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48

Johnny Ng has a maid, a Filipina who brings us breakfast on his vast balcony overlooking downtown Hong Kong. Ng points at some buzzards hanging in the sky above the tall apartment buildings. Their numbers diminish every year, he says. I think its a miracle theyve hung on this long. After the coffee and fresh croissants, he drives me to the rail terminal in the city center, and I take a train to the airport. It is not an ordinary train: there is a train ambassador, who walks through the carriages making sure everyone is okay on the twenty-minute journey. She gives me the standard Hong Kong money smile, but takes in my clothes as she passes. From the airport I call Sukum to tell him about my evening with Johnny Ng. Sukum refuses to comment over the phone; all he communicates is fear, so it seems I have to carry the burden of enlightenment all on my own. As soon as I touch down in Bangkok, I call him again. That was the deal, wasnt it? I do the investigative stuff, then you corroborate or not?

Not on the phone. Ill come around to your house. No, wait, I dont want to be seen visiting you, I dont want them to think we have a personal relationship.

Dyou want me to wear a disguise?

Would you?

I was joking, Detective.

He coughs. How about Hua Lamphong?

Thirty minutes.



| The Godfather of Kathmandu |