Mon, 13 June
How much money will deranged anthropomorphs pay to see their noisy and unhygienic mutts alive again? Eager to find the answer, I enlisted the help over the weekend of peculiar acquaintance A-Hing, the famous Mid-Levels Dog Poisoner, and took possession of a ridiculous-looking mutant canine. It is incarcerated, as I write, in the storage room at the back of my apartment in Perpetual Opulence Mansions. And, to my delight, the owners have already offered a reward for the repulsive-looking creature through an ad in the South China Morning Post. (Do they have any idea of that organ’s pitiful circulation figures? This is a matter of life and death. How extremely fortunate for them that this particular dognapper happens to be one of the few people who read it.)
LOST: GREY MINI-SCHNAUZER (MALE)
LAST SEEN: THE PEAK, WEARING BLUE COLLAR
Five thousand dollars is a laughable opening bid. I will contact these absurd people and pass them a photograph of the brute with a copy of today’s paper, so they can see it is still alive, and my trusty 9mm Browning to its ugly, misshapen head. I will demand 50 thousand, plus expenses for Purina Pooch Chunks and a gratuity to the Filipino elves, who are guarding the hideous monstrosity and making sure it doesn’t remove its blindfold. Call the police, and the loyal domestic servants have aso adobo for supper faster than you can say ‘woof woof’. Try haggling, and the next message will include the beast’s left ear and a final demand for 100 thousand in used twenties. That will buy A-Hing a lot of carbofuran, and Hong Kong’s residential neighbourhoods some long overdue peace and cleanliness.
Tue, 14 June
I wake to the sound of knives being sharpened. In the kitchen, the Filipino elves have reported for duty early. As one yanks the duct tape from our captive’s muzzle so it can eat what may be its last meal, the other lays out an evil meat cleaver, heads of garlic and bottles of soy sauce, vinegar and oil. “Adobong aso,” she declares. “You were wrong yesterday.” I quash this impertinence and presumptuousness quickly and firmly, by informing her that the cur stays alive for the time being. A-Hing is in contact with the Halsteads of the Peak, who are pleading for the life of their unsightly hound on the grounds that it is ‘a part of the family’. A part of the family who’s worth a mere 5,000 bucks! How much would their grandmother go for?
Wed, 15 Jun
Gliding down the Mid-Levels Escalator through the Soho pretentious-restaurant district, I mull over this morning’s message from A-Hing, the legendary Dog Strangler of Bowen Road. The Peak anthropomorphs say they need more time to get the money together. He has given them a deadline of midnight, tomorrow. I see wild American friend Odell emerging from his hovel, and he joins me on the smooth descent into the central business district. “I saw something really weird last night,” he tells me. “A couple of Filipino women walking a dog with a black cloth bag over its head.” I shrug, peer down at Fetish Fashion to see if any of their restraining devices would fit a mini schnauzer, and remind him that there are a lot of strange people around. He agrees. “They were very good, though,” he remarks. “When the dog wanted to do its business, they unfolded a copy of the South China Morning Post on the sidewalk.” I should hope so, too. “Kevin Sinclair’s column,” he adds. I nod coolly.
Thurs, 16 Jun
I start the day by giving the two Filipino elves their hostage management instructions. “First, stop addressing it as ‘Manlapaz’ or any other cutie-pie designation. It is essential not to form any emotional bond with the internee. Refer to it simply as ‘the dog’. Second,” I point to a gallon of lemon-scented bleach and a scrubbing brush, “it’s stinking this storage room to high heaven – let’s give it a good wash before we get rid of it tonight.” Which is how, by the time I leave Perpetual Opulence Mansions this morning, I find myself in possession of a canine so startlingly blond that it appears not to be of this world. But it smells nice.
Fri, 17 Jun
The object of the exercise is to research the extent to which animal-lovers will make the sort of sacrifice that sane people would consider making only for humans – and maybe not all of them, even. So it was with little hesitation that I tested our clients on the Peak and postponed last night’s mutt-for-money trade to a more congenial hour this morning. The plan is simple. At the appointed hour, A-Hing will tether the canine to a lamp post outside the Fancy Rich Property Agents on Caine Road and stand by. An anthropomorph will then drop the cash – used, in small denominations, in children’s school bags – in a kids’ play area not far away and depart. Two elves waiting nearby will confirm the contents to A-Hing by walkie-talkie and meld into the crowds on the Mid-Levels Escalator, struggling under the weight of the packs as far as a Filipino money changer-cum-launderer in Central. A-Hing will call the Halsteads with the dog’s location and vanish.
No sooner do I meet the famed pooch poisoner outside Perpetual Opulence Mansions than potential disaster strikes. A black mongrel – the sort that goes well with black bean sauce and garlic – trots up to our hound and leaps on it from behind, sodomizing it with gusto and causing its blindfold to slip off, thus revealing our whereabouts. As A-Hing lifts the assailant by its hind legs and delivers a fatal karate blow to its kidney, I drag our captive down the street. I hand the beast back to him on a walkway over Caine Road and stand back to survey the scene. A-Hing approaches the lamp post, ignores the ‘Wet Painting’ sign, and starts to fiddle with the leash. At a crucial moment, the schnauzer spots its reflection in the mirrored wall of the property agency and – evidently neither recognizing nor liking the bleached and raped creature it sees – tears free and attacks itself, spitting, snarling and barking. A-Hing, late middle-aged and not as nimble as he could be, fumbles on all-fours. The hideous hound jumps aside with a yelp. A red Toyota pulls up, a passenger gets out and the driver flicks on the ‘For Hire’ sign. Before the door swings shut, our hostage sprints over and leaps in. As the vehicle pulls away, A-Hing staggers into the road, hails another cab and tumbles in, shouting “Follow that taxi!” Meanwhile, a group of pasty-faced, traumatized Westerners – two adults, two children – come running along the sidewalk struggling to catch up with taxi number-one under the weight of heavy Hello Kitty backpacks and screeching “Benji! Benji!” I glance at my watch. It is time for work…