Now that we’re approaching the second half of the year, I am quite relieved that I managed to put some time aside to write for the sake of writing. While I cannot promise that Muse Moment will be permanently monthly, I hope I will be able to post as much as I can.
The Perfect Opportunity Joelyn Alexandra
The door clicks. The bell rings. You ignore the roar of the teenage wave crashing into the café. Picking at your pastry, you keep the corner of your eye across the road – you wait for the predator.
He is late.
His wife came to your office when you were closing early.
“Are you Inspector Vass?” she asked.
“Call me ‘Tania’,” you said. You had not heard ‘Inspector’ in a long time.
“How may I help you?” you asked.
“My husband…” she started, and you knew. Contrary to popular belief, there were many uses for private investigators in Singapore – background checks, surveillance, missing people – and domestic cases were the necessary evil PIs had to take for survival.
She went on about the messages on his phone, the pictures he did not bother hiding, and the unfamiliar clothes he did not bother explaining anymore. He is influential, she repeated.
“He will leave me destitute if he wants to,” she said. You comforted her, and went through what she brought for you. You skimmed through his schedule, his license plate, and took a long, hard look at his photograph.
He appears. You take care not to look up too eagerly. Surveying from your safe zone, you watch him swagger on the opposite side. Hyenas had no need for appearances, they just hunt, bite, and snatch. With a face and name like that, you do not need to check your photographs to know this was the one.
“Dr. Shaun Tan,” your supervisor said.
That name etched itself as deep as his alleged actions were long. You scoffed at his plea when you opened his file.
“We were in love,” he claimed then.
The professor was caught with his A-Star student and pants down. With nothing to go on then, you snooped around. You spoke – to the university, to his colleagues, to the IT dude, to the girl’s friends, to the girl.
“I don’t see the fuss,” the girl had said, “And we’re not together anymore, please don’t bother me.”
You ignore the messages buzzing in your pocket, your eyes glued as he approaches his prey. You fish your phone out in case it was new information. Nothing. You sneer.
When you got that anonymous tip, you jumped at the opportunity.
‘I can’t say who I am,’ the message said then, ‘But I have something that can help you. I saw something, and I saw you asking questions. I hope this helps.’
The letter from Mr. Anonymous made it to court, but it also signed your permanent resignation from civil service. Your source came into question, and Tan countersued for evidence fabrication. You swore seeing a smirk at the corner of his mouth in court.
When you surrendered your badge, news of Tan’s IT serviceman’s death came in. Fell off a bridge after a night of drinking, they said. You knew better.
His prey looks no older than the one you questioned before. hardly change their tastes. However, hands gripping elbows do not speak excitement – she knows she is prey. Regardless, he approaches her, you start snapping.
She backs away, a bruised gazelle. He charges forward, jaws wide, she steps, her face turned away to not show the tears. You click, click, and click. The intervals between each push reducing. You glare – hunting is meant to be swift. This is torture.
When he reaches for her, you know what will come next. You slip your camera into your pocket, and your ankles are primed for action. Adrenaline courses through your veins as he sinks his claws. She screams. No one reacts.
You remember promising yourself that you would never run head-first into a situation like this the moment they took your badge. You slink out of your seat and sprint, horns pointed and forward.
Some promises are meant to be broken.
Got you, you son of a bitch.
This piece, The Perfect Opportunity, was written in a flash fic exercise during a writing workshop with the wonderful Miguel Syjuco. I entered it for the Singapore Noir Writing the City competition recently, so I hope you’ll enjoy reading it.