HELLO, IT’S GOOD TO BE BACK
There were wild cheers in the office when Dylan and Stan arrived at 7.00pm. Jennifer, Cathy and Patty were in tears again. Luigi pumped the hands of both men until they were sore. The criminal clerks gathered around them both, slapping their backs excitedly. Pauline the trainee solicitor jumped up and down. Ben sat in his office watching it all through the glass. He decided he better join the happy throng and sauntered out into the reception area.
“A bit late, aren’t you?” he said. He smiled. Dylan smiled too. “Yes, sorry, trouble on the MTR. As usual.”
“Does this mean I get my bonus, Mr. McCann?” said Stan. Everyone laughed.
“We’ll talk about that later, Stan. I think you deserve one, even though it pains me to say it.”
“Don’t pay the bastard, Ben, our release was nothing to do with him”, laughed Dylan. “Pay the people standing outside.”
“What?” said Ben. “Yeah. Hey, you two! Come in here!” Wai and Jacob shyly poked their heads around the door. “Jacob! Wai! What’s going on?” said Ben.
“Ben” said Dylan, “it was unbelievable. I honestly thought Stan and I were completely done for. I didn’t know if you were going to file the Notice....”
“Of course I bloody was!” interrupted Ben.
“Well, even if you did, I couldn’t see those bastards letting us go. I was preparing for the worst. Then we heard Wai’s and Jacob’s voices outside, shouting for us.”
“But...how?” said Ben, perplexed.
“Let them explain”, said Dylan. Everyone looked at Jacob and Wai, who had crept into the room. Wai coughed.
“OK, it was like this” he said. “I found out on Monday night from friends in the Clan that Dylan had been kidnapped, and what Ben had to do to get his release. Jacob and I didn’t know what to do. The triad boss came to see us. We were warned not to contact the firm, on pain of serious injury. I knew they were serious. I wasn’t sure at the time who was behind the kidnapping, but I could guess. The Tang Clan triads could not have planned this themselves. There must have been a mastermind.”
“Who?” asked Ben.
“We still don’t know for certain. We have our suspicions, but no proof. We may never know.”
“But who do you suspect?” asked Ben. Wai looked at Jacob.
“We think Chan Chi Wah was behind it. The third defendant. He has the most to lose if we win.” There was silence. If true, this was serious stuff.
“So what happened, man?” said Luigi, who was listening open- mouthed. Wai continued.
“One of our friends managed to discover that Dylan was being held in a container terminal at Tsing Yi. The place is massive though, and we spent all day Tuesday in the yards, shouting for Dylan. We had to be careful, as we didn’t know when the kidnappers would be back. We couldn’t see a thing after dark, so we had to search during the day. There were so many containers, we almost gave up hope.”
“We knew”, continued Jacob, “that Ben had to file the Notice by 4.00pm, so we reckoned Dylan was safe until then at least. We kept trying. We must have gone through the whole shipyard today, and were ready to give up. Then we heard muffled shouting coming from one very old container. It was Dylan! We didn’t even know Stan was with him. The door was padlocked, but we had expected that. A quick yank of the crowbar, and they were out!”
“You’re an ugly old bastard, Jacob, but I must say I was very glad to see you”, said Dylan. “Even you, Wai.” Wai smiled but then looked serious.
“I must apologise” he said. “You were kidnapped by my people. I am responsible for this. I am truly sorry.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Wai” said Dylan. “We knew the dangers when we took the case on.”
“It doesn’t matter. I have spoken to the representatives. They have said to me that they are willing to release you from the case if that is your wish. It is only fair. This is a dangerous game. If you had any doubts about that, I am sure you have none now.” Wai looked into Ben’s eyes. Ben looked at Dylan.
“I am sure I speak for both of us when I say that we continue. Those bastards will not scare us off the case” said Ben.
“I agree”, said Dylan. He also whispered to Luigi. “The fact that we get millions if we win the case has nothing to do with it, of course.”
“Are you sure?” asked Wai. “We’re sure”, replied Dylan. Wai and Jacob beamed.
“Thank you. The Tang Clan - the proper Tang Clan - will not forget this” said Wai.
“Right” said Ben. “We’ve got many things to do gentlemen. The trial starts in one month. We’ve got the court bundles to prepare. We’ve got to prime our witnesses. We’ll start tomorrow.”
“No problem” said Wai. “There is however one more thing. The kidnappers will be furious. I doubt that they’ll find out that Jacob and I were behind this, although they may suspect. I do however fear for the safety of you both. And that of your families.”
“Don’t worry about my family, Wai”, said Ben. “They’re safely back in England. I’ve got nobody here.”
“Same for me. My parents are in bonnie Scotland”, said Dylan.
“In that case”, said Stan, “may I make a suggestion?” He hitched up his trousers in a vain attempt to cover his belly.
“Please do, Stanley”, said Dylan.
“Well, I suggest that you and Mr. McCann move in together until the trial is over. I’ll have two men protecting you at all times. It’ll be easier to do that if you are together.”
“Oh God!” said Ben, “ do we have to?”
“Yeah! Great idea, Stan! Come on, Ben, it’ll be fun! I’ll move into your place, it’s bigger!” Ben groaned.
“Well I’m certainly not moving into your cesspit. Oh, alright then, if you insist.”
“What about me?” shouted Luigi. “I’m at risk too!”
“I doubt that, Luigi”, said Dylan. “Any kidnapper would know that we wouldn’t give a toss if they kidnapped you.” Laughter all round.
“Thank you very much, Dylan”, sniffed Luigi.
“Do we tell the police?” asked Ben. Stan shook his head.
“I don’t recommend it, Mr. McCann. It may antagonize them still further. I think if we keep a low profile, they won’t bother you again.”
“Here’s hoping” said Ben. He remembered the champagne in the fridge that they were keeping for a special occasion. They don’t come more special than this.
“Jennifer, get that champagne out of the fridge. And our best glasses.”
“Our only glasses”, said Dylan.
“Whatever.” Jennifer brought out the champagne and filled the glasses. They each took one.
“Here’s to Dylan and Stan!” shouted Luigi. “And winning the Tang Clan case!” shouted Dylan.
They all drank to that. One crisis over, thought Ben. He wished Tyler had been there to enjoy it.