A diplomat recently recollected his meeting with Bo Xilai when the Communist leader was still a political force to reckon with.
The interaction was frank and Bo walked him to the door to see him off.
The diplomat also remembered a double-faced clock that Bo quietly placed on his desk when the meeting started.
With his wife Gu Kailai's swift trial done and dusted, the clock is now ticking for Bo.
He has not been seen in public since March when he was sacked as mayor of Chongqing, a municipality of around 30 million people.
But it's his all-pervading absence that continues to fuel the political scandal and speculation about its denouement.
Bo was charged with "serious indiscipline" and is currently facing an internal party investigation.
But the priceless question is how and when is he going to be punished? Will he be charged with helping Gu to cover up British businessman Neil Heywood's murder?
The government's decision to move swiftly against the powerful couple was to convey that no one's above the law.
But Gu's suspended death sentence isn't being seen as a sufficient punishment. Would a common Chinese escape death if convicted for a similar crime?
"How wonderful life is, how handy the law can be, as long as you have the party to protect you," the Wall Street Journal quoted Yao Bo, a newspaper columnist as saying.
If there was an underlying suspicion that the trial of Gu, the daughter of a top Chinese general, was stage managed, it's a given that in Bo's case the trial will be even more opaque. After all, Bo's a "princeling", a term for the children of the Communist elite, the son of Bo Yibo, purged during Mao's Cultural Revolution but a close confidante of Deng Xiaoping.
And it will probably be too much for the backdoor politicians to share, for one, embarrassing details of how Bo's police chief and comrade Wang Lijun ran to a US consulate, ready to share murky details of murder, money and what not. Ironically, that's probably Bo's worst crime.