Chapter 27


Hong Kong - Saturday December 21st, 1996




It was after 8:00 when BJ returned to his flat. As he unlocked the door he heard the phone ringing and caught it before it stopped.

          ‘Sir, Sergeant Wong.’

          BJ heard the tense note in the young man’s voice. ‘What is it, Jimmy?’

          ‘Report from Silver Moon, sir, top stuff. I can’t say over the phone.’

          ‘Write it up and meet me at the safe house tomorrow. Will it wait until then?’

          Jimmy hesitated, then said, ‘Yes. Nothing you can do about it tonight, sir.’

          BJ could hear music and squeals in the background. ‘Where are you?’

          ‘Wanchai, sir, the Good Luck Dragon. I don’t want to risk being overheard here.’

          ‘Off you go, then. Watch out for the bar girls.’

          Jimmy chuckled. ‘I’ll be home late as it is and Sylvia will tear strips off me. I promised to be early. Goodnight, sir.’

          He rang off and went out to where his motor bike was parked, jammed in with a flock of others. He extricated it and headed down Gloucester Road to join the heavy traffic which edged past street vendors cooking dim sums and kebabs for the passers-by, and pedestrians who spilled into the street to detour around pavement booths selling jewellery and souvenirs, cheap clothes and knick-knacks. Brightly coloured double-decker trams and buses and endless cars crammed the street.

          A large black motor bike slipped from the shelter of a bus and settled into the lane behind Jimmy. A cacophony of horns sounded as the cars vied for space.

          Dicing with a couple of taxis, Jimmy shot around the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club and into the Cross Harbour Tunnel.

          Sylvia would be ropeable, but he was going to deliver the goods, all right. BJ had been right all along. Wait until he got Jimmy’s report. He’d make it up to Sylvia somehow, but he’d have to stay up tonight until it was done.


Sylvia lay in bed, unable to sleep, her eyes staring up at the dark ceiling patterned by the red and green lights of a flashing neon sign in the street below. Her face was stained and swollen from the long and passionate bout of tears she’d indulged in as soon as she’d reached the privacy of her own home. Her mouth was dry and her throat ached; her eyes felt heavy and stung a little, even though she’d splashed cold water on them to cool them.

          She’d left Chloe at Wanchai and caught the MTR part-way home, linking with her bus which had seemed to take forever to get to her district. She hadn’t felt in the least like food. After her very thorough cry, which had kept her busy for some time, she’d dragged herself to bed, her world in tatters.

          Jimmy was tired of her. Tired of her complaining and nagging. She’d been a terrible wife, and selfish. It was all her fault that he’d turned away from her.

          Earlier, she’d laughed at Chloe’s concern. ‘Jimmy’s on a special case. He’s done a lot of work in the Wanchai district; that woman will simply be one of his contacts.’ She’d forced a confident note. ‘Don’t worry for me, Chloe, Jimmy would never look at another girl. He doesn’t fool around.’ She’d made an excuse to leave, promising to keep in touch.

          By herself, she didn’t feel so sanguine. I shouldn’t have defied him over Jenny, given him a hard time, she thought. That Silver Moon is beautiful, trained to be charming, please a man. What have I done? I’ll be in disgrace with my mother, the laughing-stock of my friends. How Wanda will gloat. What am I going to do?

          She stiffened as she heard Jimmy’s key in the lock. She heard him enter the cramped living room, hang up his coat and helmet, put his briefcase on the table.

          ‘Sylvia?’ His voice was low. A shaft of light angled across the bed as he opened the door to their room. She lay quietly, making her breathing deep and even. Her heart thudded painfully against her ribs. Jimmy spoke her name again but she didn’t move; finally he shut the door. She heard him making himself a coffee, then the familiar squeak of his favourite chair.

          He was writing a report, then he’d come to bed. She’d pretend to be fast asleep. How could she stand him touching her, after he’d been with that woman?

          A long time later the bedroom door opened again and Jimmy came in. He got ready for bed without turning on the light, as quietly as he could so as not to wake his wife. Then he slid into bed beside her.

          ‘Sylvia, are you awake?’

          She didn’t answer. After a while he turned on his side, away from her and, tired out, dropped into a deep sleep.

          Sylvia listened to his slow, regular breathing until she was quite sure. Then she slipped noiselessly from the bed and crept to the door. Inching it quietly open, she escaped into the living room.



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