Flight To Frisco

Started by Dr. Titus Curtiz PhD at May 05, 2021 6:05 PM
April 0, 1924
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14 Posts

Dr. Titus Curtiz PhD

834
?Years Young
23 Posts

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


Western Air Express took Titus and Raken on an eighteen-hour excursion to San Francisco, California. There were stops to refuel, change pilots, stretch legs, and pick up box lunches. The trip proved to be exhausting, and sleep while airborne was nigh onto impossible! But reach the bay they did, and after a short sleep, they were picked up at their hotel, the newly built Sir Francis Drake Hotel in a limousine. Truly, they were traveling first cabin, other than the flying experience, which left much to be desired.

The Chinese had kept their word to this point, now all that was left was to pick up the goods, report to the 4th & King Streets Station, and board the train for the ride home, simple enough, maybe. Both men knew that there were others that had an interest in shipments out of China. However, shipments to the University of Miami might throw them off as this was a new tactic.

Though it was nighttime, and it was raining steadily, the driver moved them through the streets to the port where they were to claim several packages for the University, as had been arranged. The car stopped before a well-lit warehouse office, the driver bounding out and opening the rear door for Titus with an umbrella. He guided him to the overhang at the top of a short flight of stairs, he then went back for Raken.

They proceeded into the office, presented their identification and the proper forms and manifest copies. The man looked over each piece carefully and then looked up with a smile. “We have your items, please forgive the delay, security issues you know.”

“Of course, one cannot be too safe with antiquities,” Titus said. He was acting as normal as possible, but both he and Raken were aware that there were others present, other Chinese, other whites. Each had a pistol carefully concealed, but easily accessible.

TBC


Raken Petrroff

834
?Years Young
39 Posts

"I could be just around the corner from Heaven, or, a mile from Hell."

Jackson Browne 1974


Running interference for Titus Curtiz had been what Raken had been doing since the day they met. Though Titus could handle himself well enough, he was now larger, and slower, than when he was younger, which is generally what happens to some men after their prime, and after their struggles during wartime. Then when one becomes comfortable, as Titus had at the universities he taught at, staying in shape slowly slips away.

Here they were in what amounted to a foreign world of hustle and bustle that was San Francisco, surrounded by strange people with unknown motives and intentions. And, they were taking possession of Chinese antiquities, and whatever else that Hong Xiu was expecting within those crates, which was none of their concern. Only to see that whatever was to be delivered was. In fact, all they were to do was present their identification to take possession of the property and see it on the train. There were supposedly men to provide security for them and the cargo.

In the lot, there were several crates of various sizes, all addressed to the Miami University, Antiquities Department care of Dr. T. Curtiz Ph.D. A warehouse worker brought them out on an industrial cart, a long handle connected to oak planks, with iron wheels. Raken was perplexed by this, as there were certainly more crates than there was room for in the automobile. And, just as he was about to say something about it, a truck rumbled up behind the automobile and a familiar face emerged. The Chinese who had delivered the message to him about the meeting.

The man quickly gave orders for the loading of the crates, then to the driver of the automobile. Lastly, he looked to Raken and Titus and smiled, giving a quick bow in acknowledgment before returning to the stake bed truck and overseeing that last of the loading.

That was a relief, but there was still a ways to go yet. It appeared that, for the time being at least, their deception was working.

TBC


Raken Petrroff

834
?Years Young
39 Posts

"I could be just around the corner from Heaven, or, a mile from Hell."

Jackson Browne 1974


That was a relief, but there was still a ways to go yet. It appeared that, for the time being at least, their deception was working.

The drive to the Third and Townsend Depot took mere minutes. They were ushered through the depot and onboard the Southern Pacific and provided tickets for the cross-country journey as well as an envelope containing cash for their involvement in the operation. Yet Raken was still uncertain of their safety and rarely had his right hand out of the coat pocket where his pistol was concealed.

The accommodations were excellent, with a dining car adjacent to what they discovered was a private car, and they could only guess as to the owner’s name. Nevertheless, as even Raken admitted, they were as safe as they could possibly be.

Neither had any idea of which crates were the Chinese and which were the Universities, or perhaps the items were mixed on purpose, yet in actuality, that was none of their concern as the train took its first lurch on the southern route journey to Florida and home. Both men relaxed with a brandy, their pistols close to hand.

Whatever dangers were in the shadows in San Francisco, they were well free of them now. There was of course the possibility that they were not free of danger in the confinement of the train racing south into the blackness of night. Though they had been promised security along the route, neither of them could be sure that the promised safety could not be breached.

This trip, their first, would confirm many things for them.


Raken Petrroff

834
?Years Young
39 Posts

"I could be just around the corner from Heaven, or, a mile from Hell."

Jackson Browne 1974


The train lurched forward and gather speed on it’s way out of the station, and was on it’s way south. They were on their way home, and at the moment, both men felt that they were safe from whatever unseen danger there might be. Fears of the unknown dissipated as they began to relax and from the bar, Raken poured a couple of drinks handing one to Titus, then locking the door as a precaution.

“Well, we have done our part.” Titus observed, then sipped his bourbon.

“We have, indeed. San Francisco, now that is a city. But larger than Miami.” Raken replied absently. The abruptly added, “Hopefully whatever danger there was has passed and the rest of the adventure will be boring, besides the passing scenery,”

Titus laughed at the statement, “Honestly Raken, I enjoyed what bit of the city we were able to see. Perhaps the next trip out here we will be in the city a bit longer, there are some museums and other sites well worth seeing.” It was not that he did not understand the danger that may well be involved with their endeavors.

The knock on the door was sudden and unexpected. “Porter. The dining car is open, gentlemen.” Raken had his pistol in his hand, his eyes wide. They could hear the porters footfalls moving away.

Both men looked to one another, then both smiled. Heavy exhales and gulps of their drinks followed quickly. “Shall we? I am famished.” Titus asked.

Raken pocketed his pistol and stood up, setting the tumbler on the side table. “Yes, I could definitely eat. And I see we’re a bit jumpy.” At that he laughed.

Both men made their way out of their car and into the dining car. There were several others already seated as they found a table and sat down across from one another. Both opening the menu in front of them, perusing the available dishes.

The porter had come, taken their orders, brought coffee and moved on to other passengers. Titus looked up, “Very nice, wouldn’t you say?”

“Extremely,” Raken responded. And at that moment a figure approached them.

“Excuse me, gentlemen. Are you not Professor Titus Curtiz?”


Dr. Titus Curtiz PhD

834
?Years Young
23 Posts

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


“Extremely,” Raken responded. And at that moment a figure approached them.

“Excuse me, gentlemen. Are you not Professor Titus Curtiz?”

"I am. And you are?" Titus asked in return looking up at the Eurasian appearing man.

"I am Mister Wong, and if you Doctor Curtiz then I have an offer that one would hope you would find to your liking. Wong explained. "If I may join you, I would be glad to explain what is being offered."

Titus and Raken exchanged glances before returning his gaze to this Mister Wong. "Certainly, please have a seat, but be forewarned my situation at the University will be difficult to better."

The Eurasian took a seat and smiled, but not a friendly smile, it was that of a viper. "Please hear me out, sir. We understand that your position at the University is most important. Our interest is more along the lines of what you might be able to do for us. Our small consortium could, rather, would be willing to compensate you handsomely for your assistance in bringing in certain items that would arrive, much as your artifacts have, at the same locations and times. It is our understanding you must hire your own help in San Francisco as well as at the other end, in Miami. We would take care of all of that for you. Thereby maximizing your profits." He looked from one to the other. "Please, take your time and consider our offer."

"And you offer?" Titus asked bluntly.

"Fifteen Thousand dollars upon delivery, all expenses paid as you have now with the school." Came the final detail of the offer. He rose, nodded to both men, and left the car from its opposite end.

Titus looked at Raken, "That was, how is it said, pure bullshit!"

TBC

 


Eyun Manchu

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

Time, of course, will tell in all things.


And so, they have been approached by the emissary of the Yellow Tiger Association. While there were guards in the baggage car with the shipment, they were unaware that Mister Wong was on board the train with them, or that he had met with Curtiz and Petrroff and propositioned them. Far from the most serious of moves being made by the Yellow Tiger. Granted they did not admit they were a Tong, only a business consortium.

The Chinese who were at the warehouse in San Francisco would beg to differ with that description if they were able. Unfortunately, and arm of the Yellow Tiger was a hatchet Tong and they brazenly killed the half dozen men there, not all associated with the Red Dragon whom Curtiz and Petrroff were employed by, for obvious reasons.

As the train raced into the night, murder most foul was carried out, and Mister Wong the architect of the killings, spread his bovine excrement as if it were the Fúyin! (Gospel)


Wow! 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 late dinner was set before them by the negro Pulman Porter. The steaks were still sizzling and the potatoes and green beans still steaming. Great service on the rails.

"You know, that Wong fellow struck me as rather odd, Euraoasian I suspect, and his English was perfect," Titus observed as he cut into his Delmonico. "But there was something about him."

"He would cut your heart out, Professor. That man is up to no good, I know it, and whatever they are promising, I doubt we would live to see payment. Remember what we were told that they are dangerous, and Wong in particular."

I'm afraid that I am getting a bit forgetful these days, Raken, the curse of age no doubt, among others. Yes, he exuded as much with displaying it. Odd fellow, that one." He did recall the warnings from Chen Long, Lita Zu, and Hong Xiu about the man who moments before joined them with the dubious offer. As he reflected on what had happened and the warnings another Chinses approached them. The man from the warehouse approached them.

"Excuse, please. I am Li Quang. I am to ensure your safety and that of cargo. The man whom you just spoke with is Mister Wong, I assume you spoke to him as I saw him pass leaving this car. May I ask a favor of you?' He was a very pleasant man, though he was quite confident in giving orders to those assisting him. "Please to take your meals in your car. It has all been arranged if it is satisfactory to you. We are combing the train for him, and his minions."

Raken started to speak, however, Titus held up his hand. "Mister Quang, of course, we shall accept your cautions and conditions without thought. The man was quite unsettling, to say the least."

"If all is as it should be, then we will be happy to release you from such restrictions. For now, please finish your meal without fear. Men are standing by for your protection." Quang offered.

TBC


Raken Petrroff

834
?Years Young
39 Posts

"I could be just around the corner from Heaven, or, a mile from Hell."

Jackson Browne 1974


As Quang moved away from the table, Raken looked across at Titus, "Damned efficient Chinese. They appear to have thought of everything, but then I suppose in their line of work  it is required."

"Yes, most assuredly Raken. Competent men on the case, as it were. They know what they are about, which means, so do the opposition." Titus added. "Keeping us safe as we were promised, seems to be of high priority with them and I am glad of it. I had not thought of the dangerous aspect of this endeavor with the Orientals. Hardly, I believed it to be a lark, yet the excitement of it all has my blood pumping as never before, well, at least the last twenty years."

"Perhaps we will be called on to defend ourselves against these other hoodlums. Though I think we are both a bit out of shape for hand-to-hand combat. Now a flurry of well-placed gunshots? Yes, that would be most satisfactory." Raken smiled wide between bites. He realized that time had eroded some of his skills, but not his desire, and that could be said of Titus as well, though the professor was well aware that time had not been a friend when it came to fighting for his life.

At that moment the door between their car and the dining car slid open and a tall, exquisitely robed, Chinese entered.

"My friends," he began, "How good to see you again." The man was Eyuan Manchu. "Please, do eat as we talk, I regret that Mister Wong was aboard this train, though I knew that sooner or later he would approach you. It is well that is now in the past and you know what he looks like.

He is a most dangerous man and his eyes are focused on taking over as much from us as he can for his Master, Lee Chong, whom you will probably never see in person. Yet, have no fear, the Red Dragon Tong and the Lords of Death will ensure your safety."

He smiled, "I have a berth in the same car as you. We wanted to be sure this experience was as pleasurable as possible and I hope that is true. That the hotel accommodations were of the highest standard, and, that you will forgive us for not waylaying Mister Wong."

"Everything has been superb, Mister Manchu, absolutely first-rate. It was no problem dealing with the Wong fellow, none whatsoever." Titus stated firmly.

Nodding his head Manchu smiled, "Excellent." He got to his feet, "They have an excellent Cherries Jubilee for dessert. Goodnight gentlemen." And wit that he left the car by the same method he entered, the sliding door of the car.

 


Dr. Titus Curtiz PhD

834
?Years Young
23 Posts

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


“Odd fellow, I don’t recall him being on board, well, not that we were allowed to see much with their security protocol,” Titus observed. “I suppose anything is possible.”

“With these people, anything seems to be possible. But I tell you, Professor, I do not recall a separate compartment in our car, though there may well be one, I just don’t recall it.” Raken attested. “Thee Orientals, they are a strange lot, though they are diligent about keeping their word. And recommending the dessert, interesting."

"Quite so, but I am beginning to have some concerns about this fellow Wong and whomever his master is. Seems to me that in the world of the Chinese, there are factions, just as in our society, and it seems that they oppose one another in the same methods as our people do. Yet they seem to be less dramatic about it."

"Yes, they do not have that Tommy-gun mentality so prevalent with the American Gangsters. They appear to be quiet about their murders. They are, Professor, just as lethal, if not more so than their American counterparts." Raken conceded, "They would be far more dangerous to deal with because of it, don't you agree?"

"Yes, yes, quite so. However, in the same vein as their quiet ruthlessness, their protection of their assets, us presently, is well beyond reproach, so far as I can tell. Everything they have said they would do, they have done. Our safety appears to be as paramount as that of the cargo we transport. Most comforting, I'd say. Wouldn't you?"

"Assuredly Professor, most assuredly." With the meal finished, Raken looked to his employer. "I believe I'll forgo the dessert, tantalizing as it sounds, and return to our car and a good night's rest."

"Yes, I as well."


Dr. Titus Curtiz PhD

834
?Years Young
23 Posts

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


Arriving at the Florida East Coast railroad station in downtown Miami near dawn, Titus and Raken were already awake, dressed, and prepared to disembark from the car where they would be faced with transportation home. They should have known that the Chinese would have thought of everything at this point.

White men were busy offloading the cases of artifacts into a waiting truck which bore University markings on the doors, while some Chinese neither had seen before, stood by, acting as curious onlookers, which, of course, they were not. Nor were they looking for work as one might think. Li Qiang was of course, on hand and strolled over to them.

"Good morning Professor, Mister Petrroff, we have arranged an automobile to take you home. On behalf of everyone involved, I wish to convey our thanks. You will be contacted within the next three days. A bit of closure on this incident, and perhaps plans for the next. At any rate, gentlemen, I have been honored to serve you." He bowed then waved a had toward the black touring car that stood waiting, engine purring.

TBC