LOS ANGELES — Tuesday 07:00
Nancy Li stepped off the helicopter fifty minutes after having boarded it at the glider port a few blocks from the home she shared with her mother in the San Diego suburb of La Jolla. The pilot had brought her low and fast along the hundred miles of surf between San Diego and Los Angeles, staying just under the low-level stratus hanging over the beach cities. She had an hour and one half to go to the eight-thirty departure time, a little shy of the two hours recommended for international flights, but there would be no problem; she was booked into first class.
Her mother had taken the call from Bangkok at four a.m. Cursing alternately in Thai and German, she had awakened Nancy, telling her that her father wanted her in Bangkok. The bastards around him had obviously waited until the last minute to call to make it difficult to meet the flight they had booked. That had probably been the idea of the nurse slut.
Nancy was of unusual lineage: half Chinese, one quarter Thai, and one quarter German. That and the individuals who had personally contributed to her gene pool had produced a stunning woman. The German, her maternal grandfather, had been tall, and his genes had overpowered the shorter Thai-Chinese influence; she was two inches taller than her father's 5′6″, and a busty German matron of the past had endowed her with ample cleavage.
She was a hardbody, spending two hours in a weight room every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday—to the delight of the males present and the dismay of the females.
Nancy spent her teens in the beach cities of Southern California. She was popular with her friends, none of whom ever knew that she was the daughter of a Chinese drug lord and a second-generation Bangkok whore.
Her maternal grandfather had been a chemist and an opium-eater. When the Nazis came to power and started sending drug users to the ovens, he decided it was time to move closer to the source of his pleasure. He arrived in Thailand at the time Japan handed the conquered Burmese Shan states with their opium to the Thai military.[REF2401] With the defeat of Japan, the Thais and her grandfather were forced out of the Shan states.[REF2402] Grandfather moved to Bangkok, where he was solicited one evening by Nancy's grandmother. He took her home. She became his mistress, mother of his child, and fellow addict. In time his opium habit became a heroin addiction and his health failed. At his death mother and child were forced onto the street.
Some years later, a Chinese drug merchant exiled from Hong Kong and a German buyer couldn't complete their deal for lack of a common language. The German managed to communicate his intention to return and rushed from the negotiations. An hour later he returned with the German speaking Eurasian whore with whom he had spent the night and the communications problem was solved.
The Chinese immediately recognized the whore's potential value for his growing German connections and set her up in suitable quarters. Eventually he succumbed to her ambitious wiles, and she became his mistress, much to the displeasure of his family, who felt that what little sexual energy was left in the old man's body shouldn't be wasted on a whore.
In spite of her being female, Nancy had fascinated her father from the moment of her birth. Mr. Li's family attributed this non-Chinese behavior to his preoccupation with Western ways, choosing to ignore the fact that the child was precocious in the extreme. Cantonese and English she learned from her father, Thai and German from her mother.
Her mother remained ambitious, both for herself and for her daughter. When Mr. Li failed in an attempt to set up connections in the growing Asian population of Los Angeles, she convinced him to let her try. He doubted she could succeed, but viewed her relocation as a means of ending the familial infighting over her presence and his perceived favoritism of her child, then twelve years of age.
The venture failed, but mother and daughter remained in Los Angeles where Mr. Li visited them yearly until he could no longer obtain a U.S. visa. Nancy spent summers in Bangkok, keeping her father abreast of U.S. culture—the end recipient of most of his product—and herself up‑to‑date on her Thai-Chinese heritage. After graduating from UCLA, she was admitted to a graduate program at U. C. La Jolla. Her mother sold their Los Angeles home and bought an expensive property overlooking Black's Beach, less than a mile from campus. And from time to time both mother and daughter performed sensitive tasks for the old man in Bangkok, who in turn sent each of them a generous stipend every month.
MAE HONG SON — Thursday 12:00
“Lord Sa is not interested in your proposal,” Cham said, but he didn't rise to leave his seat in Duncan's room.
To Duncan the words were an unexpected refusal. Seated across from Cham, he folded his arms, glanced toward Richard seated on the bed, and looked back at the Thai, staring him in the face, but Cham wouldn't maintain eye contact. Outright rejection didn't fit Khun Sa's personality; there had to be something else. “How much does Lord Sa want for the opium I need?”
“It is not a matter of money. Lord Sa does not wish to do business with you.” Still Cham made no move to leave.
“Perhaps he will recommend someone else here who will?”
“Lord Sa permits no competition,” Cham smiled. “To try to buy your opium here would be dangerous.”
Duncan realized he had been subtly threatened with death. “Can you tell me a place I can go where Lord Sa would have no objection.”
“Bangkok,” Cham said, rising to leave.
Duncan leaned back, shaking his head, allowing his contempt for the suggestion to show. “I'd have to be insane to buy opium in Bangkok. Half the staff at the American Embassy is DEA ... and the other half CIA. Jesus, that's not a suggestion, that's an invitation to an open cell.”
“Captain Harris, our business is finished.” Cham reached the door. “However, Lord Sa suggests you spend a few days in Bangkok before you leave Thailand.”
Duncan watched the door close before turning to Richard. “Well ... no point in staying here. Let's do what the man said. Let's go to Bangkok ... at least you'll have fun.”
BANGKOK — Saturday 08:00
Duncan sat in the Bangkok Hilton dining room feeling the warmth of the hot chocolate in his hand. Putting both hands around the cup, he sat staring at the scum forming on the cooling surface of the beverage. Stagnation, that was the problem with the hot chocolate, he thought. And that's the problem with this operation. It's stagnating, has stagnated.
He slipped a spoon along the inside of the cup, turned it upside down under the surface and lifted it out. The scum stuck to the spoon. Putting the spoon on the side of the saucer, he sipped the hot liquid while leaning on the table with both elbows and rethinking the events of his arrival on Thursday.
Duncan and Richard had arrived in Bangkok Thursday evening, Richard first to allow him to monitor Duncan's arrival. Duncan felt they had lost any protection, either from the Chiu-chau or Khun Sa. When he had boarded a bus into town, Richard boarded at the last minute, seemingly almost missing the bus. He didn't acknowledge Duncan.
Duncan had left the bus at the Sheraton Tawana, not looking back to see what Richard would do. He checked in and went directly to his room.
An hour after entering the room, Duncan had checked his e-mail. There was nothing. At two hours he checked again. The waiting message from Richard had been both disturbing and encouraging:
Just before you arrived, I was in position on the balcony walkway. A Chinese, a good looking twink, leaned on the railing next to me and said the man I should watch was a blond round-eye standing against one of the columns, that he was DEA watching incoming flights from the Triangle. You almost got past him, but he made you at the last minute. Anyway, he got on the bus, got off behind you at the Hilton, and checked with the desk after you got on the elevator. He left in a taxi. When I left the Hilton, the twink from the balcony met me outside and said not to worry, they'd be in touch. Not his exact words. The conversation was in Cantonese. I'm at the Montien, 54 Surawong Road, room 205, phone (02) 234-8060. I'll stay in the room, check every half hour for a reply.
Duncan had immediately sent a reply telling Richard to go have fun, but to check his e-mail every eight hours.
Duncan was lifting the hot chocolate to his lips, wondering if he should spend the day at the hotel as he had yesterday, when a bellman entered the room and walked directly to his table. The man placed a folded note immediately in front of Duncan's right elbow, smiled and turned without saying a word or waiting for a tip.
Duncan paused, hot chocolate still elevated. No one was in sight that seemed interested in him. After the bellman was out of the dining room, he lowered the cup and unfolded the note. It said simply, “Queen's Castle 2300, alone.”
When he got back to his room he burned the note in an ashtray, flushed the ashes down the toilet, and rinsed and dried the ashtray. Things were looking up. He had the whole day to sun at the pool and put in a few miles of running. There would even be time for an early evening nap; it could be a long night. He posted a message to Richard to keep him abreast, and told him to stay away from the Queen's Castle. After sending it, he realized the last order had been unnecessary. The Queen's Castle was not Richard's kind of place.
At 22:15 Duncan left the hotel freshly showered, shaved and well rested. He was dressed in blue jeans, gray running shoes, and a loose fitting brown short sleeve shirt. He hoped that he was at one and the same time making himself difficult to see in the dark without making it obvious that was his intent.
He ignored the cabs at the hotel and walked one block westward, where he flagged the first passing tuk-tuk. The driver and he agreed to twenty baht for the ride to Patpong One. A cab would have been safer. The three‑wheeled open‑air tuk‑tuks, named for the sound of their motors, were notorious for accidents that spilled their passengers onto the street, but they had the advantage of being able to go down passageways cars could not. They were difficult to follow in traffic, and Duncan knew that, should he feel it necessary, an extra forty baht would persuade the driver to attempt the impossible.
There were three Patpong streets. By day they were short, unremarkable commercial streets. At night they turned into the primary fleshpots of Bangkok. Patpong One and Patpong Two were heterosexual, Patpong 3 gay. The Queen's Castle in Patpong One was one of the better known bars offering sex shows and bar girls. Duncan had often visited there before settling in with Ellie.
He stepped from the tuk-tuk at the head of Patpong One, the street being closed to vehicular traffic at night. The stairs leading to the bar's second story location were midway down the block. As he approached, one of the hawkers at the entrance started to deliver his spiel, but abruptly stopped and waved him in.
The Castle was a large room with a raised platform the size of a boxing ring in the center. The bar circled the platform at floor level. Beyond the barstools, were tables and a bench along each wall. The tables had no chairs. If you wanted a table, you sat on the bench. The tables were high, and there was a step up below the benches. Duncan came through the entrance and headed for the bench on the far wall.
On the platform six nude, young, and exceedingly good-looking Thai girls were arranged in three couples. They were sixty-nining each other.
The tables in front of the benches couldn't be moved; they were bolted to the floor, mounted farther away from the bench than expected. The extra room allowed ample space for waiting bar girls to perch themselves on a customer's lap as soon as he sat down. Duncan knew the drill and purposely slid forward on the bench, leaving no room for the nearest unoccupied girl to slide onto his lap. Tonight was business, not pleasure.
When a waitress came, he ordered a Singha beer. He watched her go to the bar and speak to the bartender, who looked his way, nodded to him, and put an opened beer on her tray.
It was now 22:50. He watched the show while doing his best to watch what else was happening, and he took care to stay up against the table.
By 23:10 the six girls on the platform had been replaced by four others, also nude and equally good-looking. They were attaching balloons to a framework over the platform.
Duncan had noticed two unusual things. First, the madam kept glancing at him. Second, the unoccupied bar girls weren't paying any attention to him. Duncan guessed they had been warned off.
At 23:15 the madam came to him and said, “Sit back, please.”
“Sit back, please. You sit too close to table. No room for girl.”
“I don't want a girl tonight,” he said, knowing that, as long as you were drinking, there was no house requirement to fraternize.
“You sit back, please. Special girl for you.”
Duncan took a moment comprehending, mentally reproached himself for being so slow on the uptake, and then casually slid back on the bench.
The four girls on the platform were using peashooters loaded with small pellets to burst the balloons they had hung. Their accuracy was uncanny considering that they aimed by laying on their backs, inserting the loaded end of the pea shooters into their vaginas, raising their hips, and providing the necessary pneumatic power with a pelvic movement that Duncan could only imagine.
In the midst of the balloon popping, a girl slipped onto Duncan's lap. In spite of having been warned, he was still surprised by the suddenness; she seemed to have come from nowhere.
Reacting automatically, he grabbed her around the waist. The incredible pleasure of touching, of holding, a young, firm female body was undeniable. The girl immediately leaned back, turning her head to his ear.
“Do not be shy, Mr. Harris. You must do what you always do when a pretty bar girl sits on your lap.” She was Asian, but tall, and her English couldn't have been more American.
On the platform the last of the balloons burst.
The girl on Duncan's lap was dressed in the Castle's standard bargirl outfit, a skimpy bikini. Duncan observed her as closely as possible in the dim light of the benches. She was muscular; she had spent time pumping iron. She was much taller than most Thai girls; there was more here there than just Thai. But it was the English that was unusual. Bar girls knew little or no English except for a few obscene sentences, usually badly pronounced.
Duncan moved his right hand low onto her stomach. It was flat and hard. His left hand went to the inside of her left thigh.
“Where did you learn to speak English?”
“I was raised in Los Angeles, Mr. Harris. May I call you Duncan?”
“Yes, certainly. Make it Dunk, that's what my friends call me. Los Angeles?”
“Yes, Duncan ... Dunk, Los Angeles. Buy me a drink ... and, don't I get a few baht for sitting on your lap. Isn't that how it's done?”
“That's how it's done.” Duncan stretched to extract a bill from his left pocket. Most of the girl's weight was on his right leg. As he moved he felt her buttocks move against him ... and the first stirring of arousal. He handed her a bill and motioned for a waitress. “One hundred baht should, ah, buy me lap privileges for about fifteen minutes.”
“Thank you,” the girl on his lap said. “I think I'll frame it.”
The waitress arrived with another Singha for Duncan and a drink for the girl. She left the drinks and didn't wait for payment. Damn, thought Duncan, a mistake, she should have collected for the drinks. He hoped there were no hostile watchers to notice.
“Frame it?” he said.
“The one hundred baht bill. You know. In the states a business frames the first dollar they make and puts it on the wall. This is my first payment for being a whore.”
“I see, you've never been a, ah ... done this before?”
“Not for pay. If I fuck, it's because I want to.”
Duncan, caught in the midst of bringing his beer to his lips, choked slightly.
“Oh, oh. Went down the wrong pipe, huh? I should have also told you I'm working on my doctorate at U. C. La Jolla, my home overlooks the best nude beach on the West Coast, and I'm a liberated woman.”
“I believe it. Black's Beach, right?” Duncan said, referring to the location of her home.
“Very good. Have you been there?”
“Many times. I enjoy laying in the sun.”
“Well, we have something in common, then. Now, we must play our parts and let others watch. When they are satisfied no one has followed you and that no one was planted here in advance, the boss lady will come over and get payment for my body. We shall then go to a seedy hotel room for a tryst, or so it will seem.”
“What's your name?”
Duncan had not been watching the platform. A glance was all he needed to see two naked young men being brought to full erection by the oral attentions of two naked young women. The men were standing. The women were on their knees.
Duncan's sent his hands roaming over the exposed portions of Nancy's body. It was typical Asian skin, unblemished, velvety, irresistible. Of all the women Duncan had experienced, he preferred Asians for pure physical pleasure. He was circumspect, though, keeping his hands outside the bikini.
“Should you be bolder?” she said. “We're supposed to make this look good.”
“I'm trying to remember this is just business.”
“Just business? That's not what my left leg is telling me.”
Her left leg was against Duncan's crotch. He had hoped she hadn't noticed his physical reaction. But she was right, they had to make it look good. The fingers of his left hand went inside the bikini bottom at the front, his right hand started down the inside of the back. There was no spongy softness, she was hard all the way. Duncan started sweating.
The extension of his left index finger was not planned. It was what you did to a bargirl on your lap. He had just a moment to feel the moistness.
“Hey, saved by the bell,” Nancy said. Her respiration rate had picked up. “Here comes our gal.”
Duncan wondered exactly who had been saved, and he felt a pang of guilt. He knew it was irrational, Ellie was gone ... but it was too soon.
“Three hundred baht, please, for two hours,” the madam said.
Nancy rose from Duncan's lap and headed for the dressing room. Duncan paid the madam.
Nancy reappeared in less than two minutes. Duncan took her arm, guiding her toward the exit.
None of the customers noticed them leave. All attention was on the platform. The two young men were reclined on their backs. The women were straddling them, settling down onto their erect organs.
Nancy took the lead when they reached the street, turning left out of the stairs, leading her man by the hand. By the time they had walked one hundred steps it was obvious to Duncan they had escorts in front, in back and on the opposite side of the street.
“I believe now is the time for us to negotiate the price you will pay for the services you desire.” She was enjoying playing the game.
“There are people following us,” he said.
“Of course,” she replied. “They work for Mr. Li. Do you want oral sex? Thai gals don't like to give blow jobs, so they charge extra for them.”
Duncan refused to be sidetracked ... but it was hard. She was playing with him, and he felt vulnerable. For now he had to keep his guard up ... and his dick down. He had heard the name Mr. Li before, a shadowy Bangkok underworld figure, greatly feared and reportedly Chiu-chau, but he knew no detail. “Is that who you're taking me to see?”
“Hmm, all business, huh? Yes, we are going to Mr. Li.” She stopped the joking. “You must be important for him to go to all this trouble.”
“Just business.” Duncan felt badly for having ruined her fun. He tried to make up. “How do you fit in to this? An American educated female working for a Chinese businessman in Bangkok? There must be a story behind that.”
“I owe a great deal to Mr. Li. Besides, I always enjoy coming to Bangkok. It's an exciting city.”
“Couldn't Mr. Li have gotten a local gal for this?”
“Later, Duncan, later.”
“Will there be a later?”
“I hope so. I think that depends on you.”
They turned in at a small hotel which to describe as seedy would have been a compliment. The escort in front preceded them through the door. Duncan and Nancy entered in time to see the desk clerk's back disappearing through a door behind the desk. He hadn't seen them. Two Chinese were in front of the desk.
“No need to stop at the desk. It's been taken care of,” Nancy said.
One of the Chinese stepped in front of them, starting up the stairs. The other joined up behind. A third Chinese, the one who had been at their rear during the walk, entered the tiny lobby and took up a position at the desk.
Nancy stopped in front of the first room on the left at the head of the stairs.
“We'll wait for you here in the hall. You won't be disturbed. The entire hotel has been rented for the night,” she said, and knocked lightly on the door.
A young Chinese male opened it, looked, stepped into the hall and motioned Duncan into the room. Duncan entered, blood pressure slightly elevated. The young Chinese closed the door from the outside.
An old Chinese man sat in a lawn chair in a room in which chairs were superfluous. Another lawn chair, empty, faced him. The only piece of hotel furniture, the bed, had an orderly pile of paper on it within the old man's reach. On a tray, and closer to the empty lawn chair, was a formal tea service; it looked out of place.
“Mr. Harris, please sit down. I am so glad you could come,” Li said, remaining seated. “I am Li Sung, older brother to Li Wah, whom you met in Hong Kong. I prefer to be called Mr. Li.” He extended his hand. “Pardon me for not rising. My health is not good.”
Duncan shook his hand lightly, Asian style, avoiding the hand crushing preferred by Americans but disliked by the rest of the world.
“Would you be so good as to pour us some tea? I am a tired old man this night.”
Without replying, Duncan scooted the lawn chair slightly forward and poured. He handed the first cup to Mr. Li and slid the tray closer to the old man.
“May I call you Duncan, Mr. Harris? The informality of the Western world has always attracted me. My family considers that a defect in my personality, but if we are going to do business together, it would be best done on a friendly basis?”
“Are we going to do business together?”
“I hope so, Duncan. I hope so.” The old man raised the cup to his lips.
“Well, I'm usually called by my first name, or just Dunk. But I can't imagine calling you by your first name. You're a formidable personality, and you must be thirty years my senior.”
“But I may call you Duncan?”
“Duncan, do you believe in serendipity?”
“I not sure of the formal definition of the word, but, yes, I believe I do. I might call it something else, like being in the right place at the right time. As I recall it involves a little more than that. Weren't there three princes that always seemed to be in the right place at the right time.”
“Exactly. All my life I have been like them. There have been many problems, but always the problems have come together to provide an answer.”
Duncan remained silent, listening. The two men were in direct eye contact. Mr. Li continued after taking another sip of tea. “Read the papers spread on the bed. When you have done so, you will know all that I know of you, your associates, and your plan. If any of the information is not correct, tell me. Please, take your time.”
Duncan read each word of each line of each page. Considering the Chiu-chau had had so little time, it was impressive. The documentation started with the communication Li Wah sent concerning Duncan's contact in Hong Kong. Accompanying it was an analysis of why Duncan was not considered a threat, even detailing his liking for properly served snake through the years. Next was a message from Mr. Li to Khun Sa asking the Shan drug lord for the favor of finding out as much as he could of Duncan's plan but requesting that Khun Sa not conclude an arrangement, explaining the Chiu-chau might want to use him.
A number of communiques from San Francisco progressively detailed what could be learned of Duncan's personal history, what had happened to his father and wife, and information on Richard Lee and Larry Tanner. “Tsi fat gwai?” Duncan asked. The communique had not translated the term.
“It means homosexual,” Mr. Li said.
“I thought that was gaylo?”
“Gaylo is a more modern term, lifted from your word gay. Tsi fat gwai is older, more descriptive. It means ass hole ghost,” the old man said evenly.
Duncan smiled. It figured. He knew a white man was called a gwailo: a ghost, devil, demon.
Cham Kraprayoon had apparently been wearing a wire. There was a transcript of each of the conversations with him. Following the transcripts was a message from Khun Sa stating he intended to open serious negotiations with Duncan if Mr. Li didn't want to use Duncan's situation to help with Li's problem. The final paper was Mr. Li's notification to Khun Sa that he would be meeting Duncan in Bangkok and hoped to conclude an agreement with him. In any event, Khun Sa would be kept posted.
“I congratulate your people on their thoroughness, but I don't see what any of this has to do with serendipity.”
“We both have a problem, Duncan. If we put your problem and my problem together, we have a solution.”
“May I ask the nature of your problem?”
“You may, and I will tell you, but first let us talk of your problem. You intend to distribute one million drug packets in the U.S. to draw attention to your wife's death, your father's death.”
Mr. Li's reference to Ellie's death, especially before his father's, surprised Duncan, and his English pronunciation was precise, albeit a mixture of U.K. and U.S. accents.
“I asked myself how I would do this if I were you. To simply put the packets into the U.S. distribution system would get no attention, that would be nothing more than the proverbial drop in the bucket. No, you will have to concentrate them in ... one place, one city. If you chose, say, San Francisco, how would you do it? You couldn't take too long; the police would quickly get wind of what was happening. You couldn't do it from a single point in the city, not one million packets. The authorities would cordon off the area and confiscate most of them. But you are a pilot; you would do it from an airplane. Tell me, Duncan, over which U.S. city will you drop your one million packets?”
“If I give you that information, and it finds it's way to the U.S. authorities ... Mr. Li, you ask a lot,” Duncan replied, shaking his head from side to side.
“Duncan, we must trust each other. You see, you need the services of my family, more than you know. You have yet to investigate and plan the details of assembling your material. That is no small matter. There are many details, all of which we can handle with ease.”
“It already appears I don't have enough money to do what I want.”
“Duncan, if you will help me with my problem, I will help you with yours. I will supply the drugs, all of them: the heroin, the cocaine, the marijuana. You can keep your money. You will need your money. You will be running for the rest of your life.”
Duncan raised his eyebrows. What the hell is going on here, he thought.
“I am not particularly concerned about what happens to me afterward. Oh, I'll try to run, and I think I'll make it, at least for a while.” Duncan spoke rapidly, betraying an inner fear but a fatalistic attitude.
Mr. Li again sipped his tea, but didn't take his eyes from Duncan.
Duncan knew the Chinese way of doing business was to propose and conclude in the same session whenever possible. The Western habit of multiple contacts was not their way. The moment had to be seized. “The million packets can be held in two size M cargo igloos. Those two igloos can be put in the last two positions of the lower aft cargo bay of a 747. From there the packets can be channeled to the outflow valves.”
“Two large openings in the bottom of the tail. Excess pressurization air—and there's a lot of that at low altitude—is dumped through those valves. Anything placed in front of them will be sucked out. In effect, the 747 will be turned into a giant crop duster. I'm going to dust Washington, D. C. with a million drugs packets—at a very low altitude.” Duncan had taken the risk, he had told not only where but how.
Mr. Li, still looking Duncan in the eye, set his tea on the bed. “Outrageous. Truly outrageous.”
Duncan smiled. It was a moment in which two kindred souls met.
“Duncan, please, change your target to San Francisco and take my entire family with you.” Li was exuberant.
“What? ... Mr. Li, that is not possible!” Duncan said with as much firmness as he could muster against this formidable man.
“Why, Duncan? Tell me why!” Li's voice raised an octave.
“Wait a minute, wait a minute. If you want your family in San Francisco, why not just buy them airplane tickets? You can afford it. Hell, just charter a 747.”
“Duncan, I am sure you must realize that I and most of my family could never hope to enter the U.S. legally.”
“So? I can't believe you can't come up with forged papers.”
“Forged papers might work for a few individuals, but not for two hundred and fifty seven of us.”
“My God! Your family is ... there are two hundred and fifty seven of you? Jesus Christ! I don't believe this!” Duncan sputtered and paused. He rose, pacing within the room's small confines. Mr. Li said nothing, content to let Duncan assimilate the magnitude of what he wanted.
“Okay, okay, all you have to do is feed them through a few at time. Two hundred and fifty seven, it would take a while, but so what? God, I knew you people had extended families, but two hundred and fifty seven. That's not a family, that's a community.”
“It is only my immediate family here in Bangkok, but, yes, Duncan, it is also a community. A community that has always had the resources of each member close at hand. A community where everyone knows the capabilities of every other member. It is a family that functions splendidly together, but will not function at all if apart. And it is a family in which young men have ambition but lack wisdom. They must be controlled and nurtured in spite of themselves until they have wisdom. I have a plan, Duncan, but it will only work if we are all together.”
Duncan stopped pacing and leaned against a wall. He closed his eyes, folded his right arm across his chest, and cradled his head in his left hand. This was insanity.
Mr. Li remained quiet, watching Duncan intently.
Finally Duncan lifted his head, opened his eyes and looked directly at the old man.
“Mr. Li, I don't know what to say. The problems of attempting what you ask ... I don't know where to start. There are major technical problems, and there is also a ... for lack or a better word, a political problem.”
“What are the problems, Duncan? Tell me each one. It will greatly surprise me if I have not already thought of them and each solution.”
“This could take awhile, and it will greatly surprise me if you have thought of all the problems.”
“We must keep talking to find out. If necessary, we have all night.”
In spite of his early evening nap, Duncan felt tired. It was going to be a long night.
[REF2401] “Although Thailand was cut off from its major opium suppliers, Iran and India, during World War II, it had no difficulty securing an adequate supply of raw opium for the royal monopoly. Through its military alliance with the Japanese Empire, Thailand occupied the Shan states in northeastern Burma and gained access to its opium-growing regions along the Chinese border.
“After allying with Japan in 1940, Prime Minister Phibun proclaimed a quasi-Fascist program for Thailand, involving mass mobilization at home and expansion abroad. In a secret agreement signed in early 1940, Phibun agreed to support Japan's war effort in exchange for recognition of Thai claims to the Shan states....
“As the battle lines moved away toward India in the west, the Japanese commanders invited their Thai allies to occupy the southern Shan states....” Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade (New York: Lawrence Hill Books, 1991), p. 104.
[REF2402] “Determined to avoid Allied retribution for its wartime alliance with Japan, Thailand's postwar civilian government had demobilized the Northern Army in 1945, charged Phibun with collaboration, and returned the Shan states to Burma.” Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade (New York: Lawrence Hill Books, 1991), p. 181.