Chapter 8 – Rifles for Halftrack

Miss yen had ridden her Honda to work so I met her at the market where I got off the truck. She was looking at bolts of fabric, silks for a new blouse. She had already bought the pattern. When I met her she showed me the picture of the woman wearing the finished piece.

“Don’t you think she looks nice? I want a fabric just a little darker. Do you like this one,” she said holding a bolt of silk nest to the pattern.

“It’ll look lots nicer with you in it.”

We walked the two blocks to her favorite bar. It was a nice place though a little expensive for my budget. Cocktails at the NCO club weren’t as fancy but way less expensive. Still, it was out of the way and we could talk privately.

The waiter took our drink orders and we settled in.

“I had an adventure last Saturday. That’s what’s been bothering me. You remember I told you about DB and his hovel in the slums?”

“Yes. And I said it would come to no good.”

“He and his friend are money changers?”

Miss Yen waited patiently for the story she knew was coming. The waiter brought our drinks, fancy cocktails with an umbrella stuck in a maraschino for mine. Her’s looked like some sort of a frappe in pearlescent white.

She took a sip at her glass. “You’ve told about their money changing. I’ve expected you would get involved too and have some money to spare.”

“I’ve gotten involved but I’m sure it’s not what you expected. I took your advise and stayed away from the Indian tailors. I still have no money to spare but I’ve stumbled into something bigger, much bigger. It’s on a scale I never imagined.”

“What are you trying to tell me? That you bought a gambling casino? That you bought a plane load of heroin from Vang Pao?”

“No, no. It’s not funny. It’s still money changing but i think it’s related to the Commercial Import Program you told me about. You see one of Thieu’s colonels has an unimaginable amount of piasters and he wants to convert it to dollars. I think he got the money by diverting it from the sale of dollars to industrialists, like you told me. Like your father.”

“My Father? How much are you talking about?”

“Fifty million.”

“Piasters or dollars?”

“I asked the same question. Dollars.”

“Oh my! That is a lot of money. And you’re involved?! How are you involved?”

“DB or Virgil apparently told him that I could launder money through a US bank.”

“Can you?”

“I don’t know. Maybe. But I don’t want to find out.”

I told Miss Yen about the meeting with the colonel at the palace. She sat expressionless, sipping her drink while I related the events of Saturday. She finished it and ordered another of the same thing.

“Who else knows about this?” She was concerned. It showed in her voice if not her face, which rarely betrayed emotion besides than a smile. My story had clearly gotten her attention.

“Halftrack Mike. We saw him Saturday after the meeting. He and DB are working on some sort of plan B involving rifles.”

“So just the three of you and Halftrack.”

“Yes.”

“And you told the colonel that you wouldn’t do it so now they need a plan B.”

“Well, not exactly. I told him I thought we needed to work out al lot more details before I could commit to any deal. And that Central Jersey Trust wasn’t a big national bank. But afterwards, at the meeting with Halftrack I told them all I didn’t think it could work. So the colonel thinks we might still come through. We left it pretty ambiguous but he wasn’t happy. Told us were were fools not having our ducks in a row and wasting his time. But DB and Virgil are moving on. Planning something with Halftrack.”

“Are you involved in the plan B?”

“No.”

“But now you know about it.

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