"Michael, don't you dare slam that door!"
"What's it to you? If it breaks, you'll just use Dad's money and go buy a new one. And you called me spoilt?"
Michael slammed the door with a satisfying crunch. This was starting to become a regular occurrence. Seemed like nobody understood him lately. Not even his own mother. As for his father, well, he'd been out of the picture for as long as Michael could remember. Actually, try though he might, he couldn't remember his father at all.
"What are you looking at?" Michael shouted at Mrs. Fung – the elderly Chinese woman who had lived next door since before he and his mother moved in. She had her door open a crack and was peering through at Michael. She didn't look away, but held his gaze for a moment. Michael thought she looked disappointed. She quietly clicked the door shut. Mrs. Fung had given him that look before. In fact, he couldn't even count how many times he'd gotten that look from her lately. Worse still, it made him feel bad. It made him feel guilty. He stormed through the apartment entrance and slammed the front security door as well.
When he was younger, he had a bad habit of losing stuff. More often than not, he lost his keys. It wasn't too much of a problem most of the time. All he had to do was knock on the door and one of the domestic helpers would open it and let him inside. That was, unless it was Sunday. All of the domestic helpers had a day off on Sundays. The first time it happened, Michael was about 6 years old. Mrs. Fung was on her way to the markets to buy her groceries. As she was locking her front door, she spotted Michael sitting on the floor in the hallway, leaning against the doorframe of his front door. "Why are you on the floor?" she asked him in Cantonese. "You might get trampled, you're so little!"
He stared at her blankly for a few moments before she realised he didn't understand a single word.
"Hungry?" it was obvious her English wasn't very good.
"Yes, Miss" Michael stared at the floor.
"Come. Eat. We wait for mummy together." She beckoned him inside.
He looked up at her and she could tell he didn't want to come, but she could also tell he was hungry. She could hear his stomach grumbling – even from where she was standing. And she knew his mother wasn't due home for a few more hours. "You like cha siu bao?"
Michael's head shot up. She smiled.
She remembered the first time she saw Michael and his mother. He was still a toddler. His mother had him in one arm, a document bag in the other, but somehow still managing to talk on her mobile phone while flipping through her keys to unlock her front door. Little Michael seemed quite content munching on his cha siu bao. She remembered how, while looking up at his mother, he held the little white bun up to his ear and proceeded to 'talk' on his mobile, in an attempt to imitate her. Absolutely adorable! She had seen him eating many more of them since. He obviously liked them very much.
"Come. Eat cha siu bao. Watch TV. Cartoons! We wait for mummy together."
Michael shot to his feet. "Can we watch DragonBall Z!"
After that day, Michael spent quite a few of his Sunday afternoons at Mrs. Fung's place. Sometimes, he would purposely 'forget' his keys and leave them on his bed, before heading out for Sunday school. He loved hanging out with Mrs. Fung. She cooked the best Chinese food he had ever tasted. And she always seemed to have an endless supply of cha siu bao. She even had a new gift for him almost every week. Nothing major, just a cheap, plastic toy car or electronic gizmo she picked up from the markets. His mother would come home and find the place empty. She'd no doubt find him at Mrs. Fung's, playing with his new toy, or asleep in front of the television. They always came back home with a huge dish of delicious food that Mrs. Fung insisted they take with them.
A while later, Michael learned that Mrs. Fung used to go out and buy fresh groceries every Sunday morning – just in case he forgot his keys again.
But all that seems like a lifetime ago.
Now, almost a teenager, Michael felt strange. He could tell he was different, and he knew it wasn't just 'hormones'. He just felt wrong. No, that wasn't it. He felt like he was missing something. Like he was meant for something more.
His mother, an American businesswoman, was hardly ever home. She won't talk about his Dad, but Michael knew he must be important because of all the money he sends to them. "One day," Michael decided, "I'm gonna trace the money back and find my Dad."
He didn't have the slightest idea exactlyhowhe was going to do this, but he was sure he'd figure it out somehow.
He was walking past the 7 Eleven near his apartment when he heard a familiar voice.
"Hey, Michael! Wait up!" it was Daniel Hu.
Michael had been going to the same school with Daniel since Kindergarten. Daniel was almost a full head shorter than Michael. A lot chubbier too. His father was a very successful businessman who owned a chain of Western restaurants in Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. Very wealthy. Actually, every single student who went to Michael's school had a rich father or mother. That only strengthened his belief that his father must be rich and important too.
"Haven't seen you at school for a couple of days, Mike." Daniel said. "Some people are saying you might get kicked out. What's been happening?"
Michael opened his mouth to say something, but Daniel cut him off, "Gotta go, dude. See ya later!"
Michael turned around to see what had spooked Daniel so badly, then instantly wished he hadn't.
Three triad members were standing directly behind him. They were wearing dirty jeans and tight t-shirts and had elaborate tattoos on their arms. One of them had an angry looking dragon tattooed along the side of his neck. Another one had dyed his hair almost as blonde as Michael's.
"Hey, kid" the biggest one, a wall of muscle, leaned right into Michael's face. "You want some money?"
He looked like the leader. The other two stood behind and to either side of him, their arms crossed and stupid grins plastered on their faces. Michael knew these guys were bad news, but he wasn't afraid. He didn't say anything, so the leader kept talking. "All you gotta do is deliver package. I give you a hundred dollar."
Michael heard his mother's voice inside his head telling him exactly what she thought he should do. Unfortunately, at that moment, he couldn't really give a rat's ass about what his mother wanted. Nothing would've made him happier than to do the exact opposite of what his mother wanted. Besides, if he did deliver this package, he'd be working for the triads. Even adults were frightened of the triads. That was cool!
Maybe, he thought, if he did a good job, they might even ask him to join! Maybe this was what has been missing. He looked up at the leader and grinned.
"Where do you want me to deliver it to?"