Bill for the use of a body
Mr Inosuke Hayashi remained impassive as he looked down into the square wooden box that contained the severed head of his only son. The police chief stood alongside Hiyashi. There was no clue to the sender. Hayashi’s son was thirty years old. He had gone to Hong Kong on business. His father believed that his son had somehow become involved in a rival drug smuggling operation, although his father had no proof. Hayashi swore to get his own back on the person or persons responsible.
Julian Day was sitting near the flagstaff on the peak of Hong Kong and gazing at the harbour below which looked like toys. From the peninsula’s eastern side the great causeway of Kai Tak airport projected like a pointing finger out into the sea, and every few minutes an aircraft owned by one of a dozen nations was either landing or taking off from it. Life was good for a young subaltern in September 1941. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to last. At 16.45 on the seventh December an announcement came over the radio informing everybody that Japan had declared war with Great Britain and the United States of America. At 21.15 on the 25th December. On the 25th December 1941, Hong Kong surrendered.
The Japanese spared none of their enemies and Julian escaped death by diving head first over a one hundred foot cliff which was covered with coarse grass. The grass protected him from severe injury and Julian feigned death by staying still and waiting for the Japanese to move away. When dawn came he headed toward the local hospital in order to get his wounds seen to. The hospital was in chaos, the Japanese were killing the doctors and the nurses were being raped. Julian tried desperately to rescue one of the nurses who had been hiding in a small room. He placed a table under a roof aperture and climbed into the roof and tried to pull the nurse into the roof with him. She was terrified, as she had seen how the other nurses had fared. She made it clear that she would rather die than stay with the soldiers. Despite his efforts he was unable to lift her due to the injuries he had previously sustained. The last he heard was of her falling with a crash among the crockery and yelling “shoot me”. There was nothing he could do but wait. Soon after dark, Julian cautiously made his way down a fire escape at the end of the building. Julian decided that he had to get to the mainland in order to avoid being captured by the Japanese. He decided to swim across. It was a long hard effort but he did it. He then headed to Junk Harbour. He then paid a junk owner to take him away from Hong Kong. Julian recalled all that had happened twenty two years ago. Hearing the sound of voices behind him he turned his head. A man and a girl were approaching. That instant, he decided that she was one of the loveliest girl he had ever seen. She turned out to be a professional guide working for the Hong Kong tourist association. Her name , Merri Song. The gentleman friend with her was a Mr Bill Urata. The three of them chatted together and Bill informed Julian that he had some business to conduct in Manilla. He suggested that Merri could take Julian site seeing the following day. Julian had already made up his mind that he would marry Merri!!
Hayashi was heading home from Tokyo to Kyoto on the excellent train system. He had requested Udo Nagi (his right hand man) to ensure that the Mercedes would be at the station to meet him. Six hours later he arrived.
During the past three months Udo Nagi’s agents had investigated the families and pasts of the four men whose heads in boxes had preceded that of Hayashi’s son. The result was a dossier of over a hundred pages on each of them. To summarise their contents:
1) The radio salesman, Otoya Matsuko, had gone to Hong Kong in 1952 to solicit stocking up orders for the winter season. A pleasant mannered man, but after a lapse of eleven years no-one could give any information about him.
2) Dr Yasunari Kido, a lung specialist had gone to Honk Kong to attend a conference in April 1956. He was a man of means and had not appeared to have a trouble in the world. He also disappeared and was only recognised due to a livid scar on his right cheek from an old war wound. One of the porters remembered him as he had given him a very generous tip.
3) The engineer, Kayno Nakayama was a bachelor, but kept a regular mistress in Tokyo. He had gone to Hong Kong in August 1957 and stayed at the Victoria Hotel in Queens Road with his assistant; a young man named Araki . Araki had at the time been engaged to a girl of a good family whom he had shortly afterwards married. Udo Nagi’s agents had unearthed the fact that one night during their stay the two men had not occupied their beds at the Victoria. They blackmailed Araki into giving false information regarding his recent activities. Araki was never seen again.
4) The dealer in cultured pearls, Zosho Iwanami had gone to Hong Kong in January 1960. He had stayed at the Golden Gate Hotel in Austin road. The manager there remembered him on account of the Police enquiries pertaining to his disappearance. He had only stayed there overnight on three occasions out of the nine days that he booked. No one else could add any information relating to his whereabouts whilst in Hong Kong.
5) The younger Hayashi had gone to Hong Kong in the previous November. Being a rich man, he had stayed at the fabulous Marco Polo hotel in Kowloon. Several of the staff remembered him perfectly well. He asked the hotel to keep his room available again for two days later as he was only going on a forty eight hour trip to Macao.
Overall it seemed that all five men had been lured to Macao and their deaths.
Nagi went to Hong Kong personally to investigate. One of his agents told him that a high class brothel owner named Mrs Lo used to own the place. She had since sold it and bought a little villa on the sea-shore. She was able to give Nagi the address. Further enquiries brought forth two elderly couples who occupied the place as caretaker servants. They both said that Mrs Lo came there very rarely and their money was sent to them regularly each month through a bank in Hong Kong. One of the couples said that a Japanese gentleman was with them. A few weeks later they had been given three months pay and told that they no longer required their services. Nagi then decided to take his thugs into the villa one night, tied the caretaker up and searched it. In a locked inner cellar he found the remains of five headless bodies. The captives described Mrs Lo as a tall middle-aged Chinese named Ti Cheng who had aggressive features and a slight squint. To Nagi’s intense satisfaction the description fitted Mok Kwai of the Moon Garden.
Hayashi tells Nagi to bring the woman who killed his son to him.
Julian & Merri decide to take a tour of the island. They then lunch at Gaddi’s restaurant at the peninsular - one of the best on the island. Julian tells Merri a little of his background. His surname is Fernhurst not Day. Julian also told her of a man named O’Kieff who was at Oxford with him. O’Keefe was an occultist who joined the diplomatic service. His first post was in Brussels and it happened that O’kieff came to live there for a while. He was very wealthy and was head of a syndicate of international crooks who controlled an underworld empire for white slaving, dope running, smuggling and selling military secrets. Julian planned to trap them. Julian confided in his first secretary, a man named Caruthers. Diplomats were not supposed to get involved themselves with that sort of thing but Julian persuaded him to play. After a conference in Brussels he got O’Kieff to invite Caruthers (as well as Julian) to dinner with a view to catching a much bigger fish. After dinner Julian was picked up drugged and unconscious from a back street gutter. After this incident the ‘Unholy Crew’ had taken Caruthers back to the Embassy and hypnotised him into unlocking the Chancellery safe. When told of it he committed suicide. Julian had no evidence against him but the suggestion was that he had deliberately sold the countries secrets.
The next day Merri takes Julian to visit her mother Tilly Sang but she was not very responsive. They enjoyed the day and in the evening had dinner at the Princess Garden night club so that they could enjoy the dance floor. At the end of the evening Julian asked what they could do the following day. Merri reminded him that he had only booked her until the following day. She was therefore spending the next day with Bill Urata when he returns from Manilla. Julian was really depressed. It became apparent that both Julian and Bill both wanted to marry the young lady. It was also a surprise when Merri’s mother told Julian that they had met before ..... in a hospital. She was the nurse (Matilda Cray) who he had tried to protect while the Japanese soldiers were wrecking it. She ended up being sold to brothel. Julian arranged to meet with Merri to explain what had happened. He would wait in the car until she arrived. Julian was sitting in the car at the entrance to the lido. They then headed to one of the floating restaurants at Aberdeen bay which was two miles from the lido.
After an excellent dinner they were viciously attacked by a gang of thugs who jumped off an unlit launch. Julian fought hard but it was one against many. Merri was dragged onto the launch. One of the other men hit Julian with a bludgeon. Julian blacked out and fell into the water. Julian woke up in hospital and was discharged a few days later. Julian’s first visit was to Tilly’s house. He told her of Merri’s abduction and she thanked him for trying to protect her. Later that evening Tilly asked Julian to come to see her. She told Julian that a man came to her door and that she needs to go to Japan if she wants her daughter back. The man was Japanese and he told her that she must be in the lounge of the Miyoko hotel in Tokyo at 10.pm a week from today or her daughter will be cut up into pieces. Julian believed that the head of the Japanese group must have a lot of power and money behind them and he believes he may well prefer valuable assets such as estates or antiques. Most of Merri’s valuables weren’t that interesting but one item was very valuable, it was a magnificent life-sized gilded bronze figure of the goddess Kuan-Yin. Julian believed that he may just be tempted into a deal - the Bronze figure for the return of Merri. Tilly had a photograph of Kuan-Yin. She send’s it to the hotel in Tokyo and an interested reply returns very quickly. Julian agrees to act as an intermediary and take the bronze to Japan himself.
On his way back to his room he is accosted by Bill Urata, who starts to argue and throw punches whilst insisting that Merri belongs to him. Julian retaliates but logically argues that they should calm down and decide what she wants. Urata was worried as he had been told to return to Japan.
Tilly, meanwhile has arranged for Kuan – Yin to be packed in a large wicker basket. The Bronze has also been given his own cabin on the German ship ‘Lubeck’. Julian & Urata fly to Osaka. Julian has a room made ready for his arrival. Julian then moves. He then moves on to Kyoto and stays at the Miyako hotel. Urata gives Julian a massive site seeing tour which he enjoys immensely. It included the Heian Shrine; Kinkakuji; the Golden Pavilion; the Tatsumara Silk Factory; the most famous of all Zen Buddist temples, Ryoanji; Noh Hall (to see a Noh play; Nijo Castle; Katsura Palace; the Moss garden at the temple of Saiho-ji;. They had lunch at Hyoties. They were unable to visit the Imperial Palace as a permit would be required. After lunch Urata proposed that they should visit the Daigoji Temple, it’s some way out but one of the highlights of these parts. They decided to defer this trip until the following day.
The following morning Urata phoned Julian from reception advising him that there was no evidence to suggest that that Hyashi had anything to do with Merris’ kidnap. They had, however traced the ship that Merri was brought in on. It was a tramp steamer called the Matabura. On the day that Merri had been kidnapped, the Matabura had been due to sail from Hong Kong to Yokahama calling into Osaka on the way. That morning, a shipping agent asked if they could take on some passengers; a Chinese gentleman named Ling Yee with his wife and daughter travelling to Osaka. The daughter was recovering from a serious illness and so would be carried onto the boat by stretcher. She would be kept to her cabin and her mother would take her meals. Despite the frantic comings and goings Bill Urata and Julian never managed to see the person being removed from the ship. Julian however, was certain that it must have been Milli. Julian and Bill were desperate to find out which cabin she had stayed in. Their enquiries enabled them to find out which one it was. Julian scoured the cabin whilst Bill checked to see when the ship was leaving. Julian found nothing. He went to open the cabin but found it locked. Had Bill locked him in? By the time he managed to get out the ship was well away from land. The weather was very rough and so he had to wait until an opportunity came along to get off the ship which was now on a sixteen day , non-stop trip to Honolulu. Overnight the vessel had moored no more than a mile away and Julian decided to swim for it. His clothes impeded his progress but a junk crew threw him a rope and took him into the harbour (for which they were rewarded with some sodden notes). The crew pointed him into the direction of a small hotel. He found out that the town was called Toba and after some refreshment in the hotel pointed him to the local railway station which would take him to Kyoto. A few hours later mr Utaka Urata apologises for the unfortunate situation that occurred on the Matabura. He knew nothing of his being Shanghaied. Bill was very wrong to have left you on board. Utaka agree’s to organise a formal dinner to discuss the sale of the Kuan-Yin. The restaurant is a geisha house called, ‘The Nest of the Phoenix’.
A Private detective was also invited but it was unfortunate for Julian that his detective was in the employ of mr Hayashi’s right hand man – Udo Nagi. Julian also decided to take a private detective (Mr Hidari Rinz) to ensure the safe transfer of the Kuan-Yin for Merri.
It wasn’t too much longer before the precious statue arrived accompanied by Pao Tin Yum & his wife The two of them asked for their room to be located in an adjacent bedroom to theirs for security reasons.
Rinzai had very quickly managed to talk to one of the maids in Hyashi’s house. She told him that Merri was located in the corner room on the upper floor, south end of the house. Julian decided that it may be safer to go straight to Hayashi’s house rather than the planned evening meal at the Phoenix. He organised two taxi’s to be available in time for the trip to the Phoenix. Porters carried the big wicker basket containing the statue. Pao Ping went to fetch the small van. Julian watched the basket being loaded into the van. He then gave instructions for the driver of one of the taxi‘s to lead the van to the Phoenix. After ten minutes Julian told the other taxi driver to take him to the corner of the street in which lay Hyashi’s house. It was getting dark and Julian managed to scramble over the garden wall and dropped into the garden. Meanwhile Hayashi has been plotting his own method of getting the Kuan Yin into his keep as well as Merri. Madame Sang was on the ship (Lubeck) sailing from Hong Kong to Osaka. She was preparing to be inside the Kuan Yin and shoot Hayashi, pleading justifiable homicide. Hayashi said that a second wicker casket had been made which resembles the other. It must be ready for this evening in order to switch caskets. The other casket will be brought to Hyashi’s house. So both parties distrusted each other and coincidentally ended up in the same house. Julian climbs into the house and goes into one of the upper rooms. Three men are there waiting and a fight starts. Others appear and a group of men throw Julian out of the window. Luckily for him he survives as he lands on another man but badly injures his arm & leg. He manages to get to the van and fight off the attackers. Julian then drives away saving not only himself but the Kuan Yin but failed to rescue Merri. It had been an obvious ambush that only Rinzai could have organised. Julian returned to the Phoenix. As he got out of the van he noticed another van of the same make and colour to the one he was driving. Then, the penny dropped – Hyashi must have had a duplicate made, but what was in it? He forced the lock. Satisfied that he really had got the Kuan-Yin , he entered the geisha house. He instantly saw Pao Tim Yum and his wife with another wicker casket. Julian asked them to open the casket. They refused. They told Julian that it could only be opened in the presence of Hyashi. Julian walked into the dining area where Hayashi and Urata had just finished dining. Two geisha girls were also there. As the dinner had finished Julian suggested that the porters bring up the big creaking casket. He expected it to contain the Kuan-Yin. It was however, a woman with a gun. Hayashi whipped out a small automatic and shot Tilly Sang. Hyashi wants to hide the scene up. Julian however wanted him dead. Julian tells Hyashi that his real name Fernhurst. It was you O ’Kieff and your gang that that ruined my career in Brussels and caused my friend Carruthers to commit suicide. Julian sprang, his arm almost useless but he manages to grab Hayishi’s hand and forces it upwards. A shot is fired, followed by two more. Hayashi advances towards the door, the wicker basket behind him. With her last reserve of strength, Tilly Song had risen up in it again and put two shots through his back. He falls dead. Despite everything, it was not to be a happy ending for Julian. Merri had decided that she had always loved Bill’ She wished Julian the very best of luck for the rest of his life.
Page 14 - The peak in Hong Kong is only the highest of nine mountains in the eleven mile-long island, and the island itself only the second largest of an archipelago which, together with Kowloon on the mainland and the New Territories, goes to make up three hundred and sixty square miles of the colony.
Page 39 & 72 – Merri had grey eyes.
Two additional Snippets need to be added.
1) Charles beck informs me that Julian Day was supposed to have appeared in a total of seven Julian Day books relative to this theme. It never happened. It does make you wonder what the outcome would have been for Merri and Julian if they had been given the opportunity to fill those extra books that were originally planned for print. We’ll probably never know.
2) Julian started to read a suspense story called Star Raker by Donald Gordon. He said it was one of the most exciting books he had ever read. High praise indeed.
The criticism as in some other books is that it is more like a Michelin travel guide. DW obviously wanted a record of all the places he had been to. It is so precise. I wonder where the original photograph’s are, one ask’s?[b][b]