A Task For Chen LongStarted by Eyun Manchu at Mar 24, 2021 11:52 AM
March 13, 1924
Time, of course, will tell in all things.
Miami, unlike many coastal cities, has smoke fog, thick and patchy, reducing visibility to a half a mile or less. Motoring becomes more of a challenge in such conditions, and it is fairly common. It was one such evening when members of the fledgling Hǔ bāng (Tiger Gang) set out to meet with their suppliers, having no idea their activities had reached the island and the ears of the Zhu, which, in turn, reached Lita Zu, and in turn Chen Long.
The men of the Hǔ bāng went about their business quickly and quietly, it was their way, and they believed in that way they would avoid detection and unpleasant entanglements. They, of course, were wrong. They had a meeting place on the waterfront in an abandoned warehouse on a back alley out of the public eye. It was perfect for conducting their affairs in private.
The suppliers, Anglos, arrived and entered the building while one waited in the automobile with the engine running. He would be dead before he knew what happened, and the car driven away.
While on the inside of the warehouse three Anglos and five Chinese, the entirety of the Hǔ bāng, met under a bare bulb to make the exchange for the heroin and other drugs. Of course, there was the satchel with the cash for the exchange, all in small bills. It would be the standard transaction, the money would be counted while the product would be viewed.
Once everything was settled and the Anglos started for the door, the light went out and the Lóng táng (Dragon Tong) stuck with precision, using axes and knives to eliminate everyone. As gruesome as it would be, there would be no sound, no cries, only the bodies hitting the board floor. Quickly the satchel and the drugs were gathered up, bodies frisked for cash, and the barely audible sound of retreating feet.
Chen Long looked over the room, scratching a match and igniting an oil-soaked rag which he pitched onto a pile of very dry broken crates. In moments the wood was ablaze and the flames licking at the wooden floor. He waited a few moments longer to ensure that the floor and at least one of the walls had ignited, then beat a hasty withdrawal. The task complete.
As the building became engulfed, a pair of Dodge sedans slipped away into the smoke fog and the night beyond.
Time, of course, will tell in all things.
The leaden sky overhead was the announcement that the heavy black clouds moving toward Miami’s coastline would produce heavy rains as well as driving winds. And before that, the storm would arrive on the island where Zhu’s underground compound sat, impervious to such storms.
The motor launch rose and fell as it crested one wave after another, and they were gaining in height. Of course, those waves were in retrospect anywhere from six to eight feet in height, and not a real threat to the craft that motored through them on its way to the island. Once there it would be secure after being tied up.
As large a risk as it seemed, the launch was expected not only by the handlers of the stores on board but by the Zhu, who had requested the presence of one Chen Long. Meaning the launch crew would risk life and limb to deliver the man as ordered.
For his part Long remained in the cabin as he had been told to. Any order from the boat crew was to be considered as an order from the Zhu himself, and under no circumstances to be ignored. Chen did not concern himself with the possibilities of this audience. Good or bad, it mattered not to him. Whatever the outcome, it would simply be a part of his life and nothing more, even if he was to be terminated.
What would the reason be? It did not concern Chen Long in the least. He carried out the orders he was given as expeditiously as possible, and as close to the parameters as humanly possible. He was fully convinced that first of all, his last mission was handled as best as he could so there was no fear, whether there should be or not.
The launch docked in a secluded cove with some difficulty but docked it did. Provided with foul weather gear, which he quickly donned, Chen long was whisked inside the compound, and down below, through the concealed entrance, which Chen admired for its design and execution. Down he went, pausing at a station where he removed the foul weather gear before proceeding to the last level, where the throne room and the Zhu’s suites were. The ambiance was rich without being pretentious. The escorts melted away silently as the massive doors swung open.
“My dear Chen, welcome, welcome.”
Time, of course, will tell in all things.
The Zhu, dressed in black silken robes, with dragon heads coming over each shoulder embroidered in reds, golds, and greens trimmed on gold. The tall head-piece is reminiscent of the magnolia flower beginning to blossom. The browband of gold metallic threads, square apiece of gold with two symbols of 'Long Life' on each side of the centerpiece, from which the gold trim for the simulated lotus pedals rises. His look is stunning and to most, frightening.
"You have used your 'Lords of Death' exceedingly well, and, you have recovered both the money and the drugs. Though the dealing of heroin is not something we wish to engage in at this time. If ever." He praised. "I understand that in the past you and I have differed, shall we say, as to the methods you use. I now see how beneficial they can be when applied as needed for the desired result. I must admit that you have been loyal to me through this, I have not been so to you."
"I have trained the men well, selected only the best of them for the Lords. They live to serve you, Géxià (Excellency)." Chen Long responded.
"As I know you do, so I would ask you to do something else, learn who these Báirén are if they did not all perish in the fire. Exterminate those who remain quickly and quietly, yet painfully. The same fate awaits any Zhōngguó rén (Chinese) when you find them. But discretely mind you."
"Yes Géxià, as you command." Came Long's response, punctuated with a bow.
"The weather, I am told, had turned for the worse. You shall be my guest, we will dine together this evening." The Zhu smiled and waved a hand. "You may select any of my consorts to warm your bed." The Emperor of the island and well beyond made a pointing gesture and Chen Long turned to see a bevy of beautiful Chinese women standing just inside the door. Each resplendent in their dress, "or if you prefer, I will select one or two for you."
He was summoned to dinner by a beautiful young Chines girl, he supposed, who gracefully led him from his chamber to the dining room, again, a supposition on his part. There was a long table that could well be used for meetings as well as dining Seated at the head of the table was the Zhu who smiled and gestured to his right where a place setting had already been provided.
The room was magnificent in its antique design and decoration. A large dragon, similar to the robe the Zhu wore adorned one wall, and Chen suspected the coverings were of precious metals and gems. Ancient side tables held vases of incalculable wealth. Painting not seen outside mainland China were hung about the room.
Chen took his seat, helped by the girl. "I hope you found your accommodations satisfactory Chen Long. We will dine shortly, so conversation at this point shall fill the void. I understand there are some internal problems between factions of the American gangsters. What have you heard?"
"Only that a family, the Sorleys, are trying to infiltrate the smuggling of alcohol and of course, meeting stiff resistance, Excellency" Chen replied.
"I am told that a client of ours was killed in an automobile accident recently, I find that unfortunate."
"Yes Eminence, we had heard of the situation shortly after it had been discovered by the local authorities. And, our contact in Hollywood has said there were others involved with this situation from the Miami underworld. We are looking into it superficially. It is doubtful that there is any connection between us and them.
"What I want from you is not just to unleash these Lords of Death, but to also see what can be done to monitor these gangsters, perhaps we might find some that could be useful, either once, or on a steady basis, That I will leave in your most capable hands.
It was then that a parade of help entered the room with trays of delicacies, meats, vegetables, noodles, and the like. A veritable feast. The young girl took his plate and began loading it for him, as the same was being done for the Zhu. Christal goblets were filled with pútáojiǔ (grape alcohol)."There is, of course, rice wine if you prefer." He looked perplexed for a moment then asked, "Would you be offended if I called you by your name, Chen?"
"Certainly not Excellency," Chen responded a bit shocked at the turn of events.
"And you, Chen, shall address me as Zhu, for now."
Chen Long was an experienced criminal, both on the continent, in his homeland, and most certainly in the United States. There were things that one expected in a life of crime, such as his, to be treated as he had been since his arrival was most assuredly not one of them.
The Zhu, whom he feared, as did all Chinese in Miami, if not the rest of the country, yet he had become at ease with the mystical man of immense mystery. "Yes, Zhu." He replied to the change in their current relationship.
"The duck is without equal, wouldn't you say, Chen?" A masterpiece from the Chefs in the kitchen." Of course, there were several dishes available to be sampled, all cooked traditionally and to perfection. The wine also was superb. "The vintage I have selected is from the vineyards of Yanta 1801."
It seemed odd to Chen that the master of all Chinese criminals in America should spend time bragging about food and wine. There would seem to be more important things to be discussed over dinner, things that affected business in general. If not issues in particular. Yet Chen also was well aware of whom he was dealing with. So he would simply remember his place.
"Another glass of wine, Chen?" Came the question.
"No, Zhu. I seldom have more than one, if at all." The man answered honestly. He was not a drinker, nor was he a user of the pipe.
"Now, to business. Chen, despite our differences you have shown your uncompromising loyalty to me and so I shall grant you freedoms others do not have. You realize I am quite positive that we are now in the midst of a war. Not with the American gangsters, but with pàntú (Renegades) of our own. They must be ended in no uncertain terms. There must be no mercy for any of these húndàn (A-holes)! Am I clear?"
Chen was momentarily stunned by The Zhu's change in topic and affect, from congenial to deadly, his fiery eyes danced in the light as he spoke, It was clear what he wanted to be done. In essence, more of the same. To which Chen suppressed a smile of approval, knowing that the Lords of Death were more than capable of completing any task the Zhu desired of them.
And in a twinkling of an eye, The Zhu's demeanor reverted to the congruous deportment of moments earlier. "And now, as I see we have both finished, and it is well past midnight, I believe we should retire and enjoy the company of these females. We shall talk again at breakfast, Chen. A most pleasant respite to you." With that, he waved his hand and rose in the same moment.
"Good night Zhu." Chen bid the Master.
The morning came, though where Chen was there were no windows, hence there was no view to the outside. Regardless of how late he was up, he rose by six am prompt. An age-old habit from far less pleasant times in his life. As all times in life are not pleasant for one reason or another.
He was alone, the women from the night before were gone as if they had never been there, which they most certainly had been, and that restored the smile to Chen Long's face. But it was now morning and he was sure that once breakfast was complete, he would be on the launch back to Miami, and back to business.
His clothes had been taken and returned laundered, his shoes were newly shined and his hat had been cleaned and reblocked. He dressed quickly, impressed by his treatment when he had expected rebuke for his actions.
The door opened soundlessly and the young girl of before, was there to escort him to breakfast, again in the main dining hall. As he entered, the Zhue rose from his seat. "Welcome, I hope your night was restful. We have a bit of business during the meal. I hope American cuisine is to your liking. I have it regularly and find it quite enjoyable. Tea or coffee Chen? We have both available."
"Coffe would be fine, and American cuisine is also fine, I am well used to it by now. And, as you say, Zhu, I find it enjoyable as well." He smiled. "Your hospitality has been most gracious, Zhu. And forgive me, but what business would that be?"
"Good fellow Chen. Never let pleasure interrupt business. Ours is, as I said before, the elimination of the interlopers without creating a war with the Americans. Can you accomplish that?"
"Indeed. Once I have learned of the leader, and the whereabouts of his operation we will begin the removal of them." Chen said as one of the Zhu's servants came to take his order. Chen quickly recited his desires and then looked to the Zhu.
"An old adversary has appeared on the continent. In Miami as a matter of fact. His name is Lee Chong. He is in league with another Chinese, tho I do not have his name as yet. The Chinese you have eliminated at the drug exchange, they were of his operation. You must take care, as Lee Chong is quite formidable, and he is surely aware the fire was no accident. He will be searching for you, and those responsible."
"And that may be just the advantage we will need," Chen said. He was unaware of this Lee Chong, or his organization, be that as it may, he was fully aware now.
The boat will take you back to commence your tasks." He held up a hand as if to say 'stop.' "You shall be welcomed here, do not doubt that. The task I have set will not be an easy one, but one I believe you are capable of."
The rest of the meal was conducted with light chatter between the two men. Once finished, Chen was dressed in protective clothing as it was still raining, then ushered to the cabin on the boat which would take him back to Miami.
Time, of course, will tell in all things.
As with all things, large and small, there is always change. As we close this chapter on Chen Long's life, we learn that one he thought to be unhappy with him, is now his benefactor and friend.
I know the Zhu, and I know how he sees things in this vast realm he oversees. He has made a wise choice with Chen Long, who is now more devoted to the Zhu than ever. And he will need to be, as there is trouble ahead.
Yet, even as I say that, I know that the coming trouble is exactly what he is best suited for.
End of thread.