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Wicked Schemes


Gabi top (Microsoft Bing Image Creator)
"As he was forcibly led by the collar, his gaze met mine,
and I realised he had recognised me" (Microsoft Bing Image Creator)

Gabi coverTaken from Papuan Vagabond: A Collection of Short Stories by Duncan Gabi, independently published, June 2023. Paperback, 80 pages. ISBN-13: ‎979-8396667426. Available here from Amazon Books for $A13.78

WEWAK - I stood on the bustling streets of Six Mile, Port Moresby, gazing at the vibrant scene unfolding before me.

I was drawn to the Bangladeshi shop, which serving as a landmark near the PMV stop that marked the final set-down for PMVs from the Magi Highway as they prepared to continue their journey to remote villages.

I stood in front of the shop, my mind filled with wicked schemes while I bought a loose cigarette from the market table near the shopfront.

As I raised my gas lighter to the cigarette, a PMV from Kupiano pulled into a parking space in front of me.

Seizing the opportunity, I hastily lit my cigarette, my eyes fixed on the truck as it came to a halt.

The passengers gradually disembarked, their movements catching my attention.

While they descended from the vehicle, I carefully observed them, profiling them in search of my next potential customer and victim.

Among the passengers, a young man in his twenties caught my eye. He sported a pair of faded jeans, with one leg stylishly folded up to reveal his knee cap.

His attire included a Bob Marley shirt and a wool cap, unmistakable signs of his affiliation with the cannabis culture. It was rather easy to identify marijuana enthusiasts through their choice of clothing.

I shadowed his every move, maintaining my position in front of the Bangladeshi shop.

The young man approached a buai (betel nut) table and purchased some nuts and cigarettes.

Meanwhile, I discarded my cigarette butt and casually approached him with my hands nonchalantly resting in my pockets.

When I reached him, I initiated a conversation about the sunny weather, subtly introducing the topic of my illicit trade.

“Hey, I got some stuff if you wanna score some weed,” I murmured, still keeping my hands in my pockets.

Initially, he pretended not to hear me and continued chewing his buai, but as he lit his cigarette, sensing an opportunity, I repeated my offer, “I said, do you want some good weed? Genuine Goroka stuff, strong and potent.”

As he took a deep drag from his cigarette, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a K5 note. "Give me five packs," he uttered and I discreetly slipped five packs of weed into his open palm, careful not to draw any attention.

Now, I must clarify that I was not actually a weed dealer. You see, during those days back in 2012 and before, bus stops in Port Moresby had become hotspots for criminal activities.

To combat this, the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) had established small police stations, known as ‘cop shops’, at various bus stops across the city. These were typically staffed by two or three police officers or reservists

These cop shops, constructed from 10-foot shipping containers, housed a small office space and a cell for detaining petty criminals before transferring them to proper police stations. Each cop shop was.

On that particular morning, my friend from Simbu and I were selling flash drives to PMV passengers when the police officers stationed at the 6 Mile bus stop called us into their cop shop.

Little did we know that the cops harboured their own wicked scheme, intending to exploit us for financial gain.

They handed each of us five packs of weed, instructing us to sell them to unsuspecting passengers.

The plan was simple: once someone purchased the drugs, we were to report back to the cops providing detailed descriptions and the vehicle they were on.

The officers would then arrest the buyers, charging them with drug possession. Using the threat of jail time, they would negotiate their release by demanding exorbitant fines or bail payments.

So, after the young man had acquired the weed, I hurried back to the cop shop and informed the officers about his purchase.

I provided a comprehensive description of him and the vehicle he boarded. Two cops immediately sprung into action, leaving the third officer behind.

Since I had sold all five packs of weed, I had nothing incriminating on me. Therefore, I returned to my spot in front of the shop, eagerly anticipating the unfolding events.

I watched intently as the unsuspecting victim was approached by the officers and instructed to empty his pockets.

A crowd began to gather, curious about the commotion. To their astonishment, the police discovered the five packs of weed I had sold to the young man.

Anger flared within the police and they started slapping him around, the crowd growing to witness the spectacle.

Finally, the officers dragged him into the cop shop, accompanied by his concerned fellow passengers from the PMV.

As he was forcibly led by the collar, his gaze met mine, and I realised he had recognised me.

In a desperate attempt to protect himself, he broke free from the cops' grasp and pointed at me, shouting, "He's the one! This guy sold me drugs!"

The entire crowd turned towards me, some joining the chorus urging the officers to arrest me as well.

I froze, unsure of how to react. Even the cops seemed caught off guard.

Then an officer strode toward me and seized me by the collar. Just before he unleashed his fury, he said, “pretend to feel pain when I hit you".

Accomplices in this wicked scheme, we found ourselves trapped in an awkward predicament.

As he began to slap me, I feigned pain, pleading for him to stop.

The cops swiftly dragged both of us into the cop shop, forcefully locking us inside the cell. They wrote some sort of report, all while the crowd—some now inside the premises, others peering through the window, watched with great interest.

An elderly individual, presumably related to the victim, approached the officer manning the desk, inquiring about the charges.

The desk cop, who was a reservist, cleared his throat and began reciting different sections of the criminal code. He didn’t appear to understand them but he told the elderly man that drug possession carried serious consequences, including potential jail time.

However, he offered a glimmer of hope: the cops could release the suspect if his people paid a specific amount as a fine before his official transport to a local police station, where formal arrest procedures would take place.

The man's village folk murmured among themselves, ultimately pooling together a total of K350 to secure the drug buyer's freedom.

The officers grumbled, deeming the amount inadequate. Yet, after a moment's consideration, they reluctantly accepted it and released the guy.

He rejoined his village people, their relieved faces tinged with disapproval of his reckless action. Meanwhile, the officers discreetly observed everyone boarding the PMV, which eventually departed on its journey to the village.

Once the PMV was out of sight, the other officer unbolted the jail door, setting me free. Reaching into his pocket, he withdrew a K50 note and handed it to me.

However, the amount fell short of my expectations, and I demanded more.

Incensed, he retorted, "Isn't K50 enough? Are you asking for trouble?"

Frustrated, I threatened to report their misdeeds to their commanding officers, prompting the three cops to respond with threats of violence. They warned that if I exposed their actions, they would beat me mercilessly.

Realizing that I wouldn't be satisfied with the K50, they begrudgingly added another K20. With fast and easy cash in hand, I left the scene, haunted by the faces of the poor individuals we had deceived and robbed in broad daylight.

As I reflect on that regretful day, I can't help but feel a deep sense of remorse for being entangled in the wicked schemes of those corrupt cops.

The memory of the innocent citizens of Papua New Guinea whom we exploited and deceived continues to weigh heavily on my conscience.


Duncan Gabi

Duncan Gabi dedicates the 18 stories in Papuan Vagabond to his beloved son. "This book is lovingly dedicated to you. May its pages ignite a passion for books within your heart, just as they have within mine. As you embark on the beautiful journey of life, may you glean valuable insights from my experiences, learning from both my triumphs and my trials. May this dedication be a constant reminder that books hold the power to transport you to unimaginable worlds, expand your horizons, and shape the person you become."


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