Tuesday, May 30, 2006

VAN THE SMUGGLER (Novel Excerpt)

A reader fell in love with this character, ‘Van the Smuggler.’ That surprised me because he seemed to me, during my time in Iran, a very common man.

In this scene the smuggler finds the Kurtsan brothers who are in hiding in the mountains of northwest Iran. They have been driven there by the Iranian Army and are in desperate need of arms.

Then the brothers were approached by Van, the Iranian smuggler. Van was tolerated because he was sometimes useful for smuggling small arms and ammunition, but Ahmed didn’t trust him. It had been said he had spied for the Iranians. It had been said he spied for the CIA. Ahmed didn’t doubt that both were true. The little smuggler also spied for Ahmed.

“The Americans have asked me to seek your help, oh great Khan,” Van said.

“My help?” Ahmed said, immediately on his guard. “How could I help the Americans?” He looked impassively at his brother who was at his side in the tent.

Yasin was equally impassive.

“They wish to know the location of a man the Iranians have arrested. His name is Mohammed Parsee. They think he is being held in Kurdistan. The Americans will pay a great deal for this information.”

“We have no need for money,” Ahmed told him.

“You can ask for whatever you want. It doesn’t have to be money.”

“If he is in Kurdistan we can find him. Don’t you think so, Yasin?”

“We can find him, my brother. That is certain. But I can’t think of anything that we might need,” Yasin said, playing the game.

“My thought exactly, Yasin. The Americans have nothing we could use.”

Van started to sweat. “Surely there is something. The Americans have many types of weapons. Perhaps some weapons?”

“We have all the weapons we can use,” Ahmed told him. “What would we do with more?”

“Yes,” Yasin said. “We have no need for any more weapons.”

“Perhaps a newer type.” Van was wringing his hands as he pleaded. “They have many new types.”

“We have all the newest types,” Ahmed told him.

“Then there is nothing?” he said despairingly. The little man looked ready to give up.

“Nothing,” Ahmed said.

Van reluctantly prepared to leave.

“Are they going to pay you also for this information?” Yasin asked him.

Van settled back down. “A trifle,” he said. “What I do has little value and they pay me accordingly.”

Ahmed noted the little man’s slip. It confirmed that he had worked for the Americans before. He filed it away for future reference.

“It would be too bad,” Yasin said to Ahmed, “if our good friend were to lose a commission on our account.”

“You are always a step ahead of me, my brother, and always thinking of others. We cannot let a friend lose a commission, even if there is nothing of value for us in the transaction.” He waved a hand airily. “The Americans are rich, after all. It would be well if they made our friends rich also.”

“I know there is nothing you need,” Van said. “But perhaps there is something that might amuse you. Something for sport or just a curiosity.”

“I don’t think so,” Ahmed said.

“Wait, my brother,” Yasin said, “didn’t you mention in passing some days ago, something about a conflict between American weapons that might be amusing to investigate?”

“I don’t recall.”

“When we were riding, north of the village.”

“Oh yes,” Ahmed said. “I may have mentioned something about the M-47 Dragon Missile Launcher. I understand it has been improved. It needed improvement.”

“Yes,” Yasin said. “That is the one.”

“The M-47 Dragon Missile Launcher,” Van repeated. “I think I could get you one.”

Ahmed pretended he had misheard. “Yes, I think one hundred of those will do. Don’t you, Yasin?”

“That might be enough to satisfy our curiosity,” Yasin said.

“It will be interesting to compare it to the M-72 rocket launcher. That is newer and might be better. It will be interesting to get a hundred of those also.”

Van could barely keep seated. “A hundred of each!?”

“To compare them with our Israeli made anti-tank weapons,” Ahmed invented.

“A hundred of each!?”

“Do you have a problem with that?” Yasin asked.

“A hundred is a paltry amount,” Ahmed said to his brother, ignoring Van.

“Each,” Yasin emphasized, staring at Van.

“Of course each,” Ahmed said matter-of-factly.

“It will be enough to amuse us,” Yasin said.

“Yes,” Ahmed said, “a hundred each will be enough to amuse us.”

“Then it is done,” Yasin told Van. “When can you bring them?”

“I return now to Iraq,” Van said. “I will be back in four days. Can you have the information

“Will you have the weapons then?” Ahmed asked.

“Yes. Of course.” Van knew he couldn’t.

“Then we will try.”

“An American will be with me. His name is Colonel Steven Kincaid. The information is for him.”

“We will have it,” Ahmed told him. “You have the weapons.” Ahmed knew he couldn’t.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

KURDISH AREAS Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 26, 2006

AHMED KURTSAN (Novel Excerpt)

As threatened, I posted another 15 chapters of the novel today. I had been ignoring a time-frame problem because it looked like work. I hate work.

The posting is in the November, 2004 Archives or in the BEST OF over on the left of the main page. For those of you in the Google blog, you must go to www.letterfrombangkok.net because Google does not allow me to control my archives.

Now that the problem is out of the way I shall make regular postings, if anyone cares. This is only an action-adventure novel, but it gives me great satisfaction.

I’ve been mentioning my recent visitor, a dear friend whom I hadn’t seen in 60 years. He asked me about this blog that hardly anyone reads. All I could tell him was that it gives me great satisfaction. I know some of my stuff is very good even if no one else does. I’m sure Bart Simpson would have a word for it, but I can’t think of it right now.

This excerpt introduces some major characters in the novel:

Ahmed and Yasin Kurtsan were the youngest sons of a wealthy Kurdish tribal chief or Khan. They lived in a tribal village near Khaneh. Their home was built of quarried stone. It sat on a small hill that rose a hundred feet in the center of the village. The old Khan would brag that all the land that could be seen from it belonged to him. Except for the distant mountains which were in Iraq, his boast was true.

Ahmed was the eldest of the two by a year. They had three sisters and a brother. The brother, Jabar, was the first born and the pride of the old Khan.

In the villages that were ruled by the old Khan, stories were still told of ‘the bright star of Kurdistan,” Jabar Kurtsan. He could out-ride, out-shoot, out-run, out-everything, anyone in Asia. Men sought him out to lead them on hunts or into battle. Women were helpless in his presence.

He was the most generous of all to friends and the most cruel of all to enemies. Under him, it was said, all Kurdistan would one day unite and become a great nation. Even the Russians, it was said, would have to free their portion of Kurdistan if such a man as Jabar Kurtsan were to lead all Kurds.

But Jabar Kurtsan was killed in his twenty fifth year. The hated Iranians had launched one of their periodic campaigns to subdue what was not theirs. Three Iranian divisions, armed with modern western weapons which had been given them for self defense, had advanced on the old Khan’s land. Jabar Kurtsan could not bow to the inevitable. He was killed defending his homeland.

The hated Iranians occupied all of Kurdistan within their borders. They closed the Kurdish schools and brought in Iranian teachers who could not even speak Kurdish. The children in the new schools were taught the Iranian language, Farsi.

The old Khan sent for his two remaining sons, then aged twelve and thirteen. To their eyes, their father had aged ten years in just six months.

“Times are bad my sons,” the old Khan said. “You have lost a brother blessed with greatness, I have lost a beloved son, and our enemies dwell among us.”

“Allah has decreed it,” Ahmed said.

“Praise Allah,” Yasin said.

“It is my fault,” the old Khan said. “I did not teach him temperance. I did not teach him to bend with the wind.”

“Allah is just,” the two boys said together.

“I have watched you two at play. I have watched you two on the hunt. I have watched you two at work. You are very close. Is that not true?”

“Closer than brothers, my father,” Ahmed said. “We are as one.”

“It is good,” their father said. “It is as it should be. I want you to promise that it shall always be thus, even when apart.”

“It shall always be thus,” both boys said, “even when apart.”

“There will never be another like your brother but the two of you together could do well. The Iranian dogs will not always be as strong as they are now, or we so weak. We must prepare for the day that we can rid our land of this plague. When that day comes, we must be ready.
“The most wise course dictates that you two must separate foe a while.”

The two boys looked at each other stoically. If they had fear, neither would show it.

“The hated Iranians have been aided by the infidels. It is this that has allowed them to dwell among us who are their enemies. We must also learn the tricks of the infidel in order to help rid ourselves of the hated Iranians

“Ahmed. You are now my eldest son. It is you who will one day be Khan in my place. It is you who must go forth and live among the infidels. You must learn their ways. You must learn how they think. You must become so like them that they will forget that you are not like them. But you must never forget. You will always be a Kurd and the son of a Khan.

“Laugh with the infidels. Break bread with the infidels. Become as one with the infidels. But never trust the infidels. That is the thing which will give you your power. Always remember, it is the one who trusts the least who becomes the most powerful.”

“It shall be as you command, my father,” Ahmed said.

“Any you, Yasin, from this day forward will never leave my side. You will attend affairs of state, sit with me in judgments, travel with me when I visit other Khans, plan with me in the councils, and attend me in all things. You will, in time, become my right hand. Just as when I am gone, you will one day be the right hand of Ahmed. It is you that must insure an orderly transition to Ahmed when the day comes.”

“It shall be as you command, my father,” Yasin said.

The old Khan nodded and sat back. “Always together,” he said, “even when apart. You are one. You have given your word.”

“It shall be so,” both boys said.

The old Khan was wise in the ways of men. He looked from one son to the other and wondered which would be the first to break his vow. It didn’t matter. The strongest would survive, which was the way it should be. And until then…


Ahmed was sent to England. After a few months of tutoring, he had learned the language well enough to enter a public school that catered to foreign students. Among other nationalities there were about two dozen Iranian students at the school. About half the students were English. Ahmed noticed that all the students stayed in groups of their own nationality. They even slept among their own.

Ahmed insisted that he be housed with the English students. Since the choice was his, he was allowed to do so. It was very difficult for him at first.

“It is one thing,” he was told by the student in the next bed, “to have to attend classes with the filthy wogs, but quite another to have a filthy wog in the next bed. You do see the distinction don’t you, old boy?”

He was subjected to a great deal of physical as well as verbal abuse. Ahmed took it all in silence. Through it all he listened and observed.

One advantage of not having fellow countrymen that he could run to was that there was no group that his English classmates could identify him with. It’s far more difficult to persecute on an individual basis than on a group basis. His classmates noticed that Ahmed didn’t seem to be Arab or Iranian or anything else.

It all changed one day when Ahmed got into an altercation with a group of Iranians. A fight broke out just as some of Ahmed’s English classmates were passing by. Several Iranians were fighting him at the same time. Ahmed was fighting back but getting the worst of it.

“My word,” one of Ahmed’s classmates said, “is that our wog those chaps are beating on?”

“Whatever for, I wonder.” Another said.

“We can’t have that,” a third said. “There’ll be no one for us to beat on later.”

So with cries of, “Save our wog,” the English students joined the fight and scattered the Iranians.

From that day on, Ahmed became “our wog.” If he wasn’t treated as an equal by the English students, he was treated as being several steps above any other foreign students in the school, including the Australians and Americans.

Thursday, May 25, 2006



One of my favorite stops on the internet is the Kvetch Blog.


The lady is a very bright writer with a style similar to mine. We have other things in common. She is a single parent in her 40s as I was. She is getting into dating after 40, as I had. Many times I get inspired on visiting her site. This whole dating after 40 series was inspired by her.

I have tried to become her pen pal but have been rejected.


As I told my friend from 60 years ago (whom I wrote about in Lady Longsleeves below), American women just detest me. That’s why I had to move to Thailand if I ever, in my life, wanted to get laid again.

“But,” he said, “how could that be? You are so charming.”

I had to concede that point. Lord knows I’m charming. If nothing else, I’m charming. I’m kick-ass charming. I’m so fucking charming it scares me.


Where was I?

Oh yeah. So I got rejected by this potential pen pal. I complimented her writing on the comments in her blog and she responded by correcting my English. That, my friend, is not a red flag. That is a red cannon ball between the eyes. (It also is very funny. Come on, you have to admit that’s funny.)

This lady is one of the most “in your face” Jews I’ve ever come across. That’s another red flag. This one is mostly for her.

Let’s see. She lives in a small town in mid-America. She’s a single parent past 40 looking for a man. Non-Jews need not apply.

How you say, “Rots O Ruck?”

But her stories of her dates are great.

Being that Jewish today is… something. (I once had a Jewish ladyfriend whom I will no doubt write about at another time.)

I was raised in San Francisco. In this middle school I attended (Portola) kids were segregated by intellect. I was in the ‘smart’ class. I only recently learned that almost half the kids in that class were Jews. That friend who visited me from 60 years ago, I only recently learned that he was a Jew. He told me who the other Jews in our class were. I had no idea. So that ‘in your face’ Jewish stuff seems strange to me.

Today I was catching up on her blog. She had a story titled Pudding For Breakfast that reminded me of this:

I was a manager of a little league team of 8-year-olds. I got involved with one of the mothers, a recent divorcee, a cute little blonde.

We had a sleepover at her house. (Okay, I am evil. It was wrong. The kids became criminals.) The kids had a great time as did the adults.

At breakfast the lady brought out a box of cereal and some milk.

Now get this, my kid is eight years old, he had never had cereal and milk before in his life! He just flipped over this new treat, this great breakfast.

“How come we can’t have this at our house?” he whined, the poor little mistreated bastard.

Great, I thought. I bought several kinds of dry cereals. That lasted a week or more and then we had to go back to bacon and eggs and hotcakes and sausage and waffles and the rest of that lousy crap.

I’m not telling this as a “Can you top this.” I did that and other stuff because I felt community pressure, rightly or wrongly. A single father with a half-Asian kid was more than a curiosity back in those days. Many of the neighborhood mothers felt challenged, I’m sure. Teachers, he told me, would ask him what he had for breakfast. My own relatives would check to see if he was getting enough to eat. So I was paranoid on the subject.

But getting back to my friend whom I discovered was a Jew after all these years, I couldn’t help taunting him with, “Is it true that Jewish foreplay is two hours of begging?”

I was surprised that he was offended by that.

“That’s ridiculous,” he told me, “it’s only twenty minutes of begging.”

I don’t know… that ‘in your face’ Jewish stuff lurks in my mind. I suppose the faith is a lot stronger in small towns in Middle America. Right? Right.

I can’t get the voice of Bart Simpson out of my mind. He is saying, “I’m a Jew, kiss my pew.”

I wonder what that means.

I wonder if I need help.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

THAI LADY Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


The novel is coming along great. I just have a little time-frame problem that I’ve been ignoring. As soon as I solve it, I have 16 more chapters to post.
This excerpt is something I wrote between 3 and 6 this morning. I won’t say I fell in love with it. Let’s just say I’m satisfied with it.
Bob Douglas was Kincaid’s personal pilot. Douglas was employed by Air America, a CIA organization. When Kincaid decided to walk out of Vietnam with his entire outfit, Douglas joined him. They have just been flown out of Thailand.

They landed on a nearly vacant field in the California desert. Douglas was quickly isolated from the rest. They took him to a Quonset hut that didn’t have air conditioning. In a small room inside he met a little guy wearing glasses who wouldn’t give his name. He had on a t-shirt and shorts. He was sitting behind a scarred metal desk sweating. There was a chair in front of the desk and nothing else in the room. A couple of papers and a folder were on the desk.
“Sit,” the little guy said. He had a high pitched voice.
Douglas sat. It had to be over a hundred in there.
The little guy looked through the folder. As he looked he asked, “You know that war is over, don’t you?”
Douglas was surprised at the question. He didn’t answer.
The little guy looked up at him over his glasses and repeated, “Don’t you?”
“I know it’s over for me. I can’t say about the rest of it.”
“I see you’ve got some back pay coming. That should be helpful in case you need a lawyer.”
“A lawyer? Why should I need a lawyer?”
“You probably don’t. You did walk out of a government contract. You were semi-military. Some might interpret that as a form of desertion, but I don’t think so.”
Douglas could only stare at him.
“That is only one of the options here. That one is out of my hands. It is still being discussed.” He tapped the folder. “I see you have some skills, you’re a pilot.”
“Who are you?”
“I am nobody. When you leave here, you will have never met me.”
“Are you with the government?”
“I am with no government, no how. Now can we continue?”
“Continue what?”
“We are discussing your future.”
“No shit! When did we start doing that?”
“You have two options here. With option one, you will receive your back pay and some money to help you resettle here in the states. However the government might be looking for you to press the charges I mentioned. I would suggest you assume a new identity and find a new line of work. I don’t think the government has much of a case, but they can be persistent and lawyers are expensive.”
“They would never bring me to court.”
“I believe they are discussing a military court. Since much of this is sensitive to national security, not a lot of news of the proceedings would get out.”
“Holy shit!” Douglas finally realized what was happening, “this is a cover-up. We embarrassed the shit out of everybody.”
“Would you like to hear option two?”
“Sure, go ahead, what’s option two?”
“There is a major airline that is very interested in hiring… er… black or African-American or, …what do you call yourself these days?”
“You were talking about option two.”
“This major airline will train you so you qualify for the larger aircraft and put you on as a regular pilot. I believe you would be the first… ah… of your race… to become a chief pilot on this particular airline.”
“So let me get this straight. On option one I become a fugitive for the rest of my life. On option two I become a chief pilot for a major airline.”
“Okay, what’s the catch?”
He had to sign some papers. It wasn’t a sellout. The war was over, after all. He only had to agree not to talk about what had happened and not to have any contact with any of the people with whom he’d been involved. Who wouldn’t go for that deal?
Kincaid was the only one.

Monday, May 22, 2006


I recently had a visitor from America.

Listen to this: I hadn’t seen this guy for 60 years! We had been classmates at Portola Junior High School in San Francisco for three years. (He graduated, I got left back.)

The last time I saw him (at Balboa High School) he was counseling me, in a very reserved way, to improve my behavior. I was nearing my 16th birthday, had never gotten a grade above an F in high school, and was generally despised by the faculty. Expulsion was in my future.

But here we were, 60 years later, dining at a lakeside restaurant in Bangkok with my Thai family.

I had never talked so much in my life. We exchanged story after story (he had led a colorful life).

I told him that besides my 3 (sometimes 4) kids, the neighborhood women often gathered in our patio in the evening. I told him I enjoyed having a lot of people around.

“But you said none of them speak English,” he reminded me.

“I like to have them around,” I said. “I don’t want to interact with them.”

Psychologists probably have a label for this. Who cares?

In exchanging stories, the subject came up of ladies wearing long sleeves to cover up things.

I dated this lady one time. She was wearing sleeves down below her wrists but I gave it no thought. We had a great time. She seemed a perfect fit for me. I must interject that, at the time, I had little or no experience with American women.

When I took her home, she invited me in, but started complaining of a severe headache.

I’m thinking I should go but she insists I sit down and wait while she gets an aspirin.

She comes back out in a negligee, complaining that the aspirin did no good, the headache is worse and she’s starting to feel sick.

That did it for me. I started to bail, saying I’d call her tomorrow. She follows me to the door and gives me the wettest kiss I’d had to that time. That, I figure, gives me leave to feel her ass good before leaving, which I did. And I’m out of there.

I’m thinking we had something good going there. If it weren’t for her getting sick, we might have got something on. I got aroused there and even thinking about it later.

So I call her the next day and everything is changed. She’s cold as hell. She’s not interested in seeing me again. She complains that I’m too sober, or words to that effect.

I was disappointed because I thought we had really hit it off.
But I saw her often after that. I started dating her best friend so we met often on social occasions and even double dated occasionally. She got this European guy. I forget exactly where he was from, but even I have to admit he was a great looking guy, and charming too.

My girlfriend, her best friend, started telling me stories in our bed. Seems that, for some reason, he can’t get it up for her. Lady Longsleeves loves him so much she cries on his chest all night. He cries too.

I can imagine what she says to comfort him. “You poor, poor man. You don’t have to prove yourself to me. I know you’re a real man.”

I’d be in tears too.

“What’s with the long sleeves,” I ask my girlfriend. “Why does she wear them all the time?”

“Didn’t you know? She’s hiding scars on her wrists. She’s tried suicide twice.”

Sunday, May 21, 2006


Friday, May 19, 2006


Let me say at the start that The Nation newspaper here in Bangkok is not the worst, most biased paper I have ever seen. (See, I start off with a denial.) I lived in Saigon during their unpleasantness and regularly read the paper put out by Madame Ngo Diem Nhu, wife of the brother of the president. She was otherwise known as “The Dragon Lady.” I am very familiar with shoddy press in Southeast Asia.

A regular feature of shoddy press is the “Denial Story.” This is a story that you can literally create just by printing a denial. Here are a few fictional denials:

Pope denies having a harem of a hundred nuns.

President denies reports that monkeys flew out of his ass.

Australia denies rumors of intention to invade Iceland.

You see what I mean? You can print anything you want as long as you say it is denied. This is what is known in legitimate press as the “non-story.” You create a story that no one has even thought of and, as long as you say it is denied, you are in the clear.

Today The Nation, on the front page printed this headline:

Army insists there will be no coup d’etat.

Excuse me! Is there a story there?

I have to make this short because I’m working on my novel and have a visitor from the US that I haven’t seen for 60 years.

Anyway, you get my drift.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Monday, May 15, 2006


Warren bell is a regular writer on National Review On Line. He is also a writer for the comedy show According to Jim. I have written to him occasionally. He has made the mistake of occasionally responding. That should be a lesson to everyone who might get a letter from a nut. Never respond. It only encourages them.

Anyway, I sent him this nutty letter today:


Hey Warren,

I just read the Howard Stern Show summary. Jim Belushi was a guest. He said your show is going into its sixth season and is in syndication. Congratulations.

The show is not on right now in Bangkok, but when it is on, each episode is shown three times a week. I love it.

Jim Belushi starred in one of my all-time favorite movies. And that movie is (sound of trumpets), Real Men. It’s true. I love that movie. I brought a tape of it with me to Thailand.

It’s a secret agent spoof. The late John Ritter is excellent as the innocent caught up in an interplanetary struggle for world supremacy. Belushi is perfect as the infallible secret agent, always one step ahead of the opposition. He is infallible, that is, until he meets up with this dominatrix who teaches him the true meaning of discipline.

There is a hilarious scene in which Ritter is being seduced by a gorgeous lady who turns out to be Belushi’s “Dad” who has had “that operation.”

It occurred to me that material similar to the plot of the movie could be used in your current series as a dream sequence. You have all the characters who wouldn’t even have to change much to make it work. Wow! What a great idea. I could almost write it myself. I see a three-parter.

Seriously, I think it would work. I give you all of it for free. I hereby renounce any claim to it.

In a totally unrelated story.

This just in:


A team of scientists at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston have discovered an ink for use in tattoos that can be removed with one laser treatment.


Walter Guest


Friday, May 12, 2006


I’m posting a novel in the archives at www.letterfrombangkok.net. I would post it here but Google gives me no control over any dates or archives in this blog. Look in the Nov. 2004 archives in the above blog or in the BEST OF over on the left of the home page.

In case you haven’t noticed, I have posted a bunch more of the novel in the November, 2004 archives. In the beginning I made the chapters short to try to hold interest. They are getting longer now. Even so, we’re past chapter 50 and not yet half way through.

This is a novel of betrayal after betrayal, but the tone is up-beat. It’s the story of how a lone man can come out on top in bad situations.

In this excerpt, Kincaid’s superior has flown out to his area to ask him about complaints he’s gotten about Kincaid’s actions:

Kincaid stopped the jeep right there, in the middle of a heavy growth of trees and brush. He turned off the engine. “So talk,” he said. He opened one of the boxes, took out a cigar and lit it.

Whalen glanced around nervously before he began. “There’s talk,” he said, “among our Vietnamese allies, that you are playing footsie with the Viet Cong. Some are even branding you a Communist.”

He waited for a reaction from Kincaid but none came.

“Don’t you have anything to say?”

“People talk,” Kincaid said, “and some people talk nonsense. What do you want me to say?”

“Don’t you want to know why they are saying that?”

“Okay. I’ll play the game. Why are they saying that?”

“This area has been very quiet in the last two months. Practically no action at all has been reported. That’s one reason.”

“For Christ’s sake! That’s known as pacification. Isn’t that our objective in this area? Isn’t that our objective in this goddamned war?”

“All right, all right. I didn’t say it was a good reason. Another thing they’re talking about is that you haven’t launched any offensive actions. The South Vietnamese think maybe you’ve got an agreement with Charlie. You don’t bother him, he don’t bother you.”

“That’s true.”


“That’s known as peace, Colonel. The South Vietnamese ought to try it. That was our aim here, remember? I told you the Rhade only wanted to be left alone. Are you forgetting what we talked about the first time we met? You told me we had a deal.”

“I didn’t know you were going to make the same deal with the Viet Cong.”

“We don’t have the same deal with the Viet Cong. We don’t have VC observers in our area. Have the South Vietnamese observers complained about any of our actions?”


“What else are your friends talking about then?”

“We’re not finished with that point. They want you to launch offensive operations.”

“No way. Charlie leaves us alone, we leave him alone.”

“The war isn’t over, Kincaid. You can’t make a separate peace.”

“The hell I can’t.”

They stared eyeball to eyeball until Whalen looked away. “We’ve got to work something out,” he said.

“We did work something out. We made a deal.”

“That was a year ago. Who would have expected, way back then, that you would actually have cleaned this area out by now?”

“So now you want to change the rules just because we carried out our end?”

Whalen looked out the windshield of the jeep. “They’re putting pressure on me.” His tone was suddenly confidential.

“Okay. But look at it from my point of view. I made the deal with the Rhade. Do you want me to go to Trinh Won now and say my government has changed its mind? If I did, they’d never listen to me again. They’d never listen to anyone from our side again. They might all go over to the Viet Cong.”

“What? All of them?”

“We’re talking about a lot of men here.”

“Do you really think they would?”

“I don’t know what they’d do. I’m just saying that’s a possibility.

Whalen thought a moment. “That would be a damned good reason not to ask you to do that.” He nodded his head and smiled. “That would clinch it with our people, anyway. The General wants you to know that he’s damned pleased with the job you’ve done out here.”

“Thanks. Is that all then?”

“No. I saved the worst for last. The South Vietnamese are really pissed about Major Ngai’s assassination. They filed charges against you. They think you had something to do with it.”

“Oh yeah? Why is that?”

“They think it’s strange that the only casualties in the last two months were the province chief and his assistant. Especially after you had been trying to get him replaced for weeks.”

“War is hell,” Kincaid said. “Strange things happen.”

“When we wouldn’t bring you up on charges, they started talking about taking some sort of action against you. I think it’s just talk but, be careful. We’re behind you a hundred percent… as long as they can’t prove anything. They won’t be able to prove anything, will they?”

Kincaid gave him an innocent look. “Prove what?”

“Good,” Whalen said. “Good.” He looked around as if there could be a chance of their being overheard there in the boonies. “Just between you and me,” he started conspiratorially, “was he informing? Did you catch him?”

“Yeah. We caught him.”

Whalen sucked in his breath. “So… Then you had more to go by than what you told me that Viet Cong officer said.”

“Yeah. We caught him cold.”

“Then it was you that got him?’

“Off the record?”

“Off the record.”

“I took him out myself. Him and his bastard assistant. They cost us Phillips, Salazar, Hinh, Trung, Nguyen and about fifty more good men. Your damned right I took him out.”

“Good.” Whalen put a hand on his shoulder. “You did good.”

“I don’t know why Saigon was protecting him.”

Whalen shrugged. “He had friends in high places.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if they were VC too.”

Whalen didn’t reply. He had his own ideas about that subject, but they were best left unspoken, even among friends. “I’ve got to be getting back.”

Kincaid backed the jeep until he found a wide spot in the road. He turned it around and headed back to the chopper pad.

“There’s talk of an American pull out,” Kincaid said just before they reached the landing zone.

“Don’t worry about it,” Whalen said. “They’re sending home some troops, that’s all. We’ll never pull out completely. We’re here to stay.”

“That’s good.”

“The United States has made commitments to a lot of people around here that we mean to keep. You don’t have to worry about any pull outs.”

Kincaid stayed at the landing zone until the chopper was out of sight.

Monday, May 08, 2006

A BANGKOK SKYLINE Posted by Picasa


I read National Review on line every morning. I don’t agree with much of what they believe and they don’t like the majority of my politics. But I am one of the majority of Americans today who is not represented by the leaders of either party or the spokes people of either party.

Some of the pieces in NRO are so poorly written as to be unreadable. Some of their writers I ignore. But often there is some sanity there and that is as refreshing as it is rare.

Warren Bell is one of the sane ones. I always pay attention to what he writes. This is what he wrote today:

"Draft Hollywood" [Warren Bell]
Andrew Klavan nails it like it needed to be nailed with an Op-Ed in today's L.A. Times :
We need some films celebrating the war against Islamo-fascism in Afghanistan and Iraq — and in Iran as well, if and when that becomes necessary. We need films like those that were made during World War II, films such as 1943's Sahara and Action in the North Atlantic, or The Fighting Seabees and Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, which were released in 1944. Not all of these were great films, or even good ones, but their patriotic tributes to our fighting forces inspired the nation.More than that, they reminded the country what exactly it was that those forces were fighting to defend.
Posted at 3:00 PM

And this is what I replied. I didn’t expect a response but I feel better for having stuck in my oar.


Hey Warren,

There was a book written a while ago (which I didn’t read, I was waiting for the movie) about how the Jews of Hollywood, back in the thirties, shaped the psyche of America. This is something I believe absolutely. You could not leave a theatre in those days without feeling proud to be an American. They had a lot to do with the creation of “The Greatest Generation.”

Hollywood today revels in what I call the culture of betrayal. Today’s hero in the movie is the whistle-blower. It is never done thoughtfully. It is always the brave, incorruptible loner against some huge, evil organization, usually the US government. And there is never any gray area in the situation. The organization has done something so evil that of course they should be exposed.

Will they ever make a movie in which the whistle blower is the villain? I doubt it.

Walter Guest


Feed Back: Warren bell replied:

Well said. There are a number of books about Jews in Hollywood. Perhaps you are thinking of this, by the astonishingly left-wing Neal Gabler:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0385265573/sr=8-1/qid=1147111585/ref=pd_bbs_1/103-5065189-8958264?%5Fencoding=UTF8WB

Sunday, May 07, 2006


Saturday, May 06, 2006


This is an excerpt of a novel I am writing. I would like to post the whole thing here, but Google has blocked my access to the archives in this blog. The novel will be at www.letterfrombangkok.net. It is in the Nov. 2004 archive and can be accessed in the Best Of over on the left of the home page.

Ban Me Thuot is a province capital in the Vietnamese highlands. The rest of this excerpt is self explanatory.


“Jesus!” Private Schultz thought, “all these gooks look alike.” He was at the personnel gate at the U. S. Army compound in Ban Me Thuot. It was his job to let the indigenous day workers into the compound in the morning. They all had badges with their pictures on them. All he had to do was compare the picture on the badge with the face of the person holding it. But Christ, except for a few cute chicks that worked in the Officer’s Mess, there was no way to tell one face from another.

He went through the motions anyway, looking from badge to face, from face to badge, from badge to face. Just to make it worse, his lieutenant had been on his ass because he hadn’t got the gooks through the gate fast enough. Some had been late to work. Well screw it, he thought. He’ll get them through fast then. If one of them is carrying a bomb and blows the place up, it won’t be his fault.

Nearly to the end of the line, he noticed. Good. He could goof off until his shift ended at ten. Four to ten in the morning wasn’t the best shift but the personnel gate was soft duty except for when the gooks went to work. This gate was for gooks only. The only times it was used was when they came to work and when they went home.

What the hell! The big one at the end of the line didn’t have a badge. Oh Christ! Another one looking for a job. There was no way he could explain to these people that he didn’t do the hiring. None of them understood English.

Private Schultz passed in the last one that had a badge and stepped in front of the big Rhade who was last in line.

“HOLD ON THERE, FELLA,” Private Schultz always raised his voice when talking to the local people, perhaps in the belief that his difficulty in communication had something to do with impaired hearing. “NO WORK HERE. YOU SAVVY? NO WORK.” He pushed the man in the chest.

“I am Sergeant Steven Kincaid, RA 27487329, 17th Special Forces Detachment, Nha Trang. I request permission to see the commanding officer.”

Private Schultz was stunned. He looked around to see where the voice could be coming from.

“Watch my lips, Private. No. Over here. Right in front of you. That’s it. I am Sergeant Steven Kincaid…”

“Holy shit! You’re an American?”

“You bet your sweet ass I’m an American. I wanna see the CO.”

Well, hell… I dunno… I mean you don’t have a badge or nuthin’. No one gets in this gate without a badge. This gate’s for local people. If you’re an American, you’re not local. You gotta use the main gate.”

“I tried that. They won’t let me close to the main gate dressed like this.”

Private Schultz tried to search through his mind for the regulation that would cover this. He couldn’t think of any. All he knew for sure was that this gate was not for Americans and this man said he was an American. An inspiration hit him. “You got any ID?”

“Of course I don’t have any ID. Don’t you see, if I got caught with ID on me Charlie would know who I was.”

That did it. The case was settled in the mind of Private Schultz. He wasn’t getting in this gate. “Try the main gate,” he said. “No one gets in this gate without a badge.” That was what he had been ordered to do and, by god, that was what he was going to do.

“Do you have a phone?” the guy asked, sounding exasperated.



“Oh. Yeah.” He had forgotten about the phone. “You don’t have to shout. Yeah, I got a phone here.”

The man then spoke so quietly that Private Schultz had to lean forward to catch what he was saying. Very slowly he said, “Then maybe you could call the Officer of the Guard.”



A French lady moved in next door to me. She seemed like a really nice lady. She had a kid or two that didn’t live with her. She wasn’t overweight or gross looking. But for some reason she just didn’t ring a bell for me. Sometimes those things are hard to explain.

One of her closest friends, another French lady, lived nearby. This other lady and I had experienced more than a few mutual penetrations and absorptions and were still close friends. (Part of that story can be read in the archives, The Coffee Klatch, Jan. 27, 2005. See! Some of the fiction isn’t even fiction.)

My new neighbor told me I had been recommended highly. No matter what I might think of French men, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for French women. One of my earliest sexual experiences (I was a late bloomer, a virgin until 23) was with a French girl who worked as a secretary in Tehran. Her accent was so strange when speaking French that the other girls would laugh at her. We would equate it, I suppose, with someone out of the Ozarks speaking English. Her father, being not sure to whom they might have to surrender next, had insisted she learn both English and Russian. In those days she was of great value to the company she worked for in Tehran and very sweet and patient with me.

I digress.

I was a bit anxious to relieve the pressure from my new Frenchie neighbor, so I suggested I take her to a dance put on by Parents Without Partners. They had a thriving chapter in our area.

I will never belittle Parents Without Partners. I met many marvelous ladies there including my wife of nearly twenty years.

Let me digress a little more. In a PWP group I once referred to ‘the mother of my son’ in mixed company. I got attacked verbally: “Can’t you say ‘your wife?’” a lady asked. “What’s the matter with calling her your wife?”

“She wasn’t my wife,” I explained. “I wasn’t married to her.”

Right away it was assumed I was a runaway father. In those days a father raising his own kids was pretty rare. Needless to say, I wasn’t popular right then. But, as is my wont, I made no effort to correct the impression. ‘Screw ‘em,’ is and was my motto.

Back again to the theme, if there is a theme.

So I took this moderately attractive lady to a PWP dance. She spoke very good English but with one of the thickest French accents you could imagine. As soon as she spoke, men started clustering around. This was looking good for me. I faded away and let her be the ‘bell of the ball.’ Her dance card was filled all night. Guys came up to me and asked “where do you find these great women?” like I had some kind of search engine.

I had some friends there who I danced with, and talked to, and snuck feels on, and generally flirted with, none of whom were men. I write that not just frivolously but to better explain the punch line of this story. In that organization I knew practically nothing about the men.

When the band stated playing, “Good Night Ladies,” I found her. She was ready to go home with me, which surprised me a little.

In the car, I asked her how did she get along? What did she think of the horde of men?

She looked at me sadly. “They are all creeps,” she said in her heavy accented English.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A BANGKOK SKYLINE Posted by Picasa


I lived here for months before I found out where Bangkok downtown was. Los Angeles is spread out but its downtown is easily recognizable by the cluster of tall buildings. Bangkok, not having the earthquake paranoia, has far more tall buildings, but they seem to be everywhere. To try to guess the location of downtown by a tall building cluster is impossible. I have never seen a city like it.

It didn’t matter. I had guides to take me everywhere. I could sit in the back of the car, look mindlessly out the window, and drool contentedly, which was befitting of my station in life.

Then I decided one day to explore on my own.

You should have seen the panic in my household. They obviously didn’t understand who I was. I was the first white man to walk through portions of the Peruvian Andes. I drove alone through Iranian deserts (on paved roads, but there’s no need to mention that). I lived among Montagnard tribes in the Vietnamese highlands and went alone into Free Fire Zones. And all these people could see was this old fucking incompetent who had to be led everywhere. (In their defense, I preferred being led everywhere. If they had offered to push me around in a wheelchair, I probably would have gone for it. I’m like those guys on an episode of the Drew Carey Show who got rich and didn’t want to walk any more.)

Anyway, with the aid of a map, I discovered what they call “downtown.” It is really the old central part of the city. There are colorful monuments, Buddhist shrines, parks, and royal buildings along with multi-storied malls and a few tall buildings. It encompasses a part of Chinatown, which once dominated. Some of the Chinese establishments could be centuries old by the look of them. I’m not talking about anything special, just stores that looked very old.

So what’s the point of all this?

Are you nuts?

You expect a guy who stares vacantly out a window while drooling to have a point?

Monday, May 01, 2006

RHADE HUT Posted by Picasa


Google does not allow me to enter my archives in this blog so I cannot post my novel here as I would wish. The novel is posted at www.letterfrombangkok.net.

A few more chapters are in the Nov. 2004 archives. They show up on the bottom of the Best Of list over on the left.

In this excerpt:

Hao is Kincaid’s partner in Special Forces. Hao is a Montangnard (mountain people) of one of the Rhade tribes. They are visiting Hao’s village in the Vietnamese highlands. The village is near a French rubber plantation. Because of this, there are several of mixed races in the village. It is the custom here, as in many mountain villages, for the women to go topless. Kincaid and Hao have been sent to a hut on the outskirts of the village.


They heard whispering outside. Then a voice called in. It was a female voice.

Kincaid and Hao looked at each other, waiting for the other to take the lead.

A girl’s head popped up at the bottom of the doorway. Hao heard Kincaid suck in a breath at the sight of her.

The girl had darkish red hair and a very light complexion. She had a small, narrow, slightly upturned nose below her blue eyes. Her mouth was tiny but perfectly shaped. Her chin was slightly pointed but had a dimple at the tip. The face would have been completely western had it not been for the shape of her eyes. They were slanted in such a way that her expression was perpetually sultry, even when she smiled as she was doing now.

Hao knew her. Her name was Phouc. When last he had seen her she had been a scrawny youngster who got in everyone’s way.

“Greetings,” Phouc said. She spoke in Rhade but her mischievous smile was directed at Kincaid. “Can I come in?”

“We have no time for children,” Hao said. “We have important things to talk about.” He didn’t know how long they would be able to stay and, so it wouldn’t be a wasted trip, he was anxious to show Kincaid some of the real beauties of the village.

But Phouc had seen the expression on Kincaid’s face. Hao could say what he wanted with his mouth, Kincaid was saying much more without a word. Phouc came up the ladder slowly, with great assurance. Her eyes didn’t leave Kincaid’s face and the naughty smile didn’t leave her lips. The age old instincts of her gender had made her certain of her welcome.

As she came up the steps, Hao was surprised to see that she was no longer a scrawny youngster. Her breasts were fully developed; not overly large but okay for her body which was on the thin side. The brown nipples were extended, disclosing her excitement. Her skin was like no other Rhade. It was a light pink. Hao knew she had been protecting herself from the sun in order to maintain such a complexion. Her hips had not developed as much as her breasts. They had spread out enough to make one sure that this was no longer a little girl, but not much more. Over all, Hao thought, the girl did not make a bad impression. She was not to his taste in women but still, she was not ugly.

Phouc went straight to Kincaid, took him by the hand, and led him to a corner of the hut. She smiled into his eyes all the time. She smiled as if she knew a secret that no one else knew. She smiled as if she might tell him that secret if she decided she liked him. She smiled as if she had to or the happiness would explode within her.

Hao was shocked to see the same smile on Kincaid’s face. He wondered what was happening to his friend. There were fully developed women in the village. Why would he waste his time on this skinny girl? But it was too late. He knew his friend was stricken. There was no arguing with that.

Another girl was coming up the steps of the hut. Hao hurried to the door to stop her. “Back down,” he said gruffly.

The girl stopped, looking up at him. “I am with Phouc,” she said.

“Back down,” Hao said again, stepping down one rung of the ladder. “Phouc will be busy.”

The girl suddenly understood what was happening. She giggled behind a hand and went back down the ladder.

Hao followed her.

HEAVY LOAD 5 Posted by Picasa


At least three times a week, often more, I pick up my Bangkok Post and find anti-American propaganda in the editorial section. The source of this vitriol? Al Qaeda? Fidel Castro? Our French allies?

No. The source is the herd of New York Times op-ed writers. This is a pack of opinionators (to coin a word) driven insane with hatred. They did everything in their power to prevent President Bush being elected, not once but twice. Having failed in that, they do everything in their power to downgrade all that he does and, as a result, all that the United States does under his leadership.

Here is the beginning of today’s exercise in idiotic hatred, straight from the pages of The Bangkok Post:

Stuck with Bush

If George Walker Bush could have been removed from office for being a bad president, he would have been sent back to his ranch a long time ago. If incompetence were a criminal offence, he'd be behind bars.

But that's just daydreaming. The reality is that there are more than two and a half years left in the long dark night of the Bush presidency _ nearly as long as the entire time John Kennedy was in office.

Bob Herbert is a New York Times columnist

The editors of The Bangkok Post seem to idolize the clowns who write these trash pieces daily. They emulate that lack of reason and self control in their own editorials when dealing with local politics.

The New York Times editorial writers are not the only reason the United States is hated and held in contempt around the world, but they do their worst to contribute.