“Where is my flatmate?” Millington demanded after a long silence. Given what had happened between us I’d found myself tongue-tied and unable to speak. Eventually I managed to say: “She’s at The Denizen, a luxury apartment block just over the border from Islington in The City of London.”
“What’s she doing there?”
“Woo is not herself. She’s suffering from memory loss. She entered my bedroom from the balcony early this morning in a curious condition.”
“That’s a new kink to me. How much did she charge for that?”
“A man was murdered in The Denizen around the time she appeared in my bedroom. His apartment is above mine. You can climb down from his balcony to the one outside my window. That’s how Woo got into my flat.”
“Sounds like a dangerous stunt, she could have slipped. I hope you paid her a lot for that.”
“I didn’t pay her anything.”
“You’re kidding me! She’s want at least two grand I’m sure!”
“When she entered my bedroom her clothes and hands were covered in blood.”
“I didn’t know she did assassinations. I bet that pays more than sexual services!”
“The horror of what took place in the apartment above mine has temporarily unhinged Woo’s brain.”
“She’s gone off her rocker?”
“No but she’s completely lost her memory. She can’t even remember her own name.”
“Who got knocked off?”
“Never heard of him. He wasn’t one of her johns, I know them all. She’s high class like me and doesn’t have many.”
“She said nothing about having an appointment with Tao last night? Or with anyone else?”
“She said she had an appointment. I assumed it was with a john, but I didn’t ask who because she was in a foul mood.”
“Mary you must come to The Denizen with me. Your presence may help restore Woo’s memory. But regardless you should bring her home. Familiar surroundings would be good for her and I can’t have her asleep all day in my apartment. Every time I look at her I want to wake her up and shag her.”
“Your views are naïve, money….” But before Millington could finish the sentence her bell rang and she answered it. I couldn’t hear the caller’s words.
“She’s not here,” Mary replied.
“Who was that?” I asked.
“Hwang Jang Lee wanting to see Woo.”
I rushed down the stairs and into the street. Millington’s mention of the caller’s name brought to mind the peculiar letter I’d found in the pocket of Woo’s cloak addressed to Hwang Jang Lee.
A young man was heading down the street. I ran after him shouting: “Stop! Hwang Jang Lee.”
The man turned around and stared at me before swinging on his heels and tearing off. I went after him. Fortunately, I can run fast when I need too. I soon had Hwang by the collar. He was panting like a rabbit. I frogmarched him back to Millington’s pad. He didn’t try to resist. She was waiting for us at the street door.
“This is Hwang Jang Lee. I bet he can tell us a few things we need to know.”
Once we were in Mary’s flat, I handed Hwang the missive I’d taken from Woo’s pocket. “I believe, Mr. Lee, that this letter is for you.”
He eyed it doubtfully, saw his name on it, observed that the envelope had been opened. He turned on me with a snarl. “Who are you? How dare you open a letter that’s addressed to me!”
“Read the letter Mr. Lee. Talk to me afterwards.”
He scanned the brief epistle, then snapped at me: “You must have stolen it!”
“Is the person alluded to as ‘that recuperator’ Mr. Chiang Tao of The Denizen?”
“Why do you want to know?”
“Because Chiang Tao is dead.”
“Yes dead, murdered and somebody is responsible!”
“You sound like you’re straight out of a b-movie, in fact as if you’re playing the detective who discovers Inspector Clay’s body in Plan 9 From Outer Space. And why is your female friend stripping?”
“Mary is a famous porn star and I assume she’s doing a webcam session for a private client.”
Lee staggered back against a chair. “A real live cybersex session! And I’m in the room with the camera! Do I get to screw this gorgeous blonde while somebody pays top dollar to watch it?”
Millington agreed Hwang could have sex with her if he’d tell me whatever it was I wanted to know afterwards. So while they went at it I checked emails on my smartphone. Voyeurism has never really interested me and frankly I view the amount of money some people spend on webcam sex services as utterly ridiculous. After what seemed like hours the sex session stopped and Lee began to tell his side of the story.
“I told Woo if she meddled in my affairs she’d make a mess of things. She wouldn’t know what she was doing and it would be dangerous because she’d be messing with triads. She’s as obstinate as a mule and never takes anyone’s advice!”
“You can say that again!” Mary chipped in.
“She’s an obstinate as a mule and never takes anyone’s advice!”
“Strange sense of déjà vu!” Mary observed.
“Toot toot!” I added. “Mr. Lee, what’s your connection to Woo Gam?”
“She’s my sister.”
“If you’re Gam’s brother then you’re John Woo, her vagabond sibling who’s robbed her of a fortune. Your face is like a bad copy of Woo’s, with half the beauty taken out.”
“I’m John Woo no longer, I didn’t care for my father or my mother, so I changed my name by deed-poll. I’m Hwang Jang Lee now!”
“Lee, why did your sister go to The Denizen last night?”
“It was to do with blockchain.”
“Did you do coding for Tao?”
“I just set up some fake drug selling accounts on the dark web and broke into a computer.”
“I see. And the laptop you broke into belonged to Tao’s brother Chan Wai-Man?”
“Who told you? How do you know?”
“Never mind who told me. Tell me more!”
“Tao’s stupid! You don’t fuck with the triads even if you’re part of the family, they don’t mess about; they’d rather kill you than talk about you making it up to them. If it hadn’t been for Tao I’d have never half-inched his brother’s cryptocurrency. I owed Tao a few quid, quite a few quid, and he said if I could rip-off some Fiatcoin from his brother, he’d write off the debt.”
“And so you agreed to reassign the currency between you.”
“No. It was never his plan to rip everything off. But I figured in for a penny, in for a pound. So I punted the amount he wanted to him and stole the rest for myself. I didn’t know at that point it was triad loot. Since I’d taken everything, Chan and his triad friends noticed immediately. Tao realised what had happened and he came to me and said he was gonna tell his brother I was the culprit. And he assured me Chan and his triad gang would kill me very slowly, perhaps administering opium to ensure I remained conscious for days as they gradually cut me to pieces.”
“Did you beg your sister to save you?”
“I mentioned it to her and she was very angry. She told me a lot of things I didn’t know about Tao and Chan and the many investors who have bought ghost homes in The Denizen and elsewhere in EC1. Woo said she was using sex magick to bring about the downfall of Chinese state capitalism, and that eventually there would be a world-wide proletarian revolution in which money was abolished. Woo said the process of disalienation that would lead to real communism would make everyone cosmic. Nothing made her angrier than the capitalists of Chinese state pretending to be communists. She said it was the lies of the so-called Communist Party of China that had impelled her to join the International Communist Coven and work for the return at a higher level of not just of the modes of social organisation that had characterised primitive communist societies, but also the shamanic magical consciousness that characterised them.”
“Wow!” Mary observed. “That’s a super-phat and groovy anti-political programme! But then I ought to know, I had a hand in designing it! Communism is cosmic!”