Sleeping with Dragons Chapter One 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
The Republic of Singapore rapidly slipped away into the southwestern horizon beneath flight 4902 as the aircraft set course for Hong Kong. Harry Thompson relaxed into his comfortable seat and let out a sigh of relief.
Finally, he was on the way to his lovely Island in the South Pacific. But first, he was going to the British Colony to ask Constance to marry him, for she was a breath of fresh air in his life.
Taking a sip of his mature whisky he snuggled down further into his seat, and closing his eyes, he thought about Constance. He could not contemplate living without her now, for she was the most wonderful thing that had ever come into his life.
Had it been destiny that had brought them together on his last job for the bureau, code - named “Sleeping with Dragons?”
© 2005 by Leslie J. Weddell. All Rights Reserved. ISBN: 1-4208-2778-2(sc)
Thompson quickly slotted another bullet into the chamber of the custom made rifle and had again fixed his cross-sights on Mendoza when he heard a woman’s scream from somewhere in the boarding house, followed by a man shouting angrily and the crack of a gunshot. A jealous lover, perhaps? Whatever, it would certainly bring unwanted attention.
It took only seconds to dismantle the unmarked weapon especially prepared for him by the Bureau, and wrapping it in the bag it came in; he climbed through the open window onto the fire escape ladder.
Descending quickly to the ground he dropped the rifle in a large garbage container in a side alley, and removing his gloves, he casually walked out into a brightly lit street. Hailing a taxi he climbed into the vehicle and told the driver the name of the Hotel he had booked into on arriving in Istanbul the day before.
Everything had gone wrong for him tonight. He knew he had to try again tomorrow, probably having to resume chasing his target to another City, or Country.
Mendoza had recently knifed and killed one of the top officers in the World Organization Against Drugs Administration, and it had ruffled more than a few feathers at Headquarters in Geneva. Harry had been assigned to eliminate the Drug Cartel hit man, and his boss expected the job to be done properly, and did not take no for an answer.
He frowned at the irony of the situation. For here was one contract killer being stalked by another contract killer. In essence, what else could he be working for the WOAD? They were both being paid to do a job and the only difference between them was that Thompson was doing it under the flag of ‘legality,’ working for an international law enforcement agency.
Entering the hotel lobby he enjoyed the refreshing coolness of the air-conditioning and the plush surroundings as he walked over to the reception desk. A fax was waiting for him from his head office in Geneva. He was to drop his current assignment and report to the Singapore Airlines desk at the Airport before 9pm and collect a ticket to board the evening flight to Singapore.
He shook his head and smiled in amusement as he read the message. Well, that certainly puts paid to the urgency of dealing with the ‘killer from Manila’! Joking aside though, he had an uncanny feeling that he’d not seen the last of Juan Mendoza.
Shrugging his shoulders, Harry pressed the button for the elevator to take him up to his room to pack his bag.
Stuck in the morning rush hour on the Pan Island Expressway in Singapore Johnny Lee placed one foot on the ground, and looking at the stationary traffic around him he exclaimed in exasperation, “Some Expressway!”
Glancing anxiously at his watch, he felt a sinking feeling in his stomach as he realized he was going to be late for work yet again. This would be the third time this week and he could already hear the Chief yelling at him, “Rush hour my foot – your problem is that you can’t get up of a morning!” He spotted an opening in the traffic and moved his powerful 500cc Motorcycle forwards.
Today was special for the Singapore Bureau, because they were about to have the best operative in the whole of the global network coming to work with them. Harry Thompson was a legend both in his former service career as a military officer, and for the past five years, with the World Organization Against Drugs.
Lee’s concentration was wandering and he only just applied his brakes in time to avoid hitting a vehicle in front of him. Weaving his way around the crawling traffic he found a relatively clear lane and returned to his thoughts. Here was an exceptional operative, one of those rare and special individuals who can master whatever they turn their hand to in practically no time at all.
But to Johnny, Thompson’s greatest achievement was becoming the World Karate Champion. He’d watched the finals on Television along with his friends, and Harry Thompson had been absolutely awesome in winning his final match to gain the title.
Lee was also into Martial Arts and had been working out in his Dojo since he was a small child, graduating as one of the best students ever produced by the school.
Revving his engine, he grinned at the thought of a friendly match with the best from the west! Yes Siree, along with the rest of his colleagues, he was really looking forward to meeting Mr. Thompson.
Pulling into the rear of the Bureau premises at 8.56am he parked his big bike and ran like hell up the staff stairs.
Richard McDonald, nicknamed ‘Mac’ by all his colleagues, was already at his desk. He had worked in the Far East bureaux of Hong Kong, Bangkok and now Singapore, and for the last five years, and the Scotsman was happily married to a local girl named Julie Chan.
Richard McDonald may have been short in stature but his charismatic and bubbling personality made him everybody’s friend in the office. He was one of the best interrogators in the organization, speaking six International languages including fluent Mandarin. He also had a keen sense of wit and enjoyed the company of anyone who would take the trouble to pass the time of day with him.
But he was not known as a snappy dresser, for he favoured brightly coloured tropical shirts and khakis shorts and old-fashioned leather sandals for his daily attire. And since he was losing his hair rather early in life, he had grown an enormous handlebar moustache that he constantly groomed by stroking it between two fingers, much to the annoyance of his wife, Julie.
“Why don’t you shave that thing off? It tickles me when we make love!” She would say. But he was very proud of his whiskers and would tell her that he believed it gave him a certain dashing look. “Yes, like a bad character in a kid’s cartoon!” Julie would retort.
Lee grinned at his friend as he arrived at his desk exactly at 9am.
Mac’s eyes twinkled as he said, “Well laddie, you made it - but he’s still been looking for you. You’re not out of trouble just yet!”
The door to the Bureau Chief’s office opened and a tall man in his early forties stood glaring in Lee’s direction. His once blonde hair had been neatly cut in a Navy ‘crew-cut’ style, and dressed in a smart short-sleeved white shirt and black trousers, his figure still held the gait of a fit and healthy ex military man.
Homer Scott had served with the US Navy S.E.A.L.S and had been highly decorated in his former military service. After leaving the Navy, he had been recruited by the WOAD and was soon recognised by his superiors for his level thinking and leadership qualities, rising rapidly through the ranks from operative, to Supervisor, and finally, had been appointed Chief of the Singapore Bureau in 1994. Divorced two years before being posted, Homer lived in a comfortable flat with Tanya, his 17-year-old daughter.
Lifting a bronzed muscular arm he cupped his hand over his mouth and bellowed: “Lee -In my office now!”
Mac, who was staring at a computer screen, shook his head and let out a quiet cackle of a laugh as he twirled his moustache.
Dr. Johnny Lee was a brilliant graduate of the University of Singapore. Gaining his Ph.D. along with two other diplomas in both engineering and electronics, he was a valuable asset to the Organization. Like his friend Mac, he was quite a linguist too, being fluent in six languages including Thai and Russian.
After trying his hand at several office jobs with Engineering Companies, then as an interpreter, followed by a teaching post in the University, he soon became bored with mundane daily routine. He realized he wanted something really challenging, something with a spark of danger in it. In fact, he wanted a job that would provide excitement and allow him to employ his talents to full advantage.
His chance came one day when he was at a Motorcycle rally and met up with another enthusiast biker, a Eurasian man named Winston Perrera. They became firm friends, and one day he told Perrera about his wish to find a job with more excitement and challenge. Winston introduced him to his own boss, and Homer Scott, Chief of the Singapore Bureau of the World Organization Against Drugs, had come into Johnny’s life.
With heart thumping, Lee entered the Chief’s office with a look of dread on his face.
Scott looked up from his papers and said, “Late again eh, lad?”
A look of innocence crossed Lee’s face as he replied, “Oh no Chief – despite the rush hour traffic - I was at my desk at exactly 9am!”
A faint smile crossed the corner of Scott’s mouth. He liked this lad. Reminded him of the time when he was a young greenhorn himself, for he had never been on time for his first job and was always being bawled at by his boss.
“Never mind that. I have some news that will have you here early from now on.” He indicated to the chair in front of his desk for Lee to sit down. Standing up, Homer crossed over to the water dispenser in the corner of his office and poured himself a drink.
“Want one?” he asked.
“No thank you Chief – I’m fine for now.” Lee replied.
Throwing the empty paper cup expertly into the trash bin Homer sat down behind his desk once more and looked directly at Johnny.
“Now that you have completed your initial training programme I’m promoting you to assistant field operative status, and your progress will be reviewed six months from today. I’ve assigned you to Harry Thompson, and I don’t think I need to explain him to you, as his reputation is already known in the bureau.
Since the death of Bill Molloy we have been short handed, and my request to headquarters for an experienced replacement has finally been granted. I’ve known Harry for a very long time, and although he is a moody customer, he is certainly one of the best operatives in the whole of the Organization.” Scott cleared his throat with an ‘umm’ sound and continued.
“But I must warn you – he will not take kindly to having a partner, for he is very much his own man. In the last year or so he has preferred to work in the field by himself, only calling in the Cavalry so to speak, when he really needs it. But it is no longer the policy of WOAD to let any operative into the field without back up. The Drug Cartel’s of this World have killed enough of our people without adding Thompson’s name to the list.”
Looking through the window of his office Scott announced, “Here he comes now.”
He sighed as he added, “Johnny, do me a favour and bring a cup of strong black coffee and some aspirin – I have a strong feeling I’m going to need them.”
“No problem Chief!” Lee cheerfully replied.
He was delighted not to be in trouble after all, and excited at his very first assignment.
Stopping by Mac’s desk with the coffee, he told his friend the good news. The two of them watched Thompson stride down the passage as he went on his way to see Scott. Smiling at the office girls, his dashing good looks certainly got noticed.
Johnny blurted out, “Wow! He’s a handsome dog, eh? It must be great to be as famous as Mr. T – I bet he has no problems attracting girls!”
“Well laddie, you wouldn’t be wrong there!” Mac replied with a nod of his head.
Thompson was furious. Brushing past a young man carrying coffee into Scott’s office he stormed out, slamming the door behind him, which rebounded on its hinges shattering the glass in the partition window next to it.
“YOUR PROBLEM IS THAT YOU CAN’T FOLLOW ORDERS! NOBODY IS INDISPENSABLE! WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE THOMPSON –A BLOODY HERO?” Scott roared through the hole where the window used to be.
With a dead -pan look on his face Lee handed the Chief his coffee and aspirin and exclaimed innocently, “Actually Chief – it says in his dossier that he is a Gulf War hero.”
Scott glowered at Lee in exasperation, and slowly waving his arm above his head he said, “Get the hell out of here and follow him. If I know that son-of-a–bitch he is going to get blind drunk!”
Startled office girls gaped at the antics of the new ‘prima donna’ operative as he strode quickly across the main office floor to the elevator door. When Thompson reached the street the pungent smells of the city hit him full in the nostrils along with the sweltering heat of the tropics, and he headed straight for Boat Quay where he would find Wong’s Bar, and the coldest beer in the city.
Access was down 5 steps from the main street into a dimly lit room, and once you got used to the light – or lack of it – the atmosphere was quite cosy. A long horseshoe shaped bar with a brass foot rail running its full length was perhaps a leftover from the 1970’s, and if there was a ‘Mr. Wong’ that owned the bar, maybe he just liked the idea of keeping it there. Either way, it added a little comfort to your feet whilst standing, or sitting on one of the bar stools.
A tantalising aroma of lunch being prepared was coming from the kitchens. Harry glanced at his watch, but decided he was not hungry. It was only noon but what the hell, he was thirsty! That row with Scott had not improved his irritable mood after the long sleepless flight he’d had from Istanbul.
Still smouldering, he thought about the events that made him decide to work alone. Although normally based in Chicago, he could be sent anywhere in the World at short notice. That time in Manila when WOAD had assigned Phil Dermont to work with him – what happens? Phil gets himself killed on the very day they arrived, nearly taking Harry into the next world with him.
Then there was the girl in Melbourne. A rookie operative named Caroline, who had gone off by herself with never a word to Thompson, and the police apprehended her breaking and entering into the compound of the Colombian Consulate! It took the Chief of the Melbourne Bureau several hours to cut through the red tape to get her released and to avoid a diplomatic incident.
That was when he made his decision. If this was the calibre of operatives trained by the organisation these days then he wanted no part of it. With his past military experience and considerable knowledge in his specialist field, he had survived successfully up till now and aimed to keep it that way.
He was now on his second bottle of Tiger beer and well into his third shot of whisky. Staring at the large engraved mirror behind the bar he saw a dishevelled, and untidy image of himself. His hair was a mess and he needed a shave and a change of clothes. God, I look awful! He thought.
“I hope you don’t mind me saying so, but you look a little tired, Mr. Thompson.”
Coming back to reality, Harry noticed the young fit looking Chinese guy with the ear –to- ear smile sitting next to him. “My name is Johnny Lee.” Seeing it didn’t register, he continued, “The guy you pushed past on your way out of the Chief’s office 20 minutes ago?”
Thompson shook hands and grinned as he apologised. “Sorry I ignored you back in the bureau, and I want you to know that I have nothing against you personally. It’s just that I always work alone - and Scott knows it.”
Sitting in a booth behind them four sailors had been drinking heavily for most of the morning, and a fight had started between them. One of them took offence at Lee, who was looking over his shoulder to see what the commotion was about.
“What the hell are you staring at?” demanded the ignorant Sailor.
Johnny smiled and replied, “Nothing much. Just a bunch of drunken fools spoiling everyone’s lunch.”
The enraged sailor came at him. In an ultra quick move Lee grabbed his arm, and turning the drunk around pushed him hard in the small of his back with his foot, sending him crashing into his friends who had stood up together spoiling for a bar brawl, and they went down like skittles onto the floor.
Leaping off the bar stool into the air and landing on one foot with precision balance, he then began a short demonstration of lightening fast Tai Kwan Do, hitting the air with alternative leg kicks. He finished as quick as he had started by landing on two feet rock still in the defence position with his hands raised in front of his face.
Then quietly, but with authority in his voice, he said, “OK boys, the show’s over. Now why don’t you do us all a favour and go back to your ship and sleep it off?” He had moved so quickly that the sailors just stood looking at him in amazement. They slowly got to their feet and sheepishly apologising to everyone in the bar, they quietly walked up the stairs and out onto the street.
The office workers taking their lunch had sat in silence watching Lee in action then spontaneously, they burst into applause.
“Well, I am impressed.” Harry exclaimed, patting Lee on the shoulder. “I can see you have no problems handling a situation. Personally, I would have thought twice about taking on four drunken Matlots!”
Johnny shook hands and replied, “ Mr. Thompson, the Chief has told me that I have to work with you, and I can assure you that I will not let you down. I think we can work out some way to allow you to go about your work without me getting under your feet.”
He then called the Bar tender over and ordered another round of drinks.
Thompson looked at the young man and said, “Let’s get something straight. First of all the name is Harry, and secondly, what did you have in mind?”
The incessant ringing of the bedside telephone woke him up and he lunged at the instrument – only to suffer an instant bout of nausea. His head was throbbing and he felt awful. “That’s it – no more booze for you Thompson, serves you right!” he mumbled to himself. Gingerly leaning over the bed, he picked up the phone. It was Johnny.
“Hi there, Harry! How are you – up and about yet?”
Thompson looked at his watch and groaned. “Do you know what time it is?” he demanded irritably.
“Yes, it’s 7.30am, and the start of another beautiful day!” Lee quipped. “You will feel a lot better if you come down for a refreshing swim. I’ve already had mine, and
I’ve taken the liberty of ordering breakfast for you. It is waiting right here on the poolside terrace.”
Harry replied grumpily, “I don’t want any damned breakfast! Having woken me you might as well come up to my room since I want to talk to you.”
The Raffles Hotel is a Singapore landmark steeped in history and goes back to the days of British Colonial Rule. The rich and the famous have stayed in its luxury suites, including the Japanese Military High Command during the occupation of Singapore in World War 11. The Republic boasts some of the World’s finest Hotels, but Thompson usually preferred to stay at the Raffles when he visited the Lion City.
He stepped out of the shower and reached for a towel. His body was firm, and his muscles rippled as he towelled himself dry. In his line of work it was vital to keep fit and so he worked out every day by jogging, swimming, or using the gym when available in the hotels he was staying with.
A small scar above his left eye combined with his tousle of black curly hair - now with a few grey hairs creeping in - gave him the handsome rugged facial features that women love to see in a man.
Looking in the mirror he could see the resemblance to his father, and began to think of his early days of growing up back in the UK.
Harry Thompson was born and bred an Englishman in the small village of Stubbington, in Hampshire. His Father, Harry Thompson Snr had served in the British Royal Marines Commandos during WW11 with distinction. He had been posthumously awarded the V.C. (Victoria Cross) for extreme bravery in a Commando raid on the Submarine Base in the Nazi occupied French Port of Dieppe.
Major Thompson had been killed along with the other six men he led in his platoon, but not before they had blown up the entrance to the submarine pens, stopping twelve U boats for two full months from putting to sea and destroying thousands of tons of shipping, loaded with desperately needed food and supplies on the perilous voyage across the Atlantic Ocean from America to Britain.
Harry was immensely proud of his father’s achievements and decided he would also join the Royal Marines as soon as he was of age to do so, and it was only a matter of a few years until he was himself awarded a highly coveted Military Cross for bravery in the Gulf War.
His Mother had pleaded with him not to join the armed forces, fearing her eldest son would suffer the same fate as her husband, but eventually resigned herself to the fact that she was powerless to stop young Harry from following in his father’s footsteps, and making the Military his career.
There was a younger brother and a sister, but they had fled the nest soon after he had joined up, and had done well to acquire decent jobs in London. They still visited his Mother, which was a relief to him for he had been mostly based in other parts of the World whilst serving in the Royal Marines Commandos, and the USA since joining WOAD.
Of course he still telephoned her now and then, and in all honesty, promised to visit her soon. But things kept cropping up to prevent this happening and Harry felt guilty as hell about letting his mother down. But one day he would make a hole in his working life and just turn up and spend a fortnight with his Mom. She would love that. Scolding him for not keeping in touch, and crying with happiness that her Son had returned to the fold to see her.
Dropping the towel on the floor he came to his senses and walked into his bedroom and dressed in a light short-sleeved silk shirt, cream coloured slacks, cotton socks, and soft leather shoes. Opening an Alka-Seltzer sachet he dropped the contents into a glass of water, stirred, and drank it, then picked up his electric shaver and applied it to his chin.
In the passageway outside Thompson’s room a portly man was perspiring profusely as he nervously looked around, trying several electronic cards to open the lock on the door. Finely succeeding, he was slowly turning the door handle when a foot pushed him flying into the room, sprawling onto the floor. Harry came out of the bedroom to investigate the noise and saw Lee standing guardedly over the intruder.
“Well thanks for dropping in Johnny – who’s your friend?” he inquired with a smirk on his face.
Lee replied, “ He was actually breaking into your room. I’ve never seen him before - but we will soon find out who he is!”
The fat man groaned as he looked up at the two men in front of him. In his late thirties, he was a typical product of the fast food generation. Overweight and already showing signs of blood pressure in his reddish face.
“Well now, do you mind telling us who you are and why you cannot knock on doors, instead of breaking in?” Thompson demanded.
The man made a movement to get up but Johnny had placed his foot firmly in the middle of his chest and demanded, “Not so fast – first, answer the question.”
The intruder looked anxiously at Thompson and begged, “Please can you let me get up? I promise I will explain everything.”
Lee removed his foot and grabbing the man’s arm, helped him to his feet. He was sweating profusely. Thompson threw him a towel and asked, “OK, now let’s have it – why are you here?”
The little hair he had left on his head fell over his eyes and he brushed it away with his hand as he began to speak with an Irish Burr. “My name is Charles Williams, and I am a private investigator. At present I am working for, shall we say, a business conglomerate that engaged my services to find out certain information of interest to them.”
He smiled nervously and continued, “Gentlemen, before you jump to conclusions, please allow me to explain in full. I was using the admittedly clumsy ‘break-in’ as a cover because I know I have someone tailing me and I had to make it look real. I was supposed to be planting this little device in your telephone, which I know will be checked out by the clients I represent.”
Williams pulled a small microphone from his pocket, and placing it carefully on the table, he continued, “However, I had never actually met any of these people when I first received the inquiry to hire my services. It began when an immaculately dressed courier arrived at my Hong Kong office and handed me a packet. Looking through my window I saw him enter the back of an executive limousine and drive off.
The package was addressed to me personally, containing a list of names and HK$10,000 in new notes. Within minutes of the courier leaving the telephone rang and a man asked if I had received the package safely, and if so, would I agree to seek out certain information for a group of international businessmen. If I did, there would be another delivery of HK$10,000 on completion of the investigation.
Well, it is not every day that I get that kind of money offered for my services. However, it is not unusual in my line of work to receive commissions with just a cash payment in advance. Everything looked above board so I agreed to accept the job.”
“Is this going anywhere?” Harry interrupted.
Wiping his brow yet again, Williams continued, “Please bear with me. As I started to find more information on each name on the list it became apparent to me that not all was well. I had an uneasy feeling that my so-called business clients were not what they claimed to be, because all the names on that list turned out to be either WOAD operatives or agents from other law enforcement agencies.
Your name is on that list Mr. Thompson, and because of the information I have gathered about your particular background and success in bringing criminals to justice, I am prepared to help you as much as I can.”
Taking an envelope from his breast pocket he handed it to Harry. “Here is the list of names given to me for investigation. I know I have got into this matter deeply now and I fear for my life, so tonight I leave for Paris. But before I go, there is one more thing. I believe I have stumbled upon the names of the leaders of a large Drug Cartel.” He placed a computer disk on the table.
“You will find them all on this. I have since discovered that every name on that disk is a member of the executive committee of a Hong Kong based company that I suspect as being a front for a large Drug Ring, because I recently discovered that most of them are wanted for drug - related crimes or murder, both here in the Orient and in the Western Hemisphere.”
“Where did you get all this from?” inquired Lee.
Williams replied, “From the Internet. Hacking, I believe it is called - from the computers of the Far East Import & Export Company, in Hong Kong. I am convinced it is a front for a Drug Cartel. I also believe they have somehow found out that I have this disk and are after me to get it back.”
“How do you know they are after you?” Thompson asked.
Williams again wiped his brow. “Because I have been staying in this Hotel for a day or two and last night on returning to my room I found it totally ransacked. There was a note and this device on the table. The message was that I had to place the device in your telephone or I would be killed. Somebody had been looking for something, and I believe it was this disk.”
Despite the air conditioning working properly in the room he was still sweating profusely. Johnny crossed the floor and opened the small mini-bar refrigerator and taking out a can of mango juice he lifted the flip - top and gave the cold drink to Williams.
Harry took the computer disk and reached out to the table and picked up the microphone bug, then unscrewed the telephone mouthpiece and fitted it inside. Turning to his laptop computer he switched it on and inserted the disk. After a short period of studying the information on the screen he turned to Lee and said, “Johnny, please see to it that Mr. Williams reaches the airport and boards his plane safely.”
Homer Scott swivelled his chair around from the computer screen to face Thompson. His weather beaten face was highlighted by laughter creases either side of his nose that suggested he enjoyed a good time the same as anyone else, but when it was time for serious matters, he carried these responsibilities out with authority. Over the years he had gained much experience in dealing with people and problems and how to find solutions. It showed clearly in his eyes when he addressed the recipient.
“Well then Harry, I think you had better go to Hong Kong and pay a visit to the offices of the Far East Import & Export Company. We will give you the usual back up to authenticate your disguise. What will it be this time -got any ideas?”
With a thoughtful expression on his face, Thompson took his time lighting a Cigar and puffing the smoke out before replying, “I want Johnny Lee to come with me. I will be a visiting Canadian Businessman named Conrad Ferguson, looking for fine Chinese Antiques. Lee can be my Far East contact. I think a closer look at this set-up will tell us if this really is a front for a Drug Gang. We will be in HK tonight and pay them a visit first thing in the morning.”
A disapproving look crossed Scott’s face as he cleared his throat and spluttered,
“OK I’ll set things up with the HK bureau in case you need anything.” He added irritably, “And for God’s sake Harry - put that damned thing out!” Waving his hand in the air to clear the smoke away, he then pressed his intercom and said, “Miss Tan – please ask Peter Cheng to authorise the issue of $10,000 in Canadian and Hong Kong currencies to Mr. Thompson, along with a Canadian Passport in the name of Conrad Ferguson. List him as a Businessman. Dr. Lee will also require a Chinese Passport issued in Beijing, in the name of Cheng Lin Lee. Occupation: Antiques dealer.”
At 9-30pm that evening the Singapore Airlines flight touched down in Hong Kong. Leaving the Airport rail express link at HK Central station the two men took a cab directly to their hotel. Lee suggested that they visit a Casino that was renowned as a meeting place for business people, and the high society of HK. His uncle had relations living in the City and they had told him that ‘Tong’ Bosses and other Gang types had also been seen in this establishment.
The taxi pulled up outside the ‘Pink Pussycat’ Nightclub & Casino situated near the Happy Valley Racecourse, and the two men walked up the steps to the main entrance. “Excuse me, are you members?”
A large Chinese doorman immaculately dressed in a white tuxedo jacket had discreetly blocked their entrance to the foyer. His head was shaved, and he sported a gold earring.
Johnny smiled, and spoke to him in Cantonese.
“Can you do me a favour, my friend? You see, this gentleman is from Canada and he has only just arrived tonight. He’s here to buy quality Chinese Antiques, and he is very rich. I can make a lot of money if I show him a good time. Friends tell me that many businessmen in his trade come here, so I want to introduce him to the right people.
Now, if you can see your way to letting us in, I can guarantee that he will make it worth your while right now – know what I mean?” He held his hand in front of him rubbing his thumb and forefinger together, so that only the doorman could see it.
The doorman looked around him to check that nobody was within earshot and replied, “OK, just this once. But it is going to cost you HK$500!”
Thompson understood every word they said but remained silent, playing the role of the unsuspecting and smiling foreigner that hasn’t got a clue that he is about to be ripped off.
Johnny turned to him and spoke in English. “Mr. Ferguson, we can go in. But the door fee is Five hundred dollar –that alright?” He was using a thick accent, speaking in the manner of an oriental that may have studied the English language for just a couple of years.
“No problem” replied Harry in a very good Canadian accent. He took out his Wallet bulging with HK and Canadian Dollars and handed the five hundred to the Doorman.
The big Chinaman was now smiling as he unhooked the decorative red rope from the brass post and gestured for them to enter, adding in perfect English, “Just one more thing Gentlemen. Please sign the guest membership book, it’s a legal requirement in Hong Kong.”
The two operatives walked into a very tastefully decorated room in which a large central crystal chandelier hung down from a curved blue ceiling. The whole décor of the establishment could match any of the top Casinos in the World. Strolling past the various gaming tables, and the wall of slot machines crammed side by side around the room, they entered a larger area with a well stocked bar and a roulette table. Guests sat taking supper, or casually sharing gossip and business talk. From somewhere above them the muffled sounds of dance music was emanating from the Nightclub section on the first floor. They sat down at a vacant table and a waiter arrived to take their order.
Thompson was not a gambling man but he needed to attract attention, so still playing the part of the rich Canadian, he ambled over to the roulette table with Johnny and placed his bet. He fully expected to take a big loss over the next ten minutes or so to show anyone that may be interested, that he had money to burn.
The wheel finally stopped and Thompson was the winner. He could not believe his luck. He had put $500 on number 4, and when all bets had been placed the wheel was spun. So he kept doubling his stake in the hope that his reckless choice of numbers would bring him a cropper at any moment. But each time the wheel stopped he was the winner.
Lee looked at him and said, “I don’t believe your luck, Harry!”
Thompson grinned and replied, “Neither do I!”
Fifteen minutes or so passed and both men became aware of a crowd gathering around them. Johnny counted up the chips in front of him with some lightening fast mental arithmetic and whispered in Harry’s ear, “You have over HK$300,000 in front of you!”
Harry decided that if it was not to be his unlucky day his ploy to attract attention could work equally well whilst winning, and finished his spell at the table. The onlookers clapped as he got up from his seat, and acknowledging them, he gave a tip to the croupier and walked over to the cashier’s desk. After collecting his winnings in cash and placing them carefully in the wallet in his dinner jacket, both men returned to their seats.
On the table sat a silver ice bucket containing a bottle of Champagne. A trendy young waitress was in the process of opening the bottle and cheerfully announced that it was with the compliments of the management.
“Mr. Boon, one of the owners of the Casino, sends his congratulations for your good luck at the roulette table and would like to invite you to join his party presently for a celebratory drink. He is in his private box on the first floor balcony -just up there, Sir.”
She discreetly pointed with her little finger towards a middle-aged Chinese Gentleman sitting with his guests.
“Gee, that would be great! Please thank Mr. Boon for us, and inform him we would be delighted to accept his hospitality. Looking up at the private box Harry smiled and acknowledged the invitation with a gesture of his hand.
Lee also smiled and then hissed in Harry’s ear, “I thought you said you are not a gambling man?”
“I’m not – it was sheer luck that’s all. But I think we have struck a nerve, for our new found friend is down $300,000 - and I have a feeling he wants it back!” Harry cheerfully took a sip of his free champagne.
Boon stood up hand outstretched, as they approached his table.
“Welcome Mr. Ferguson, how nice to meet you!” He totally ignored Johnny. “I would like to introduce you to one or two of my associates.”
Harry went through the motions of receiving limp handshakes as Boon continued, “Like you and I, Mr. Ferguson, they are all businessmen. My doorman Foo informs me you are visiting Hong Kong looking for quality antiques, is that correct?” He gestured at a vacant chair for Thompson to sit down which would leave Johnny standing, looking about as useful as a fifth player in a tennis doubles match. Harry was having none of it.
Looking at the company around the table he announced, “I would like you to meet Mr. Lee, my Far East Business Associate. He is an expert in Chinese antiques, and very kindly travelled all the way down to Hong Kong from Beijing to meet me tonight.”
Harry indicated to Johnny to take the seat Boon had offered to him.
“Of course - How rude of me! A pleasure to meet you Mr. Lee.” Boon shook hands, looking at him warily. A waiter materialised as if from out of nowhere with an extra chair.
Harry then sat down and said light heartedly, “Gee, you sure have a nice place here!”
Boon placed his champagne glass carefully on the table and replied, “Yes, we like it too.” He was looking at Thompson curiously. “You were very lucky at the roulette table just now, Mr. Ferguson. $300,000 is a lot of money. My congratulations on your good fortune.”
Harry smiled, and thanked him.
“However, since you are obviously a gambling man with a winning streak, we were wondering if you would consider a little business deal.” Boon looked around his associates for silent confirmation from their smiling and nodding faces.
Harry took a sip from his drink and immediately replied, “Well, I am a businessman, that is true, but I do not go into things lightly. However, I am willing to listen to any good idea that can make money for me. What do you have in mind?”
Boon picked up the bottle of Champagne and refilled Thompson’s glass then replacing it in the ice bucket, he opened his arms and gestured at the Club.
“As you have just said Mr. Ferguson, we do have a nice place here. However, we now wish to expand our business. Presently, we are looking to raise further finance to carry out the extensions. We aim to have the largest, and best Casino in Hong Kong.”
“Very commendable, Mr. Boon. So, you are asking me to come in as a shareholder? Well now, I would most certainly have to think this over. My accountants would need to go over your books, and then I could decide with my fellow board of directors of Ferguson Enterprises if this would be a feasible and profitable venture for my company.”
Letting out a hearty laugh Boon replied, “Of course my dear fellow – we don’t expect you to hand over your $300,000 winnings right now as a deposit!”
Everyone around the table laughed. It was more than apparent to Thompson by now that these shifty looking men were all gangsters in cahoots with Boon.
The chat continued for another 15 minutes or so. Then placing both hands on the edge of the table, Boon half stood up. Looking at Thompson as if he was dismissing him he said, “Well, Mr. Ferguson, we should definitely meet again and discuss this matter in more detail. You must be tired after your long journey from Canada, and I suspect that you will be ready to retire to your Hotel about now, is that correct?”
Harry replied that he was ‘bushed’ and needed some ‘shuteye.’
Giving him a patronising smile Boon said, “Please allow me to be of further service to you Mr. Ferguson. Foo can run you both back to your Hotel in my limousine.”
“That is very kind of you but we don’t want to put you to any trouble.” Thompson replied.
“Not at all – it will be my pleasure!” Boon replied rather flatly as he turned and spoke in Cantonese to his doorman. “Be sure to give our guests every courtesy and first class treatment.”
Foo nodded, and requested Thompson and Lee to follow him to the car.
At the bottom of the Casino steps stood a gleaming black limousine. Opening the rear passenger door for the two men, Foo walked to the driver’s side and climbed behind the wheel, moving the vehicle swiftly away from the curb. Harry looked around the inside of the car. Something wasn’t quite right but he could not put his finger on it, so to speak. Lee spotted it first.
“Harry! It’s a trap – there are no door handles!”
As he spoke Foo pressed the switch to release the gas from under the rear seat that knocked the two men unconscious.
The sounds of a dog barking somewhere nearby brought Lee around. Easing himself up on his elbow he realised he was lying on wet grass. Looking around him he saw the outline of a fence disappearing round a bend in the distance. They had been dumped on the Happy Valley racecourse.
Regaining his senses Thompson’s first instinct was to go for his wallet. It was still there, but the cash had gone. He was furious with himself.
“We’ve been bloody mugged! – What an idiot I was not to have spotted the obvious behind Boon’s offer!”
Lee shrugged his shoulders and exclaimed, “Well at least we are still alive, eh?”
Standing up and wiping the wet grass from his trousers Harry mumbled, “Be that as it may. But don’t forget, besides the HK$300,000 winnings I had another $10,000 belonging to the bureau. Homer Scott is going to have a fit when I tell him!”
A brisk walk had them back in their Hotel rooms within 20 minutes.