Saturday, August 5, 2023

My Crime Fiction: The Old Huk

The below story is chapter four of a crime thriller that I hope to publish this year. 

The character of Salvatore Lorino was introduced in chapter two. The below chapter originally appeared in American Crime Magazine.

You can read the chapter below:

The Old Huk

By Paul Davis 

When the USS Kitty Hawk returned to Subic Bay for repairs and replenishment, Lorino went aboard. He reported to sick bay, where he handled over his medical records from the Subic Bay base hospital to the ship’s doctor. He was examined by the doctor, and he determined that Lorino was fit enough for a return to duty. 

He then walked back to the deck division and handed over the doctor’s report to his chief. The chief, who liked Lorino, said he was glad to have him back aboard. 

“The watch bill has already been posted,” the chief said. “So go hit the beach and enjoy liberty in Olongapo.” 

“Thanks, chief,” Lorino said. 

“Unless you’re tired of Olongapo…” the chief said with a grin.

“Nah, chief. I love Olongapo.”  

“We all do, son.”   

Before Lorino shoved off, he hunted down Winston. He found Winston lounging in the Deck Department’s berthing compartment. Winston was smoking a cigarette and drinking a Coke. “Hey, welcome back,” Winston said. 

Winston laid down his Coke can on the deck and got up from his chair. He took Lorino by the arm and went to his rack in the middle of a three-tier stack of bunks. He lifted the mattress and the lid to the locker underneath his mattress and pulled out the meth in the paper bag. 

Lorino made Winston a junior partner in his new shabu venture As Lorino’s immediate supervisor, Winston agreed to assign him to nonexistent tasks, which allowed Lorino to wander freely about the ship and sell the meth. 

Lorino laid in his rack beneath Winston’s and pulled the gray curtain shut across the rack for privacy. He filled small plastic bags with the meth. He then got up and traversed about the carrier from the galley to the bridge and sold the bags of meth to a good number of enlisted sailors who wanted to be up and “wired” on meth as they drank, danced, and partied with the bar girls in Olongapo. Lorino quickly sold all of the meth and he turned a good profit. He gave Winston a small percentage of the profits. 

Lorino and Winston left the carrier that evening and walked into Olongapo to buy more shabu. They entered the Americano and walked up to the bar. 

“Hey, Chief,” Lorino called out to Walker who was at the other end of the bar. “Can we get a couple of San Miguels over here?” 

Walker laughed and brought over two bottles of beer. He called over a short, muscular Filipino with a round face. The Filipino was clad in a cowboy hat, a leather vest over a t-shirt, tight jeans and cowboy boots. 

“This is Cearro Valle, my bouncer,” Walker said as they all shook hands. “We call him “Duke,” like John Wayne the cowboy movie star.”   

 Valle grinned. “Howdy, pardner,” he said with a high pitch voice and a thick Filipino accent, which made the Americans laugh. 

“Duke, Duke, do your John Wayne impression,” Walker said. 

“Well, listen and listen good, Pilgrim,” Valle said as he pulled his cowboy hat down just above his eyes. 

Everyone laughed. It was the worst John Wayne impression Lorino had ever heard, but it was the funniest. Walker slapped the short bouncer on the back. 

“I love this guy.” 

As they were laughing at Valle’s John Wayne impression at the bar, a sailor and a Marine began punching and grappling with each other on the dance floor. The other servicemen and bar girls moved back as tables and chairs were knocked over by the two fighters. Lorino thought Valle less a comical figure when he saw the bouncer break up the fight. 

Valle easily pulled the two drunk servicemen apart. The two Americans looked down on the much shorter Valle and began throwing punches again. Valle kicked the sailor behind his left knee and the sailor fell to the floor. Valle threw his open right hand at the Marine’s throat, and he too fell to the floor. 

Valle reached down and grabbed both Americans in a head lock under each of his muscled arms. Speaking softly to them, he dragged the two kicking and screaming servicemen to the bar’s door and tossed them out into the street. 

The sailor and the Marine resumed fighting in the street until petty officers from the Navy shore patrol pulled up to the bar. They hopped out of their jeep and broke the two servicemen apart and placed them in handcuffs. The two inebriated combatants were tossed into a jeep and taken back to the Subic Bay base. 

After things settled down in the bar, Lorino pulled Walker aside and asked him if he could buy more shabu. 

“I was hoping you’d come back in,” Walker said. “I told “the Old Huk” about you and he wants to meet you. 

“Who? The Hook?” 

“The Old Huk, pronounced hook, but spelled H-U-K,” Walker explained. 

“Camama is the big boss around here. He was impressed with your beat-down of the two cops and the shooting of Reeinald. He wants to meet you.” 

Walker told Winston to stay at the bar and he beckoned a girl to come over to keep the petty officer company. He told Lorino to follow him and the two walked out of the Americano and into the hotel next door to the bar. They walked past the reception desk, and Walker knocked on the door of a back room. 

Walker and Lorino entered the back room and Lorino saw two Filipinos sitting on a couch. Walker introduced Lorino to Amado Camama, a small, elderly, and wizened man, who wore a white Barong Tagalog shirt with detailed embroidery and a mandarin collar. 

Walker introduced Lorino to Jackie Sicat, a young skinny career criminal with long black hair. Sicat wore flashy “mod” clothing from the 1960s and large sunglasses. Lorino’s first thought was that Sicat was trying too hard to appear as a tough guy gangster. He knew wannabe guys like this who posed as gangsters in South Philly. Lorino instantly respected the Old Huk, but he disliked Sicat on first sight. 

Sicat took a long drag on his cigarette and then told Lorino that the boss, who sat there impassively, liked his style. Reeinald Bulan, who was a Camama gang competitor, was confined to a wheelchair due to Lorino shooting him. 

“Those two cops you beat up work for us now,” Sicat said. “They no bother you no more, and you no bother them. Understand?” 

“Yeah, sure” Lorino replied. 

“You deal with the chief, and you only buy shabu with us. No one else,” Sicat said. “Got it?” 

“I got it,” Lorino said. 

They all shook hands and Walker and Lorino left the room. 

Back at the Americano, Walker told Lorino about Camama and Sicat. 

Walker explained to Lorino that Amado Camama, known in Olongapo as “the Old Huk,” was the leader of the Camama gang. The gang controlled most of the crime in Olongapo. They were into drug trafficking, extortion, black marketeering, and other crimes. Camama was both feared and respected. 

Walker said that Camama grew up in a rural village and joined the Hukbalahap, the Communist guerillas who fought the Japanese after they invaded and occupied the Philippines during World War II. Often armed only with a Bolo knife, Camama was an effective assassin. 

“What’s a Bolo knife,” Lorino asked Walker. 

Walker explained that the Bolo was a long knife with a curved blade that was similar to a machete and was a common tool, as well as a weapon, in the Philippines. 

Walker said that during World War II, Camama was sent out by the Communist guerilla group to murder selected Japanese soldiers, villagers who defied the Communists, and rival guerillas that were led and organized by Americans.   

After the war, Camama became a leader with the Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan, the Communist People’s Liberation Army, known as the Huks, who fought the Philippine Government. 

After the Huks were defeated by the Philippine government, with help from the United States, a fellow Huk guerilla named Oscar Sicat, who grew up in Olongapo, brought Camama back to the city with him. The two former Huks became feared armed robbers, and they later expanded their strongarm criminal activity and became a prominent organized crime group in Olongapo.     

The two gang leaders later had a falling out and Sicat’s teenage son Jackie sided with Camama against his own father. He volunteered to set up his father for Camama. When the elder Sicat met his son at a bar, Camama came out from the back of the bar and attacked his former partner in crime with a razor-sharp Bolo knife. The son sat there quietly as his father was hacked to death. 

Jackie Sicat rose in the Camama gang and became the Old Huk’s chief lieutenant. Camama, Walker told Lorino, was intelligent, prone to violence, good with a gun and a Bolo knife, and was totally ruthless. This skill set served Camama well as a Huk communist guerilla, and it served him well as he transitioned into a criminal gang boss. 

Lorino, Winston and a bar girl named Marie sat at a table, drinking and listening to the Americano’s country & western band. Marie, a perky, cherubic young woman, hugged Winston and giggled. Walker sat down at the table and called his wife over. He spoke into her ear. She smiled and walked away. She returned briefly with a tall, beautiful girl in tow. 

“This is Jade,” the mama-san said to Lorino. “She like you big-time.” 

“Oh, yeah? You wanna drink?” Lorino said as he pushed out a chair for the bar girl. 

Jade, dressed in a tight light blue dress, had long dark hair and an innocent pretty face, although she was a veteran hostess. She sat down next to Lorino as the mama-san called over a waiter. The waiter came over with beers for Walker and Lorino and a glass of whiskey for the girl. 

“I love you, no bullshit,” Jade said with a throaty laugh as she snuggled up to Lorino.

Her use of the oft repeated Olongapo bar girl phrase that Americans got a kick out of, made Lorino, Winston and Walker laugh.     

“Hey Jade,” Lorino said. “Like the Beatles’ song.” 

 “That was Hey Jude, Winston said. 

Lorino shrugged. “What’s the difference?” 

Although most young American sailors went wild over the pretty Filipinas in Olongapo, Lorino was more interested in business. He pursued his business opportunities rather than the company of bar girls. But now that he had secured a meth connection and began his drug dealing enterprise on the Kitty Hawk, he felt he could at last relax and have some fun with a bar girl. 

Later that evening, Lorino saw Sicat enter the bar with an entourage of four other Filipino gangsters. He’s acting like royalty, or a Cosa Nostra capo, Lorino thought to himself. The chief rushed up to Sicat and guided him and his cronies to a table at the rear of the bar. Walker hailed a waiter, and motioned to his wife, the mama-san, who was already rounding up girls to sit with Sicat and his associates. 

Lorino’s dislike for Sicat grew as he watched the little crime prince act like a big shot, a pezzonovante. He smiled to himself as he thought about smacking Sicat and knocking his sunglasses clear off his face. 

An hour or so later, a short and wiry Filipino police officer in uniform entered the bar, followed by the biggest Filipino Lorino had ever seen. The Filipino cops headed for Sicat’s table. 

“Who are they?” Lorino asked Walker. 

“That’s an Olongapo cop, Lieutenant Colonel Cesar Rosa and his sergeant,” Walker told Lorino. “Rosa’s the worst kind of cop – fucking honest.” 

“Yeah. We got some of those pricks in South Philly too.” 

Lorino initially thought the cops were there to collect bribes, but he chuckled to himself as he saw Sicat visibly upset as Rosa pointed his finger in the gang leader’s face. Rosa spoke harshly to him in Tagalog.

“Some big shot gangster,” Lorino scoffed. “Afraid of a cop, even if the cop is a pint-sized Frank Rizzo.” 

Lorino saw the puzzled look on Walker’s face. 

“Rizzo. He’s a big, tough son of a bitch South Philly cop who’s now the mayor of Philadelphia,” Lorino explained.        

As the bar was closing, Walker gave Lorino a key to a room in the Old Huk’s hotel next door to the Americano. Arm-in-arm, Lorino and Jade staggered to the hotel. He waved to the desk clerks in the hotel lobby, and they waved back. Lorino and Jade took the stairs to the second floor and to the room that the chief arranged for him. Once in the room, Lorino took Jade in his arms and pulled off her dress. They kissed and laid across the bed. 

In the morning, Lorino was famished. He wanted and American breakfast of bacon and eggs. Jade took him to a small cafe, and she ordered for the two them in Tagalog. Lorino sipped his hot coffee as the waiter laid down two plates. 

"What the fuck is this?"

“It’s Sinangag. It’s good. Eat it.” 

Lorino obeyed and dug in. Jade was right. Lorino loved the fried rice, scrambled eggs and garlic. 

After their fine meal, Lorino and Jade returned to the hotel room and laid about, smoking, drinking and having sex. Later that evening, Lorino and Jade left the hotel and went to the Americano, where they joined Winston and Belinda at a table.     

While Lorino, Jade, Winston and Belinda were drinking at the table, a Filipino walked into the bar and strode up to Walker, who was behind the bar. He spoke briefly to Walker and then turned around and walked out of the bar. Walker called Lorino over to the bar. 

“Let’s take a ride.” 

Walker and Lorino left the bar and saw a jeepney with Camama, Sicat and a short muscular bodyguard sitting in it. Walker and Lorino piled in the jeepney.

The jeepney drove from the Americano to a series of shacks located against the Olongapo River. They all climbed out of the jeepney and walked to the back of a shack where three Filipinos were waiting. The back was lit dimly from the lights from the shack. Two of the Filipinos held handguns and the third Filipino, a small and slim young man, stood there shaking and crying. 

Sicat brought out an old metal folding chair that had “Property of U.S. Navy” stenciled in black on the back. He opened the chair and Camama down and faced the crying man. Walker pulled Lorino back a bit and advised him to say and do nothing. 

The visibly upset Filipino began speaking in rapid Tagalog as Camama sat there with a grim face. The frightened Filipino then let out a forced laugh. 

“Remy is a dope,” Walker said in a whisper to Lorino. “His ass is on the line, and he just told a stupid joke.” 

Lorino noticed that no one laughed. 

Camama nodded and one of the Filipinos with a handgun stepped up behind Remy and shot him in the back of the head. He fell to his knees and then fell forward, his face splashing into the mud. Camama turned his head and looked directly at Lorino. 

“Now that is funny,” the Old Huk said in English. 

One of the Filipinos gunmen carried out an ice cooler from the shack and set it on the ground, not far from the dead body. The cooler, like the folding chair, had “Property of U.S. Navy” stenciled in black on it. The Filipino opened the cooler and handed out bottles of San Miguel. Lorino took one and Walker grabbed two for himself. 

“Remy tried to go over to Bulan’s gang,” Walker explained. “The Old Huk didn’t like that. This is how he shows his displeasure.” 

“Yeah, I got the point,” Lorino replied. 

Back at the Americano, Walker put his arm around Lorino as they stood at the bar. 

“You done good,” Walker said. “You didn’t react at all. The old Huk liked that.”

“I seen guys whacked before in South Philly,” Lorino replied and shrugged. “No biggy.” 

“You got a future with us, boy,” Walker said beaming with delight.

© 2023 By Paul Davis 

Note: You can read other chapters via the below links:

Paul Davis On Crime: Chapter One: Butterfly

Paul Davis On Crime: My Crime Fiction: 'Salvatore Lorino'

Paul Davis On Crime: My Crime Fiction: Join The Navy And See Olongapo

Paul Davis On Crime: My Crime Fiction: 'Boots On The Ground'

Paul Davis On Crime: My Crime Fiction: 'The 30-Day Detail'

Paul Davis On Crime: My Crime Fiction: 'Cat Street'

Paul Davis On Crime: Chapter 12: On Yankee Station

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