NO WAY OUT
Dylan looked at his watch. It was still pitch dark in the container, but his watch was luminous. 10.00am, Tuesday morning. Ben should be in court at this time, he thought. He was cold, hungry, and rather frightened. What would Ben do? He tried to put himself in Ben’s position. He would have to apply to come off the record. Surely he wouldn’t have called the police? Perhaps Stan was on the case, but even Stan had his limitations.
He was still pondering this when he heard someone approach the container. Yes, the door was opening. Light flooded into the container until the door was closed again, and the torch switched on. Again, there was a number of men present, so far as he could make out.
“Good morning, Mr. Roberts. I trust you slept well.” It was the same well-spoken guy as before. “I have a little surprise for you. Say hello to your client, Mr. Baxter.”
“Stan!” exclaimed Dylan.
“Hello, Mr. Roberts” said Stan gloomily.
“Yes, some company for you over the next twenty-four hours or so. You will be interested to hear that Mr. McCann has not yet filed Notice of Discontinuance. In fact, he is in court as we speak on behalf of the Tang Clan. He has about thirty hours left to comply with our demand. I hope for your sake – and now that of Mr. Baxter – that he comes to his senses. Or else the firm will have to change it’s name. ‘McCann’s’ has rather a ring to it, don’t you think?”
He obviously translated this to his goons who burst out laughing.
“I am not a gangster, Mr. Roberts, no matter what you may think. I am a businessman. But I will stop at nothing to prevent the Tang Clan winning this case. You and Mr. Baxter are not indispensible. Anyway, look on the bright side, I’ve brought you some breakfast! Not quite Mandarin Grill standard, but good enough, I think. We’ll be back at around the same time tomorrow morning. Have a good day!”
The torch went out. The doors opened, and then shut again. Darkness.
“You haven’t got a gun, have you Stan? Or a blowtorch? Anything to get us out of here?”
“Afraid not, Mr. Roberts.”
“Well, you might as well go home, Stan”, said Dylan cheerfully. “This place frankly isn’t up to much.”
“Yes, shipping containers are clearly much overrated. I’m sorry about this.” He related his tale.
“So at least your men know who you are with, then.”
“Yes”, said Stan, “but I’ve got no idea where we are now. I spent the night tied up in the back of a car, blindfolded, before being driven here.”
“How long was your journey?” “About 15 minutes say.”
“Well, that may mean that we’re in one of the shipyards on the east coast, perhaps Yaumatei, or Tsing Yi.”
“Perhaps. Doesn’t do us much good knowing that, though”, said Stan. “Were in big trouble, sir. The good news for us is that Mr. McCann told me that he would be at court at 3.55pm tomorrow. If he has no word from you or me by that time, he will file the Notice.”
“I do have one piece of good news.”
“And what’s that?”
Stan fiddled with his watch. A strong beam of light suddenly burst forth, lighting up most of the room.
“My God, Stan! Anything else that watch can do?”
“Tell the time, that’s about it. I can tell you the time in Rio if you want.”
“No thanks, Stan. But at least we have light for our breakfast.”
Ben spent the afternoon doing some research on Tyler’s bail application. He also prepared the Brief to Counsel for Richard Yap, who had agreed to take the case gratis as a friend of the firm, although criminal law was not his speciality. Ben thought that Richard may be given some face as a senior barrister. The application was before Judge Goulding, a reasonable man. Ben held out some hope. He held out practically none for the Tang Clan case. He was now worried sick about Dylan and now Stan. Stan’s assistant had called in to say that Stan had entered the Blue Moon but had not left it, at least through the front door. He was no doubt being held captive too, at best. For the hundredth time, Ben wondered whether he should call the police. Stan had advised against it, but look what happened to him.
No, he decided, he would file the Notice tomorrow on time, should no call be received. If Dylan and Stan were not then released, he would call the police.
The staff were very quiet. The five criminal clerks had approached him, wondering if they could help. Although never mentioned, Ben and Dylan knew that they had their own connections in triad society. Ben considered this, and mentioned it to Stan, who said that this had moved too far up the chain of command for our boys to have any influence.
Patty seemed to be constantly on the verge of tears. Jennifer and Cathy were not their ebullient youthful selves. Even Luigi had not asked for any commission for a day or so. It was a sombre office and Ben was glad when it was 5.30pm and they could all go home. He went home himself too, exhausted after his night’s work. He had a long bath, and then sat by his telephone with a bottle of wine for the rest of the night, waiting for a call.
There was no call.