The Year of the Golden Pig 9
There was light inside, but only just: everything looked dirty. But maybe that wasn’t the light. I scanned the room for my business: lucky. Sunday night, early – not even Harry Wilson was in. Jen took the stage in at a glance and lifted an eyebrow at me.
- ‘Bar.’ I took her elbow. She shook me off.
- ‘I can’t find my arse with both hands, either!’
I ordered a malt and a coke. Jen shook her head. The barman brought a malt and a Chinese tea.
- ‘Where’s Hirohito? I want a word.’
The barman ignored me. Jenny spoke four or more words. Of something. Mandarin? The guy turned and smiled. Bowed. She spoke again. I just stared at her.
- ‘I was brought up in Hong Kong, Marsh. It’s no big deal. I can get by, that’s all.’
- ‘And you’re a WRAC clerk.’
- ‘They wanted me to be an MT driver, I told them to stuff it.’
- ‘You could be a spook in the Commission.’
- ‘Even the RAF haven’t got any women doing those jobs. Besides I wouldn’t want someone like you rifling my laundry.’ She laughed and took some of the bitterness out of it.
- ‘Not back to Hong Kong, then? On discharge?’
- ‘My dad’s still there.’
Hirohito came out. Short,stocky,wearing pebble glasses. Harry Wilson had told me that it was a wind-up for the Yanks; that the lenses were clear. He wore a good suit. But it had been a good suit for a long time. No tie. Roughhouse brawlers would grab it in a dust-up, and so would I.
-‘Yao Zong.’ Mr Yao: this was Jen. ‘We speak English, please, for my colleague, yes?’
Zao looked at me and nodded, once.
- ‘Of course. You have the advantage, Miss…’
- ‘Diver. Jenny Diver. This is Mr Law.’
He gave a second nod.
- ‘What can I do for you?’
I took out my notebook. Baudelaire was reduced to cryptic fragments on a single page. Male, Quebec. 50s ?. Out of condition. Fighter’s knuckles. Good clothes, bad shoes. Thinning brylcreemed hair, blue eyes. Expensive teeth. I translated it into something like English.
- ‘Yes, I saw him. He was looking for you. He spoke to Harry. Harry Wilson. Approached a couple of the girls and left. Didn’t see a dish he liked, one supposes.’
- ‘Anything else?’
- ‘Just that you are a person of interest to many, Mr Law. Why is that, I wonder? And for Senior Station Inspector Lee to come personally … well. Are you due for repatriation soon? Have you made your fortune? The Golden Pig is leaving: fortunes are made and lost before the Pig passes. The New Year is a time for travel.’
I’d have been sick if I’d eaten that many fortune cookies.
- ‘If that’s all, Mr Law…’
- ‘It’s all, Mr Yao, but it’s not much. Let’s go Jen.’
We stood outside. It was a dead-end. I didn’t even know where the body had been found. Maybe I’d leave it after all.
Jen was looking over at another bright sign above a shadowy door.
- ‘Maybe he went there.’ I said.
- ‘Trust me, he didn’t.’
- ‘How do you know?’
- ‘Look at the sign.’ It read ‘Bankhead’s’.
- ‘I’ve never seen him there, OK.’
- ‘Good enough.’
- ‘We’ll go in, Marsh. There’s someone I need to see. Just keep your mouth shut. Afterwards, too.’