To wild American friend Odell’s hovel in the ratty, greasy, malodorous region of lower Escalator Land for a meeting of the Mid-Levels Welcoming Committee for the Society of Truth and Light. While we are waiting for the others to arrive, the conversation leads the ex-Mormon to ask me an impertinent but I suppose fairly common question among friends: “What’s the strangest place you ever had sex?”
I think about it for a few seconds. “Singapore.”
“It’s a really strange place.”
As he mulls this over – he was hoping to regale me with tired tales of bygone, nocturnal rutting on the Star Ferry – the buzzer near the door sounds. He picks up the phone on the wall and tells the visitor downstairs to come on up. “We’re on the second floor, even though the bell says it’s the third… Yeah, one of those,” he says before pushing the button. A minute later, a short dark man in a Food-by-Fone vest and an old open-faced motorbike helmet is handing over a large flat cardboard box in exchange for cash.
While his Thai wife Mee expresses delight and surprise at not having to cook, Odell puts the box on the coffee table, opens it and pulls out a triangular slice of stringy pizza. He examines the topping closely. “Damn! Squid, mango and thousand-island – again! Oh well.”
Mee looks happy, though. “I like!”
As we chew the reasonably edible fast-food, I have to ask: “Why did you order it if you don’t like it.”
Odell wipes his mouth with a tissue. “I didn’t,” he says. “The people above us chose it. The doorbell unit outside uses the American system of floor numbering – first, second, third – while the numbers inside use the British system – ground, first, second, etc. Dickheads upstairs haven’t worked out that their ‘third’ floor bell rings this apartment.” He looks slightly sheepish. “And I’m hungry.”
Soon after, the other members of the Welcoming Committee arrive. The chairman explains that the Society for Truth and Light will be collecting ‘flag day’ donations on Hong Kong Island on Saturday. The fundamentalists will divide the proceeds equally among the organization’s three new exciting projects:
- The Spiritual Pollution Addicts Correction Institute, a mosquito-infested rehab facility in desolate Shui Hau village, Lantau, that will receive, on the recommendation of a special panel of Evangelist senior police officers, pro-democracy political activists, protesters who appear on magazine covers in their underwear and deviants who look at unhealthy Internet sites.
- The Junior Anti-Sex League, a youth outreach mission dedicated to mentoring young people so they receive the grace of the Holy Spirit in their hearts and stop touching their private parts.
- Hong Kong Homosexual Rescue, which cures gays of their sickness using a special aversion therapy involving ice-cold baths and Cantopop and is guaranteed to turn them (Odell starts nodding at this stage) into red-blooded straights who reflexively copulate furiously with strangers of the opposite sex late at night on cross-harbour public transport.
Details of our welcome for the Society tomorrow must remain a closely guarded secret. However, I can reveal that it will involve abducting the children for de-programming in an amusement centre full of ketamine-addled compensated-dating teens, and forcing all the adults to spend the whole Chinese New Year long weekend drinking San Miguel, smoking Salem Lights, betting on the Happy Valley horse racing and watching such porn movie classics as Mongkok Schoolgirl Sluts Go Wee-Wee – in 3D. For a charity, these people need serious help, and we can provide it.