Tran Van Lam sat at a table near the bar in a hotel on the outskirts of Honolulu. He drew no particular attention here, an Oriental man dressed in an off-white tropical suit. This was good. He did not wish to draw attention. On the plane he had done much thinking. About Basilio, his situation, his beloved Plan, his daughter. He was not a violent man by nature, but there was a time for everything. Now that time had come. He sipped his wine slowly, while he waited. About midway through his glass, another Oriental man entered the room and made his way to Tran. This man wore a gray suit and had a scar on his face under one eye. This man was Tri Van Khai.
Though they had not seen or even talked to each other in years, there was no formal greeting. Tran merely nodded as his old comrade sat down. Tri spoke first, in his native tongue. "Do you realize the chance I have taken coming here?"
"Why? You have a diplomatic passport, do you not?"
"The Americans do not recognize Vietnamese passports. I am traveling as a Thai businessman." The waiter came over and Tri asked for mineral water. The two said little until the bottle of water arrived, and the waiter was out of earshot. Tran had picked a table well away from the other patrons in the room so Tri would be comfortable.
Tri regarded his companion coolly for a moment, and said "Well?"
Tran took a sip of wine. "It has come to my attention that Anthony Basilio is in Thailand, possibly interviewing refugees."
His comrade merely stared at him, expressionless. "Do you mean to say we are here merely because of that?"
"No, there is much more." Tran sighed. He had thought about how much he would tell Tri on the long flight to Hawaii. At this point in his life, total honesty with his "benefactors" seemed to be the best approach. "Comrade Tri, Cao Vien is dead. He was ruthlessly killed by Anthony Basilio." Well, maybe not total honesty.
"How? How did this happen?"
Tran sat back in the chair, his jaw and fists tight. "The man called 'Buzz . . .'" He paused for a second and closed his eyes, as if the very mention of the name was some sort of blasphemy. "He suspected me for some time. I do not know why, but that is immaterial. He began to snoop, became friends with my daughter." He reopened his eyes.
"Your daughter. She became his lover then? Told him what you do?"
Tran's eyes almost bulged out of his head as he shouted. "No!"
Several people in the bar turned to stare at them. Tri leaned over the table and considered Tran with contempt. "Be quiet! There is no place for emotionalism! Continue with your story."
Tran tried to relax. He took another sip of wine. "My daughter knows nothing of my business. She apparently became enamored with Basilio but she had nothing to tell him. He must have believed he could get to me through her. In any case, he somehow found out that I have had contact with Hanoi, and he came to see me. With a gun."
"'Somehow found out.' From your daughter, you fool!"
Tran was unwilling to believe this, in spite of Basilio's claims. He had to admit to himself, however, that he only had Basilio's word as to how he found out about his communications links. One thing he did know: he took care never to get Li involved. No, someone else informed Basilio. And he believed he knew exactly who that someone was.
"Where is your daughter?"
Tran’s face darkened with defiance. "I do not know. And I assure you she knows nothing. You will leave her out of this, you understand?"