TOO MUCH INFORMATION
Ben arrived in the office early, with a heavy heart. He was not looking forward to telling the boys, and Dylan especially, that he had failed in his mission. He made himself a cup of coffee and sat down to read the papers as usual. He noted that the Chinese Premier Jiang Zemin was visiting Hong Kong today, and security was very tight. Fifteen more Falun Gong members had been arrested in the mainland in the past week. Ben was no activist, but he did have Hong Kong’s freedoms at heart. He hoped the protesters would make a lot of noise. He looked up as Patty was first in at 9.00am.
“Morning, Mr. McCann. Did you have a good evening?” she said. Ben looked at her suspiciously, did she know anything? He would not have put it passed her.
“Yes thank you, Patty, an early night for me.” Patty smirked. Ben turned his attention to the paper again. A few minutes later Dylan entered.
“My God”, said Ben, “do you know it’s before 10.00am? Are you ill?”
“Very funny. Actually, it’s a big day for Dylan-World, somebody may be putting HK$20 million into AEL today. We could be millionaires by 5.00pm.”
“Excellent”, said Ben, without believing a word.
“What happened last night?” asked Dylan. Ben told him the story, beginning with the French onion soup and finishing with Mandy’s spirited lovemaking.
“I mean about the documents.” Ben reluctantly related what had happened.
“Right, let’s issue the discovery application today”, said Dylan. “It’s not as easy as that.”
“Look, she may be your girlfriend, but we have to do it!” Dylan was shouting now.
“Yes, I agree, but we still need that affidavit to be checked by Richard. I’ll call Jacob.”
“Alright”, said Dylan, slightly mollified. Ben actually did think the application was necessary, but he wondered what effect this would have upon his relationship with Mandy. He told himself that he couldn’t worry about that. He picked up the phone and called Jacob, who agreed to have the draft ready by lunchtime. Ben put down the phone to see Dylan frowning at him.
“Look, now what? I’ve just called Jacob, what more do you want me to do?”
“No, it’s not that. I’m sure our telephones are bugged.”
“Yes, I’m almost positive. Notice when you pick up the phone, and when you’re about to put it down, there’s a clicking sound. That was never there before.”
“Is it? Think about it. Not only are we in the middle of litigation with the Government in a multi-million dollar case, the corruption we think took place could ruin careers of many high-ranking officials, if we spill the beans. The Government can’t afford to lose this case. They’ll stop at nothing.”
“Unauthorised tapping of phones is illegal, Dylan. It’s very unlikely.”
Dylan shook his head. “I’m calling Stan Baxter. He’ll confirm one way or another.”
Ben was sure this was nonsense, but he agreed that Stan was the man for the job. A former Hong Kong police officer, originally from Glasgow, Stan had left the force voluntarily after an incident in an interview room had led to the mysterious death of a rape suspect. It was said that he left before he was pushed. He was lucky enough to receive his full pension, with which he started his own detective agency, and he had been relatively successful. Stan was an expert in surveillance and bugging, and the firm had used his services on numerous occasions. Built like a brick-shit house, Stan was not a man to be trifled with.
The rest of the day passed peacefully as Dylan surfed the Asian porn sites and Ben struggled to draft statements in a personal injury action. Stan arrived at the office at 5.00pm as promised, breathing heavily. Stan could be described as fat. He was also over six foot three inches tall. As usual, he had not bothered to dress up for the occasion. A white t-shirt just about covered his ample stomach, and the remnants of his curry lunch were plain to be seen.
“Alright, young sirs, here you’ve got a problem”, he said in his broad Glasweigan accent, which had not mellowed at all during his 25 years away from his home town. “No problems, I’ll sort it out for you. Just give me a couple of hours, I’ll have an answer for you.”
“Cheers, Stan, how’s the missus?” said Dylan.
“She’s still up to no good, Mr. Roberts, still spends all me money, shouldn’t have married her.” Dylan and Ben smiled, his wife was in fact a gorgeous Filipina with a heart of gold, and he would never leave her in a million years. This was a standard Baxterism.
“OK Stan, we’ve got to see someone anyway, give us a call later tonight”, said Dylan. Stan belched his agreement as Dylan and Ben left the office. They had in fact agreed to meet a solicitor friend for a quick drink, namely Bill Haley, who was always a source of good gossip. They met him in Mad Dogs bar in Central, a British-style bar full of expats. Bill was already on his third pint when they arrived. Bill was in fact an excellent civil lawyer who ran his own small firm as a sole practitioner, and had been in Hong Kong even longer than Ben. Heavy set and swarthy, he would win no beauty contest, but was mysteriously popular with the woman, for reasons Ben could never fathom. Bill was soon into his swing.
“It’s true, I tell you, Tommy Lester’s having an affair with Judge Campbell’s wife!”
“Come off it, Bill, she’s about fifty years old, man!” said Dylan.
“He’s like a ferret, old Tommy, he’ll have anything that moves”, chuckled Bill.
“Are you involved at the moment, Bill?” asked Ben.
“I’ll tell you what, Ben, I was down the New Makati last Friday, I picked up these two Filipina girls. I thought they must be on the game, but they weren’t, they were just horny maids. Took them home, amazing stuff. Trouble is, I think they’ve given me a touch of the clap. I literally wet myself on the MTR this morning, I couldn’t help it, the doctor says it’s a touch of UTI, whatever that is. I shouldn’t be drinking, I’m on the antibiotics.” Dylan and Ben were helpless with laughter.
“Serves you right, Bill, use a johnny next time”, said Dylan.
“Ah, you know as well as me Dylan, it’s not the same”, said Bill. And so the night went on, as Bill related the sexual secrets of the Hong Kong legal fraternity. Dylan was on his fifth pint when he winked at Ben.
“You know, Bill, you and Tommy Lester are not the only ones getting it. My partner here has fallen in love.”
“No!” laughed Bill. Ben glared at Dylan. He did not mind laughing at others’ expense, but he did not want big mouth Haley knowing about his love life. Dylan saw the glance but continued.
“Yeah, we’ve got this big case on against the Government, and Ben thought it would be a good idea to impregnate the Government lawyer. She is lovely, though, this Mandy bird.”
Bill’s face changed, his jaw dropped. “What, not Mandy Lam?” “Yes, so what?” said Ben, testily. “You don’t know?” said Bill. “Know what?” said Dylan.
“Come on, Ben, she’s notorious! She’s been to bed with half of the lawyers in Hong Kong! She doesn’t do it for the sake of it either, it’s part of the job to her. She won’t sleep with you unless you can do something for her. A mate of mine had an affair with her a couple of years ago, when his firm was suing the Government. He told her things he shouldn’t have done during pillow talk, and they lost the case because of it. He was sacked by his firm weeks later. She’s bad news, Ben.”
Ben looked at Bill incredulously. A well of anger rose up inside him.
“I’m not a twenty year old, Bill, I know what I’m doing. I hardly know her anyway, it’s not as if I’m in love with her.” Even as he said this, Ben knew he may be lying to himself.
“I know, Ben, just be careful, that’s all.”
Ben fumed inwardly for the rest of the hour they spent together. He didn’t believe a word of what Bill said, he was so full of shit anyway. Bill left before 10.00pm to catch his last boat home, leaving Ben and Dylan to finish their pints.
“I’m not being funny, Ben”, said Dylan, “but perhaps you should cool it with Mandy. I’m hardly one to give advice, I know, but she could land us all in trouble.”
Ben made no reply. He did not trust himself to speak. At that moment Dylan’s mobile phone went off. He answered it, and chatted for a couple of minutes. It was clearly not good news.
“What’s the matter?” said Ben.
Dylan stared at him. “That was Stan. He found a bug in every phone in the office.”