PANDEMONIUM, I LIKE THAT WORD, one that perfectly describes the situation over the past month: lots of noise and confusion caused by excitement, anger, or fear.
I suppose you all know about poor Chong Ping Poh. The fat policeman said his death was an accident, that he fell into the river and cracked his head open on the rocks. I knew all along that Pork Chop was the killer. Ping Poh had been preparing, making his grand plan to take over the town. We had the hidden video cameras recording everything that went on in the rooms above the little casino. And I had the data ready to go public, uploaded to the internet — a click away from being released. Emails with links ready to go to local media.
But I didn’t go through with it.
Why? Well it was my chance you see. The naughty videos would have wrecked the business. Destroyed the clients and left me and the girls with nothing, nowhere to go. We would have been jailed, or sent back to China. I saw the chance to take it all over, the pub, the gaming, the girls, and I had the videos to fend off the bigwigs.
Chief Pork Chop Porcini came to see me the evening after finding Ping Poh’s corpse. The mayor, Bob Flagstaff, was with him. Mayor Bob was a regular, both downstairs and upstairs, but mainly upstairs. He had a particular interest in being spanked by one of my girls, Mei Lin. Skinny little Mei would drag him round the room by his necktie while he crawled about like a dog, then beat his buttocks with a hairbrush while she yelled at him for being a bad dog. Strange behaviour, but not the weirdest, not by a long shot. Anyway, after Pork Chop said Ping Poh was dead, Mayor Bob told me they were taking over the business.
I was ready for them.
Had a few juicy videos queued up on the big screen TV. Showed Mayor Bob’s first. All colour drained from his ruddy face, his eyes bulged, a strangled cackle came from his throat. Then he shouted for me to turn it off. His face went from white to purple. Then the next video came on. Pork Chop dressed in ladies’ underwear, then in a tutu prancing about the room. His reaction was quite a bit more animated than Mayor Bob’s, threatening to kill me.
My English isn’t that good, but it was good enough that through a few words and gestures, click, internet, BAM! I threw my arms up with that last shouted word. They got the message loud and clear.
That’s when the pandemonium started. I knew the danger hadn’t gone away; I knew they would still come for me. With the videos as my leverage, I negotiated for all my girls to get their legal papers. I distributed most of Ping Poh’s money to them and off they went to live their new lives, their American dream. I was quite happy to stay in town and run the business.
But look at me now. A few days after my twenty ninth birthday I lie beneath six feet of dirt, buried under the floorboards of an abandoned warehouse. Perhaps thousands of years from now my remains will be discovered in an archaeological dig. The skeleton of a female warrior? My splintered ribs might be interpreted as battle wounds. The axe that did me in lying buried with me giving the impression of the weapon of an amazon.
My fears were well founded. I had kept my plans intact ready to go with a single click.
Pork Chop and Mayor Bob who had seen their videos were clearly wary but the others, people like the postmaster, chief justice and several other notables wanted me gone and put the pressure on the police chief to get rid of me. After all, what was one more murder to someone who had probably committed dozens? Come to think of it, I probably have neighbours down here. Once I figure this ghost thing out, I’ll do some exploring.
I had the trigger all set up on my phone. Pork Chop came at me with the axe, so ‘click’ I did.
Marco Lobo is a Tokyo-based business consultant. With a background in international business, Marco helps European and North American multinationals establish their commercial footprint in Japan and the wider Asia region. Extensive travel and exposure to myriad cultures has allowed him to take note of the ways different peoples interact, whether it is in harmony or conflict. Raised in British Hong Kong, he witnessed the former colony’s transition from Britain to China, and now its ongoing transformation into a Chinese city. Likewise, of Portuguese heritage, Marco is deeply committed to observing and writing about the Portuguese diaspora and the changes it has gone through. The author of five books, his work has been published in English, Portuguese and Chinese.