Hong Kong - Saturday December 28th, 1996
Jean kissed BJ’s cheek. Her eyes were red-rimmed but her face was calm.
‘BJ! Thanks for coming.’
He put an arm around her shoulders. ‘I’m so sorry, Jeanie.’
‘It was thanks to you that we got him back. Otherwise, we’d never have known for sure.’ She wiped her eyes. ‘You know, I had a feeling - I think I knew I wouldn’t see him again. Wanda will go to prison, I suppose.’
‘Dick Forrest will get her the least possible sentence ... but, yes, I think she’ll have to spend some time in gaol.’
Jean looked searchingly at him. ‘David’s on the terrace. You’ll want to tell him about Guy. I - I don’t want to hear it. I’m going to see Gloria. She’s devastated, poor child. What on earth will she tell Kit and Emma?’
BJ went through to the terrace. David was slumped in a cane chair, but he pulled himself upright when he saw his friend.
‘Whisky or tea? The tray’s just been brought out.’
BJ sat down. David seemed to have aged, shrunk into himself. His eyes were sombre, his long, handsome face deeply lined.
BJ said gently, ‘Tea sounds fine. I’ve been drinking Wing Chang’s whisky.’
‘Putting the fear of God into that bastard?’ David asked disinterestedly.
‘Something like that.’
‘Help yourself.’ David waved towards the tray. As BJ poured his tea, David said, ‘It wasn’t me pimping Wanda. It was my bloody nephew.’
‘I know,’ BJ said.
‘Smart bastard,’ David grumbled. ‘How could you know?’
‘After you thought about it, you went straight off and nearly flattened him at the Choy’s. Wanda slept with anyone Guy wanted information from.’ BJ leaned back, stretching his long legs, and rested the cup on his stomach.
‘God! Did Guy have that much influence?’ David shook his head in disgust.
BJ’s eyes closed. ‘Yes.’
‘There was a call for you. Bob Lee said to tell you Ho Chung committed suicide.’
BJ turned his head slightly but didn’t bother to open his eyes. He said resignedly, ‘Guy’ll walk. Chung was our only real evidence.’
‘You don’t sound surprised.’
‘I expected it. The man was terrified. If he hadn’t killed himself, he’d have been chopped.’
David’s voice was bitter. ‘So Guy gets off scot free?’
‘No, he’ll go to trial over his scheme to hide Pat’s murder.’
‘He’s finished in the company. He’ll be out on his ear on Monday. I’ve called an extraordinary board meeting before Jon flies out.’
‘Jon’s off on Monday?’ BJ reluctantly opened his eyes and sat up. ‘This is for your ears only, David, not the Langford-Price board.’
David frowned. ‘What’s up?’
‘Just one or two things you should know about Jon Price. But you didn’t hear them from me.’
The Langford smile twisted. ‘Of course not. Goes without saying.’
The head office of Sung’s Emporiums was in Hollywood Road. On one panelled wall of the board room, a life-size portrait of Sung’s father gazed down at five people who sat in conference at the great oval table. In front of each person was a miniature porcelain bowl, delicately enamelled in bright colours.
‘We’ve been betrayed by my brother, to my eternal shame,’ Ho San confessed. His eyes hardened. ‘When my father threatened us I took care of the situation. But I couldn’t stop Chung talking.’
‘How much has he told them?’ Alice Lee demanded.
‘Enough, you can be sure.’ Wing Chang drummed his manicured fingers on the desk. ‘BJ knew far more than he could possibly have learned from a phone tap. We’re always careful.’
Alice shook her head. Her earrings, tiny showers of gold, shivered with the movement. ‘Guy’s behaved very badly in this matter,’ she said. ‘He betrayed my daughter, failed to take care of the Australian woman, although I warned him she was dangerous.’ She pursed her mouth judiciously. ‘I’d have had her run down in the street but Guy thought he could handle it. He’s put us all in danger. When he killed Lo Chin he acted in a panic instead of coming to us for instructions.’
Sung Yen-lo shrugged his fleshy shoulders. ‘I’d have arranged a site accident, no trouble,’ he wheezed. ‘Knifing the bastard wasn’t necessary.’
‘Question is,’ Ho said, ‘where do we go from here? Chow Lin-chi’s furious. He thought Guy knew what he was doing and went along with it. Now he’s embarrassed and not inclined to trust us with further shipments. He’s lost face, and cash, over this. He says, better he finds his own route direct to the overseas buyers; not through Australia, not through us, if we can’t handle it.’
Wing frowned. ‘We could continue, with caution, after the fuss dies down. Lin-chi knows a Shanghai captain who’d carry for us. We’ll drop the stupid, sentimental jade cat rubbish.’
‘What about a man in Customs?’ Alice fretted.
‘Not a problem.’ Sung shifted his bulk to look at her. ‘I know a lot of the guys there. Don’t I import and export all the time? Their pay’s not so big that they’d knock back a nice little earner on the side.’ He smiled reassuringly. ‘Leave it to Ho San and me. We’ll sow some seeds there, see what comes up.’
‘And Guy?’ Alice asked doubtfully. ‘If he goes to trial, with what he knows ...’ she turned to the fifth member. ‘What do you think, Jon?’
Jon Price said heavily. ‘It depends what the police have. Guy’s solicitor reckons he’ll walk out of it. So far they can only prove he helped Wanda. Ho Chung’s evidence isn’t corroborated so it’s his word against Guy’s.’ He looked around the table, his mouth a hard line. ‘Who do you think will be believed?’
‘If they had any evidence they’d have picked you up, Jon,’ Wing said. ‘Can BJ have been bluffing all along?’
Alice broke in quickly, ‘They haven’t questioned you, Jon?’
‘No.’ He shook his head. ‘Not a word’s been said. Guy knows how to keep quiet. He won’t betray the group.’
‘He’ll walk,’ Ho predicted discontentedly. ‘That’s not fucking right, is it? He’s jeopardised our whole operation.’
Alice nodded crisply. ‘We should take care of him; it’s our responsibility. Even if he gets out of this he’ll always be a danger to us. He’ll want to be back, lording it over us. We don’t need Guy,’ she urged, ‘he’s a loose cannon. He’s too wild, takes too many risks. I say we chop him and move on.’
Ho San looked at Jon. ‘He’s your friend. What do you think?’
Jon’s face closed. ‘He’s no friend of mine. He lied to me about Wanda, had my brother killed, put our operation at risk. He could still bring down Langford-Price.’
‘Then, I think we should vote.’ Alice picked up her porcelain bowl and turned it over, placing it upside down on the table.
‘What about Wanda?’ Ho asked.
Her eyes were like flint. ‘Wanda will do as she’s told. Don’t worry, she’s a talented girl. Guy thought he was so clever. He thought she was supplying him with information about his rivals, but she was giving us even more.’ She continued levelly, ‘Later, when she’s released, I’ll find another man for her. We can use her again. We’ll profit very well from my daughter.’
Jon flinched and Ho smiled. ‘Perhaps Jon still wants her.’
‘No,’ he said curtly, ‘let Alice find someone else - but someone who’ll make her happy.’
‘It’s done,’ Alice agreed. ‘After all, I am her mother. I’ll do right by her.’
‘In that case ...’ Ho reversed his bowl, followed by Wing Chang and Sung Yen-lo.
They looked at Jon, their faces inscrutable. He said, ‘Let him rot in hell, then,’ and turned his bowl.
‘What will you do now, Jon?’ Alice asked.
He stared at the five overturned bowls. ‘If they don’t stop me,’ he answered slowly, ‘I’ll fly back to Sydney on Monday. The Elaine MacKenzie’s due on the thirteenth.’
‘Be careful,’ Wing Chang warned. ‘You may be watched.’
‘If they’ve got anything on me they won’t let me go’ Jon said dryly. ‘If I get home I’m safe, and we’ll know Guy didn’t betray us.’
A telephone on a side table buzzed. Sung picked up the receiver and spoke briefly, then replaced it and turned to the group, smiling broadly.
‘I think we can say we’re safe,’ he confirmed. ‘Ho Chung has taken his own life and Guy has just been released.’
There was a knock on the door of the Wong’s apartment. With a heavy heart, Jimmy went to open it. His search had been fruitless; no one had seen his sister. Knowing how swiftly retribution was taken by the tongs, he was losing hope of finding her alive.
There was a squeal as he cautiously looked out. Jenny flung herself into his arms, hugging him. Jimmy shouted for joy and pulled her inside, calling to Sylvia who came running from the kitchen.
‘May I come in, too?’ The tall, fair, blue-eyed young man on the doorstep grinned as Jenny seized his hand and dragged him into the living room.
‘Where have you been?’ Jimmy demanded as Sylvia hugged her sister-in-law.
‘I went to Bill. He phoned me. Jimmy, don’t be mad at me. I just forgot to leave a note for you.’ Jenny laughed. ‘Wait till I tell you. Bill and I are engaged. We’re getting married next month. Look!’ She held out her hand. A diamond glittered.
‘I got the ring in Tokyo,’ William explained. ‘I know you’re not keen on Jenny marrying a Langford, but we’re not all bad, you know, and I’ll look after her.’
Jenny whispered in Sylvia’s ear, ‘He loves me, he really loves me.’
Sylvia looked at Jimmy who was torn between joy at Jenny’s safe return and doubt about her choice of a husband. Her look clearly said, ‘I told you so.’
‘I’d better call Inspector BJ,’ Jimmy mumbled. ‘He’s got practically the whole force looking for you, Jen. Boy, am I in deep shit now!’