11 November 2008

In Which Sarge Catches Up Corporal on the Action in Shanghai or "Quiet Days and Monkey Scream Nights"


Thank you for the package of the 29th of last month. You were right, and it was used with great effect during an ambush on a river wharf this last week. Around me men bled life into the river which carried that sacrifice along its unceasing current without sense of time. I screamed into the night when the young Ya Hui fell to a frenzied knife and I made the killer taste the river water with his dying lips. Medicine Man was there, overseeing it all, of course. Directing it like some mad conductor trying to raise a symphony out of the death-sounds of an ambush gone wrong. Finally, I was one step ahead of him. I even got one shot off at him, knowing it would miss, but cracking his veneer of impenetrability just the same.

I screamed to him something I cannot remember. Something of death and Canada. He only smiled and directed a sniper's bullet which missed me by a hair as I wheeled behind three barrels which were soon shot into shards as I doubled back to destroy the shipment of "pearls" Medicine Man had so dearly wanted.

Han and Willoughby fought with aplomb, Han's matter of fact ways with a knife belie an expert and steady hand, and perhaps the one bit of comedy in the midst of the chaos was the odd vision of Willoughby behind an old English Maxim gun firing at Medicine Man's henchmen who attempted to flee on along a path near the river. I see Medicine Man's game though and know I must go to Fu Shan again.

I asked later Willoughby where he had found the Maxim and he laughed.

"These warehouses," he said, "are odd jumbles of history and patient investment."

I think it is more complicated than that, but whatever it was, it kept them from any ideas of doubling back. There were riots in the Yangpu District last night, the night was filled with burning things and the police, oddly, were content to let it play out. Perhaps they were bribed and I wonder what went hidden then, under the generic chants of undirected discontent that quite conveniently broke up just as two o'clock was struck? Cody was restless all night.

We are closer though, than we have been. The months of planning have led, as late, to quick spars that are like the wild punches of two careful boxers, who know now that they must fight all night. Han told me that Nwargo had sent a communique, he had found a dried hand, cut off and covered in a film of dirt along a garden path he is in the habit of walking as of late. Han then held up a sculpture that had been brought to him in the Putuo District by several boys as he made his way to a meet-up: it was of a withered hand.

There are more disappearances and I have heard from someone who knew once, the true measure of pain I felt that night in Fu Shan.

with warmest hopes that we again know each other by sight!


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