The Fanling Conspiracy

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TENTERHOOKS

Ben reached the Mandarin in record time. He took the elevator to the 21st floor, sweating heavily, and ran to the Professor’s door. He knocked hard, three times. No reply. He could hear nothing inside. He knocked again. Perhaps the Professor had left already. He called Dylan at court, who said there was no sign of the Professor. He called the Professor’s mobile, still turned off. Ben was frantic. He knocked hard again. This time he heard a stirring from inside. Ben knocked continuously on the door for over a minute, until the door opened slightly.

“Hello?” said a voice. A head poked around the door. A head of a woman. Ben looked at her as if she was an alien from the 24th century.

“Er...is this Professor Davids’ room?” He stared at her. She was a Thai lady, young and very pretty.

“Professor who? James, a man here for you. You wait here”, she said to Ben. Ben was angry now.

“I’ll do no such thing. Get out of my way.” He pushed her aside and burst into the room. He saw the Professor face down on the bed. He was naked. A daffodil was protruding from his bottom. He also appeared to be groaning. Ben was speechless.

“Professor...oh, Professor, what on earth happened?” Davids lifted his head when he heard Ben’s voice.

“Oh God, oh God...what’s the time, should I be in court...oh my...” The Professor stood up and then promptly fell over again. The daffodil fell to the floor. He appeared to be still drunk. Ben turned to the woman.

“I’m sorry, you have to go now.”

“He not pay.”

“Oh. Right. Well, here’s two thousand dollars. Bye-bye now.” The woman seemed satisfied, slipped on her shoes, and was gone. Ben was alone with the Professor. There was no way this man could give evidence in this state, he thought. He called Dylan and explained the situation. There was silence on the other end of the phone.

“Dylan? Dylan?”

“Yes, I’m here. Is it part of Chinese customary law for the expert to sleep with a prostitute before giving evidence?”

“Apparently so. Look, no need to tell Gordon and Richard about this. Just say that the Professor has been ill this morning, but will be ready to start his evidence this afternoon. The judge should be OK with that.”

“We’ll try. I’ll let you know what happens”, said Dylan. Ben put down the phone and looked at his nutty Professor. He was now trying to put on his trousers, without success. Ben sighed and led him toward the shower. He turned it on cold, full blast and virtually threw the Professor inside. That should wake the bastard up, he thought grimly. The screams from within confirmed his assumption. Five minutes later, the Professor was sitting on his bed in his dressing gown, shivering.

“Must have been some night, Professor”, said Ben.

“It was a big mistake, Mr. McCann, a big mistake. I was about to go to bed, when I realized that I’d left my bag in that pub...Joe Bananas, was it? I took a taxi back to the pub, and thankfully my bag was beside the bar as I’d left it. Unfortunately, your colleague Big Bob was still there...” Ben could guess the rest, and shook his head. He’d kill Bob when he saw him.

“Big Bob bought me more drinks...we ended up in a speed race, which I think I won...” The Professor smiled at the memory. “Goodness knows what happened after that. I recall going into some bars with half-naked ladies on the stage, and I must have passed out. I certainly can’t remember getting home.”

“And your lady friend?”


“Most embarrassing, Mr. McCann, can’t think how she got here...”

“I bet”, said Ben. “Nothing we can do about it now, Professor, let’s put it down to experience. I’m going to leave you for an hour so you can pull yourself together. We start at 2.30pm with you giving your evidence, will you be OK?”

“Oh yes, Mr. McCann, that shower has worked wonders, there’ll be no problems. I’ll meet you outside court at 2.00pm.”

“OK. No more surprises, eh Professor?” Ben smiled. As did the Professor.

“No more surprises. And again, my sincere apologies, Mr. McCann.” Ben said good-bye and left. He called Dylan. The judge had accepted Gordon’s apologies. The court time was not wasted, in fact, as there were a number of housekeeping matters for the lawyers and the judge to deal with. They adjourned at the usual time for lunch.

Ben met Dylan in the canteen. He had brought Peachey with him. Gordon and Richard had retuned to chambers.

“Hi, Ben”, said Peachey, “got our sex-mad expert witness ready?” Ben gave Dylan a look.

“Hey, I told Peachey, so what, it’s funny, I didn’t tell Richard or Gordon. Don’t know why they shouldn’t know, anyway.”

“We can tell them after Davids’ evidence is finished, I don’t want to alarm them”, said Ben.

“Wouldn’t have thought it of the old Professor”, said Peachey. “Good for him, we all need a bit now and again.” Dylan laughed and Peachey grinned. Ben was silent, he didn’t know how to take Peachey yet.

“Yes, well”, said Ben, “he won’t be getting any for a while, I’ll put padlocks on his door tonight.”
They had their lunch, Peachey continuing to be an outrageous flirt, in Ben’s opinion, and Dylan was lapping it up. When Peachey went to the toilet, Ben turned on Dylan.

“Do you have to make it so obvious?”

“What?” said Dylan.


“That you want to get inside her pants.”

“Oh, don’t be ridiculous, lighten up, man. She’s good fun, something which you haven’t been recently.”

“Oh well, pardon me for taking some things seriously.”

“She fancies you anyway, not me”, said Dylan.

“No she doesn’t”, said Ben. He looked up. “Really?”

“Of course, she never stops talking about you. Must be something about overweight white men that sends Chinese girls crazy.”

“Ha ha”, said Ben. Nevertheless, he paid more attention to Peachey when she returned. Dylan was right, she was good fun and she was cute. Another mental note was made for the end of trial. Ben wondered if he was turning into a sex machine.

“Come on”, Ben said eventually, “time to meet lover-boy.” They pulled themselves away from the table and took the familiar elevator to court 25. Ben was thankful to see the Professor sitting outside court quietly. He looked rather worried however, which immediately alarmed Ben. He approached the Professor and smiled.

“Everything OK, Professor?” Davids’ eyes were bulging out of his head.

“There is a problem, Mr. McCann, may we talk privately?” Ben nodded and led him to a conference room, Dylan joining them.

“Er...as you know, I was not exactly myself last night.”

“An understatement, Professor”, said Dylan.’’

“Indeed, Mr. Roberts. However, as I’ve said, I cannot remember getting home. More to the point, I cannot remember taking my medicine last night.” Alarm bells started ringing in Ben’s mind.

“What medicine?” The Professor looked miserable.

“For my tourettes syndrome.” There was silence for a few seconds. Dylan broke it.

“Are you telling us that you are going to go into that court and call the judge a cocksucker?”

“Oh no, Mr. Roberts, that is very unlikely. I took my medicine this morning, but it will not yet have had time to take effect. I can however control the illness for a period of time through meditation, which I did this morning for a couple of hours. I’m confident I can get through the afternoon. I’ll certainly be OK tomorrow once I take my medicine tonight.”

“OK, Professor”, said Ben, “do your stuff, I’m sure it’ll be no problem. If you do feel an attack coming on, just signal to me, and we’ll try to get the thing adjourned again somehow.”

“Thank you, Mr.McCann, but please don’t worry. Shall we go into court now?”

“Yes”, said Ben, “just sit in there for a couple of minutes, we’ll be right in.” The Professor entered the courtroom, and Dylan shook his head.

“Well, at least if we go down, we’ll go down in flames and glory. I’ve often felt like swearing at a judge, and I’ll probably hear our own expert do that this afternoon.”

“Let’s hope not”, said Ben. “I think Gordon would have a heart attack. Come on.”

They both entered court and sat down. Judge Lee entered and proceedings began. Gordon called Davids to the witness box. Ben noted that Professor Cartwright was in court, and had a few kindly words to say to Davids before the judge came in. Gordon took Davids through his qualifications and experience. The Professor began to relax, which certainly relaxed Ben and Dylan.

The professor explained to the Court the Clan system in the New Territories and in China, from the earliest beginnings, with particular emphasis on the 15th century. He repeated Professor Yau’s evidence in relation to the memorial stone, inscriptions, the lantern lighting ceremony and the free vegetarian meals. He sounded clear and authoritative. Gordon decided to leave the issue of the alleged transfer of the temple in the 1920’s until the following morning. It had been a hard afternoon for the Professor and he had done well.

“One final question for you today, Professor”, said Gordon. “Is it your expert opinion, after considering the evidence to hand, that the ancestors of the Tang Clan built the temple in question?”

“Yes indeed...whoops, bollocks”, said the Professor. Silence.

“Ah, I beg your pardon, Professor”, said Gordon, alarmed.

“Yes, undoubtedly it was built by the Tang Clan ancestors. Whoops, asswipe.” The judge intervened.

“What did you say, Professor?” Before the Professor could answer, Dylan went into a violent coughing fit, which drew the attention of not only the judge but of everyone in court.

“Ask for an adjournment, quickly!” whispered Ben to Gordon, who looked at Ben as though he was insane. Gordon turned round to the judge.

“My Lord, it’s 4.30pm, perhaps in the circumstances we can adjourn until tomorrow morning.”

“Yes, Mr. Stewart, very well.10.00am then.” He left the court with a curious glance at Dylan and the Professor.

“What is going on, Benjamin?” asked Gordon when the judge had left court. Ben saw Cartwright talking to Mandy and Yuen. No doubt Cartwright was spilling the beans on Davids’ condition. He bristled with indignation, it wasn’t the Professor’s fault, he had an illness, that shouldn’t prevent him from being taken seriously as an expert. He stepped outside the court and saw Dylan talking to Richard and Gordon. Yes, it was time to tell them the problem. Hopefully they were over the worst in any event. Dylan approached him.

“What an actor, me!”

“Yes, it certainly took the judge’s attention away from the Professor. But did you have to fall on the floor with your legs in the air?”

“It worked, didn’t it? I think we got off lightly, with a bollocks and an ass-wipe, could have been a lot worse!”

“I suppose so”, laughed Ben. He could see the funny side now. Professor Davids came up to them.

“I’m really sorry, gentlemen. I thought I could hold it together, it was just a minute too long. Whoops, tit-wank!” Dylan collapsed into hysterics.

“Sorry for my partner, Professor, it’s been a long day. You did very well, but it’ll be another long day tomorrow. No harm done today, can I suggest an early night with no beer?” The professor smiled.

“You have my word, Mr. McCann. Goodbye.” Ben turned to Dylan.

“In football terms, I think it’s halfway through the first half, and we’re a goal ahead. But still a long way to go.”

“I hope we win in normal time, couldn’t stand a penalty shoot out.”

“I don’t think it’ll come to that, I think we’ll have a winner before then. Might need extra-time though.”

“Come on, I’ve got some calls to make back at the office”, said Dylan.

“Bollocks!” exclaimed Ben.

“Ass-wipe!” replied Dylan.

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