Kaptain's Blog

The writings and musings of The Kaptain

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Number One Under Heaven (13)

Blake gently dropped the receiver back into its cradle. Although he was not totally sure, it seemed that his Boss had just fired him. Seconds earlier, he had known his current employment status implicitly. But a few moments later, here he was – less sure: quite uncertain, in fact, as the waves of alcohol battered his sensory neurons. Why the fuck did I bother coming back from lunch? he asked himself. Deciding to ignore as best he could the cross words he had just exchanged with the American, he determined to write the day off – to see what tomorrow would bring. And this regardless of the fact that he could now, once again, distinctly recall the man telling him he was finished.

If the Septic prick wants to fire me, he’ll have to come here and do it himself, face-to-face. Yeah, that’s right. Man-to-man, he bluffed, while belching loudly. Blake puffed out his chest while clumsily rearranging some of the items on his desk, for no apparent reason. His face wore a mask of comic belligerence. But there’s no way he can do that today, right? Correct, old son? So I’m off to Lan Kwai Fong for a drink. It was still before six, with almost all his staff remaining at their work stations, when Blake then departed for the pub – just an hour after returning from lunch. While he could vaguely recall some of the elements of the blistering row with Deeds, these came and went, fading in and out with each fuzzy moment.

“Cuuuunnnttt!” he yelled involuntarily, before giggling to himself, like a maniac. “Did I just say that? Or was it the voices in my head?” Blake continued, aloud again. “I haven’t got Tourettes – you’re just a cunt!” More insane laughter. Leaving the office, he did not bother pausing on this occasion to relate anything to Miss Icicle, the secretary, whose breath increasingly appeared to blow from the north – the garlic north, that is, he sniggered, inwardly. For although he had a sudden urge to ask her how much of the shite she loaded on top of her noodles every day, he decided against it. Wisely, because he could barely speak.

Staggering round to the lift lobby, he chose for whatever reason to press the call button with his nose, which hurt as he leant too heavily forward. Hurt a lot. And this in spite of the general anaesthetic he had personally administered over the previous several hours. “Fuck!” he screamed, just as one of his staff rounded the corner from the main office exit, client in tow. “Er… this is my boss, er… Adam Blake,” said the smartly dressed, upwardly mobile Hong Kong Chinese staffer to his client. The businessman offered a hand. “Up yer arse,” said Blake, uncharitably, while probing gingerly with a hand around his face, to see if there was any blood. Embarrassed, the two other men feigned indifference. “I said: shove it. Up – your – arse. OK?” Blake repeated, ensuring they were now all on the same page. The lift doors banged shut, trapping them inside. “Don’t want any misssunnnderstanding, see?” he added, unnecessarily.

“Fucking cunts,” was the next thing Blake uttered, to the backs of the two men as they exited the lift, several floors earlier than they had originally intended, or needed to. Though he would never remember how, Blake then somehow managed to leave the building and scramble across the open pavement towards the bustling roadside. “Taxi!” he yelled, loudly, gesticulating like a mad man. Presently, a red Toyota Crown pulled up, the rear passenger door flipping open automatically. “Lang Kuwaiy Fwong,” was all Blake could utter.

“You know, I can’t believe it… I really can’t! Everything I’ve been working for… It’s finally paid off!” Elle said animatedly, wiping a tear of joy from the corner of an eye. The lively atmosphere at Bar George in Hong Kong’s Lan Kwai Fong entertainment district provided a perfect backdrop to the excited babble now being chirped among the cheery group of six. Elle’s closest friends were visibly thrilled for her, while she herself was becoming progressively more stunned as the implications of her successful bid for the Skin Sanctuary contract began to sink in. “I mean, I know that this was the plan all along… but now it’s happened I can’t quite believe it!” she exclaimed. “You’ve worked real hard for it, girl. Now it’s time to celebrate!” her closest friend Cindy congratulated her. They ordered a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, chinking glasses once it was poured. Just then, Elle spotted out of the corner of her eye a well-dressed figure seated at the bar. The man was alone, evidently deep in thought. His melancholy in stark and obvious contrast to the joy welling up inside her. And although from her initial assessment he appeared not to be her type, there was something about him that attracted her. He needs someone to talk to, she decided. For some strange reason Elle felt drawn to this man, eager to unlock the mystery that she sensed lay somewhere beneath the surface of the lonely veneer he projected.

“Excuse me for a moment, would you, girls?” Elle asked her friends, taking out the champagne bottle from its ice bucket. “I’ll be back in a second. Approaching the bar, she flashed him her best smile, which no man on earth could ignore – set as it was on the face of an angel, with the body of Venus. “I’m celebrating. Can I offer you a glass?” she said to his glazed expression, gesturing with the bottle. The man was possibly looking in her direction, but more likely over her shoulder. Perhaps, even, nowhere in particular, as he swayed a little on the stool while trying desperately hard to formulate a response in his mind. Closer now, Elle noticed that much of what she had mistaken for the man’s melancholy was in fact his drunken stupor. She now began to feel a little silly, as he appeared to be completely ignoring her. But his intended reaction to her approach was merely on pause and, once his pickled brain had managed to process the information she fed into his ears and eyes, he slurred the best response he could muster: “Shuurre… wh.. what’s the occ… occaishhhhen…?”

Elle was about to respond when she sensed he had begun to topple away from her, off his bar stool, in an arc that could only lead to concussion, perhaps even death. “Watch out!” she yelled, trying to grab the man’s lapels, dropping the champagne bottle – crash! – on to the floor in the process. Horrified, she realised that, if anything, she had given him a slight shove in the process, as though helping him on his way. There was an awful-sounding thud as his head hit the floor, which caused her to gasp. By now, however, the bartender had raced around the counter to assist, while at the same time calling for additional help. She looked on helplessly as the two Philippine tangueros then manhandled him back upright, slapping his face lightly in an attempt to rouse him. Sloping off, Elle returned to her friends somewhat deflated, and minus the rest of the champagne, which was now bubbling in a sorry lake on the floor, around the broken bottle.

“Shit. I wasn’t expecting that,” she said to her friends, at least one of whom now had a secret, warm feeling that super-Elle had finally fucked something up. “Not your fault, girl!” Cindy reassured her. “That guy was halfway to oblivion. Everyone could see that. What a state some people get themselves into! Waiter! Another bottle!” The group’s revelry was then reignited and, for all but one of them, the episode with the drunk at the bar was over: it was history. But Elle still kept a concerned eye on the man. Strangely, she sensed that for her it was not yet over – although she had no idea why the episode seemed yet to have reached its conclusion. And as the man was later helped past her and out of the bar into a waiting taxi, she managed quietly to slip one of her business cards into his jacket pocket, without anyone noticing.

posted by Kirk at 4:58 am  

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