Writer: Ang Lay Leng
Published: Fri, 23 Dec 2011
He knew he should never have come here with her. He stared out of the sliding doors that opened out to the swimming pool in the front yard. Behind him in the living room came low voices from his housekeeper on the phone.
He took a long drag on his Marlboro, threw it on the patio and walked towards the pool. He glanced down at the waters and looked away, not because of the sun’s glare. The image of the naked body floating face-down flashed before him.
Never had such a crowd descended on the house as it had with the hurly-burly of activity a while ago. Roused by a chilling cry early morning, he had found his housekeeper at the poolside in shock and retching. When he saw her grisly discovery, he had recoiled. They had come to fish the body out; he retreated indoors, turning around only when the medics had pushed the stretcher into the ambulance.
He stood in the garden, pensive. Fanned by a breeze that carried a whiff of frangipani blooms, nothing moved save for two sparrows that pecked at the grass near him. He liked the bungalow for its remoteness; it faced a lagoon surrounded by artificial islands, and his neighbours were absentee owners.
Now, the veneer of serenity masked an uneasy calm.
“Why not your place? Come on.” Her voice rang in his ears, surreal, as if she were still present. She had pressed close to him and then run her hand over his thigh. “What’s it called…? Ah, Sentosa Cove.”
He had picked up his drink, swirled its contents, and brought the glass to his lips. A couple before him moved languorously on the dance floor, their bodies merged as one. He was undecided, filled with a sudden sense of foreboding. But he had had girls stay over before. Why the misgiving now? He had good instincts, he knew that: in his dealings in the property market, his intuition had worked for him.
In the light, her black sequined tank top glinted as she moved, and it made him dizzy.
“But you can’t swim,” he’d teased. “But since you insist.” And he stood up, took her hand, and they left.
Getting out of bed, she had mumbled about the need for fresh air. He heard her padded down the stairs. He sat up, strolled over to the window. She had tread barefoot around the edge of the pool. Silhouetted against the pale light, he saw she had not bothered with clothes. She was a little unsteady on her feet. Or had he imagined it? Free-spirited China woman, he’d mused as he stretched out on the bedsheets and slept.
A few icy drops of water fell on his arm and broke his reverie. A light rain had started. There would be an inquest. The police. The media. He hoped it would all end quickly. The house, along with memories of her, would have to go. Of that, he was certain.