The Year of the Golden Pig 6
Out front, the Malay was alone, back to daydreaming about the unlikeliest of promotions. The Athlete had gone.
But she was outside, leaning into the driver’s window of a Toyota cab. I ran my eye over the taut muscles in her legs until they disappeared under the hem of her sun-dress.
- ‘Miss! Miss!’
She stood up, turned round sharply. The cab screeched off. She sprang towards me, like a big cat.
- ‘You interfering Pom! It took fifteen minutes to flag that down!’
- ‘You shouldn’t use the Toyotas, Miss.’
- ‘Typical bloke!’ She spat.
- ‘You’d be safer in a tri-shaw, Miss, even with the moped stink.’
- ‘It’s Ms.’
- ‘Or you could give me your name? People call me Marsh.’
- ‘Ms Keneally. Joyce Keneally. I needed that cab.’
- ‘I’ll give you a lift.’
- ‘That’s the least you can do.’ And I sincerely hoped it was.
- ‘Which car is it?’ She asked, chin jutting.
- ‘The black one, by the street lamp.’
- ‘The Snipe? The drop-head’s better. Still, beggars and so on.’
In the car, I tried not to look at her legs.
- ‘Where to?’
- ‘Paya Lebar.’
The airport: that was the afternoon gone. I’d ring Jen from there. Get her to log a case number and make something up.
- ‘No luggage?’
- ‘I’m going back to work.’
- ‘Doing what?’
- ‘If it’s any of your business, I work for the new airline, training cabin crew.’
- ‘Training Air Hostesses? Coffee, tea or… that sort of thing?’
- ‘I prefer Flight Attendants.’
She would, I thought. But she’d be fighting a losing battle: Singapore Airlines’ whole image revolved around the ‘Singapore Girls’; the impossibly beautiful faces on the hoardings and in the glossy magazines.
- ‘I heard, you know.’ She said. ‘You’re some sort of policeman, in the army.’
- ‘Don’t you want to know…?’ She broke off. I said nothing.
- ‘I was going to make a complaint. The eye. My boyfriend did it.’ I had made that assumption, despite the old military saying about making an ass out of you and me.
- ‘That… that… po-lice-man! Not interested. Just told me to wait there. Just hoped I would go away.’
- ‘You did.’
It wasn’t in me to tell her; that in his place I’d have done the same. We weren’t perfect in the RMP; I mean I’d have pursued assault with a deadly, or outright attempted murder, but wife-beating? There’d have been as many officers as enlisted in the guardhouse. That’s what ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ meant then.
- ‘I did, didn’t I’
We were silent for a few miles.
- ‘Who’s the boyfriend?’ I asked.
- ‘He’s like you. A soldier.’
- ‘Really, what’s his name? Maybe I know him.’
- ‘Major John Fitzpatrick, Royal New Zealand Air Force, out at Tengah; training Singapore fighter pilots.’
- ‘I could have a word. If you want…’
- ‘I don’t think his wife would like that.’
I dropped her at the Crew Training School, behind the freight terminal and drove over to arrivals to phone the office.
- ‘RMP DET, Liaison: Lance Corporal Diver, speaking, sir!’
- ‘Jen, it’s me. Cover for me, will you. Stick something in the log. Ta.’
- ‘What colour hair is it this time? Not another blonde?’
- ‘You’re not my type. Haven’t seen the Captain all day. Not like him. He’s got the company car. Didn’t even want me to drive.’
- ‘Don't worry about it, he's harmless! Thanks Jen.’
I needed time to think. Maybe I’d eat at Fat Albert’s tonight. Chinatown would be busy, full of paper dragons and fireworks. Would be until New Year was over. But Baudelaire had been there, maybe.
Back at Wing Wah’s I changed clothes. Piled three days of dirty washing on my bed, began checking the pockets; guarding against the probability that the laundry would do the same. I came across the photo of Baudelaire’s son and the business card. I backed into my cane chair, sat down. Try as I might, I could see nothing of the Quebecois businessman in the face of his son. I turned the photo over. Eight words in Malay that I couldn’t read - and a name, John. I turned the business card over.
Just like the one in Lee’s office, my details were on it.