Our visitor was in a state of considerable agitation. Crippen knew him. The doctor jigged towards the man from across the lounge.
“Cheung Lik you’d better come with me. You should speak to me and ignore the guttersnipe I’m with.”
I interposed. “He asked for Feng. Therefore he wants me.”
LIk looked at Crippen with half dazed eyes. “Dr. Crippen I know you very well.”
“Lik,” Crippen barked, “you have no right to speak of your master’s private affairs to strangers. I am Chan’s friend. I will safeguard his interests. I warn you to keep a strict watch on your tongue, or ….”
The doctor was unable to complete the sentence. Even before Lik entered the room he’d been doing the dance of inadequate bladder control; I knew Crippen had problems on the other side too and it looked like he’d just accidentally evacuated his bowels. The doctor departed from the residents’ lounge with a strange series of twisted steps that looked like they’d come straight from ‘The Ministry of Funny Walks’; he was desperately holding in his transverse abdominis while simultaneously clenching his pelvic floor and glutes. The vile odour emanating from his clothing indicated that a considerable quantity of runny poo had seeped into his pants. Clearly Crippen didn’t want any more of the brown stuff falling out of his bottom before he reached a toilet. Given that the plumbing in The Denizen had never been properly laid in, the doctor reaching a bathroom was not necessarily going to solve all his problems.
I turned to my visitor. “Pay no attention to my excitable friend, he has a bit of a drug problem and has gone soft in the head; and as you can tell he’s also incontinent. I am Feng, Tao’s friend. I assume you work for Chiang’s half-brother Chan Wai-Man. Tell me what happened.”
“I think perhaps Crippen is right and I shouldn’t talk about my master.”
“But you have accused him of murdering Chiang Tao!”
“No, sir, not that! I didn’t mean it! I was confused!”
“Between thought and expression lies a minefield of misunderstanding,” I observed. “I’m convinced Chan played no role in his brother’s death. Very soon you’ll hear from Chan himself an explanation that will blow your mind and send all your doubts away. He will clear the whole thing up once you take me to him.”
“But that’s just it. I don’t know where he is. Isn’t he here at The Denizen?”
“Are you telling me Chan stayed out all night?”
“Yes and he told me to wait at his flat as there was something important he needed help with in the early hours.”
“His London ghost home is in Dance Square off Central Street, is that right?”
“When did he go out?”
“After midnight and in an absolute rage with Tao. You see Chan is very good with money and has US dollar bills falling out of his arsehole. But Tao seemed unable to make money; he was only able to spend it. Chan gave Tao millions and millions of dollars. What he did with it was a mystery but it got to the point where they had violent quarrels over money. Now Chan is hot-tempered but Tao was in the wrong. Once I saw Chan attack Tao with a baseball bat and beat him so badly I had to call an ambulance. And recently the arguing between them has got worse. There’s been some trouble over blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Tao has a hacker friend and got him to break into one of his brother’s computers. They took all the Fiatcoin reserves Chan and his business associates had built up by using them to buy non-existent drugs on fake dark web marketplace accounts they’d set up themselves.”
“Are you certain of your facts?”
“Absolutely certain. Chan has been ranting about it to anyone who’d listen. He’s been apoplectic since he found out. Sometimes I think he’s gone quite mad. Yesterday afternoon Tao came to Dance Square and there was an awful scene. Chan started shouting: “My brother’s a thief! That’s not news, you’ve heard it before but he’s been robbing me again. And he’ll keep on robbing me until he’s buried in his grave. If he’s found dead after being flayed alive you’ll know who did it, Lik.’ And then he went on and on about how his Triad friends were mad as hell because they’d lost everything they’d made from their dark web trading ventures.”
Lik paused to wipe his brow with a white handkerchief, then went on: “Last night a man came to see Chan. He wouldn’t give his name, and when I told him Chan wasn’t in, he said he’d call again. He came again about eleven. Chan hadn’t returned so he gave me a letter. It was the witching hour when Chan came in. I gave him the missive and as soon as he looked at it he started acting like a nutjob. ‘My brother,’ he screamed, ‘is a slithering piece of shit. I’m gonna cut him to pieces and make a cannibal feast of his flesh when I get hold of him.’ Then Chan tore out of his Dance Square ghost home and headed south towards The Denizen. This morning when there was still no sign of him, I came around here to see if Tao knew where he was. That’s when I learned Chan’s brother had been murdered.”
I paced up and down, pondering the tale as Lik told it. I saw how from his point-of-view it looked like Chan must be the murderer. I remained convinced Woo was the killer and ultimately she would butcher me too in an erotic rite of eldritch significance. Still there was something in the whole business that was currently beyond my comprehension, which would show that the deductions Lik drew were erroneous. And while I knew it was Woo who’d killed Tao, Chan’s mad as hell triad associates could just as easily be put in the frame.
“Lik,” I thundered “you had no right to tell me what you did. Fortunately I will not make any use of it. Take my advice don’t breathe a word of this to anyone. Go home and keep your own counsel. If the cops get wind of this they’ll make Chan their chief suspect.”
“But where is Chan?”
“It doesn’t matter. He’s your boss and he can do what he likes. Go home and keep mum.”
In the end the only way I could get Lik to leave was by stepping out into Golden Lane with him.