Chapter one of my new thriller, set in Thailand.
I’d welcome your comments – whatever they may be!
‘Hello, handsome man, come inside, please. Oh, it’s you.’ Her fake smile was now a real snarl.
A stooped figure ducking behind the bar opened the fire exit door.
The back door closed soundlessly.
‘Yes, it is me.’ He nodded. ‘Where is he going?’
‘Who knows? He is the boss, I don’t ask him what he is doing. Was he expecting you?’
She fiddled with the shoulder strap of her bikini top and stepped down from the tall stool she had been perched. Without a word, she turned away and marched through the empty bar to the back door. Her cut-off jeans could not be any more cut-off. She wiggled, Handsome Man was not looking.
He slipped into the alley between the bars. Mounting the stairs, he followed her up.
‘I said get him, not warn him.’
Her hand froze on the door handle. She turned, ‘You’ll find him in there.’ She shrugged and nodded at the wood and squeezed past him back to her seat.
‘Oh, hello, Gilly, didn’t expect you.’
‘No, so it seems. I’ve been known to shock people. Is that why you are packing your passport? Or, do you need to prove you are over twenty-one, to drink in “our” bar?’ Gilly smirked. ‘Give your bag to me and we’ll have a beer together.’
He stood aside as Pots ducked his head and slid past. Gilly looked at the mess inside. ‘No girlfriend I see?’
They reached the bottom step. Heavy motorbike engines revved.
‘Get down,’ Gilly said. He pulled his friend against the wall.
Thousands of cubic centimetres of Japanese chopper engines screeched to a halt. Riders looked around, and leather jackets opened and hung loose revealing weapons. Shotguns blasted the bar and everything in it. The girl’s fake smile was wiped away, along with the rest of her face, she slid to the floor as glass rained on her dead body. More glass shattered as flames burst from the Molotov Cocktail. It looped onto the spirits shelf.
Gilly dragged Pots away, as sirens drowned the street racket of hip-hop music.
‘Come on. Let’s get out of here.’
Pots was rooted as flames spread to the next bar. Gilly tugged him harder, they escaped fire engines and crowds of spectators. Ducking and dodging the growing crowd. They slumped, panting into seats. ‘Calm it,’ said Gilly. He signalled two beers.
‘Your longest serving member of staff has been murdered. Were they aiming for her? Or was it you they were after?’
Pots, shaking his head, rubbed the tears away from his eyes. ‘She was the only girl working for me, the rest quit. Christ, I hated her, but I’ll miss her.’ He let tears wet his cheeks.
‘What? You had what? Twelve, fifteen girls in the bar?’
Pots steadied his head, looking ahead, he wimped, ’COVID, and no tourists caused all this.’
‘Are you going to tell me the truth?’
‘I always do.’
‘Yeah, like the “we’re doing great,” email. Cut the crap. What is going on?’
Cold beers arrived, and the waitress looked at the men and decided not to flirt. They had stopped speaking and didn’t look up. Gilly studied his “friend”, Pots now looked at the gap between his legs. Stained, worn cloth peered back.
Brown-shirted police officers were interviewing eye-witnesses. The locals turned and gawped at Pots.
‘Time to leave,’ said Gilly. He dragged Pots out of the back door, and whistled two motorbike taxis’. They arrived at Gilly’s hotel. He dismounted and paid. Pots tapped his driver’s arm, pointing down the soi, and ordered him in Thai to race on. Gilly’s offer of one thousand Baht was too good to miss, his driver chased and caught his mate. He flapped five-hundred Baht in his face. Both riders turned and arrived at the hotel, five-hundred richer.
‘Good try, Pots. Now, get inside.’
Pots slumped into the bedside chair, and Gilly stretched out on the bed. ‘Come on then, tell me.’
‘As I said, all the bars were shut down. There were no tourists, the only customers were our regulars, guys who live here. A few bar owners had the same problem as me. Now beer in a girlie bar is too expensive so they drink outside 7-Eleven, it’s much cheaper. The view is not good, and sitting on concrete is not as comfortable, but needs must. The staff struggled, they had no short-time visitors. Some quit the business, some went back up north, and some started selling stuff online. Whatever, I went skint.’
‘You paid the rent and the girls’ wages, with the cash I sent?’
‘Yeah, sorry about that, I had to eat you know?’
‘Why did you not tell me the full truth?’ a suspicious Gilly stared at Pots. ‘Or is there something else you are not telling me?’
There was a knock at the door. Gilly looked through the peephole. A maid in hotel uniform stood behind her trolley, she looked up at the small circle of glass, as he opened the door.
‘Hello, I’ve got towels and the room is tidy thanks.’
She ducked and ran head in hands up the corridor. Two men stepped across and blocked the doorway. One, smiled, immaculate in a blazer and slacks. The other glared at Gilly, and tapped his weapon as he opened the front of his leather coat.
Mr Immaculate strode in, ‘Hello, Mr Pots, you are well I trust?’
Pots hunted a place to run.
Gilly was shoved in. Leather jacket pulled out his pistol and aimed it.
‘Now, now, no need for violence. I need to talk to Mr Gil.’
‘Who are you, what do you want?’
‘Ask your friend, he knows me well.’
Gilly’s eyes fired darts at his friend. Pots studied the carpet.
‘Let me get to the point. I assume Pots owes you a lot of money?’ He didn’t wait for a nod. ‘He owes me more than money. He will be leaving with us. Each day while he is my guest, he will lose a digit, fingers and toes. Then we may kill him, or leave him on the street. I’ll decide nearer the time.’ He signalled Pots. ‘It is time to go. Say bye-bye.’
Gilly put his hands up as the pistol twitched. The leather jacket backed out, behind Pots.
‘But, I don’t know what you want?’
The door slammed. Gilly ran to the window, he had a great view of the beach and the sea, but not what he wanted. His friend and his captors went in the opposite direction. Gilly ran out of the room and into the corridor, he raced to the far side windows. Mr Immaculate turned, looked up, and waved as the limo drove off.
‘Now what do I do?’
He looked at his phone, there was no news of the fire on Google. The local tv had a report, nothing he hadn’t guessed. “A bike gang attacked a foreign-run bar. Killing a member of staff.”
Gilly rubbed his jaw. He rarely smiled, today was not the time to start. He took the lift to reception, and the manager moved towards him then wai’d, ‘Please come to my office.’
‘Sure, what can I do for you?’
‘One of my maids was terrified by your guests.’
‘Please understand, those people are not welcome in my hotel.’
‘Your hotel? Congratulations on owning such a fine establishment.’
‘I mean… They are not welcome, if you insist on inviting them in, find somewhere else to live. Okay?’
‘I apologise for upsetting the lady. Why is she so scared of them?’
‘They are Mae Kaet Noi followers.’
‘And what is that?’
‘Mae Kaet Noi is a village near Chiang Mai.’
‘Why is that so scary?’
‘They have a hell on earth temple. The bikers took one of their characters as their logo.’
‘You mean the wolf’s head on their jackets?’
‘Yes, so you do know them?’
‘We’ve only just met. Please make up my bill, I’m checking out.’
The receptionist attracted the manager’s attention. ‘Sir, this was delivered. I was about to take it to his room.’
A small cardboard cube with Gilly’s full name was passed to him. Adrian Gil, handwritten, next to a wolf’s head, scrawled next to it on the lid.
Gilly shook the box, it was light, and nothing rattled. He peeled back the sticky tape and opened the top.
‘Oh, my God.’ He paled and dropped the box. Pot’s little toe bounced out.
The END for now! More to come.
Big thanks to Paul T for proofreading.