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.