THE INTELLIGENT SINGAPOREAN

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The Confessions of a Singaporean Gangster in London – Chapter 12 “The Pool Hall (2 of 3)”

Posted by inspir3d on February 19, 2005

“You want to play, we play.”

Ah Thiam continued to empty all the chambers leaving only one bullet which he held up high, while the rest of cockroaches cheered and hissed.

“How do I know it’s a real gun?”

My manner hardly betraying the slightest trace of fear – provoking some laughter from the crowd.

“See for yourself, here check it, if you don’t believe me.”

Ah Thiam gestured towards the table where the revolver sat like a coiled black deadly snake.

The revolver felt warm and pressing the release, the cylinder opened with a reassuring “click” – springing out the single bullet as it dropped on the floor rolling to feet of one the youths.

In a while, this youth and few of them passed the bullet around, each stopping for a while to examine the bullet, till the old cockroach inserted it into one of the six chambers and spun it.

“You know the rules – I take one shot, you take the next”

Hardly after finishing these words, he pressed the revolver deep into the sockets of his temple and pulled the trigger. Again the rest of cockroaches roared, as he raised his hands, turning around like some wrestling star acknowledging the crowd.

To say, I did the same would not be entirely, true – yes I did bring the revolver to my head, only the way I did it suggested to everyone I was very far from death that night and even after the “click” – the only sound emerging from the crowd of cockroaches was a muffled silence.

I reasoned, Ah Thiam had perfected the art of predicting which chamber the bullet was in on the first turn – a man who is quick to play this game is very much like a poker player who is quick to play dealer in the first round – such a man could certainly count the cards the first round, but on the second and the third – it was anyone’s guess. That night as he looked at me radiating my coolness like a lake against a steely white horizon – he hesitated slightly, his chances were after all one in four, yet even as he brought the revolver to his head and after a long pause managed a “click” his obvious relief followed by uncontrollable display of joy gave him away – I realized, even he didn’t know where the bullet was hiding that night – he had lost count.

My turn came and again, I simply brought the revolver to my head and after the “click”- this time, the pool hall fell dead silent – it was the way in which I did it, I neither, hesitated or paused– my confidence radiating the unmistakable impression that he would die on the next turn and I was not really a player, but simply a witness to watch him pass on to the next world – a sort of mythical broker of death..

A long silence passed, if I said time almost stood still it would not be all together wrong and yet I continued starring my eyes flashing like a naked blade just before the moment of truth as threw the gun on the table.

I take no pleasure in recounting to you what transpired directly after this moment. I say I take no pleasure and it is no accident that I take the trouble to emphasize this to you twice – though I am man who was at that period of my youth completely permeated with the filth, violence and cruelty that surrounded me day in day out in China town. I was simply a man who did not believe in violence for the sake of violence.

To say, I abhorred meaningless violence would not be wrong, I was after all first and foremost a man of reason who saw life very philosophically and would have preferred to “live and let live” in this imperfect world where I knew it would futile for a man to spend his time righting all the lumps and bumps in this world – I was a man who did not mind living in peace with these minor imperfections an imperfect world presented me – but there are times, when even this simple notion is too simple for such a complicated world – that night was one of those nights – when I had resigned myself to do a thing properly, so that I never had to revisit my mistakes again – that is to say it must have a head and a tail and I had no choice, other than to see it through from beginning to end – and no matter how you may come to judge me after this account – I pray you would not look upon me in the same way those young men looked upon me that night – as the very face of death.

The old cockroach remained quite still at first looking at the revolver on the table – I could well imagine his thoughts, what can a man really do when his life hangs between two chambers? Where life and dead plays hide and seek, silently, benignly and harmless, yet in a while – it would certainly explode and unleash hell with all it’s fury.

He started looking around nervously, the young cockroaches who once looked upon him as their leader – started to close in, a lone voice rang out in the crowd,

“go on, what are you waiting for!” these words startled him as he looked nervously side to side, till his eyes finally came to rest on the revolver – though I know many things, I do not know what manner of conversation, he shared with that instrument of death that evening.

In a while, some of cockroaches turned on him, a heavily tattooed youth stepped out and slapped him thrusting the revolver into his trembling hands. Every moment sharpening – heightening the terror – every second a cutting like a knife.

“what you start you must end – those are the rules”

Again, he tried, this time bringing the revolver in one movement pressing it against his temple and after a very long time like a lull just before a storm when the air begins to hollow out and grow heavy, Ah Thiam lowered it again.

A whimper followed and soon it turned into a wail.

Then suddenly one of the cockroaches struck him in the face with a beer bottle followed by a riot of blows till hardly anyone even noticed I took the revolver from the pool table and changed the bullet.

When the last of cockroaches had finished with him, – one of youths came to me and placed the gun in my hand and nodded respectfully.

“Do him!”

I did not say anything – there were no words left – as I looked at the mass of blood and tissue beneath me – I realized the world is a stage and all we can really do is play our part.

That evening, I Yu Huan Guan found myself standing like a desolate figure in the darkest place in this planet – a place so devoid of hope – I might as well be standing in the hottest place in hell – playing a role as old as history it’self – a role so feared and revered by men – a role only the angel who holds the key to the abyss knows only too well.

————————-

6 years later.

Some 6 years later when the Southern side of the Thames estuary was drained – archeologist sieved through the mud filled backs for clues of a Roman settlement– During the sieving researcher came across a rusted revolver – Scotland Yard, department of forensic science identified the revolver as a Series -19 , Colt stubbed nose 35 mm revolver, though the serial number had been filled clean off – there was still enough residual markings to lift off the first three digits using magnesium oxide as a lifting agent – the revolver was manufactured in 1978, first reported stolen in 6th May 1980 by a Dwight Pitcairn who worked as night security guard in the London dockyards – though only one bullet was found in one of the six chambers of the revolver – closer examination using gas chromatography and X-Ray revealed the bullet neither contained any gun powder or percussion primers – closer examination revealed this dummy bullet had been milled from a single block of aircraft grade aluminum and filled with common brass with high trace elements of zinc and zirconium oxide suggesting it had probably been of such low grade – it would be only be used for educational purposes or as rough material for engineer students in the field of the aerospace industry – though badly weathered and corroded – forensic scientist concluded, this bullet though having exactly the same weight and appearance of a 35mm Remington type projectile was none other than a dummy bullet – subsequent investigations suggested the machining of the dummy bullet was undertaken using a type of milling machine commonly sold to both technical and institutions of higher learning during the early eighties where both technical and engineering students conducted practical training in tooling and milling of metals – The investigator concluded in their report while all evidence suggested the gun could have belonged to anyone – the meticulous fabrication of the bullet suggested the suspect was a technically trained person, probably an engineering student – who probably had a deadly sense of humor of impressing his friends by inserting this dummy bullet into the chamber, spinning it, raising it to his head and with a smile pulled the trigger – what detectives in the trade frequently referred too as a “deadender.”

darkness 2002

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