Go: [ MAIN PAGE ]
Fonts: [ VIQR ] [ VNI ] [ UNICODE ] [ VISCII ] [ VPS ]


One Time As An Intelligence Officer

Nguyen Tan Hung

     Finally, there was one day that I had to go to Phu-Quoc island to report for work. My new duty there was Chief of the Intelligence Department, Fourth Coastal Zone Headquarters.

     There was nothing too important about that job. That was true especially for those who had worked in the intelligence field because that position was an ordinary position for a staff officer, no more and no less. For me, there was no secret fund to spend nor even a secret agent to command. Nothing was so exciting about it! But, why did everyone always put their eyes on that job? Why did everyone consider that the job was one for the boss's pets? I thought I might have some advantages when I was in that remote location, a far away island. I would be king of my intelligence jungle. Anyway, I was so surprised to have that job. I was lucky, I guessed.

     Actually, I chose to move to Phu-Quoc Island because my wife did not want to go back to the central part of the country to live. Her reason was simply that our family's life would be much easier in the South. My reason was simply that I listened to her. Therefore, I refused to take the the position that my boss had already planned for me: commanding officer of the intelligence net in the Second Coastal Zone. To command the net meant to command your regular income, which was not too low, from the secret fund. All of my co-workers told me that I was an idiot and crazy for not taking that position. Some of them thought that I had a mental disorder.

     "Why do you want to take responsibility for an island? Do you plan to have a long vacation over there?"

     Captain Hai Do Nguyen, the chief of Naval Intelligence Department, had asked me some question like that. His thought was completely wrong about my case because there was no vacation for me. I was busy and always had something to think about in my mind. He did not know anything about Phu-Quoc! I didn't blame him though because he had been with the Intelligence Department for only a short period of time. If he had known Phu-Quoc very well, he might not have let me go anyway. Truly, it was my fate, I believed.

     Recently, I had heard a rumor that there was a big chaos in Phu-Quoc. Captain "Cowboy" Luat Gia Pham, the commanding officer of the Fourth Coastal Zone Headquarters, had been criticized by Mr. Luong Van Doan, the Rach Gia provincial senator, about corruption on this island. "Cowboy Luat" had been sent back to Saigon to wait for trial by the Martial Court. He tried to get a retirement deal, the best solution for corruption. His follower, Lieutenant Xe Van Tran, Chief of the Intelligence Department at the Fourth Coastal Zone Headquarters, prepared to sell his villa and cars to pay a special fee for saving himself a long term vacation in prison.

     At that time, I did not know what the last "emperor" on this island and his supporters had done. I did not need to know either! The only thing I paid attention to was that Phu-Quoc Island still had a cosmic impact on its people. Everyone who came there to live would be rich, sooner or later. It was easy if one had the magic power of changing water to glue and sea water to fish sauce . The name of the island spoke for itself: Phu-Quoc meant rich state (in Vietnamese). However, when people left the island, they had to leave their fortunes there. Then, they went back to their original condition, empty handed, sooner or later. Their "treasure which came from nowhere" seemed to be just in a transferring process: from the heavens to the earth or from the river to the sea.

     The new empire had been established right away for the very simple reason that the island could not have a day without its "emperor", the island chief. On paper, the island chief had his long title: Commanding Officer, Fourth Coastal Zone (for the naval forces) and Phu-Quoc Special District (for the army forces). The area of a special district usually was bigger than that of an ordinary district and smaller than that of a province. The district chief of Duong Dong District, Second Major Thao, had to report to the island chief. I was surprised a little bit to see that an administration force, a government body, had been put under the control of a naval officer.

     The new "emperor" of the island was Captain Ba Huu Khuong who replaced Captain "Cowboy Luat." The emperor's strategic advisor (the emperor's brain in the Vietnamese way of saying) was myself, replacing Lieutenant Xe as the chief of the Intelligence Department. Our first mission was to form a strong and clean empire. We intended to make history, if the conditions would allow us.

     Before landing, the crew of my small airplane, a Cessna, had made a big circle on the An-Thoi air strip which was located at the south tip of Phu-Quoc Island. I had the impression in my mind that I was a frontier soldier who fought to protect his homeland right at the country's border or even on foreign territories. I was on Cambodia if the Vinh-Te Canal had been extended out into the sea as the border line between the two countries. Looking down from high altitude, Phu-Quoc Island was truly big. It was much bigger than Re Island (Poulo Gambir), Thu Island (Poulo Spratley), or even Con-Son Island (Poulo Condor). I sometimes felt that I had been flying in the sky of the Central of Vietnam because Khu-Tuong Mountain on the northern part of the island looked like one of the highest peaks in the Truong-Son range.

     The metal runway made the airplane shake like a boat on rough seas. A few minutes after landing, the airplane stopped at its hangar, a small house near the control tower. Son, the officer who came to greet me at the air strip was a Lieutenant JG. I was surprised at his size, big like an American. With his short sleeved shirt, his muscles proved that he surely was a body builder. I felt embarrassed about my small body size. However, I had told myself in my mind that I needed an assistant officer who had brains instead of muscles. I was in the intelligence jungle, the strategic field! I only needed Khong-Minh (the most famous Chinese strategic master), and I did not need Truong-Phi (the most famous Chinese General of the Khong-Minh time). I also did not need a bodyguard! (I heard another rumor that Captain "Cowboy Luat" was scared of snipers, so he put sand bags all around his Jeep to protect himself). Son saluted me and introduced himself:

     "I am Son, Lieutenant. Did you come out here alone?"

     My eyes at his name tag on his shirt, I warmly put my hand out for him to shake. I said:

     "Yes. How long have you been here?"

     "It's been about two years, Lieutenant."

     "Hmmm, your term will soon come to an end!"

     The pilot, a First Lieutenant, joined the group of army officers who came out to great their major, who had flown the same flight. The major seemed to be commanding officer of a battalion in the Special District Forces. Son took my marine bag and put it on the Jeep easily, like a boy throwing saucers. I sat on the passenger seat as Son drove out of the air terminal. The boundary of the air terminal was only a layer of bare wire. We were on red clay road potted with many deep holes. A crooked line of red dirt was created behind our Jeep as Son accelerated. Fresh wind from the near-by beach blew in my face and hair. That helped my body temperature cool down in the summer afternoon. I heard the friendly sound of waves beating the shore line. I asked:

     "How is your life here, Son? It's easy or rough?"

     Taking advantage of this good opportunity, Son gave his answer from his heart:

     "It's not bad, Lieutenant. The only drawback is being too far from home. You are lucky to have an airplane to go back and forth, but I have to go home by boat. It takes a whole night from here to Rach-Gia Harbor. From Rach-Gia to Saigon, it takes at least one more day, if there are no battles along the road."

     "So, how often do you have vacation?"

     "It's about four or five months, sometimes over half a year."

     I said to him, at the same time talking to myself:

     "It's that long! I have to see what life is going to be like on this island before I bring my family out. With wife and children, every move is difficult do you know?"

     Suddenly, I felt that I might have made a mistake this time. Why had I chosen to go to this island. For a single person, there was not a big problem being several months away from home, but I could not leave my wife and children at the house of my parents-in-law that long. Who would give her money to buy food for the children? Did I have to send a money order each month? Was there a full service post office on this island? Did the military mailman have to go back and forth to the mainland by boat? I surely did not know so many things! I pulled out my Blue Bastos cigarette and stuck it between my lips. I lit up and inhaled long and deep. The smell of the cheap cigarette was like burning cloth. I was not addicted to the taste of the Blue Bastos brand of cigarettes, but I had to smoke it because I did not have enough money to buy Capstan, Ruby Queen, or even the military type of Ruby Queen that had the Vietnamese flag on both sides of the pack. I was a poor soldier; I knew it.

     We came to a three way intersection with one way going to the North and one way going straight to the An-Thoi Shipyard. The main gate of this large naval base could be recognized from far away by a sign board, huge and high like a billboard with big painted characters. The check point was a bunker with new sand bags that had been just stacked up and around. Son commented:

     "That road leads to the downtown of the village, Lieutenant. There is only one commercial road, here. From this point, you can go up to Mr. Thom's restaurant. He is a policeman. Then, you turn left to go to the market. You turn left again to go to the ferry station and to a fishing hamlet where people make dried fish and fish sauce. Do you want to go around once, Lieutenant?"

     I was tired, I said:

     "Save it for the time. I need to know where I will stay and eat, first."

     Son went straight ahead. The guard in seaman uniform opened the gate and saluted us. I replied. The road here had been paved and topped with asphalt. After a couple of turns, we came to the BOQ (the Bachelor Officer Quarters), a one level, apartment type house with cement slab foundation and cement block walls painted a light green color. The BOQ was built on a small sand beach and faced out to sea. The sound of waves beating the shore line now was heard much louder. Near by, on the front of the building used as the headquarters, there was a long pier that stuck far out in the water. I followed Son to a his apartment in the middle of the BOQ building. Stepping inside, I saw a row of four small beds. An exercise bench was set near the back wall. It was true that on this remote island, except for body building, single guys seemed to have nothing to do after hours of work. I felt sorry for them!

     "Temporarily, you may stay here with us, Lieutenant."

     That was it for the greeting of a Coastal Zone department chief. There was no ceremony, no gun fire, no military band, not even a hand shaking. Son went back to work, and I was lonesome in this strange apartment. There was no separate room, no curtain, and even no table and chair. Was this place used only for sleeping? Was there no cooking, no music, no parties? I felt terribly sad for them, and now for me too. I took a long breath. There was nothing so exciting about it. I then took out my stuff from the marine bag and put it on the empty bed. It was my bed, I guessed, because there was no mosquito net on it. I believed that I surely had made a big mistake by this move. All the things I had thought about Phu-Quoc were wrong. I remembered the days when I worked at the Riverine Forces Headquarters. The BOQ barrack over there was still in good condition with air conditioner and a refrigerator for each room, and everyone could have his own privacy. Would I have to live with my assistant officer? That made me laugh!

     I had more surprises when to take a shower. I stepped into the utility room behind the main room where we slept. There was no shower head nor hot and cold water control knobs, but a little water reservoir formed by a dam of cement blocks in the angle of two walls. A military helmet sat silently on one side; I understood what it could be used for. I carried a helmet of cold water and poured it on my head. It was lucky that there was some water left in the water reservoir! Who would refill it? I did not want to think anymore. Life on the island was not convenient like I thought it would be. I put on my pajamas and stretched out on bed for a nap.

     That evening, Son invited me to eat out. We walked to Bo-Vang (Golden Cow) Restaurant not too far from the boundary of our naval facilities. This let me discover another drawback-the Jeep for the Intelligence Department existed only on paper. Son had borrowed a Jeep from someone to pick me up at the airport. At least, he had paid some respect to me and had good communication skill.

     After a bon appetite with a few delicacies of seafood and wine, we had beef and celery stir fried with the restaurant's special sauce and cognac as the main meal. The smell was good and the meat was tender. There were a lot of green and beautiful prairies on this island, I supposed. House pets such as chickens, dogs, pigs, goats, and cows could live naturally around the barns and farmland. Everything was in peace because the nonsense war on the mainland could not reach this remote island. Wow! This would be my wonderland. . . But, once again, my imagination was in the wrong direction! In the real world, Son told me that poultry, cattle, and live stock products were imported from the mainland! I wondered!

     When dinner came to an end, I tested Son (in the Vietnamese way of doing things, the one who invited friends to his party should pay all the expenses):

     "Let me have the bill."

     Son cut me off:

     "No, let me take care of it, Lieutenant. From now on, you don't have to worry about these little things anymore. It is your deputy's responsibility."

     Oh, what did he say? Was he just kidding around with me? I did not want to be a cheap person, a cheap chief of the Nọ 2 department. He had not intended to put me down, I guessed. Well, I just let him take care of it this time, and I would handle it the next. But, I felt uncomfortable at all that I had bought, including a pack of Capstan cigarettes, and Son, a body builder, did not smoke. It seemed too late to do anything now. Son had already gone to the cashier.

     Next morning, with the nice and clean uniform, I came to the office of the new island chief, Captain Ba, to report to work. I had never met him once in my life. Before I could see Mr. Ba, I met his secretarial officer: Lieutenant Ngoc Nguyen. I was surprised because Ngoc had been my naval classmate. I yelled at him:

     "Oh shit, why didn't you greet me when you heard that I was coming! Why? I don't need a friend like you who does not care for friends. Did you forget what you learned about naval communication and friendship in the Naval Academy?"

     Ngoc laughed:

     "Heck, I don't have a Jeep, so how could I have come to pick you up at the airport. Shit, your Intelligence Department is number one here, do you know? Can't your men handle that simple job for their boss? Hey, I have seen that a couple of apartments have been available in the officer housing quarter. You better send your application right away for one before somebody takes it. It is very inconvenient if you have to rent a house in the civilian village!"

     "How's about the house of the ex-chief of the Intelligence Department? They have to save it for me, don't you think?"

     "Well, I don't think so. Remember that Mr. Xe was kicked out several months ago. Nobody has time to take care of the housing problem for you, you know that."

     I was joking:

     "They have to pay respect to me as Chief of Intelligence, don't you know?"

     Ngoc laughed harder:

     "All right! They will pay respect to you by letting you have a house up on the mountain, so you can be friends with the VC."

     "Forget about it. Do we have any more of our classmates around here?"

     "No. But, some of them, who have been assigned to the commanding officer of the radar station, will come to this area soon. Mr. Toan Van Tran will be the chief of Nam-Du Island. Mr. Minh That Ton will be the chief of. . . what island? Is it Banana or Coconut Island? Oh! that is Doc Island in the Hai-Tac (pirate) Archipelago."

     My reporting to the new "emperor," Captain Ba, was nothing special, only business as usual. I then came to my office for my first day at work. The Intelligence Department building was located behind the NOC (Naval Operation Center). It was a pre-constructed building with a metal roof shaped like a greenhouse. There were several windows on each side for fresh air. Beside it, a small plywood shed surrounded by barbed wire was used as the jail house.

     I checked my department's personnel. Mr. Son, Lieutenant JG, was the only officer I had. Next to him was Mr. Thai, Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class, who seemed to be shy like a girl. Mr. Nghia, Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class, was next in line. He, the younger brother of my naval father in the Vietnamese Naval Academy, seemed to be a guy who had guts. Next, the "hero" (survivor) of the naval battle of Hoang Sa (a coral island about 400 nautical miles east of the coast of Da-Nang), was Mr. Nhieu, Petty Officer 1st Class. After abandoning ship, Nhieu had had one week on a submerged life float in the rough sea before a rescue ship had rescued him. I did not think he would fear anything else now. Next to last was Petty Officer Mr. Danh-Un, a Cambodian. I would depend on him a lot because he was my only interpreter for Thai and Cambodian. In this area, violators of Vietnamese waters were usually his. . . friends, who could easily understand what he said in foreign languages. Mr. Khuong, a seaman who had just come out of Cam-Ranh Bay Training Center, was the lowest ranking person in my crew. He had been here for only a few months.

     I also checked the maps that had all kinds of intelligence notations. On the enemy's side, there was only one local battalion which was spread out over the whole island in small guerilla units. Their secret headquarters was established in Khu-Tuong Mountain, an area that had many farms for black pepper cultivating. On the friendly side, there were local and regular forces of the Duong-Dong District and almost a regiment of army forces that had often operated in the southern half of Phu-Quoc Island. The naval forces of the Fourth Coastal Zone included the 41st Coastal Division located at Poulo Obi (near the southern tip of Vietnam), the 42nd Coastal Division located west of An-Thoi Naval Base, the 43rd Coastal Division at Hon-Tre (Bamboo) Island, and the 44th Coastal Division near the town of Ha-Tien, a district of Rach-Gia Province. The Fourth Coastal Fleet was another main force that had about 20 PCF (Patrol Craft Fast) speed boats. Our combined forces seemed well equipped and much, much bigger than the enemy forces. However, I did not understand why we could never get them all. On the contrary, our fortresses were often attacked or shelled, and many men were killed or wounded. It surely was strange to me.

     I called Son in and asked:

     "Who is the analyzer of intelligence information? Who writes the briefing paper and who handles the daily briefing session for the commanding officer?"

     "I take care of them all, Lieutenant. But, there is no daily briefing session for the commanding officer here. If I receive some important intelligence information, I usually bring my small map and discuss it directly with the executive officer. . ."

     I seemed not to hear very well, and asked again:

     "Why do you discuss it not with the commanding officer but with the executive officer?"

     "It has become my habit because I am around Commander Khoi so much. Our new commanding officer is very busy these days, and he doesn't have time to hear what we are guessing about the enemy strategy and situation."

     "Hmmm, it is strange . . . Who takes care of these secret memo cabinets?"

     "It's also me, Lieutenant."

     I could not understand how the people worked around here. The rules and procedures seemed to be contrary to what I had learned in Military Intelligence School or even what I had experienced on the field. Uncomfortably, I said:

     "Everything is taken care of by one person, so the rest of the department is left for the dogs to eat, isn't it?"

     ". . ."

     Silently, Son went back to his office. I thought that I might call all my crew in, one by one, and "interrogate" them to determine what was good and bad about their professional skills. I had to know them well before giving out assignments. If there was no order in ink and paper, it would be difficult to say who was guilty and who was hero. Did I need to make a true revolution? Or "if something works, don't fix it"? I had to choose one way or another. But, it was too early for me to do that, I believed. I took a deep breath and stood up from my chair. I told Son:

     "I am going to the headquarters of the base maintenance unit. If there is something important, you just let someone find me. Well, Son, you continue to do what ever you have done. OK!"

     "Yes, Sir. You don't have to worry about anything. I warrant that nothing can go wrong!"

     If there was no briefing session, what was there for the Intelligence Department to do? If there was no meeting between them, the commanding officer and his strategic advisor (his brain) would soon become far apart like the sun and the moon.

     Right now, the important job for me was not to put an eye on my Intelligence Department but to get an apartment for my family in the officer housing quarter. It might be good for me because I could do whatever I wanted to do, and nobody would keep an eye on me. It would be a very interesting situation.

     I stopped by at the office of the unit's commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Cuong An Nguyen. My classmate, Lieutenant Ngoc, was wrong because Mr. Cuong had reserved an apartment at the end of the block for me. After finishing some paper work, I was happy to go out and check on my "dream house."

     Officers' housing was next to the main base and not too far from the civilian market. It was fairly clean and quiet. There were two long buildings with no fence between to distinguish soldier apartments and civilian houses.

     Opening the front door, I found that my apartment had only one big room similar to the BOQ style. But, one thing was missing, the ceiling! I could see the roof frame. I knew that it would be terribly hot. Well, I had an apartment for my family, at least. Opening the back door, I saw a big water reservoir made of cement blocks; the walls of the apartment were two of its four sides. The roof, however, ended there and a small patch of open sky took its place. The kitchen with half roof was connected. Opening another door in the kitchen back wall, I stepped out of the apartment. The W.C. shed could be seen next to it. Between the officers' housing quarters and the civilian area was a big black mud swamp. Across that swamp from my apartment, it may be a store, which often looked like an ordinary house in Vietnam, faced to the main road of downtown An-Thoi.

     Going around my dream house, now I understood why nobody took this end of the block apartment; the evening sunlight hit directly on the wall. A little more heat was given to the inside oven. Well, I could make this place more suitable to live in with the eight hours every day that I had nothing to do. I would build a garage next to my apartment to hold out the heat. I had a couple of petty officers and a seaman, so I could use their labor for helping me finish my project since they had nothing to do, either.

     It was time for lunch when I got back to my office. Again, Son invited me to go along with him. I agreed because I did not know much around here yet. I let Son pick the place he wanted by either the taste of the food or the style of the waitress. With his good experience, he brought me to a restaurant outside of the village with no sign on the front. The tables and chairs did not have a fancy look, but we had both the tasty food and the beautiful cashier. When we finished, I took my turn:

     "Let me have the bill."

     "No way, Lieutenant. You have to let your deputies do their responsibility. I already told you that you don't have to worry about these little things anymore, don't you remember?"

     "Are you kidding me, Son?"

     "No, Lieutenant. Do you not believe me?"

     Surely, I could not believe it. What did this strange act mean? There was no one in the world who showed this kindness to me. Instead of believing it, I had to doubt it. I was an intelligence officer, I had to be like Tao-Thao (a Chinese general who never trusted anyone). What did Son gain when he did something like that for me? Did he want just to lose a shrimp to catch a lobster? Why did he not tell me that in the first place? I was set for his booby trap, I thought. I have to be careful, I reminded myself!

     Not waiting for me to say another word, Son went to the cashier's counter. He paid for our lunch and joked about something with the girl. With her beauty, this girl might have come from the mainland because all pretty girls on the island usually wanted to go to Saigon. I could not pay any attention about girls around me at all. Although I was just in my thirties, my youth seemed to be over. I felt old and had a lot of things to do and to think about my wife and four children. Later on, I learned that the cashier had come here to help her aunt at the restaurant after failing the 11th grade test. Her aunt's business then drew a lot of customers, including Son.

     Son and I came back to our office after lunch. The door was still locked! Needless to say, I knew that none of the personnel in my department had come back to work yet. They did not have to be back on time when they ate their lunch at home. I did not care about that. Everyone had his own business and I had mine. I told Son:

     "You take care of the department papers. I am going to the shipyard."

     The main things now were the ceiling of my apartment and the garage. I went to the wood working area. A couple of questions came to mind. Who was the boss of that area? Did I know him? I hoped so. And I did.

     "Oh, Daddy . . . Daddy . . . Where are you going?"

     I was so surprised to see my naval son, Mr. Dao Kim Nguyen- a tradition in the Vietnamese Naval Academy was that a senior cadet would accept a junior cadet as his son randomly. He had made a terrible mistake at the Naval Academy; he cheated on a test and was caught. He "graduated" right away with the rank of petty officer instead of ensign. My big naval family came to an end with him, and I never had a naval grandson. Was he an ensign now? He might be allowed to go back to the academy to be retrained! Anyway, I still cared about him as my real son, and the naval relationship between him and me was still warm and great. We shook hands:

     "Are you the boss of this quarter? It is very good. I just came here a couple of days ago. I don't think I have met you since the day of my graduation. . ."

     Dao said:

     "I was sent to work on a ship the day I had my painful and stupid experience on the test, Dad. Two years later, I was recalled to the academy because I had a gook working record. In my two years of hard laboring, I learned a lot about life on the ship. My life had been changed, Dad. Now, I have this shop. The number of people who need me is quite larger than I need! What unit do you belong to, Dad, the Fourth Coastal Zone Headquarters, the Fourth Coastal Fleet, or the ship dock?"

     "I am Chief of Intelligence."

     He was surprised and happy:

     "Oh, you are in the right spot, Dad. I hear that the Intelligence Department here has a lot of good business."

     I was in doubt:

     "Are you sure? I don't know yet what they do. I think I need time to study what is going on in this area. I have to be patient, I guess. Anyway, the important thing for me to do is to remodel the apartment which I have just received. To tell you the truth, I need some plywood and two by fours to make a ceiling. Can you give me a hand?"

     "I cannot promise you other things; however, your request for plywood and two by four studs is an easy one for me to do. Remember, I am the boss of the wood working shop, Dad. I will tell my men to cut for you, and they will deliver it to your home, too. We have GMC trucks."

     "You don't have to do that. I will tell my men to come and pick them up. You don't have to deliver the free cut order!"

     Dao seemed uncomfortable to be involved with the intelligence personnel. He changed the subject:

     "We will talk about that later. Why don't we go to the cafeteria and have a cup of coffee . . ."

     After a long conversation, I knew that my naval son was a trusted officer of the shipyard's commanding officer, Commander Tho. That was the reason he got his position, which usually was taken by a lieutenant. I knew Dao very well at the academy, but I was still surprised at his success. Had he really learned anything in his two years as laborer on the ship? I did not know!

     I was happy that things happened so quickly around here. I got my apartment and material for fixing it in a couple of days. Hmmm, I remembered that it was very difficult to get a gallon of gray paint to paint my apartment at my last duty position. . . With lazy eyes, I glanced at the papers that had been prepared for my signature and closed the folder. I put my feet up on my desk and smoked a cigarette. My mind was floating on a small cloud. Well, the proverb said: planning always depended on man but achieving often depended on God . Could I both plan and achieve this time? I smiled. . .

     Working time was over; Son and I went back to our room in the BOQ and changed clothes. It was better to go out for dinner in civilian clothes. I started to get acquainted with "let the deputies do their responsibilities."

     Two weeks had passed quietly. My apartment at the end of the block had a new look with the help from my two men, Nhieu and Khuong, who had spent their full time remodeling. It was not a separate villa. From the outside, it had only the ordinary look of an apartment in the officers' or seamen's housing quarter. However, I fortuately did not spend a penny for a job well done. That was one of my naval benefits, I guessed, and I had no complaints about it.

     The interesting thing is my naval benefit did not stop then, but continued until I left the island. What kind of benefit was it? I often considered that my benefit had come from Heaven like a gift from God, because it brought me a total surprise. At dinner the day before I went back to the mainland to move my family, Son secretly gave me an envelop:

     "That is your part, Lieutenant!"

     I opened it and took just one look. I then opened my shirt button and put it inside, against my stomach. I asked a stupid question that I thought anyone in my situation would ask:

     "Where did this come from, Son?"

     Son gave me his answer, a smile! By the number written on the envelope, this kind of money was too much for me. In one second, I received three months' salary. What could I do? Why did Son have to give it to me? If Son had kept it for himself, surely I would have never known! There were some rules that I did not know yet, and I had to find them out! That was the reason Son always told me "don't worry about the little things." He was right, the lunches and dinners were only the little things. I thought that Son did only what was ordered by someone else who still was unknown to me. I had to find out who that was. I was then totally suspicious of Son; he might not give me the correct amount. I got a little bit angry:

     "I think that you ought to tell me what you have done. If there are some dangerous matters along the line, we will have different ways to go. If all of you keep doing whatever you are doing now, there is a day when not only you but also I will end up in prison, do you know that?"

     "From time to time, you will know exactly what's going on, Lieutenant!"

     There was some money for my trip expenses. There was some money for my wife to have some nice clothes. There was some money for my children to have milk every day. There was some money for many necessary things. . . Did I have to accept this deal? My question was my answer! I had taken it with no complaints. I knew that I was a wheel in the system. I had to roll because I had no choice. Would that be a corruption act? I had imagined the terrible things that I would have to do in the future. Well, whatever would happen, it would happen. I only knew now that I was to receive a gift from the Lord. One time as an intelligence officer, a true and clean officer, had passed away from now on.

     (To know more about "one time as an intelligence officer, a true and clean officer," please read Honey Moon At The River-Bridge Bay in Book One of the "One . . ." Series , and The Line Of Life in Book Two of the "One . . ." Series ).


Bài Trước Trang Chính Bài Kế Tiếp