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Gag Order – Installment 14 – Good News, Bad News

Wilona grabbed her bag and was about to set off but stopped with a gasp. Jeevan was standing next to the cubicle and watching her.

‘Sorry if I startled you,’ said Jeevan. ‘Where to?’

‘Oh, meeting a potential client,’ said Wilona with a shrug, having quickly recovered.

‘Billable hours, I hope,’ said Jeevan.

‘Always,’ said Wilona and hurried off.

After she left, Jeevan hesitated and angled his head over her desk. He spied a writing pad—the top sheet blank. He threw furtive glances at the other staff before grabbing the thin pad.

Closing the door behind him, Jeevan ensconced behind his desk and shaded the writing pad with a pencil. As he briskly grayed the paper, a telephone number appeared – white on black. He called the number and a voice answered,

‘Hurst, Laurel and Partners. How may I help you?’

‘Sorry, I’ve got the wrong number,’ said Jeevan and quickly cut the line. He turned to his laptop and did a search, and brought up the website of Hurst, Laurel and Partners. He clicked on Careers and frowned.

Vacancy: In-house counsel.

He bit his lips as he reviewed the details of the job opportunity. Then, he leaned back, looking perplexed.

Joe Bernard walked out of the swanky corporate building and took the sidewalk to the mass rapid transit (MRT) train station. He had his cell phone pressed to one ear.

‘Krasten?’ he said. ‘Joe here. I just completed interviewing Bastien Tee’s co-workers. Most chose not to get involved but there’s one woman, a Mrs Toh. Bit of a blabber mouth—’

‘Good news?’

‘I’ll say yes,’ said Joe Bernard as he cantered down the steps leading to the underground station. ‘I’ll send through the interview report. Mrs Toh is agreeable to meet up with you and Wilona.’

‘That’s great Joe!’

‘What do you mean by close, Mrs Toh?’ said Sakaris, and gave his charming melt-the-middle-aged-woman smile. And he waited patiently while Mrs. Toh, in a new Clinton style power suit and fake pearl necklace, again adjusted the drooping fabric on her shoulders.

‘You know, close like touch-touch close. He’s a married man you know,’ replied Mrs. Toh, and she turned to Bastien sitting in the dock and gave him a soft smile. ‘And yes, that Lavinia woman always behaved so shame-shame with him.’

Sakaris threw a quick look at Wilona. Krasten was absent and she looked somewhat alone and vulnerable.

‘That’s terrible, isn’t it?’ said Sakaris, and scribbled on his note pad.

Seeing the well-dressed lawyer take notes, Mrs. Toh gets fired up with the attention given her words. She said,

‘Of course, so terrible. My goodness! I don’t know where to put my face. These women nowadays.’

‘Mrs. Toh what shame-shame, I mean,’ said Sakaris and coughed in fake embarrassment, ‘I mean, what shameless behavior did you witness?’ He flashed his charming smile again.

‘You know,’ said Mrs Toh, pushing the reading glass up her slippery nose, ‘always lunch-lunch together, come and go together, and, yes, giggle-giggle in the pantry together.’

‘Giggling in the pantry?’ said Sakaris, and added as an after thought. ‘I see.’

‘Yes!’ Mrs Toh paused for a moment and said, ‘Wait! Are you making fun of me?’

‘I wouldn’t dream of that, Mrs. Toh.’

‘I think you’re making fun of me.’ She folded her arms and looked away, miffed.

Knowing he had lost his magic with her, Sakaris pulled off his velvet glove, one finger at a time. He said, ‘Mrs. Toh, did you see them intimate, perhaps hugging or kissing?’

The woman did not respond. Unfazed, Sakaris turned more predatory. ‘Mrs. Toh?’

‘I told you! They giggle-giggle in the pantry! Why should they giggle-giggle if they’re not intimate-intimate?’

‘Mrs. Toh, did you see them behaving intimately? Did you see them hug? Did you see them kiss? Or, did you see them at the very least, hold hands?’

‘No! No and no!’ said Mrs Toh, clearly upset. ‘You want me to peep-peep is it? They always kept the pantry door closed but we can hear them carrying on.’

‘Mrs. Toh,’ said Sakaris, and picked up a document and waved it. ‘Is it not true you lodged a complaint with the staff union last year. A complaint against Ms Lavinia Ying?’

*** Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2017 ***

*** Continued Saturday 29 July. Krasten detained at lunch ***