Chapter 5: Duped!
For a second, I was thrown into confusion, thanks to this unexpected turn of events. What was all this about? Who was Jay (if it was indeed him) hiding from? How should I react? Was he in some kind of trouble, unlikely as that might seem?
Out of the corner of my eye from where I stood beside my car in the alcove which was nearly fifty metres away from the exit doors, I sensed the two men striding quickly towards where I was, talking to each other in Mandarin. I could only make out some words but it sounded like they were arguing about something.
I turned my head slightly to have a better look and noticed that both were of medium build, one had short hair bleached blonde whilst the other had his greyish hair tied up in a ponytail. ("Eww!" was my immediate reaction). Interestingly, each of them had a camera attached to a strap round his neck. They were dressed in teeshirts and pants and Mr Ponytail also had a big orange bag slung over his shoulder, which was bulging with many different-sized pockets likely full of paraphernalia for his camera. My late father had been an avid photographer and had owned a bag which looked exactly like that.
Mr Ponytail beckoned to me as he approached, saying in Mandarin, "Excuse me, Miss. Did you just see a man running into this carpark earlier?"
By then, I could see that he had slanted eyes, a pockmarked face and had a stud in his left ear. His voice was rough and sent shudders (of the scary kind) down my spine. Intuitively, I realised that I was better off feigning ignorance, stupidity or both and that my Pan-Asian look would come in handy here.
I frowned, shook my head, shrugged my shoulders and replied in my best Brit-accented English, "Sorry? What did you say? I don't understand."
He appeared surprised at my response and turned to Mr Blondie who fired off the same question to me but this time in Taiwanese-accented broken English, "You see man just now here? He look like Jay Chou." (Like he assumed everyone would recognise this name!)
I raised my eyebrows, shook my head again and said, "Huh? Who's Jay Chou?", all the while hoping they would not poke around anywhere to the back of my car which, apart from shielding a man who definitely looked like Jay Chou, also had a prominent decal on the back windscreen proclaiming "I *heart* Jay Chou" to all and sundry.
At this, they stared at each other in consternation, probably wondering whether to pursue a further line of questioning when the beeping of my mobile erupted into the silence of the carpark.....to my immense relief. As I took my phone out to answer, the two of them whispered something to each other, took quick sweeping glances around the carpark which was still devoid of other people and started walking off towards the exit door and went back into the mall.
As it turned out, the call was from a number dialled wrongly and I soon dispatched of the embarrassed man on the other end, who had started off the conversation with "Hello, my darling Sweetpea. Did you miss me?"
I switched off my mobile and was about to call out to the man-in-hiding when his head poked out from behind my car and looked up at me inquiringly.
I sighed and lapsed back into Mandarin, "Don't worry, they're gone. You can come out now."
He half-stumbled out, nearly tripping on his own feet and I hastened to support him again, mindful that he had an injury. His right arm felt hard and muscled where I had grabbed him but I had no time to dwell on that as he looked into my eyes and said, "Thank you. That was very clever of you, pretending not to understand them!"
As he got on his feet and found his balance, I released my grip on him, smiled and said, "You're welcome. But were they the dogs? (using Jay's favoured term for the dreaded papparazi) And you really are Jay Chou?"
The corners of his bow lips curved upwards into a small grin as he nodded; the grin also emphasised his swoon-inducing dimple again and I had to remind myself not to start a fangirl squeal, which would undoubtedly scare him off (and which was the last thing I wanted to happen).
At that point, the exit doors swung open again (thank goodness they were somewhat squeaky!) and without turning to look, we both immediately knew that the pappz had not been deterred so easily and were returning for another search.
I hissed at Jay, "Quick! Get into the car and sit far down the seat so that they can't see you clearly!", as I got my key out again to unlock the car which had relocked as the door had not gotten round to being opened, amidst all the exciting happenings of the past few minutes. Without a word, he slid into the front passenger seat, put up his hood and did as I told him to.
I hurried round to the driver's side, got in and turned on the ignition, slamming the door shut, even as I noticed that the two pappz had started running towards us.
With a practiced hand, I did the necessary and screeched my way out of the parking lot, deftly steering my little car past the enraged faces of Mr Ponytail and Mr Blondie, whilst all they could do was look at the back of my rapidly disappearing Ford...and I am quite certain they would have seen the decal on the back window...and realised that they had just lost their prey who had been so close and was now going to be so far...or so Jay and I thought.