Street seven was as it always was.
Cheap beer, endless mating calls cooed from the lips of bar-girls and masseuses, and old, sad Western men dying slow.
Not to say the street didn’t have its charm, with the liveliness of the Khmers, every street or alley in the country had charm in spades.
When I met the son of the biker, I was having coffee and reading the Post.
He seemed like he thought something of me so I looked across to his table and said hello.
“My father owned this shophouse, before,” he said. “I come back here every year or so to pay respects.”
“Respects?” I asked, intrigued because the café now sounded more like a coffin.
“Yeah, he died here. Shot. They came for him. It was a big scene.”
“Upstairs or right here? I mean was it a drive-by or what?” I asked.
This kind of topic always perked my ears because of the work I did.
“Upstairs. The police said it was suicide.”
“That’s the easiest way out.”
“I was told, by the old lady who worked with my dad for many years, that there was a barricade.”
“Inside the guest room?”
“Yes. And, also out. Of course, the door was locked as well. Which is especially why I come to pay respects, because my father’s death was so suspicious.”
“Wait,” I said. “So you’re telling me that your father was barricaded in his room, but also outside of it, meaning someone tried to trap him in and he tried to trap himself inside at the same time?”
The biker lit a new cigarette.
I ordered another Cambo beer with ice.
“Drugs?” I asked him.
“Of course. Ice. As well as pure China. Inside the room,” he said. “From Myanmar.”
“The Golden Triangle,” I said. “A locked room murder mystery in the Golden Triangle.”
“What do you think of it?” he asked me, and at once I thought he thought me to be some sort of authority on the topic, like maybe he knew me before I knew him.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I’ll have to take walk on it.”
I paid the tab and bid the biker adieu, not bothering to ask his name.
Of course we would meet again, another morning, same street.
I walked my usual route, down Street Seven to Wat Ounalom, one of the biggest Buddhist temples in Phnom Penh if not Cambodia, of course in the shadow of Angkor Wat.
The sun would set soon and I wanted to see the golden sky hew above the meeting of the three mighty and ancient rivers — the Tonle Sap, Basaac and Mekong.
Ducking past the gates, I saw the same scene as usual.
Teen and even preteen Khmer people, homeless riverside hustlers smoking ice, ganja, whatever.
They were sex workers, many of them, going to secret rooms with rich pricks from Switzerland or wherever to make money for another high.
They looked to me like I was some sort of beacon, like I could lead them, only at the time I was in hibernation so I kept on, not that those lost souls didn’t nag at me.
Onward, I passed through the nexus of the Wat, the burial grounds.
There were well fed feral dogs, and though they needed to get de-wormed they seemed happier than most hounds back in the States.
Freedom ain’t free, as always, but the dogs and cats living in a temple had it better than any other pooch in country, even the groomed royal pure breeds.
Continuing on, I passed the central shrine to the gong, the matter of the biker’s father’s murder on my mind.
Needing centering, I stepped up and banged the gong then closed my eyes and chanted Om until the vibrations came to an end.
I didn’t have an audience, not that I wanted one.
Once there was silence, I continued, passing the Mercedes and BMW’s parked within the sacred temple walls, gaudy nouveau riche coming to pay their respects while their country was being sold out to Han Chinese, paved over with casinos and shopping malls.
Thought to slash the tires, but my yoga wasn’t good enough to where I could handle a stint in the brig.
Continuing out the gates, still thinking of the case or at least trying to, I passed a tout who sought my attention.
“What are you looking for? Drugs? A very young girl?” he asked me, right outside the gates to Buddha’s temple.
I thought to break his fingers, but again with the yoga so I moved on.
All these distractions from the purpose of my walk, to think about the locked room murder mystery, were nothing on what would be the biggest distraction of them all.
The three rivers, in all their beauty and glory — they were low because of the Chinese dams upstream.
Poor Khmer people were struggling to find fish to feed their families while the dams powered casinos and shopping malls that Khmer people weren’t even allowed into.
How could any detective solve a case with such egregious distraction?
Plus all the South China Sea business, with men with their fingers on red buttons, ready to launch nuclear dicks when they can’t even speak the enemy’s language.
Mass, mass distraction.
Still the biker case nagged at me, so I walked on down the boardwalk, past the beggars outside of the gated five star hotels where uptight pricks were served caviar and lobster, from the brackish mouths of the rivers the poor Khmer people were struggling to fish from.
Then it dawned on me, that the father must have had something inside the room, which he was trying to get out of it, but he was barricaded in by someone trying to prevent him from escaping with it, only when the father realized he was barricaded in, he then barricaded himself in so no one could get in and nab the artifact, whatever it was.
Or vice versa.
This object, artifact, whatever, could not have been just drugs.
No one double barricades only for drugs, I’d never seen it and I had seen some shit on multiple continents.
No, there had to be something more valuable than a kilo of China white in that room for sure.
I continued my daily walk, down the boardwalk, looking across the river where cranes were dredging sand to build another casino foundation on Chrouy Changva.
Then I thought to myself, we went from Angkor Wat to this?