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theZEBRA
just spent the weekend at the army barracks
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Songs of the Plains
Family Court

One would be in less danger
From the wiles of a stranger
If one's own kin and kith
Were more fun to be with.

Ogden Nash
Trust No One
Tuesday. 5.17.05 10:12 pm
So there we were, wandering around a bus terminal at 6.45 am. We’d just spend three and a half hours in the dodgiest bus imaginable. Only to step down and immediately be assailed by a horde of cabbies. Armed with Mr. Stinky, I flailed away at them and drove them back while my buddies searched for a way to Langkawi that wouldn’t involve us hocking our shoes and iPods to pay for the ride.

Suddenly, a guy dodged a swipe from Mr. Stinky and approached us. Apparently, he was one of the ferry operators to Langkawi, and our bus driver had pointed us out to him. Ferry Operator Guy was heaps helpful, pointing out a bus we could take to the jetty and telling us to tag along with him. And like the lost KLites we were, we were only too glad to do so.

Until FOG whipped out a phone and rang someone. Ordinarily, I never eavesdrop. And neither do my friends. Ever. But someone managed to overcome her reservations and sidled up closer to FOG. Y’know, just in case. And it was just as well cuz as it turned out, we were the topic of conversation. Hmmmm…slightly dodgy. And then he hung up, turned to us with a grin and oh so casually mentioned that a group of friends were picking him up at Langkawi and maybe we’d like a lift to our resort? Hmmmm…even dodgier. Plus, we wouldn’t have to pay. AHA! That clinched it! A free ride?! Hah, get into a car with you? We might just as well be begging to wake up in an ice-filled bathtub with our organs missing. Not bloody likely, thanks all the same.

Then again, it wouldn’t do to turn him down too vehemently. He might get offended and have a group of would-be organ harvesters waiting to beat us up when we arrived. So we hemmed and we hawed, putting off actually saying ‘no’ for as long as we could. By that time, the connecting bus had arrived. Along with another decision. Since we already knew what bus to take, should we hop onto the next one instead, putting as much distance between us as possible? Or should we stick close, to monitor his every movement and phone conversation? Better the enemy you know and all that.

We decided to watch FOG. So onto the bus we piled, making sure to box him in so as to prevent any secret phone conversations. I ended up sitting on the seat next to his, and after awhile, I noticed something. This FOG was wearing a flash watch and new Nike sneakers. Hmmm…not to be snobbish, but how does one afford that stuff on a ferry operator’s salary? Never mind, I reasoned, it might be fake goods. Then I caught sight of something else. He wore a gold ring on the middle finger of his right hand. The interesting thing was that this ring was too large for him, to the extent that a twist of paper had been wedged between the band and his finger to prevent it from slipping off. Now that was suspicious. If one were to buy a gold ring, wouldn’t it make sense to purchase a ring that actually fit? That got me thinking. What if he had taken it off a dead guy? And what if the dead guy had been alive before he encountered FOG? By the time we got to the jetty, I’d worked myself up into a right state. Secret plans or not, I wanted DISTANCE.

So we jumped out, dragging our bags after us, and took the earliest ferry out of there (not his, obviously). Paranoia? Maybe. But I don’t trust people wearing rings that don’t fit.

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