This arti­cle is part 10 of 10 in the series Beijing Acupuncture

I pressed my ear to the door qui­et­ly to see if I could dis­cern the pres­ence of more than one indi­vid­ual inside and stood that way for as long as I dared, not rel­ish­ing the idea of being found in that com­pro­mis­ing posi­tion by some­one enter­ing the hallway.

Feeling con­fi­dent that Yeung’s treat­ment was not still in progress, I eased the door open ever so slight­ly and looked into the room.

Yeung was lying face down on the treat­ment table, appar­ent­ly asleep as some of the acupunc­ture treat­ments tend to lull patients to sleep.

I quick­ly closed the door behind me, but qui­et­ly, and moved toward the table.

There was no move­ment from Yeung as I approached.  It seemed that my entrance had not been noticed.

As I arrived at the edge of the table, I with­drew the acupunc­ture nee­dle from behind the lapel of my jack­et, where I had placed it when I picked it up from the table of my treat­ment room as I left.

As deft­ly as pos­si­ble I placed the tip of the nee­dle at the base of Yeung’s skull, dri­ving it quick­ly into the cir­cle of Willis.  The research I had done showed me that rup­tur­ing the arter­ies in this loca­tion caus­es an imme­di­ate cere­bral aneurysm, which almost always results in an instant and pain­less death.

I heard a very muf­fled “ummph” from Yeung as the nee­dle went home, but oth­er­wise, there was no dis­cernible move­ment of any kind.

I slid the nee­dle back out, wiped off the small amount of blood on it with a tis­sue which I placed in my pock­et, put the nee­dle into a pile of nee­dles on the side table, and moved to leave.

Listening at the door again to see if any­one might be pass­ing by the room, and hear­ing noth­ing, I eased the door open, checked the hall­way, left the room, and walked briskly toward the elevators.

Waiting for the ele­va­tor to reach the floor, I looked to the recep­tion desk where Chou was idly chat­ting with the lady sit­ting there.  He looked my way, smiled, and raised his hand in a part­ing gesture.

I returned the smile and ges­ture as the ele­va­tor doors slid open and I entered to descend to the lob­by with two oth­er locals who chat­tered away obliv­i­ous to the fact that I could­n’t under­stand a thing they were saying.

The remain­ing days of the tour were unevent­ful.  I espe­cial­ly liked some of the muse­ums we vis­it­ed and the evening of nightlife in the Sanlitun dis­trict.  I even dined again with Louise and Maggie and Rasmussen, once with all four of us togeth­er.  However, I dread­ed the thought of the long flight back, although anoth­er Benedryl proved very help­ful in mak­ing it seem shorter.

As our flight arrived in Chicago and we deplaned to find our sep­a­rate ways home to var­i­ous parts of the coun­try, I felt a hand on my shoul­der from behind and the famil­iar voice of Harold Rasmussen, “Michael, do you have time for a drink before you catch your flight home?”

“Sure,” I said and we head­ed for one of the many bars locat­ed in the ter­mi­nal midway.

Harold ordered a Harvey Wallbanger and I had a very potent whiskey sour (no ice) as we chat­ted and recount­ed the two weeks we had just spent together.

“Michael, I saw in the American lan­guage news­pa­per short­ly before we left Beijing that Yeung Chun Le had died of a mas­sive aneurysm while in China.”

“What?” was my imme­di­ate response, near­ly spilling the drink that I was rais­ing to my lips at the time.

“I’m sure you’re won­der­ing why I’d bring up a sub­ject like that, out of the blue,” con­tin­ued Rasmussen.

“I’m just glad you did­n’t require any back­up for your job.  I was­n’t at all anx­ious to get involved.”

“You were there all along to pro­vide back­up?  Why did­n’t you let me know?”  I was still incred­u­lous at this revelation.

“No need.  First, you obvi­ous­ly did­n’t need back­up and sec­ond, we were con­cerned that your know­ing might affect your work.”

“Still, it might have been nice to know.  I hope the paper did­n’t indi­cate that there were any reper­cus­sions against staff at the hospital.”

“There don’t appear to have been.  Aneurysms can hap­pen any­time to any­body, so I assume the death was con­sid­ered to be quite normal.

“By the way, was it dif­fi­cult to have to kill a woman,” he asked.

I had some reser­va­tions going in, but his­tor­i­cal­ly women have occa­sion­al­ly been as ruth­less as men. I had just kept that in mind.

“Well, any­way,” said Rasmussen, down­ing the last of his drink, “the team thinks you did a great job.”

“Team?’ I asked, puzzled.

“Yeah, me, Louise, and Maggie.  I doubt we’ll ever see each oth­er again, so I’ll just say good luck and good hunting.”

Rasmussen rose from his chair, shook hands, and head­ed down the midway.

I sat there dumb­found­ed, nurs­ing my drink until time to board the flight to Lexington.


My spe­cial thanks go to Grace, my wife, a retired reg­is­tered nurse, for sug­gest­ing the method used by Michael Tate in this tale.  She was of ines­timable help in putting the plot togeth­er, although I’m sure she was sur­prised at the end when Tate’s quar­ry turned out to be a woman.

  • Chuck Witt

    Chuck is a retired archi­tect, a for­mer news­pa­per colum­nist, and a life­long res­i­dent of Winchester.

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