He was unsure how long he had lain on the floor crying and was grateful that nobody had come to the door to check on him or clean the room. Somebody must have heard him throwing his tantrum. The walls were thin. Even now he could faintly hear a conversation going on next door.
He gathered himself, stood, and walked over to the window. It was another hot muggy day, and the weekend crowd was out in force shopping ten stories below. He considered jumping, but a sturdy, immovable window grate insured that nothing larger than a small bird could get in or out. Besides, he didn’t want to hurt anyone by falling on them. Perhaps he would walk down to the harbor, tie a rock around his leg, and throw himself in.
Brig looked around the room at the mess he had made. How pitiful, he thought, that everything he owned could fit into two backpacks. His total gross dollar value was less than $1000. Some of his climbing and camping gear was new and expensive, but no one would give him what he had paid for it only a week ago. If he sold his equipment, he would be lucky to get $500 for all of it. But that would require leaving his room, and right now all he wanted to do was get stoned.
Someone had stolen his bottle of pills, but sometimes he stashed a tablet or two in the little pocket of his jeans. Reaching into the pocket, he felt a piece of paper and pulled it out for examination. The paper was a napkin from the Hard Rock Cafe with the name “Tommy” and a Hong Kong phone number written across the face. Oh great Brig thought, did I hit on some dude last night? Brig thought it unlikely, but perhaps Tommy was the person that took his money and pills. With a glimmer of hope, he sat down at the room’s desk and dialed the number.
After a few rings a man answered, “Wei? (Hello?)”
“Hi. Is this Tommy?” Brig asked.
“Yes. That’s me.”
“Hi, Tommy. My name is Brigham Young, and I think we met last night in Lan Kwai Fong. Do you remember me?”
“Oh. Of course. My American friend who speaks Cantonese. How are you?”
“Not so good actually. The reason I’m calling is…well, I’m a little embarrassed. I must have drunk too much last night. I don’t remember very much and I was hoping you might be able to fill me in.”
Brig heard Tommy laughing. “Yes. We drank a lot of beer. Are you feeling sick?”
Brig realized he hadn’t thought this call through. How could he tell Tommy about losing his money, without accusing him of stealing it? “A little, but the thing is, when I woke up this morning, I was missing some things from my backpack.”
“Aiya! I am so sorry. What did you lose?”
“Some money. My medication and my cell phone.”
Brig heard Tommy take a deep, long breath as if personally embarrassed by the actions of one of his countrymen. “That’s terrible. Let’s see. I remember you had your pack with you when I last saw you. I left you at the bar at around 11. I offered to give you a ride back to your hotel, but you said you wanted to stay and look for somebody. Somebody named Happy. Do you remember?”
Brig replied that he didn’t, but Tommy’s story added up. The reason he had been in Lan Kwai Fong was to find Happy, his ex-girlfriend.
“Is there any chance you may have found your friend and left your belongings with her?”
“I doubt it. If I had found her I would have remembered, and she wouldn’t have just left me at my hotel without knowing what happened.” Although that’s what Brig told Tommy, he wasn’t entirely sure what Happy was capable of.
“Well, are you still planning on traveling to Everest?”
Brig was aghast. Not only had he told this stranger about Happy, but apparently he had also revealed his plans to travel to Tibet. “I don’t think so. I don’t see how I can.” Brig paused. This appeared to be a dead end. “Did I speak with anybody else at the bar?”
“Besides our waiter? Not that I know of.”
“O.K. Tommy.” Brig was crestfallen. “Thanks for your help. Sorry to have bothered you.”
“Brig. Hang on a minute.” There was a rustling of some papers, and Tommy returned. “I have an appointment this afternoon, but I could meet you at the Hard Rock this evening. Maybe we could ask around and see if anybody saw anything.”
“That would be wonderful! Really? But I don’t want to trouble you.”
“Not at all. Don’t mention it and don’t abandon your plans to travel to Everest until we’ve talked. I’m genuinely interested in traveling to Tibet, so perhaps we can help each other. I hope that we can find your money and your other things. Speaking of which, I’m seeing a friend this afternoon who owns a pharmacy. Perhaps he would give me a few pills to tide you over until we find your belongings. What is the name of the medication?”
“That’s kind of you, but it’s a strong pain medication. I can’t imagine that you’d be able to get it without a prescription.”
“Let me try. Some things are easier to get in Hong Kong than in the U.S.” Brig appreciatively gave the name of the drug to Tommy, and they agreed to meet at the Hard Rock at 6 p.m. As they were hanging up, Tommy cautioned Brig not to bother going to the police. “If they have your money, it’s as good as gone. There is a saying in Hong Kong: ‘The Hong Kong police are the best cops money can buy.’”
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