The Year of the Golden Pig XVI
At 0900 hours, the door opened. It was Lee. He crooked a finger and laid another on his lips. I followed. We went along the straight, narrow passage in front of the holding cells. We reached the end. He held up his hand, then began winding the handle of the fire alarm. He battered the bar-release for the fire escape and lifted his eyebrows, darted his eyes towards the outside.
Maybe I should’ve stayed put. I ran. Straight to the perimeter fence. I skirted it, hoping to sneak out in the mayhem of the Fire Drill. Perhaps Lee had already started a fire for authenticity. People were acting like sheep, as they always do in these situations. No doubt there were evacuation procedures on every office wall. But who would read those? Usually just one person: the one the sheep were following. Luckily most eyes were on him or the building itself. I strolled out of the gate towards the road.
I flagged a taxi down: Crown, too bad - needs must - even if the Devil is driving.
- ‘Jurong. Take me to a phone-box first.’ I snapped.
The driver grinned.
- ‘The Bird Park is nice, this time of year. Many lucky omens to bring good joss at New Year.’
- ‘Just drive.’ I said.
We stopped at a red-light: I spotted a ‘phone;
- ‘Wait at the other side of the junction after the change.’
I called Jen, at the office.
- ‘It’s me. Meet me at Jurong. Don’t say my name.’
- ‘You have the wrong number caller.’ She paused. ‘Yes, that’s right one zero three zero.’
At least I knew when to expect her. It was 09.15, she’d get there a half hour after me. The driver had parked on the other side of the crossroads. He smiled as I got in the passenger seat, but said nothing and drove smoothly off.
I looked over at the driver. He was vaguely familiar. And no, all the Chinese did not look the same. I thought about the mess I was in; wondered why I was on the loose, what the hell Lee was up to. Then I dozed, until the driver dropped me off at the Jurong Bird Park entrance. I paid him, doubled the fare with the tip.
- ‘Good luck, Lawman.’ He said.
I watched the tourist buses and taxis unloading a steady stream of Japanese and Americans desperate to see the bright birds of the island paradise. I hoped they wouldn’t be disappointed; the best and most colourful were notoriously camera-shy. I lit a State Express and waited for Jenny Diver…
…Who pulled up in a drop-head Camaro, it was signal red.
- ‘Jen, I’ve just escaped from Police custody, we can’t…’
- ‘We can, Marsh. This car is known to every policeman and crook on the island. It’s Tally’s car, and we’re driving it to Little Bangkok. You haven’t said you like my outfit.’ She laughed.
She looked different, alright. Gold cheong-sam and high-heeled sandals. Make-up.
- ‘Looks nice, Jen but are we going to a cocktail party or the damned clinic?’
- ‘You don’t think I’ll pass for Tally at a distance, then?’
She would have and I felt dumb. Not for the first time.
- ‘Lets go, the clinic is around the corner.'
We drove off in the carmine convertible. I wondered if the camouflage would work.