Did she fulfill her quest?
Did Mai discover who is the real father of both babies? Partial success, she knows General Huang is the father of the boy but is keeping this secret and refusing further testing.
Has it all been for nothing? At this moment, she’s with her dream lover and hopefully father of the girl child, Rick is far away in the US or places unknown. She’s feeling good. She chased down an attacker, she feels strong. She’s hopeful. Looking forward to closure with Huang’s ghost at the memorial and living her happy Beijing life with Ron.
Has Mai’s struggle against the sovereign nations (and others) over control of her body been for nothing? Since she is far away from Rick and his machinations, she’s got control over herself.
How’s that worked out? Looks like a win win for Mai at the end of this story
The three novellas, Human Hybrids, Dangerous Visions and Wasted Time, will be released in 2019 in a boxed set!
Luyu meets with Auntie Fong at the Golden Panther in downtown Xi’an. Eschewing a private room, Auntie sits in the back near the kitchen at a large table for the staff. At midmorning, the chef in his white coat and checkered pants with hat akimbo, stretches out his legs and smokes, supervising the helpers in the kitchen prepping for the lunch crowd.
“Auntie, you look good,” greets Luyu, her pouffe and pony-tail floating on hot steamy air from the dumpling kettle.
“Darling girl, how are you these days, please sit,” welcomes the older woman, carefully coiffed and modestly dressed in a black jacket over a blouse. Visitors to the restaurant, looking at her sitting in the back, would surmise she is the restaurant owner but would never guess she’s the head of the Xi’an Tong while her brother, the Dragonhead, fulfills his prison sentence.
Auntie pours tea into a cup and slides it toward the young woman.
Luyu, 33 and a sheng-nu unmarried and over educated, was hired by the Longtou BAO to manage his many legitimate businesses such as the Golden Panther Restaurant. And he thought the girl’s connection to General Huang, her father, might be worthwhile. After the bust, she stayed on working for Bao’s sister everyone calls Auntie.
“They’ve been to my mother’s shop,” starts Luyu without hesitating.
“Who has? Here, take a tissue,” Auntie pulls a tissue packet out of a pocket and offers it to the distraught girl.
“Xiexie, it’s Zhu. He wants his son to marry me,” Luyu looks up at Auntie. The chef can’t help but eavesdrop through the smoke haze.
“You can’t hold a torch for Henry forever, Luyu. You should marry. Xing is a catch.”
“But, he’s our enemy. His father pulled the strings behind my father’s death!”
“Zhu’s brother, Ma, killed your father. We don’t know the details.”
“Auntie! I can’t marry Xing!” protest Luyu.
“He comes from a good revolutionary family.”
“Not as good as mine! Zhu imprisoned my grandmother and grandfather.”
“He was young then and under the influence of the gang of four. And was rehabilitated.”
Luyu slumps back in her seat and waves the smoke away, scowling at the insolent chef.
“Get going,” Auntie says to him, “Here comes the tour.”
At the sight of tourists crowding into the dining room, the chef grinds out his fag and pushes through the swinging kitchen door.
Carried in with the crowd, Mai and Ron climb the steps past gigantic stone lions and enter the Golden Panther.
“I’ve been here before,” says Mai, wondering at the immense dining hall.
“Wo shi,” answers Ron.
Glancing toward the kitchen, Mai exclaims, “Look, it’s Auntie and Luyu! Wei! Nihau!” and threads her way through the crowd to the women.
“Martin Taitai,” cries Luyu waving Mai over. “This is Auntie Fong, Henry’s mother.”
“My condolences, Fong Taitai,” offers Mai, wondering if they had met during the Xi’an operation.
“Martin Taitai, the Meiguonuren, I’m honored to meet a courageous woman,” replies Auntie, touching Mai’s hand. At her eye level is Mai’s baby bump, for everyone to see, in a Hello Kitty tee-shirt.
“What a coincidence that our tour comes here for lunch today,” says Mai.
Auntie rises, seizing the opportunity to escape, “I must go. I hope to see you again at the memorial, dear Luyu. Xijian, Martin Taitai.” She parts the sea of confusion, fuwuyuan and guests, as she passes through the packed dining room and out to the street.
“Will you join us?” asks Mai, gesturing toward Ron, a head taller than the others sitting at their table.
The fuwuyuan carry trays of tea and cups, stopping at every table. The tired tour guide protests feebly to the seating change, moving a couple to another table to accommodate Luyu to sit with Ron and Mai. Grumbling to himself about the impertinence of the Meiguonuren, he recognizes Luyu. Back at the Lu Fu Hotel, he had surveilled the two women in the hotel dining room. And here she is again. It might be significant, so he calls Col. Chen.
“Wei, nihau, Captain, I am at the Golden Panther. The Meiguonuren is meeting with the young woman from the hotel a few days ago, Huang’s daughter, Luyu.”
The information is valuable, Chen promises the man a bonus. Within moments he’s talking with Zhu.
While Mai introduces everyone around the table, at the villa the old man calls his son.
“Huang Luyu is at the Golden Panther. Go to her, press your case. Do it. Do it now!”
* * *
Xing is hanging out with his motor scooter buddies when he gets his father’s call. When he arrives at the Golden Panther, the hostess takes them to a private room. Xing leaves the sliding doors open, the better to scan the dining room for Luyu.
“There she is,” says a young man.
“Where?” asks Xing.
“She’s with a tour. The tour guide is signaling you, see?”
The guide stands behind Luyu’s chair chatting with Ron and some ladies wearing khaki army hats. He gestures to an empty chair at their table, beaconing Xing from across the room.
“Miss, do you see the gentleman across the way?” interrupts the guide, pointing out Xing to Luyu.
Peering across the smoky room, recognition comes slowly as he approaches.
Omg, it’s Xing, here! With Auntie’s words fresh in her ear, Luyu gives Xing a fair appraisal. He’s not bad looking. Must get his looks from his mother, Angelina.
Xing glances around the room and back to Luyu, not knowing what to say or do.
Everyone at the table stops talking to regard him.
“Huang Xiaojie, would you accept my invitation to join me at my table?” The words come out in a rush, and a red flush betrays his embarrassment.
Now everyone looks at her.
“Is this you talking, or is it your father?”
“Well, uh,” he drops his head and loses his voice.
“Who’s your friend?” asks Mai, bursting with curiosity.
“Duibuqi, this is Zhu Xing, his father is the brother of General Ma.” Luyu waits for the appropriate gravity of the situation to sink in. Mai’s face is a blank wall. “Xing, this is Martin Taitai and Zhao Xiansheng, from Beijing.”
Recovering his tongue, Xing nods to the city people, “Wo hen gao xing wo hen hao.”
“Your friend can join us, Luyu, there’s an extra chair,” says Mai.
Conversation picks up around the table leaving the young people alone in their silence. At last, Xing ventures, “I knew Henry Fong. He was a righteous dude. Duibuqi.”
Surprised at the mention of her dead fiance, Luyu replies, “Shi.”
While they sit immobile after that first successful foray into a conversation, Ron catches Mai’s attention.
“Let’s go. Are we finished here?”
“Sure, okay,” Mai gathers her things and addresses Luyu, “Tomorrow at the hostel. Can you come? I need a tailor.”
“Shi, Martin Taitai, I can come after breakfast. See you.”
A contagion sweeps the room when everyone stands and starts toward the door. The entire tour scrapes chairs and moves to the exit. Luckily for the Beijingers, they arrive at the taxi queue before the mob.