Scorpio Versus the One-Eyed Dragon

Of course, assuming if action were taken against the One-Eyed Dragon either to apprehend him or eliminate him, and the suspicions of the One-Eyed Dragon’s masters were aroused, Scorpio and the members of his team would have no difficulty in extracting themselves, whereas the villagers would remain “sitting targets” for any retribution on the part of the communists. Still letting his thoughts run away with him, Scorpio could think of, for instance, the likely position of the village barber, who would surely be a prime suspect from the communists’ point of view. The One-Eyed Dragon obviously used the barber to cut his hair, and the barber was most likely on good terms with him, as barbers often were with their clients. The barber was known to be short of money. His business in such a small place as Lansing could not be considered to be flourishing by any means. Moreover, he was addicted to opium which was a costly habit to cultivate and, as an opium addict, he was perennially short of cash, and very open to being tempted by the large cash rewards which were often offered by police to informers.

In the last eleven weeks or so, the members of Scorpio’s team had been increasingly aware of the pressure under which they worked and they were becoming both emotionally and physically drained. Scorpio had to admit to himself that even though he was living in much more comfortable circumstances, he too was beginning to feel the strain, though he acknowledged that in his case it was aggravated by the demands of his own rather hectic private life. Through his neglect to a large extent of his work as an Assistant Estate Manager, he could feel palpably the resentment of the Manager mounting each time they met. To defer taking definitive action against the One-Eyed Dragon would only make his own position on the estate more precarious. He certainly did not wish to bring matters to a head and risk his own dismissal now that the operation had entered a crucial stage. And yet how could he take the Manager into his confidence? So looking at the situation from all possible aspects, he concluded that the time was right to take action.

Scorpio studied the sketch of the layout of the house and the surrounding land, which he had prepared. He estimated that only nine men could be used for the final action. No reinforcements could be brought in at this stage as, in any case, there would be insufficient time to acquaint them with the local situation, and new faces would certainly attract unwanted attention.

The wooden house in which the One-Eyed Dragon lived had an attap roof and was built on approximately four acres of land. It had two doors, the main facing north and the other at the southwestern corner of the house. There were two other small openings of about one square foot each in the wall, which acted as windows. They were located on the east and south sides of the house. The land on the western side of the house was planted with yam, chili, vegetables and tapioca. He observed that only the part that was planted with tapioca, which was about six feet high, would afford cover for anyone to hide in. However, though the occupants did not keep any dogs that could detect the presence of strangers, he felt that the tapioca patch was too close to the house to be used safely as a hiding place. The house was approximately one hundred and fifty yards from the northern boundary of the land and a track ran the whole distance of the northern boundary. He had noticed there was a suitable area that could be used as cover. It was in a small old rubber estate that had been allowed to become overgrown with tall undergrowth, providing excellent protection from prying eyes and commanding an uninterrupted view of the suspect house.

Two other positions that he had noted as being suitable as hiding places for an assault party were on the eastern boundary of the plot of land. A track ran the whole length of the eastern boundary and just off it was a ditch deep enough for people to take cover in. Another assault group could find cover in the overgrown rubber inside the western boundary. He did not think it would be necessary to place any of his men to the south as the swampy land there would be a sufficient impediment to prevent anyone from making a dash through it.

In his mind, the plan was ready…