Hong Kong - Sunday December 22nd, 1996
At the safe house BJ and Bob drank coffee and talked over the events of the past few days as they waited for Jimmy.
‘You know that nothing was found at Pat’s house?’ BJ said.
Bob caught the note of relief in the softly accented voice and nodded. ‘I believe they searched thoroughly. And questioned the staff.’ He smiled appreciatively. Bob knew Pat’s domestic staff and could picture their indignation.
DCI Tan had given BJ a full report. Pat had driven Wanda home then returned to the Drive; very late, so it was probably true that they’d finished their quarrel in comfort along the way. He’d risen early, before his staff, eaten his breakfast and left for the airport. He’d been seen on the way - coincidentally, by Delaney. Alice Lee had confirmed that Wanda left Hong Kong the next morning.
‘Still in a temper, I’ll bet.’ Bob chuckled, then sobered quickly. ‘However, Pat’s not yet in the clear.’
‘Brian’s still digging,’ BJ said resignedly. ‘He promised to keep me informed. Have you found anything?’
‘Nothing to refute Pat’s involvement with Lo’s murder; but I followed up on Guy.’ Bob consulted his notebook. ‘He received the call at the Heavenly Joy Club before midnight. Caller was a woman, very agitated, snapped the receptionist’s head off. Guy left in a hurry. His Porsche was seen quite soon after, belting along Des Voeux Road, heading west. At 12:15 it turned up at a building in Queen’s Road West.’
Bob explained with some reluctance. When, after their marriage, Elaine had discovered that Guy was still meeting Wanda at Eastern Dawn, he simply moved her back to her mother’s and continued to visit her there.
‘He couldn’t leave his Porsche outside Auntie’s. Word would’ve got back to Elaine faster than a drunk with a full bladder can piss.’
Guy had rented a lockup in the Western District which he still used for storage, and who knew what else? Anyway, the really interesting thing was that, twenty minutes later, a maroon Jag had driven in.
‘Pat’s Jag?’ BJ raised an inquiring eyebrow.
Bob’s informant, a street vendor with a nearby stall, had seen the Porsche leave after about ten minutes. As trade had pretty well dried up by then, he’d locked up and gone home to bed.
‘So he didn’t see the Jag leave? Pat got home somewhere about 2:30, as close as Brian could get with almost nil cooperation from Mona Feng, who’s the only one who’ll admit to hearing him. If he went home from the lockup, he must have been in there for over an hour.’
‘If he left soon after Guy,’ Bob said deliberately, ‘he’d have had ample time to get to Yau Ma Tei and stick a knife in Lo Chin. It would fit with the time his car was sighted there.’
‘He could have gone over for any reason; perhaps just to get pissed in comfort. Isn’t he a member of that private club in Woosung Street?’
‘The Jordan? That was Alistair MacKenzie’s favourite haunt. Yes, he put Pat up for membership.’
BJ nodded. ‘It’s understandable. Pat has a row with his wife, gets drunk - ah!’ He stopped. ‘First, he has a secret late night meeting with his cousin, which is suss in itself; they’d been in contact all that day. I do wonder about that meeting. Was it prearranged or did something come up urgently?’
‘Guy’s phone call?’ Bob offered. ‘It might have concerned Pat as well and Guy contacted him and set up the meet.’
‘So he went straight there from seeing Wanda home,’ BJ finished. ‘Perhaps that’s why they chose the lockup; handy to the Lee’s house.’ He drained his mug and set it down.
Pat didn’t have a known alibi between 12:45 and 2:30, but Bob knew where Guy had spent the night. After his meeting with Pat, he’d turned up at his yacht with a woman. They’d made a night of it; lots of music, laughing, the boat rocking about. The woman’s identity wasn’t known. Guy’s car had remained at the yacht club until morning, when he drove back home to the Peak, changed his clothes and went sailing.
‘Without the woman.’ BJ frowned. ‘Where was he going? Was it something to do with his meeting with Pat? He was picked up in the Lamma Channel.’
‘Lantau.’ Bob guessed. ‘His holiday bungalow.’
A private meeting with someone?’ BJ rose and took his mug into the kitchenette for a refill. He added, over his shoulder, ‘Or did he rendezvous with a ship in that perfect smuggler’s boat of his?’
Bob twisted around to watch him. ‘He loaded something on the yacht that night. Drove down to the Evening Star and carried a sack on board.’ His dark eyes gleamed. ‘I figured it was supplies for his private party; but suppose he and Pat are up to something illegal? Smuggling something? They meet, load whatever it is into the Porsche and Guy takes it out next day to a ship in the channel.’
BJ returned and sat down. ‘We need to know who the woman was.’ He looked at his watch. ‘What the hell’s keeping Jimmy? He should’ve been here an hour ago. This might be just the information Silver Moon gave him last night. We’re fishing in the dark still.’
‘If we could shine just a little light on the water the fish would rise,’ Bob said philosophically.
BJ shot him an amused look. At that moment there was a tap at the door and the inspector got quickly to his feet and opened it to admit Jimmy who limped stiffly to the table and eased himself with a little moan into a chair.
BJ looked him over in silence, observing his split, bruised lips, bandaged head and patched face and hands. ‘What happened to you?’ he asked resignedly.
‘Came off my bike.’ Jimmy ground the words out through clenched teeth and groaned as his lips came together. ‘Left home at 8:00, coming down Nathan Road, got hit by a bastard on a bloody great black bike. Ran me under a car and took off. Someone called an ambulance, got me to hospital. They patched me up and I came here. Bike’s a bloody write-off.’ He stopped and moved his mouth cautiously.
‘Can you drink through those lips?’
‘No, sir, straw only.’
‘I’m afraid we don’t run to straws in the safe house,’ BJ said caustically. ‘Why you, Jimmy?’
Jimmy looked at him squarely. ‘Same bike followed me from Wanchai last night.’ he admitted. ‘I thought I’d lost it. Someone must have heard me with Silver Moon, or when I phoned you, sir. I didn’t think I was overheard but Wanchai’s a crowded rat hole; you can’t ever be sure.
BJ contemplated the sergeant. ‘You’re out of this, Jimmy.’
Jimmy pushed himself awkwardly to his feet. ‘No!’
The inspector held up his hand. ‘Sit down. You’ve been spotted, you’re obviously known to whoever our adversaries are, you’re no bloody good to me in that condition - and you’re a target. You know too much or they wouldn’t have tried to stop you.’
‘They won’t catch me twice,’ Jimmy promised grimly. He sat down again heavily. ‘Give me a chance, sir. They’ll know I’ve talked to you. No point topping me.’
‘Revenge,’ BJ said evenly. ‘A lesson to us all.’
Jimmy looked dismayed. ‘Sir, I want to continue with this,’ he pleaded. ‘I owe them one. I want to see them paid in full.’
BJ compressed his lips. ‘I’ll see; but no promises,’ he said finally. ‘Let’s have your report.’
Jimmy struggled with his jacket zipper and extricated some folded pages from an inside pocket. He pushed them across the table to BJ.
He took them without opening them. ‘Briefly, Jimmy.’
In painful sentences Jimmy told him that, according to Silver Moon, the story about the citizens being armed for an uprising in the name of democracy was untrue. Sung Yen-lo had said the tale was a fabrication to throw the police off the scent. It had been circulated at high business levels; he’d hinted at LP. Also, two months previously in early October, there’d been a break-in at one of the LP warehouses. It had been kept hush-hush, but there was now very high security in place.
‘Early October.’ BJ nodded. ‘When the guns started to show up in the streets.’
Jimmy hunched forward. ‘I figure it this way, sir. LP’s running the guns through Hong Kong then overseas. The Vampires nick a shipment, start selling them, just like you said. When we get interested, someone high-up sells us a story that, given the climate at present, we’d buy; which throws us off investigating the real issue.’
‘That fits,’ Bob interrupted. ‘When the gun-runners tracked Second Vampire down they made him return the guns via the skip. He spilled the beans to us and was topped as a warning.’
BJ had watched Jimmy turn several shades paler. He pushed his chair back and stood up abruptly.
‘Bob, ring for a car and get this idiot home before he dies on us. If you’re going to throw up, sergeant, do it over the sink, not in here.’