Burning Burners - Part 1 (Khao Yai , Day 2 Evening)

“Fifty each.” The old street merchant had to be seventy if he was a day. While this stall in the open air marketplace boasted the usual assortment of knockoff items, Dorian’s eye knew the tells which indicated a hidden tier of ala carte commodities. “You buy?” the man’s Asian features were marked by the usual wrinkles and creases, making emotionless eyes all the more inscrutable. “Closing now. Decide.”

“They’re clean?”

“Stupid question. You waste my time. Gang!” He nudged a small boy from his slumber atop a pile of gunny sacks. ” Shōushí tā!”

Dorian lifted a hand in surrender. “Alright,” he fished through his coin purse. “Eighty-five…it’s all Ah have.”

“You get one.”

“Ah need two.”

As the sleepy child set to work loading their wares into a sack, the old vendor appraised the doc, from his boots to the top of his head. “Nice hat,” he observed.

“With mah compliments.” The medic offered a respectful half bow, presenting the broad brimmed cover with both hands.

After a careful examination of the lining, the elder grunted his approval. ”Gang!” His hand gripped the boy’s shoulder. ”Liǎng gè ránshāo qì. Pǎo…pǎo!” The obedient youngster took off, running full out to veer into an adjoining alleyway.

Dorian smiled as he emptied his coin. “Fine boy.”

“Grandson,” the merchant pocketed the money. With no further pleasantries forthcoming, he donned Adler’s hat before resuming his packing.

Doc maintained a nonchalance as he surveyed the market. Some stalls were already dark; others, such as the local fishmonger, were in the process of being shut down and cleaned for the night. One or two remained open, their attendants eyeing the dwindling populace in hopes of making one final sale. Some would meet his eye with interest; others would look away, the natural reaction of those who kept to themselves. Then, there were those whose averted gaze was steadfast, intentional. By the time little Gang came pounding back to the stall, Dorian had identified his surveillance team.

The boy pressed a small parcel into his hand, then set to work at his grandfather’s side. “Good evenin’…oh,” Adler chuckled at his unwitting attempt to tip a hat that now resided elsewhere. With a polite nod, he turned, striding into the thick night air.

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