I was standing at the Hong Kong international airport with Chris Buster and Beatrice Dahlia behind me. I showed my passport to security and was cleared to pass; I turned to see Chris being checked by the guards. A man of his size was intimidating enough to make security guards fear him. Not that Chris would need a bomb to go on a murder rampage. All he needed were his fists.
“Enjoy your stay in Hong Kong,” the guard smiled at us as we exited the arrivals. We had been travelling all over the world ever since I quit the force. The last five years, the five years since the incident and Onila’s disappearance, we had been backpacking in Nepal, cycling in India, and smoking cannabis in the Netherlands. It had all been good, but in the back of my mind I think I got the idea to backpack around the world from my desire to find Oni. I had looked up human trafficking destination, looked at international newspapers and done hours worth of research. In none of the places had I seen traces of Oni. I had talked to beggars in New Delhi and whores in Amsterdam, all to no result.
As we walked to our hostel, Chris complained about the fact that Beatrice had more game than us boys.
“She has probably slept with more girls than you have in your life,” Chris groaned, and Beatrice beamed.
“You have Lillian and the bar, Chris,” I said. Chris had gotten married to the bar owner Lillian just a year after Oni’s disappearance. They had been romantically involved for years without Onila’s knowing. I couldn’t hate Chris for it though. He really loved Lillian and it showed.
They married only a month after Darren and Chrissie. Darren and Chrissie were happily married with a child on the way. Since the events around the incident found place, Darren had become the chief of police. He had proven to be a great officer. Even better than his brother, Jonathan Treble, who still was a detective.
We arrived at our hostel around eight in the evening. We were tired, jetlagged, and just wanted to jump into bed. I was in the habit of exploring a city before I went to sleep. Chris and Beatrice were already snoring as I exited the room. Some Japanese tourists that also stayed at the hostel asked if I wanted to come with them. I said no. I would rather explore the city by myself. Plus, there was a market I had read about that I wanted to explore.
I started thinking about how good my life had become. I lived with Beatrice in the suburbs of the town. I was writing my first travelling book, and I had sort of become a local celebrity because of the investigation. I hadn’t had a woman in years, but I was fine with it. What I wasn’t fine with was that Beatrice, the nerd Beatrice, would constantly bring men and women home with her.
I stepped into the chill evening air. It was far too cold to walk around without the jacket. It was Onila’s jacket. I had decided I’d wear it in remembrance.
I walked down the darkened parts of the streets. Hong Kong was a vast city with so much from so many different cultures. It was, in many ways, one of the most modern cities in the world. A city with a very low homicide rate, which was a bonus, and with more non-violent crimes than violent ones.
As I walked along the dark street, lost in my thought, something in front of me caught my attention. It was a woman. She wasn’t of Chinese background, but she still had dark hair. I only saw her from behind, but I knew there was something about this woman. I didn’t know if it was her skimpy clothing or the fact that she didn’t fit in with the Chinese people, but something drew me towards her. She was walking away from me, quickly. I had to push myself to my very limit in order to keep up with her. I was breathing heavily as we turned the corner and came to another street. We were the only ones there. I tried screaming for her to stop. I even tried in Chinese, but she stopped for nothing.
I just followed her, as if a large leash was drawing me after her. Down dimly lit streets and into alleyways. I lit a cigarette. Ever since the day at the farmhouse, I had been a chronic smoker.
“Hi!” I shouted after the woman. “It’s police!” It was an old reflex, and I didn’t mean to lie.
She stopped for a second, and I did the same. I half thought she would turn around, but she just continued down the street.
I probably shouldn’t be following a strange woman into the enormous city of Hong Kong, but it felt like I didn’t have a choice. She dragged me by her imaginary lead, and I could do nothing but follow her further and further into the city. We weren’t in a good area of town. I could see it from the shabby looking buildings. I knew of the gangs of Hong Kong, how many of them had started here.
We stopped in front of what looked like a run down brothel. Then she walked inside. I looked around to see if, by any chance, Beatrice and Chris had followed me. Of course they hadn’t. As I stepped inside, I was overwhelmed by the sights and sounds and odours. The place was full of naked women. I grew uncomfortable but I kept following her into a private room. I opened the door, to the room.
In a high chair, in the middle of the room, sat a blond man in his forties. The brunette turned around. It was Onila. She sat down in front of the man, who I quickly understood was Bastian. I opened my mouth to say something but tears swelled my eyes and I had a lump in my throat. I wanted to go up to her, hug her and kiss her. But I didn’t. I walked back in to the Hong Kong night, not knowing if would ever turn back to see Onila.ns220.127.116.11da2