Mr. Wong owned a restaurant aptly named, Peking Duck. Having made the effort to get him his 5000 bags on time, and having just avoided ‘death by lipstick’ with April and Vi,(I delivered their bags on the day I’d told them, so they were now off my back for a while), it was time for Mr. Wong to fulfill his end of the bargain, and make me rich.
“Hoos it goin son” he said to me as I walked into his restaurant, his customary two cigarettes accompanied his toothless smile . The air was filled with a stench of stale tobacco, the table cloths were filthy and the floor? Well, lets just say there looked to be dead bodies hidden under the carpets. Peking Duck, or PD as I will call it, was situated in Anniesland, near Anniesland Cross, another section of Glasgow’s endless suburbia, just at the corner of Great Western Rd and the main Anniesland Cross junction. It was certainly dull and drab, but it had this fancy light hanging in its window, perhaps the first of its kind at the time, and this light sort of brought some false warmth to the place. The letters were all in mandarin, and when I asked Mr. Wong what it said he replied,
“It’s Chinese for “Eat here at yer own pearl”
I never did find out if he was serious of just joking, but I was about to find out what our little business arrangement had in store for me, although not before finding out just how bad his food was!
“Chuken sweet corn soop?” he asked.
“Em, yes please” I was so hesitant, and I was shitting my pants knowing that I would probably find all kinds of foreign objects in the soup when it arrived.
“Am gonnae treet yooz all tae ra best meel tinite sonny”
“Thanks very much Mr. Wong, but I’m not that hu….” and before I could finish my sentance, he blew his cigarette smoke right into my face and then continued.
“Noo lusten up son, cause am ony gonna say this wance. You and me, well, we are noo in bizzo taegether. Goat it? And becauze we like wan anoather, we trust wan another, there will be nae issue when it comes tae me gettin paid. Goat it?” He just rambled on and on, end every sentance with ‘goat it?’ and telling me how many orders he was going to have for me by the end of next week, the week after that and well into that particular summer. It was mind numbing stuff, and even though my soup lay untouched in front of me, and this ‘slap’ up meal Mr. Wong had promised me had never materialized, his toothless, tobacco enhanced smile was kind of infectious and endhearing. When he was done, he said, quite categorically, “Right ye are son, let’s go dae it and let’s get some moany in oor poackets”
With that final sentence, he got up, shook my hand and literally threw me out. I was now back on the Gt Western Road and looking for a bus to take me back into town so I could then get another bus home. It was a strange way to end that particular day, but true to his word, Mr. Wong delivered. The orders came pouring in, one by one and then two at a time, and often 5 in one evening. The restaurants ordering from me were from all over Scotland. I now had the Chinese and Indian market completely covered, and suddenly, paper bags, were out of fashion. Mr. Wong would call me once a day, sometimes twice, to my house, and tell me what orders to expect that night, and also letting me know what his cut was. He was inflating my standard pricing to all of these ‘unknowns’ who were now dealing directly with me, though him. He insisted that his cost to them should remain strictly between him and me. “Not a word” I promised faithfully, as the cash mounted up and the list of prospective clientele increased. Everything seemed very rosy, but in life, that’s never really the way it goes, right?
Within 3 weeks of this ‘Chinese democracy’ beginning, I walked into PD, to see Mr. Wong, as I hadn’t heard from him for three days, quite unusual, considering he called me at least twice a day, every day. Mr. Wong, they informed me, was dead! No one in the PD spoke good enough English to tell me in any great detail what had happened, but he was dead, and that was a fact. No sooner had it started, and now, even sooner, it seemed to have come to a screaming halt. Selfishly I was more concerned about about my business prospects that I was about Mr. Wong dying, selfishly as it turned out, I was right to worry!