Part 19 - Off to See the Abbot

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LUCKILY, SKYLAB HAD borrowed her cousin Dam's pickup truck. Nothing other than an off-road vehicle would have made the trip to the temple.

Kev had to battle sudden dips in the road surface, unseen rocks submerged in floodwater and had to avoid bloated carcasses of drowned animals.

"And I thought Bangkok's traffic was bad," said Kev.

Eventually, they made it safely to the temple; the trip had taken hours longer than normal.

"Sorry Myrtle, we only get to see you these days when we need the abbot's help." Skylab cursed herself for not taking the time to see her great friend.

"Don't worry, I have plenty to occupy myself here. What is going on in Hua Hin? You both look shattered?"

"It is vital that the abbot can help us."

"It must be important for you to brave these conditions," said the nun.

Myrtle had been Nick's fiancé, Nick was Kev's oldest and dearest mate. They were all celebrating the engagement when Nick was blown to pieces by a grenade. Both Skylab and Kev had grown close to Myrtle, it was through her they met the abbot. After Nick's murder, Myrtle became a nun, and a nun she has remained. Her abbot was a man whose thoughts and ideas they relied on, especially if they needed spiritual guidance.

The holy man came to the temple's entrance and guided them through to the spacious and airy chamber.

The guest's wai'd deeply showing the respect they both felt. The abbot sat on the raised plinth. The couple sat on the floor in front of him.

After the greetings and pleasantries were passed, the abbot said, "I have seen the sad news on tv. I know that is the reason you are here."

Skylab was about to speak, but the abbot carried on, "The fourth father is key to your solution. Be careful, he is an evil and dangerous person. I don't know why, but a pentagram keeps flashing in my mind."

He lost all colour to his face.

The old man shook, his head angled itself to his right shoulder, his upper body vibrated, and both knees lifted and fell in unison.

Both Skylab and Myrtle raced to his aid. Kev stopped them before they reached the monk.

"Don't touch!" he called. "Women can't touch monks, it's a trick."

Kev couldn't believe he said that. His faith was not strong. How did he know that a power was trying to break Buddhist rules? The girls returned to their kneeling positions, chanting Buddhist scripts. A group of monks who tried gently to relieve the old man joined Kev.

Eventually, the shaking became a whimper. The abbot stretched his neck and loosened his rock-like muscles, cracking like broken chicken bones.

"Where was I?" he asked his group, "Ah, yes, he is a threat to all our lives. Beware." The abbot stood and steadily joined the group below him, "You'll excuse me, I need to rest."

He left the stunned group as he went to his room.

Myrtle was the first to break the silence, "Well, what just happened?"

"Sorry Myrtle, I feel we had better go."

Skylab dragged Kev to their vehicle.

A hasty knock at the door to Gatts's office as they burst in.

"Gatts, we need to talk," said Kev.

"What new news have you got on the fourth man?" asked Skylab. "Nothing, what's all the rush?"

After explaining what happened at the temple.

Gatts said, "I understand your and the abbot's concern, and as worrying as it may be, it doesn't aid us in the hunt. We do not know who this man is, or where he lives."

The police officer paused as if waiting for an outburst from Skylab. None came, so he carried on.

"Now on to another case. I will meet the parents of a missing English girl later. Let me see how it goes, I will probably need your help with them. My brother thinks I've got nothing better to do than calm parents whose daughter failed to contact them."

Gatts' brother Skip was based in Bangkok, he was far superior in rank to his younger sibling. Because of Skip's success in the past at solving crimes involving the British community, including cases involving Kev and Skylab, he found the files on his desk, which he promptly passed on to Gatts if they didn't involve Thailand's capital city. Skip had enough to occupy his time in Bangkok.

Skylab was immediately interested in a girl missing in Thailand. Kev did not want to get involved.

"Skylab, haven't we got enough to deal with, without hunting for a girl who has over enjoyed herself?"

"What makes you think she has? And what if she was your daughter?"

"Okay, okay, but we're not wasting too much time on her."

Get me to the temple on time - to vote!

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