Part 42 - Cryptic Mess

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"NOT AS EASY as the Bangkok Post crossword, what does it all mean?" Kev was talking to himself.

"Cneatung and find." Kev reached for his trusty dictionary, "Nothing? Maybe it is German? Perhaps the letters got smudged by the damp? Maybe I'm not as good at word puzzles as I thought?"

He started looking at clue two.

"Begin - A panda eating kendo," he looked at the ceiling for inspiration, "What do pandas eat? Bamboo, not much else, I think. And kendo? Japanese martial arts? A 'bamboo sword'. Is it? If this was a crossword, at least I could try to fit the answer into the grid."

Kev stood and stretched, thought about making a coffee, then sat and got on with his quest.

"Near - Iron out Baht mobile? The Baht bit must mean Thai? Thailand? Siam? Now, iron out?" Kev suddenly smiled at himself.

"Got it, iron is railway tracks, mobile means moving. It must be a 'Thai railway'. Come on Kev, you are getting there," he proudly slapped his thighs.

"Next," he called out as he studied a scrap of paper, "Running along, wet and wide with broken knee?"

He started by considering where and how you run, nothing clicked.

"What is wet and wide?" he thought, "River! Yes, must be a river, now which river?"

Gradually he was piecing together the clues. Some are easier than others. The next one he worked out quickly.

"On the edge, 10 pigs on edge? Edge could be rim and 10 must be ten or X as in Roman numerals?"

Kev looked around, chewed his pen, then spewed out, "Therefore, Tenasserim Hills. Overlooking the river."

Kev now knew that whatever was so important must be in or near Kanchanaburi.

"Right, final clue. 'Prize - Auric and a swelling bud'. Auric, auric, is the aura supposedly surrounding a living creature. No, no, let me check," he said as he grabbed the dictionary, "of or containing gold in the trivalent state," he read.

Kev's smile got wider. He wanted to shout and scream. He thought better of making a song and dance about something that may have been found years ago. He knew it related to the Japanese wealth buried at the end of the Second World War. He searched his bookshelves for more information. There was no report of the treasure being recovered, but he only had the Lonely Planet guidebook to refer to.

"Internet, you idiot," he said to himself.

Kev was calling up page after page of articles written in English and Thai about the lost mountain of Japanese treasure.

"Hi Kev, Skylab back yet?" called Gatts from the doorway.

"No, not yet, come in and look at this," said Kev.

"Why are you reading old news? You must know it was a hoax?"

"Maybe, or it hasn't been found yet?" Kev grinned.

"I think we've got enough to worry about without chasing a crackpot's dream."

"The then Prime Minister Thaksin believed in it."

"Yeah, and look what happened to him," laughed Gatts.

"Look, here comes our gunslinger," spotted Kev.

"Sssh don't encourage her," answered Gatts.

"Hi guys," smiled Skylab.

"How did it go?" asked Gatts.

"Fine thanks, I have to go tomorrow and do an exam, written and practical, then I can collect my pistol. All my shots hit the target today," boasted Skylab.

The men looked at each other with uplifted eyes.

"You are supposed to hit the middle of the target, not just clip the edge," said Kev.

"I may surprise you both. Do you want coffee or not?" she stalked off to the kitchen.

"Would you like a visitor tomorrow?" Hla asked.

"Has Skylab agreed to come?" a dumbfounded Caddy asked.

"Not exactly, wait and see."

Skylab carrying a tray was walking towards the coffee table as her phone rang.

She turned and returned to the kitchen, putting the coffees on the counter.

"Hello?"

"It's me, Hla, remember you gave me your number earlier at the range?"

"Yes, what can I do for you, don't tell me you have a job for us?"

"No, sorry, but I have an idea that you might like. I know you have your shooting test tomorrow. Well, how about having some real practice?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean out in the open, we can use my Glock, it is like the one you are buying, a Springfield, I think you said?"

"Yes, a Springfield. But I don't understand what you mean?" asked Skylab.

"We can go to the woods near my house, pin some targets to trees and play soldiers, and get some serious training. Better than firing at the range, believe me. Then I'll get you back for your test. What about it?"

"Oh yes please, it sounds like great fun and will help my accuracy. What time?"

Skylab planned with her new friend. Which also meant she didn't have to trouble Kev for the car again.

Picking up the tray, she breezed into the office again.

"Who was that?" asked Kev.

"It was my new friend, I met her at the range," answered Skylab.

"Were there many girls there?" asked Gatts.

"Just Hla and me," said Skylab.

"Hla? That's a funny name," said Kev.

"She is not Thai, she is Burmese, speaks good Thai though," said Skylab.

Gatts was trying to remember something as if a worm was making its way from one ear to the other, the quick way.

What about that worm in Gatts' ear? It is reminding him to vote!

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