______For P.J. Johnson, this visit to Bali had been a true gift from God! His wife had liked it also.
______They had lived with Aussie tourists who just thought that they were Yanks; the Balinese thought they were white Yanks (the folks back in East Saint Louis, Ill. would have disagreed); he had enjoyed watching "Aussie Lasses" sunning topless (his wife would give him grief for getting sand in their new camera); his wife looked at Aussie men (in spite of his orders to the contrary). It had been a perfect vacation; even the beggars had been no problem. They had discovered that the monkeys in the famed monkey forrest were just as irritating as the people.
______P.J. and his wife disagreed on one other subject beside who could look at Aussie bodies and who couldn't. They disagree on passports. P.J. always carried his; is wife always left hers with the "desk boy" at the hotel. P.J. just loved being able to use his passport as proof of identity along with his American Express card. P.J. would later realize that this was a serious mistake.
______On the day before they left Bali, they struck up a conversation with a local while drinking gin and tonics with ice that looked like milk.
______"Hello, you are from Australia?"
______"Nope, we're from America."
______"Ah, rich white American tourists. You come see the monkeys? See the religious shrines? Take home statue of a God?"
______"You got some good statues of Gods?"
______Bali is called the "Land of a Thousand Gods" because every tree and building has a God and if you're good you become a God upon death.
______"Yeah, us white folks (DebbieSue rolled her eyes at this) love statues."
______"I'll bring you one. Just tell me which 'otel you stay in. I bring it by."
______"How much will it cost?" DebbieSue had been taken by a massage that turned out to be ridiculously expensive in "real money".
______"Only five dollars U.S."
______"We'll have to think about it."
______"Think about it, hell", P.J. thought, "that's cheaper than anything else we've seen.
______"Tomorrow", the friendly local went on, "I take you to my village. You see how Bali people live. You have meal with us. Yes?"
______"Yeah, sure, sounds great."
______DebbieSue looked doubtful but didn't object; they had a hard time being rude. That would change.
______They walked back to their "hotel" weaving back and forth in the 8 foot wide lane. P.J. pulled out a whistle that he wore around his neck. It had been his daddy's tin whistle and was now P.J.'s plaything. It was amazing how effective that old police whistle could be at scaring off teenagers from in front of their apartment. Even the dopers couldn't tell the difference between P.J.'s whistle and the local police.
______P.J. tooted on his whistle, his wife made timeworn insults about it and neither noticed the shape of the "local" following them back to their "hotel". Early the next morning, after they had bathed in the ocean rather than the polluted water which came from their room's water system, the happy couple was eating breakfast at the "hotel" dining room. They still had plenty of bottled water.
______The local from the night before walked up to them.
______"We go to my village when you done eating? Give you statue for only four dollars U.S."
______"My mother made statue like her mother made statue and my daughter's will make statue."
______After the local left, an Aussie nearby commented:
______"Hey, mate, you're Yanks?"
______"Don't be too trusting of these blokes. Bali ain't been the same since them damn Jap tourists ran the prices up. Be careful of who you talk to; some of these bloke 'ain't no innocents' as you Yanks say."
______"He seems innocent enough."
______"Well, just go with someone your hotel recommends. And mate, leave yur bloody passport with 'otel desk boy; you don't want to be losing it."
______The Aussie bloke's wife appeared in beachware and P.J. tried not to stare at the expanse of uncovered freckles on her uncovered front. They left and headed for the front desk. Their local intercepted them and they went to his jeep. P.J. and DebbieSue later realized that they should have gone to the front desk to buy bottled water or any damn thing. They front desk clerk was a member of the Indonesian Special Police.
______The trip to the village was uneventful if you discount two lane traffic using an eight foot wide alley, pigs and family shrines to family Gods in the street and the ever changing smells of something that almost smelt familiar. They should have prayed for an accident instead of not. P.J. tooted out the Marine Corp hymn (once a grunt always a grunt) and his High School fight song on his whistle. The passport was safely buttoned in a pocket of the "Great White Hunter Jacket" he would never have dared wear back in "East Saint Loused-Up Ill".
______They village was nice, the village had one well, the village bathed under one waterfall and the village made them feel rich. They met their guide's family who looked at them with lust. They damn sure should have walked out then.
______"Here! You take this statue! Cheap! Only four dollars U.S.!"
______They took the statue and put fingerprints on it like a cat putting paw prints across a wet kitchen table.
______"You go to She-cog-go? Yes? She-cog-go?"
______"Yes, She-cog-go", P.J. mimicked their "friendly" local.
______"Good, you take statue to friend of mine in She-cog-go. I have other white 'Merican friend who take statues to She-cog-go. I have Aussie friends take statues to Sid-knee in south Australia."
______"This is a heavy little booger", P.J. commented as he turned the surprisingly heavy and ugly little statue of a household God over and over in his hands.
______"Oh Shit!", DebbieSue muttered, "oh dear God, oh Shit!"
______"We can't take this statue, we've got too many things already."
______"Sure we can," P.J. countered.
______"We got those calendars for yo mamma, DEAR, we can' take no statues."
______"What you mean we can't take the statue? We got room!"
______DebbieSue took the statue from P.J., P.J. grabbed it back and the statue slipped from their grasps and broke quite nicely on the ground. It brook too damn easily for such a heavy little item. It was obvious that the pasty brown material filling the statue hadn't provided much structural strength.
______Opium paste from the Golden Triangle isn't supposed to!
______"Hey, man, it was nice visiting but we got to git back to the hotel. Got snorkel lessons today."
______"Oh, God, how did we get into this", DebbieSue thought. "If only we were back at the beach with him looking at boobs and me giving him shit over it. Got to admit he was frisky last night".
______"This just can't be happening," P.J. thought, "we git out of this and I ain't even going to play poker with the boys at the Cop Bar".
______A man dressed in native attire but speaking with a muted Aussie accent walked through a back entrance.
______"Sorry, mate, you're going to have to take another statue back home with you. Don' worry, we'll make sure it's stronger and will make sure you have it well sealed by the Indonesian government. Here, I'll just take that, mate."
______The Aussie plucked P.J.'s passport from his pocket before P.J. could react.
______"Well mate, you can't leave this lovely island without this picture and we'll just have to have the missus' picture as well."
______DebbieSue made a futile defense of her purse; after dumping the contents out, the Aussie searched through the contents.
______"Missus, I can't find your passport. Where do you have it?"
______"In a very safe place. Now, we are going to leave."
______P.J. got up and helped his wife to rise. Then, seeing the Aussie appeared momentarily distracted, he lunged for his passport which the Aussie was holding rather carelessly. The Aussie slipped back, deflected P.J. into a wall and enjoyed a good laugh. It was obvious that P.J. was reacting very predictably.
______The trip back to the hotel was glum and miserable. P.J. held his whistle but didn't bother using it. He was trying to figure a way out of this mess.
______After their driver dropped them off, P.J. and DebbieSue walked down to the beach. Even the massage women, who were as persistent as flies, left them alone.
______"What the hell we going to do?"
______"Well you should have left your passport with mine and you should have listened to me!"
______"I know! I know! I know! And I shouldn't have gotten sand in the camera."
______"Well, I wish you were taking pictures of them white women's tits all morning."
______"Me too, but, what the fuck we gonna do to get out of this mess."
______"Let's go talk to the Embassy."
______They were proof that some folks should not be let out of the U.S. of A. without a baby sitter!
______The desk clerk helped them contact the American Embassy. After only a thirty minute wait, they were talking with a Deputy Assistant Undersecretary for something or another.
______"Hi, I'm P.J. Johnson and I'm here with my wife. We got a problem. Some locals stole my passport and I need another one to leave the county."
______"Did you notify the local police?"
______"Not yet, could you help us with that?"
______"I'm sorry, but, the Embassy really can't get involved in such matters. You'll have to contact the police on your own." There was a pause. "I hope that this won't concern you, but, if you get involved with drugs, the Embassy can't and won't help you. Now, it will take at least three working days to obtain another passport for you. Since this is Friday, you'll have to visit us next Tuesday."
______"But our tourist visa expires on Monday!"
______"Unfortunately, the only person who can help you has already left for the day. You should be back here Monday morning. I really must handle some other calls. Good bye."
______"Well, what happened," DebbieSue was obviously anxious. They should have noticed the desk clerk listening raptly. However, youdon't expect desk clerks to have graduated from the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va.
______"That shithead said 'come back Monday' and gave me some crap about calling the police ourselves. He also said something about drugs."
______"I'll call the British Embassy for you."
______The desk clerk did just that.
______A five minute wait resulted in a cockney voice taking down their complaint and a promise of immediate action. They were also told to call that officer, Ollie MacMillian, if they had anymore trouble. They had MacMillian's office and home phone numbers.
______"Did you mention drugs?"
______They looked at the clerk.
______"Many tourists get into trouble in our county. No one tells them who to go to for help. If you have any trouble, I would be happy to help you."
______"Nope, don't have any problems besides the passport, just need to buy some drinking water." P.J. didn't realize how stressed he sounded.
______As the less-than-happy couple left with their bottled water, the FBI trained desk clerk stared thoughtfully into the distance then made a quiet phone call.
______P.J. and DebbieSue sat in their room and waited for the other to make that salvation plan. Neither spoke up.
______They thought about their possessions: some books, some trinkets, some native fruits that had planned on "smuggling" into the U.S. and the tin whistle.
______P.J. played the Marine Corps hymn on the whistle till DebbieSue looked like she was ready to shove it down his throat.
______"What the fuck are we going to do? They got my passport so I can't leave."
______"The Embassy will give us another one on Monday. We can leave on our flight that afternoon."
______"What if they don't have a new passport?"
______"We tell our boss's back home that you lost your passport, you get charged for more annual leave and everybody give's you shit about losing your passport."
______"What about those drug dealers? They got our fingerprints on that statue?"
______"We broke it remember. How were we supposed to know it had drugs in it?"
______This last remark by DebbieSue would later be lifesaving for them.
______"Well, we ain't' going to take any crap back to the States and we're just going to have to lay low."
______The weekend was miserable and it wasn't until Sunday that DebbieSue started noticing the Aussie men's bulges and it was late Sunday before P.J. started taking pictures of white Aussie women again. They could almost believe that everything was going to work out.
______Monday morning or "MOANday morning as P.J. called it started out easy enough. Their friendly desk clerk called them a different driver and they set off to the American Embassy.
______P.J. nodded crisply to the Marine who stood guard in summer uniform; grunts sure seemed young compared to when he had served in 'Nam.
______Their first hint of trouble came when they tried to get into the Embassy.
______"I'm sorry, SIR, but we can't let you into the Embassy. You need to provide your passport or other proof of U.S. citizenship. Your Illinois driver's license simply won't do."
______"But, my passport was stolen. How can I get it replaced?"
______"You'll just have to wait here."
______Twenty minutes later, the same clerk called them back.
______"We can have your passport replaced tomorrow."
______"But my tourist visa expires today. I'll be arrested as an 'undesirable alien' if I stay. Can't you help me?"
______"We're rather busy today but perhaps you can be seen later this morning. The consular officers are all working on a major drug case."
______The clerk, a GS-5 for life, looked started at his remark then shut up.
______"Oh, shit!. They know about us!"
______They left not realizing that the Embassy people were working on busting the ring that had snared them and that the Embassy officers would have been their salvation. Who trusts the DEA?
______"Their" driver and the Aussie were waiting in the jeep for them.
______They were photographed by Embassy staff at a cafe across the road and went on the Embassy's "mule list". After they returned to their room, the Aussie pulled out two statues of "Household Gods". These were ugly little trolls which could have one any ugly contest. One was grossly male and a gross male at that; the other might have been female but was gross anyway you looked at it. These "Household Gods" didn't deserve to have worshipers.
______The Aussie, who was wearing rubber gloves, handed the statues to the Johnsons.
______"Hold these little lovelies, matey, aren't they just lovely. Just what you need to show off to the boys back in Chicago. Best not drop them or we'll have to call the police. You won' like our jails here. Most of you Yanks just can't survive them."
______The Johnson's handled both statues.
______"Don't worry mate, we'll give you back your passport before you board your plane. In fact, we'll even pay your exit free for you!"
______Neither of the Johnsons replied.
______"What is it that you blokes say? 'Mighty white of me?'"
______If there was anything worst than this Aussie's attitude, it was his laugh as his victims left.
______"What are we going to do? We can't leave without your passport?"
______"Maybe I can grab it at the airport?"
______"You tried that once, remember?"
______"Damn it! I remember. Don't remind me."
______"Maybe we can tell the Indonesian Custom's people your passport was stolen. That British man, MacMillian, said he would help."
______"I don't know. I don't know. Maybe he can, maybe he can't.Maybe I should just try hauling both statues back to Chicago."
______"It won't work. You know who is going to be working Customs today and tomorrow."
______"Yeah, I know."
______The Customs Inspectors included a fellow member of a Lion's Club that had been in. This inspector would insist on checking their luggage and this man would detect the opium.
______"You'll never make it past Roger."
______"How about if I wipe off the prints and leave the statues in the toilet on the plane?"
______"Might work; maybe we should just put the statues in our checked luggage and not claim it?"
______"We could try that. They haven't given us the statues yet.Maybe we could elude them at the airport?"
______"Yeah, maybe we could."
______They had already packed their luggage and began "saddling up" to use P.J.'s old Marine term for "fixing to go" as DebbieSue preferred to say.
______The phone rang and they were both startled; other earslistened to he phone call and to the room in general.
______"Yes?" No one back home would have recognized the nervousmouse as P.J. talking.
______"We'll meet you in the airport, old cock," the Aussie was damned cheerful. "We'll have your passport and some local items you naughty Yanks just had to have. Don't be late and don't even think of 'playing games' with me, Mate!"
______"We weren't thinking of any games."
______"Right-oh, it pays to have friends, you know!"
______P.J. hung up; DebbieSue waited for him to speak.
______"It was that white trash asshole Aussie tellin' me that we're to make some kind of swap and that he got friends. What are we going to do?"
______"We're not going to smuggle this, are we?"
______"I don't want to but what other choice do we have?"
______"Well damn it all, if we go through with this, we go to jail when Customs busts us in Chicago..."
______"...and Roger will be pissed at us, we'll go to jail and our live's will be ruined..."
______"...in Chicago or this Aussie trash turns us into the police."
______"We go call that Brit Embassy man, that Mr. MacMillian."
______They finished lifting their belongings, P.J. played "charge" on his whistle and they went to the front desk. The desk clerk was in front of his desk with several men and women that had the "hard ass cop look". Neither Johnson was reassured; they were scared almost to point of losing sphincter control.
______"We need to call the British Embassy."
______"Why not call your own Embassy". The front desk clerk didn't sound like a local now.
______"They can't or won't help us."
______"Why not go to the local police?"
______"We would but we need to talk to Mr. MacMillian first."
______"You want to return home without getting into trouble?"
______"Well, yes", P.J. was beginning to think he talked to much.
______"You are talking to the Indonesian Special Police and we know all about your problems. We've had your room under surveillance since we saw who you were leaving with. Now, this is what you're going to do."
______After listening to the police, the Johnsons had to be reminded that they were supposed to be in deep trouble.
______At the airport, the Aussie watched them enter and followed after them. He put a bag with the statues on a table and then placed the passport next to it.
______"Hell, mate, I even paid your exit fee." The receipts for this were placed on top of the passport.
______P.J. backup up, put his whistle to mouth and blew hard! Hard enough to bring out veins on his forehead. Hard enough to make the Aussiebird start away and give DebbieSue time to grab the paperwork.
______The Aussie simply froze when uniformed officers confronted him. The Johnsons walked away, were swept through the normal boarding procedure and taken out a back entrance. They spent two days giving testimony to the American and British Embassies and were the Guests of the Indonesian Special Police. Someone in one of the three agencies notified the Johnson's employers that the Johnson were assisting in an international criminal investigation. They were both lionized when they returned home and the stories that they told their friends bore little relation to reality; you might say they told what they wished had happened rather than what really did happen. Who could blame them anyway?
______Both Johnson's got more photos of Aussies with a new camera and didn't give each other grief about the taking.
______Their next vacation was in Minnesota.