The Twinning Factor
Joseph McGee Private Investigator: Book Seven
McGee Faces A Conundrum
By Carl Douglass
Neurosurgeon Turned Author Writes With Gripping Realism
A chain of a dozen and a half little girls–the youngest few of them probably age five or less, and the oldest maybe fifteen or sixteen–walked single file behind a large thug in an old blue-grey wife-beater shirt, thin cotton sweat pants, and reddish flip flops smoking a cheroot. The girls all had brass bands around their necks fixed with a padlock and linked by a stainless-steel chain to the next girl behind, and the next, and the next. Another thug walked behind the last girl in line. He carried a folded-up quirt in his right hand. There was not a single smile on the faces of the girls; and they walked silently, heads down, never looking to the right or left, friendless and utterly defeated.
“They have been to lunch,” the officer said quietly.
Jason wanted to scream at the top of his lungs, or to call a cop, or to call 191 to report an emergency. He did none of those things, but the sight of obvious human trafficking out in the open in one of the busiest streets in the world and in broad daylight had to be something from a horror movie, not the real thing to which he was a witness. He shook his head vigorously to bring himself back to corporeality. The closeup moving scene solidified his intention to carry out his plan no matter what the cost.
The two disguised men followed the slaves and thugs from a safe distance into a labyrinthine collection of back alleys full of a dozen kind of stinks, filthy children running about splashing in putrid puddles of water, and glowing street barbeque grills burning intensely smoky soft lignite coal aka brown coal–the lowest grade coal with the least concentration of carbon, lowest heating value, highest moisture content, and greatest smoke production. The canyon-like walls of the narrow alleys, the uneven cobbled streets, and every window in sight were covered with thick layers of soot.
Jason and his silent police officer cohort followed until the thugs and their little girl charges entered the back door of one of the blackened buildings and disappeared from sight.
“No can follow more. We come back tonight. Think you can get here on your own?”
“Not a chance,” Jason said.
“Hokay, we separate now. Meet midnight behind the emporium where you bought the nice cheap wallet.”
He started to laugh—which was something of which Jason thought was not possible for the man. Jason felt some relief of tension and laughed with him.
“Midnight sharp. See you then.”
He climbed to the top of the prang—a tall spire–just before sunset and sat among a few tourists from all around the world to view the sun as it set over the Chao Praya River. When it was fully dark–about ten o’clock–he got a cab, and returned to Bob’s office on Naradhiwat Rajanagarindra Road, taking all the necessary precautions. He changed out of his disguise and put on his ninja outfit and weaponry. He gave himself an extra ten minutes of travel time to avoid being tardy for the midnight meeting.
He stood in the deep shadows behind the emporium and waited. He was startled when a similarly dressed ninja came up next to him and tapped him on the shoulder. He literally jumped an inch off the ground. He caught the black against less black figure out of the corner of his eye or else he might have stabbed the man.
The policeman whispered, “You ready?”
Jason whispered back, “Yeah.”
“We go then.”
The streets away from Rodeo Road were almost free of people. It was an unspoken security rule that no one spoke to anyone else or paid any attention to what they were doing in the area behind Rodeo.
They moved much more quickly than they had earlier in the day. There were no people at all in the alley way containing the traffickers’ building and no clutter of BBQ grills and paraphernalia. The emptiness of people extended even to guards by the building. The two would-be intruders picked the lock as quietly as humanly possible and slid into the even denser blackness of the inside of the building.
A quick peak around the first floor revealed no people, just a messy kitchen, pantry, and large wash tubs. Stacks of paper plates and cups, plastic eating utensils, and paper rolls for drying cooking pots and dirty hands stood on one large table. There was a long hibachi cooking grill and a serving table, but no chairs. The floor was littered with sitting cushions.
The second floor had six rooms, all filled with extra supplies including food tins, bottled fruit, cans of spam and cheap ground meat, toiletries, tissue paper, and feminine hygiene supplies. Again, no people. They both thought it strange not to see a single guard outside the house or one the first two floors inside, but they were not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.
That changed as they moved silently up the stairs to the third floor. There was no door from any stairwell onto any floor. The intruders inched their heads ahead just far enough to see if there were guards patrolling the darkened hallways. On the third floor, there were three to be seen, one in front of each of three doors, presumably to a bedroom. Jason and the Thai cop held a whispered conversation.
“Guards are at the bedroom doors of the captive children, don’t you think?” Jason asked.
“Or at the office doors of the leaders of the Tsim Sha Tsui faction of the 14K triad,” the cop argued.
“Sure, that’s possible. But we have to face up to them sometime during this night which won’t last forever.”
“Do you have a plan, Jason?”
“We need a diversion but a loud one or one that gets a lot of attention from the other floors.”
“I’ll find the main switch for this floor and put out the lights for long enough to eliminate the two guards.”
“When you’re ready, give me one click on your coms button.”
It took the experienced Thai under two minutes to find the switch panel and to locate the only switch in the off position. He sucked in a deep breath and squeezed the handle of his nine-millimeter. He pushed the lever down to the off position, and suddenly the dim lighting in the hall became blackness equivalent to the color of obsidian. The night vision glasses gave the two intruders very detailed vision, and the trafficker guardians total loss of sight.
The nearest of the three guards squawked and began fumbling along the wall. Jason slid along the opposite wall to reach the other guards who had remained statue-like in their assigned places. His Royal Police officer compatriot sidled up to where the first triad guard was fumbling his way along the wall feeling his way toward the switch panel. When they were side-by-side, Jason spear punched the totally unsuspecting man in the throat breaking his hyoid and cutting off all sound. He pulled his combat knife and cut the man’s throat from ear-to-ear in a single deep swath by his knife. He kept the man from falling to the floor and making noise and gently laid him out on the thin hallway carpet.
The Thai policeman relied on his own frequently used full power upper cut which snapped his next man’s head back into extreme extension. There was a strong crack of a pair of cervical vertebrae, and the cop’s target was limp and silent. Jason and the officer met by the bedroom door and agreed that the house security force was reduced by two for at least the rest of the night.
There was no time to hesitate now. Jason did a quick draw he had been practicing for months and shot the other guard in the eye. He was dead before he hit the ground. The splut of the silenced gun and the bump as the man hit the floor would hardly have awakened a person sleeping on the floor at his feet.
“We need to move quickly,” whispered Jason.
He received a click from the Thai sergeant’s com, and Jason eased the door open. It was immediately clear that the sergeant was right. Jason started at one end of the long room and agreed that they had to dispose of the other potential enemies in this room before the sleeping giants on the other floors heard some sound and came looking for the cause and started a war. Each man took hold of an enemy’s wrist and hauled them towards the South end janitors’ room. They had not yet made a sound loud enough to attract the next defenders or to get themselves into trouble.
The Royal Thai police officer asked Jason to go back and chloroform the two men asleep in the closed bedroom who were essentially unconscious and unable to resist.
“I’ll scout out the next floor. I think that should be where most of girls are.”
“And most of the guards; so, be careful. No tipping over furniture.”
“Same advice to you, Hotshot,” the cop said in a comradely tone. Apparently, the Thai police trash talked each other just like the American ones did.
The minute the Thai turned right and headed up the stairs, Jason moved silently into the bedroom and followed the snoring to the bed of a victim-to-be. He pulled out his AR-15 silenced pistol and quickly fired a single round into the mid-forehead (and brainstem pons) of the two sleeping men. He was ready for whatever action awaited on the fifth floor or what trouble his Thai sergeant of police had gotten himself into.
Jason trod the staircase as quietly as a lithe cat and bumped into the Thai sergeant lightly. It was a wonder they did not kill each other on the spot.
“Sorry,” they both said at once.
“I thank Buddha and his bodhisattvas that I didn’t drop this guy I’m carrying,” the sergeant said, mildly out of breath.
“Yeah, we need to communicate better.”
“I think there are beaucoup guards everywhere else and a particularly large number of guards in the rooms. Interesting though, I didn’t see any guards outside the bedroom doors. In fact, two of the doors are open.”
“Maybe we should tend to them first,” Jason said.
The two men made quick sight checks in the rooms with open doors. They had found what they came for. The floor of each room was lined with sleeping girls lying on narrow, thin, mattresses, about half as long as a regular single bed mattress. The rooms were very hot even with open windows and open doors, and everyone in the room was covered with sweat. Only four or five of the girls in either room had a blanket or even a sheet covering her. Most were in a fetal type position. Several of the girls were crying softly, obviously trying to avoid making enough noise to draw attention to themselves.
The Thai police sergeant stood just inside the door of the first room to keep watch for roving guards, and Jason padded quietly into the room far enough to locate two guards sitting at a card table playing some sort of card game. Small stacks of Bahts stood by each player, and they appeared to be intent on the cards they were holding. They had a medium-sized battery lamp in the center of the table. Its light made it very difficult to see away from the card table, and Jason was dressed all in black which made him nearly invisible. He edged closer and closer to the table, having to look down almost constantly to be able to step around one or another sleeping girl. One of the guards gave a start and looked up. Jason froze, but the guard turned to look away at something, maybe a rat. Jason pulled out his silenced pistol and moved to point-blank range.