Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Season One, Episode Twenty-Five: The Coral Tree

‘Sounds cool. Like something from a kungfu movie. The Garden of Temerity. What are we supposed to look for?’ Charlo’ asked as they left the Italian car under the trees.
The Garden of Temerity had a whitewashed wall with openings in various geometric shapes all around it, and a plaque on its main gate listing its name in English and Chinese.
Standing in the gateway, Markus Bentley and Charlo’ saw dense vegetation on the left, low shrubs and a pond on the right, and a sandy path going straight down the middle, leading to the back of the gardens. Not a soul in sight.
Markus produced a gun from under his T-shirt.
‘What is it with you and guns?’ Charlo’ asked.
‘Said the girl running a shooting range,’ he replied.
‘I leave my guns at work.’
They proceeded carefully, Markus keeping the gun to the right, ready to hide it but also ready to use it. Charlo’ walked to his right.
‘See that flower there?’
Markus looks in the direction Charlo’ is pointing.
‘Nice and red,’ he says.
Most of the plants have a small plaque giving name and origins. Charlo’ steps over a few bushes to read the explanation on the red flower dangling from a tree.
‘Coral flower,’ she reads. ‘Prevalent in Asia.’
‘What else does it say?’ asked Markus. He was still standing in the path, looking left and right for signs of life in the garden.
‘Latin names. Areas where it can be found, names of benefactors who gave the plant to the garden. Hey, your name is in here.’
‘Markus Bentley?’
‘Frederick Bentley. Is that one of your ancestors?’
‘My father.’
Markus walks into the green and joins Charlo’ in front of the coral plant to read the plaque.
‘You know what?’ he asks. ‘We need to do some digging.’

Camry was loosening up his tie.
‘What’s your problem?’ his interrogator asked.
‘I’m not used to spending my time sitting in dark rooms wearing a suit.’
‘If it depends on me, you might spend a lot more of your time sitting in dark rooms wearing a suit. Is that what you’d like?’
‘I need more money.’
‘Don’t we all.’
Camry was through another cup of water, only this time he didn’t ask for permission before walking over for a refill.
‘Thanks for the buffet,’ he said without looking at the man at the other side of the table.
‘What do you know about the police?’
The question froze Camry in his tracks. He turned around to face his interlocutor.
‘What should I know about the police?’
‘Don’t reply to my questions with another question. There was that murder at a restaurant recently. It has come to my attention that there might be a link with you.’
Camry sat down and drank some water before answering.
‘I don’t know what you’re talking about and I haven’t had any police visits lately. They don’t know I exist.’
‘You better make sure they don’t find out about the professor.’
‘I’m not letting him out of my sight. Unless he gets a fine for speeding, the cops will never find him.’
‘Do you know any police officers personally?’
‘I don’t get any further than watching The Wire.’
‘Fine, keep them in Baltimore.’

‘Did you hear that?’
Markus and Charlo’ were digging at the foot of the coral tree.
‘An engine. A car. People coming. We need to get out of here,’ he said.
‘They might just be visitors.’
‘I don’t believe in coincidence. Even if they’re just visitors, we’ll look awkward digging here. They’ll remember us.’
Markus speeded up the digging.
‘I’ve got something here,’ Charlo’ said.
‘Quick, get it out and let’s move.’
The contours of a metal safe box appeared. The thing was square, used to be green in a previous life. Markus tried to open it, but it was locked and there was no key. He pulled it out of the earth with one big pull and headed into the vegetation, taking Charlo’ by the hand.
Voices sounded from the garden entrance.
‘Fast, we need to get out,’ Markus told her.
Just before they reached the outer wall, the first bullet whizzed past their ears. Charlo’ ducked but Markus pulled her along.
‘Why don’t you shoot back?’ she said.
They reached a window in the wall. Too small to let them through.

NEXT: Markus and Charlo' try to escape from the Garden of Temerity in Episode Twenty-Six before July 16.

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