Chapter 55. World Online News Network
Kaylee watched as raw feeds from Singapore online news scrolled across her screen. The sisters watched images of a man, escorted out of an airport in handcuffs.
“Authorities state they have arrested an accused drug smuggler and sources have stated, a known murderer from the United States. Although the name was withheld by authorities until they verify the suspected drug smuggler’s identity.” The talking head on the tv narrated while the video and images shifted on the screen.
But Kaylee recognized the airplane on which they captured this dangerous human being.
It was Tom.
Melanie’s boyfriend found a raw news feed web-site then used a cable to plug the tv into his tablet and they all watched the image display titled that an accused rich drug smuggler stand trial.
They tried to turn up the sound on the video but that did not help, the three of them did not understand the language, but the subtitles gave the story. While she watched the feeds on the TV, Kaylee held her hands to her face with tears in her eyes.
She knew where she forgotten her misplaced stash.
The Pacific Wizard, in the bedroom dresser on her side, second drawer from the bottom with her blindfold to help her sleep and aromatherapy oils. She closed her eyes and imagined what version of hell that a foreign drug smuggler’s life is like.
*And it’s not even Tom’s.* Her heart stood still. *Legal here, what are the penalties in that country?*
“What are the laws in, where’s he at? Singapore?” Kaylee asked.
Arthur, Melanie’s boyfriend rubbed his forehead in thought.
“Severe. They execute for drugs there that we have legalized.”
Kaylee looked out the window at the bay, to the west there was the horizon. She wished with all her heart she could fly over the horizon and rescue the man who suffered because of her.
*I wonder if he is safe?*
In a dusty jail in Singpore, sat a citizen of the United States. He was so exhausted he struggled to remember his own name.
Tom. His name was Tom. He had been awake so long, his deepest memories were fuzzy.
His books, a pirated movie that made the rounds and the assurances from the United States Ambassador had done little to help his state of mind.
He had just survived twenty-four hours of interrogation at the police station and Tom fretted like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. He sat alone at a table while police and prosecutors paraded in front of the judge and the narration cryptic law was in English, the direction taken by Singapore jurisprudence was obvious.
“They are about to do what they do best,” A dapper-mannered man sat in front of him. “Crush an individual found with drugs and obscene devices. The blindfold that they found they will consider as evidence of a crime, your statement to the inspector that you smuggle women will compound your case.”
“You have passed blood and urine drug tests, you are clean except for medications for those you have prescriptions for. In other words, you are clean and not a user.” The lawyer read from a paper without a smile.
Tom relaxed as he heard this from his hastily appointed legal advisor, but then it took a decidedly dark turn when the lawyer held his hand up as Tom began to smile when he heard about his clean test results.
‟If you do not use the drugs, then you are a smuggler.”
‟No. That means I did not partake. They found it in a drawer, inside a woman’s toiletry bag that had a blindfold to help her sleep and I don’t know what else.”
‟Ah yes. And how did you know of the blindfold, and the drugs. Where is this woman?” The lawyer asked his client.
Tom looked into the face of the blue-eyed British legal esquire that practiced in Singapore.
Robert Mitch was born of English parents when Singapore was a colony of the Empire, left the country for England to get his legal degree and then became a lawyer in the busy center of business and crime. Over the years as he worked for defense of tourists that ran afoul of the law and their families, he often charged exorbitant fees.
They almost always paid the prices he often asked, the large income even allowed him to bribe the occasional official to look the other way while evidence vanished.
He smiled when he read the legal charges.
*This case promises a large payday! This client is a rich American!*
‟She is probably in California, I last saw her in Oregon.”
“She’s a prostitute then? Marijuana is legal in Oregon, yes? So, we can argue that the drugs were there, without your knowledge in a place where it is a legal drug.” He scribbled down notes on a yellow pad. “That will help. The obscene violations will also be investigated, we will argue that she brought the drugs on board without your knowledge. But I assure you that won’t matter.”
It was Tom’s turn to hold up his hand.
‟She is not a prostitute, she’s a friend and we had…” Tom paused. ‟A relationship. But it’s over now.”
‟Is she still alive?” Robert asked. “You’ve a reputation as a lady-killer that got away with the crime.”
‟What the f…” Tom exploded and was unable to speak for a moment. “What kind of question is that?”
‟The kind they will ask you in the investigation.” He looked at Tom. ‟The prosecutor is good at his job to put anyone in jail with drug charges. Right now they are have a court’s order for a thorough search your plane. Down to the last bolt.”
‟What does that mean?” Tom asked.
‟They will to take it apart to look for hidden compartments. Do you have any on board?”
‟I have a safety box, has legal papers in it. I would wish those to stay private.”
“In the course of investigation, no secret of yours will remain a secret or private.” Robert shook his head. ‟If the papers are on the plane, they will become part of the investigation and evidence to show the judge. What is on those papers?”
‟Jesus. Annulment papers.” Tom held his head in his hands. ‟Just annulment papers. We got married when she’d gotten stoned. Then it ended.”
‟So you drugged her into actions against her will?” Robert wrote on his pad of paper again.
‟NO! No no. Oh good God!” Tom nearly fainted. Even his defense lawyer was not on his side. “No, that’s all wrong. Not how it was.”
‟This is how they’ll present the investigation, in light of the reports about your family. Some archives say you might have had a hand in their deaths.” Robert shook his head and opened a local English language newspaper and showed it to his client. “Mr. Harte, at this point, if you want to keep your head out of the noose, I recommend you to not mention, at all, the circumstances of this annulment. You got married, it did not work out, it’s over.”
‟The noose? How about I stay out of prison?” Tom said in a panicked tone.
‟To be honest.” Robert put his pen down and looked at Tom. ‟There is not a strong hope for that at the moment. You were found with almost five-hundred grams of marijuana. This area is known to grow copious amounts of the weed. This is worth a life sentence, confiscation of your plane and seizure of any drug money. And report on the oil that was found is still not back yet. They will treat it as marijuana resin or hash oil for the moment. If tests show it is, in fact, a hashish oil? With the weed you already had on board, that is a mandatory death penalty and they will hang you. By this time next month, they will send you back to the states in a box.”
‟The oil, I don’t know, it might be a massage oil. Drug money. There is no money on that plane, just what was in my pocket.”
The lawyer stared at Tom for a long moment. He picked up his phone and dialed a number.
“It’s Robert Mitch. Yes, with the American now. Yes, that is what I have called about, thank you. It is? Thank you, again.” The lawyer broke the connection and looked back at Tom. “Good news, the oil is a mineral oil with traces of eucalyptus and rosemary in it.”
Tom and Robert both took a deep breath.
“That would have been a death-penalty, be assured of that.” Robert added. ‟Mr. Harte, You need someone who is local on your side before this goes any further. What is the reason you are in Singapore Mr. Harte?” Robert wrote down his question.
‟Tom, please, call me Tom.”
‟No, I don’t think so.” Robert said in a calm tone that did not reassure Tom and only increased his anxiety. ‟I don’t do that, it is a matter of respect. And while friendship lets someone call another by first names, we are not friends. I work for you and the courts and it’s not proper business otherwise.”
‟So,” Robert continued. “I ask again, why are you in Singapore?”
‟I was about to meet with someone to get my books published, perhaps printed here and maybe have a movie funded. Lee Kong Kuen, is his name.”
‟Lee Kong Kuen,” Robert froze in mid-scribble and looked up. “The Mr. Lee who-has-more-money-than-god, Mr. Lee?
‟Yes.” Tom said. ‟That’s him. Why?”
Robert sat up and his eyes wide, his price to charge the witless Yankee just reduced to a normal fee. If it became known that Robert gouged a business partner of Lee Kong Kuen? Mr. Lee would do things to Robert that were too hideous to think about.
Perspiration broke out on the lawyer’s forehead as he fumbled for his thoughts.
‟Maybe, you’ve a chance to get the hell out of this country if this hits the news.” Robert said, he became highly motivated to win. ‟Once it goes public, then this will back the law into a corner and motivate them to release you, it would make them look bad and cost them a great deal of money. Whether bribed, blackmailed or bro-manced for favors. No matter what punishment they would impose.”
‟Bro-manced?” Tom looked at his lawyer.
‟It has become a recent term here to describe favors the leaders here go through. It comes, I think, from an American tv comedy that is popular here.” Robert said. ‟I think you Yanks call it a ‟good old boy” system” and it works on a daily basis here.”
‟Let’s get it done then. Faster we can get me out of here, the better.”
Robert’s phone chirped and he looked at the text display.
‟Mister Harte, I think we need to turn on the tv.”
What Tom saw, made his jaw drop. A news story showed him as a prisoner escorted out of the airport.
‟Tom, you need talk to Mister Lee, right away.” Robert grimaced. ‟It may already be too late, if he feels you are a petty smuggler, he will not help you. But, if he will help, this will just evaporate in a second. Just assure me, that marijuana is not yours.”
‟Not mine.” Tom said. “I truly did not know it was there. I am here on business only, writer’s busines. I want to get my children’s stories published here in this part of the world.”
‟Fine, I will do all that I can to get you out of this. But with your nationality as an American and first time here? And if I can get the charges dropped?” Robert looked directly at his client. ‟You get on that big damned plane of yours, push the throttles all the way forward and get your red-white-and-blue butt out of Singapore. No stops, no explores, no Indiana Jones adventure-seeker games.”
‟Could I come back?” Tom wondered out loud. “For business?”
‟Well, you can, if you wish. But my advice, not for a couple of years.” The lawyer nodded. ‟And then, it would be bloody good to take my advice, do not have so much as a crumb of a drug nearby.”
Outside, Liem Han sat in the shade near his motorbike, waited for this rich American to come out so he could take more photos and video.
“Come out, Yankee, you will make me rich.”
It was a good day to be a photographer.