Where to now?
Posted on Sun Oct 6th, 2019 @ 4:33am by Chin Yee
Mission 1: Gearing Up
Location: Persephone, Eavesdown Docks
Timeline: 1800 Local - after ‘For a drink, or two, or .. “
Chin walked into the more or less busy street. He glanced to the east to see that it was late afternoon, going on early evening. He reset the straps of his backpack on his shoulders and double checked for any onlookers. Once could never be too careful.
He saw a spacecraft come down to the north and figured that would be as good a direction than any to head. He angled the side of his wide brimmed hat to keep the direct sun out of his eye and slowly made his way. He had been offered been offered and accepted a bite of food from Alden quite a bit earlier, but now it was time to find some really good food, in his opinion. That would be some quality Chinese food. It didn’t have to be fancy at some sit-down place, but it needed to be tasty. Something that would remind him of his Mā mā’s (mother’s) cooking.
As he walked he listened to everything and eyes constantly moving about the crowd for any sign of being observed or followed. He chuckled to himself at an idea. He knew optics were quite miniaturized. He could pit a cam in the back of his hat and get a pair of this glasses that displayed a computer readout on the inside, which would allow him to look forward and backward at the same time. I very nice idea, but a very expensive one too. And they might not have that high-tech of gear in this are of the city. Possibly closer into the tech area, so he would have to ask around.
He walked for a good half hour before something that caught his eye. It was definitely out of place here in his district. It looked like a church or theatre. He really wasn’t quite sure, but the styling was what his Mā mā (Mother) had called ‘Art-Deco’.
Chin crossed the street quickly between the busy traffic of bodies and carts. After another 100 meters or so he stopped before the building to look at its coloring and forms. It soo did not fit in this place. He thought, Well, this place didn’t deserve this beautiful building.. He chuckled.
The marquee read [Art of the Worlds]. Chin thought, Well, that is rather vague. He stepped closer and found the sign with the details. It talked about artwork like paintings, sculptures, antiques, all hundreds of years old from across the known verse.%
There was another poster and he walked to stand in front of it. It spoke of a street festival, all day long and into the night., celebrating 50 years, “He Bo Xian Tu Festive," in honor of one of the greatest cartographers on Persephone, who was an explorer of the planet. The poster spoke of homemade foods from all over the verse; meats, baked goods, and delicacies from the many traditions represented. Entertainment of all kinds to include folk dancing, art booths, street entertainers. For the more mature, the poster spoke of booths for knife throwing, target shooting, and arm wrestling. Special events for the children during the day, bringing everyone together for a Parade between 237th and 243rd along Phoenix Boulevard. Chin read further about after dark would be a concert and fireworks. “This does sound interesting,” Chin began, “A Chinese styled festival with a bit of local flavor.”
Chin turned his head to look at the local street sign and found that he was on Phoenix and 252nd. “So, not to far away from here,” he said aloud just to himself. He then looked at the date and confirmed that this would occur tomorrow. “Very satisfactory indeed.”
Chin walked a bit further to find the door, but it was locked. It now being in the middle of the day, well late afternoon, he expected the museum of sorts to be open, but alas it was all locked up with the sign on the door window showing closed. Chin turned and scratched his head as he looked about the street as the day and all that occupied it going about it’s normal business. Looking back at the museum and taking a step back, he did see more information. Stepping closer to that poster, he was able to read that it’s hours were 9am to 6pm daily. Chin abruptly said, “Well, isn’t today, daily?” He was feeling a bit flustered and now felt like an opportunity had been taken away from him. Turning again to look upon the thin crowd of passers-by, none of which seemed interested in the posters on the building.
With hands on hips in further frustration, “Maybe that had to close because of lack of attendan . . “. That last word was cut short by the distinct sound of something being broken inside. The sound occurred again followed by tased voices from inside. This intrigued Chin and he stepped close to the windows trying to peek in where he could, but nothing for him to see.
He then heard a very loud ‘bang’, of what seemed to him as wooden boards falling over onto metal cans or something to that effect. Chin quickly made his way along the building’s frontage until he came to an alley. In the alley he saw 4 young boys. They were all standing still looking away from him and toward where Chin thought the sound had come. With the next bang of sound the boys turned and ran toward him and away from whatever the cause of the noise. He guessed they didn’t want to be blamed for anything.
Chin turned and watched the boys run toward the street, 2 on each side of the alley. To his surprise they stopped at the edge of the building and peeked back down the alley. That was when he heard a voice and once again he faced down the alley and walked slowly and cautiously.
From further down the alley, just out of sight, a young woman’s voice sounded out, “You got to be crazy. I’m not going to dress up like that not for any amount of cash. I don’t care if it’s Alliance or not.”
To Chin’s surprise a young Asian woman came stomping with fury up the alley in his direction. He thought she looked madder than hell. She wore common modest grey pants and tan shirt with a hat in her hand, as her long black hair billowed back behind her. She was about his height with a clear porcelain complexion and slim figure. In converse the intensity of the fire in her eyes. Initially he stepped back to the side of the alley, but as she approached he took one step toward her and said, “Is everything all right? Can I help you?”
The young woman was startled by him and his question, stepping back and sideways calling out angrily, “Gwan Ni Tze Jee Dah Shr. Man”(Mind your own business) ! After moving past him, she turned and ran away and down the street.
Chin was stunned by this woman’s reaction to him trying to help.
Her young beauty was striking, as sharp as her tongue, he thought. He then realized that the boys, that had been playing in the alley, were now causally walking toward him as he stood in the middle of the street.
They stopped a couple meters from him. The tallest boy of the group said, “Oh, you got it bad for her, don’t you?”
Chin found this rather an odd statement coming from a boy of just 12 years or so.
The boy then added, “She didn’t want to give it up for him. She’s definitely not going to give it up for you.” The other boys just giggled, and then they all ran past him down the alley, turning at the next intersection and out of sight.
Chin still found this attitude rather bold for someone so young, but he understood that kids on the street had to grow up fast if they were going to survive or not be controlled by others more powerful than them.
Chin adjusted his backpack on his shoulders, turned back to he street, and walked on.
The oriental man had walked for half an hour or so, seeing what was expected from the many shops to the diversity of patrons, some moving casually while others with purpose. He definitely was one of those with purpose. He had a specific goal in mind, to find a good place to eat, based on the smell and the those eating there were the older generation of Chinese. This all would tell him that the food would be traditional and tasty.
And then it finally happened, the right scent caught his nose and turned him to a small food stand across the street. After crossing the street, Chin saw that there was additional covered seating on the side, which was occupied by several older Chinese gentlemen with food and drink and mahjong on the table before them. This all brought a very big smile to his face and he waited no longer, but stepped up to the counter.
An old man was standing inside, wearing a dirty and worn apron, questioned, “nǐ xiǎng yào shén me? “ (what do you want?)
Chin was surprised by the abruptness of the question, but quickly replied with a respectful voice , “Yú hé mǐ fàn, umm and saki?” (fish and rice, saki)
The old man looked up toward the voice, but all he saw was the top of a wide-brimmed brown hat, as if wanting to hide himself. He called out for the food to be prepared from the help. “If you are old enough?” the older man questioned.
Chin looked up slowly from under his hat, smiling at the old man, “I am old enough Zǔ Fù, (grandfather-respectful)”. And laid the coinage on the counter.
A slight smile came to the old man’s face. It was a feeling of pride and acceptance, but it quickly changed back to business, turning and barking further instructions to the cooks behind him. Turning back to the young man before him, “Find a seat. We will bring it to you.”
Chin found an empty table, bowing his head respectfully to each of the patrons that looked up at him. Sitting down he looked about cautiously as usual, but then relaxed looking out past the patrons to those walking past the makeshift restaurant.
The old man brought out some Saki. Setting it on the table stated, “Your food is almost ready.” He gave him a wink and returned to the kitchen.
It was only a couple minutes before a young woman’s voice called out, “Yú hé mǐ fàn?” Seeing that the man in the brown hat was the only one not served, she laid it down on his table.
Looking up at the at the woman, Chin surprisingly said, “It’s you.”
The young lady then saw his face, recognizing him as the man in the alley and blurted out angrily, “What is this? Why are you following me?” She turned and stomped away, back toward the kitchen.
Chin was confused and had only risen half way before he had turned her back and walked away. He sat down even more uncertain. Glancing about, he saw that all the faces at the tables were looking at him. He cringed thinking, Not a good way to hide in plain sight.. Chin sat down with his face toward his food and began to eat slowly. He was grateful to not hear anyone call for help or security. Out f the corner of his eye, he did see that some hat turned back to their meal or game.
After chin had completed his meal and enjoyed his saki, he was surprised to see the old man, who had taken his order, was now sitting across from him. This unsettled the young Asian just a little as his eyes glanced about quickly, but saw no need to worry.
The old man spoke calmly, “You apparently have startled my gran-daughter.”
With a respectful tone, Chin began, “I have only met the young lady once in passing, in an alley where she stormed out of a building. Umm the ahh, the museum of sorts.”
The old man’s face lit up with understanding, “Ah, I see. So you are not from that establishment?”
“No sir,” Chin replied, “I was just passing by when I heard some commotion in the alley.”
A smile the crossed the old man’s face, “Ah, a misunderstanding then has taken place.”
“That’s definitely one way to put it,” Chin replied.
After a second, “Please call me Mr. Lau.”
This was the beginning of a long conversation, where Chin tried to be as honest as he could without telling much of who he was. He found out that the young lady’s name was Su Ling. Her grandfather related that her beauty sometimes got her into more trouble than either desired, but she was an honest woman waiting for the right man. Finally Chin said, “Well Sir, I should probably go. I have taken up too much of your important time.” He began to stand.
Mr. Lau reached across and laid his hand on the young man’s hand, willing him to sit. He then asked, “Do you have a place for the night, my young stranger?”
Chin felt a touch nervous now, his eyes darting left and right, but no sign of worry. He replied, “Not as yet Zǔ Fù.”
Mr. Lay gave him an encouraging wink, “Well then Chin, you shall stay as my guest. I have several extra rooms. It’s not much more than a warm dry and clean bed, if this is acceptable?”
Chin thought seriously for a moment. He had money. He could easily pay for a room, but this wonderful old man was offering part of his home to him, and that’s not something one should refuse. “Very well Mr. Lau. I accept your jiǔ diàn (hospitality).”
“This pleases me very much,” Lau said, “And just think, the Festival will begin tomorrow.”
They chatted for a time longer and more Saki was poured.