The Year of the Golden Pig 5
Lee looked at me and waited. His slick-head hair-do looked painted on. If he thought the look flattered him, he was one letter out. He had the pockmarks many of the Singaporeans aged around 40 had. Progress hadn’t been quite quick enough for them. Their children would be luckier, at least as far as their looks went. He kept the flat-eyed gaze on me, but picked up the business card and reeled off the information on it. He had it by heart already. And, since he also had my number, I decided to talk, rather than wait it out.
- ‘What’s this about?’ a poor opening, really.
- ‘ Is it not obvious Mr Law?’ he enquired. ‘ It would be, what is it? A dereliction of duty, if I did not interview a man whose name and number were found on a murder victim, hmm?’
- ‘ OK, I met this man. But he gave me his card. I told him my name, that’s all’
-‘Really, Mr Law? We have witnesses who saw you drinking with this man. Friends drink together, not acquaintances, especially not in Bugis Street.’
This was disingenuous and he knew it. I let it slide.
- ‘What witnesses?’
- ‘Muffadets’, he said.
The Singlish word, a corrupton of the English ‘hermaphrodites’, showed what he thought of the witnesses from Bugis Street. I wondered how they had been persuaded to make a statement, and who they were.
- ‘So, how long have you known this man?’
- ‘I don’t… didn’t know him.’ I wasn’t going to volunteer anything. This was an informal interview; there were no uniforms in the room, in case things got nasty.
- ‘Where did you go, after Bugis Street?’ he asked, he hooded his eyes. He looked like a cartoon oriental.
- ‘Tanglin? Or the tailor’s?’
- ‘I think you know the answer.’
- ‘But we don’t Mr Law, we don’t. We found other things with Mr Baudelaire. Business cards: a club and a restaurant. You know Tokyo Rose’s, of course. And everyone knows Fat Albert’s. One of our most famous restaurants, I don’t like it myself. Too many Gwailos.’
I looked blank.
- ‘Excuse me: white ghosts or foreign devils. You have no Cantonese, Mr Law? A disadvantage, in your line, hmm?’
- ‘I went to Tokyo Rose’s. Baudelaire didn’t.’
- ‘Or not with you, you’re telling me?’ He sounded sympathetic. Sympathy for the foreign devil, I thought.
Of course, I had a witness to confirm this. But if I gave Harry Wilson up, he wouldn’t be in Singapore - or the Air Force - long. They might wear his peculiar nocturnal habits, but getting mixed up in a murder enquiry was another matter. I did a stupid thing. I kept Harry out of it.
- ‘That’s right,’ I said.’
Lee gathered up the ‘photo and the card.
- ‘Well, thank you, Mr Law. You have been most co-operative.’
This was news to me. Lee stood. No hand was offered. As he held the door open, he added:
- ‘We might have to interview you more formally, if we thought you were investigating this matter without authority, Mr Law. N.O.B. hey?’
This time his laugh was sincere, if vindictive.