PLA (Peoples Liberation Army) of the People’s Republic of China is represented by key players Commander GAO, Maj. Gen. HUANG, Lt. Col. GUAN and General MA.
Maj. Gen. HUANG Fuhui, Shao Jiang First Bureau Chief and Deputy Army Commander of the Beijing Military Region, is Commander GAO Bu’s boss, Dalaoban. He’s a charismatic and megalomaniac idealist for New China.
Excerpt Ch 3 Wounds of Attachment
“Ms. ZHANG, may I introduce Maj. Gen. HUANG Fuhui, First Bureau Chief and Deputy Army Commander of the Beijing Military Region.” GAO turns to Dalaoban and says, “This is Ms. ZHANG Hong, Director of Media Communications Office. Sitting with her is Martin Taitai, she is an internet specialist and English Editor for the Communications Office.” Turning to the women he asks, “When did Martin Taitai arrive? It is a pleasant surprise to see her again so soon.”
“We just received the news last week, Commander,” answers ZHANG.
“Is there a special occasion for the luncheon?” asks Mai.
“Today, the Maj. Gen. is honoring regiment men who captured the felon MA Minho. Commander GAO and Maj. TANG received promotions.”
Informal gatherings like this are rare; Commander GAO’s men are stunned by the honor of lunching with Maj. Gen. HUANG. Commander GAO is neither happy nor sad, merely accepting the powerful man’s presence.
The same promotion cycle that brings a new slate of people into government positions will not impact Maj. Gen. HUANG unless his Dalaoban, Lt. Gen. MENG, takes voluntary retirement or dies. Something not unforeseen since MENG’s lifestyle has prompted organ transplants and life extending procedures. HUANG can’t imagine the man surviving another cycle. That could propel him into his boss’ vacant position, if he can out-maneuver his peers. Staunchly anti-corruption, he refuses to pay for the appointment, relying on his performance to speak for itself.
Today, Maj. Gen. HUANG wants to meet the famous team who captured the para-military gang, exposed corrupt officials and rescued captives: two campus security guards and an American man secretly working for the Department of Homeland Security.
While the men discuss in Chinese, the Media Communications department chatters away in English at their table. They ask Mai about her trip to Xi’an and the events on the cruise.
Mai turns her head and notices Commander GAO standing behind her chair.
“I am very sorry, Martin Taitai, duibuqi, about Ronald ZHAO’s untimely and accidental death. He was a brave soldier, an exceptional man without a peer.”
“Xiexie, Commander. I don’t completely believe it. Sometimes…” Mai’s gaze drifts out the window to the roses and beyond.
GAO pats her hand and bobs his head, “No need to talk. Wo zhidao. I understand.”
Back at his table, HUANG asks GAO, “Is this the American man’s wife?”
“The very one involved in the abduction and murder scandal on campus. The university president is furious. I wonder if he knows she is here. He cancelled her contract and revoked her visa while she was in California over Spring Festival. But you see, she is here.”
The American woman is more attractive, HUANG thinks, than the first time I saw her at the PLA hospital in November. The rumor that she is a movie star could be true. He turns his large head to stare into her intense eyes in a pale face framed with dark hair. A small, gold university pin winks at him on her lapel.
For Redding readers,Beijing Abduction and Wounds of Attachment are for sale at Enjoy the Store.
Maj.Gen. Shao Jiang Commander GAO Bu, Deputy Division Commander, First Bureau Office Director, Beijing University Security Office, busted the para-military gang last year in Wenzhou.
EXCERPTCh 9 p 399
Wright’s CR-V and GAO’s base Jeep arrive at the railway station together. GAO contacts the security superintendent and disappears into the safety office. Railway security has located the car, abandoned in the short term parking. The communications shack at Lintong base sucks bandwidth striving for a match from camera feeds at the ticket vending machines.
When Commander GAO leaves the door open on his side, soft, sweet night air floats Mai away into an exhausted dream. She rests her head against the back of the seat while waiting for the men to finish. Cool LED fixtures on tall poles leave pools of faint light in a regular pattern upon rows and rows of cars in the dark.
When HUANG’s Jeep pulls in next to GAO’s, Mai is drifting in a troubled nap. She doesn’t notice Rick and Jeff head off in the direction of the others. But she wakes with a start when Maj. Gen. HUANG slides onto the seat beside her.
“Ahhh, beautiful evening, is it not? I regret I don’t have my bar. I could use a shot,” he says. She feels the seat cushions shift from his weight while the man’s face swims into her view. He rests his arm across the back of the seat.
“Major General, wan-shang hao.”
“Hao, beautiful Mai. And you can call me Fuhui here, like this.”
“You must stop calling me that, Fuhui.”
“What? Not call you beautiful? Weishenme?”
Mai doesn’t answer.
“I enjoyed meeting your husband. He’s a lucky man and doesn’t know it.”
Mai still doesn’t speak, so he continues, “He in big trouble, beautiful Mai. He killed a Chinese national.”
“Dui, I know, this is very bad… what can you do to help him?”
“He must go to Military Court. Simple. He will be acquitted. Because I write recommendation.”
Simple? Nothing is simple here. “Feichang ganxie nin, Fuhui. You are very great man to help Rick.”
“He helped my daughter, Luyu. Saved her life and humiliation on my wife and me.”
“That’s Rick, he’s on a mission to save the world. How long will this take?”
“Justice in China can be swift or can be slow. Like with the man, DONG Zhiwei, who killed Ronald ZHAO.
“It galls me that a splendid man like ZHAO, an expert in martial arts, was cut down by a low knave,” says HUANG, lightly stroking Mai’s hair. “The prosecution of the Beijing gangster will also go through the Military Court system. Fuhui take special interest in his prosecution since I know its importance to you.”
“Oh,” is all Mai says, not understanding the Chinese judicial system at all. Hearing the name of Ron’s killer refreshes memories of Ron. They press on her, pushing her in a slow spiral that always ends the same: in self-recrimination and guilt. A slight tug on her hair pulls her into the present.
He’s saying, “These cases can linger for years. Sometimes people disappear from their families. There is no way to get word or find out anything. It is a lamentable feature of our culture in this era. In the future, we have transparent system with no graft or corruption.” He pauses, thinking.
This is news to Mai. Not about people disappearing. Annie, Alan Spire’s mistress, told her about that last year, when Rick was abducted. What she had not considered were the nuances of this powerful man’s character or his views regarding a utopian future. His male charisma over powers everything when she is near to him. His obvious attraction to her he holds in check, exercising considerable self-control. It’s as if he enjoys the slow and incremental conquest of his prey. She’s tired of thinking about it and rests her head again, this time against his arm. Everything seems futile and predetermined by fate.
“Are you too tired to think about the safety of your husband, Martin Xiansheng?”
“What do you mean?” she asks, rolling her head to one side and looking at him in the dim glow of the LED lights.
“The best thing would be for this to go fast. Haoma? Then he will be out of the system. The longer he stays in, the less likely will be his release.”
“Can you make it go faster, Fuhui?” Suddenly Mai understands everything. Her entire life telescopes backward and forward in a moment of self-realization … and of what Maj. Gen. HUANG wants.
“You know what I want, beautiful Mai. I want you to say yes.”
Inside the dark car, his eyes glint like shiny coal, bituminous, like obsidian, like glimmering pools. “How does it work, then?” she asks.
“Ahhh, beautiful Mai, American Mai, always with the questions. Trust me. This is not so bad, to be Fuhui’s little mistress.”
A sudden puff of air clogs Mai’s ears. Sounds dull into white noise. She watches his lips moving but she’s not hearing…not hearing…not hearing…
“Bu dui? Then, it is not certain how long the detention hearing will last. In normal cases, not expedited by Fuhui,” he jibes, taking her chin and turning her face toward his. He gently strokes her jaw and down her neck, “It can be thirty days. Naturally, this is not normal. So, I cannot say.”
Mai returns her head to profile and stares at the back of the seat in front of her. “This is very sudden. Let me think, qing. Haoma?”
“Of course, because I want you to want me. Me. Fuhui. Not Ronald ZHAO. Not Rick Martin. I want you, beautiful Mai, to want ME.”
“I think mistress is a little too much, Fuhui. You mean, like a contract and an apartment and a car and allowance and all that?”
“Dui, why is that too much? This is the Chinese way. You were Ronald ZHAO’s little mistress, were you not? What is the problem? I can be more generous than Ronald ZHAO. I ensure the safety of your husband and provide your visa.”
The Lintong base texts: Suspect purchase 3 tickets to Lianyungang 835km.
The men standing around the safety office reach for their mobiles. Commander GAO thanks the security superintendent and they hurry back to their vehicles.
While Maj. Gen. HUANG reads his mobile, Mai’s head drops a fraction, not missed by her shadowy patron. His logic defeats her pride. Delicately, like reaching for a bird in the wild, fearful of frightening it away, he slips his hand around her neck and puts the slightest pressure on her to lean toward him.
The Major General is attuned to the sound of the approaching footsteps of the men. In the gloom, he slips into his own Jeep’s back seat.
The convoy continues 100 kilometers farther up the expressway to Luoyang Beijiao Airport (LYA), the closest one, but they just miss catching the last flight to Lianyungang.
Frustrated, keyed up, wired on coffee and the thrill of the chase, they check into an airport hotel for the night where HUANG and GAO share a room.
HUANG asks GAO about Mai’s performance. The handling of the situation at the Hupan Hostel, for example.
“I am curious, GAO, how you and the Meiguo nuren came to be a crime fighting team?” asks HUANG, standing at the mini-bar, pouring out two drinks. He sets one in front of his officer and reclines on the bed with his.
“We were spying on her. Lt. GUAN almost abducted her on the campus, with our help!” answers GAO ironically, tossing the liquor into his mouth.
“But now you are the closest confidants. I have watched you together. You make a great team. How did this transformation occur?” persists HUANG, having his own reasons for knowing more about the Meiguo nuren.
“Indeed. The rational man eventually recognizes the truth. We couldn’t find any proof she was involved in another matter regarding her husband and a ransom from Iran. Things got escalated at one point. I cut off the investigation of Martin Taitai and sent Lt. GUAN back to Harbin.”
“That should have been the end of it,” continues HUANG, determined to get to the bottom of it. He rises and pours two more drinks from the mini-bar.
“Ranhou, and then, the husband comes to Beijing. His wife, Martin Taitai, arranges it. She has a private firm guarding her, Ronald ZHAO.”
“Oh,” says HUANG, sipping the liquor thoughtfully.
“When the Hanguo capture the Meiguoren, right in the parking lot behind the Main Building, it was Ronald ZHAO and Martin Taitai who were first to follow. That night, a man from the American Embassy wants to come into the Conference Room with a couple of Marines. Turns out they were tracking him the entire time.”
“When Martin Taitai walked into the room, she looked terrible. A cut on her chin left blood all over her face and clothes. She was a mad panther. Kicked the embassy guy over backwards in his chair. Right then I liked her.”
“Same embassy guy here? Lawrence Wright?”
Lt. Col GUAN
Lt. Col. GUAN Qinchen, first working for the corrupt official DIANGTI, he turns himself in and joins Commander GAO, going undercover as DuLang, Vicious Wolf, infiltrating the para-military gang.
EXCERPT AT QINGLINYUAN CH 6
After several minutes, until DONG is certain GUAN won’t be returning, he calls the General.
“Boss, the Zhongguonanren, [Chinese man], GUAN, was here looking for you.”
“Haode, very good, where has he been?
“Chongqing, doing construction labor. I told him you could use him on this job coming up. What do you say?”
MA is surprised by the new information. He considers it for a few moments while DONG continues talking.
“He’s real professional. A pro.”
“Wo zhidao, I know. Let’s do this. You know where he stays?”
“Dui, in Qinglinyuan.”
“Don’t call him. Let’s give him a surprise visit. Pick me up.”
They drive to a mini mart in the center of the area. The entrance to GUAN’s hostel is between a convenience store on one side and a tobacco and liquor store on the other. There are card games going at two tables set on the sidewalk. A small crowd of loungers look over the shoulders of the players.
“He should live somewhere here,” says DONG, parking in an enclosed area off the highway. The pavement in the parking strip ends abruptly in a ditch where a horde of men are working with heavy, earth-moving equipment. A Hyundai backhoe sits atop a mound of soil and debris.
“Call him now. Have him meet us at the car,” says MA.
GUAN anticipates the call. While practicing qi-gong in his small room, he feels the qi energy flowing through his body, carrying the whisper of MA’s presence approaching.
GUAN climbs into the back seat of the Tiggo.
The General turns and says, “It is very fortunate you weren’t arrested last year. You disappeared. We had no way to know what happened to you.”
“Thanks to Buddha, you were not executed. It is like a miracle that you are here,” replies GUAN. “I’m looking for work. A professional placement. I’m sick of day labor.”
“It is my lucky day to meet you, GUAN. I need someone with your experience and discipline. I see you are a changed man. You have a predatory look, like a wolf. I will call you DuLang: vicious wolf.”
GUAN ducks his head, accepting the moniker, delving deeper into his alter ego.
“A large shipment is coming through Guangzhou. If I can rely on you, it would be a great help. EU Sun is going to go to meet the shipment, but with you available, he can stay in Xi’an and prepare for the delivery.”
Xi’an. No surprise. “Tell me more.”
“A Ukranian man is bringing the shipment here with the assist of an African gang. I need you to coordinate receiving the crates, warehousing and forwarding the trucks. I have the documents at my room. I will send DONG to you in the morning with money and your travel papers. EU Sun will call you with more details.”
“Tai haole. I’m ready to leave this dump. Where will you be?”
“If you need me in Guangzhou, call me. Otherwise, I am traveling to Xi’an to supervise the final portion of the delivery.”
“How about money?” asks DuLang.
“Here,” says MA, reaching into his pocket and bringing out Col. DIANGTI’s qianbao, stuffed with bills. He counts a thousand yuan into DuLang’s hand. “Enough?”
The sight of the dead man’s qianbao shocks, he replies, “Bu-dui.”
“Da, da, how is this?” asks MA, after he counts out two thousand more.
“This is for me,” says DuLang taking the bills. “I need to get things. Still more for the job. And fifty-thousand per day. Over the cost of the operation.”
“You are tough to bargain with. I am a desperate old man! You think I am wealthy?”
“You will pay,” says DuLang, thinking, You’ll pay for killing DIANGTI.
Now that their conference is concluded, the men enter a local eatery and sit down to a hot pot dinner.
“You didn’t hear about the action in Xi’an a couple weeks ago?” starts DONG, glancing at MA as if to ask, is it ok to continue?
GUAN looks from one man to the other and grunts.
“DONG wants to tell you about the Chinese private dick he knifed,” explains MA, selecting a wad of shaved meat and plunging it into the simmering broth.
GUAN makes a quizzical expression and looks expectantly at DONG.
“We were supposed to carjack the Meiguoren, the same one we grabbed last year. The man and his wife and the Chinese dick. I followed them onto a cruise boat and fought the martial arts man. He’s dead now. Payback for shooting GONG Ho.”
DuLang exhibits no emotion, not the smallest flicker in his dead eyes.
“Who was GONG Ho?” he asks.
MA answers, “He was working for us, from the Xi’an circle. It’s just as well Ronald ZHAO shot him, he died a free man. If he had been arrested, they would have charged him with murdering the taxi driver and jacking his cab. That only leaves the Commander for my revenge.”
“What about the KIM brothers. Where are they?” continues GUAN conversationally, although he knows they were sentenced to laojiao. He grabs a chunk of fish out of the pot with his chopsticks, drops it into the sauce bowl and then into his mouth.
“That is another story. They were sent up after the trial. But they escaped just a few days ago and are in Pyongyang now,” says MA, helping himself to more rice.
“Zhende. Hen you yisi, very interesting.”
“Yes, they are lucky young men. They got a light sentence, even though the one, Sang-Bo, executed two running dogs, American CIA agents.”
“Zhende! What happened? How did it screw up?”
“The bitch woman followed us with the army. They were on to us from the start. The target, the Meiguoren, was wearing a beacon in his ear.”
“But what happened at the interview? DIANGTI…”
“He couldn’t take the stress. The Commander had us locked in. It was a shock to me when he grasped his chest like this,” MA simulates the desperate last actions of GUAN’s laoban. “I called out and beat on the door, but it was too late to save his life. I escaped in the confusion,” he lies.