SWIMMING IN THE SUN
Professor Davids took his medicine that night before going to bed. He woke up in the morning confident that his evidence that day would be free from obscenities, and so it proved. It was however far from an easy day for the Professor.
Gordon led him straight into the most difficult piece of evidence produced by the Government. It was a photocopy of the alleged conveyance, dated 11th November 1924. It purported, on the face of it, to be a conveyance of property, the property being described as “the temple situate upon Fanling Hills”. It was accepted by the Clan that the temple in question was “their” temple. The vendors were described as Tang Chi Kin and Wan Mei Hing, the managers of the temple. In so far as the conveyance described the owners of the temple as Tangs, this was a good piece of evidence for the Clan. The document however appeared to demonstrate that the Tangs sold the temple for the sum of HK$20,000.00 on 25th November 1924 to a certain gentleman named Chan Lei Ting. The Government could not say who this man was, but he sure as hell did not have Tang as a surname.
Professor Davids had another interpretation of the alleged conveyance. By referring to other similar Chinese documents, he tried to persuade the court that the power given under this document was simply a license for Chan Lei Ting to occupy the land for the term of his life. The Professor argued that once he died, the ownership and management of the temple reverted back to the Tang Clan. He was also able to produce certain Chinese conveyancing documents from the period, which were palpably different from the document relied upon by the Government. The judge was nodding his head, and was appearing to take it all in.
Gordon rested his examination-in-chief of the Professor on that strong note. Ronnie then cross-examined the Professor with great skill. Ben was no fan of Yuen, but he could see why he had been made into a Senior Counsel. He had clearly been helped in his choice of questions by Professor Cartwright. To his credit, however, Davids stuck to his guns, standing by his interpretations of the various pieces of evidence, whilst respectfully disagreeing with the interpretations of Professor Cartwright. Davids seemed most vulnerable during questions upon the document. He agreed that the document on the face of it was open to the interpretation given to it by the Government. Davids went on to explain however that, once looked at more closely, Cartwright’s position was untenable. Ben feared though that the damage was done in the mind of the judge.
Yuen’s cross-examination went on to the following afternoon. The Professor left the box a weary man, but all in all, he had done well. Ben was certainly pleased with him, it gave them a chance, he thought, with the Government now ready to open their case. Relieved his ordeal was over, Ben and Dylan said goodbye to the Professor outside court and thanked him for his help. He promised to return for Cartwright’s evidence, Ben just had to give him a call on his mobile. They watched him shuffle away to the elevator.
“What a loony”, said Dylan. “Probably off to the pub.”
“He was OK in the end” said Ben, “and he might just have won us a fortune. Depends on Gordon and Richard’s cross-examination of their witnesses. Government’s first witness in the morning.”
“They’ve only got two witnesses, haven’t they?” said Dylan.
“Yes, Cartwright and a guy named Tony Leung, apparently another well-known historian. Mandy told me they’ll start with Leung first.”
“Which no doubt means they’ll start with Cartwright.”
“Very funny.” Wai and Jacob approached them.
“We’re going over Leung’s reports tonight with Professor Yau to try and get some good cross-examination points for Mr. Stewart”, said John.
“Good idea”, said Ben. “What did you think of Professor Davids?” asked Wai.
“I thought he did OK, his first time ever in court, he didn’t collapse, can’t have expected much more”, said Ben.
“Yeah, I suppose so. I just think that Cartwright will be better.”
“Let’s hope not”, said Ben.
“Of course, he could have been on our side if...” Jacob left the words unsaid. Dylan stuck up for Ben.
“Look, there’s no point going over that again, and it wasn’t Ben’s fault anyway. It might just be to our advantage to have Davids on our side.”
“How?” asked Wai.
“Er...I don’t know”, Dylan admitted. “Just try your best with Yau tonight.”
“OK”, sighed Wai, “we’ll see you tomorrow morning.” Ben watched them both go.
“I don’t know why they are so down”, said Ben. “We’ve done better than I ever expected. The lay witnesses were good, Yau was excellent, and even Davids did a good job.”
“Perhaps they now wish they’d accepted the pre-trial offer.”
“Tough”, said Ben. “That’s gone, the Government would never offer it now, they’ve got the scent of victory in their nostrils.”
“Do you think they’re going to win?” Dylan looked at Ben.
“Dylan, I don’t know. If I was a betting man, for a party trying to defeat the Government of Hong Kong, in courts appointed by the Government of Hong Kong, who’s judges depend upon the Government of Hong Kong, perhaps we haven’t shown enough. Perhaps it was always going to be an impossible task. Perhaps Chan Chi Wah has paid off the judge.”
“You don’t mean that.”
“Who knows what happens, Dylan. I don’t know any more. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d tried. By all accounts though, Judge Lee is an honourable man, he would get short shrift. I hope.” He felt a tap on his back. It was Peachey.
“Fancy a coffee?” Dylan looked at her.
“You two get along”, he said, “I’ve got to see Donny in Lan Kwai Fong, some new bar he’s opening. I’ll see you in the morning.”
“OK, see you”, said Ben. He was left outside court with Peachey, everyone else had long gone.
“Actually, I’ve got a better idea” she said brightly. “Let’s go swimming!”
“Yes! It’ll be fun, I go nearly every day, I’m a member of the Marriott club upstairs, I can get you in.”
“I don’t know”, said Ben doubtfully, thinking about his beer gut. Peachey seemed to read his mind.
“Don’t worry about your tummy, I like big tummies! Anyway, this is good exercise, swim every day and it’ll soon go away, if that’s what you want. Come on, I’ll buy you a costume at Marks and Spencer downstairs!” Ben caved in.
“OK, but not for long, I have to get back to the office later.”
“Brill!” squealed Peachey. Ben wondered how old she was, twenty- five perhaps? She sometimes acted like a teenager, which he had to admit was an attractive feature. They descended to the Marks and Spencer store in the monolithic Pacific Place shopping mal, where Ben bought a pair of black shorts, persuading himself that they would be flattering to the larger physique. Peachey already had her costume in her bag. They took the elevator back upstairs to the Marriott Hotel, and another one to the swimming pool.
“The changing rooms are there”, pointed out Peachey. “See you in a minute!” and off she went. Ben entered the changing rooms and undressed. He looked at himself in the mirror and was immediately discouraged. You fat bastard, he thought. His breasts were like a woman’s, and his gut seemed bigger than ever. Right, he said to himself, health farm for you after this case. He struggled into his shorts, which seemed a size too small even though described as extra-large (bloody Chinese style extra-large, he muttered to himself), and padded his way to the pool, breathing in, with a towel over his shoulders and covering his gut as best as possible.
Peachey was not out yet. He jumped in the pool, creating a mini- tidal wave. Luckily, there was no-one else in the pool, or about, except for a lifeguard. It was only 4.00pm, and still sunny and warm. Ben lay on his back floating, thinking life in Hong Kong was not too bad after all. He heard a shout and looked up. It was Peachey, walking towards the pool.
Ben could see Peachey was a good looking girl when she was in her barrister outfit, which covered her curves completely, but the bikini she was wearing now made Ben gasp. Two small pieces of cloth covered her frankly huge breasts, whilst the bottom part just about covered her modesty. Any less and the hotel would have to call the police. And her curves...Ben had never seen a body like it. She was a small girl in height, but her perfectly shaped small legs accentuated the rest of the package perfectly. Ben was immediately embarrassed but completely turned on. Good job he was under water, he thought, she would not have to be David Copperfield to read his mind otherwise. She stood on the water’s edge, and Ben had no option but to stare up at her. She then dived over Ben’s head into the pool. No tidal wave for her, she cut through the water like knife through butter.
“Don’t mind me”, she shouted, “got to do twenty lengths first!”
Off she went into the distance. Ben decided to do a width of breaststroke, and successfully managed it without a coronary. He bravely decided to do another, before collapsing halfway across, and turned over onto his back, as if that was the most natural thing in the world to do. He waddled out of the way of Peachey, who was turning for her third length. He decided to have a rest, and swam to the shallow end to take in what remained of the sun.
Finally Peachey came to a stop, breathing heavily. “Wow, I’m wiped out!” she said, panting.
“Yeah, me too”, said Ben, and they both laughed.
“It’s great in here, isn’t it?” said Peachey, as she lay on her back and playfully wrapped her legs around Ben’s waist. What is she doing, he wondered.
“Oh yes, it’s great”, he replied.
“I try to come here every day, it’s best after court, when you’ve had a hard day, and you can relax in the cool water, with the sun on your back.”
She pulled herself up with her legs against Ben’s body so that she was standing immediately in front of him, her chest squashed into his, their bodies seemingly entwined. He could hardly breathe.
“Peachey”...he said, in a weak voice.
“Ssshhhh!” she said.
She wrapped her legs around his waist again, to lift herself up. She kissed him long and hard, it seemed to Ben to go on for ever. Eventually they parted.
“There!” she grinned. “That wasn’t so bad, was it?”
“No”, admitted Ben, “it was very nice, I think, although I’m not sure, perhaps we could do it again?” She laughed.
“For you, Mr. McCann, anything. I want to warn you now, though, you’re not getting a reduction in my brief fee because of this!”
They both laughed, as Peachey reached for his lips and they kissed again, this time even longer, and Ben was brave enough to move his hands around her body this time. Amazing, he thought. She eventually pulled away. Ben’s heart was pumping.
“OK, counsellor, that’s it for today. Got to do another ten lengths!” She splashed away, leaving Ben dumbfounded. He decided to get out of the pool. He sat down at a nearby table. He had forgotten all about his beer-gut. Peachey finished her ten lengths and came out to sit beside him.
“Fancy a drink?” she asked. He ordered a coke, she ordered a Singapore Sling. Ben couldn’t help but stare at her.
“Don’t look at me as though I’m from another planet”, she said. “Look, it was only a bit of fun. I’m not a home wrecker, I know you’re married, it was just a laugh, it won’t happen again, just wanted to see if you were a good kisser. And you are!”
Ben wondered if he should explain the separation, but decided against it. Peachey was offering him a way out, and he gratefully took it.
“You’re an amazing girl, Peachey. I think I’d be dead in two weeks if we ever went out together. Perhaps Dylan is the Roberts McCann partner for you.” She snorted.
“No way, he’s too full of himself, thinks he’s halfway into my pants already.” Ben smiled at this. “A nice bloke, but not my type. Whereas you...no, I’m only joking! Mind you, if you ever get divorced...”
She smiled and left it at that. They chatted for another twenty minutes before the sun went down and they decided to get changed. He met her outside the changing rooms afterwards.
“Well, thanks Peachey for an interesting afternoon. I enjoyed it a lot.”
“Me too. Perhaps another time?”
“Who knows?” he laughed. “See you tomorrow then.”
“Yup, see you tomorrow.” She jumped up to give him a peck on the cheek. “Bye!” She skipped off in the other direction. Ben gave up thoughts of the office. He caught a taxi from outside the hotel back home. Dylan was in when he got back.
“Hello”, said Dylan, eyeing him suspiciously. “Did you have a good time with young Peachey?”
“Don’t be silly, we had a coffee, that’s all. She seems to fancy you, though.”
“Really? How do you know?”
“Oh, by the things she said.” Ben smiled to himself.