The Fanling Conspiracy

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The court was in uproar. The Clan members in the public gallery started cheering, despite the pleas of the judge for silence. Richard Yap looked on, dumbfounded. Wai was on the verge of tears, Jacob was smiling. Dylan was yelling with the rest of them. Ben could not believe it. He looked at the senior clan members, and was also tearful. He wasn’t thinking about himself at this time. That would come later. They had won a famous battle. They had done it!

They all poured out of court excitedly, and the press took hundreds of photographs outside the court entrance. Dylan was in most of the photographs, Ben stood aside until Dylan pulled him in. Ben waved to Chan Chi Wah, who was about to enter the elevator, scowling. He noticed with concern that Peachey was entering the same elevator. Richard said that she had another case that morning. He would catch up with her later, Ben thought. Richard accepted the congratulations of everyone, beaming.

Unknown to Ben, Dylan had planned a champagne celebration at the local bar in Hong Kong Park, just behind the courthouse, and the party adjourned to celebrate with drink. Tang Clan members that Ben had never seen before slapped him on the back and poured him drink after drink. He soon felt a little drunk, and not just with excitement. Dylan was well away, toasting all and sundry. Richard was on the scotch, telling Dylan a salacious tale involving the Lord Chancellor and a Miss World contestant. It was bedlam and Ben tried to savour every minute of it. He realized that this was his F.A. Cup Final and Super Bowl rolled into one. Players said it went so quickly, they never remembered the day. He was determined he would, although the glasses of champagne threatened not to help in that respect.

He felt a dig in his back and turned round. It was Mandy.

“Do you mind if I join in? I was half hoping you’d win!” she said. She looked into his eyes hopefully. Ben pulled her to him and gave her a long, deep kiss.

“Mandy. Please stay. You’re more than welcome. Is that OK, Wai?”

“Of course”, said Wai.

“Thanks”, she said, her brown eyes shining. “I’m in trouble for losing this, but I don’t give a damn. I was thinking of going into private practice anyway, I’m sick of the Government bureaucracy.”

“Excellent! Let’s see if we can make you an offer you can’t refuse”, said Ben.

“I can think of one offer you can make and it won’t cost you a penny”, she said shyly. Ben laughed.

“Later, my darling, later, now is the time to eat and be merry! Another lager, barman!”

“It’s such a pity Tyler isn’t here to share in this, I know how you must feel” said Mandy.

Ben suddenly sobered up. In his excitement he had forgot about Tyler, and was close to tears again.

“Look” said Mandy, upset at her tactlessness, “there’s nothing you can do about it for the moment, just enjoy your day, he’ll want you to do that.”

“Yes, he would. We’re talking like he’s dead, or he’s in prison for life. Which he might be.”

“Your Counsel said he’s got an excellent chance on appeal. Cheer up. You’ve done a fantastic job. You had so little resources, I had the whole Government at my disposal and I still lost. Think how bad I must feel!”

“It wasn’t your fault, Mandy. I just think that right was on our side. And a sympathetic judge.” He was then knocked over by an enthusiastic Dylan, who had tried to jump on his back.

“Hello, Mandy! Give my partner a good seeing to tonight, will you” he leered.

“Shut up, Dylan!” exploded Ben, but Mandy only smiled. At least it made Ben forget about Tyler for a while. The party went on for hours. The whole office staff soon tuned up, and Jennifer and Cathy amazed everyone by participating in beer races, and doing very well in them. Patty was so happy, and even Luigi had a good time, and didn’t mention his commission once. Stan Baxter had everyone in stitches with his Ronnie Yuen impressions. Sebastian and Big Bob turned up, Bob indeed breaking his yard of ale record, to great applause. One by one, people took their leave. Ben, Dylan, Mandy and Big Bob were the only ones left by 8.00pm.

“Dylan, I have to go home, I’m so drunk”, said Ben.

“Don’t worry, get yourself off. I think Mandy wants you to go, for some strange reason, can’t think what for”, said Dylan, staggering.

“Careful, you!” laughed Mandy.

“Just take care of him, Mandy, he’ll be a bit fragile in the morning. And don’t worry, Ben, I will most definitely not be back at the flat tonight, so do what debauchery you will.”

“Most kind of you” said Ben. “Come on, Missy, I’m taking you home.” He tried to stand up and fell off his stool, to great hilarity from Dylan and Bob.

“Aye Ben, I’ll take Dylan on and make sure you don’t see him for at least twenty four hours” said Bob.

“Thank you, Bob, you’re a good friend.” He staggered to his feet. “Goodnight, one and all.”

Mandy took hold of his hand and directed him to a nearby taxi. Ben couldn’t remember getting home, but the following morning he did remember the fantastic night that he shared with Mandy. Ben had never been particularly adventurous in bed, but the things he did with Mandy boggled his mind.

He lay awake in bed the following morning trying to piece together what had happened in that very bed a few hours earlier. Mandy was nowhere to be seen, which puzzled him. Then he remembered, she said that she had to go to work that morning, for the departmental Tang Clan inquest, which she was not looking forward to. He lay there in bed for a few minutes, smiling to himself. Was he in love? It was certainly something he could now explore now that the case was over. Mandy had told him that the Government would not be appealing the decision, they had spent so much money already that it would not go down well if they applied for more to fund any appeal. That had already been decided. Anyway, the judge seemed to have made his judgment appeal-proof, it was a well written and virtually unarguable. The Government’s view, said Mandy, was that they had tested the Tang Clan case, as they felt obliged to do, as guardians of the public, but having done that they saw no need to go any further. The Tang Clan had won. There would be no appeal.

Finally, Ben crawled out of bed. He noted with no surprise that his head was spinning. He groaned and walked to the bathroom unsteadily. He reached for the aspirins, and took two. He walked into the kitchen and considered some breakfast. He saw a packet of cornflakes already open, beside an open carton of skimmed milk. He smiled when he saw a note under the carton. It was of course from Mandy. He took the note and read it.

“Thought I’d leave you to sleep for a while! Last night was fantastic, love you lots. Tonight? Miss you already. Lots of love, Bunny.”

He stared at the note for a long time. His heart had turned to ice. Bunny.

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