Crisis Brings Opportunity and Change. (Chinese Proverb)

Started by Dr. Titus Curtiz PhD at Feb 19, 2021 10:47 AM
March 0, 1924
463 Views
20 Posts

Dr. Titus Curtiz PhD

834
?Years Young
23 Posts

"Yes, they are very old, but I value antiquities as one might value life."


The days seemed to dash by as if driven by a March wind. The class size increased to a respectable twenty-three and everything appeared to be falling into place for Titus Curtiz. At long last, success. The faculty were certainly friendly and encouraging enough, the department flourishing with all the classes doing well, the numbers were up and that made the administration happy.

The young Chinese girl, Lian Xiu seemed to be having some difficulty with a course which he found extremely odd,  the course should have been a breeze for her, so, under the watchful eye of Eddie Yeoh Titus offered help to her in the most proper of ways.

He had even thought to tell Raken about her difficulties, assuring him that everything was proper, that Eddie Yeoh her chaperone was present at all times, and actually gleaning helpful information to improve his own grades. Titus had asked them to meet after his last class where he would have more time for them and they had agreed. It gave him a feeling like no other as a teacher, to be of help, to be able to provide that extra touch in sharing information for their education.

On the home front, Raken was at times fending off solicitors for the bills that were coming in and were delayed in being paid. The move had proven to be quite a bit more expensive than either had planned. Titus, of course, had ignored the costs and as a result, his savings were nearly exhausted. The house and the shiny new roadster all had payments to accompany them. Ends were becoming difficult to meet.

It was then that the first chance at change presented itself. As Titus was winding up the session with Lian and Eddie she smiled and said, “My uncle has asked that I invite you for tea. He is a seller of Chinese collectibles locally in North Miami. He has said he would be honored.”

Eddie said nothing, however, his demeanor reflected his acceptance and approval of the request. She quickly jotted down the address for him, and handed him the slip of paper, ensuring him that there would be no problem locating his small shop his name was Hong Xiu, arranged in the Chinese manner of family name first. She insisted that he come by that afternoon, though any other time would be acceptable. Titus assured them he would be there that afternoon.

As he watched them leave the classroom he was brimming with excitement. He could hardly wait He was exhilarated at the prospect.

And so it begins.


Liked 1

Dr. Titus Curtiz PhD

834
?Years Young
23 Posts

"Yes, they are very old, but I value antiquities as one might value life."


When Titus Curtiz arrived at his office, there was a note, a folded parchment complete with a wax seal closing it. He picked it up and looked at it more like a piece of art than a note, turning it over in his hand seeing his name finely written, but not in the hand of Lian, a feminine hand to be sure. He carefully opened it trying to retain the dragon embossed seal, but the crimson wax broke. He opened it to read;

邀请您今天下午四点茶。也欢迎您的男人。
Hóng xiù

(You are invited to tea at four o'clock this afternoon. Your man is welcome also.
Hong Xiu)

Perhaps ecstatic falls short of the emotion that ran through him but it was close. Titus enjoyed anything Chinese thus this invitation from Lian's Uncle just, as they say, made his day. And that they were aware of his man Raken, they meaning Lian had spoken of Raken because he was the professor's chauffeur.

Four in the afternoon was perfect, he would not need to change his attire, simply arrive as he was at the enclosed address above 168th Street.  This would be a splendid way of ending his day with the opportunity to meet new members of the Chinese community.


Liked 1

Eyun Manchu

Shèngrén, or Chinese holy man
834
?Years Young
30 Posts

Time, of course, will tell in all things.


Professor Titus Curtiz, as well as Raken Petrroff, are about to be drawn into a web of intrigue and mystery beyond their wildest imaginations.

The realization that more is known about them than they ever believed possible will shock them. Yet, rather than fight, they will capitulate to the lure of money, of artifacts, second only to the promised trip to China, and the excitement and danger of the unknown that awaits them both.


Liked 1

Chen Long

834
?Years Young
21 Posts

All of life is a dream walking, all of death is a going home.


It was a private pier off 163rd Street in North Miami, an area surrounded by what appeared to be marshland, but was actually trees growing in the water. It was an almost secluded pier that was used to smuggle in many things, drugs, alcohol, Chinese products to avoid tariffs and artifacts. Yet not so much of the artifact trade, as it was a long and costly trip from China to the east coast of Florida.

Four men were present on the pier, one in a white hat and suit, three others in either the black pajama appearing clothes, or western style suits.

“You have made things much more difficult Shan-Bo, extremely so.” The man speaking, in the white hat and suit, Cheng Long, was perturbed at the man directly in front of him. “You have broken the vow to keep secret our affairs. You have spoken of some minor details of our affairs to this white woman you wished to impress.”

The Chinese looked as if he were about to cry, or perhaps beg for mercy, yet he stood straight, lifted his head to look at Chen Long. He did not see the pistol being raised, the last thing he saw was Chen Long smiling before the bullet smacked his forehead and blew out the back of his skull. The force of the shot flung his lifeless body off the pier some three feet and into the black water.

At that very moment, in an apartment several miles away, a fiery redhead fought against the garrote that chocked the life from her, but to no avail. The assassin was far stronger than she and had taken her by surprise. Within minutes, she stopped struggling and fell lifeless to the floor as the man who had killed her slipped out the open door to the balcony and disappeared.

"So you see, secrecy is paramount to our success, a sudden end is the price for failure of your vow." Chen Long elaborated, tho the killing would be lesson enough.

 


Liked 1

Dr. Titus Curtiz PhD

834
?Years Young
23 Posts

"Yes, they are very old, but I value antiquities as one might value life."


They had arrived before the appointed hour as was Titus’ custom. He was never one to be late at any event, either professional or pleasure, and for this particular event, he could hardly wait. Waiting the few moments before exiting the car was all but excruciating.

But exit the vehicle they did, and walked to the door of the shop, which had the appearance of being older than it was, or so Titus surmised. The wooden double doors the goods in the windows, the signs in Chinese script, it was as if he was in China. The door opened and an older Chinese bowed and then looked to the two men.

“Welcome Doctor Curtiz, Mister Raken. Please come in, come in. We are honored to have you.” All three entered the shop, the older Chinese giving them a moment to look around. “Please, this way, through the garden to our humble tea room.” His English was impeccable. Curtiz and Petrroff follow the man out of the rear door of his shop, and into another world. The garden was beautiful. Across from the rear of the shop was the promised tea room, its doors flung open to expose the interior.

They walked across the stone pathway which led to the tea room, tho all sides of the property were doorways set back from a porch that ran the length of all sides which created a courtyard secluded from the world. They stepped up into the tea room and were ushered to their seats.

“We will be joined shortly by my business partners who also have an interest in you.” He smiled warmly, “But, not to be concerned. I must first thank you for the attention to my niece's studies, it has been a difficult transition to this country, and with the loss of her parents. She, of course, will not be joining us, as this is no conversation for a young woman. Please, do not be alarmed, it is simply our custom.”


Loved 1

Eyun Manchu

Shèngrén, or Chinese holy man
834
?Years Young
30 Posts

Time, of course, will tell in all things.


Business partners is an interesting term for those who will be joining them for tea. Not right away, you understand, but in due time, as all will be concerned with the agreement presented to Professor Curtiz and his man, Raken Petrroff, and the results of that which is presented to them.

Opportunity Knocks But Once


Fredegund von Epp,

Wife of the International Arms Dealer, Gustav Adolph, Graf von Epp
784
?Years Young
68 Posts

"We can all feather our nests, Herr Ambassador, but its not just anyone who can lay an egg."


Mr Ho felt somewhat equivocal about the sudden influx of Chinese into Miami. For the last year or two he had felt like the only person of Chinese origin (allbeit via Cuba, he had to concede) in the city. Now they were everywhere, and they were somehow more Chinese than he! Every time he had to ferry his mistress, Fredegund, Gräfin von Epp, to give the woman her proper title, to one of these shindigs, the Chinese he met made him feel increasingly … Cuban!

To make it worse, he’d never actually been to China, a point where Mrs von Epp scored over him. Then again, from what Nanette the maid had told him, it sounded like she’d spent most of her time there being prostituted out to powerful Warlord Generals and the head of Shanghai’s notorious ‘GreenGang’ by her husband, in order to smooth the way for some lucrative and highly illegal trade deals, so he didn’t particularly envy her the visit.

He pulled the stately black sedan up on a street behind the notorious ‘Tea Shop’ and dressed in his snappy black chauffeur’s uniform, complete with military style cap, flaring breeches and jackboots, got out of the car to open the door for his mistress. He could leave the vehicle here quite safely, even the lowest and most dissolute denizen of the area would never dare to touch anything belonging to an associate of … Him. He would accompany her into the meeting of course: not only as a body guard (although it had to be admitted, if He wanted you dead, it would take more than even Ho’s admirable skill at Cuban-style Jujitsu to keep you alive) but more importantly as an interpreter. Oh sure, they would speak English to the Gräfin’s face, but she also wanted to know what they were saying to each other.

Not that Fredegund didn’t know a few words of Mandarin, but that was mainly the vocabulary of the bedchamber, and it was unlikely that the members of this meeting would be chatting about “Jade Pestles” and “Heavenly Gates”.

Thus it was that she herself was able to give the requisite pattern of raps on the back door – which were the rhythmic equivalent of the opening percussion part of the Peking Opera ‘The Legend of the White Snake’ - and annunciate the password “打開!”

The worried looking little Chinese man inside, who peered through the peephole and then pulled open the door, looked up at the statuesque western woman who, with her Spanish blood and heavy makeup, did actually possess some of the alluring sloe eyed promise of the orient.

“Usual place?” she asked laconically. A furious nodding from the tiny coolie, and she began her hip swaying ascent of the back stairs to the little tearoom, trailed by a stoic Ramon Ho.

 


Liked 1

Dr. Titus Curtiz PhD

834
?Years Young
23 Posts

"Yes, they are very old, but I value antiquities as one might value life."


“We will be joined shortly by my business partners who also have an interest in you.” He smiled warmly, “But, not to be concerned. I must first thank you for the attention to my niece's studies, it has been a difficult transition to this country, and with the loss of her parents. She, of course, will not be joining us, as this is no conversation for a young woman. Please, do not be alarmed, it is simply our custom.”

“Yes, I do understand, most assuredly Mister Hong. I had no idea we would be interrupting a business meeting, we can leave and perhaps come at another, more convenient time.” Titus offered, feeling a bit uncomfortable, and somewhat embarrassed by intruding.”

“Nonsense Professor, you are included for a reason, for a purpose. I believe you and Mister Petrroff will both find our offer enticing, if not exciting.” Hong Xiu corrected. “There is time, time that you and I are going to put to good use. But first,” He clapped his hands and a young girl entered with a small box, perhaps five by sixteen inches in size. She shuffled over and set the box before the Professor, then left. “Your tea gentlemen, it grows cold. What sits before you Doctor Curtiz, is a small token of my family's appreciation, please to open it.”

Setting his cup aside, Titus examined the box and promptly slid the front panel up revealing packing straw. Carefully, he brushed the straw away to reveal a stunning vase. Titus gasped at its beauty and looked at Hong in disbelief. He looked back at the piece then aback at Hong. “Sir, this piece is of the Qing dynasty, you cannot be serious. No amount of tutoring can merit such a prize.”

“Then I take it the piece makes you happy,” Hong said smiling. “And, there will be more, Professor, much more. In a few moments, the first of my partners will enter with a contract prepared for your signature. It is all perfectly legal. We would hope that you will consider becoming a part of our business.”

TBC


Liked 1

Dr. Titus Curtiz PhD

834
?Years Young
23 Posts

"Yes, they are very old, but I value antiquities as one might value life."


“As I said, here is time, so let me explain what it is we do, and what will be required of you. We are, most assuredly, in the import-export business, as you have no doubt deduced, however, there has been some difficulties out of San Francisco which will be fully explained to you in full by the one who will be your contact, Miss Lita Zu, Chinese-American by birth, but I assure you, she is well versed in everything we do here.”

“Your part in all this,” He went on, “will be quite simple, as Miss Zu will instruct you. I will leave you to her and return shortly to receive your decision on the matter.” As he stepped out of one door Lita Zu came in another, or should one say, glided into the room.

“Professor, I am honored. Mister Petrroff, a distinct pleasure.” She greeted them with a voice which booth seductive and rich. Her hair, black as the night, but her eyes, violet of color, she was alarmingly beautiful.

“And, I you.” Titus managed to say, Raken merely nodded his reply.

She seated herself across from them, then smiled. “You will forgive us for prying into your lives gentlemen, but I assure you it was out of need.” The confession she made flowed from her as would a poem. “You see we cannot be too careful about the caliber of people we employ. So, let me begin.

“There is a substantial debt problem we have learned, and surprisingly, not about your love of antiquity. It concerns your car and your home, and some past debts. Am I correct?”

Titus nodded his agreement, amazed that his personal debt was known, the car and the house easy enough for anyone to learn, But his previous debt, that was yet another story.

“And Mister Petrroff, you fought against the Bolsheviks in nineteen-fifteen, there was a price on your head, for your valiant support of the monarchy. It has been proven that Andrey Kuznetsov died in France in nineteen-nineteen. A simple matter. So you see there are things that are known about you both, none of which reflects badly on either.” Raken swallowed hard but nodded.

There was a pause as she smiled warmly. “The contract Mister Hong spoke of, is simple, it is a vow of silence in regard to our business enterprise. With the exception of you Professor. We will arrange the delivery of certain artifacts to the University for their display. You may refer to the company in such conversations as the Chung Hing Oriental Market which receives our shipments. That building is next door to us.  Understand, your signatures will signify you understand that the vow of silence is under pain of death.”

Again she paused. “Once I have your signatures The entirety of our business will be fully explained. Your debts paid, a new more elegant automobile and an initial payment of ten thousand dollars will be deposited in your bank. That my friends, or so I hope, is only the beginning.” She slid the paper across the table, again with a disarming smile.

TBC

I am always amused at how quickly men can be bought, especially by a beautiful woman.


Liked 1

Dr. Titus Curtiz PhD

834
?Years Young
23 Posts

"Yes, they are very old, but I value antiquities as one might value life."


The paper slid almost silently across the table to stop in front of him. He looked at the document for a long moment, not yet reading the words, then back to Miss Zu and again to the paper. This time to read it;


通过您的签名,您保证遵守我们的努力所涉及的沉默守则。 您同意立即毫无疑问地回应要求。 签署人已完全理解,泄露与我们的企业有关的任何行为将被处以死刑。 我很同意 泰特斯·库蒂斯博士 拉肯·彼得罗夫

(By your signature, you swear to the code of silence involved with our endeavors.

You agree to respond to requests immediately and without question.

It is fully understood by you the signatories, that the penalty for divulging anything to do with our business ventures is death.

I so agree

Dr. Titus Curtiz                   

 

Raken Petrroff)

Knowing that Raken did not speak Chinese, let alone read it, he leaned toward him and read him the agreement they were asked to sign.

Raken looked at the professor with almost a blank stare before nodding in agreement, fully understanding what he would be signing. The same could be said for Curtiz as well. Understanding the remuneration for whatever services he, or they, would render to the Chinese, would be extremely generous. It was not like he expected to be an assassin.

Titus smiled and picked up the provided fountain pen, then affixed his signature to the document and moved the agreement to Raken, who signed it, then Curtiz slid it back to Miss Zu.

"Gentlemen, welcome to our consortium." She produced a rather fat envelope and handed it to Curtiz, who, without looking inside, slipped it into his suitcoats inside pocket. Shortly you will be joined by the others. It has been a pleasure."

At that moment an older man, very old, came into the room in a wheelchair. "Did they sign it? Have they agreed?"

"Grandfather! Please, you know you are not permitted in these proceedings, now please leave at once." She was no longer pleasant, but stern and direct.

"Ah, you will see, you will see." The old man said and then laughed as he wheeled himself from the room.

"Please, I am sorry. Grandfather still believes he runs the company, tho he is retired now for some time." As she spoke Hong returned and others entered behind him, including a white woman.

 

 


Loved 1