by Kitty Yip Kee Wah
...continued from last issue
So, dinner. I managed to avoid saying anything to let slip that I already knew Annie, which was hard-going when she said stuff like "oh I never go out to discos" or "I've often wondered what tequila tastes like". But I made it! Yay Kitty! On the other hand, my aunt's guest for the week was an awful old letch called Gene Lam - he's in Legco or something like that. And anyway, he spent all the time looking at me like I was a McChicken sandwich and he was a starving wolf that really really liked the way McDonalds prepares chicken. It was very uncomfortable indeed. I mean, normally I'm up for that kind of attention, but this guy is 50 if he's a day and has a face like a bloated wallet.
I managed to extricate myself early on but not before an over-complicated fondant based dessert that my aunt's Filipina cook had slaved over for like three hours and which actually wasn't bad. It had a scale model of the Brandenburg Gate on top of it, for some reason, made out of thorns. Not meant to eat that bit, obviously.
I caught up with Annie in the second drawing room.
"What's up with the pretending not to know you?" I asked.
"It's that guy, Gene Lam," said Annie. "He's very stuck-in-the-mud about partying and stuff and your aunt's trying to suck up to him. Everyone knows your reputation" - I don't know what she meant by that - "and so if they find out I'm your friend, I'll get tarred with your brush and then I'll get fired and then I won't be able to get the money for the dog tiara." She paused for breath.
"OK," I said. "I think we're safe now. We've both just got to keep our noses clean for the next few days and then we can get out of here, I can go back to a job I hate and you can crown a dog."
But there was another problem. There had to be, really. This problem was Cousin Georgie. On the first day Gene Lam arrived, George managed to spill soup on the carpet (and it wasn't even dinner time). Gene had given the boy a stern talking-to, immediately earning him the kid's hatred. Georgie had vowed revenge in some unspecified fashion. The thing was, if my cousin did get his revenge through whatever prank he was planning, Annie would get the blame for it for not keeping him under control (this had been made explicit by my aunt).
I was pretty tired by then anyway, so I said I'd have an early night. I stopped at my doorway, and said to Annie, "Wait, you're going out with this Brad guy, right? What happened to Kyle?"
"Oh, Kyle," she said, "he was great."
"Yeah," I said, "so what happened?"
"Oh, he got kidnapped by Islamic militants. In the Philippines."
"Mm," said Annie.
To be continued...