Monday, January 28, 2013
Hot Legs Niteclub & Karaoke holds a fire drill
[Pixs of models for illustration purpose only]
I’m sitting at Mummy Lulu’s desk, checking the status of my account. Outside, the hall is empty as Hot Legs Niteclub & Karaoke will only open for business in an hour's time.
She hands me a printout and points to the figure at the bottom. “You’ve only eighty ringgit, eighty-eight sen in your account. To be able to sign for your bills, you need to top up.” Mummy Lulu smiles, revealing nicotine-stained teeth.
While I’m peering at the list of debits, the intercom on her desk buzzes.
Leaning forward, she presses a button on the intercom.
Voice: “Mummy Lulu, Johnny here. Please get everyone in the hall. We’re going to have a fire drill.”
Voice: "Yes, now."
Voice: “I don’t want any staff to go on MC to avoid the fire drill.”
Mummy Lulu looks at me. “Come, join us in the fire drill since you’re a regular customer.”
Within ten minutes, the GROs and office staff start to gather in the hall. Mummy Lulu and I go to sit at a front table and Jessica, Wati and Belinda join us.
“Jesus Christ! We’re on the fifteenth floor,” Jessica mutters to Wati [top pix].
“Half the ladies’re going to faint when they reach the ground floor,” Wati says.
“Yeah, we’ve to remove our stilettos and walk bare-foot,” Belinda [right pix] chips in. “It’s going to be murder on our soles.”
A short while later, Johnny strides to the centre of the hall, places his hands behind his back. “As you all know, Kiss Nightclub in Santa Maria in Brazil, caught fire and many people died,” he announces. “As the Boy’s Scout motto goes, be prepared. So, let’s have a fire drill now. Our security guard, Sukhahadur, has experience with fire drills. He’ll brief you all.”
“Thank you, Mr Yap. Ladies and gentlemen. First, I’ll teach everyone how to use a fire extinguisher,” Sukbahadur says, holding a fire extinguisher in his hands. “Mostly, fires start in the kitchen. So, the kitchen staff, especially, should know the steps by heart.” He starts to point around the contraption. “This is the nozzle, this is the safety pin, this is the lever. Understand? To use it is easy. Just remember P-A-S.”
“Parti PAS?” Wati asks, and starts to giggle.
“Stop joking!” hollers Johnny Yap, who weighs more than 200 lbs. “A fire drill is a serious matter, it can save your life. That’s why I’m taking part as well.”
Sukbahadur continues: “P-A-S stands for pull, aim, and squeeze. First, pull the safety pin, then aim at the fire and squeeze the top lever. Remember to hold the fire extinguisher upright.”
Ah Lek, the bouncer, brings an old empty kerosene tin from the kitchen and places it on the dance floor.
Sukbahadur beckons to Thiha, the twenty-one-year-old Myanmar kitchen helper. “Come, you try it. Pretend there’s fire from the kerosene tin.”
Thiha, smiling to display buck teeth, holds the fire extinguisher with one hand and tugs at the safety pin with the other. Nothing happens. He looks at Sukbahadur.
“Pull harder! You must break the seal,” Sukbahadur instructs. “Pretend it’s a hand grenade!”
With all his might, Thiha pulls the ring off. POP! “Eeeeek! Hand bomb!” he shrieks and throws the fire extinguisher at Sukbahadur.
The security guard jumps aside to avoid being hit. The fire extinguisher lands upend on the floor. A stream of froth shoots out, hitting Mummy Lulu on the face! The ladies scream and the men laugh. The mamasan skedaddles to the washroom, and the fire drill continues.
“Now, when you hear the fire alarm, don’t panic,” Sukbabadur says. “Don’t use the lift. Walk to the fire exit and down the staircase. Tell your customers to do the same. The fire exit door has a sign above. It’s near the washroom. Come, let’s try. Please remove your heels, ladies. Wait for the alarm to ring.”
Ah Lek lights a cigarette, takes a deep drag and blows the smoke into a bamboo blow pipe which he aims at the smoke-detector on the ceiling. Nothing happens. Johnny Yap lights up another cigarette and hands it to him. Ah Lek sucks deeply at both cigarettes in his mouth and tries again. The alarm is activated and a clanging crescendo fills the hall.
I decide not to join Hot Leg's staff and take the lift down to the ground floor. I circle the building and wait outside the fire-exit door. Twenty minutes pass.
First to come through the door is Sukbahadur, who’s carrying Mr Johnny Yap, piggyback style, next is Jessica. Mr Yap is panting like a dog, his eyes rolled upward, his hair dishevelled.
“What happened?” I ask.
“Mr Yap suffered a heart attack,” Jessica says, carrying her stilettos in one hand. “I’ve already phoned for an ambulance.” She mops sweat off her forehead with a piece of Kleenex tissue.
I hear the wail of an ambulance as more of Hot Legs Niteclub’s staff comes through the door.
Eyeing the fire-exit door, I almost do a double take.
Mummy Lulu, panting like an asthma sufferer, is riding piggyback on Sam Soong who’s breathing through his mouth; Belinda on Ah Lek, his face as red as a lobster; Linda Lee on Muniandy, wearing a lecherous grin; and a smiling Siripit Kongmalai on Boh Kah Kiat, his knees wobbly. Then come the rest of the staff and GROs, all drenched in sweat.
Published by Monsoon Books, Singapore. Sold in Malaysia at Kinokuniya, Popular Book Store, Borders and MPH nationwide. An e-book edition is also available. Please check out monsoonbooks.com.sg.