Dinner in Phnom Penh by Leroy B Vaughn
Dinner in Phnom Penh by Leroy B Vaughn
Mitchell looked at his watch, it was twenty-five after eight. “One good thing about the secret service” he told himself, “Is that you don’t have to punch a time clock.”
Rosa the lead secretary was waiting for him in the coffee room. “Good morning Chas, the boss wants to see you as soon as you get in,” she advised Mitchell as he poured himself a cup of coffee.
“Am I in big trouble Rosa”?
“I don’t think so, but make it snappy, he’s been looking for you for about twenty minutes now.”
Mitchell picked up his coffee, said, “See you later alligator” and headed for his supervisor’s office.
The door to the office was open and Agent Mitchell tapped on the door frame and waited for his supervisor to say, “Come on in Chas.”
“What’s up boss, Rosa said you wanted to see me. If it’s about being late again, I’ll make it up to you by leaving early today.”
The supervisor ignored the leaving early comment. They had been buddies since the academy, and he told Mitchell, “We’re going to send you on a trip to Cambodia Chas.”
“Cambodia, are you putting me on”?
“This is for real Chas. We got a tip from the CIA that the North Koreans are running a counterfeit operation out of the capitol city, Phnom Penh.”
“That sounds real interesting boss, but I don’t want to travel all the way to South-East Asia.
Don’t you have anyone else that might be interested”?
“You’re one of my best agents Chas. It’s either Cambodia, or you go to New York and work on
Hillary Clinton’s campaign detail.”
“Well if you put it that way, Cambodia or broomstick one, I guess I have to say Cambodia.”
“Ok, glad you decided to accept my offer Chas. After I finish briefing you, see Rosa. She’ll make all the travel arrangements. You can take the rest of the day off and go home and pack. We’ll have you on a red eye flight to Taiwan tonight. Remember a few months ago, when we had a briefing about the super one hundred-dollar bills that the North Koreans were putting out at their office 39. We got a call from the CIA station chief in Phnom Penh, he says they made contact with a North Korean agent that works at the North Korean restaurant in Phnom Penh. She is willing to defect, and she may be able to lead us to the place where they print the super one hundred-dollar bills.”
“This sounds a little hinky boss. The bureau that makes counterfeit American money, liquor, perfume and nylon stockings, has a restaurant in Cambodia and some female operative works there”?
“That’s what I said to the station chief when he phoned me, but he assured me that this is the real thing. The restaurant was originally started as a money laundering operation, but it got so good at that the commies decided to move their counterfeit operation to Cambodia. This restaurant is right in downtown Phnom Penh and the staff is all part of this office 39. That includes cooks, waitresses, dishwashers, cashiers, everybody that works there. They have security agents sitting at the door, watching people come in and making sure their people don’t leave the building.”
“So, when do the employees go home”?
“It’s a two or three-year tour. All employees live in apartments above the restaurant and never leave the building until they go home at the end of their tour.”
“And why am I going to Cambodia”?
“The CIA feels that they may have been exposed to the North Koreans and they want this female agent, a Lieutenant in the security service to defect but they can’t compromise their people any further.”
“So, I just walk in, say hello, I’m from the United States Secret Service and I’m here to help you defect on behalf of our CIA.”
“The station chief in Phnom Penh will brief you and provide you with a back-up team. Once you get the defector to a safe house at the US embassy, you will be able to interrogate her and find out where the counterfeit operation takes place, and then you will lead a raid with the Cambodian police.”
“Well now that you explained everything, I feel confident that this trip will be a total success,” Mitchell said sarcastically.
“Fine Chas, that’s the right attitude to have. Now go see Rosa and have a good flight. Check into the American embassy as soon as you get rested up from your flight, the station chief will be waiting for you, keep me posted.”
“Here’s the advance money Chas, and your itinerary for the airlines. One good thing to know is that they use US currency in Cambodia, so you don’t have to try to figure out an exchange rate. Head back to your apartment and pick up your passport. I contacted the Cambodian consulate in Long Beach and they are expecting you before lunch. See Mr. Virak and he will issue you a visa today.”
Flying didn’t bother Chas Mitchell and he had spent a lot of time on stake-outs, so boredom was not a problem either.
Between reading a novel and napping, he watched the map on the movie screen in front of his seat.
He fell asleep when the aircraft was off the coast of Seattle and woke up after it crossed the international date line, near Kamchatka peninsula.
As the aircraft entered the Sea of Japan, between Japan and Korea, he noticed that Japan and South Korea were brightly lit on the map. North Korea was almost completely black, due to the lack of electricity in North Korea.
“No wonder this North Korean agent wants to defect,” he told himself before turning the screen off and going back to sleep.
A little less than twenty-four hours after talking to his supervisor, Charles Mitchell was strolling through the airport at Taoyuan, Taiwan waiting for the passenger gate to open for his hop to Cambodia.
Mitchell was a people watcher, probably from his years in the secret service, or just the fact that he liked to observe people.
There were the usual middle-aged tourists, veterans with their Viet Nam baseball caps with campaign ribbons on them, college aged young people wearing hiking boots and carrying back packs, business people, Cambodian families returning from the states and about five or six middle aged white men that appeared to be traveling by themselves.
Chas watched the middle aged white men. He wondered if they were heading to Cambodia for sex tours of go-go bars, looking for Cambodian wives, or were they pedophiles trying to stay one step ahead of the investigators that were stationed in Cambodia waiting for perverts to arrive.
After a three-hour flight, his airplane touched down in Cambodia. Chas had only one bag to pick up at the baggage carousel and a small carry-on bag. Customs waved him through and immigration stamped his passport before he stepped out of the terminal into the tropical ninety degree heat, with ninety-five per cent humidity.
He walked past the Burger King restaurant and held his hand up to signal for a taxi.
Chas told the driver to take him to the Sunway Hotel.
He felt as if he was in a road warrior movie as he watched a sea of motor scooters pass the taxi from both sides, some riders used the sidewalk if traffic was moving to slow for them. In the less than ten-mile ride to the hotel, all he could think of was that he was glad he had not rented a car.
It was after two in the afternoon when he checked into the Sunway Hotel.
The bellman carried his suitcase to his room and Chas felt odd when he didn’t tip him.
Mr. Virak at the Cambodian consulate had briefed him when he picked up his visa and advised him that people did not tip in Cambodia.
The air-conditioned room felt nice after being outside. Chas Lied down on the bed and was asleep in fifteen minutes.
He slept for over four hours before going downstairs to the restaurant.
He was a little nervous when he looked at the menu, he had never had Cambodian or Khmer food as the locals called it. He settled for chicken fried rice and a cold beer. The waiter brought him a glass of ice for his beer, but Chas passed on the ice and drank the beer from the bottle.
After dinner, he went back to his room and read a paperback novel until three in the morning before falling back to sleep.
He was up and had showered and shaved before nine in the morning and was ready to go to the
American embassy across the busy street. Chas didn’t want to attempt to jay walk, after seeing all of the vehicles zigging and zagging in every possible direction.
He walked to the corner and watched every vehicle that approached the stop sign ignore it as he stood there trying to figure out how to cross the street without being killed.
Across the street and less than six feet from the stop sign was a police hut, with two uniformed officers sitting in it watching traffic speed by. One of the officers put his cell phone down for a moment, looked across the street and saw a white man that looked important standing on the opposite curb.
The officer stepped out of the traffic hut, held his hand up and blew a police whistle signaling traffic to stop.
To Chas Mitchell’s amazement, the scofflaws ceased with their violations and stopped as the officer walked to the middle of the intersection, and escorted Chas across the street as if he were a small child on his way to school.
After thanking both officers in the traditional Asian manner by placing the palms of both hands together and bowing slightly, Chas continued down the sidewalk to the entrance of the embassy.
At the front gate, he was met by one angry looking private security officer carrying an AK 47 with a folding paratrooper stock and a much happier officer wearing Lieutenant bars on his shirt collar and armed with a pistol.
After showing his secret service identification card and badge to the officers, his name was checked on a list and the Lieutenant directed him to a security check point inside the front gate.
He was issued a visitor’s badge and walked through a metal detector where he was met by a
Marine wearing a khaki shirt, and dress blue trousers.
“Agent Mitchell, I’m Master Sergeant Billy Henderson. The station chief asked me to escort you to his office.”
“Nice to meet you sergeant. They call me Chas,” he said as he shook hands with the Marine.
“Good to meet you also. My friends call me Billy.”
“So how was the ride over and have you had a chance to see anything yet.”
“The plane ride was long, but it was ok. I haven’t seen anything except the ride from the airport and my hotel room.”
“After we talk to Bob, the station chief I would like for you to meet the team I put together to assist on your mission.”
The words assist and mission made Chas a little concerned, but he didn’t say so.
“That sounds good Billy,” was all Chas could think to say at that time.
They walked into an office and Chas looked at a man that could have been what Chas thought of as a creepy old white guy at the airport, waiting to go to Cambodia.
“Agent Mitchell, I’m Bob, the CIA station chief. Welcome to Cambodia. I see you’ve already met our top sergeant. Billy will be the man to go to. He’s put together a small team of our best men to back you up in this operation. I don’t know how much your supervisor told you before you left the States, so stop me if you’ve heard this before. I’m sure he told you about the North Korean restaurant here in town and the North Korean agent that wants to defect. We have already been made by the North Koreans, and I can’t send any more of my men inside the restaurant to talk to her. This is where you come in. Here’s a Canadian passport with your name and photo on it. You will carry the Canadian passport in your shirt pocket, and Lieutenant Moon Paik our possible defector will approach you at your table in the restaurant. Lt. Paik will say something like, is that a Canadian passport. You answer yes and she’ll ask what part of Canada you’re from. You’ll say Alberta and she’ll ask what kind of job you have. You tell her you work in the oil fields and she’ll reach out and take your right hand and feel the palm of it. She’s going to tell you that your hands are too smooth for a worker and you reply that you work in the office, in administration. Once she’s convinced that we sent you, you and Lt. Paik will make plans for her defection. Any questions.”
“I’m sure I’ll have plenty of questions but let me think about the plan for a little while.”
“Perfect. I’ve got some other people waiting to see me. Why don’t you go with the Top, and he can go over a few things with you.”
They shook hands and Bob handed the Canadian passport to Chas.
As they walked to the front gate, Master Sergeant Henderson said, “Would you like to get together tomorrow and meet the other guys that will be working with us”?
“Yeah, that would be great Billy.”
“If it’s ok with you, I’ll meet you in the lobby of your hotel at noon.”
“That sounds good. I need to get a little more sleep, I think I’m suffering from jet lag.”
The next day, Billy Henderson was waiting for Chas as he walked out of the elevator.
Henderson was wearing a short sleeve shirt and blue jeans instead of his Marine uniform.
Chas felt a little over dressed in his long sleeve blue shirt with the button-down collar and khaki pants.
They walked out to Henderson’s government issued car and Henderson drove about one mile to the riverfront quay, near the Royal Palace.
Henderson parked in front of a shop that sold local paintings and he and Chas walked two doors down to a small pub with an open front, facing the water on the other side of the road.
“There they are,” Henderson said as two men stood up from their table and greeted the sergeant and Chas Mitchell.
Chas knew by looking at him that the young blonde-haired man with the body of a weight lifter was a Marine, and he figured that the other man with the silver hair combed straight back wearing mirrored aviator sun glasses was a civilian.
He was right on both the men. The Marine reached out his hand to shake and said, “Hi, I’m Mike Jenks.”
“Nice to meet you Mike, call me Chas.”
“Tony,” was all the other man said as he offered his hand for Chas to shake.
“Good to meet you also Tony.”
“How about a beer, boys,” Henderson offered.
They all agreed that beer sounded good, especially in that weather.
Henderson ordered four Black Panther beers and a large peperoni pizza.
They made small talk and Chas noticed that Tony had a foreign accent.
“So, where are you from Tony,” Chas wanted to know.
“Serbia,” was all he said.
Chas would learn that Tony wasn’t much of a talker and when he did speak it was sort of a combination of English, Serbian, French and Japanese with a little of the Cambodian language Khmer thrown in.
Henderson briefed Chas about the plans as they ate the pizza and drank beer.
“As far as Bob the station chief is concerned, you are kind of on you own as far as getting Lt. Moon Paik out of the restaurant. Mike is going to drive you to the restaurant a couple of times, or as many times as you need to make sure you know the route to the restaurant. He’s going to show you two ways to get back to the embassy, in case there’s a problem with the usual route. Tony is going to be in the area, near the restaurant any time that you’re inside. He’ll be there the night Lt. Moon Paik decides to come out and make her run to the embassy with you. The North Korean security agent that sits outside the door and watches everything that goes on outside will not see Tony, but I guarantee that Tony will be there to stop him, if he tries to stop you or Paik.”
Chas glanced over at Tony at that time and Tony had removed his sun glasses.
Chas didn’t have to be told that Tony was a killer. He had seen mercenaries in a few countries in South America and Tony had dangerous written all over him. Tony’s cold grey eyes had the thousand-yard stare of a man that had seen a lot of action in his day.
Chas was looking at the scorpion tattooed on the web of Tony’s left hand when Henderson said, “Mike and I will be at the embassy waiting for you to return with the defector. Mike will be at the front gate to recognize you as soon as you arrive. We’ll get you and the Lieutenant to the safe house we have on the grounds. I would suggest that you go to the restaurant tomorrow night and wait for Moon Paik to approach you. Don’t spend a lot of time there and then you can go back in two days or so and if she is ready, she should have a plan to get out of the restaurant.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Chas told him.
“I’m sorry, what am I doing telling you how to run an operation. I know you’re a top agent in the service.” Henderson told him as he took a drink of beer.
“It was this or work for Hillary Clinton.”
They all laughed and the top sergeant ordered another round of Black Panther beer’s.
After the beer, Henderson told the team, “Well boys, it’s been nice, but I need to get back to the embassy.
Mike why don’t you drive Chas around a little and show him the sites of the city.”
“Sure thing Top, but there isn’t a fucking thing to see in Phnom Penh.”
“I know, but just try to make the best of it. I’m giving you the rest of the day off.”
Tony walked with them, until he got to his motor scooter that was parked close to the car that
Mike Jenks was driving.
Chas looked at the big motor scooter and saw that it had an engine almost four times bigger than the average scooter he had seen in Cambodia, and there were thousands and thousands of scooters in Cambodia.
“That is one bad moto,” Chas told him as Tony mounted the machine.
“There isn’t anything in Cambodia that can catch it” Tony replied.
Chas looked at Tony’s blue jeans, tight fitting t-shirt and boots as he rode away.
“So, who is this Tony dude anyway,” Chas wanted to know.
“We don’t know much about him. He free lances for the CIA when he’s available. You couldn’t ask for a better back up man, according to the guys that have worked with him. He does odd security jobs for Bob the station chief and then he will disappear for weeks or months at a time.
He usually goes up to Laos and works removing land mines when he wants to make some real money.”
“Is he really from Serbia”?
“No one seems to know for sure. All I know is that nobody, even Billy Henderson, who is one bad ass will fuck with Tony.”
They cruised around the city for an hour and Chas asked Mike to take him back to the hotel.
He asked Mike to pick him up at six thirty the following evening, so they could make a practice run to the restaurant.
Chas was waiting in the lobby of the hotel when Mike walked in at exactly six thirty.
“You wanna drive,” Mike asked as he handed the car keys to Chas.
“The Top says to give these to you to use until you leave the country.”
“Not bad,” Chas said as they got into the dark blue Mustang.
“Nothing but the best for our government,” Mike told him as he fastened his seat belt. Mike showed Chas the quickest way to the North Korean restaurant and more importantly the best way to get back, if the first route was not available.
They made another run, without Mike saying anything. Phnom Penh could be a very hard city to get around in if a person did not recognize certain buildings or streets. Chas turned around at the intersection and drove slowly past the restaurant stopping a few doors down.
“What do you think,” Mike asked as they both looked across the street.
“Makes you wonder Mike. Why would a restaurant station a man in a dark suit outside the door, and why do they have a wall, with a fence on top of the wall and wire on top of the fence”?
“That’s to keep people working there from defecting,” Mike told him.
“You got it Chas. Looks like you won’t have any problem finding the restaurant or your way back to the embassy.
I’ll be waiting for you at the gate and the guards will zip you right through when I tell them to.”
Chas checked the rearview mirror and asked, “Isn’t that Tony behind us, three cars back”?
“Yeah, he’s been bird dogging us since we left the embassy on the first run to the restaurant. Okay Chas, now that you passed your driving test, let’s head over to the pub for a couple of beers. Think you can find the place without my help”?
“If there is a beer involved, I’ll find it,” Chas replied as he turned the corner.
He looked in the rearview mirror again and Tony was not in sight.
Five minutes later, Chas and Mike pulled up to the riverfront pub.
Billy Henderson and Tony were waiting for them at their usual table.
“He did good,” Mike told Billy as Chas greeted Billy and Tony.
“So, what’s the plan Chas. Do you think you’re ready to go tomorrow night, or do you need more time”?
“I’m good with it. I’ve got the route down and I know Tony will be there to back me up. I’d like to go in tomorrow night, find Lt. Moon Paik, introduce myself and let her know I’ll be back in two days, if she’s ready.”
“Mike and I have been told to stand by at the embassy, but you’re in good hands with Tony. You and Tony work out some kind of signal so that he knows it’s going to go down.”
“Once Moon Paik tells me she’s ready to make a run for it, I’ll pin her down to the time. I’ll try to give you a fifteen or twenty-minute warning Tony by texting you with a message that says, weathers nice, wish you were here.”
“Sounds good,” Tony responded. “Give me your cell phone and I’ll put my phone number on it under Tony, if you don’t have any other Tony’s in your file.”
“That’s easy enough, I don’t know anyone else named Tony, except a hooker in San Diego, but I never call her,” Chas replied.
“Give me her number and I’ll call her when I go stateside,” Mike replied as Tony handed the cell phone back to Chas.
“I should warn you about the food,” Tony told Chas. “It’s actually pretty good I’ve been told, but you might want to avoid the dog meat soup. I don’t know the Korean word for it, but it’s on the menu.”
“Thanks for letting me know Tony. I try to avoid any dish that uses household pets.”
“One last thing,” Billy said to Chas, “What’s your blood type”?
“O positive, why”?
“I know Mike and Tony’s blood type. Everything should go smooth, but we’ve never had to deal with these North Koreans before and we know that their security agents are some bad actors, so just to be safe I’ll have some blood stored at the embassy sick bay, in case someone gets hurt.”
They spent the rest of the evening drinking Black Panther beer and talking about women in various countries around the world, that they had worked in.
Billy was telling them about the woman in Ecuador with the really big knockers, but he stopped talking when the teenage girl brought the pizza to the table.
Before he left his hotel room, Chas sent a text to Billy, Mike and Tony telling them that he was on his way and that he should be at the restaurant in ten minutes.
Tony was sitting on his scooter four buildings down from the restaurant, and Chas tapped the horn gently to let Tony know that he saw him as he passed Tony.
Tony flashed his headlight and relaxed.
The North Korean security agent that acted as a doorman stood up and nodded as Chas approached the door.
The agent opened the door for Chas and watched him walk into the restaurant, before going back to his chair to watch the street and office 39’s business interests.
Once inside, Chas looked around the restaurant. Bob the station chief had told him to look for a very pretty Korean woman.
That was hard to do, all the women were very pretty Chas thought.
He waited for the hostess and pointed towards the right side of the dining room, because Bob had told him that Moon Paik almost always worked on that side of the restaurant.
She seated him at a table that overlooked the largest part of the restaurant and within three minutes, a young woman approached his table with a menu in her hand.
Chas thanked her as he accepted the menu. Tony was not kidding, they had dog meat soup on the menu.
He looked at her name tag and noticed that her name in both Korean and English was not Moon.
He ordered the beef dish with a spicy Korean cabbage called kimchi.
He was surprised that the food was actually very good.
He was somewhat familiar with Chinese/American food, but he had not tried Korean food before.
He was almost finished with the dinner when a beautiful woman in a traditional Korean dress walked over to his table and began to play the violin. Chas did not recognize the tune, but he stopped eating and listened. The music was very pretty and so was the woman.
At the end of the tune, she softly asked, “Is that a Canadian passport”?
Chas replied yes as he looked directly into her eyes. She repeated every word that Bob had coached Chas with back at the embassy, almost verbatim as she shook hands with Chas.
The staff, especially females were encouraged to speak to foreign guests.
Customers that drank or were drunk were the best targets to get any information from, so it was not unusual for waitresses that doubled as entertainers to be seen speaking with customers.
Moon Paik said, “We need to talk later, the man in the green shirt three tables to your left is a security agent and I think he is watching us.”
“Thank you for the nice meal,” Chas told her as he stood up to leave.
“I’ll be back day after tomorrow. Have a plan to go ready.”
“I’m ready, come back at nine pm. And sit in my section.” Moon Paik didn’t say anything else as she bowed, before Chas walked towards the cash register.
Chas started the car and pulled out onto the busy street, heading for the riverfront bar to meet his team.
He heard a motor scooter near him and looked through the passenger window, seeing Tony grinning at him.
Tony was already seated at the table with Mike and Billy when Chas walked into the pub.
Mike handed him a beer and Chas began to de-brief the team, after he took a sip of beer.
The team met again on the day that Chas was going back to the restaurant.
The other three drank Black Panther beer, but Chas ordered a ginger ale.
There wasn’t a lot to talk about, Billy and Mike would be at the embassy and Tony would be on his scooter, watching everything as Chas entered the restaurant.
“I know I don’t have to ask Tony, I’m sure you’ll be ready if the security agent at the door tries to stop Moon Paik when she makes a run for it.”
“If I can’t handle him, this will,” Tony told him as he picked up the side of his blue jean vest and showed the team a .357 magnum revolver carried in a shoulder holster.
“Ok, you know the drill. I go in at nine, eat dinner and wait for Moon Paik to contact me. About fifteen or twenty minutes before she makes her break, I’ll send Tony a text that says, weathers nice, wish you were here. That should give me a few minutes to get to the car and hopefully move it close to the front door. That may be when you have to run interference Tony. According to Bob, she will be ready to go as soon as they close the front door at ten. She says that the security agent at the front door always heads for the pisser as soon as the door closes. There’s a short gap between that time and the time another agent comes over to watch the door. As soon as the doorman leaves for the can, Moon will make a dash for the door and I’ll be outside with the engine running.”
“Don’t worry about anything Chas, I’ll be on top of it,” Tony told him.
Chas stood up, shook hands with the team and said, “I’m going to head back to the hotel for a few hours, see you at the restaurant Tony and I’ll see you two back at the embassy, hopefully with Moon Paik.”
At fifteen minutes before nine, Chas walked out to his loaner car and headed towards the restaurant.
Three blocks from the restaurant, Chas looked in the rearview mirror and saw Tony directly behind him.
He nodded to Tony and Tony pulled to the side. He would park four or five spaces down from
Chas, if he found a good spot to watch from and not attract the attention of the security agent at the front door.
The security agent recognized Chas and stood up to open the door for him.
Inside the restaurant, Chas hesitated for several seconds, pretending to look for a place to sit.
The hostess approached him and Chas said, “Moon Paik’s section please.”
It was not unusual for return customers to ask for a waitress, and the hostess seated him near where he had sat the other time, he visited the restaurant.
The security agent in the green shirt was wearing a brown shirt this time, and he pretended to be reading a newspaper as he watched Chas sit down.
Chas ordered an American style steak and ginger ale.
The steak was expensive, especially for Cambodia, but Chas was on per diem and he figured that this was the least his government could do for him. It wasn’t every day that an agent of the secret service helped a person from North Korea defect.
Chas had finished his steak and was eating the salad when Moon Paik appeared at his table in a bright green traditional dress and began playing a sad but beautiful song on her violin.
As she played, she watched the security agent in the brown shirt. He must have been convinced that the American or Canadian at the table wasn’t going to try anything unusual, as he walked to the other side of the restaurant.
“I’m ready to go tonight. The doorman goes to the men’s room at about five after ten or as soon as the last customer walk’s out.
I’ve got my street clothes on under this dress and all I have to do is pull off the dress and go for the door.”
“I’ll have the door to the car open and the engine running. I’m parked one car space to the left of the doorman’s chair.”
“We have about twenty-five minutes to go. You wait here and I’ll fix you a nice drink and you can wait here instead of in the car. He might get suspicious if he sees you sitting in the car for too long.”
“That’s not a bad idea, but I don’t want anything with alcohol. I have to be ready for anything.”
“I’ll be back, wait for me.”
Moon Paik returned a few minutes later with a drink that looked like orange soda.
“What is it”?
“You’ll like this. It is very refreshing. We call it lemon tea.”
Chas tasted the drink and it was very good. “Now that’s a real thirst quencher,” he told her.
“I’ll see you after the restaurant closes,” she told him as she touched his hand softly and turned to walk away.
“I could get to like this Lt. Moon Paik,” he told himself as he sipped his iced tea.
He took his cell phone out of his pocket and texted Tony saying, “Weathers fine, wish you were here.”
Tony removed his other cell phone from his pocket and called the top back at the embassy.
“Sounds like it’s a go. He just sent the text.”
“Thanks Tony. I’ll call Mike and we’ll see you and Chas back at the embassy. Keep me posted.”
Chas was almost finished with the drink. He planned to wait five more minutes and then to walk out, and stroll down the street for a short distance to distract the security agent at the door.
That’s odd, he thought to himself. He was getting light headed. He looked at the drink and wondered if Moon Paik had put something in his drink.
He tried to stand up to leave but lost his balance and flopped back into the chair.
The last customers were leaving and the man in the brown shirt was following three drunk South Koreans as they walked past his table.
One of the South Koreans pointed to Chas and said something to his buddies and they all laughed at him, assuming that he was drunk also.
He watched the South Koreans walk out and turned to see Moon Paik coming towards him wearing blacks stretch pants and a black long sleeve t-shirt.
Her right hand was behind her back and as she got close enough to Chas to touch him, she brought a mean looking sap out from behind her back and delivered a swift knockout blow to his temple.
Chas went down like a sack of potatoes.
Tony looked at his watch when the three South Koreans came out the door.
Something was wrong he told himself as he left his motor scooter to walk closer to the restaurant.
He was two doors down when the security agent picked up his chair and went to the door, closing it behind him as he walked in.
Tony checked the time. It was five after ten and Chas should have been in the car.
He walked past the restaurant and when he was sure he was out of range of the restaurants security cameras, he called Billy at the embassy.
“Somethings wrong. Chas didn’t come out after he sent the text.”
“Any sign of Moon Paik,” Billy wanted to know.
“Nothing. The security agent picked up his chair and locked the door after he went in.”
“Stand by Tony, I’ll contact Bob and get back to you.”
“I’ll be here,” Tony assured him.
“Sounds like the fecal matter has hit the fan. Chas sent the weather text to Tony and then he didn’t come out of the restaurant. Tony’s standing by and waiting for further instructions.”
“Shit Top, what the hell do you think is going on?”
“I don’t know. All we know is that Chas is still in the restaurant and they’re closed for the night.
I’m going to take Mike and go check it out.”
“No weapons, and you get back to me as soon as you get to the restaurant.”
Mike was in his room watching television when Billy called.
“Meet me at my office in five minutes, somethings wrong with Chas.”
“Roger-wilco,” Mike said before he put his shirt and shoes on.
They were both wearing blue jeans and short sleeve shirts that were untucked when Mike entered Billy’s office.
Billy handed Mike a two-inch detective special .38 revolver, five rounds of ammo and an inside holster to be worn under his shirt.
Billy was already wearing a detective special revolver under his shirt, and he had a Vietnam era pilot’s switchblade knife tucked into his right sock.
“What did Bob say when you told him about Chas?”
“He said no weapons and to keep him posted, let’s move out.”
They were five minutes away when Mike called Tony.
“Park near the Kentucky Fried Chicken,” Tony replied.
Billy hadn’t shut the engine off when Tony walked up to his door and tapped on it.
“So, what do we have,” Billy wanted to know.
“Absolutely nothing, just like I told you earlier.”
“Okay, Mike and I will watch the car and you scout the area out and see if you can find anything. Do you know if there’s anything behind the restaurant”?
“I think there’s an alley and there should be a back door to the restaurant.”
Tony hopped on his scooter and headed down the street.
Billy and Mike watched him make a right turn at the nearest corner. He turned right again at the alley.
“What do you make of this Top”?
“I don’t have the slightest fucking idea. All I know is that Bob is going to act real funny, real soon.”
It didn’t take Tony very long to find the back door to the restaurant. It was dark in the alley and the restaurant appeared to be closed. He heard loud music coming from a building across the alley and one door down from the restaurant.
A door opened and two young women wearing scanty bar girl outfits walked into the alley for a smoke break.
Tony admired their figures as he approached them. The girls appeared nervous at first, but they relaxed when he said hello to them in their language.
They watched as he pulled a wad of money out of his pocket and peeled of two ten-dollar bills.
He handed one bill to each of them and then asked in English if he could talk to them.
Both girls understood some English, but one of them could not speak it.
He asked if they had seen anything unusual in the last hour.
This was their first smoke break they told him.
The one with the boob job told him in French and Khmer that another dancer had been in the alley earlier and they could send her out.
Tony watched as a woman in her mid-thirties walked out and stood in the alley light.
She was older and thicker than other dancers. She was one of those bar girls that needed to find a man fast, before she wound up picking up tricks on the street he figured.
He reached for his wad of money and peeled off a ten. The dancer looked at it and rubbed her fingers together, indicating she wanted more.
She knew how much he had given the other girls. He gave her another ten and she asked in broken English what he wanted. Between pidgin English, Khmer, and French she told him that she had taken a break about one hour before he came to the alley.
She was standing in the same place when she saw two Koreans walk out of the back door of the restaurant across the alley, with a white man between them.
He may have been drunk because they were holding him up and walking him.
A Korean woman wearing dark clothes came out of the back door of the restaurant and got into a dark sedan. She drove and the men rode in the back seat with the white man. She could not describe the white man and said that all Koreans looked the same to her.
Tony thanked her and gave her another ten-dollar bill before asking what time she got off work.
“Why do you want to know what time I leave work”?
“Because I want to make boom-boom with you.”
“I’ll be at the front of the bar at three this morning,” she told him as she walked back inside swinging her wide ass for him to admire.
Billy and Mike were eating fried chicken when Tony pulled up on the scooter. Tony ate a wing as he told them about the bar girl and what she saw.
“Let me call Bob and tell him what we have so far,” Billy said as he put his soda can down and dialed the embassy.
Billy told Bob what Tony had found and Bob said, “All right, you and Mike get back here and pick up the spare key to the car and get it back here to the yard. Don’t do anything else. I want you and Mike back here and tell Tony to go up to Laos for a few days, until we find out what’s going on. Everybody stand-down.”
Tony watched the car while Billy drove Mike back to the embassy. Billy handed the spare key to
Mike and said, “let’s go get the car.”
There was no need to have investigators go through the car, Tony had watched it the entire time
Chas was inside the restaurant.
Billy and Mike were in Bob’s office and almost two hours had gone by since Chas had disappeared, or whatever happened to him.
Chas didn’t know how long he had been unconscious and he was trying to figure out what was going on.
He wasn’t moving. He was just thinking about Moon Paik and the object that she had smacked him with, and why.
His head was sore from the sap blow and there was a buzzing in his ears. He couldn’t see anything because he assumed that he had some kind of hood over his face. He knew that he was in an aircraft and that his hands were secured to the arm rests on the seat.
He moved his head slightly to try to pick up any sounds, other than the engines of the airplane.
He had flown a lot over the last few years and he was sure he was in a propeller driven aircraft.
Chas felt someone moving close to him and suddenly the hood was yanked off his head.
He looked into the face of Lt. Moon Paik. She was not the happy, smiling violin playing entertainer that he had seen earlier.
She now looked like a pissed off military officer, when he asked. “What’s going on Moon”?
“You will refer to me as Lt. Paik from this point on.”
“Where am I, am I being kidnapped”?
“We are over China and you are in an aeroplane belonging to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. You are not being kidnapped, you have defected to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and you will be working as an expert on counterfeiting for our Office 39.”
Billy and Mike sat in Bob’s office and were told, “Your parts in this matter are over. This operation did not happen and neither of you will discuss this or anything to do with Agent
Charles Mitchell with anyone. Send Tony away for a few days and make sure he doesn’t talk either. Do I make myself clear”?
“Yes sir,” Billy and Mike responded at the same time.
Tony was parked on his scooter outside the go-go bar when he got the phone call from Billy.
“Tonight, did not happen and Agent Charles Mitchell was not in Cambodia. Take a few days off and meet me one week from Friday at the pub.”
“10-4,” Tony replied as the Cambodian dancer sat her wide hips side saddle on his scooter and placed her arm around his waist as he fired up the machine and told her to hang on.
Copyright Leroy B Vaughn 2019