The Fanling Conspiracy

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CHICKEN FEET

Both Ben and Dylan were in the office by 8.30am, still groggy from the night before. Ben was still livid with his partner after the previous night’s episode and would not speak to him in the taxi on the way in. He could not keep it up in the office.

“You complete...idiot! You knew I’d taken Miranda home, you promised you wouldn’t come back!”

“Look, I’ve told you I’m sorry, I was pissed, I just forgot.” Dylan couldn’t help smiling which riled Ben even more.

“It’s not very often I get a chance of a leg-over, is it? And you have to spoil it!”

“Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll see her again.”

“What, after she’d slid in a pool of vomit and ended up swimming in it? I doubt that very much!”

“Well, there’s other fish in the sea.” Dylan realised from Ben’s face that this was the wrong thing to say. “Oh, come on, forget about it. We’ve got better things to worry about.”

Ben had to concede in his anger that this was true. He wondered what Stan had to tell them, was it good or bad news. He fervently hoped it was the former, he didn’t think he could deal with any more bad news.

“I’ll put the coffee on. Want one?” asked Dylan. Ben grimaced his assent.

Stan arrived at the office on the dot of 9.00am. He had a smile on his face that lifted Ben’s spirits immediately.

“Good news, Stan?” asked Ben eagerly.

“Could say that, sir”, said Stan. “Let’s go in the conference room. I checked that out again last night, it’s the only room here at the moment I can be sure is free of bugs.” They took their coffees into the conference room.

“OK, Stan”, said Dylan, “what’s so important to get me out of bed on a Tuesday morning?”

“Well” started Stan, “my lads have been doing a lot of snooping around recently, calling in all their favours and contacts. Very interesting news on the Tyler front.”

“What?” asked Ben.

“We’ve found a witness, an old woman, who is prepared to give evidence that she heard a commotion in the judge’s flat at around 4.00am on the morning of his death. That’s thirty minutes after Tyler was seen leaving the apartments. She’s also a resident of the building who lives immediately downstairs from the judge.”

“Wow, that’s fantastic”, said Ben. “Did she see anyone?”

“Unfortunately not, but she’s quite positive about the time, because she was watching a movie because she couldn’t sleep.”

“But...surely the police will have spoken to her?” said Dylan.

“She said she told the police about it, but they never came to question her again.”

“The bastards” said Ben. “I wonder why.”

“I’ve spoken to a colleague in the force. It appears that they were so sure Tyler was the culprit they didn’t follow it up.”

“That may be the case, but they had a duty to tell us about that exculpatory evidence. That’ll be good at trial”, said Dylan.

“Yes, it will”, said Ben, “but surely we don’t want to run the risk of a trial. Do we go to the police with this?”

“I say we don’t”, said Stan. “As they already know about it, it’s hardly going to spur a further investigation. I think you should give us a bit longer to see what we can dig up.”

Dylan picked his nose. “I agree. Ben?”

“I suppose so. Tyler’s trial’s only three months away, though, Stan, we have to work fast.”

“Don’t worry, sir, I think we’re on to something here. And there’s something else.”

“What’s that?” asked Dylan.

“One of my lads broke into the judge’s flat in the middle of the night recently.”

“What!” exclaimed Ben, “ that’s illegal! Christ, what more trouble are you getting us into?”

“Don’t worry, sir, my men are experts at this. We thought we might find something the police didn’t. We found something. This.” Stan held out a piece of paper. It read;

‘Love you, bunny, see you soon’

The note was not signed.

“I think”, said Stan, “that this is a note from a lover of the judge, perhaps that person was leaving before the judge woke up, and left it for him. We found the note at the back of one of the judge’s drawers, he’d obviously kept it. I assume this is not Tyler’s handwriting.”

“Of course it isn’t!” exclaimed Ben.

“Just checking. It is possible that the person who wrote this note was the person in the apartment that morning.”

“Or maybe wasn’t” said Ben.

“Yes, that’s true. But it’s something to work on. More evidence towards reasonable doubt if this goes to trial. The judge must have had other lovers, be them male of female. We are checking them out.”

“Why don’t you speak to Sebastian”, suggested Dylan.” He seems to know the gay community inside out.”

“I have, he’s been very useful”, said Stan. “It would appear though the likely candidates were either out of Hong Kong on the night and morning in question, or they have alibis cast in stone. We’re working on it though.”

“Stan, I know you’re doing your best, keep at it”, said Ben.

“Well, I don’t like to mention it, sir”, said Stan, coughing, “but we have incurred considerable expenses so far, I wonder if...”

“Yes, yes, of course, Stan, send your interim bill in and we’ll pay it immediately.”

“Thank you very much, sir. I’ll be on my way then, I’ll call you when I have any more news.”

Ben and Dylan saw Stan to the door and said their farewells.

“You know we have to meet Jacob and Wai for lunch” said Ben.

“Oh shit, I’d forgotten. Do I have to be there?” asked Dylan.

“Yes you bloody well do. Don’t think I’ve forgiven you yet for last night, you owe me big for that.”

“OK, OK. The Chiu Chow restaurant again?” Ben confirmed it was.

Ben spent the rest of the morning catching up on the firm’s administrative work, which Dylan had no interest in whatsoever. He noted with dismay that the firm’s income was well down over the past two months. He seriously wondered whether the firm should close down should the Tang Clan case be lost. Frankly, he could see little alternative. He looked out of his room to the staff working happily away. They were lucky with their staff, he thought. Jennifer and Cathy had been picked for their looks but they had turned out to be good girls. Patty was invaluable as senior secretary. The rest of the staff were also very hardworking. For their sake, Ben was willing to keep the firm open if at all financially viable. It all depended on the Tang Clan.

Dylan spent an eventful morning playing Delta Force One, at which he was becoming most proficient. They met Jacob and Wai at the restaurant as planned, who were already eating when they arrived.

“Sorry we’ve started”, said Jacob, “starving actually.”

Wai got straight down to it, whilst munching his chicken feet.

“We were paid a visit last night by some Tang Clan triads. They asked us how the case was going, we explained as little as possible. Their threats were indirect again, but very clear. We believe ourselves to be in physical danger.” Jacob continued to suck on his noodles.

“But what can we do, Wai?” asked Ben. “You don’t want us to contact the police, I can’t see how we can help.”

“You can’t”, was Wai’s simple reply. “I just wanted to let you know what’s going on. You’ve been kidnapped once, Dylan. You’ve seen how dangerous these people are. Especially Chan Chi Wah. You were lucky not to have been killed. This sort of thing won’t stop. We want to give you the option again of pulling out of the case.” Dylan snorted.

“Do you really think that after being kidnapped and stuck in a container for three days that I’m going to give in to these bastards? No way.” He looked at Ben.

“We realise the dangers, Wai, the kidnapping brought it home to us, if we were ever in any doubt. But I feel the same way as Dylan. It’s not that we’re not afraid. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I am more than a little worried, and I still think we should advise the police of the kidnapping. But we agreed to take this case on for the client and I think we should see it through.”

“Not forgetting that we’ll be millionaires if we win”, added Dylan.

“There is that too”, agreed Ben.

“OK, I’ve eased my conscience”, said Wai. He looked at Jacob, who was now sucking on a particularly unattractive chicken foot. “Have you got anything to add, Jacob?”

Jacob put down his chicken foot gravely and stared at all present.

“I certainly do. The chicken feet in this restaurant are revolting.” Ben and Dylan laughed. It was the first joke that they had ever heard Jacob make.

“We’ve got a long way to go boys”, said Dylan, “let’s give it our best shot!”

“Let’s hope we don’t get shot”, muttered Jacob.

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