Sleeping with Dragons Chapter Two By Leslie J. Weddell
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Sleeping with Dragons
By Leslie J. Weddell
Click here to buy e-book
Click here to send comments
Click here if you'd like to exchange critiques
At 10am they entered the offices of the Far East Import & Export Company. An impressive looking building rising 12 floors, it was squeezed in between the more recently built glass faced skyscrapers. The ground floor show rooms were completely in traditional Chinese décor with delicate watercolour prints of ancient rural scenes on the ceiling, complimenting the long silk wall screens displaying beautifully embroidered illustrations of past Emperors of old China.
Red and gold painted columns stretched from floor to ceiling, and carefully selected pastel lighting illuminated the delicate Ivory and Jade craftsmanship on show in the black lacquered showcases. The rich deep red carpet with gold lined edging gave that extra touch of class to impress the most discerning of customers.
But the centrepiece in the large room was the distinctive, curved stairway. Constructed in the shape of a huge Chinese Dragon it snaked up to the first floor level and down the right hand side of the room. Craftsmen had painstakingly painted every detail of the massive body in vivid colours, with its scaly torso ending in a huge, and grotesque, head placed exactly in the middle of the staircase.
Concealed behind it was a fully air conditioned room containing the latest digital video security equipment, complete with a powerful surveillance camera in each eye of the mythical beast.
Splitting up, Lee walked towards the staircase and Thompson went over to view the objects in one of the showcases. He heard a polite cough behind him, and turning, his eyes fell upon a Sales person dressed in traditional Chinese clothes of Court, wearing a hexagon shaped hat. Bowing slightly, and with his hands tucked inside the large sleeves of his long robe, he greeted his potential customer.
“Good morning Sir, aren’t they lovely?”
“Good Morning to you too!” Harry replied in a friendly way. “Yes, they certainly are lovely. I was admiring this little Jade Buddha. 13th Century, I believe?”
Sales person replies, “My, Sir does know his Chinese Antiques. Yes, you are quite right.” With a sickly smile on his face he asked, “Would Sir like to see our private collection? It is reserved for special guests such as yourself who know beautiful things when they see them.”
“OK, I might be interested to see what you have to offer.” Thompson replied.
They walked across the floor and behind a black silkscreen decorated with golden peacocks, sitting down in plush chairs at opposite sides of a green leather topped mahogany desk. The Sales Person unlocked several drawers and peered inside them, finally bringing out two objects d’art and placing them on the shining leather. Harry looked at a delicately carved statue of an Emperor. It was pure Ivory in colour and texture.
“Now you’re talking buddy, this is from the third Ming Dynasty – right?”
“Well, what can I say? You really DO know your Chinese antiques, Sir.” Sales person was beginning to feel uncomfortable. This Customer was not going to be the usual ‘easy meat’ to get his high commission from.
Harry looked directly at him, bringing a business like manner into his voice. “How much are you asking for this piece?”
“That is on offer at just HK$5,000.” Sales person replies, producing another item. “Now this piece is even more exceptional.” He delicately moved a small Chinese Dragon in front of Harry. It was exquisite. The eyes were blood red ruby stones, and the body, which was made of gold, was studded in diamonds. Thompson picked it up and looked underneath. There was not a trace of any imperfection anywhere on the piece.
With a mealy-faced smile Sales Person continued to dig for gold. “This is on offer at just HK$12,000.”
Harry looked at him and replied, “I might be interested. They are certainly beautiful, but I would need my own independent expert to look at them first.” He knew a thing or two about Chinese Antiques and what had been placed in front of him so far was nothing short of damned good imitations.
This whole set up was a rip - off. Many an unsuspecting customer had, no doubt, bought pieces that would be more suited to the open market stalls of the Wanchai district of Hong Kong, where the Tourists could buy them for no more than a couple of hundred HK Dollars each.
“Would Sir like a coffee?” Sales person asked.
“OK, that would be very welcome right now. Meanwhile, I will make a call and ask my expert to come down and look at these pieces.” He took out his Cell phone and tapped in a number.
Lee was standing next to a showcase looking up at the Dragon’s head. “OK - I’ll give it a few minutes then come over to you.”
Sales Person had placed everything carefully back in the drawers of the desk and locked it. He stood up, and smiling as ever, he said, “I will go and arrange for your coffee. Please excuse me for a moment.”
A door situated almost next to Thompson marked ‘Private’ in both English and Chinese characters opened and Mr. Boon walked through the space. Without batting an eyelid he smiled and said cheerfully, “Good morning Mr. Ferguson. I trust you arrived back at your Hotel safely last night?”
“You son of a bitch!” exclaimed Harry, leaping to his feet.
“Mr. Ferguson – what on earth is wrong?” Boon asked, with a startled look on his face.
Harry grabbed his arm and exclaimed, “You know bloody well what is wrong. That Gorilla of yours knocked us out cold with some kind of gas in the back of your car and dumped us on the racecourse – after relieving me of all my winnings from your club!”
Boon looked shocked. “Oh my goodness – this is terrible! I had no idea! I am very sorry for the actions of Foo. Please allow me to re-emburse you immediately and investigate exactly why he treated you in this disgraceful manner. He will be instantly dismissed from my employ of course.” Picking up the telephone on the desk Boon spoke in English to a ‘Mr. Chow.’
He looked very annoyed and said curtly, “Please go to the bank and arrange for HK300, 000 in cash to be brought immediately to the ‘Dragon Room’ - and contact Foo. I want him here right now!” He slammed the phone back into its cradle and said to Harry apologetically, “I really am sorry about this. Foo has made me angry, and I hope you will forgive me.”
Sitting down and composing himself he continued in a calmer voice, “Foo has always been so reliable in the past and I just cannot understand what has got into him lately. Only last week I had to severely reprimand him for rough handling a customer out of the casino. I don’t know what’s got into the man. But this is the final straw, for I can no longer tolerate Foo’s unpredictable actions and I will have to let him go. I hope you will accept my sincere apologies for this mishap. I have added an extra 5,000 to account for the inconvenience caused to you, Mr. Ferguson.”
His hand moved down to a key on a gold chain attached to his waistcoat, and he opened one of the drawers in the desk. Placing it in a presentation box, Boon slid the beautiful golden dragon in front of Harry. “Meanwhile, please accept this little gift from me as a token of my sincerity, and I hope this incident will not affect your decision to consider my business offer.”
Harry was laughing inwardly at Boon’s performance. So convincing, he should be on the stage. He looked at the miniature dragon in mock amazement and replied, “But I cannot accept this! It is worth $12,000 according to your Sales Person!”
Boon’s face lit into a smile as he replied, “Ah, our Mr. Heng. He is one of our finest sales representatives, but he does have a tendency to over exaggerate prices of pieces from time to time especially to impress rich tourists! He starts with a ridiculously high figure and enjoys haggling until it drops to a more realistic price that the customer is happy with. As a businessman yourself Mr. Ferguson, you will agree I am sure, that a satisfied customer is always the best way to go.”
Harry could see that Boon was enjoying every minute of his little charade but he said nothing. He wanted to see how far this would go in leading to the real reason why Boon was being so friendly, so he let him continue with his fairy story.
“Actually, this piece, finely made as it is, can be produced to order right here on the premises. It is only worth around 200 HK dollars on the open markets.” Boon laughed and slapped his knee. “So you see Mr. Ferguson, it is not the true value of the piece - but the price the customer is willing to pay for it that counts!”
‘Mr. Chow’ appeared in the doorway and announced that the money and the coffee had been delivered to the ‘Dragon Room’.
Johnny walked over to an employee and introduced himself as the Antiques expert who had been asked to meet Mr. Ferguson here in this establishment.
“Please follow me Sir,” said the assistant, and led Lee straight to the Silk Screens and the seated company of Boon and ‘Mr. Ferguson.’
“Good morning Mr. Lee – I am so glad you could come at short notice.” Harry had stood up and shook Johnny’s hand. “Mr. Boon has been explaining to me that he had no knowledge of the unfortunate attack on us last night by his driver.”
Boon chipped in, “Yes, that is correct. I am very sorry for what happened, Mr. Lee. I can assure you, Foo will be dealt with on his arrival here in a short while.”
Harry decided to try a different angle in his probe for information. “So you are the owner of this fine business house as well as the ‘Pink Pussycat’?” He asked, as he lit a cigar.
Boon spread his meticulously manicured fingers on the desktop, clearly displaying the green emerald that sparkled in the centre of the gold ring on his index finger. His eyes narrowed as he quickly placed an inhaler to his mouth and pressed the pump.
“Oh, I am sorry. I didn’t realise - please forgive me.” Harry hurriedly extinguished the offending weed.
Delicately tapping his brow with a silk handkerchief then replacing it in his top pocket Boon answered, “Sadly, not the sole owner, for I am only a share – holder and a member of the board of Directors. The Nightclub and Casino are part of our many Company interests, both here in Hong Kong and elsewhere in the Orient.
You see, from very humble beginnings selling from a street stall in the 1920’s our founder, Haw Par Choo, built up the business trading in low cost clothing, and branching into other goods as the demand arose. He worked very hard to achieve a better lifestyle, for without doubt, he was a born Entrepreneur.
After finishing his long day on the street stall he would go to lessons with a tutor, who taught him to read and write both in Mandarin and in English. For five long years Haw Par Choo studied. His diligence paid off, for by Chinese New Year in 1930 he had opened the first office of The Far East Import & Export Company right here on this very site, and we have simply kept adding to the size of the premises ever since.
“Fascinating,” Harry exclaimed, almost yawning. He looked at Lee, who was keeping a poker-straight face.
Boon smiled and continued, “I don’t want to bore you both to death with more history of our company, so what do you say to a nice cup of coffee, gentlemen? After which, perhaps we can discuss in further detail, my business proposition.”
He stood up and gestured for the two men to enter through the door marked ‘Private.’ Following behind them he casually said, “Straight down the passageway Gentlemen, then the first door on the right will take us into the Dragon Room.”
“What is the Dragon Room?” Johnny asked.
Boon politely overtook them and put his hand on the door handle. “Gentlemen, allow me!” He then cheerfully answered Johnny’s question. “Ah, Yes –The Dragon Room. It is where we entertain special guests like Mr. Ferguson and yourself, Mr. Lee.”
The WOAD operatives found themselves in a corridor that was completely painted in white. Through a glass partition they could clearly see men processing drugs.
Thompson reeled around just in time to break the fall of Boon’s arm as it slashed down with a knife, and he delivered a karate chop with brute force to Boon’s shoulder. The sickening sound of shattering bone brought a scream of agony from his opponent.
Unfortunately for Johnny, Foo had appeared from behind, and picking him up threw him several feet across the corridor to smack into a wall.
Lee was lying on the floor as Foo approached him and coiling his body upwards he thrust the power into his legs to send the big man rebounding off the laboratory partition.
Despite his size Foo was extremely agile and came at Lee again, this time using a low flying Karate kick. Anticipating this, Johnny leapt even higher, landing both feet squarely in the neck of the huge Chinaman with such force that he went crashing through the partition in a shower of splintering glass, landing on a table loaded with plastic bags containing over US$1,000,000 worth of cocaine exploding the contents into an irretrievable cloud of white dust.
Men came running down the corridor towards them.
Thompson quickly searched Boon’s pockets and found the $300,000 and the bureau’s $10,000 virtually intact. Transferring the money to his own clothes he turned around to join Johnny, ready to tackle the oncoming men when the door behind them burst open and Police Officers charged in.
The approaching men abruptly turned around and began running back down the corridor closely pursued by several Officers. Lee turned around to see a Police Inspector pointing a handgun straight at him.
“Don’t shoot! – We’re on your side!” He drew back his jacket to reveal his WOAD badge.
In the laboratory, all hell had let loose. Workers frantically tried to destroy the evidence by grabbing bags and stuffing them into the open door of an incinerator, whilst others ran around looking for a means of escape, only to discover their exit blocked by incoming Police Officers. Within five minutes the whole of Boon’s drug operation had been destroyed. He was handcuffed and taken away with Foo, and the rest of his gang.
The Inspector congratulated the two WOAD agents. “Excellent work gentlemen. We have suspected this establishment was into more than antiques for some time now, but have never been able to get a result like this before. Every time we raided these premises this room was openly made available for inspection, but all it ever revealed was a production line with old ladies making cheap replicas of Chinese antiques for sale to the tourist trade.”
“How did you know we were here?” Harry asked.
The Inspector looked at them both and said, “We received a call from a ‘Mr. Lee’ who told us he had seen his Canadian friend ‘Mr. Ferguson’ being led away under gunpoint through a door behind silk screens in this establishment. Apart from the main entrance and a fire exit, the only other door on the ground floor is the one we all came through just now.”
Lee chipped in, “I spotted Foo walking past a window on the first floor whilst I was studying the Dragon staircase. Putting two and two together, I reckoned on Boon being around too. So I decided we could use some re-enforcements - just in case we got mugged again!” With a twinkle in his eye he looked at Harry, saying, “I told you I would not let you down!”
They walked back into the beautiful show rooms and Thompson looked up at the Eyes of the Dragon. Glowing red they had a satanic look about them as if sending him a message of impending doom.
That evening they took a flight back to Singapore.
Harry climbed out of the taxi and paid the driver. He was standing in front of the home of Richard and Julie McDonald, who had invited him to dinner. As he walked along the path to the front door he could smell the heady perfume of the tropical flowers in the garden. Looking at the wooden name plaque that stated ‘Oban’, he pushed the doorbell.
The door opened to reveal a beautiful Chinese woman wearing a smart Hong Kong style ‘Cheongsam’ dress. It was Julie McDonald. Her long black hair was decorated with a single orchard flower above her right ear, and her slim figure filled the dress elegantly. Her lovely dark eyes and her sensuous mouth broke into a smile as she recognised him.
“Harry! Please come in - it is so nice to see you again! ”
She gave him a little peck on the cheek as he presented her with a decorative box of chocolates. “I heard you liked these things.”
Giving him a mock look of dismay she exclaimed, “Oh, you shouldn’t have! I’m trying to keep my figure!”
“From where I stand, I see nothing wrong with it right now.” Thompson grinned.
“Oh you flatterer!” She giggled then crooking her arm through his, they walked into the house. A hint of her jasmine perfume mingled with the eastern incense coming from the thin blue smoke that rose straight into the air from joss sticks, smouldering in a brass container in front of a beautiful Buddha statue wearing a garland of flowers.
Emerging onto the patio at the rear of the property they were greeted with the cosy atmosphere of coloured lanterns hanging in a festive style around the garden, and Richard McDonald, who was sat in a bamboo wicker chair looking very drunk.
“Ah, Harry! – Trying to steal my wife again, eh?” He waved his arms erratically, spilling the whisky from his glass as he gestured to his friend to come in. “Welcome laddie! It’s great to see you - now what are you drinking?” His speech was slurred.
“Hello Mac – nice to see you again. A cold beer will do fine, and I’ll get it myself.” Harry picked up a can from the ice bucket and pulled the ring.
Julie looked at her husband, who was in the process of refilling his glass. She was no longer smiling. “Richard! You’ve had enough already –please don’t drink anymore!”
“My darlin’ Julie, when was the last time you saw me inebriated?” Mac was looking at his wife bleary – eyed, his head starting to sway. “You know that I never touch a drop of the hard stuff before Sundown.”
Thompson could see the embarrassment on Julie’s face as she turned away, tears already in her eyes as she replied, “We invited Harry here to have dinner with us and now you have ruined the evening.”
“Am I interrupting something here?”
“As his friend, please talk to him Harry,” she said in exasperation. “He has been drinking too much lately and every night he comes home drunk and he will not listen to me. He’s incorrigible!”
Mac squinted at her as he leaned over at an angle and replied, “Och, what’s the blubbering for lassie? I’m just havin’ a wee drink.” He started giggling as he continued, “And I’ll tell you somethin else… I’m not incorra... incolla…” he couldn’t pronounce the word and in exasperation flailed his glass-carrying hand in the air again spilling whisky, before trying to complete the sentence in a unintelligible blur or words. “Whateveritwasyousaid!”
Thompson wanted to laugh at Mac’s comical attics but it would be unfair on poor Julie, for he’d never seen his best friend like this before. They had been close friends for over ten years and had served together in the Gulf War. McDonald had been his Platoon Lieutenant, and a damned good one at that.
A confirmed teetotaller, he had never touched a drop of alcohol whilst he was in the Royal Marine Commandos. Now Harry was very worried about him for office gossip had revealed that Mac had a bottle of whisky at all times in his desk drawer, from which he had been seen sneaking gulps when he thought nobody was looking.
Harry grinned at him and said, “Come on old boy, why don’t we take a walk in the garden? I have something important to talk to you about and the fresh air will do you good.” He looked at Julie and made a gesture for her to leave him alone with her husband for a while. She nodded, and wiping her eyes with a small handkerchief she said softly, “I’ll go and make some strong black coffee.”
Taking hold of his arm, Harry helped Mac to his feet and the two of them walked slowly out into the garden and onto the curved oriental Bridge. They rested their arms on the wooden rail and looked at the two large coy fish hovering in the pool below them. It was a cool night, and above them the crystal clear night sky was ablaze with stars.
Harry was annoyed with Mac and pulled no punches when he asked him, testily, “Right – out with it –why are you hitting the booze? You are a miserable bastard to that lovely wife of yours inside, who cannot understand why you are a drunk, and frankly, neither can I. We have been close friends for years and have got through thick and thin together. We have no secrets from each other, so tell me, why are you hiding in a bottle?”
“It’s that obvious?” Mac asked.
A few moments of silence passed between the two men. The distant sounds of clashing cymbals and pounding drums at a Chinese Street Opera could be clearly heard in the night air. Richard lit a cigarette and inhaled the smoke, choking as he did so, then immediately threw the cigarette into the water.
“OK, but what I am going to tell you now, nobody else has heard – not even Julie. For some time I have been feeling dreadful pains in my chest and in the mornings I would be coughing up blood. It got worse, so I knew I had to do something about it. I did not want to go to the bureau doctor for fear of being fired.
So I went to see a doctor friend who I could trust to be discreet. After examining me, he said that I needed to consult with a Specialist. He would say nothing more than that. I had a feeling he was hiding something, but I agreed to make the appointment with the Specialist he recommended.
After further examination and tests he called me back for a second consultation and told me exactly what was wrong with me.” Looking down at the fish Richard quietly said, “I am riddled with Cancer.”
“Oh my God Richard! I am so sorry.” Harry put his arm around his best friend’s shoulder and held him in a brotherly manner.
Mac continued. “The Specialist said it was advanced and there was little he could do. I would of course receive chemotherapy treatment, but he said the cancer was too far advanced to eradicate it completely. He gave me six to nine months to live, and I drink because I think it eases the pain. But if you want the honest truth, I drink mostly because I am frightened of dying.” Harry could see tears in his friend’s eyes as he exclaimed, “It’s not bloody fair, Harry! I’m only 35 years old.”
He pulled Richard close to him and hugged him tight. He could hear the bravest man he had ever known softly crying on his shoulder. They stood there for a few moments before Thompson spoke.
“You must tell Julie. She is entitled to share whatever time you have left. I know it is hard, but you’ve got to tell her, Mac.”
“Yes, you are right. God knows, a dozen times I have almost told her but something inside me kept saying no. But I believe the time is right to tell her now –and I want you to be with me when I do so.”
She could not stop crying. Julie hugged her husband and kissed him tenderly many times that night. Dinner was forgotten about, and Thompson returned to his Hotel. Richard and Julie McDonald went to bed and fell asleep in each other’s arms.
Using the spare electronic card Harry had given to him, Lee let himself into the Hotel room. Knocking loudly in a rhythmic fashion on the bedroom door he went bounding in at exactly 7am.“Time to rise and shine, Boss!”
“Hell’s fire! Do you EVER sleep?” Harry groaned as he looked at his watch.
Johnny quipped, “We Chinese need little sleep since life is too enjoyable to spend in bed – unless of course, it is with a beautiful woman!”
“OK clever dick, what brings you here in the dead of night?”
Johnny opened a soft leather attaché bag and pulled out an envelope. “This came into the bureau half an hour ago by fax from Paris.”
He handed it to Harry, who briefly glanced through the contents. Sitting up and swinging both legs onto the carpet, he began reading the fax in earnest.
“Williams is dead. He was found in a back alley in a Paris suburb last night with a pearl handled knife in his back. The Paris bureau believes everything points to this being the work of Juan Mendoza.” Dropping the paper on the bed Thompson stood up and walked into his shower.
When it rains in Singapore it can suddenly come down in stinging sheets of water during the ‘monsoon’ season. Within half an hour the specially built deep flood drains which run along side the main roads of the City, are full of fast flowing mud coloured water and debris moving down to the sea. In the intense heat of the tropics, a good downpour is welcome, for it leaves the air smelling sweet and fresh when the rain stops.
Thompson ducked out of the doorway in which he had taken shelter from the shower, and walked to the nearest Underground Station. Then taking a downtown express on the MRT, he got off at the nearest point to the bureau offices. Across the street a man with a hole through his ear watched him walk into the building.
Born into a Circus family in the Philippines, young Juan Mendoza learned quickly and soon became part of his Parent’s knife throwing act. But he was a wild youngster, always getting himself into trouble. By the time he was Seventeen he had left the Circus and become involved with a local gang in Manila.
Attracted by the seemingly never ending flow of money that could be made by killing people as a ‘hit man’, Mendoza’s services were sought after by all the top gangs in the City who wanted people out of their way.
Under his combat style jacket he wore a waistcoat especially designed to hold the pearl handled throwing knives. Juan could draw a knife at lightening speed and throw it exactly in the middle of his chosen target, up to 25 feet away –usually someone’s body – as several policemen, and others who had crossed his path, were dead testimony to this.
Because of his lust for a quick hump with that Turkish whore, he had nearly died in Istanbul. After treatment from a doctor used by the local Cartel, he had put out feelers to find out who had shot at him and it did not take long to establish that a WOAD operative named Harry Thompson had departed for Singapore from the airport that same evening.
It had to be him, for Juan had killed one of their operatives just a couple of days before, in Istanbul. He had to hand it to WOAD for they lost no time in trying to find him! He knew the only way he could get Thompson off his back was to kill him when he least expected it to come, and now he was being paid by the Cartel to do just that.
Before the Hong Kong incident the Far East Cartel had ignored Thompson since he was stationed in the States, and was no threat to them at that time. But after the raid that destroyed their HK laboratory, Boon had passed the full story out to them from his prison cell. WOAD - and Harry Thompson in particular – had become a thorn in their side. The Cartel immediately issued a contract for his execution to their top hit man, Juan Mendoza. And in doing the job, he would be including the favour he promised to his friend, Simon Wordsworth.
Homer sat at his desk listening to the disk. Thompson and Lee, along with McDonald and the head of operational supplies Peter Cheng, sat in various parts of the room. When the recorded voice of Charles Williams stopped, the Chief was the first to speak.
“Well gentlemen, with thanks to the late Mr. Williams it looks as if we have hit the jackpot this time. Now we need a strategy plan to put into operation immediately to shut the Cartel down.” Standing up, he ambled over to the water cooler and poured himself a drink. “We need to find out when the Cartel Bosses will meet again, and the rendezvous. I will alert our bureaux in the Orient to put out the word to operatives and informers, to report immediately on any unusual activity with Drug Gangs in their area.”
Scott looked directly at Thompson. “I want you, and McDonald, to handle this one with Lee as your backup. Do you have any problems with that, Harry?”
“Certainly not. Mac and I have worked together before, and if I must have a partner, he is the person I would choose.” He looked at Johnny and added, “And this guy can learn the ropes from two old dogs like us - providing he does not wake me up before 8am every damned morning!”
Lee made a fist and exclaimed softly, “YES!”
The chief continued his brief.
“With the successful operation carried out in Hong Kong yesterday, it is evident that this Far East Import & Export Company is a front for a Drug Cartel, and I firmly believe it is the big one we are after. Now, can anyone suggest a code name for this operation?”
Thompson immediately said, “Sleeping with Dragons.” Scott looked at him and exclaimed, “Oh yes, I like that one Harry - it has a ring of irony to it!”
But Peter Cheng had a puzzled look on his face. “I don’t get it. “Sleeping with Dragons?” What on earth does that mean?”
Johnny answered the question for him. “It is like a metaphor, Peter. You know - the effects of drugs on addicts? Those that take the stuff often refer to the high they get from it as “Sleeping with the Dragon.”
“Yes, I think Peter has got the point!” Scott interrupted. “Oh, and that reminds me Harry, he wants his passports and money back.”
With a big smile on his face Peter Cheng sat with his hand outstretched across the table.
That afternoon Johnny took Thompson to his martial arts school. He had not really wanted to go, but Lee insisted that he must come just once, since his friends would be thrilled to meet one of the top karate experts in the World. Prominently displayed on one of the walls, a huge colour poster of Harry in a fantastic action shot was the pride of the dojo. It had been taken when he won the World Championships, and he was the role model to every student in the school, including Johnny Lee.
In the doorway of the newsagents across the street Mendoza stood watching the two men enter the building, and pulling a Cell phone from his pocket he punched in a number.
Lee and Thompson climbed the stairs to the first floor where the school was situated, and entering the main room of the dojo they were confronted with a squad of young men and women exercising floor movements. They stood by a wall for a minute or two watching the squad at work, then the instructor noticed them, and clapping his hands for the drill to stop he quietly spoke in Cantonese, to Lee.
Bowing in the traditional manner to the instructor Johnny politely exchanged a few words then turned and said, “Harry, I would like to introduce you to my dojo master, Mr. Haw Pak Lao.” With a large grin on his face he added, “He is also my uncle.”
Thompson bowed, and a look of surprise crossed everyone’s face as Harry began speaking in Cantonese. “I hope you don’t mind us intruding, but I am pleased to meet you. Johnny has told me much about your work with these youngsters in the short time I have known him.”
“On the contrary, Mr. Thompson. You bring much honour to us in visiting our humble dojo.” The old master had returned the compliment in Cantonese. Then in clear and concise English he continued, “Every student in this room aspires to be as good as you, as the World Karate Champion.”
Harry smiled and replied, “Former champion, Sir, and don’t forget, that was seven years ago –I’m a bit rusty these days!”
The doors to the hall burst open and Mendoza barged in with a gang of eight men, carrying baseball bats and knives. Thompson was already in the air, in a flying kick aimed straight at two of the men, and as his feet smacked their heads in turn at lightening speed, Lee and the students began to tackle the rest of the gang.
Mendoza had pulled a knife and thrown it straight at Thompson, but Haw Pak Lao had got between them in making contact with one of the gang, and the knife plunged into the shoulder of the Karate master. Harry again flew into the air with incredible agility, and this time made contact with considerable force on Mendoza’s head, sending him sprawling onto the floor, unconscious. The whole thing had lasted only seconds, and the invading gang lay on the floor, out cold.
Johnny Lee was devastated. His uncle had raised him and his elder sister from childhood, after their Parents had perished in a house fire whilst the two youngsters were at nursery school. Being the only remaining relative, Uncle Haw Pak Lao had scrimped and saved to pay for their education to allow them both to have a decent chance in life.
Now this had happened.
The police were called and soon had the full story on Mendoza, and he was taken to a Maximum Security jail pending his deportation to France where he was wanted for murder.
Later in the day Lee and Thompson visited Haw Pak Lao in his hospital room, and were pleased to see the old man was sleeping peacefully. Within minutes of their arrival, the door opened, and the surgeon entered.
Johnny said softly, “Hello Doctor - I’m Mr. Haw Pak Lao’s nephew, and this is Mr. Thompson, a close family friend. How is my uncle?”
“Well gentlemen, the patient is very lucky to be alive, since the knife missed his lung by millimetres. He is going to be fine – but it will take time.”
Haw Pak Lao had opened his eyes and was looking at the three men standing at the foot of his bed. He asked, “What does a man have to do around here, to get a bedpan?”
Everyone grinned, as the doctor replied, “Ah, I see the patient is well on the mend!” He turned to a nurse who had just entered the room and asked, “I believe this is your department?”
Mac had been busy. Having flown to Bangkok, and talked to several WOAD operators, he had discovered that the word from their paid informants was that a ‘private party’ of top bosses was to be held at a spacious Thai seafood restaurant in four weeks time. On inquiry about hiring the second floor suite for a private party, a local bureau operative had been informed by the Restaurant Management that this part of the building was being refurbished, and was closed to the Public for the next two months.
Richard had visited the restaurant for lunch, taking in the layout as best he could. It certainly had all the hallmarks of being the kind of venue for the likes of the Cartel, who wanted privacy. A hotel would be too open, and difficult to place tight security around without drawing attention. No, this had to be it. Perfectly situated in the middle of the City, it was called the ‘King Prawn Palace.’
Mac had given all this information in the meeting, back in the Singapore bureau.
The computer disk containing the list of cartel leaders was important information for WOAD, who had already suspected some of the names as being connected to drug trafficking, and now they had the confirmation.
There were 10 names altogether on the disk, and although two of them were not familiar to the bureau, with inquiries, it was soon revealed who they were.
The first was an Irishman named Eric Butler, who was the vice president of the Hong Kong branch of the Anglo Eastern Bank. He lived with his wife and two teenage daughters in respectability on the ‘Peak’ District in the company of the rich and famous of Hong Kong society. What his wife probably didn’t know was that he kept a beautiful mistress in a luxury flat over Victoria bay in Kowloon City.
Butler had expensive tastes, and was a heavy gambler. It was well known in his tennis club that he had owed HK$80,000 to the bookies, for he had tried borrowing it from various well-heeled members, who had all turned him down. But suddenly he’d been able to pay this debt off in one payment. It was all there in his dossier, put together by the Hong Kong Bureau of WOAD from sources official, and unofficial.
However, he had not been seen in Hong Kong for three days. He’d told his wife and his office staff that he was going to Beijing, on a business trip for the Bank. At the same time as he was supposed to be in China, a routine internal audit at the Bank revealed that the equivalent of £100,000 sterling of the Bank’s money had been transferred to an account in their Kowloon branch, under the name of Roger Kingston.
The paperwork had small discrepancies, which, with further investigation, proved to be substantial. It did not take the auditors long to discover that an ‘elderly’ European man had made a large cash withdrawal from the account, using a clearance note from the Bank Vice President, co-signed by the Bank President, Simon Wordsworth.
The branch cashier who had processed the withdrawal, recognised the disguised Butler when his real photograph and that of Roger Kingston the account holder, was placed alongside that of a Police photo kit. A warrant for Butler’s arrest was issued, and Wordsworth was taken into custody on suspicion of fraud.
A second unknown name on the list was an Australian Immigrant named Johannes Gorgons. Having had a sex change, he was using the name of Cheryl Baker, and had built up a chain of fast food outlets all over Australia and Asia. It was professionally operated under the uniform corporate concept of identical products, building layouts, and colour schemes. The trading name was ‘Ma Baker’s Pantry’.
The Melbourne Bureau could find no police record, and the only questionable factor was that Baker never seemed to have a home base, and was constantly on the move from one Asian country to another.
Juan Mendoza sat on his bed in the cell contemplating his future. In a day or two, he would be taken to the airport and handed over to the French guards sent to bring him back to France. He decided his best plan of escape would be to wait until the plane had landed. Then he would make his move.