I was minding my own business at Harry’s Bar, another developed tourist trap down at Boat Quay. I was wearing my Malaysian tracksuit pants and wrinkled black T-Shirt and Gucci Loafers. They are pretty relaxed her, so long as I sat outside, said the friendly head waiter, who had the distinct lilt of someone who wanted to fuck me up the ass.
‘If you mean that I’m gay, well I am.’
He said he was Indonesian.
‘My nickname was General Sukarno when I worked in Australia.’
I vaguely remember you, I said. You hated women and always gave the hours to your pets.
Obviously I was one of them.
‘Would you like another drink?’
What are you talking about?
‘You put your hand up,’ he said.
I looked at him. He wasn’t Indonesian. He was a Chinese Singaporean.
Sorry I said; make it another Campari and soda.
I’m going to have to get grip of these flashbacks, I thought, as I watched the barman pull a draft Tiger. I could do with one of those too.
If this was an indication of dementia setting in, I think I could have a lot of fun with it.
‘I bet you could,’ said this gorgeous Singaporean. I leaned over and spoke to the cleavage.
‘Now now,’ she said coquettishly.
And I bet your name is Lucinda?
She knew why I was here.
But I really didn’t have a clue. I was impressed with the way he dealt with you. She looked down at my shoes.
‘Gucci loafers,’ she said, almost surprised, but not quite.
I smiled. Hay, I could be in like Flynn.
‘You are an odd one,’ she said, ‘that’s what I always liked about Inspector Tay.
Harry’s Bar was filling up with suitcase trendies and loud Australians. They won’t stare me down today, I thought. Not with this hot Asian chick giving me attention. They’ll be drooling and wondering about her tastes for white bar trash. This was Singapore after all, where outward sophistication was the benchmark for success in this fairy-tale city
It went a bit deeper than that, I wanted to explain to the trendoids.
‘You won’t explain anything,’ said the manager. Oh no, by the sound of his accent, he was another Paddy.
‘He’s my guest,’ said Lucinda. ‘And as of now, you are blacklisted in Singapore.’
Paddy just laughed. He wasn’t use to that kind of rebuttal. Being a white guy working in Singapore was a license to self-glorification.
Paddy changed tack. He went back to bar and retrieved an ashtray and then two Campari and sodas arrived. Maybe word got around about my Alley Bar exploits and Paddy the Second really wanted to hold onto his family jewels.
I had to give it to Tay; he just wasn’t a push over. People are looking at me. Am I talking to myself? Most likely. I took another sip of my Campari — weak as piss; I’d have to put in a formal complaint.
That was mistake number by the legal attaché of the American Embassy, saying that Tay was slow on the uptake but a wonderful fulcrum point to use as leverage. Was DeSouza aware that Tay had been tipped off by the author? Come on, that kind of cheating doesn’t go on in crime novels. But I had to admit, Tay’s asswipe detector is pretty refined.
I looked at my shoes, hoping it might elicit another response from Lucinda.
‘Are you trying to be cute,’ she said.
I agreed, Gucci Loafers weren’t really part of my traveling make up. But damn it was nice to be fitting in for a change.
I was talking to myself over another Campari. At this stage Lucinda moved on. The novelty of a weirdo following in Tay’s footsteps had worn off and now she just looked freaked out. She was back at the bar and playing with hear and giving Paddy too much attention.
I know, I was out of my league.
As I looked out to the Singapore River and the white-washed heritage buildings across the concrete drain, I thought about Ambassador Art Munson’s observations on this city:
‘Whatever Singapore really was, wherever it really was, it sure as hell was hard for him to think of it as being in Asia. Shoot, sometimes it was hard even for him to think of it as being on Planet Earth.
I just couldn’t help but see the author write himself into the bad guy role, if indeed the ambassador was at this stage of the book. Hay, I just could be wrong, couldn’t I? Munson’s thoughts in front of his staff bordered on clinically insane, pondering on their sexual life. Who was fucking who? Well never mind.
Perhaps I was wrong.
Are you saying Marc is fucking Cally?
Shut your pie hole. I’m saying Marc would fuck a duck if he had half the chance.
Well maybe it’s the coffee talking. Nevertheless, the Ambassador is being set up to be the biggest assole- evil calulating scum capable of anything.
Now that’s a broad statement.
Ok, I say, it’s exciting as fuck, who is fucking who. But do you think Cally had a lesbian session with Ambassador’s wife before she got brutally killed.
Not sure, but by the size of her knockers, I reckon she was screwing every Mujahidin in sight.
A great way to penetrate terrorist cells.
Yep, spreading legs in the line of duty is not beyond female spooks. And it’s the terrorist that penetrate her dopey.
I’m getting ahead of myself here, I thought, making a note I’d have consult the author of The Ambassador’s Wife on these raised points. Hadn’t he hinted in past interviews that he wrote himself into bad guy roles? Too right he had!
‘Stay off the Cool- Aid.’
What, who the fuck was that?
‘I’m Harry, now fuck off. We don’t like weirdos like you at our bar.’
Harry was Lebanese, a former Hezbollah gun runner who had reinvented himself in Singapore as a publican.
‘With pleasure,’ I said, while putting two fingers to my eyes and pointing at him. ‘I’ll be watching you asswipe.’
Word was getting around and at this rate I’d run out of bars to hang out.
‘Blacklisted,’ said the Lebo.
And with pleasure, I said as I hoofed it out of the machinations of my mind.
I could feel the Ambassador was around. He walked up to Harry. I could see that clearly.
‘You cocksucking rag head,’ said the Ambassador. ‘Anymore of this shit and our Embassy will find another place to drink.’
I liked Art a lot. He might be a sly son of a bitch, but his heart was in the right place. But I’m sure when Tay eventually met the Ambassador, I’d harbour some kind of fictitious grudge against him. That’s the way the show down was heading.
Singapore was getting madder by the minute. I put down by Kindle reader and ordered another milky tea. It was nice to be back in Johor, far away from the Nanny State. I think I’d be giving Harry’s Bar a big miss if I ever made it that way. Spending ten Singaporean bucks on a pint just seemed very unreasonable.
Planet Singapore it might be, but they weren’t getting my hard earned tourist bucks.
And I’d be having a chat to Abdul at the world’s dirtiest toilet. He might be able to help me put that Harry in his place.
‘Records you want, we have,’ he said as I ordered a milky tea and a plate of Masala chicken.
He said if I gave the word, ‘I have enough dirt on him to have him deported back to Lebanon.
It pays to be connected. I said I’d take a rain check and think about it.
He gives me a funny look, raising his eyebrows.
‘You have a very active imagination,’ he says. ‘My records show that a Singaporean owns Harry’s Bar.’
He must be a silent partner, I said. Now how is the people smuggling business going, I eventually asked. I was only making polite conversation and Abdul appreciated the fact that I made the effort. That’s half the battle to getting by in the this travel game. Show some interest and the stories just flow. And if they don’t then make them up.