James finds himself leading the team on a treasure hunt after pieces of maps are discovered around the hotel.
With tears in his eyes, Hong Wen shook James’ hand over and over again.
“Thank you James, I really can’t thank you enough.” Hong Wen said while urging her daughter, Brenda to thank the uncle in front of her.
“I pulled some strings, but I have confident you will do well in the hotel Hong Wen, I’ve tried your food, it’s pretty good.”
“I would love to work here at Hotel Del Anna, but Ni Ma already has enough help. Thank you so much for helping me get a job in the kitchen in Hotel J.” Hong Wen is almost in tears as she held tightly onto James’ hand.
“All the best to you and your daughter, Hong Wen, don’t ever go back in there again.” James said as he bade farewell to yet another guest he helped at the hotel.
Hong Wen was jailed for stabbing someone who tried to take advantage of her daughter. It’s not easy getting a job for someone with a criminal record.
James pulled some string and managed to hook her up with one.
Sending the mother and daughter to the drop off point where a taxi is waiting, James waved them off, feeling accomplished that he has once again, helped someone get back on their feet.
He barely got back into the lobby when he saw Han running pass the lobby like he was sprinting for a medal. 3 seconds later, Ni Ma too is running towards the café where he works.
The rapid click of heels from level 2 caught James’ attention. Anna, too is making her way towards the canteen urgently.
Curious as to what is going on, James made his way to the café where his colleagues were gathered around a table.
Han and Ken were there too.
“Alright, back off, everyone give me some space!” Anna said.
“what’s happening?” James asked as he pushed his way into the fray.
What greeted James though, was a peculiar sight.
On the table are 4 pieces of faded sheep leather with some drawings and scribbles on them. The 4 pieces, each uneven and torn at the edges, are put together to resemble a puzzle that is missing a piece.
“you have it boss?” Ken asked Anna.
Anna produced a rolled up piece of leather that looked like it has been kept in the cupboard for a while. Everyone held their breath as Anna unrolled the last piece of the puzzle and after turning it a couple of times, fitted the piece into the missing section on the table.
No one say a word as everyone stared intently at the completed puzzle on the table.
“errmmmm… someone want to tell me what is going on?”
“It’s real…” Ah Wu remarked.
“It’s really real.” Ni Ma said while looking at his colleagues.
“errr… what is real…?” James asked.
“The treasure…” Anna said.
James asked if someone can fill him in on what is going on and Ken gave him the background to the pieces of map on the table.
About a year ago, the hotel hosted a guest. One that had been in prison for almost 20 years. His name is John. John stay at Hotel Del Anna for a month, keeping mostly to himself. However, he went mad one day and just disappeared.
“disappeared?” James asked in astonishment.
“He went out in the morning, and he never came back.” Ken said.
“John told me he has parts of a treasure map. One that will lead to treasures beyond any man’s wildest dreams.” Ah Wu said it with such conviction that James was trying to hold back his laughter. “He was missing a piece, but he says he is close to finding out the location of the treasure even with the missing piece.”
A treasure map in this day and age?
Pointing to the map on the table, James asked them how they came to possess the map.
“Ah Wu was working in the garden when he dug up a piece wrapped in different layers of water proofed wax paper sealed inside a ziplock bag.” Han said.
“Ah Wu brought it in and I recognized it.” Ken said he has something similar in the laundry room. “It was hidden behind an old painting.”
It turns out that John was working in the laundry room for a while. Ken is convinced he has hidden it there.
“I wouldn’t have found it if the painting did not drop off the rusty nail and shattered.” Ken said. “I’ve kept it in my drawer all this while. I saw Ah Wu taking out his piece and I suddenly remembered I have something similar.
It was the Han’s turn to say his piece.
While cleaning out John’s room, he remembered seeing something like this in his luggage.
“it was really weird, so I remembered it.” Han said without taking his eyes off the map. “When I saw Ah Wu and Ken with the map this morning, I went to the storeroom and opened John’s luggage. The weird piece of leather is right on top of the pile.”
Ni Ma gestured to his large cleaver and James noticed for the first time his cleaver is missing it’s leather handle.
It turns out that John has traded one more piece of the map with Ni Ma in return for cooking him something special for his breakfast.
“when was that?” James asked.
“The day he went missing.” Ni Ma said in his usual cold low voice.
By then, all eyes went to Anna. The holder of the last piece of the treasure map.
“And how did you get the last piece?” James asked.
Anna looked at the map and replied without making eye contact with another one of her staff.
“John did not hide it, trade it, or give it to me for something.” Anna said as she tried to rotate the map to make out what is drawn on it. “It was hanging in my room all along. A gift from another guest many years ago.”
James was on the brink of laughing by then but he composed himself and cleared his throat.
“ok, let me summarise this.” James said. “ John hid pieces of his treasure map around Hotel Del Anna, not knowing that Anna holds the last piece. And today, by some weird coincidence, everyone brings out the map at the same time and the map is complete. Wow…”
Anna shot James an irritated look, and James knew better than to speak another word.
“You’re not getting a share of this when we find it.” Anna snapped.
“come on…” James groaned. “you cannot be serious about this..”
“which part? The treasure , or sharing with you part?” Anna said as she tried to rotate her view around the table, changing her perspective of the map to see if she can make something out.
“errr….both…” James blurted.
“Aiyah… you go away…! If we find the treasure….don’t have your share.!” Ah Wu snapped.
The group jostled the non-believer out from the circumference of the table as they tried to make sense of the faded drawing.
“It’s a tiger.” Han said.
“It’s more of a bird to me.” Ken chirped in.
“No, it’s chicken.” Ni Ma added.
“I think it looks like a Birkin bag with a strap…” Anna said.
James sighed and reached for his phone.
He keyed in the location of Mount Faber on his google map and zoomed in on the roads surrounding the hilltop.
Pushing his way into the midst, he found the right orientation and place his phone in the same direction where the map is supposed to be when orientated north.
“It’s at Mount Faber.” James said as everyone’s jaw dropped and slowly turned their attention to him. “and it’s not a tiger, bird or bag, the shape which the road takes around the hill resembles more of a bear.”
The deafening silence around the table and the pairs of eyes looking at James intently gave him a bit of a shock.
“what? It’s near my grandmother’s place, I go there and jog all the time.”
Anna grabbed James by his shirt, startling him.
“James….” Anna said with a evil grin on her face. “I have a new task for you.”
It took James a couple of seconds before he groaned.
“oh come on…! You cannot be serious!”
“Oh I am…. Oh I am…” Anna replied in James’ face.