron is. I may as well admit it because that was so instantly apparent.” He put a consoling hand on the young woman’s knee. “But, I also made a blood vow.”
“It all involves that one pledge to my father.” The girl’s mind shuffled her prior hand of information in with some new cards. “Whoever that was in Akron must’ve been featured in the pictures you wouldn’t show me.”
Sam tightened his lips and refused answering her correct supposition.
“There were snapshots of my mother, father and me in the collection.” Her mind forged a next link in the chain of logic. “My family has another member.” She glared accusingly at his stoic face. “I’ll take that as a yes.”
In the evening, a rap on his door ended Tariq’s after-travel nap.
“Don’t sleep the whole night away.” Kareem’s affable grin turned to one of humor on seeing the man with bed creases down the side of his face.
“Give me a second for a bracer shot of Blue Whiskey.”
“I was referring to mouthwash and I spit it out instead of swallowing.” The programmer scurried to the washroom and gargled while examining the lines on his cheek that were caused by sleeping on rumpled bedding. I can’t do much, but wait until my blood circulation smoothes them.
“Those are rails,” Tariq joked, “for a train of my slumbering thoughts.”
“We can switch tracks here,” the squad leader took a different fork on the walk, “for a shorter distance to the lounge.”
This route took the two men near the entrance to Osama’s private living area. The buildings there matched in style to the ones accessible to the rank and file troops, but a cinderblock wall had been recently erected. The one break had a wrought iron gate, flanked by armed Arabic guards.
Arriving at the door observed earlier, Kareem opened it and ushered the programmer into the air-conditioned room. They took seats in wicker basket chairs near the corner, and Tariq looked around.
A hollow oval bar was ringed with stools and the female bartenders in the center were all working topless. Along one mirrored sidewall, a long narrow stage had a wide selection of females dancing in bikinis. The end farthest from the door also had a stage, but chrome bars fronted this one and the girls there, were performing in the nude.
Besides the women on the two stages, a number of others in bikinis or skimpy clothing circulated the room or sat in the empty lounge chairs. Tariq noted most of the men already in seats, had a female or two at their sides—or in their laps.
“I neglected to ask what happened to Fatima’s mother.” Kareem asked.
“My wife,” Tariq paused while composing an appropriate answer: the truth obviously wouldn’t work here, “passed away quite some time ago.” Why did I waste time sleeping before deciding how to run this play out?
“The Kingdom of Thailand is called the land of smiles,” the grin that Kareem flashed was intended to nudge the girls into turning up the alluring routines, “and the people here are certainly accommodating.”
[Would they be so hospitable if they knew who lived here?]
“I’m stunned that the jihad operates around here.” Tariq remarked as he viewed the entertainers. The women rhythmically shuffled and their eyes were continuously darting. Many are covetously looking at this table.
[You and Captain Puffy are the only unaccompanied males.]
“It shows the brilliance of our leadership,” Kareem beamed as if the complement directly reflected on him too, “but the location isn’t quite as mismatched as it might seem. South Thailand has a strong and politically active Muslim community. The City of Bangkok also has areas that are primarily Arabic, so our activities can blend in.”
“The nation is also bordered by some Islamic countries.” Tariq added. “I see the connection.” I also see what I must do: I have no other option.
“The command facility here, doesn’t directly support the insurgency in Thailand but this part of Asia is definitely on our to-do list.” The squad leader’s frustrated eyes scanned the girls to find most were focused on him instead of Fatima’s father.
I assume Bijan Kiani know what this place is about: he would not have invited a journalist here. While Kareem nattered, Tariq’s mind chattered. This horny Arab’s clear-thinking brain should’ve twigged to that.
[Freya’s full mooning dazzle-blinded him.]
“I was hoping to see you suitably attended before leaving to submit my reports.” With a cock of his head, Kareem offered a visual hint aimed at the females, his guest, or more probably both.
“I’ll be just fine.” The programmer refused to give him the satisfaction of seeing his nefarious scheme come to fruition—in his presence. Patience is a virtue seldom found in many police departments either.
[You do have to select a companion though.]
“Then I’ll consult with my superior now.” Kareem leaned forward in the low chair and stood. “If you’re here later, I’ll join you. If not, have a wonderful time.” He winked. “Everything here is free.”
[His thobe isn’t even free. It’s stuck in the crack of his butt.]
That’s not a flattering view either. The Iranian chuckled as the hefty man walked away: material wedged in between his ass cheeks had his huge legs flopping like a pair of beached dolphins trapped under a canvas sail.
With amusement from the sight still on his face, the programmer swung his gaze to the arrayed courtesans. Many had eyes turned to the departing Arab and they displayed expressions ranged from disappointment to mirth.
“Kareem isn’t a prime physical specimen.” Tariq muttered into his non-alcoholic drink. “The ladies must receive an activity bonus.”
[You’re not exactly in the hot young stud category anymore either.]
I feel like I’m shopping in a meat aisle. A weight of selection pressure was suddenly as palpable as a cold weather front moving in. But a rib eye steak doesn’t wink and try to look extra lean and tasty.
“Perhaps I should gear my pick to the types the other men here have?” Tariq mumbled as his eyes evaluated. Common features were slender and buxom. He also noted that women Arabs chose, used heavy eye makeup. Alike to the black mascara that Fatima wore.
[Freya was obviously aware of what appealed to Islamic males.]
“But I’m more North American and other than on Fatima, it isn’t what I prefer.” He abandoned his copycat idea and turned back to his task. “The girls are all lovely: I could outdo Kareem’s scheme by taking the lot.”
[Our physique is no longer eighteen-years-old.]
“I haven’t decided if I’m actually doing anything with one or not yet.” His panning kept returning to one Asian girl with soulful eyes.
[Osama’s candid camera sent the script from platonic to pornographic.]
“I swore I would never pay for sex again.” Tariq grumbled.
[I see a moldy memory box in here marked do not open.]
He recalled the frosty Edmonton evening. A streetwalker had looked attractive when shrouded by ice fog. Retrospectively, I should’ve seen it as indicative of frigidity: she turned out far colder than the winter weather.
A different picture of bruises and pasty skin emerged from the wraps. Her attitude had also made a 180-degree turnabout when cash transferred. Her mouth’s machinegun emptied a rapid–fire clip of pre-coital rules. It started with no touching and ended with talk of a double condom process.
[Your memory file doesn’t show the promised happy ending.]
I gave her the best possible climax—by sending her away before we even undressed. The actual sex act would’ve only been depressing.
As the Iranian’s gaze lingered, the girl’s almond shaped liquid brown eyes twinkled beneath bedroom lids and seemed to ask—do you want me? He nodded, and watched her gracefully exit the stage and walk to him. Her steps were tiny like a geisha’s and they set her body parts in fluidic motion.
“Handsome man.” She took Kareem vacated chair. “What you name?”
“Ah.” The programmer’s core brain program hit an error sub-routine. Nubile females switch male thoughts from cerebrally based to pheromone inspired and the intellect drops into negative integers—that don’t compute.
[That’s why they call you computer types—geeks.]
“Ah,” she said the easy name and smiled, “I Pun.”
“My name is Tariq.” He corrected.
“Taalee,” She tried to wrap her linguistics around the name but the Thai language hadn’t provided sufficient training in the ‘r’ and ‘q’ sounds.
“Taaleek.” She tried again to mimic him without success.
“Close enough,” he chuckled, “and your name is Pun.”
“Pun.” It was her turn to try correcting the pronunciation. The name sounded as pun, a wordplay joke, but there was an inflection difference.
“Pùn.” The Iranian attempted it again but his enunciation to her ear was as imprecise, as her rendition of his was to him.
“My name P-L-E. Like apple.” Her accent made it into ap-pun.
“I see that’s where we hit a cultural wall.” He laughed. Further talk on it, determined that the fruit apple, is called by the Thai word appun.
“Where you from?” The Thai woman in the green bikini asked.
“Canada.” He felt her fingers idly playing with the hair of his forearm. That feels quite nice, and strangely comfortable coming from a hooker.
[Do you judge all archers on the targets of one?]
What if they all use identical arrows and train in the same school?
“I come Issan.” That was a province in Eastern Thailand.
Over the following few moments, they spoke in simple sentences to exchange some small talk. Then, the exterior door opened to admit three of Kareem’s men. The sight of those reminded the programmer that he didn’t wish to be here when the commander got back.
“Well Pun,” he turned to her, “what do we do?”
“Up to you.” The girl blew the words into his ear.
Tariq awakened at about 2 am when Pun tiptoed to the toilet. His hand touched the warm place on the bed she had left and he smiled contentedly.
[Thailand is an awfully long bowshot away from Alberta.]
Tariq recalled his query regarding an archery academy. An accepting Asian society taught Pun to feel pride in whatever she does and it shows. Westerners look judgmentally on the sex trade. A hooker feels the negative attitude from other people and translates it into lousy customer service.
[Freya twangs a fine string too.]
It’s difficult thinking of her as a courtesan. A memory of Fatima had him considering staying awake, but he fell into dreams of her instead.
“You had a good time last night.” The jihad captain joined Tariq at the table where he was breakfasting with Pun.
If he watched the surveillance feed from my room, the older Arabic man looked up from his eggs and toast, then that was not said as a question.
“Leave us.” Kareem’s words were not barked but they were meant as a firm order. He waited until the Asian girl had left her unfinished bowl of spicy rice mush. “I received no instructions to bring you here: I did so on my own recognizance. My belief is that the jihad needs men of intellect.”
“You authorized my being here?” The programmer held a poker face: the email he had forwarded from Bijan Kiani comprised a direct order.
“You’ve been doubtlessly unaware of my stature within the command structure. I lead only a squad, but it is an important unit that is different from the others: our final duty in Quetta surely proved that fact. I brought you, in hopes of recruiting you into my special team.”
“I’m not a soldier.”
“Every man is when his need arises.” Kareem countered. “However, my uses for your talents would be a wide range of duties. I envision your continuing to write, while we support your research travels.”
“While reporting my coincidental findings to you, for your fast action.”
“Precisely,” the captain’s lips curled up, as a crocodile’s mouth in lieu of a full smile, “and as dire circumstances arise, you would also be one of my elite troops. I don’t bestow this honor lightly: you’ve impressed me.”
Fatima’s ass impressed him, Tariq thoughtfully stroked his chin, and he wants me as the grease to slide him between her thighs.
[But Officer Shakedown has you in handcuffs.]
“I know that.” The programmer’s comment was appropriate for either Loki’s observation or Kareem’s statement.
“So far, you’ve experienced only potion of this facility. Give my offer serious thought while you see of the rest. You slept through the discussion period yesterday, so I hope you will attend today’s talk,” the commander chuckled ironically, “on living a life of purity.”
“The ambiance of this place is compelling in ways that I didn’t expect.” Tariq forced his face into appearing contrite about his enjoyable night.
“I steel my body against such distractions with my resolve to serve Allah.” The rotund Arab’s smug smile showed that he believed he scored a point. The father had just seen the suitor’s worthiness for his daughter in contrast his own weakness. “I’m saving myself for an admirable woman.”
“That must be excessively difficult,” it required a strain for Tariq to put some fake conviction into his compliment, “but it certainly is noble.”
Kareem soon left on a pretext of having an important duty. The Iranian returned to his room: where the Thai girl was patiently waiting.
“I with Taaleek,” she explained, “until not want more Pun.”
“What do ancient reprobates do,” Katya asked, “for fun?” While Tariq had been enjoying his breakfast in Bangkok, she and Sam Levy ate supper.
The old counterfeiter looked up, and his inquiring eyes blinked.
“Is that from deafness?” she laughed, “or in asking for a punch line?”
“I still have my hearing,” he chuckled with her, “your query did sound as the start of a joke though.” Sam mused for a few seconds. “Just waking up to find I’m still breathing is the thrilling start of a fun-filled day.”
“My tone was impertinent,” the young woman stood to gather the dirty dishes: suddenly, she had another scheme, “but my question was serious.”
“My response sounded flippant,” the forger’s eyes followed her until his neck couldn’t swivel more, “but it was truthful: life is fun on its own.”
“Do you live partly in old memories,” Katya tossed utensils noisily into to sink: it covered her other actions, “to supplement your daily life?”
“I guess I do.” Sam hadn’t really thought of it consciously. The sound from behind was a faucet filling the kitchen sink. “Past times live in me.”
“Then a semblance of youth,” she walked back into sight—buck-naked, “is in acquiring some new remembrances, by actually having real fun.”
“What aren’t you wearing?” The forger’s eyes bulged.
“Did I forget something?” She acted as if fully clothed, by dusting off an imaginary pair of slacks and craning to look behind her body.
“Ha!” Sam Levy hooted. “My dirty old man side may undress with his eyes but a god-fatherly prude half, needs to put your under-frills back on.”
“You know,” her playacting imagined clothes was over: the girl stood in front and leaned over to grip the back of his chair, “that a godfather—is not actually related kin.” She moved her chest to slap one bare breast and then the other, against the sides of his rather large nose.
“Uh—.” A thousand offset printers in his brain cranked off sheets but none told of the right glib words to say. The nude young woman also was overlaid onto hundreds of scenes in his memory. She seemed to be pulling a bygone Sam from the pages of his history, to give youthfulness in today.
“Does this squirt fresh grease,” for an ultra-long moment, a tantalizing female stood above and glowed at a rapturous expression on his youthful seeming face, “into some rusty old ball bearings?”
“It’s a new memory.” He breathed. I feel as twenty years old! Letting an old man’s imagination fondle her, was the young woman’s selfless gift.
“If you ever find you are up to play,” she added coyly, “I’m game.”
Surely some must find the dichotomy here unsettling. Tariq had been in this compound for three days. He had brought Pun back to the lounge: not to trade her in for another, as some Jihad men did, but for companionship. Having a girl along also precluded his being the object of female scrutiny. He looked at Pun: she smiled: her teeth were white as a kitchen appliance.
[Don’t look a gift whore in the mouth.]
The Iranian nearly laughed aloud at the twist on a well-worn platitude. Yes, it is hard to rail about gambling—when you’ve just scored the jackpot.
The programmer’s mind resumed its mud-wrestle with Kareem’s offer. He didn’t have a choice on whether to accept it or not, but in voicing the affirmative decision, his conviction may sound as hollow—because it was. His policeman’s instincts might see though my insincerity. That could be even worse than a flat refusal. He had seen the commander several times since: Tariq had managed to stall, but the man’s patience was wearing thin.
They returned to the room early but the Iranian didn’t feel sleepy. He went out for a stroll and found his way to the water.
“I should throw a bottle note into the river.” Tariq skipped a stone.
[Then the U.S. Marines may come and save you.]
“So I could spend the next few years in Guantanamo Bay as a special detainee being tortured without charge or hearing?” He meandered along a tropical river shore. My life here is confined but luxuriously so. It was a sharp contrast to the expected American treatment of a presumed terrorist.
“History could conclude,” the Iranian’s dusk river walk had started at the downstream fence and progressed up to the inner sanctum’s wall, “that Afghanistan and Iraq were cases of NATO warmongers assaulting people who were just defending their homes, loved ones and way of lives.”
[It depends on whose writer pens the accepted annals.]
“I still can’t find total validity in the jihad’s terror campaign either.” Tariq stooped for another rock, and from under a bough, he spied Osama.
[Speak of the scruffy-bearded devil.]
“He’s gone out for a breath of the mild evening air.” An outside bend in the channel allowed the programmer to see the courtyard. The tall Saudi had stepped onto a central patio that was accessible from both wings.
[A fly on the wall might hear what he is muttering about.]
“A frog on a drifting lily-pad could observe the interior.” The Iranian’s voice was barely louder than a breeze in palm fronds. The man who lost his family in 911 faintly heard the FBI’s most-wanted fugitive murmuring.
[A fish in an aquarium can see well enough, but it can’t overhear.]
“A picture is worth a thousand words,” Tariq looked at the moonlight sparkling on the Chao Phraya River: big leafy clumps of hyacinths drifted down towards the delta, “and a single snapshot might be all that I need.”
As his continued stroll neared the bar, he stopped: figures emerged.
[Porky the Arab isn’t as chaste as he would have Dad-in-Law believe.]
There’s quite the sandwich. Tariq could see the beefy Saudi was bound for his quarters, and had an emaciated Caucasian woman under each meaty arm. Two thin slices of white bread wrapped around a thick slab of ham.
[While a vision Freya dances in his pickle.]
The Iranian slipped into his bed, and his Asian cohabiter squirted out.
It was about 2:00 AM and Tariq still had insomnia. He stared at light echoes on the ceiling while thinking about his dilemma then forced his mind onto a more appealing notion. A sexy female will soon to emerge from the bathroom. He heard a toilet flush and waited.
Pun has been in there long enough for any normal bathroom function, and in fact for all of them consecutively—even the lengthy female types.
Tariq stealthily moved to the lavatory door: it was open a crack.
“What are you doing?” The Iranian pushed his head into the light. Pun sat cross-legged in the shower stall and her cupped hands held a cell phone.
“I wait UK boyfriend phone.” She confessed in a guilty voice. “Him send money each month for Pun not do.”
“He calls to check up on his investment,” the programmer wagged a playfully reproving finger, “but Pun is a bad girl anyways.” This dove’s fine flying won an ardent fan—and he wants to clip her wings.
“A little.” It sounded as ‘a lit-tun’ with her tle, the same as ple in pun.
“Come to the room and be comfortable about waiting.” He offered. “If your other guy calls, I won’t make a sound.”
They were back in bed: awake and naked—naturally, a bit of nocturnal frolic commenced. The Oriental woman climbed atop the Arabic man and straddled his hips. Her cell’s ring-tone interrupted a passionate embrace.
Pun snatched up her phone from under a pillow. She settled down onto his body: they still held genital affiliation. The girl briefly closed her eyes, to get into a character. “Hello.” She smacked her lips to sound as having been roused with a dry mouth. “I awake.” She continued her conversation with a sponsor who had obviously ignored who she really was.
[Is this the mirror image of phone sex?]
Too right! Tariq visualized a female operator wearing frumpy clothes and knitting—while moaning and seductively talking. Pun chastely chats with an unaware boyfriend, but in the unseen background—here we are.
[A trickster god wants grab the phone and laugh into it.]
No way! Tariq kept his promise and didn’t speak. She’s a consummate method actress in an Academy Award caliber performance, but the script and onscreen action are as mismatched as a poorly dubbed foreign film.
The overheard conversation also spoke volumes on the so-called plight of ‘all’ sex trade women. Prostitution wasn’t a hardship for Pun. She had an easy route away from the life but simply chose not to opt out.
“I talk Buddha now.” After the call and all, Pun sat up onto her knees.
This portrait is soul moving. The serenity of her faith shone as a halo. Is anything more beautiful than a woman or a child knelt in prayer?
[It makes you want to provide what she’s asking for.]
You’re the god: I can’t offer absolution.
[God can’t forgive.] Loki’s inner voice was wry. [The gift of freewill makes it impossible for a soul to do anything requiring any atonement.]
That statement invalidates half of the Koran, and the Bible too.
[You also have freewill and can immerse yourself in a role.]
Yes, Pun’s masterful acting here has shown me what I need do. I’ll wholeheartedly accept Kareem’s offer, only to cast it aside when I can.