The Year of the Golden Pig XVIII
I looked at Jen, willing her to keep her trap shut.
‘The name, Doctor, the name.’ She hissed.
But he wasn’t to be rushed. He spoke as though Jenny hadn’t.
‘ Patient presented with Klinefelter’s Syndrome. No retardation. Absence of testes. Obvious feminization.’
He looked at me, for a second. Jenny whispered, as if to herself:
This time I was impatient.
‘Quite so. Jane or John Douglas MacArthur.’
‘You’re kidding?’ I snorted.
‘I’m not. Perhaps the patient was. I have no way of knowing.’
‘How did he pay for the operations?’
‘I deal in cash here, Inspector.’
‘Where would he get that kind of money?’
‘Don’t be naïve! Why do you think they ‘work’ on Bugis Street? To pay back their “kindly sponsors”, of course.’
‘He wasn’t really known on Bugis.’
‘And how would you know that, Inspector?’
‘Why does someone come here?’ I asked. Jenny rolled her eyes.
‘What do you mean, Inspector? To Little Bangkok, or..?’
‘The operation. I mean…’
‘Some people feel trapped. Some have medical grounds for this, like MacArthur. But in Singapore, everyone must have very strong reasons. You’ve noticed the attitude of the Police?’
I nodded. The doctor went over to a bookcase crammed with great slab-like books, took one and began riffling through the pages.
‘It’s a Manual of Psychiatry, Inspector. Look at the first entry on the page.’
I squinted at the tiny print. Read it aloud:
‘KORO: A culture specific syndrome of China involving fear of retraction of penis into abdomen with the belief that this will lead to death.’
‘I have no such phobias of course. I find the kathoey merely pathetic, although lucrative, of course.’
‘Doctor, doctor, look at me!’ Jen was insistent. He ignored her.
She grabbed his lapels and - utterly unhindered by the cheongsam - jerked her knee quite forcefully into his groin. He slid to the floor, when she loosed her grip on his jacket.
‘Come on,’ I said, but I didn’t grab her elbow, just jerked my head toward the exit.
Jenny cooled off in the driver’s seat with one of her posh ciggies, blowing the smoke skyward like a red-indian sending signals.
‘How come you didn’t grill him about the Canuck?’
‘Didn’t need to, in the end.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Oh, he’d been there, alright. I recognised the floor: once you’d put the Doctor on it. It’s the one Baudelaire was lying on in the photograph.’
‘Are you going to give this to Lee?’ She studied my face.
‘What for? He already knows. He let me out remember. And why do you think the Clinic is “temporarily closed”?’
‘So where does this get us?’ She sighed.
‘I’m not sure.’
‘Bloody hell, Marsh! What are we going to do?’
‘I’m going to talk to Jimmy Chang. See if I can’t find out how things stand. If I’ve even been charged, I don’t hear any sirens, do you?’
‘You get back to work this afternoon. Set up a meeting for me with Jimmy: Haw Par Villa. Tell him I’ll see him in Hell.’
‘Tiger Balm Gardens? Marsh, you are weird.’
But she smiled at last and started up the motor.