Benjamin Bunce is a humorous treatment of Hong Kong office life.
Hong Kong bachelor Benjamin Bunce has found his niche as PR manager of the Prospect Group. But when olives replace the spiced beef in the PR department pantry, it’s a sign of trouble. And when the olive-eater turns out to be dominating new boss Alexandra, Benjamin finds himself on the menu.
Benjamin Bunce takes our hero through a busy year as he wrestles with casinos and caged men, and fung shui and female impersonation in pursuit of his boss’s wild schemes. His mission takes him beyond Hong Kong to Macau and Mainland China, and a series of large ladies test his bachelor resolve. But Benjamin’s biggest challenge is himself. Can he learn to face his fears and bring home the bacon?
Extract from Benjamin Bunce
Benjamin’s settled life in Prospect’s PR department has been turned upside down by the arrival of Alexandra, the company’s new Investor Relations Officer (IRO). Fortunately, Benjamin’s Australian friend Reggie has promised to help…
My assistant Candy walked in with a strange look, and announced that there was a lady to see me.
I wondered who it could be. As I’ve said, I don’t have many lady friends; I couldn’t think of any who would call on me. At the meeting room I knocked, paused for a moment to let this unknown lady finish powdering her nose, or whatever it is that ladies do when they are alone, then opened the door.
I almost closed it again in horror. “Reggie! What on earth…?”
For Reggie it was. The familiar shambling middle-aged man had been transformed into a perfumed and tinted virago, with coiffured hair and a smart jacket and skirt. Reggie, as this apparition still undoubtedly was, stood up, walked towards me on high heels and said in a falsetto voice how delighted he was to meet me.
I closed the door and collapsed onto a chair. But as I recovered, I saw that Reggie had done an excellent job. His blouse opened to reveal a smooth chest and the beginnings of a cleavage, which bloomed under the jacket into the shape of two large breasts. How he had done it, I don’t know; it was really professional. I shook my head weakly, and asked him what he was going to do.
Reggie explained, still in character, still in his falsetto. He had arranged to meet our enchanting IRO in ten minutes (he glanced at his watch – a lady’s timepiece sitting daintily on his thick wrist), and wished to touch base with PR first.
So convincing was his performance that I actually began to give him my standard spiel about Prospect before I realised what I was doing. “All right, all right,” I broke off, “let’s just get you to the meeting.”
He was seeing Alexandra on the thirteenth floor, where the best meeting rooms are. I opened the door gingerly. There was no one about, and I bundled Reggie to the lifts as fast as I could. I am not made for espionage, and if Candy had caught us I don’t know what I would have said. Reggie however swayed along in his high heels as if he did this every week – which, given his obvious skill, he possibly did.
I was in agonies as we waited for the lift, but fortunately when it came it was empty. The thirteenth floor lobby, when we eventually got there, was empty too except for a stand of olives. I was beginning to think we would get away with it when suddenly out of a meeting room popped Laurence. He stood goggling at us.
My heart pounding, I mumbled that this was… this was…
“Call me Regina,” said Reggie in his sweetest falsetto, and extended a hand which, I now saw, had almost as many rings as Alexandra’s.
I winced. But to my astonishment Laurence took Reggie’s hand, bent his head, and gave the rings a kiss. “Delighted to meet you, Regina,” he said huskily.
Reggie simpered and with a little flourish said he was charmed.
Anxious not to push our luck too far, I said we had an appointment with Alexandra, and hustled Reggie away as quickly as I could. Laurence was still smiling foolishly. It is amazing the power that women have over us, even women who, like Reggie, are actually men.
More extracts can be found on our Hong Kong Short Stories page.