Sunday, 4 December 2016

Episode 59: Night Flight

After an easy flight to Rome they waited only two hours before catching the connecting flight to Bangkok in the early evening, not surprisingly Guido with all of his connections within the travel industry had been able to secure them seats on this Thai Airways flight direct to Bangkok.  As was the case with their initial flight he had also been able to also arrange for them to sit together, however today they were seated in the last row of First Class on the upper deck of this 747 Jumbo jet.  After taking off, they sat talking as the pre-dinner champagne arrived and drinks continued through their meal, by this time Lea was feeling a little light headed.

Alessio attentiveness was so appealing, his smile infectious and his constant touch a source of sheer excitement.  The cabin lights were dimmed and everyone pushed their seats back, hoping to catch some sleep before their arrival into Bangkok some 12 hours after leaving Rome.  Alessio had been softly touching Lea with every opportunity since boarding the plane, and shortly after the lights were dimmed he leaned into her and kissed her passionately on the lips.  She felt his tongue graze hers and she responded, kissing him deeply.  Her heart began to race and breath became a ragged as their kissing continued.

Without thinking she pulled back from him, and smiling mischievously whispered for him to follow her in one minute, Alessio smiled broadly as Lea stood and slipped silently into the aisle, her tight well shaped ass just inches from his face as he touched her hips to help her slide by.  The though of her inflamed him and was excited by the thought of what she might have in store.

After pausing for a minute he quietly slid out of his seat and padded to the toilet, tapping softly on the door it opened and a flood of light emanated from the enclosed room.  Lea quickly reached for Alessio and forcefully pulled him into her, ensuring the door was securely closed behind them as their lips met once more.

She sat back on the toilet and reached for his belt, her eyes flashing as she took him from his entangled briefs and took his thickening cock deep into her mouth and swirled her tongue all over the tip to taste his sweet pre-cum.  Alessio was soon on the verge of climax, before pulling Lea to her feet and spinning her around so that she now faced the mirror.

He reached for her panties, but she wasn't wearing any...he noticed her impish grin in the mirror as he lifted her short skirt.  She tilted her ass and pushed back toward him as he began rubbing his hard cock along her dripping lips and rock hard clit before grasping her hips with his strong hands and slowly sliding deep into her.   

Their eyes locked on each other in the mirror as they rhythmically made their way toward orgasm.  Lea was first to cum and as her body spasmed she involuntarily gripped Alessio's cock with her tight, wet pussy which in turn brought Alessio to his shattering climax moments later.  Now breathless, they tried to gather themselves but the power of their orgasms had been so intense that it took a few minutes to find some level of composure.

Moments later Alessio slide out of the cubicle into the darkness and was back to his seat in seconds...

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Episode 58: Shaken

After acquiescing and providing the location to where Bill was being held, Anh was held for an additional three days, and although moved to a small cell from her interrogation room her confidence was shaken.  Early on the third day two guards came for her and escorted her to General Binh's office.  As she entered he stood smoking and looking out the window, he turned as they entered and he pointed to a chair.

Nhà báo này cho bạn là gì? (What is this journalist to you?) Anh pondered his question...but then spat ông là không có gì! (he is nothing!)  Bạn có từ chối bắt cóc anh ta? (Do you deny kidnapping him?)  Anh remained silent but was not able to hold eye contact with the General, he went on Mày đã gây cho tao embarresment tuyệt vời (you've caused me great embarrassment) and without pausing went on cống nạp tiền của bạn bây giờ là tăng gấp đôi (Your monthly tribute is now double).  Anh's knew that protesting would only further enflame the General for which she had no appetite, she just wanted out of this hell hole.

The general nodded to the soldier standing guard at the door, he stepped aside and opened the door.  Anh's gaze fell upon the cold face of General Binh, and noted for the first time that he never seemed to blink.  She stood, nodded once more and left his office.  She was sandwiched between the two guards who led her to the main gate where she waited while one went into the adjacent hut and conversed with the commissar on duty.  The commissar, a wiry man in his mid 40's eyed Anh suspiciously from the office, before reluctantly instructing one of his men to open the gate.

Anh was relieved to be free, but her mind soon turned to the possible repercussions of having been away for such a prolonged period, not to mention the way she and her gang had been rounded up and extracted from the market so quickly and without a show of force made her look weak in the eyes of her enemies, for which there were many only too willing to step into the void.  She steeled herself to the immediate task of reestablishing her iron grip on the market and the change in protection pricing that was about to come into effect.  She must leave no doubt in anyone's mind as to who is in charge, but she knew there would be resistance to the increasing in their tribute...

Sending a runner for Trung and his top lieutenants as soon as she got to her building, and within minutes he and his men entered her office Anh noting the bruised and battered faces of many of them, including Trung.  

As of today, we are doubling our monthly payment from the stall owners she told them forcefully.  Ensure everyone is informed, spare no mercies when you inform them of the new price and crush any resistance she spat.  Turning she walked to the balcony overlooking the frenetic chaos that was the Chợ Đồng Xuân and stared down harshly.  

They will pay she said under her breath..., they will pay.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Episode 57: Smitten

The first rays of light slipped through the cracks in the bamboo slats and glistened on the mosquito net that hung from the four poster bed, it was the time of the day that Mai cherished most with Bill as she lay naked, her body wrapped in his.  She pushed gently back into him as they spooned and felt the stirrings of his hardening cock against her.  Her nipples began to harden at the very thought of their love making that was to follow...   

Mai turned in his arms and tenderly ran her fingers over his handsome and now healing face, although still drowsing Bill sighed deeply as her fingertips ran gently across his collarbone and down his chest.  She snuggled into him and breathed him in before softly kissing slowly down his body.  As she reached his belly button she looked up to find Bill's eyes locked on hers, the desire evident in his features.  Without taking her eyes off his she gently circled his belly button with her tongue before inching her way down his taunt, hard body .  

Teasing him, she slowly ran her tongue over the tip of his cock before taking him deep into her mouth, slowly at first, as her hand slowing slid up and down the length of his shaft, she tasted his sweet juices before adjusting the speed and tempo, just the way he like it.  As she knelt between his legs she reached her other hand back to tease her hard clit, before sliding her fingers inside her wet pussy.  When her fingers were dripping she would rub her juices over Bills lips and push her fingers into his mouth; which drove them both crazy with desire. 

Mai then moved back up his body, their eyes locked as she lifted her hips and slowly slid down onto him, he pulled her into him and kissed deeply as she ground down hard onto him, over and over again before they both exploded in a shattering orgasm. 

The affect they had on each other was without bounds, as each day when Mai left the hotel room she would purposefully not wear underwear just to arouse and inflame him, which also in turn made her wet with desire just knowing how much it turned him on. 

It had been three days since they had arrived into the Old Imperial City of Hue and she had not only arranged every aspect of the trip but had pampered him with her affections unconditionally.  

The mornings were a languors affair of love making, coffee and the most divine french pastries on the balcony of the hotel. Lunches were late and informal as they sat on the terrace shaded by the giant bamboo grove and cooled by the omni present fan whirring away overhead.  They sipped and chatted with an aperitif late into the afternoon, before heading out for a walk along the Perfume River at dusk.  They were both shocked at the collateral damage from the American War on this beautiful and once regal capital, and although the rebuilding was underway it was going to be a long haul.  

It was the first time in her life that she could remember that she felt so completely at ease and could be completely herself, but it wasn't just a one way street.  Far from it, Bill kept pinching himself to make sure he wasn't dreaming and could hardly believe that he was with the most beautiful woman in the entire world. 

They were smitten!

Episode 56: Single minded

John' stepped across the threshold of his plane at Noi Bai airport just before midday, the heat and humidity hitting him like a sledgehammer as he exited the plane doors and made his way down the stairs and across the tarmac toward the terminal.  

After booking his flight to Hanoi via Bangkok John realized that he didn't have an entry visa and so had hastily engaged his legal team to expedite it through the Paris consulate as per the protocol, fortunately for him the Times had been a good supporter of the Vietnamese regime and so there were no hold ups.  However, this two day delay had made him even more anxious as he still didn't have word regarding the whereabouts of Bill or Phuong.   

The line was long at the single passport window, the perspiration ran from John's forehead and dripped from his chin in a steady stream of oozing moisture.  He held his jacket across this arm and tried to fan himself with his passport while slowly inching toward the control point, wondering if this had been such a good idea...

After finally making it to the front of the line and sliding his passport and paperwork through the window the official slowly looked over his documentation, stopping every now and then to look up at John, which he found rather unnerving.  The soldier then took his passport and paperwork and disappeared to an adjacent office, returning a few minutes later he eyed John suspiciously once more before stamping his passport with a hard thud.  

Kế tiếp (Next!) he barked before waving John away. 

Fortunately, John's secretary has booked him a car and driver to take him to the hotel and after gathering his bag he exited into a veritable sea of people. Craning his neck to find his name was quite a chore but eventually he located his rather sullen driver and followed him toward the car park across the road from the terminal.  Even during this short walk to the carpark John noticed that the primary mode of transportation seemed to be scooters, but more so the cacophony of noise that they emanated from them as they zipped by. 

Following his drivers lead he tried to stay close behind as the stepped off the curb into the swarms of scooters that seemingly bore down on him from every direction.  He cursed loudly as a scooter narrowly missed him, its horn blaring loudly as the driver swerved around him.

Eventually he reached the hotel just before three pm, too exhausted to move he struggled to gather himself as the car drew up to the front doors of the Hilton Hotel.  He took in the beautiful architecture of the hotel, it's French pedigree obvious even to the untrained eye...and sighed deeply.  

After checking in and being shown to his room he took a long, cool shower to wash the grime of his travels from his body.  Feeling a little more refreshed he set about calling the office, hoping to speak with someone, perhaps even Lea he thought, maybe she had made contact with Bill and Phuong he thought fleetingly.  Noting the phone in his room was a relic that belonged in a museum and likely dated from the 1940's, he smiled and slipped his finger into each number as it slowly rotated and dialed.     

The line was busy, and so waited a few minutes before trying again...  

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Episode 55: Warmth

Lea woke with a start, her mind flashed as she quickly reached to turn the alarm clock toward her.  "Shit" she said out loud...we're going to miss our flight.  Alessio blearily opened his eyes, and smiling in a barely audible voice said "non ti preoccupare ti cattura il prossimo volo bello" (don't worry we'll catch the next flight beautiful)  Although Lea wasn't fluent in Italian although she knew enough to get by and she turned on him with flashing eyes and spat "you don't understand I have to be on that flight".  

But before she could move from the bed Alessio had reached for her and pulled her into him, she struggled to free herself but his strong arms held her as their lips met...

Guido smiled as they glided down the stairs a little after 10:00 am for breakfast, although he noted that Lea didn't make eye contact with him when they greeted each other but rather blushed a little.  Guido, the consummate host had already called the airlines and rebooked them onto Bangkok with the flight leaving later that afternoon, via a connecting flight in Rome.  For the most part she had tried to not think about her liaison between her and Alessio but tried to take it in stride and minimize the feelings of guilt that began washing over her after their love making.  

As the day wore on she felt completely out of sorts, on the one hand she reasoned that she loved Bill and that's why she was traveling half way around the world to be with him and so make their relationship work, but then why had she fallen so easily for Alessio and been so sexually active with him, she was perplexed.

Alessio was his attentive, talkative and attractive self...damn he looked good, and smelled even better Lea thought to herself as the boarded the plane bound for Rome.   Why was she being tortured she wondered, especially now of all times?  

She just hoped that she would stop lusting for him or they would be in big trouble on the flight to Bangkok, at the very thought of him her stomach flipped and her pussy tingled with anticipation...god he was so distracting.

Episode 54: Recovery and reunification

Bill's eyes peeked open to the view of the overhead fan slowing turning above his bed, the cool, crisp hospital sheets felt good on his sensitive and now healing skin.  He lay perfectly still, breathing slowing and deliberately as he tried to remember the events of the last few days, his mind struggled to grasp the details and felt as though a heavy fog had descended over his mind and details dark and sketchy.

Phuong's ubiquitous smile was warm and generous as he entered Bills room, Bill sensed that he owed his life to Phuong and that he had in some way engineered his rescue from his captors.  After the initial pleasantries Bill asked Phuong what had happened so that he could piece together the events and try and make sense of the experience, but Phuong, in his usual style remained elusive and non committal.  

It was then that Bill sensed Mai's presence long before seemed to materialized out of thin air and swept into the room, filing it with her beaming smile. Phuong rose from his chair and offered it to Mai who accepted it without acknowledging his presence.  As she sat, Phuong stepped back and gave a slight nod of his head to Bill and quietly exited the room.  Mai reached for Bill's hand and held it firmly as she survey his handsome features, he noted the glimmer of concern cross her face as she endeavored to give him her best smile.

Bạn có ổn không? (Are you okay?)  He smiled and squeezed her hand, "yeah I'm fine, just a little worse for wear I'm afraid", nothing a few days rest won't fix though he went on.  Do you know how long you're going to be in here? Mai asked as she reverted to English.  I'm not sure, but I feel fine, Bill said trying to sound chipper.

I know just the place where we can go to help you recover Mai said, with a mischievous grin, at this Bill's face flushed "I'd like that, yeah I'd like that a lot"...

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Episode 53: Seduction

Alessio had talked non stop during the 25 minute commute from Malpensa airport, and Lea felt at ease and more drawn to him the longer they conversed.  His cousin was waiting for them when they pulled to the curb in front of the hotel and warmly embraced each of them in succession as they stepped from the car, kissing each cheek in typical european style.

Lea was starting to feel the exhaustion overcome her as Alessio's cousin Guido chatted to them in the lobby.  Sensing Lea's tiredness Alessio explained that they had an early morning flight the next day and that unfortunately couldn't have drinks in the lobby bar.  Guido smiled ruefully as he wished them a good night before walking them to the elevator.

Lea stepped from the elevator directly into a grand suite, Alessio explained that this was Guido's private quarters and that because the hotel was already fully booked he had provided his personal suite for them.  He then directed her to a bedroom before saying that his room was adjacent and bid her goodnight. 

Although Lea was tired, she had a feeling of excitement deep in the pit of her stomach and so was physically tired but restless...  She tossed and turned and eventually got up to go and get a cold drink from the kitchen, placing a half silk robe around her body and tying it loosely she stepped from her bedroom.

As she tip toed past Alessio's room she noticed the door slightly ajar with just enough light emanating from the room to see Alessio's form on the bed.  She paused and noticed that he was naked and lying on his back with his eyes closed.  A deep feeling of excitement washed over her as she continued to be mesmerized by this shapely form.  Her hands slowly slipping inside her dressing gown and began squeezing her hardening nipples, the feeling of longing deep inside was unmistakable as she continued to peer inside. As she caressed her supple breasts, one hand parted her lips to find that she was dripping wet, and bringing her finger to her mouth she licked her sweet juices from her fingers.

Without thinking she softly stepped into the room and walked toward the bed, as she went she slowly untied the dressing gown and let it slip from her shoulders to the floor.

She knelt beside the bed and with the tips of her fingers caressed Alessio's strong chest and arms, his eyes fluttered open to her light touch, he smiled as his strong arms reached for her now naked form and lifted her in the bed...

Episode 52: The light

Bill's body ached from the beatings and torture he'd endured but the worst and most humiliating thing was the stench from his faeces caked clothing which hung on his emaciated body.   

He hadn't heard the footsteps nor the door as it was swung open to his cell.  The first thing he felt was roughly being pulled from his stupor by yet another set of hands, mentally he immediately began to steel himself for the imminent interrogation session which was about to begin.  He'd lost count of how long he'd been held and whether it was day or night.

He tried to tune into the voices but the speed of their speech and the impact of his torture had addled his mind and so couldn't keep up.  Although this time there wasn't the same shouting that usually accompanied his treatment, nor was he being roughly dragged from the room whilst enduring the constant rain of blows that usually came with it.

In fact, Bill sensed something different in the mood of the voices, the bindings on his hands was being undone and her was being carefully placed in a chair the hood, which had been a constant companion was slowly removed from his head.  At first the light was so bright that he was momentarily blinded, after the initial disorientation had passed he eyes slowly became accustomed and noted a number of soldiers, around him.  

But it was then that Phuong came to stand in front of him, grasping his hand he shook it firmly and leaning in whispered almost imperceptibly that he must remain silent.  Bill trusting Phuong's advice and instincts smiled warmly. "Jesus, its great to see you Phuong" Bill said trying to smile, but with his dirty and bruised face, disheveled appearance and noticeable stench was difficult for Phuong to digest while concealing his rising anger.  The senior military officer motioned for a plain dressed civilian to examine Bill as he sat on the chair.  The doctor checked Bill out thoroughly before reporting in quiet tones to the officer.

Phuong then helped Bill to standing and with another soldier steadying him accompanied him from his cell to a waiting ambulance in the street.  The sights and pungent smells of the old quarter wafted through his nose as he lay on the gurney for the short ride to the hospital.  
For the first time in what seemed like an eternity he could finally breathe again...

Episode 51: Will of Steel

Anh’s release from was anything but straightforward.  After freeing the Australian journalist General Binh let her stew in a cell at military headquarters while he took the brunt of the blame for this debacle. She had been a key part of his success in keeping the market under her control, which was one less thing for him to worry about, but her lack of judgment in this matter was most frustrating and unexpected as he had been dragged before the revolutionary council and asked to explain.  

War hero or not he was not above suspicion and barely came away with his command, after he’d been questioned about his role in the kidnapping. Undoubtedly her tributes would have to increase to account for the loss of prestige and inconvenience she had caused him.

Once he had the address from Anh he requested for Mai to be delivered to his office.  The sunlit office in General Binh’s office was a sharp contrast to the cell where Anh was being held a few hundred yards away, but she waited patiently until the General arrived.  Although having met many times socially this was the first official meeting that he’d requested of her, and as he entered gave a curt nod and sat behind his desk, she noted a soldier follow him into his office and stand to attention by the door.

He leaned back in his chair and eyed Mai intently, without saying a word he reached for a pack of cigarettes and offered one to Mai, which she politely accepted.  Standing he leaned over his desk and lite her cigarette before lighting his own, Mai noted that he towered over her even from behind his desk and clearly a sign to intimidate her. 

“Bạn biết gì về các nhà báo bị bắt cóc? (What do you know about the kidnapped journalist?)” he asked in a quiet and controlled tone.  Mai’s heart froze and her mind raced, yet there was not a glimmer of recognition on her face. During his military career he had interrogated hundreds of people and watched Mai intently to see if he could gather anything from her non-verbal body language. Mai knew the General was fluent in English and so she smiled and asked enquiringly “Which journalist General Binh, I know many.”

He went on, “Am I led to believe you do not know the Australian journalist?” he barked.  Mai was not to be shaken, and with a perfectly composed response retorted “of course General Binh I know the Australian journalist and I’m sure you also know that I’ve met him a number of times, but I didn’t know that he had been kidnapped”.  

Most people would have been completely shaken by this time, but not Mai who kept eye contact with General Binh as she drew on her cigarette.  She was an expert in complete self-control he had to give her that much. 

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Episode 50: Sojourn

The plane touched down just at Malpensa airport in Milan some three hours after leaving London, although as she would soon find out the onward trip to Bangkok was going to be delayed as one of the engines had been damaged during the turbulence and they needed to send another plane from London to complete the journey.  

The announcement from British Airways caught almost everyone by surprise "We apologized for the delay in British Airways flight 12 from London to Bangkok.  Unfortunately our plane is no longer in service, another plane is now en-route from London's Heathrow and will arrive early tomorrow morning.  We are expecting an 8:00 am departure and it is imperative that you return to the airport no later than 6:00 am in readiness for your onward flight to Bangkok".  The announcer went onto say that British Airways in the process of arranging accommodations and to be seated until further notice, but it soon turned into a mob scene with everyone scrumming around the BA desk hoping to get more information.  Lea stood to the side of the writhing crowd and felt a touch of giddiness after hearing the announcement.  Okay now what she thought?

A moment later she felt the gentle touch of a hand on her lower back, "I know a beautiful hotel where we can stay, and can still be back in the morning to catch our flight" the voice whispered softly into her ear, Lea smiled and blushed deeply as she recognized her seat mates voice from the plane.  After landing they awkwardly smiled and released each others grasp and it was then that Alessio had formally introduced himself.  Lea had warmed to him immediately, not only was he impeccably dressed, and ruggedly handsome but what sealed the deal was he big brown eyes and his mesmerizingly soft Italian accent which she could listen to for hours...  

"Where would we go she stammered, her brow furrowing slightly as Alessio smiled confidently and said that his cousin had a hotel just outside Milan and that a driver was on his way to pick them up.  She hesitated for a moment before deciding to go with her gut, reasoning that her journalist instincts would have kicked in if she had any doubts about him. She was both curious and a little excited...although not willing to admit this to herself just yet.    

It was raining softly as the Mercedes pulled to the curb in front of the terminal, and the driver got out and walked to Alessio, smiling and with a barely noticeable nod opened the umbrella to shelter them from the rain.  The driver opened the door and allowed Lea to step into the luxuriously appointed back seat. 

Moments later they were speeding from the terminal toward the hotel all the while Lea's stomach danced with butterflies... 

Episode 49: Accused

Within minutes of arriving inside the Citadel which was Hanoi's military headquarters the prisoners were led one by one from the vehicles that had transported them from the Old Quarter.  Mai was helped from the car by an awestruck private and then shown to an adjacent building, whereas Anh was led purposefully toward a large doorway by the officer in charge.  Trung and his cohorts were roughly taken from the back of the truck and pushed single file toward the main barracks building.

Anh was led into the basement, along a corridor and then into a dimly lit interrogation room.  Once seated the accompanying officer offered Anh a cigarette which she snatched just a little too forcefully from the outstretched pack, she smiled malevolently knowing that in just a few short minutes she would be free to go, and that this half wit would be severely punished by his commanding officer for taking in one of Hanoi's most important residents into custody...he had no idea who I am she thought as she smiled inwardly.   

The minutes ticked slowly by as Anh held her gaze at the officer, who unblinkingly returned it just as maliciously.  Eventually she could hear the sound of footsteps in the corridor, then stop before the door burst open.  General Binh stood in the doorway and surveying the scene then motioned for the officer and the guard to leave the room at once.  Once they had retreated into the corridor the General turned on Anh, and without smiling walked toward her and slapped her hard across the face.  Anh was rocked by the hard blow across her cheek and was lucky to not be knocked from her chair.  

Anh had been caught completely off guard by the turn of events, not only had she expected General Binh to apologize and release her at once, but now also that something else was afoot.  Now it was Anh's mind who was racing, normally the military kept out of her affairs as long as she continued to pay her tribute, but something was different this time...

Tôi không có thời gian cho việc này (I have no time for your games!)  Các nhà báo Úc ở đâu? (Where is the Australian Journalist?)

Rarely had Anh been intimidated, but General Binh was an imposing figure, not only tall (almost 6'2") but also powerfully built.  His most recognizable feature was the enormous scar that ran across his nose and left cheek.  Rumor had it that he'd received it when the fin of a rocket propelled grenade had narrowly missed him but badly sliced his face during the Tet Offensive in February 1968.  This highly decorated hero from the American war was the stuff of legends and no one messed with General Binh.  

He ran the Hanoi military district with an iron fist and now a tremor of fear ran through Anh as he stood before her and slammed his fist hard on the table, the impatience visibly seething from every pore and sinew of his being.

All she could do was look into his cold eyes to know at once that this was a life and death moment... 

Episode 48: Powerless

John felt completely powerless given the situation and brooded over what to do with the Hanoi situation.  He looked at the clock on the adjacent wall in his office, it was almost six o'clock and although he'd gone through the motions all afternoon it wasn't until then that it struck him that Lea was leaving for Hanoi that night...

"Shit" he said out loud, and called her office but there was no answer.  Next her called her flat...his heart began to sink as couldn't remember her flight details, in the past she would have given them to him but since the whole matter with Bill being posted to Hanoi a definite coolness had invaded their relationship.  

He hesitated to call Glenda, but felt he had no choice.  Dailing the number, it rang twice before her recognizable voice came on the line, "hello" she said formally.  It's me, what time does Lea's plane leave for Bangkok he asked a little too hurriedly.  There was a moments silence before Glenda responded, "seven o'clock no thanks to you" she said pointedly.   John had no patience after the eventful day and responded tersely "look somethings come up in Hanoi and she can't go".  "A little too late don't you think?"   John wasn't sure if Glenda knew that he'd gotten her working papers for Vietnam so didn't press the matter too hard before hanging up.

Next he called British Airways to see if he could catch Lea at the boarding gate, but the British Airways agent was apologetic, "I'm sorry sir but the flight has boarded and pushed back from the gate".

As he hung up the phone his head was spinning, he was worried for the safety of Bill and Phuong and now Lea was on a plane bound for goodness knows what, could it get any worse he thought.   Taking a deep breath, he reasoned the only thing for him to do now was get on the earliest flight to Hanoi and sort this obvious mess out when he got there...

Episode 47: Inflight

It was if Bill had disappeared off the face of the planet, but this only convinced Lea more than ever that he was just avoiding the situation.  Damn him, I'm going whether he likes it or not, and I'm going to tell him exactly how I feel...  Her resolve was steeled as she confidently boarded the plane for Bangkok late Thursday afternoon, although her confidence only lasted as long as she didn't dwell too long on the fact that she had all of her paperwork to stay.  

Shortly after taking off, the drinks trolley sidled up beside her first class seat and the friendly stewardess asked her what she'd like to drink..."the champagne is an excellent!" she said enthusiastically to which Lea smiled and nodded.  Popping the cork on a new icy bottle of Veuve Clicquot, and poured it slowly as the bubbles rushed to the rim of the glass but no further.  Lea smiled as she took the glass and took a long and satisfying sip, she sunk back into her chair and smiled to herself, now this was an adventure she mused...and in a few hours I'll be with Bill.  All was well with the world, smiling inwardly and taking another sip. 

After dinner she had reclined her seat, put her eye shade on and had settled into to try and sleep, although she noted that the flight was getting decidedly bumpier as they flew on.  A few minutes later the Captain's voice came over the intercom to inform them that they needed to divert around the rather large and turbulent storm that was over the Alps and to tighten their seat belts as its was likely going to get a little bumpier for just a bit.

Moments late the plane felt as though it were falling from the sky, she could noticeably feel the plane nose its way down as once again the Captain's reassuring voice came over the speakers to say that they needed to divert to Milan and to not worry everything was fine, but given the ferocity of the storm they had to land.  Lea's already jumpy fears of flying were beginning to panic her, and so she brought her seat upright, keeping the eye shade over her eyes began to breath deeply to try and calm her frayed nerves, "now if only the plane could just be still for a moment she thought I'll be fine"...

Just then a reassuring hand grasped hers, a little startled but also comforted as their fingers intertwined and their grips tightened.  As the plane leveled and finalized its decent into Milan's Malpensa airport, she finally felt able to breath and so turning slightly in her seat lifted her eye shade to see who was holding her hand.  

Until this point she hadn't noticed who was sitting next to her as she'd been too caught up in her own mind about Bill and her trip.  To her surprise the hand she realized belonged to a handsome well dressed man, she felt her cheeks flush as he turned and smiled...

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Episode 46: From afar

For the second day in a row John had not received a bulletin from his desk in Hanoi and he could feel his annoyance rising.  He lifted the receiver and asked his assistant to put a call through to Hanoi, moments later the phone rang in his office.  When he picked up the phone he asked to speak to Bill, the polite response was that he wasn't in.  How about Phuong?   So sorry, but he also wasn't in...   Well when do you expect them back?  The silence was deafening...  

John left a message for one of them to call him as soon as they got in before hanging up.   What are those two up to he ventured?  But just as this thought had entered his head, so did a deep feeling of unease.  These two reporters were amongst his best, and with unquestioned reliability and so began to worry.  It was most unusual that neither one of them had reported in...

Minutes later John's phone jangled again, but instead of Bill or Phuong whom he had expected on the line it was his assistant Mary.  She said that there was a Rupert Palmer from the Foreign Office to see him and it seemed quite urgent and asked if she could send him in?  

Of course, show him in immediately John said brusquely.  The only time he usually ran into Rupert was at their annual university reunion which generally ending with an enormous hangover and a promise never to do it again, which invariably they did.  God, was it that time of year again he though?   A moment later the door opened and Mary showed Rupert in, although not close friends there was a mutual warmth between them.  "What an unexpected pleasure" said John smiling and reaching to shake Rupert's hand.  Rupert seemed to be more formal than normal as they shook hands, but John put it down to the work setting and not being surrounded by all of their school mates.

Rupert was first to speak as John motioned for him to take a seat, "Have you heard from Conolly-West in Hanoi recently?" he asked directly.  Strange John immediately thought, how does Rupert know Bill.  Why, no actually... what's this all about Rupert?  Rupert cleared his throat and said that the Foreign Office had been informed that Bill was being held as a political prisoner in Hanoi.  Look I shouldn't be telling you this, and honestly shouldn't even be here, but because we know each other I thought I would do you the courtesy of coming to see you in person, using the phone was out of the question because of the sensitive nature of this situation.  What can you tell me about Conolly-West?  What was he working on out there?  When was the last time your heard from him?  Rupert questions peppered John as if they were machine gun bullets...

Stunned, John couldn't believe what Rupert had just told him and began to wrack his brain for their most recent report and stories.  

"Um, nothing really, some regional trade stuff, the focus on this years rice harvest and the upcoming government planning session in Da Lat but none of that really warrants being held as a political prisoner" he said a little too defensively.  

Rupert's demeanor didn't change and said that they had been in discussions with Hanoi and Canberra about the situation.  He went on to explain that normally he wouldn't be bothered with an issue like this as Conolly-West was Australian and that the Australian government was responsible for him and would handle it, however because he is employed by the Times the British government has no choice but to be involved.   John could tell that Rupert was far from happy about this hot potato being dropped in his lap.  

All I can tell you is that the last time I heard from Bill was Tuesday at his usual 9:00 am report time, but nothing since then.  John went on to explain that he had tried to call the Hanoi desk just minutes before Rupert had arrived, but with no luck.

Rupert stood, this conversation never happened he said seriously, we don't want this thing to get out of hand and need to resolve it quickly and quietly so would appreciate if we could keep this under wraps for the moment.  

Look as soon as hear anything else I'll let you know, shaking hands Rupert walked to the door.  As he approached the door he turned to face John, who was still in obvious shock.  "At least was he a good reporter?" asked Rupert.  John nodded heavily, "yes, exceptional - one of our best...he was our lead on the Dhaka story earlier this year".  Rupert nodded knowingly, smiled and stepped from the room closing the door firmly behind him.  

It wasn't till after Rupert had left the room that he realized what Rupert had communicated to him - "Was he a good reporter?"   Shit, past tense...John thought as his mind now raced at 100 miles per hour as to what to do next...

Episode 45: Faces in the crowd

Phuong had been a familiar yet anonymous face in the crowded Chợ Đồng Xuân for many years and knew exactly where to position himself to observe Anh and her lieutenants and their comings and goings without attracting attention.  He noted the young boy run from the stairwell within Anh's building and back into the mass of humanity, he also could see her pacing back and forth through the open balcony and sensed, even from this distance her agitation.  Later that morning Mai arrived and stepped from the car that deposited her at the entrance to Anh's building, as usual, even this heat she was immaculately dressed and positively stopped the traffic as she made her way from the car to the entrance.  

One thing he learned during the American war was to be successful was to play all sides.  At the time he'd found out that Bill was missing, he had put a call into both the Australian and British consulates to tip them off, explaining anonymously that Bill was being held as a spy and that he would be put on trial unless there were certain concessions made by this imperialist governments.  This initial call had then initiated a flurry of diplomatic calls between Canberra, London and Hanoi to untangle the situation, although with Hanoi being clueless as to what was actually going on.  

The revolutionary council began investigations immediately and through their network, of which Phuong had been one of the operatives contacted concluded that Anh was at the center of this unfortunate and ultimately embarrassing mess.  The revolutionary council had long ago ceded control of the Chợ Đồng Xuân too Anh, but in this instance she had clearly overstepped her sphere of influence.  She knew better than to kidnap foreigners, especially since Vietnam was just starting to find its feet on the international stage.  

Phuong waited expectantly for the inevitable which was about to unfold.  He was not disappointed, as within the hour he watched as the truck loads of soldiers begin streaming into the old quarter and as such the local inhabitants begin to fade into the shadows.  Within moments the loud speaker system, usually reserved for the afternoon indoctrination broadcast came to life.  Moments later he could see Anh, Mai and her entourage being led from the building and being loaded into the waiting military vehicle which clogged the streets around her residence.    

Nhu Ha was safely ensconced in an anonymous safe house only a short distance from where they held Bill, and so now all he needed to do was wait for Bill's release and he would also release Nhu Ha.

Episode 44: Trade

Anh enjoyed seeing Nhu Ha each morning as she swept into the Chợ Đồng Xuân on her scooter, her mothers broken smile beaming as she greeted her, but today as she approached it wasn't her mother that greeted her, but her distraught father.  Anh listened intently as Quang explained what he'd found when he'd returned from his first trip to the square earlier that morning.

Within minutes of hearing of her mothers disappearance she had called Trung and demanded he find her.  

Phuong knew that Anh was dangerous, especially when cornered and so proceeded carefully once he knew that Nhu Ha was safely being held.  He also knew that Anh would have Trung and his thugs out on the street scouring every corner of the city, and that her anger and venom would be total, but he also knew her reactions and thus considered her anger his ally to his cause.

Shortly after a hand written note was delivered to Anh at her apartment at the Chợ Đồng Xuân, the nervous youth who delivered it knew better than to look directly at her, but presented it and slowly backed away from the door with his head bowed before running for his life.  

Anh had snatched the note from the youth and began reading it as he fled down the stairs and out into the crowded market.  She was incredulous at the impudence of the kidnappers, didn't they know who she was?

Screaming for Trung, she seethed with anger as he breathlessly entered his presence.  

Taking a deep breath and composing herself she turned on Trung, speaking in quiet and hushed tones as her searing gaze bored into his. It was at moments like these that Trung thought that Anh was at her most dangerous, and that her sharp, black and venomous eyes were more akin to that of the Hooded Cobra than anything human.  He shuddered before averting his eyes.

Heaven help whoever had kidnapped Nhu Ha he thought, for they were surely dead...

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Episode 43: Bargaining chip

Within hours Phuong had confirmation through his intricate network that Trung and his thugs had indeed kidnapped Bill, and that he was being held in a house just outside the old quarter.  With this confirmation he realized that he had to take immediate action to save Bill's life, generally in situations like this the victim would already be dead and so he wondered why Anh had not given Trung permission to end his life immediately.   

It was clear that Phuong's course of action was to treat fire with fire, calling together his closest confidants he briefed them, much as he had all those years before.  Strangely it felt like old times, with the adrenaline rush of going into action coursing through his body.   He hadn't felt this alive in years...

Nhu Ha squatted by the brazier next to her stall at the ChợĐồg Xuân in the early morning light, few others were around at this time of day but Anh's mother had always risen at 4:30 am to begin her day while her husband Quang walked to the nearby square to begin bargaining with the farmers that had brought their produce for the days market.  

She hadn't noticed the darkly clad figure stealthily observing her from a nearby stall, but looked up to see the headlight of a scooter slowing moving toward her down the darkened lane.  She turned back to her food preparation as the scooters motor drowned out the peace and quiet of the early morning.  It stopped close by, and before she make a sound an arm enveloped her small frame and while another covered her mouth before being bear hugged onto the back of the waiting scooter, thus now trapped between the two figures as the scooter accelerated down the narrow laneway.

Quang returned with his cart full of produce for the first of many trips and was surprised that Nhu Ha wasn't ready with her morning bowl of piping hot Pho.  He called her name softly but with no response, and with only the slightest wisp of smoke still raising from the brazier she had simply vanished...

Episode 42: The Call

Lea was excited to talk to Bill and hear his voice, but when the receiver was picked up in Hanoi it was Vietnamese voice that answered.  Lea asked for Bill but had been told that he wasn't in the office, she enquired as to when he'd be back but they weren't able to give a definitive answer.  Dejectedly she hung up the receiver...

She felt disappointed that they hadn't spoken as she wanted to pass on her flight details so that all would be ready for her upcoming visit.  Whenever she thought about going to Hanoi a wave of excitement coursed through her body, part butterflies and part fear. 

But something deep inside gnawed away at her, was it self doubt about seeing Bill again, or was it something else...  And by not being able to speak to him she felt like her equilibrium was off, if only she could hear his voice perhaps that would calm her.   

A couple of days later she tried calling the Hanoi desk again, but with the same response. Lea's frustration began to boil, why wouldn't he speak to her she?  Was he trying to avoid her she wondered, why had he changed his mind?  

Until now she'd been able to keep the tide of self doubt in check, but this opened the flood gate to her worst fears.

"Damn him" she sobbed as tears rolled down her face dripping onto her cotton nightgown soaking it.

Episode 41: Duality

After Bill's incident Phuong had instinctively activated his underground network, but already knew deep down that Anh was behind the attack.  Even without corroboration it was plainly obvious that Anh's jealousy had been unleashed with Mai and would not accept someone coming between them.

Phuong often reminisced about the pleasure of his first assignment - tailing Anh and Mai in the ChợĐồg Xuân, but that was before he was sent south to Saigon to infiltrate the bourgeois and corrupt Diem regime and fight the imperialists during the American war.  

He had fought bravely and as a decorated hero was recognized by the revolutionary council for his leadership and courage in the last days of the war.  In late 1975 he was repatriated back to the North, but instead of taking a place of honour on the council he had elected to continue his clandestine activities as an agent of the people and evaporate back into the shadows.

With the opening up of the country to the western powers in 1979 he had been reactivated and assigned to become a translator for the Hanoi desk at the Times newspaper with a dual role of ensuring that important and significant news coming out of the country was portrayed in the best possible light while "assisting" the foreign journalists with translation and opening the right doors at the right time.  Often, especially in the early years his role of feeding good news stories to the west was near on impossible, particularly after the first of the many land reforms had failed so miserably.  

Over the years Phuong had worked with many foreign journalists, but none quite like Bill and to his surprise he had bonded with him almost immediately.  He felt drawn to Bill and had soon become rather protective of this happy-go-lucky and warm hearted Australian. Bill was both sincere and diligent in his journalism but also set out to be become proficient in Vietnamese and thus become a trusted part of the community.  He showed great respect for the history and culture while observing the social mores, which was a first given that most of his predecessors quickly fell into the boredom of living an ex-pat life, showing little interest in either work or the people that surrounded them.  

Generally he felt nothing but disgust and some level of malevolence toward the westerners he encountered but not he was different.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Episode 40: Missed

Before lunch Mai showered in the open air walled shower which was adjacent to her bedroom, the leafy frangipani fringed shower had been such a decadent luxury with its large rain head and she loved the feeling of hot water running over her head, shoulders and down her back.  This is where she often did her best thinking... or fantasizing in Bill's case.   She closed her eyes and imagined his hard body against hers, feeling his broad shoulders and strong arms holding her...  She could feel her nipples harden at the very thought of his touch.

Only a few more minutes more she thought and smiled broadly, the flock of butterflies dancing in her stomach.

She knew that Bill would be prompt as it was in his nature, and so turning off the water stepped naked from the shower, and was immediately intoxicated with the smell of flowers which surrounded her.   Mai was more than excited to see Bill again and so was difficult to sit still while her assistant dried and styled her hair.  She had already had an early morning appointment to wax her body and have a full pedicure and manicure, and she wanted to be perfect for when she saw Bill again.  

As the hands slowly approached 2:00 pm she became unable to sit still, unconsciously she lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply as she staring intently looking at the front door...

Episode 39: Blind

Bill sensed the change in the light through his hood, but surprisingly hadn't heard them approach.  He felt his ropes being untied and smelt the strong odor of fish sauce on the men that handled him.  His hands and feet were numb, and his knees ached after being stuck in the same position for what felt like an eternity.  He was roughly pulled to his feet but the hood remained firmly fixed on his head as he was made to sit on a chair.  He could feel the flimsy table in front of him, but was unable to make out anything except for the shadows and the deep sense of foreboding.

"We know you're a spy" the woman interrogator spat.  Hanoi can be a dangerous place she threatened menacingly, you will tell us who your operatives are at once.  Bill realizing that he was way out of his depth thought best to remain silent...   

After a few moments she instructed her accomplices to restrain Bill and tie him to the chair.  He tried to push against the ropes being attached in the hope that when he relaxed there would be a small measure of slack that would ensure that the ropes cut into him less than before but to no avail.  The ropes dug deeply into his wrists and ankles as they were pulled tightly behind him

Before he could gain his composure his chair was thrust backwards and now balanced precariously on its back legs as a bucket of water was slowly poured over his head and hood.  Bill gagged with the sudden on rush of water now flooding his face.  His involuntary scream muffled by the constant stream of water now pouring over his hooded face.  

Coughing he endeavored to move his head so it was out of the stream, but found that it was held tightly but the strong hands which gripped each side of his head.

Bill's mind was a blur of fear and disbelief as blackness enveloped him...