I was walking past the security checkpoint in my apartment block’s underground car park when I was stopped by the guard inside the cubicle. In fact he’d come out the cubicle when he saw me approaching, obviously wanting to say something. I knew most of the guards by name, but not this one. He’d only been around in the last couple of weeks. Not at all bad looking I’d thought, but that was all the notice I’d ever taken of him.
“Can you spare a minute, Ms Kubota?”
“Sure. What’s the problem?”
“Not really a problem. Not yet, anyway. I just wanted to let you know that I’ve got a copy of a tape from the security camera down here in the car park. A tape from last Wednesday night in fact — just after midnight.”
He was grinning like a high school kid telling a dirty story but I had no idea what the joke was.
“What about it?”
“What the hell has that got to do with you?”
Now the smile was bigger than ever: “It’s got nothing at all to do with me. But Mr Wang might think it has a hell of a lot to do with him.”
This was nasty. If I was reading it right it could be very nasty.
“Who’s Mr Wang?”
“You don’t know Mr Wang, Ms Kubota? That’s a surprise, considering he usually spends a couple of evenings here each week, and every time he comes here he stays in your apartment. Perhaps you never noticed him, or perhaps you thought he was the cleaner. But it would be odd that you don’t know he owns the apartment you’re living in. Why, I bet you didn’t even know that he was in Chicago on a business trip on Wednesday night. I know it though, because I checked up on Thursday by phoning his office.”
The guy looked so young that I thought I might be able to bluff things out.
“What’s your name?”
“Danny Collins. Very pleased to meet you, Ms Kubota.”
“Don’t give me your crap. If I reported this conversation you’d be out on the street tomorrow looking for a job.”
“I surely would. But if I showed a copy of the tape to Mr Wang maybe he’d give me a job and you’d certainly be out on the street looking for somewhere to live. Check, Ms Kubota?”
Not check, but checkmate. If he did have a tape he claimed he did. One thing was for sure, I certainly had been fool enough to kiss Ray here in the car park on Wednesday night, and somebody must have seen us. Since no one had been in sight it was probably true the only way this little snot knew about it was because of the building surveillance system.
Which in turn meant that he probably did have a tape. And if Ti saw it he was going to get upset — not angry, just upset over a business deal where he was getting short changed. And when Ti had a business deal go sour on him he terminated it straight away. I’d last just as long as it took me to pack my bags, and Ti would have no trouble at all in finding another girl to help me carry them out as long as she could move in afterwards to take my place.
Maybe I could threaten to tell Mrs Wang? Or maybe not. Prominent chinese businessmen never break the law but they usually have a third cousin six times removed living on the other side of the city who has a buddy who knows a guy who’s strong with the local triad. Some money would move from a Singapore bank to a Hong Kong bank and one way or another I’d be persuaded to shut up. No, threatening Ti was not a good idea. Nor was trying to threaten this nasty little nosey parker — all he stood to lose was in the fight was his crummy guard’s job: me, I’d go instantly from high rise living to becoming low life.
“I think we’re going to have to talk about this,” I said.
“That’s the way I see it too, Ms Kubota. My shift ends at eleven. I’ll come up then.”
“OK. But don’t bring your gun or I might be tempted to show you how much I don’t want to see you.”
“My pistol’s only a .38 but I’ve got a much bigger caliber weapon than that — and I’ve always got it ready and loaded with me.”
“The way you’re behaving, Mr Collins, I wouldn’t count on keeping it forever.”
He grinned, totally unworried. I couldn’t hurt him and he knew it.
“See you tonight, Ms Kubota. Keep things warm for me.”
The door bell sounded at eleven ten and when I opened it there was no surprise at all about who was standing there, a big grin all over his shit eating face.
“Well, hello, Ms Kubota. Here I am coming off duty and there you are dressed to go on duty. But surely you’ve got something a bit sexier in the way of lingerie for Mr Wang’s visits? Or do you reserve the frilly knickers for the Wednesday night specials?”
“Did anybody ever tell you your mouth is bigger than the Lincoln tunnel?”
He was totally cool: “There are a lot of rude answers I could make to that, Ms Kubota, but let’s just say you’re not making me happy the way you would be if you were smart. How about inviting me into your apartment while you’ve still got an apartment to invite anybody into?”
He had me over a barrel and he knew it.
“Alright, come in.” I stepped aside and he strolled in as though he owned the place himself. The guy had more front than the city public library.
“Not bad, not bad at all. And all paid for by pulling on Mr Wang’s yang. Nice work I guess, though I wouldn’t fancy it myself. Mind you, I think that on balance I’d prefer Mr Wang to the specimen you brought home on Wednesday. Even a nymphomaniac should know where to join the line.”
“I’m not a nymphomaniac — or a blackmailer, either, come to think of it.”
“If you say so. From what I’ve heard, if all the guys who’ve been in here to screw you were put together in the elevator, it’d be way too heavy to get off the ground floor. And the story is that none of them ever came back. One ride on Kelly Kubota’s subway and they never returned. Weren’t any of them good enough, or wouldn’t any of them pay to come back for a second turn?”
“You! … ” I had to bite back the words I wanted to spit out. “Have you got anything to say that’s worth my time listening to?”
He undid his neck tie, took it off and threw it over the back of a chair, then unbuttoned his shirt. “I’ve got news for you, Kelly. You don’t have anymore time — it all belongs to me now. Except for Mr Wang’s, maybe.”
“I don’t think so. Ti Wang is an important man, but you’re a nobody.”
Danny unclipped the big metal torch on his belt, walked over to me and prodded me in the stomach with it. “Step backwards into your bedroom and sit your big ass down on the bed, or I might loose my temper with your big mouth.”
As soon as I was on my bed he sat down beside me and pushed the torch up underneath my chin.
“Do I get an apology for what you just said, or do I send a Fed-Ex parcel with a video tape inside it around to your very important friend, Mr Wang?”
There was no place to go but down.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that, Danny. It’s just that you’re frightening me and I’m getting nervous. I didn’t mean anything by it.”
“That’s better – that’s what I came to hear. So now we’ll start again, right?”
The torch dropped from my chin, slipped along my throat, lower and lower, until it reached the elastic band at the top of my night dress. The weight of the warm metal rested on it, pulling down the material and exposing the tops of my breasts.
Danny snickered as he enjoyed the view: “That’s a pretty good looking set you’ve got there, Kelly. I thought they’d be a sticker on them somewhere though — handle with care, maybe. Or at least some autographs and visitors’ comments.”
“Aw, come on, Danny. I’m trying to be nice. Why do you have to make things so difficult between us?”
He looked up and grinned at me. “Maybe if you let me have a good clear look at these beauties I’d shut up for a while.”
“OK. Why don’t you lie down.”
He took off his jacket and shirt, then stretched out on the bed. I sat down beside him.
“Do you often pull strokes like this, Danny?”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m talking about blackmailing tenants with things you see on the security cameras.”
He smirked as he pulled down one of my nightdress straps. “
If you think you’re being blackmailed, you should hear about some of the things I’ve seen other people doing around here. They’ve got no brains at all, some of them.”
“Like me, you mean?”
“You’re not stupid, you’re just a slut.”
God, this creep pissed me. “Is that the best way you can think of to get a girl to come onto you, Danny? By saying something like that?”
“OK, my turn to say sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. Now, let’s get this night dress all the way down.”