Chapter 1 – The Bank Job

The Bank Job

Bangkok, 13 December 2015, 12:32

As promised, I offer you my remembrances of a hectic and butterfly-effect-filled portion of this textual pudding. In your partaking of this bounty, please chew before you swallow! (Some of it is… not quite meant for refined palates). Time and ability limitations aside, I hope you find it digests in accordance with your understanding of the ingredients and presentation. Bon appetit!

shootout1

Totally exhausted and queuing up in quite a quandary (alliteration is very nice Mitch), my stage crew present their time-cards for payment . Wanda (Mispronounced from Wonder) takes her wage. She has been with me for a long time, since birth actually. Her constant companionship, hard work and participation in every thought I have had, is always a source for inspiration. The Emo girl (Her full name is Em Otion) from indistinct origins, is last to receive her just rewards, her multi-colored hair softly touching my hand.

After getting paid their worth, they set about their instructed tasks and add some finishing touches to today’s fable.

Hillbrow, Johannesburg, 1995 – or thereabouts.

My small but mildly gloating victory over Milton didn’t solve the more pressing issues of the day. Ever present, I had to face my financial difficulties somehow. Mavis, my girlfriend, had introduced me to a most unlikable set of characters so my instincts screamed “NOoo” and for me to avoid a repetition of any kind of encounter. Being hard-of-hearing to its insistence, I met them again in an alcohol strewn cubicle, facing the stage of a strip-bar inside the Summit Club. Our choice of venue was incidental and also followed a heated discussion about which bar to join. Choices were plentiful in the Summit and I didn’t join in the deliberations and eventual  conclusion.

Frank was a typical hoodlum, in every sense of the word. His intelligence belied and underscored, alternatively between attempts at drowning all of us in alcohol and plying us with vitriol… the smelly kind! We enjoyed the company of a few more members of his gang and all were immersed.

The Bank Job was an easy touch, everything was already planned and only needed a whitey (Person of Caucasian descent) to finish it off with a flourish. The rewards were substantial and served as the only reason for my usually-willing-self to drink the plied offers and not leave them to their drunken explanations. My part consisted of going to the bank counter and presenting a withdrawal slip, waiting for the funds and then walking out again… Simple as could be!… Right?

Fortunately, this was not the only offering available to me and a few days later I met up with George. His day-job was actually a night-job and he was a bouncer at some Hillbrow clubs on varied nights. Besides his ability to impress me with roundhouse kicks, aimed at a flicked cigarette bud, he presented another attention-grabbing possibility of earnings. This involved gear (guns) and close-up (people get involved at a personal level) work and my ears were peaked, along with my calculations of the possible rewards. My two employment options were weighed and the Bank Job seconded to a maybe-later-maybe-never position.

The Job? We set about performing the rituals associated with protecting somebody’s life and also guarding their property. Our clients were, for lack of adequate description, Chinese Business owners. One of their kin had been abducted by another, possibly competing business branch, called the TRIADS. The ransom was exorbitant and although I was under the impression that they could afford it, the victims in this drama were not willing to pay ANY of it. Instead, they enlisted outside help, a rare event for these business organisations, and I was fortunate enough to be connected to the HR source. Police were somehow ever present, yet seemingly uninterested in gang war related activities.

Protecting their houses and other property from any further harm, it seemed like a reasonably cushy job and I started liking Chinese cooking a lot. We were fed well, armed well and hardly overworked. On shifts of 12 hours, we also had ample time to get involved in other activities, sleeping being one of the lesser opted choices. The family that I was assigned to were the main recipients of the Triads attention and they were already starting their preparations for mourning rituals. To me, a sure sign that the abducted “uncle” would not be seen or heard from again.

Through a series of negotiations and sly mechanization, a meeting was arranged to take place at a posh Chinese restaurant, close to Bruma Lake. This meeting necessitated placement of all available protection personnel in strategic positions around the restaurant, car park and adjoining streets. The idea was a mixture of brilliance, bravado, bullshit and…sorry no B to be found.. stingy decisions and plans. My own location was very prominent, in that I was tasked as observer of the guests’ anticipated point of arrival and I was also given a clear set of instructions about what to do about the arrival. Other members of our team were even less lucky.

Being under the impression that the ransom was being paid, a small group of the abducting clan arrived as planned, exactly on time. Having noticed the obvious fact, that the 8 members of the visiting team were armed to the teeth, I communicated with whistles and hand signals that the initial plan was to be aborted. Instead, the back-up plan was to be executed and their exit from the restaurant was then nervously awaited by all. Friendly discussions and drinks over, the now-rich guests started filing out of the restaurant, towards their panel-van.

Though explanations and versions afterwards differ, I am pretty sure that George fired the first shot and a member of the visiting team went down, screaming in a few languages, none that I was familiar with. Not wanting to be outdone and more accurately, not wanting to be the recipient of the answering fire, I sprinted into a new position and started shooting and taking cover, trying to inch closer. My choice of weaponry was not designed for long-range work and my limit of available ammunition demanded that we meet up-close to discuss this impasse. The entire hired-gun crew started shooting in a cacophony and fortunately all of us survived. I was very happy about that little fact. The visitors were not as happy or lucky and they managed to get the live and not-so-lucky one’s into the van…speeding off and never to be seen again.

Mr Colt is probably a bit of an overkill in most situations but his conversations certainly gets any job done. In this little encounter, he was single minded and insistent in his attempts to offer assistance.

The aftermath of our Cowboys-and-crooks meeting would have caused some memos to be sent to the superiors of any cleaning crews. We didn’t really hang around a lot to appreciate the full impact that the addition of car-parts, blood, bullet cartridges and many other adornments had on the outlying area.

One very serious result, was that we got paid a LOT less money than promised… because the adored uncle Red Monkey was found a few weeks later, dumped along a highway (interstate) and the planned mourning rites performed by his doting family.

So, the Bank Job it had to be! With a few other lesser-earning possibilities still available, I was being angled towards choosing or losing that misadventure.

As promised, that concludes today’s fumbling attempts and I hope your appetites are sated. Should you have the need for additional refreshments, I will open this Blogstaurant again tomorrow. Same time, same place…or perhaps not quite. Awaiting your adoring  emails and comments (lol), I hope you have a safe and fantastic day. Today being my father’s birthday I hope his day is as fantastic as my imagination could ever make it. Bye for now!