The Long Journey Home
It had been a long day. I’d left home at 9:30 that morning, it was now ten minutes to ten in the evening and I was waiting for the 81 bus in a thunderstorm and occasional flashes of lightning leapt across the Tsim Sha Tsui skyline. I was cheered by the sight of the bus approaching and even a young Chinese lady dashing in front of me in the queue didn’t particularly annoy me. I boarded the bus and went to my usual seat at the front on the upper deck.
Settling into my seat I looked forward to a short trip home in light traffic. I was a little put out when an American Chinese housewife sat next to me with a posse of visitors and insisted on pointing out every possible item of interest along the route. From the look of the visitors, I got the impression that they would have been quite happy to just have enjoyed the trip in silence. However, they smiled indulgently when told that they could get the best steaks in Hong Kong at that restaurant and cheap cameras at that shop.
The bus continued along Nathan Road and turned onto Taipo Road, which took us through Sham Shui Po. It was along this road that the excitement started. We stopped, as usual at a bus stop and passengers started boarding. Although I could see them out of my window I paid no attention until I saw two men approaching. I wasn’t sure what it was about them that caught my eye. Neither of them was the right age for triad enforcers as they both appeared to be in their fifties. Then I saw that one of them was holding a knife. I think it was the simplicity of the knife that caught my attention more than anything else. It was a simple table knife of the type that you might eat your dinner with. Not a machete or a stiletto or any of the more Hollywoodish weapons you might expect to see used in the course of a crime.
These two men started shouting at someone that was out of my line of sight and then rushed onto the bus. Pandemonium broke loose and I could hear people shouting and cursing downstairs. Then two people emerged up at the top of the staircase, a man and a woman.
On hearing the commotion the woman, who came up last turned to see the knife-wielding maniac running after them. Her companion turned and obviously recognised the knife-wielding maniac and moved to intercept him. The lady, however, moved first and positioned herself between her man and the fellow with the knife.
A confrontation started which consisted of the knife-wielding maniac swearing and cursing and trying to get at the man and the lady who started kicking at the fellow and swatting him with her oversized handbag.
At this time a scene that could only have happened in Hong Kong unveiled itself. The lady held her man at bay with one hand whilst alternatively punching the knife-wielding maniac with her other arm and kicking him with any foot she didn’t happen to be standing on at that moment in time, while at the same time managing to call 999 on her mobile telephone. Her conversation with emergency services went something like this.
Lady: I’m being attacked by a knife-wielding maniac on the number 81 bus. We are on Tai Po Road. No, I don’t know exactly where we are, look for a number 81 bus with a lot of people screaming and shouting, that’s us. What? You’re joking, okay wait. (At this point she managed to pause in her struggle with the knife-wielding maniac, stoop down so that she could see out of the window, and then said). We’re opposite the Chung Lau Restaurant, okay!
Amazingly only seconds later we heard the sound of police sirens. Someone else must have also made a report. At that point, the knife-wielding maniac turned and ran. We watched him high-tailing it up the road in the company of three fully armed, well-trained police Tactical Unit Officers, who managed to lose him.
Things started to settle down. Mrs. Amazon and her husband descended the steps to speak with the police and at that moment a plain-clothed officer who was so obviously a police officer by the fact that he had no less than two mobile phones, a beat radio and crisply ironed creases in his jeans, arrived on the upper deck. In Cantonese, he asked if anyone had seen anything.
Amazingly, despite the fact that several of us had been sitting within five feet of the event, no one admitted to having seen anything. I actually did see what happened but unfortunately could not understand what the officer had said as, as everyone will tell you, my Cantonese is terrible and only slightly better than my Mongolian.
So, the excitement over, we were allowed to go on our way. I sat in my seat at the front of the bus and wished fervently that I had a beer. I also decided once and for all that I would never again ask myself:
“What else could possibly happen?”
Copyright John Stewart Sloan – 2007 – Not for Publication