“I’m going to kill that fucker!” Danny rarely used profanity these days, but this seemed like as good a time as any to break it out again.
“No, you’re not,” Happy corrected. “You promised me if I told you wouldn’t tell anyone or do anything. You promised.”
“I did. But I also promised your father I’d watch out for you. What’s he going to do when he finds out what that sick son of a bitch has been doing?”
“First. My father is in prison. I think you’re safe,” Happy said dryly. “Second, you wouldn’t be able to get within a hundred yards of Chang unless he approved it. Third, this is my life. I’m a grown woman, and I know how to handle Chang. And last, and this is the most important, you have Buddha junior to think about.”
The Buddha sighed. Happy was right. He wasn’t in the best position to assassinate one of the most powerful men in Asia, but he felt like he had to do something.
“You need to get away from him. We need to get you out of Hong Kong,” The Buddha suggested.
“Yeah? And go where? Everybody I know lives here and knows Chang.”
“The man’s a lunatic. A perverted, psychotic, lunatic.”
“You only know the half of it. There are things…” Happy’s voice trailed off as she thought better of revealing any more.
“What?” Buddha couldn’t imagine worse.
“I can’t tell you. I won’t. For your sake.” Happy put her hand on Buddha’s shoulder to calm him down. “But you know what’s odd? He loves me. I don’t mean in the way a parent loves his child or the way a normal man loves a woman. His love for me is desperate, visceral.”
The Buddha had heard enough. “It’s called rape. And I know you’re not, but I have to ask, are you doing anything to encourage him?”
“Seriously?” Happy sneered. “I hate the man with every fiber of my body. If I could kill him without having to worry about what would happen if I failed, I would’ve tried years ago. Ever since that first time he raped me, I’ve been a good…” Happy searched for the right word, “…slave. I don’t complain. I do what he says, hoping that he won’t hurt me again. Well, of course, he does. But as he’s matured, he’s become less violent. At least he has with me.”
“How do you mean?”
“A few years ago he came home, drunk, as he ordinarily is when he wants to have sex. As usual, I submitted, but he couldn’t get it going.”
The Buddha snickered. “What happened then?”
“He almost killed me.” The Buddha stopped laughing. “He beat me up so badly I couldn’t walk for a week. He kept telling me it was my fault.”
“God Happy. I am so sorry. Where was I when all this happened? How did I not know this?”
“You were getting married, or having a kid, or getting promoted. It’s not your fault Buddha. I intentionally kept this from you.”
The Buddha shook his head in disgust. “So what did you do?”
“I apologized and told him it would never happen again. And it hasn’t. Because I’ve learned some things.”
“After I could walk again, I visited Ling Yit Fa.”
“The Momma-san?” The Buddha was genuinely shocked. Ling Yit Fa was once considered by many to be the most desirable woman in Hong Kong. Now she operated her own upscale escort service catering primarily to the triads. She knew everyone in Hong Kong’s underworld and was an old friend of Boss Changs.
“I had met her before and she was always nice, but she intimidated the hell out of me. Mostly because I could tell that she intimidated Chang. She’s the only person I had ever seen Chang nervous around, and I needed to find out how she did it. When I went to see her, I still looked like I’d been in a car accident, and that’s what I told her had happened. But we both knew that she knew what had really happened and she offered to help. Have you ever heard of a pill called Viagra?”
“Sure. Not that I’ve used it, but yes, I’ve heard of it.”
“Auntie Ling told me to crush two of those pills up into a powder and slip it into his drink a half- hour before it’s needed.”
“And that worked?”
“Yeah. Usually. Unless he’s really out of it.”
“What do you do then?”
“Hopefully he passes out, but when he doesn’t, I use the second thing,” Happy teased.
“Toothpaste? What do you do, brush his teeth?” Buddha asked sarcastically.
“Uh-uh. Here’s what I do.” Happy sat up and used her hands to describe her secret method. “I squeeze about an inch of toothpaste onto my finger like so.” Happy held her index finger out horizontally and moved her other hand along the length of that finger as if she were squeezing a tube of toothpaste. “Then I stick my finger up his ass.” Happy thrust her finger aggressively into the air.
“No. You do not!”
“Works every time. Something about the mint drawing the blood down to that area of a man’s body. You should try it. Ask Mrs. Buddha to lube you up with some Darlie toothpaste.”
“That will not happen.”
“Do it yourself then. As an experiment. Or I could do it,” Happy proposed.
“Stop! Stop it now!”
“You’re getting hard aren’t you?”
“I mean it Happy. If you say another word I’m out of here.”
“Jesus, Buddha. When did you get so uptight? I’m just messing with you.” Happy knew she had crossed a line, but she liked it when the Buddha was protective of her.
“I’ve known you since you were a little girl. I’ve always thought of you as my little sister, and you’ve called me Brother. I worshipped your father, and he was always good to me. Now you tell me this about Chang. A man to whom I’ve pledged my allegiance. The man who’s supposed to be your guardian, who acts in public like he’s your father, but brutally rapes and tortures you. And you tell me to relax? This isn’t about seduction, or temptation, or that I’m just another horny guy that wants you. I’m not, and I don’t. I’m disgusted and angry, and I want to kill Chang for what he’s done.”
A long silence ensued as Happy absorbed what Buddha was saying.
“Buddha. Brother. You’re right. I’m sorry. I was just trying to lighten things up, I guess.” Danny shook his head back and forth, unconvinced. “You’re the only person in the world I can talk to right now. You’re my best friend, and I don’t know what I would do without you.”
Happy could see the Buddha physically soften before her eyes. Buddha wasn’t the type to hold a grudge. But holding a grudge, or forgiving Happy wasn’t what was on Buddha’s mind.
“I know somebody.” Danny paced, “Have you ever heard of Brigham Young International?”
“I think so. It’s the name of a hotel, isn’t it?”
“Yes. That’s right. I used to be friends with the ‘Brigham Young.’ I still am actually. His family owns hotels all over the world, and he is extremely wealthy. We’re talking Li Ka Shing wealthy.” Li Ka Shing was one of Hong Kong’s wealthiest native sons. “He’d be an easy mark for a smart, beautiful Hong Kong woman, and he’s single.”
“How old is he?” Happy saw where Buddha was going with this, but her first instinct was rejection.
“He’s about my age. Maybe a little older.”
“What the fuck’s wrong with him?”
“Nothing. Well, a lot of things actually. He’s a drug addict. But really, I don’t think he’s found the right woman.”
“Or the right woman hasn’t found him.” Happy was warming to the idea. “How do you know this guy?”
“We were missionaries together.”
“Oh yeah. I remember when you did that. You came over to that place over on Shanghai Street. Some street punks had come over to see Chang and they started picking on your friend. Then you came out and went all Bruce Lee on that idiot. Do you remember?”
“Oh my God! Was that you?” Buddha exclaimed.
“Yeah. I was the one that came in and got you before those bullies killed that poor guy.”
“That was Brigham Young!”
“You’re kidding me!?” Neither of them could believe the coincidence. “But why would a rich guy like him become a missionary? I know you were using it as a cover to move drugs, but he didn’t seem like the type.”
“No. Brig wasn’t into drugs back then, and he had no idea what I was doing. I think he was doing it to please his family or something.”
“Chang would never allow it.”
“Chang won’t find out until you’re gone.”
“He might kill my dad.”
“Yes. He might,” Buddha agreed. “But I know what your father would want you to do, and you might actually be able to help him.”