As dawn breaks over Exchange Square and the first office fodder start marching out of their subterranean production-unit conveyance system, a morose-looking wild American friend Odell seats himself in the softest, grandest easy chair in the IFC Mall branch of Pacific Coffee and takes a worried sip of his organic jojoba and grapeseed oil cappuccino. Always eager to start the day with a challenge, I try to cheer him up with page 2 of the South China Morning Post.
“Isn’t this funny,” I say. “The top headline says ‘Government accused of failing to nurture internet’, while below it says ‘City’s e-economy valued at HK$100b’.” He glances at it and shrugs. Obviously, I have to spell out the little logical conundrum. “Basically, it’s saying that when the government ‘fails to nurture’ part of the economy, rather than tries to boost it like Islamic banking or medical tourism, it thrives!”
Unmoved, he stares into the distance, roughly where the girl who reads the Bible while mentally undressing me would be sitting if she were here. I flick through the paper and hold up a big report about Osama Bin Laden. “The US isn’t going to release a photo of the corpse,” I tell him. “Spoilsports. What about taxpayers’ rights?”
The ex-Mormon suddenly perks up. “I’ve got a photo a bit like that to release!” he announces. “Same kinda thing – armed men bursting into a quiet home at the dead of night!” He pulls out his Hello Kitty Nokia and shows me a picture taken at some stage in the blur of three-day weekends Hong Kong enjoyed during the last month. He had been sitting in his apartment, in his pajamas, quietly eating a rather late dinner after an evening’s merrymaking in high-class nightspots. There was a knock at the door, and his long-suffering Thai wife Mee opened it to find…
…the entire HK Island Drunk Gwailo Psychopath Restraint Unit inviting themselves in for a little chat.
So this is how the Big Lychee’s version of the US Navy SEALS descend upon their prey. Presumably, the valiant sleuths’ strategy is to use the little bespectacled one in the T-shirt (carrying a club and, in his left hand, a round plastic shield) as a sort of sacrifice, to lure the ferocious and volatile target away from his pizza. As the dangerous lunatic criminal-beast spits the last bloody shreds of black Giordano cotton onto the floor, the ones in uniform pin him down with their .38 revolvers before highly trained kamikaze robots with Uzis come crashing through the window.
It seems that a short time beforehand a taxi driver and Odell did not part on the best of terms. What the cabbie told the cops is anyone’s guess; the fact that he was not so badly mutilated that he could still call 999 and give a no-doubt vivid description of the alleged maniac suggests that half a riot squad did not need to turn up. Nonetheless, poor Odell was handcuffed and processed at the station before being driven around in a very well-manned police van to find an ATM to pay a few hundred bucks bail. (Would you accept credit cards from the sort of people they deal with?)
He is adamant of two things: one, he remembers nothing at all of what happened; two, he committed no wrongdoing whatsoever. Logical conundrums all over the place today. Where will this end up? Mee is baking a cake with a file in it just in case.
I examine the faces of the boys in blue carefully, one by one, and conclude that I would have just hidden under the bed – it would never occur to them to look there.