Flanked by Anthony and Thiagu his personal secretary, Thana walked out of the restaurant to his BMW 7-series personal car driven up a minute earlier and double parked facing the restaurant entrance.
As a community based politician Thana had to oblige the staring Indian shoppers with at least an acknowledging smile or wave of his right hand. Because of this unavoidable political manoeuvre he had nowadays let down his self-protective guard and left it to his aides to keep a close look out for any danger or possible threats to his life.
Besides he was advised by his ex-model wife, Asha to forego his shifty-eyeing habit, she said was like a predator always on the lookout for danger and adopt a more pleasant and endearing countenance befitting a politician. She also put him through a twice weekly facial treatment and was even contemplating plastic surgery to remove the scars on his face. Asha couldn’t wait to see her husband’s rise up to the party leadership with her installed the community’s first lady.
He always had at least two gang members serving as his personal outriders whose task it was to mingle among the crowd and watch over his arrival and exit. While throwing glances to the right and left to acknowledge the public as he exited the restaurant Thana caught sight of the two outriders near the shopfronts on both sides of the restaurant. It gave him a sense of relief.
The renegade gang had recently gained notoriety for its lethal roving band of hired guns whose exploits were constantly making headlines in the local newspapers and Thana recently got word he could be a prime target.
Quickly getting into the back passenger seat Thana placed his suitcase on the seat as Anthony shut the car door and Thiagu got into the front passenger seat. As the car revved up to join the fast moving traffic on the city centre bound lane, Thana instinctly turned his view to the right side window and saw a motorcycle flit across his view. His trained eye had noticed the rider of the powerful 250cc bike shooting a glance at his car as the machine passed his view. Another fact Thana noted was that both the motorcycle rider and his pillion rider wore full-faced helmets and his sharp eyes also noted the long pointed beards sticking out beneath the helmet. The pillion rider was in fact slowly pulling at the point of his thin beard and twisting it with the lean fingers of his left hand which was covered up to the wrist by his windbreaker.
On full alert mode, Thana bent forward to his driver and gave quick instructions to take the next turn before the traffic light although he could not see the suspicious looking motorcycle anywhere in the view spanning the front windscreen. His outriders one in front and one at the back were however close by.
Within 20 seconds the black BMW had turned left and was moving smoothly down the narrow two lane road lined with terrace houses. Thana nervously fingered the Beretta 92 semi-automatic pistol lying in a special pouch behind the coat pocket, sitting sideways in the seat as his eyes jerked all around, from the front and the back windscreens and left and right windows. Only his back outrider was behind the car and Thana could see the youth push his mobile phone into the left side of his crash helmet and begin jabbering away frantically.
Thiagu had his pistol drawn and resting in readiness on his lap as he too closely surveyed the path traversed by the car. His notoriety as Thana’s right hand man was non incidental for he had grown up with his boss in the same dump of the hospital workers’ quarters and regarded himself as Thana’s understudy aspiring to learn every one of the latter’s street savvy tricks. He also secretly aspired very much to emulate Thana’s rise to political power and personal wealth. Not to mention an eye for Asha’s college going sister, Nisha who was a mirror image of her well settled sibling.
The driver, Sarath was quiet and focussed on his task of speeding through the narrow road where an occasional cyclist or motorcyclist would suddenly appear from the side lanes along the rows of houses forcing him to jam on his brakes or make acute swerves to avoid the two-wheelers. Sarath, a civil servant who drove Thana’s official government vehicle, was moonlighting as his boss’ personal driver on request. Thana had full faith in the loyalty, integrity and excellent driving skills of the 45-year-old Kerapi-born father of three young children.
A short distance before the right turn to the road leading to the Sentul Pasar road, Sarath was forced to jam the brakes as a motorcycle shot out from a side road there. Only when the car ground to a halt did Thana who had his pistol in his hands notice that the motorcyclist was his front outrider. But the moment of relief was short lived as a bullet shattered the rear windscreen of the car and another penetrated the left window.
Thana felt a sharp pain as a bullet grazed his left shoulder and his driver let out a cry. Sarath’s head slumped onto the steering wheel and the car jerked forward squarely hitting the front outrider who was just turning his machine to take the lead in the convoy again.
As the car stalled, Thiagu rushed outside and began firing at a motorcycle that was roaring away behind their car. A short distance away from the rear of the car was lying the rear outrider’s motorcycle and his motionless body lay in a pool of blood nearby.