On the ground, Mickey Hahn crossed the harbor and took a room at the Gloucester Hotel on Peddar Street in Central Hong Kong, bought two new dresses, and reveled in the abundant hot water steaming in her private bathtub, a welcome change after months in squalid Chungking. A few days later, she called Hugh Woods to announce the gibbons’ arrival. Woody might still have been hopeful. If he was, he hadn’t yet realized flying glamour wasn’t sufficient to hold the interest of a woman like Mickey Hahn, but hopeful or not, Woody was still a-bother about gibbons, and they rendezvoused harborside. Woods hired a walla-walla sampan, so called because it took so much walla-walla, talk, meaning haggling, to settle on a price, and they motored out to the anchored steamship. They were late. Most passengers had gone ashore.
Mickey spotted a lady pacing the steamer’s side. Mickey steadied herself in the bow and flapped an arm. The woman stood to the rail. “Are you Mickey Hahn?” she yelled.
“Yes!” bellowed Mickey.
The woman slumped in visible relief.
The apes’ cage sat on the afterdeck. Mickey knelt before it. Her beloved gibbons stared at her without recognition. “Mills. Mills, old boy,” she said.
Her voice triggered simian recollection. Mr. Mills came forward and snuggled into her arms. Mickey closed her eyes and held him close. The relaxed and happy gibbon defecated on her clothes.
Apes and humans repaired to Woody’s apartment. Mickey issued instructions and left to bathe and change clothes. The primates lurked in their cage, eyeing Woods and their new surroundings. Time passed. The gibbons seemed calm. Woody judged it safe to free them, a titanic mistake. The beasts sprang from the cage and tore around the apartment in a rage of uncorked primal energy, toppling chairs. One ape yanked off the table cloth. Plates and bowls shattered on the floor. The other heaved decorations and picture frames from the mantel. Woods raised his voice, something he almost never did, another epic blunder. His ire further incited simian riot. They whirled about the room, excreting a steady protest of soft stools. Woody chased them in a rage. The panicked animals covered the curtains, rugs, chairs, tables, and walls in sloppy offal.
He finally caught and caged the gibbons, needing all the self-control he’d learned in thirteen years of professional flying to refrain from killing the miscreant beasts.
He called Mickey and informed her they were going to the Kowloon chapter of the RSPCA.
(And thanks to Eric Mueller for bringing the RSPCA/SPCA error to my attention. See his comment below. The source was a privately published pamphlet with a bunch of anecdotes authored by Hugh Woods, so he correctly identified the problem, too.)