Back in his hotel room, Edwin attacked his emails and put through several calls to Singapore. Shaun, Srikanth, Mansor and Chew Meng had been on the telephones with prospective suppliers in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Shaun updated his father. “There are many suppliers Dad, but all want cash up front. Quality is unsure. Packaging is touch-and-go.”

By the time they were done, Edwin had an hour to kill before dinner but decided against a walk.

The last time he strolled down Payathai Road, a street urchin had accosted him. The boy was skinny and draped on a buttonless white shirt that was more brown than white. One hand held his shorts that threatened to slip to his knees and the other stretched out with a smile. His head was round, crowned by short prickly down – someone had mowed it with a close-set clipper. Above his lip, with every breath a rheumy moustache flowed and receded from his nostrils.

Edwin handed the boy a ten Baht note, a grand sum of twenty cents. He became a lifelong friend. Miraculously six other urchins appeared out of the shadows. Each had a child almost as large perched on their hips or dragged by their hands. They all wanted to become lifelong friends. It was heart wrenching.

Edwin took a wad of Baht, all he had in his pocket and handed these out before ducking into the hotel.

Never again, he had resolved a dozen times. Invariably, he forgot. This time he remembered and took a long bath instead.

(An Extract from Beck And Call, A Business Thriller Set In Singapore)

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10 comments

  1. Eric, I really like the way you are presenting us with so many facets of Edwin and the milieu in which he lives and works. Very realistic writing here, as well.

    1. Thank you Granbee,

      This novel was my first attempt and it is encouraging to read the comments of people from all over. I have one more excerpt from Beck & Call scheduled for next week.

      All good wishes my dear,
      Eric 🙂

  2. There are other places in the world where you could come across this familiar sight. I used to hand out indiscriminately as the average westerner is shocked to know what poverty is the first time around. Then I discovered that there are many owned begger syndicates and the money you give doesn’t always go to the one you intend to get it. It takes a while to be able to judge the needy from the exploiter but it’s worth the effort as you have a responsibility to give where it is actually and really needed.

    1. Well, you know how it works Ian.

      I’ve heard how syndicates deliberately mutilate children – legless/armless – and press these unfortunate kids into begging.

      Oliver Twist and his “Please sir, can I have more” is a niece fairy tale in comparison.

      And you’re right – it is certainly worth the effort to try to separate the real from the syndicated and it is a tough call…

    1. Children are the victims of the most heinous crimes.

      The story is set primarily in Singapore with major scenes in Bangkok/Thailand and Chennai/India. The storyline also touches on cross border money laundering.

      Next week, one last excerpt from Beck & Call.

  3. It breaks my heart every time i see a kid being used by rackets for begging….and then they end up being used and abused…one cant trust government agencies today..kids in shelter homes are abused too..
    i may be going away from the topic,but your story brought back to life all that i have heard,read and seen

    loved the piece Eric ,specially the way it ended 🙂

    1. No Soma dear – you did not deviate from my intention. In all my novels I try to weave in social issues without breaking the storyline and pace.

      Abusing children is one of the sickest crimes committed by people. I’ve encountered and still encounter such abuse in so many countries. And you are so right – these children are taken into ‘homes/shelters’ run by religious and other do-gooders. In some cases, they face further abuse.

      One does not know who to trust.

      1. You are right – the traditional ‘good’ person has become a mirage.

        When we read media reports, one shudders at the number of priests who sink into a life of child abuse and debauchery.

        According to UN reports women criminals more than men are responsible for pressing abducted girls into the sex trade. I suppose runaways look upon a motherly type woman as ‘safer’ than a hulk of a man.

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