Jack and I often discuss the best way to die. The cause of death ranges from, for unnatural death, accident, execution, homicide, misadventure, suicide, terrorism, war and abortion. For death by natural causes I was told that old age is not a scientifically recognized cause of death.
So, if you find that your wife is sleeping with another man and you kill her, it is classified as “unnatural death” in the coroner’s inquiry. And if your ninety-nine-old mother went to bed before midnight and you woke up in the morning and found that she has stopped breathing you can’t say that it is natural.
Jack and I are colleagues. We work at this private investigation agency. I shall not reveal the name because I am going to tell you this story. This story belongs to me. It is my own story and I am glad that I am still alive to tell this.
During lunch, Jack and I talk about many things. One time he even go so far as to tell me, “When I stand in front of the washing machine and I turn it on, it works, when I stand in front of the microwave oven, it works; but when I stand in front of my wife sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, I don’t know why.” Jack is often exasperated with his wife.
I first come to know of this agency through the “Classified Ads”. I want to work there at the agency because I think the scope of the job would be very interesting. Imagine being a private eye, you are being paid to spy on other people. So, I tell my husband, who is reading the newspapers at the time, that I want this job badly.
I am a housewife and he doesn’t really want me to work. I ring for an interview. Two men interview me. Jack isn’t one of them. The fact that there is a mannequin in the conference room where I am interviewed says nothing about the company except to give me a creepy feeling.
I am not too sure why I am eventually picked for the job, but I know that my looks matters t a lot. I mean, not that I was pretty or what. It is that I look very ordinary. To be a private eye you must have a nondescript face, a kind of face where people look at you and would not want to take a look at you a second time.
When Mr. Singham come into the conference room to interview me the first thing he says to me is, “This you?” showing me my picture in the resume, which I have submitted.
I know that this isn’t the end of the selection. Mr. Singham has two other candidates waiting for him outside the conference room to be interviewed. The application is open until 9 April and today is only the 7th. They may decide to wait until after the 9th to make the final decision.
But Mr. Singham’s decision is based on Mr. Wong’s choice as I am told after I am given the job. At the interview I promise both Mr. Singham and Mr. Wong seven days a week and twenty-four hours a day. To this end I also give them my phone number so that is how I got the job.
“You work eight hours a day, forty-four hours a week.”
“We begin at 8:30 a.m. and we end at 5:00 p.m., lunch is from 12:30 p.m. and we start again at 1:30 p.m. You may be required to work at night because of the nature of the job. However, you will be given double your hourly rate when you report to work at night.”
I ask Mr. Wong if I could wear jeans during weekdays and he nods his head approvingly, “You are supposed to wear jeans,” he says,
“As a PI you must look as casual as possible but not too casual,” he adds,
“but you shouldn’t be wearing slippers, high-heeled sandals are alright.”
I am told before that if you can’t finish your tasks during office hours you are a lousy worker.
“How long am I supposed to take for each assignment?” I ask. “It could be weeks, or even months, so long as you procure the evidence.”
“Do I need to buy my own camera?” I ask.
“No, you sit in the office and wait for the instruction.”
“What kind of instruction?” I ask again.
“You’ll see,” and with that he ends the conversation. I gather that if I want the job I had better keep quiet.
I am a night person. In the mornings I have to drop by the coffee house at the ground floor for a cup of coffee before I start the day.
Once I get the phone call from Miss. Suzie, I know that I am in. “See you on the 10th of April,” she tells me over the phone. I am elated. After I put the phone down, I immediately go into action.
I organize all my clothes the ones for rainy days I keep them all in a basket and as I throw open the wardrobe, I decide on the black Gucci bag as it has many pockets and is more functional. I find my Jack and Jill sunglasses from the drawer and I put it on to see if the frame still fits nicely. To be a private eye a pair of sunglasses is a necessary tool for the trade.
Whereas Mr. Wong has a pair of sheepish eyes, Mr. Lee has a strong physique. By that I mean that you see that he is tough and you conclude that he can withstand cold weather and long walks. Not surprisingly both of them choose their profession in the private investigation industry.
On the first day I start work I pack my handphone, my purse, my house keys, my pouch, and a notebook with a pen, and I carry a denim jacket with my bag. My bag is the Gucci that I picked. I wear a dress and then after looking into the full-length mirror I take it off and change into a pair of black pants and a black silk blouse. I am glad that I could still fit into them.
I am told to be there on 10 April. I arrive at 8:15 a.m. sharp and I make sure that the security guard at the ground floor lobby sees me. I try to tell him that I am a new staff to one of the tenants here in the building but he ignores me completely. Then I give the agency fifteen minutes to open. It is officially open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
I don’t want to be late on my first day at work. First impressions always count. So far, I have given the employers the idea that I am a hard worker. And two days ago, I bought two silk blouses and they cost one hundred and fifty dollars each. I am hoping that my salary can cover the capital outlay soon.
The first person I meet on the fifth floor is Jack. I am not introduced to him yet, so I just smile at him. He merely says Hi and he promptly go inside the conference room leaving me standing by the reception. My first impression of Jack is that he is about thirty and married with at least one kid. He looks a family man to me.
Another guy was sitting at the reception and I am glad that he does not seemed to be interested in me. Later I find out that his name is Bobby. It seems that the agency take no notice that I am reporting in today.
Three minutes later Jack comes out and he tells me to go into the conference room and sit down next to him. I merely sit there watching him type. When I become restless, I stand up and ask him whether I could have a cup of coffee.
“You can use the guests cup today, but tomorrow please bring your own.”
I am annoyed with myself that I haven’t prepared a mug to bring in today. As Jack takes one from a set of six, he orders, “Don’t break it,” before he promptly leave me standing in the kitchen.
The coffee percolator is brewing the powder and I can smell the flavour of the Arabian coffee. “Is it the Arabian brew?” I ask.
No reply come so I stand there and wait until the coffee is ready. I pour the brown liquid into the cup and find that I need milk as well but this time I dare not disturb Jack again.
I simply open the fridge to look for fresh milk. There is none. So, I bring the coffee back to my seat and starts sipping the black coffee at regular intervals until it is time for lunch. It is bitter and for the first time in my life I don’t like coffee.
I am completely ignored for the first half of the day and I don’t know when I could have my lunch. During the morning I find out that the wall clock is slow by ten minutes and that Jack is following the hour on his PC. He gets up from his chair at twelve twenty by the time on the wall and then goes to the back to see Miss Suzie.
I could hear them talking but I couldn’t decipher the content of the conversation. After a while Jack comes back and asks me to follow him out for lunch. I leave my handphone on the table and forget to bring it out with me. The handphone is the latest iPhone 5S series and very expensive. “Never mind, next time I call you on the handphone to go out for lunch, so you won’t forget.” Jack is kind.