Using colors to represent shades of gray and black in the print version book. What this means is that these illustrations will be incorporated into the manuscript format and printed along with the text in black and white. E books version displays full color, the subtle play of ink, brush, decoupage and numerous more mixed media.
The three novellas, Human Hybrids, Dangerous Visions and Wasted Time, will be released in 2019 in a boxed set!
This double panel constructs around receding vanishing points off to the left and right. The marquee with the massage clinic sign pops forward as the fruit boxes push in from the side. The man and his daughter on a tricycle balance the man and woman walking toward him from the other panel.
Waiting for the elevator in the lobby after spending lunch with Luyu in the hotel dining room, Mai’s memories torment her. Memories of sitting in the back of a dark car, feeling the General’s fat fingers stroke her hair. Remembering his voice. His audacious self-confidence.
A man with an air of authority gets in the elevator with Mai, buzz cut hair and bland, tan Han features, dressed in black tee-shirt and pants. He and Mai gaze evenly, maybe curiously, at each other as the car climbs.
Mai asks, "Can you speak English." He shakes his head ‘no.’ She asks, “Ni shi da ling dao ma? Are you a high official?” His modest reply, “Wo zhu zai zhege bin guan. I’m merely a resident of the hotel,” as they exit the elevator together. She watches him walk down the hall to the other end where he takes out his key card to swipe the lock and enter his room.
The mysterious man banishes the tormented thoughts, leaving her alone with a nameless anxiety.
A talent show runs on the television while Ron shaves in the bathroom as she enters. She kicks off her shoes and flops onto the bed. Propped with pillows, she sighs, and watches fascinated.
He roughs his face with a towel before applying the hotel hairdryer. Next, electric clippers shave his neck and sharpen the upper edge on his cheek and around his mouth. Not that there’s much to worry about, being Asian and less endowed with facial hair follicles, shaving every three days.
“I met a mysterious man coming up on the elevator,” she starts.
He changes settings and combs through the sparse jawline and around his lips and chin, polishing his face with a soft brush when he’s done.
“Mysterious, how?” Ron asks, lying down next to her and bringing his arm, the one with the scar, around her shoulders.
“He has that look, the black tee-shirt and pants. The way the NAPsters dress.”
“You talked to him?”
“He said he was a resident.”
“The most powerful and connected people live here Mai.”
They lie quietly, her head resting on his shoulder, listening to the Chinese television.
“Let’s get a massage,” says Ron.
“Tai haole, Ron, zouba!” agrees Mai, sitting up refreshed by the relaxing prospect. Looking out the window at the overcast sky, she grabs her umbrella.
When Ron and Mai step into the hall, Ron asks, “Show me the room the man went into.” “It’s the last one on the right.”
Downstairs in the lobby, “You look worried,” says Ron, taking Mai’s hand and leading her through the revolving doors onto the street.
“Shi, our rooms are bugged. This entire hotel is a listening device. That guy in the elevator, he could be NAP. Absolutely.”
“What about the men last night? Were they NAPsters?” she asked, glistening.
They pass a beautiful young woman selling socks on a blanket laid on the sidewalk. Mai gives her ten yuan for a bundle.
“I want to check out,” says Ron.
“We have one more night before checking out tomorrow,” she says. “It’s the banquet. Then we’re off for a day trip to the warriors’ monument. What could go wrong?”
Farther down the street another vendor sells oranges. The lovers slowly walk away from the squat concrete hotel bristling with SIGINT towers. At a storefront with a gold and red lacquer sign, Ron leads her into the anmo clinic.
“Duibuqi, Tangzi, I’m leaving you here.” Ron turns to the shifu, “Total meridian massage with oil, qing.” He lays 300 yuan on the counter and turns back to Mai. “I’ll come back when I’m finished.”
He pushes past the glass door and merges with the passersby. The shifu leads Mai to a private room with large flat-screen TV running a kung fu movie. She returns with a small teapot and plate of sliced oranges. Anmoishi in green pajamas address her feet, legs, arms back and neck. Deft fingers probe her chi blockage and effect release through ecstatic pain. In the dim room Mai surrenders to their accomplished hands, now rubbing her with tingling oils.
These guys will stop at nothing to annihilate the Huang legacy. Who can protect me and the babies?
Mai pictures Ron’s face, the face of her protector, when he shot the sniper on the pier in Wenzhou, the caper that started everything. A long ago it seems. When Rick was lying to her about his involvement in the Department of Homeland Security.
No one can take care of us as well as Ron.
Mai rests her head against the cushion while the anmoishi unties her top and applies oil to her shoulders and neck, stroking upwards, gouging gently will her thumbs and ending with a pressure point above her jaw.
Tension melts into a memory of the hot morning of Huang’s arrest, running down Highway G70 in her BMW past an industrial area. Red and white striped smokestacks stood in the distance amid electrical stanchions and rows of cooling towers. A man rode his motorbike in the nearly dry river channel where Ron parked her Beemer in the privacy of ruined and abandoned factories and they rested.
He’s more effective with an actual objective than with a threat.
Mai drifts in a half-conscious state fragrant with oil. Her spots simmer in faint iridescence. If the anmoishi notices, she says nothing. The face of her assailant swims into focus, mutely screaming, and his bloody hand, the salty blood running down her throat.
What was that about? I was angry! I could have killed him… why didn’t I? Gao let him go… My first kill… What are you saying? You didn’t kill him… But I caught him…