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THE DRAGON'S BREATH


dragon

Ling Duig, the wealthy, well-respected Vietnamese proprietor of ‘The Dragon’s Breath’ restaurant in Cabramatta, Sydney, is concealing a dark past. Behind the façade of mild-mannered family man lie secrets that have their roots in his war-torn homeland.

Before Ling Duig arrived in Australia in 1975 on a fishing trawler crowded with fellow refugees from post-war Vietnam, he had led a very different life, caught between the conflicting forces of Communism and Imperialism. Out of necessity he learned not only to survive, but also to profit from the circumstances of his country’s turmoil.

Safely settled in Australia, Ling Duig never dreams that old enemies are near, and that once again, he is in danger of being caught up in a deadly web of criminal intrigue. 

Detective Senior Sergeant Wendell Wilson, in charge of Sydney’s new Drug Task Force, is trying to deal with an explosion of drugs circulating society with a devastating effect on young and old. Then two of his men are cold-bloodedly murdered.

Obtaining the cooperation of the Vietnamese community brings Wilson up against a brick wall – until an informant leads them to a series of arrests of minor drug dealers. However, identifying and gaining evidence against their main quarry, ‘The Man’, who is behind the hugely lucrative drug distribution business, is Wilson’s burning ambition.  

The Dragon’s Breath takes us back to an era of rapid change in the Australian urban landscape: a time when refugees from the Vietnam War struggle to establish a new life in a new country; and the scourge of drugs insidiously spreads across all levels of society.

In Store Price: $AU29.95 
Online Price:   $AU28.95

 

ISBN: 978-1-921919-11-4 
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 306
Genre: Fiction/Crime
 

Books by the same author

UFO’s Food for Thought
Murder without Reason
Neurotic Predator Unmasked
Gross, Unethical Conduct

Cover - Clive Dalkins

 

 

 


Author: John Meskell
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2012
Language: English

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 About The Author

John Meskell is a retired Queensland Detective Inspector, residing on the Gold Coast. He was educated at the Newcastle Technical High School, in NSW, and travelled extensively throughout the world as a merchant seaman for many years. On his return from the sea, he joined the Queensland Police Force in 1957.

–CHAPTER ONE–

The police car cruised slowly along Wattle Lane, creating a swirl of dust as it slid into the kerb. It was mid February and a particularly hot time of the year with high temperatures and humidity very prominent. Even though the day was still early it was already  oppressively hot inside the white Falcon and at the wheel, Arthur Banton, tall and darkly good looking, crashed a clenched fist onto the dashboard, cursing the Falcon’s faulty air-conditioning as he wound down his window. Neil Coslow, his shorter but more vitriolic partner, snorted in disgust and settled down to wait. His shoulders were hunched in silent protest against the unrelenting heat, his job, and other injustices too numerous to catalogue, with a clapped-out air-conditioning unit riding high on his list.

Banton, who was less inclined to dramatise and who understood his friend’s seething inner-world more than most, interrupted his deep contemplation.

‘What time did he say again?’ he asked.

Coslow sighed heavily. ‘Ten am,’ he grunted.

‘Strange how he rang in the middle of the night, has he done that before?’

‘No, that’s why it’s got to be important,’ Coslow said furiously as he gave up in protest and wound down his window.

Coslow and Banton were ideally suited as partners and it was an incredible thing, strange to others, that their vastly different personalities were complimentary rather than confrontational, which made for good teamwork. Over the years they had homogenised their differences into a tough, proficient and astute unit.

They were highly respected members of the undercover drug squad and had been among the first selected for the new task force put together to break a connection thought to be responsible for the marketing of high-grade heroin.

The truth of the matter had surfaced through the indifferent attitudes of those responsible. Countless complaints for action had remained unheeded and it was not until a parliamentary figure’s daughter died from an overdose of heroin that spontaneous action was decided upon.

The proprietor of a Vietnamese restaurant with a small food shop specialising in Asian products attached, situated in Bolivia Street, Cabramatta, had been targeted as the main financier and distributor. His name was Ling Duig, originally one of numerous boat refugees from Vietnam and owner of the business, which he had been running successfully for some fifteen years.

 Coslow sighed impatiently and looked at his watch. It was 10am and time for their contact to arrive. Hitherto, his information had been excellent and hopefully he would be in possession of some more vital information about the distribution of drugs within the Sydney metropolitan area and Australia generally. Their informant used the code name of ‘Steve’ and it had taken many months to cultivate trust and understanding with him. On the surface he seemed anxious to help, but on the other hand he continually displayed the demeanour of a frightened man.

So far Steve’s information had been spot on, and some of the information he had supplied in the past to the detectives resulted in arrests of many dealing and trafficking in dangerous drugs; however, at the same time, the detectives, although happy with the end result, were wary of quite a lot of the information supplied to them. They knew opposition dealers only too well and were well aware of the ploys they got up to by loosely talking about other drug syndicates in the hope of eliminating their competitors.

So far it had been a good policy adopted by the detectives and information received was not always acted on by their special task squad. Instead it was passed discreetly to the local law enforcement officers in whose area it concerned and by operating that way they believed they were protecting Steve’s credibility and above all his identity. Local detectives who received the important communication had no idea where the information originated, only that it came from a reliable source and they revelled in the ‘busts’ they made.

It was a double-edged sword so far as Steve was concerned; he supplied correct information to the police involving opposition drug dealers and at the same time, protected the organisation he worked with by ruthlessly eliminating any opposition, under the pretence of working in with the police – an old ploy of his.

The Vietnamese mafia was a ruthless killing machine devoid of all sympathy or mercy. Nobody could be trusted – many were in the employ of ‘the organisation’ and people simply disappeared if they opened their mouths, never to be seen again. No complaints were ever made to authorities about the missing people and to do so could prove fatal.

A big Harley Davidson motorcycle thundered into the laneway with the rider dressed in black and wearing a black safety helmet. The Harley came to a halt at the open window of the police car and its rider seemed to be in one hell of a hurry. Generally their informant drove his motorcycle up behind the police car and parked it, then moved into the rear seat of the police vehicle.

Neil Coslow called out, ‘Hi, Steve, how’re things going?’

The motorcycle rider did not answer nor did he lift the darkened weather shield of his crash helmet, but reaching inside his jacket he pulled his hand out holding a .38 Magnum revolver. It was the last thing the detectives’ startled eyes would ever see as four shots rang out in quick succession with bullets ripping into their heads. As blood, bone and brains splattered the interior of the police car, the motorcyclist slipped his machine into gear and rode off at a fast rate along Wattle Lane into Kelly Street. It had all happened so fast, in a matter of seconds.

 

Detective Senior Sergeant Wendell Wilson was in charge of the field squad assigned to those specific drug investigations and was in George Street, Sydney, when his beeper sounded. He called his office and was told the grim news.

Wilson wasted no time; his mind worked overtime with a thousand questions as he drove to Wattle Lane where he was confronted on arrival by hordes of media representatives already alerted. The laneway had been cordoned off with ribbon strips of yellow plastic fluttering in the slight breeze.

Wilson was recognised by one of the journalists. ‘Hey, Wendell,’ he called out. ‘What’s the score here, how many are dead, what’s going on?’

Wendell Wilson brushed through the media and ducked beneath the plastic ribbon stretched across the laneway.

‘Your guess is as good as mine at the moment,’ he replied. ‘Give me a go, I haven’t even got there yet.’

‘Our readers are entitled to know what’s going on,’ an angry female reporter yelled at Wilson as he walked towards the police car in Wattle Lane.

 ‘Yeah yeah, I know,’ replied Wilson who kept walking.

The television crews filmed the scene and anyone who moved in and out of the area. This was the usual hype Wilson had become used to; media representatives were paranoid they might miss out on something or someone, or were scooped by opposition media outlets.

Wilson saw the Government Medical Officer in attendance and police photographers were taking photographs, their flashlights popping whilst they worked beside scientific personnel taking measurements, and fingerprint officers dusting the car for any possible latent prints.

Wilson felt slightly nauseated when he saw blood from his two dead detectives dripping from the car onto the bitumen of the roadway. Their bodies had been covered with white plastic sheets but the sickly sweet smell of death pervaded the air. Wilson located the senior police officer at the scene.

‘Hi, Bill,’ he said. ‘What’s the score, any witnesses?’

Inspector Bill Glasgow had known Wendell Wilson for many years. ‘This is what we’ve got, Wendell. First of all the scientific boys are having a look at single-track tyre marks on the roadway and no doubt left behind by the shooter’s motorcycle while he was speeding away.’

‘How do we know there’s a motorbike involved?’ Wendell asked.

Glasgow pointed to an unkempt man sitting on steps in a shaded doorway of an old building. ‘He saw the whole thing, he saw the bike rider shoot our two detectives and ride off with his tyres squealing and smoking.’

Wilson walked over to the vagrant, who was dressed in dirty tattered clothing and was in need of a bath. The humid weather accentuated his body odour and his breath smelt of stale methylated spirits.

‘I’m Detective Sergeant Wilson, the police inspector here told me you witnessed the shooting of my two men. What can you tell me about it?’

‘I can’t tell you much but I know he was riding a Harley Davidson motor bike,’ said the vagrant.

‘How do you know that?’

‘Believe it or not, Sarge, I was once a member of a bikie gang and I owned one of those beautiful machines. That’s how I knew what type of bike it was.’

‘You didn’t by any chance happen to get the registered number of it, did you?’ Wilson hopefully asked.

‘No, but I do remember the first letters on the number plate were AO. I don’t remember what rest was,’ he said. ‘It all happened that fast.’

‘Can you describe the rider to me?’

‘He was dressed in black, maybe about my size, medium build. He had a black helmet on but I can’t tell you anything more than that.’

After ensuring the preliminaries were attended to, Wilson returned to the house the Police Department had rented for them in Ashfield, Sydney. This was their safe house, a big, low-set, sprawling building used as an office for their Special Task force where they could work and others would not know what they were doing. Secrecy was paramount for the successful conclusion of involved and complex investigations which had now been underway for several years. Unintentional loose lips could be a dangerous problem.

His team of officers selected were considered to be of the utmost integrity and handpicked by Wilson for this very reason along with their counterparts from interstate authorities. Coupled with their experience in the field of criminal investigation, they had no peers.

A foremost suspicion nagging at Wilson’s brain was not a pleasant contemplation and he chastised himself for even thinking there may be a bad apple within his group. He had personally handpicked his crew of detectives.

Wilson kept his thoughts to himself and searched the lockers of both Arthur Banton and Neil Coslow in an effort to locate anything which may give him a hint of those responsible for their deaths, but he found nothing.

His desk phone shrilled; it was Detective Chief Superintendent Morrow who required an immediate audience. The boss was an old friend of his going back many years and they had worked together as a team on many difficult investigations. Wilson trusted his boss implicitly and knew that not only was he a dependable man but also that he could always confide with him. The Chief Superintendent had been the man who nominated him to lead this Special Task Force.

‘Take a seat, Wendell. What can you tell me about the murder of our two men?’

‘Well, Ben, it doesn’t look good at this stage. I was well aware Arty Banton and Neil were working on something we were hoping would assist in the justification of our Task Force. All I can tell you at this stage is they left the office to keep an appointment with an informant at 10am and bang, this happens.’

‘Do you know who the informant was?’ queried Morrow.

‘I knew it was someone known to them as Steve or Stevo. He’s a Viet-Australian citizen or Chinese-Australian. His name should be listed in the informants’ register locked in our safe but again, you know as well as I do, information in those books could also be valueless and not worth a cent. That’s nothing new if you have a good, productive informant – as you know, staff will not conform to strict regulations and will protect such a person who puts them in the limelight.’

Morrow chuckled, ‘Yeah, you’re right, Wendell, but Christ, man, we’re going to have the media baying at our doors for something on this – what do you suggest?’

‘If the mission of this task force is exposed to anyone then we’re ratshit. We’ve put many months of intensive – and I might say meticulous – work into this;  far too much to be blown away by some irresponsible journalist trying to make a name for him or herself. I strongly suggest this be presented to look like a murder investigation completely distanced from the true purpose of our task group. It must never be leaked out under any circumstances that any such organisation as ours exists. It may assist greatly in confusing those responsible for the deaths of Arthur and Neil. It’ll make them wonder if their information, whatever it was, was right or wrong in the first place – particularly if it doesn’t appear in the press to their way of thinking.’

Wilson spread his arms apart in frustration. ‘I know this is all supposition how they might think, but it’s something, and if the truth comes out, the questions of how, when, and why will blow the whole thing apart for us. Frankly, I wouldn’t want to be a part of this set-up anymore if the hierarchy doesn’t support us in this.’

Ben Morrow leaned his elbow on the table and cupped his chin between the thumb and forefinger of his right hand. ‘I don’t think there’ll be any problems about that, Wendell. But to say this should be kept quiet is an absolute impossibility – everyone within our rank-and-file knows there’s a Special Task Force in operation. That’s no secret, unfortunately, and as you well know, the old saying is curiosity killed the cat.

‘So far I haven’t heard anything that would suggest what your task force is all about, only speculation, and you’re to be congratulated on that. Our hierarchy know the amount of work gone into what you’ve achieved but can I tell them you’ll eventually nail the people responsible for the deaths of Arty Banton and Neil Coslow?’

Wilson’s eyes showed his gratitude. ‘Yeah, old friend. I believe we’ll run those responsible to earth before this is all over – tell them yes, we’ll nail the bastards.’

Wendell Wilson left to return to his office. He was pleased to get into his air-conditioned car; the afternoon heat had struck him like a blowtorch after leaving the air-conditioned office of Morrow. He drove back through the peak-hour traffic to his own office and on arrival he took up with his partner George Lithgow, briefing him on the afternoon’s events and his talk with Morrow.

He took stock of other organisations working with his staff. There were personnel from all States of Australia, men and women, with two detectives from New Zealand for training. Not only were his staff good operators, the Customs Department and all Commonwealth Services were at his disposal too and each was made answerable to him.

The Federal personnel were the most difficult to liaise with and were annoyed that they weren’t running the whole show, despite information surfacing through the New South Wales Police officers.

The attitude of the Feds had almost wrecked the whole enterprise from the start but State Police Departments needed the Federal authorities and their police enforcement agencies with equipment and funding seeming to be unlimited in the fight against drugs.

It was not that State Government departments did not want to supply money, for they did. It was because there were so many other demanding priorities pressing for finance: well-organised union demonstrations from groups of dissatisfied people demanding their proposals receive immediate attention. Niggling accusations by opposition Government parties about money being wasted or misused and the seemingly never-ending muck-raking of alleged corruption along the way. Money had to be distributed for Health, Education, Government Railway departments, and Transport within the State, as well as monetary needs of local councils.

Wilson was absolutely furious with the disclosures he had unearthed regarding the murder of his two men; procedures had just not been adhered to. He called a meeting of all personnel at 9am the following day. The next morning he stood at the lectern set up in the conference room and placing a sheaf of correspondence on it, he turned over a few pages.

‘The first thing I request is that you all stand for a minute’s silence, please, out of respect to our fallen comrades.’

The entire group of thirty personnel stood with heads bowed. Asking them to be seated, he glanced over the faces looking up at him. Wilson was very angry about the murders; however, he well knew most of the personnel before him acted honourably and in a genuine effort to make the operation a success, but he also knew there were those who had not conformed to his way of thinking. He commenced to speak softly, his voice becoming angry and louder as he continued. There was absolute silence as they listened to his words.

‘I hope each and every one of you will learn your lesson from this tragedy. Despite what I’ve been trying to indoctrinate into your thick skulls about teamwork with one another, some of you are failing miserably, and unless you wake up very quickly you’re gunna be ratshit. Just as Banton and Coslow failed in their duty to do so and were brutally murdered for their indiscretion and own self-importance.’

He smashed a clenched fist onto the lectern. ‘They failed to confer with me or anyone else on this squad about this person they were to meet. So what were they trying to be, big time, one-man bands? They failed to supply any information on the squad occurrence sheet, simple facts and a procedure asked for and expected from each and every one of you so we all know what’s going on.’

Wilson shuffled through papers on his lectern. ‘What was the meeting with this informant all about, what was his connection, why the secrecy? Further, despite strict instructions you’re all aware of, they failed to enter into the informant register this person’s correct name and proof of his or her identity. I’d suggest if any of you have, for reasons only known to yourselves, erred in this matter, get it rectified immediately. We’re supposed to be a team in here, not individuals.’

Wilson shuffled though more papers on the lectern. ‘I admit I too have been very lax in my supervision of what’s been going on but I trust each and every one of you. Being the officer in charge I do understand I should’ve been more demanding and more inquisitive about what Banton and Coslow were doing and for that I apologise, not that it helps matters now.’

Wilson paused and looked over the tense faces; they knew what he was saying was true and it needed something terrible like this to pull them up in their way of thinking.

‘Christ Almighty, give us some sort of a start,’ he continued. ‘Leave something behind for your colleagues to work on and if you don’t want to work by my rules then piss off, get to the shithouse, I don’t want you here – am I getting through to you?’

Embarrassed silence greeted his outburst as he stared angrily at them. ‘Our two friends failed us because they went off on their bloody own without a word to anybody about what they were doing. Oh yeah, they told me all right! They told me they were going to see their informant named Stevo about something big at 10am. They didn’t put anything on the running sheet so we would all know what they were up to – not one bloody hint, for Christ’s sake. That’s the name of this bloody game, is it not – or is it only supposed to be? Are we, or are we not in the future going to be a team, for Christ’s sake? Now then, I expect that courtesy to be strictly adhered to: team work. For all intents and purposes they were off to rendezvous with this parasite just like any one of you tell me time and time again, every day.’ Wilson again paused and in a loud voice exclaimed, ‘I trust you when you tell me these things, but I’m not clairvoyant or a fucking mind reader and for reasons only best known to themselves, like it or not, they betrayed that very trust I keep communicating about.

‘If it’s going to be something very important to our cause I expect you to let me know exactly what it is. We all want to know what’s going on. Banton and Coslow played right into the hands of our enemy and somewhere along the way someone slipped up badly. Not deliberately, but nevertheless their murders were drug related and the people responsible must have known of this rendezvous being kept with an informant.

‘Make no mistake about that, I didn’t come down in the last shower and be expected to cop this. Believe me, it didn’t just happen out of the blue like it was purported to portray; it’s been well planned and methodically executed by ruthless people. It’s imperative at this stage the media don’t get an inkling of what the real circumstances are. You were all sworn to secrecy when you came into this squad and that secrecy now applies stronger than ever and of that, I kid you not.

‘The people we’re up against have millions of dollars at their disposal, they’re ruthless beyond imagination, intelligent, and above all well organised. By not pulling together as a unit we’re playing right into their hands and letting each other down badly.

‘Now that’s all I’m going to say on this subject and I want to see a marked improvement. Put everything you are doing down on the occurrence sheet so that it’s there for everyone to read and we know all about it. Surely to God I don’t have to spell it out to you. Do I make myself understood, am I getting through to you? Now then, are there any questions?’

The gathering looked up at him in silence and suddenly there was a loud applause and choruses of approval. Wendell knew he had made an impact – they were a team again and he felt there should be no further problems. Unfortunately, it came at the expense of two fine police officers who did not deserve to die the way it happened.

 

Both Banton and Coslow were married men with families; the funeral was a big affair and the police pipe band played ‘Amazing Grace’, ‘Auld Lang Syne’, and other favourites to a huge gathering of police officers smartly attired in immaculate, pressed summer uniforms. It was a spectacular event filmed by the television media. The officers were buried side by side in the portion of the cemetery kept aside for police officers killed on duty.

Wilson unashamedly wiped tears from his face and he knew this should never have happened. When the funeral was over, he did not bother going to the traditional wake. He was more concerned with what the two deceased detectives may have been working on.

Back in his office he pulled up the blind that hid a network of photographs and properties with connecting arrows to different individuals. Surveillance cameras had photographed suspects in different circumstances, who became targets for future operations.

A wealth of evidence was meticulously placed in chronological detail on the briefing board. Arrows led from certain places to certain individuals and from one person to another – culminating in a pattern to the central figure of a man named Ling Duig. His business premises together with his photograph were dead centre of the chart.

Duig also owned a twin-engine Piper Aztec aircraft. Consequently a lot of the photographs were of Duig at the Bankstown Aerodrome. The surveillance crew had done their work well. Wilson stared at the photograph of Duig, who was a well-built man of medium height with thinning black hair and dressed in a suit with collar and tie. It was impossible not to notice the huge scar across his forehead.

‘You’re the bastard all right and I’m going to nail you if it’s the last thing I do,’ Wilson muttered to himself.

His thoughts were interrupted by some of his crew returning to the office from the funeral. He spoke to two of the officers, a man and a woman who originally came from Queensland for this operation.

‘I’d like you to visit each of the wives of our departed comrades, but do it in the morning. I want you to have a discreet talk with them and see if you can find out anything at all that may assist us. It could be nothing but then again it just might turn up something important. But remember, take it easy with them, they’ll be extremely uptight.’

The following morning Duncan McDougall with his partner, Janette Warren, visited the two wives of the murdered detectives. There was nothing Mrs Arthur Banton could tell them and they left her to visit the wife of Neil Coslow.

Janette Warren pressed the doorbell at the home of Dulcie Coslow. After they introduced themselves, she led them into the lounge room.

Duncan McDougall spoke softly to Mrs Coslow. ‘Mrs Coslow, we’re very sorry to come at a time like this. We know what a terrible shock this has been to you. We’re your friends and if you don’t feel up to talking to us then we’ll understand and we’ll leave you in peace.’

‘No, no, no,’ she replied. ‘I understand these things must be done – just tell me how I can help you.’

‘We’re very anxious to find out what Neil and Arthur Banton were working on. Unfortunately we didn’t know exactly what they were doing at the time but we know it must have been important and caused them to act with haste otherwise they’d have told one of us,’ Duncan McDougall said.

Dulcie Coslow nodded. ‘What sort of thing do you want to know?’

‘Did Neil make any mention before he went to work about what he and Arthur might be doing that day. Any little thing at all may help us – it mightn’t seem important to you but it might be something we’ve been looking for.’

Dulcie held her head in her hands and shook her head. ‘No, not that I can recall. Goodness me, he never said anything to me about his work.’

She took her hands away from her face looking intently at the two police officers. ‘There’s one little thing I do remember, I don’t know if it’ll help you or not, but Neil did receive a telephone call at about 2am on that day and I know this because the telephone woke me up. I couldn’t hear what he was saying, he spoke in a low muffled voice and I was half asleep, but he did write something down with a biro on the pad beside the bed phone.’

‘Is the pad still there beside the bed?’ Janette Warren asked.

‘Yes it is, I’ll get it for you.’

Dulcie Coslow left them, disappearing into a hallway. A few minutes later she returned with the pad and biro pen.

‘Here it is, this is the pen he used but whatever he wrote down has been torn off.’

Duncan McDougall took the pen and pad from her outstretched hand and looked at indentations on the page left behind.

‘Could I take this with me, please, Mrs Coslow? It mightn’t be anything but then again it might. I’d like our scientific men to have a look at the indentations on this page and see if they can come up with something. The Homicide men will be here to see you. Tell them we’ve been here but we’d appreciate it if you don’t tell them we have this pad. We’ll tell you all about it in time to come and we’ll tell them all about it too. Will you help us please? We’re from the General Detectives assisting in this investigation should they ask who we are.’

 

Clouds were forming in the south and lightning forked through the sky, an ominous pattern indicating a cool change with rain imminent, one that would probably hit in a few hours’ time.

McDougall was deeply unhappy; he hated this cloak-and-dagger stuff they were involved in and because of the clandestine operation they were being forced to withhold valuable information from their specialist colleagues, the Homicide Squad. With his conscience deeply uneasy he and Janette confronted Wendell Wilson about the matter when they handed over the note pad to him.

Wilson listened to them patiently before replying. He welcomed this topic of concern.

‘First of all you’re right, I completely agree with you, and ordinarily this would be a job for the Homicide Squad. It pains me to be so secretive, but it’s imperative our operation remains just that, secret. Our Homicide Squad will not be left out of this and we’ll give them everything we have when the time is considered right and really, but to do so now is out of the question.

‘The hierarchy knows everything that’s going on. Our operation has gone on now for too long to bring it to a halt because of the killing of two of our operators. While our deep-seated sympathy cries out to nail those responsible, we can’t blow millions of dollars’ worth of work. It’s tough, very tough for all of us to continually try and keep this at a low profile but we must try and that’s all that is expected of us – and to do our best. Let’s see what this pad may bring up for us. It could be a start. Alright? At the moment we’re investigating a matter involving hundreds of millions of dollars. The murders are for the Homicide Squad and anything we fall onto which may be beneficial to them will eventually be passed on, mark my words. We will definitely tell them but only through me, do I make myself clear?’

The two nodded, acknowledging that they understood.

‘Alright, now I’ll take this pad to the Scientific Squad and we’ll see what Neil was writing about. I’ll let you know what the result is.’

Wendell made his way to the Scientific Squad Office.

‘Hi, Bruce,’ he said to the officer in charge. ‘Can you have a look at this for me? I particularly want to know if you can see what the indentation says.’

 Detective Inspector Fields, a long-time friend of Wilson’s, took the pad from him and taking carbon powder from a drawer sprinkled it over the paper. He lightly brushed over it and pursing his lips, blew the excess powder away. There clearly outlined was a telephone number, the name ‘Steve’ and the time 10am. Wilson took the pad back from his friend and went back to his office.

He called in two of his Federal Detectives, Rogers and Padlow. They came up with an address for the telephone number in Seabeach Avenue, Mona Vale, a northern seaside suburb of Sydney. Wilson instructed them to go and scrutinise the premises.

It was almost an hour later when the Holden panel van made its way through moderate Mona Vale traffic and turned into Seabeach Avenue off Barrenjoey Road. By this time the impending storm had broken and the windscreen wipers beat out a frenzied tattoo, sweeping rainwater from their windscreen. Fierce driving winds accompanied by heavy rain shook their van and the temperature dropped a full ten degrees, cooling the atmosphere considerably. They drove down Seabeach Avenue through a heavy deluge of rain, which indirectly provided a shield for their covert surveillance of the premises targeted.

There were no vehicles evident in front or outside. Curtains and blinds were drawn on the large, high-set brick home and a closed garage was at the side of the house. Another double garage could be seen beneath the premises. The blinding rain continued during their return journey and they cautiously took their time.

After reporting it to Wilson, he quickly organised a twenty-four-hour surveillance of the premises commencing immediately. All vehicles and people frequenting the premises were photographed for future reference. Three days later he was shown a photograph of a black Harley Davidson motorcycle, taken at 4pm the previous afternoon. The rider was dressed in black. The registered number of the motorcycle was AO-729. Wilson was convinced this was the break they were seeking and further inquiries made at the Motor Transport Department revealed the registered owner of the motorcycle was a man named Tin Lok Hing of the same address in Mona Vale, Sydney.

 Wilson was now in a position to have a conference with the Homicide Squad through his Chief, Detective Superintendent Benny Morrow, and he felt a lot easier. It was only a matter of time before they would put it all together in concise chronological order. From past experiences he was certain his boss would handle the situation diplomatically and with tact.

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