Tales from a Barfly – Fearless Freddy and the Pink Pussy Club

 

Fearless Freddie and the Pink Pussy Club

 

It was 1:00 a.m. – a full hour since we had closed and padlocked the tall wrought iron gates – replete with nasty looking spikes – that spanned the outside perimeter of Mobi’s Bar.

It was the end of legal trading hours and Lek, my long-suffering wife, had dimmed the lights and turned down the music.

Contrary to outward appearances, twelve midnight signified the start of Mobi’s most profitable period – illicit after-hours drinking – which not infrequently continued for most of the night.

It had been a sweltering day and even the after dark temperatures still hovered in the mid-nineties, admittedly down from the insufferable noon peaks of 110 degrees but not at all pleasant. More than a dozen strategically placed industrial sized fans had worked overtime to keep my clientele and staff cool, but by the time witching hour arrived, we were still drenched in sweat. It was at the height of the ‘dry’ season and the stifling humidity refused to let up its grip on the populace – not even at night.

Like most bar owners in this little corner of the planet, I had to have proverbial eyes in the back of my head, and I quickly spotted the stranger creep in from the hidden rear entrance and commandeer a stool at the corner of the bar. The little man’s eyes darted around in all directions before he seemed to relax and requested a beer from the girl behind the bar.

I was busy dealing with an elderly gentleman from Germany who couldn’t quite grasp why we wouldn’t allow him to ‘buy’ my star bargirl out of the bar and take her away that very night and marry her.

“I can pay! I can pay!” he insisted, “Money is no object, Mister Mobi.”

For some strange reason, he seemed to believe that the only thing that motivated the management of Mobi’s bar was filthy lucre. He couldn’t seem to get into his inebriated Teutonic skull that the business of running a Thai bar in the unlawful wee hours wasn’t purely a hard commercial enterprise.

Nothing could persuade him that as well as earning sufficient to put food on our tables, we also had altruistic motives. We really cared about the girls who were our daily ‘bread and butter’. We also cared about our clients – especially the older and more foolish ones.

“I promise to send money to Porn’s mother up in Isan, I want to take care of all her family,” he insisted.

Unfortunately, my dearest Porn wasn’t exactly helping. She appeared to have no interest in trying to deter the infatuated man from making a silly mistake – indeed; she seemed equally keen to consummate the wretched transaction.

“Manfred! You only met Porn half an hour ago,” I protested to the foolish man, “you don’t even know her – let alone love her.”

“But Mobi,” Porn exclaimed, “Manfred he do love me, an’ he promise to send ten thousand Baht to my mum if you let him buy me out.”

I looked at the two of them in exasperation. I had lost count of the number of times Porn had extracted largish sums of money from gullible farangs in their sixties and seventies. Promises of marriage, along with sob stories of a family deeply in debt, were her usual modus operandi, although she was expert in adapting her sob story to suit individual circumstances.

Like so many of her ‘sisters in crime’, she was incredibly inventive when it came to creating stories to suit her purpose – and then yet more stories to cover the original stories whenever the need arose.

What poor Manfred didn’t know was that as soon as Porn had extracted enough cash to purchase her latest iPhone or whatever item of jewelry that she had set her heart on, she would be back working in the bar searching for her next dupe. Manfred would be history.

I would have loved to have taken the large handful of Euros from Manfred’s thrusting hands, but we at Mobi’s prided ourselves on our hard-earned reputation and we insisted keeping our bar girls’ scams within bounds.

Porn was by far and away my best looking girl. She was the very epitome of oriental beauty; mid-twenties, a gorgeous, heart-shaped face, and a figure most women would die for. Her low cut, body-hugging, glittering silver mini-dress showed off every curve of her magnificent figure. Her wonderfully crafted tawny thighs that seemed to go on forever attracted a never-ending line of sex-crazed, pot-bellied, middle-aged punters to Mobi’s Bar at any hour of the day or night.

Porn could have easily got herself a job as the pride of place in one of the high earning bars of ‘Walking Street’ or in one of the up-market Gentlemen’s Clubs that abounded downtown. But for some reason, she preferred the laid-back atmosphere of humble Mobi’s, some 15 kilometers inland from Pattaya’s infamous red-light district.

I guess she preferred to be the big fish in a little pond and in that she certainly excelled.

To be fair, she wasn’t anywhere near as avaricious as many of her of Walking Street sisters operating in the very heart of Sin City. Although she schemed and plotted to make sizeable dents in her punters’ wallets, she wasn’t one of those hard-nosed bitches who never let off until they had driven their customers to financial ruin. Sadly, many of these destitute customers not infrequently launched themselves from the top of one of Pattaya’s many high rise buildings.

Porn had her own Thai ethics, and in her own way, she was fond of all the men who financed her and her family’s lifestyle, and she had no desire to hurt them too much. She was content with the smallish pot of dosh that she felt – in her intuitive wisdom – that her sugar daddies could afford to lose. After all, It was only fair that those with too much to spend should be relieved of their heavy burden by those with not enough. It was Thai Buddhist logic at its purest.

She was certainly my best ‘producing’ bargirl and she brought me a lot of business, so I had to ensure that she stayed on the payroll and continued to attract the punters in. The last thing I wanted was for her to be whisked away to foreign climes by some ridiculously wealthy German benefactor.

But there was little chance of that – Porn relished her life at Mobi’s. Like so many of the girls who willingly joined the Thai sex trade, she actually enjoyed having sex with a different man every night. She was totally amoral and would have been bored to death if she ever had to remain faithful to one man. And she enjoyed being part of the ‘Mobi family’ – of which she was the star member.

So I needed to settle this here and now.

“Manfred, you can pay the bar fine which is five hundred Baht, and Porn will go with you to your hotel. But tomorrow you must bring her back to the bar, and if you still like her, you can take her out again. After you have done that for a few days I will let you take her out for a week – but no longer – is that a deal?”

He looked at Porn forlornly and she laughed and threw her arms around him and kissed him.

“Manfred  – le’ss go, I hungry – take me to Pattaya and we can eat…and then… you know… Boomsing! Ok?”

Porn was more than happy with the compromise, and I was sure that within a week or so she would have extracted the money she needed for her planned purchases and would be moving onto the next gullible mug.

I may have been a glorified pimp, but unlike most bar owners, I did have some self-imposed rules and I would never let punters pay extortionate amounts of money to buy a girl out of my bar for good. Let’s face it – customers who buy girls permanently out if a bar is tantamount to human trafficking, and I wanted no part of it.

If one of my girls really wanted to leave, to marry a customer – as some occasionally did – as much as it hurt, once I was satisfied that it was a genuine relationship, I always let them go for free. It was my own version of football’s Bosman rules.  I wasn’t going to be party to trading human flesh for large sums of money. I knew it was a tight line to walk, but I did my best.

As Manfred paid up for the bar fine and his drinks, I took another look at the small man who was still propping up the corner of my bar. On that particular night, the heat had driven all my after-hours regulars to either their air-conditioned homes or off to the city to seek solace in one of the air-conned bars.

Most nights, out here in the countryside, the evenings were cooler as we benefitted from the soft cooling breezes that wafted across the large adjacent lake. But tonight, the air was unbearably still.

I grimaced, as apart from Manfred’s largesse, there was little to fill the coffers and make a dent in my ever mounting bills. That was the out-of-town bar business for you – sometimes Mobi’s was packed out and the money really flowed, and on other days, like today, it wasn’t worth staying open. The stark truth was that I had to open, as I never knew when a bad night might suddenly turn into a good night – and it could happen literally any hour of the day or night.

The little man at the bar smiled at me and I wandered over to join my one and only customer.

“Hi, I’m Mobi,” I said, shaking his hand, and taking up the seat next to him. “I don’t remember seeing you here before, is this your first time at Mobi’s?” I asked with a smile.

“Freddie’s the name – good to meet you at long last Mobi, I’ve heard a lot about you. Yes, it’s the first time I’ve had the pleasure of imbibing a few beers here, although I’ve driven past it often enough. I’m usually too busy to go carousing at other people’s bars – I’ve got my own to manage.”

“So you’re a bar owner as well?”

“You could say that. You know the Pink Pussy Club? Down on Soi Muslim, near to the main road?”

I nodded. I had been there a few times in the distant past. It was quite a plush establishment, about 10 kilometers nearer to Pattaya City than Mobi’s. Someone had spent a small fortune on the place – fully air-conditioned, expensive upholstered fittings, and flat-screen TVs strategically placed throughout the large room for punters to watch live sport. Also, like Mobi’s, they did a thriving after-hours business.

If my new customer owned or had a share in that place, what the hell was he doing slumming it out here at Mobi’s?

“I know what you’re thinking – why I am drinking here when I can drink for free in my own place?”

“Well, sort of, although many bar owners do seem to have a tendency to drink at bars other than their own – which is one of the many reasons why so many of them fail.”

Freddie smiled and nodded sagely. I noticed for the first time in the gloom of the bar that he had some recently inflicted cuts around his eyes. One of them was turning a nasty shade of grey and the knuckles on his right hand looked rather red and grazed. Without a doubt, he had been in a recent fight.

“Trust me, Mobi, I’m not “doing the rounds”, as so many of our fellow alkie bar owners are apt to do. I’m just looking for a quiet little hidey hole to nurse my wounds and plan what to do next – and your bar fits my bill very nicely.”

I took a closer look at him and saw that he was certainly banged up a bit. “What’ve you been up to Freddie? And why come all the way out here to nurse your wounds?”

He laughed. ” Come on Mobi, it’s only 10 minutes by motorbike. I’ve seen your bar often enough – I live on the far side of the lake and often ride this way en route to the Pink Pussy. And, what’s more, I’ve heard good things about it. Good music, friendly, tee-total host who is always at his post, unlike most bars… I can see that your bar lives up to its reputation.”

“I can see that you don’t want to talk about your injuries, so let me buy you another beer – maybe that will loosen up your lips,” I said with a smile.

Freddie smiled a painful smile.”My opinion of your bar is already going up by leaps and bounds. Not many bar owners in Pattaya give you as much as a free peanut – let alone a whole bottle of beer. As for loosening my lips, I’ve got no problems telling you where my war wounds came from. Get me that beer you offered and I’ll tell you the story.”

“The truth… I hope…”

He burst out laughing. “Of course Mobi – what else? It’s quite simple really. As I’ve already told you, I own the Pink Pussy Club – bought it from a couple guys two years ago and I’ve been running it ever since with my wife, Pen. You ever been there?”

“Sure have – back in the day – it’s a nice place and from what I remember, you had some very delectable girls working there.”

“And the rest – yes we do all right – and as you probably know, we even have a few ‘short time’ rooms upstairs which almost doubles the income from the bar drinks.”

“I bet the back-handers to the ‘boys in brown’ costs you a pretty penny.”

“You know too much, Mobi… yes, there’s a few Pattaya cops who’ve become well-heeled on the back of the Pussy club and the other short time establishments in Pattaya, but there’s still plenty left in the kitty to keep me and Pen from the workhouse.”

“So was it the cops that gave you that black eye?”       

“No, mate I wish it was, because if the cops had a go at me I’d be straight onto the police captain at Pattaya nick – friends in high places, you know”

It sounded like an idle boast, but it might have been true, although even if he had a high-up police friend, there was no guarantee that he would have taken Freddy’s side – the BIB were notorious for double-crossing their so-called farang friends.

“It wasn’t the cops,” Freddy continued, “it was a gang of Thai thugs.”

“Where did they attack you?”

“I was in my bar – where I always am, and five of the buggers burst in through the door and set about me before I had a chance to get away.”

“But why? What prompted it.”

“Pen is what prompted it.”

“Pen? Your wife?

“Yes the fucking woman was trying to have me done away with– I was lucky to get away with my life.”

“She was trying to kill you?”

“Sure as fuck was.”

I looked at him puzzled. “I don’t get it – why would your wife want to kill you? That’s terrible.”

 “Look, Mobi, I don’t mind admitting that things haven’t been good between me and the missus for quite a while now, and I suppose I might have strayed on the odd occasion – but what bar owner hasn’t? The temptation is too great, I’ve been a pretty good business partner, and she’s done very well out of the Pink Pussy. She’s already bought herself a small house to rent out and owns a brand new Honda Civic.”

He took another sip of his beer and thought about what he wanted to say.

“And none of that would have been possible if I hadn’t taken the bar in hand and turned it into a profitable enterprise. The original owners sunk a small fortune into it and then they made the usual mistake of expecting it to run itself, with the usual consequences – they were ripped off right left and center by the staff and the place was hemorrhaging oodles of cash. That’s why I got it relatively cheap.”

“She tried to kill you because you strayed now and then?” I asked.

“No mate, she didn’t give two hoots what I did. She tried to have me killed because she has a new man in her life – a fucking Thai gangster. She’s shacked up with for a while now, but up to today, she’s been content to let me run the bar and have this fucking man in her bed. After all, it was a good business arrangement. It was working fine – until today.”

“What happened?”

“I arrived at the bar at my normal time and she called me over to the table where she was drinking with her Thai boyfriend. She said she wanted to sort a few things out. ‘Oh yeah, darling,’ I said to her, ‘and what may they be?’

She said that her and her boyfriend, Jak, wanted me to leave the bar and sign it over to her. She had some legal papers with her and she pushed them across the table and asked me to sign. Just like that. She said she owed me nothing and it was time for me to move on.”

“Just like that?”

“Yeah, just like that.”

“What did you say?”

“Say? I said nothing. I looked at the two of them, burst out laughing and went back to my usual seat behind the bar. I reckoned if she was stupid enough to think I would just sign and leave, then she had better think again.”

“Weren’t you afraid of what her boyfriend might do?

“Not at first – I thought she was just trying it on. She gabbled away angrily in Thai to her boyfriend – he doesn’t speak a word of English – and the two of them came over to the bar.

 ‘Freddy, ‘ she said, ‘if you don’t sign over the bar and get out of here, you’ll regret it.’

‘Why? What are you going to do about it? If you want me to sign those papers, you gonna have to pay me a heap of money.’

“It was her turn to laugh.  ‘Why should we pay you anything?’ She said, ‘All we have to do is kill you, and as your wife, I get the bar’

“She must have been joking,” I said.

“That’s what I thought, but far from it. She said that her boyfriend would arrange it and no one would know she was involved. The police could be easily paid off. After a few moments, I realized that she wasn’t joking. She was deadly serious. But I wasn’t afraid of her bully boy boyfriend. They don’t call me Fearless Freddy for nothing – I know how to take care of myself.”

If Freddy was telling me the truth, it sounded like crazy bravado. He was quite a small guy and these Thais don’t exactly do Marquis of Queensbury. They always do things mob-handed and they’ll put the boot in as long as necessary to seriously injure or even kill the object of their attack. Any number of farangs had met their ends in such a manner through the years.

“So what did you do?”

“Nothing, I just went about my business. I assumed that they would try to get me when I went home that night as they wouldn’t want witnesses. I was thinking that the best thing was to make an early exit through the back entrance, but within five minutes – like I said – they came bursting in through the front door.

“Pen ordered all the customers out and the five little bastards went for me. But like I say, they don’t call me Fearless Freddy for nothing. In a previous existence, I was a pretty dab hand at the martial arts.

“Anyhow, I grabbed a couple of beer bottles off the bar and whacked two of the bastards over their heads. They went down pretty fast and once the odds were evened up a little – three against one, I gave a good account of myself and managed to bulldoze my way out of the door, jumped on my bike and I was out of there sharpish.”

I didn’t know whether to believe him or not – it all sounded a mite too fanciful. Looking at him, it seemed improbable that he had managed to get away relatively unscathed from the combined attentions of five Thai thugs. I had heard many such stories by drunks in bars over the years. But he did have enough injuries to prove something bad had definitely happened… maybe it was more like a ‘one-to-one’ rather than the five to one he was claiming.

But playing the perfect host, I didn’t attempt to dispute his account. “So what happens now?” I asked.

“If that Thai bitch thinks that her fucking boyfriend and a few undersized Thai mafia lackeys are going to take away my property and my livelihood, they are very much mistaken. I hold the legal ownership of that place through a Thai company, and I don’t scare easily. They’ll never get me to sign it over.

“But aren’t you afraid what may happen to you if you don’t?”

“Afraid? Fearless Freddy afraid? You don’t know me Mobi. If you did, you wouldn’t ask such a stupid question. All the money I had was sunk into that bar and I’m not letting it go without a fight. No, I just need to put a few arrangements in place and I’ll soon be back running the Pink Pussy as usual.”

“Arrangements?”

He remained silent, so I didn’t push the point.  “Well whatever you do Freddy, please be careful.”

I had visions of Freddy’s mutilated body being plastered across the front page of the sensational Thai tabloids in glorious Technicolor. The local rags were infamous for their gruesome front page spreads and the color of blood was their favorite color. There was at least one such murder a week in Thailand – mostly Thais but even the occasional farang – and many of these were in Pattaya. Downtown Sin City was a very violent place for those who chose it as their criminal base for their favorite illegal activities; drugs, gambling, and prostitution.

“Don’t worry about me Mobi, I can take care of myself.”

I looked at the cock-sure man, with his beaten up face and grazed knuckles, and wasn’t at all convinced. But what I could I do?

Fearless Freddie proceeded to get pretty sozzled on a deadly mixture of Thai whiskey washed down with strong Thai beer. Two hours later he could hardly put a comprehensible sentence together, and when he stood up, he almost keeled over.

Lishen Mobi, me old mate, I wanna thank you for all your help.”

“Help? What help?”

He smiled and tried to put his arms around me. 

“Mobi, can I rely on you – if I need any help”

“Depends what you mean? I’d be happy to help in any way I can – but no strong-arm stuff, Freddy, I’m a bit too long in the tooth for fisticuffs”

“Nah mate, I don’ mean fighting – nothing like that. Just a friend I can rely on if need be?”

I didn’t know what he meant, but I assured him I was willing to help out in any way possible. I felt quite sorry for him, as I felt pretty sure he would never be able to scare off his wife’s Thai gang. Much tougher people than Freddy had tried that and had come to a sticky end.

It was around 4 a.m. when, in time-honored fashion, he somehow staggered over to his bike which was parked next to the back entrance. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts, he finally managed to straddle the machine.

“Freddie, are you sure you can drive that bike?

“Corsh I can – no problems

A couple of my girls pushed him and the bike out to the side of the road where they held it upright while Freddy put his feet up on the footrests.

He’s never going to ride that bike home I thought to myself. Maybe it’s better if one of the girls drove, and he sits at the back. I wandered over and suggested as much to Freddy, but he was having none of it.

“I’m fine Mobi, just point me in the right direction and I’ll be on my way.

He started the engine, and with the girls still holding on so that he kept his balance, he put it in gear, revved up, and the girls let go. What happened next wouldn’t have looked out of place in a Buster Keaton movie. Instead of steering his bike out of the grass verge and onto the road, he drove his bike straight across the road where he fell over into the ditch.

I rushed across to help him up and assess the damage to him and his bike, but he brushed me off and with the girls’ help, he proceeded to mount the machine again. Once more they let go and once again he failed to turn his machine to the direction of the road and became another cropper, this time on the bar side of the road.

The entire bar staff were laughing their heads off, but in truth, it wasn’t that funny – this guy was going to get himself killed.

Eventually, by some drunken miracle, he managed to keep his bike upright and swerved his way off down the road and slowly disappeared into the black night.

I seriously doubted whether he could reach his home in one piece. And even if he did, I doubted he would survive the next few weeks if he persisted in carrying through his foolish and misguided plans to take back possession of his bar.

***

Over the next twenty-four hours, I worried if Freddy had met a sticky end on his way home. Through the years, I had known any number of farangs who had killed themselves riding bikes when drunk during the small hours. There had been a recent tragic incident just a few weeks ago when a young Englishman had ridden head first into a huge tree on the side of the road and became yet another of Thailand’s incredibly high fatal road statistics.

But there was nothing on the local radio or in the local print rags, and no ‘word on the street’ from my customers who lived around the lake so I assumed he was one of the lucky ones and must have made it home.

In fact, it wasn’t until three weeks later that I received an update on Freddy’s predicament by the man himself. As on the previous occasion, he crept into my bar at around 1:00 a.m. just as I was dealing with yet another episode in the life of dearest Porn.

This time it had been a Dutchman who had lost his heart to the lovely lass, but on this occasion, Porn wasn’t too keen on a long-term hook-up due to the apparent paucity of Lucas’s wallet. So it was relatively easy for me to send this one packing, assuring the luckless punter that Porn was sick and needed to sleep at ‘home’ – which for her was on the floor of the shack above the bar.

While I was dealing with Porn’s unwanted Netherlands suitor, I noticed from the corner of my eye that Freddy had a bad limp as he walked over to the bar, so as soon as Mr. Van-stupid had been ushered off the bar premises, I hurried over to find out the latest.

There was no disputing the fact that Freddie had been the victim of a serious altercation. His face was a mass of cuts and bruises and both of his arms had nasty grazes that were still oozing bodily fluids.

“God Freddy – you look terrible – shouldn’t you be in hospital?”

“Nah – I’ll survive – just need to rest up for a few days.”

“So what happened this time? Surely you didn’t go back to the Pink Pussy?”

“Of course I did! It takes more than a few vicious thugs to keep me away from what is mine.”

“Yeah, so I see…”

He looked at me and tried to smile, but I could see it was painful.

“Everything had been going just fine – until tonight.”

He remained quiet for a minute and I waited for him to continue.

“You remember the last time I was here?”

I nodded.

Yes, well, the next day I went to see my cop friend at Pattaya nick and he put some cops outside the Pink Pussy to take care of things.”

“That must have cost a bit.”

“Nah, not that much, those sleazeball cops come pretty cheap. Just give them the odd bottle of beer and send a few of my girls to give them a free after-hours fuck and you own them for life.”

“Not tonight it would seem.”

“No, mate, not tonight. The wife’s gang of thugs surrounded me at the bar, and even though I managed to fight my way out the front door, the fucking cops just stood and watched. The wife must have paid them to change sides. In fact, the fucking cops even joined in and gave me a right working over. They told me I had 24 hours to hand the property papers to the wife.”

“Property Papers?”

“Yeah, you know the land registry papers – what they call a “chanod

I knew what he was referring to. The so-called chanod was ‘king’ in Thailand – ‘he who held the chanod, controlled the property’. It was the Thai version of a land registry deed. On the front of the large Thai document was a small map of the land in question and it’s precise coordinates, and on the rear was the name of the person who owned the property. If someone wanted to buy or gain control of the land, they had to get hold of the chanod – without it, they had no legal claim to ownership.

Once the would-be owner was in possession of the chanod, it was a relatively simple matter to bribe the land registry officials to register the sale and put the name of the new owner underneath the current owner, thus effecting the ‘legal’ transfer of ownership. So even if Freddy continued to refuse to sign the sale documents, the transfer could still be made – once they had the physical chanod in their hands.

“So where is the chanod?”

“They finally agreed to let me go, on condition that I retrieve the chanod from its hiding place and take it to them.”

“What if you don’t?”

“Then I’ll be dead meat – according to them…”

“So what are you doing here?”

Put his hands inside his T-Shirt and pulled out a large brown document and handed it to me. I looked at him in astonishment and opened the envelope. Sure enough, inside was the impressive looking Chanod. It was all in Thai script, but I could see from the map that the property was in the vicinity of the Pink Pussy Club.

“Is this it?”

“Sure is – just ask one of your ladies to read the name on the back.”

I called one of the ladies over and showed her the back of the chanod. “What is that name?”

She read it out. “Frederick Barton”

It was the chanod for his bar for sure. “So what are you going to do with it? Hand it over to them?”

“Like fuck I am. No, mate what I want is for you to hide it – somewhere around here – in your bar. Nobody knows I’ve ever been here or that I know you – I’ve only been here once before, and it was in the middle of the night, like now. So what d’yer think, Mobi? Will you hide it for me?”

I had no desire whatsoever to become involved in Freddy’s nefarious business deals, but I didn’t really see how I could refuse, and he seemed pretty desperate.

“But what will you do, Freddy?”

“I’m going to a hideout – already got a place lined up where nobody will find me.

“Then what?”

“Once Pen realizes that I’m not going to hand over the chanod, and once the dust settles, she’ll negotiate – I’m sure of it. I’ll try to sell it for as much as I think I can get from her and her fucking boyfriend. They’ve got plenty sorted away – they can afford to hand over a few million Baht, to get full ownership.”

“And if they don’t?”

“Then I will sell it to someone else – I know quite a few Thai bar owners who have their own gangs and they can fight it out amongst themselves. It’s a good bar, and it’s worth a fair amount of dough, especially as I’m flogging the freehold.”

“So what do I do? Hide the chanod and wait for word from you?”

“Mobi. You’re in no danger, as nobody knows that I know you, and in any case, they won’t dream that I would leave the chanod with a friend. Friends in Pattaya don’t do that sort of thing.”

He was right about that – nobody completely trusts anyone in Sin City, not even close friends. I didn’t want to do it, but I felt didn’t have much choice. I’d already promised to help him, and as he said, there was little or no risk.

“OK, I’ll hide it somewhere around here for you, but you better make yourself scarce. I don’t want anyone to connect you to me.”

He put his hand out and we shook. “Thanks, Mobi, I knew I could rely on you. But make sure you hide it really well – do it yourself and don’t tell anyone. Otherwise, someone at your bar might be tempted. Oh, and let’s exchange mobile numbers so we can keep in touch. I just bought a new sim card from 7/11”

I nodded and put the envelope behind the bar. “I’ll hide it when everyone’s gone home.”

“You’re a good friend, Mobi – I’ll never forget it.”

***

Twenty-four hours later, all hell broke loose.

It was around 2: a.m. when I heard and then saw half a dozen motorbikes park up at the front of the bar, which was already locked and bolted. Some ten Thai hoodlums assembled at the front gate and shouted out in Thai – demanding entrance. At first, I thought they were just looking for a place for some after-hours drinking, but even if that was the case, there was no way I was going to let them in. They looked like they were out for trouble and my bar catered for friendly farangs – not violent Thai gangs.

I shouted to my wife: “Lek, call the cops, looks like we’ve got trouble.”

Then I walked to the front gate. “Sorry guys we’re closed,” and then repeated myself in Thai.

“Open the gate!” they shouted back in Thai, “We want to drink.”

“I told you we’re closed, come back tomorrow!” I shouted.

They talked amongst themselves and I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach as they all walked around to the back of the bar, where the out-of-hours door was located.

It might be okay, I kept telling myself, maybe all they want is a few beers.

Within seconds they were inside.

“Welcome gentlemen, I said nervously in Thai, “Take a seat and I’ll bring you some drinks.”

It was then that I noticed that some of them were carrying wooden clubs inside their jackets and a feeling of dread enveloped me.

Instead of sitting down, those with bats proceeded to take a whack at the marble top of the main bar which immediately shattered, and others picked up the bar stools and chairs and started throwing them on the ground and stamping on them, breaking them into pieces.

If that wasn’t bad enough, two of them walked behind the bar and took aim at my precious bottles of booze stacked on the back shelves. Others walked over to my beer chiller cabinet, smashed the glass on the front, and removed armfuls of beer bottles and threw them onto the concrete floor creating an unholy and dangerous mess.

Within a couple of minutes, my bar looked like a bomb had struck. It was absolute mayhem – the girls were screaming and bottles were exploding all around us.

Almost as quickly as it started, it came to an end, and apart from a few sobbing girls, peace suddenly descended.

Lek whispered to me: “Sorry, Mobi, police say, they are too busy,”

Yeah, too busy at two o’clock in the morning.

One of the thugs approached me. “You Mobi?” he asked in broken English.

“Yes.”

“Where  chanod?”

“Chanod? What chanod?”

“Chanod for Pink Pussy – you got it. We know you got it.”

“How do you know?”

“Freddy – he tell. Give me now, or more trouble.”

I looked at him and looked at Lek. What should I do?  They had found Freddy and he had obviously told them that I had the chanod. If I refused, these thugs would get violent, but I hated the idea of betraying Freddy.

“I’m s…sorry… I don’t know what you mean.”

The man looked at me and then at Lek and muttered to two of his henchmen who immediately grabbed her. “I wan’ chanod! Give me now or I hurt your wife.” He pulled out a long knife and placed the tip of the blade on Lek’s neck.

Lek squealed in terror. “Mobi – if you’ve got the chanod, you better give it to them, these men mean business.”

I could see Lek was petrified – as was I – and I knew they had me by the goolies. I hated handing the bloody paper over but I had no choice. They had already caused thousands of Baht worth of damage, and if I resisted, they could do a lot more – on top of hurting my lovely wife.  

I went to the back of the bar and grabbed hold of a large cool chest that was set on the floor. I pushed it out of the way with my foot and pointed to a patch of earth.

Two of the thugs scraped up the surface of the earth with their hands to reveal a rusty metal box buried just under the surface. They lifted it out and put it on the damaged bar top and opened it up. Inside was the brown envelope. The gang leader opened the envelope and studied the document carefully. Then he put it back in the envelope, placed it inside his jacket, nodded to his fellow hoodlums. Without further ado, they all left the bar and roared off into the night. Job done and nobody hurt – except poor Mobi’s pride and a destroyed bar.

We all stood there – still in shock – and stared at the remains of my devastated bar. It would cost a pretty penny to get it all fixed up again, but that wasn’t my main concern.

At the forefront of my mind was the fate of poor old Fearless Freddy. They had obviously found him and made him tell all. God only knows what would happen to him, or maybe already had happened. He thought he could take on the Thai Mafia and was found wanting – the silly fool.

***

We never saw Freddie again. We heard through the grapevine that his disappearance had been reported to the police. Apparently, they made a perfunctory search of the house he had rented to see if there were any signs of a struggle, and after that, they went to the Pink Pussy Club and spoke to his wife who was still happily running the place with her Thai boyfriend. They interviewed a few of the staff, and that was it – case closed. Freddy had vanished off the face of the earth – missing, presumed dead – and hardly anyone in Sin City could give a damn.

There was a vague chance his body might eventually turn up – as had happened with an Aussie more recently. In that particular case, the abductors and subsequent killers had rented a local van to do the dirty deed – not realizing that the van owners had put a tracking device on the vehicle. Within days the cops had traced the Aussie to a shallow grave on a grass verge on the side of the road, a few miles south of Pattaya, and arrested the culprits. The body would never have been found without that tracker.

But as far as Freddy was concerned, it was highly unlikely that his resting place would ever be uncovered. Nobody would make that sort of stupid mistake again.

***

It was actually six months later when quite by chance I finally discovered the truth.

Once again it was late, and once again, I was dealing with a besotted customer, this time a Frenchman, who was determined to marry the beatific Porn, and I was equally determined to dissuade him from such a rash act.

“But Monsieur Mobi – Je t’aime mademoiselle Porn, he kept insisting, “I lurve her.”

“Yes, I know you do, Francois, but trust me, she is not the marrying type. Just pay the bar fine, take her to your room and have a wonderful time. But marry her? Not on the menu, I’m afraid.”

I eventually sent them both on their way, after agreeing to let the silly Frenchman bar fine her for three days, and once they had gone, I decided to call it a night – or morning. It was 4:30 a.m. and all the customers had long gone. But just as I was about to turn off the lights, an old regular suddenly appeared at the back entrance to the bar. It was Mick – a fellow Brit – someone I hadn’t seen in quite a while.

“Hi, Mick, where the hell have you been? Haven’t seen you for ages.”

“Hi Mobi – I been back home, ain’t I? Needed to replenish the coffers to spend on the lovely ladies of Pattaya, didn’t I? Did a bit of lorry driving back in the old country, didn’t I? You aren’t closing shop are you?”

I smiled – As ever, Mick ended nearly every sentence with a question.

“Yes, I am. Come on one quick beer on the house and I’m afraid I’m gonna have to turf you out.”

“Blimey, mate, you’re a right one, ain’t you”

I handed him his beer.

“You never guess where I been tonight, would yer?”

“No, Mick, I wouldn’t. Where have you been tonight?”

“I been down to the Pink Pussy ain’t I? They got some nice pussy goin’ down there ain’t they?”

“I wouldn’t know Mick. I haven’t been near the place since before the late lamented Mick ran the place. Is his ex-wife still there?”

“Pen? – Yes mate, she’s still running the place. Ain’t she?”

“That’s what I heard – the fucking bitch!”

“Hey, easy on now, Mobi, what she done to you?”

“What she done to me? Only cost me a small fortune when she had my bar smashed up – but that’s nothing to what she did to Freddy.”

Mick sipped on his beer and stared at me for a few seconds. “Why…what she done to Freddy?”

“Well, I’m 99.99 % sure she had him killed.”

Mick looked dumbfounded. “Had ‘im killed? Is that what you said?”

“Yes, Mick – killed, done away with, wasted, bumped off, neutralized, snuffed….”

“All right, all right…I get the message.” He kept staring at me in astonishment, and finally, he burst out laughing. “Mobi, you’re a one ain’t you? You trying to ‘ave me on?”

“No Mick, I’m serious and it’s no laughing matter.”

“No laughing matter – is that it?” He shouted, and burst out laughing again.”

I was started to get quite irritated. “I have no idea why you find this so funny, but please Mick – have some respect for the dead.”

“Respect for the dead? You are ‘aving me on.”

I was becoming really exasperated. “Why? Why Mick? Why would I try to ‘ave you on’, as you say?”

Because, my dear Mobi, I seen Freddy, ain’t I?”

“Seen him? Where? At the Pink Pussy. Do the cops know?” I asked in astonishment.

“Pink Pussy? Course not – he don’t own that place anymore.” An’ what the cops got to do with it?”

“Freddy disappeared, Mick, the same night that Pen’s gang smashed up my bar and got hold of the title deeds for the Pink Pussy. As far as everyone around here’s concerned he’s been long dead. So where the fuck did you see him – are you sure it was Freddy?”

“Course I am –  seen ‘im in Norwich, behind the bar of his brand new club. Freddy ain’t dead, Mobi, he’s as right as rain and doing very well thank you in his new club, – it’s called Freddy’s – ain’t it?”

I was trying to take it all in. “But I don’t understand – how could he get back to England, and where did he find the money for a new club?”

“I thought you knew. Freddy told me all about it. He used you as a diversion, didn’t ‘e?”

“Mick, will you please kindly explain exactly what you are talking about?”

“Well, according to Freddy, it was like this. His wife and ‘er gang wanted to get ‘old of his title deeds – the chanod. So he got one of his Thai mates to forge a fake chanod, and while Pen’s gang were chasing the fake chanod at your place, ‘e slipped out of the country across the Cambodian border with the real chanod, and took a plane from Phnom Penh back to Blighty. Pretty smart, ain’t ‘e?”

“So…so I was set up?”

“I suppose so Mobi, but Freddy didn’t say anything about your bar being smashed up, did ‘e?”

“No, I don’t suppose he did. So he skipped the country with the genuine chanod and planted the fake one on me to be discovered by a gang of ruffians. What happened then?”

“Well ‘e waited a few days until his wife woz gonna realize that the chanod was fake, and then ‘e made contact wiv ‘er. Told ‘er ‘e ‘ad the original and if she wanted it back she’d ‘ave to pay for it. You know what I mean?”

I looked at him in a bit of a daze. There was no doubt about it – that bastard Freddy had taken me for a ride. He must have planned it from the word go. Got to know me a little, and then asked for my help. He must have known those thugs would smash up my bar. And if I hadn’t willingly handed over the deeds, God knows what they might have done to me, my wife and my staff.

“So how did he arrange the hand-over?”

“Beats me, Mobi, ‘e didn’t say. But you know Freddy, don’t yer?”

I was beginning to. He must have used an intermediary, or maybe he persuaded Pen transfer the money and somehow arranged to get the chanod back to them. Who knows? And who cares?

That night I was sorely tempted to down a large shot of scotch, and break my abstinence of ten years. 

“Fuck you, Fearless Freddy!”

The End