Tales of Tadeusz

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Storyblogging Entry: Sleeping Dragon

Sleeping Dragon
By Eric R. Ashley

Lee Huang cooled his feet in the Suez Canal. Since he was the highest ranking Red Army officer in the area, and possessed two decorations for bravery, he was not worried that his unmilitary actions while on duty would get him in trouble. Or at least so he told himself, until he heard a yell from behind him.
“Huang!” Rapidly he turned, grabbed his rifle, and jumped to his feet. There stood his younger cousin, U Fung. Startlement, and then sheer pleasure broke over the war hero’s face under the hot Egyptian sun. And he swung the rifle up on his shoulder, and motioned for his childhood playmate to come closer for a hug.
The visitor did so, but stiffly. Lt. First Huang asked him what was the matter.
“You, you are so unmilitary! It is a disgrace…”
Huang held up a hand to stop the new recruit.
“I am the lieutenant, war hero, governor for this pathetic city, am I not? You Fung are just a new recruit turned eighteen.”
The younger cousin nodded as his usually idolized older cousin booted himself.
“It is not like you expect, this war and occupation, cousin Fung. In truth, it is not like I expected either. I will show you. Then you will see.”
A skeptical look faded into a general back-slapping, and the two young men wandered chatting enthusiastically about family matters over to a jeep where a sleeping Egyptian driver got kicked into wakefulness by Lee Huang. He came awake with a curse, and Fung made to hit him, but then stopped. Huang nodded approval, and Fung smashed the man in the mouth. The driver began to volubly apologize while the two Chinese Army officers laughed to each other behind impassive masks perfected while gambling. Then Huang backfisted the man in the mouth again.
“You talk too much.” He barked, winking at his cousin.
After they got in, and the jeep got started back to town, to Sesra, Huang explained his action to his cousin’s questioning look.
“One must be unpredictable. They try to use their unpredictability and insanity against us. So we have to be more so.” He said this in Han which the locals did not know; indeed knowledge of Han merited the noose.
Huang started yelling at the driver as they got back into the edge of town. He wanted the jeep slowed. A man alongside the road carrying a load of what might be bags of grain in the white, wilting sun had drawn his eye. The Chinese Army officer drew his pistol, and shot the man in the chest twice. Then laughing, he smacked the driver on the head with the pistol to make him go faster.
“Calculated insanity?” Fung asked, and Huang nodded.
“Plus, they are useless. They can’t fight according to order, can’t drink because of their religion, can’t build anything without messing it up, and are generally illiterate, plus they are barbarians. They are like Subodai’s hordes without the intelligence or horsemanship or military skill.”
A look of dawning glory shone on Fung’s face.
“So we can kill anyone we want?”
“Yes, but I advise you to leave certain ones alone.”
“But, why?” Fung protested, his whole face and posture sullen. A glorious treat had just been taken away from him after being dangled in front of his nose.
Huang slapped him on the shoulder, and winked.
“You’ll see, cousin. Say, how is your effort at romancing Leikou going?”
With much agitation, Fung explained that his gifts, poetry, and even a humiliating attempt at singing a love song had failed to do more than make the lovely Leikou giggle while she went out with officers with higher ranks than his lowly Second Lieutenantmanship. It made one wonder if the Chinese government should have allowed all those baby girls to be aborted. Huang commiserated, but absently which Fung eventually noted with some bitterness. Still, Huang kept directing the driver to zip about town, until the first lieutenant spotted a clot of people in the street.
It was a group of men surrounding a smaller group of females on their way somewhere incomprehensible, and thus stupid. Huang had the driver barrel into the clot, scattering it everywhere. Then he bounced out of the jeep, dragging Fung with him.
Several of the women had the burqa on which was a new development after the Red Army had invaded, and Huang snarled something in Arabic. The women so veiled pulled back their hoods, and Fung gasped. Each was a beauty. The group of men around them rumbled, and suddenly Fung felt a sense of fear.
This would not do. He had not been in on the March across the Sands from China’s borders all the way to Libya’s outer borders like his older cousin. It was a chance to prove himself to the older veteran. So he pulled out his pistol, aimed it at the first man nearest him, looked at Huang who waved him onward, and shot the Arabic threatener full in the chest. Then he turned his gun to the next man who dove for the ground into a full face kissing the ground mode. Turning about, he saw that all the other men had done the same.
Huang nodded to him with a smile.
“Choose which girl you want.”
“But what of what they? Err, will they not knife me while I sleep?” Fung began to ask concerned for the rights of the women, but then he realized such was not the proper concern of a conqueror. So he chose a pragmatic objection. His cousin answered in kind.
“They beat their women to death if they show an ankle. Send their little girls back into the fire for not wearing a hat. Cousin, you could be the vilest jerk, and still they would think you were treating them as a princess compared to the way their own family treats them.”
Fung nodded accepting the rationale.
“Besides, it is well known that Chinese men are more, ah, vigorous. More skilled in the arts of love than any other race of men in the whole world.”
U Fung walked about among the women. None smiled at him, but he fancied he saw one with hope in her eye. He chose that one that reminded him most of Leikou, and after prompting with his pistol along her cheekbone, she kissed him in the street while the men gasped in anger. U Fung could feel her trembling, and see her conflicted face. Part of her wanted what he offered, and another part felt guilt. Guilt was a reactionary bourgeoisie notion since God or Allah or the Celestial Bureaucracy was non-existent, by order of the State. He licked his lips; she had tasted nice.
“Now that she has assured that she will be stoned to death, or knifed if she leaves you since she did not do the ‘honorable‘ thing, and get herself killed as a martyr, you need to protect her. Say these words…” Here Fung listened in dismay to a string of Arabic which he was supposed to memorize. It meant something about how he would protect his woman, and if any harm should come to her, he would burn the village down where it happened, and destroy the whole family and clan of the relatives of the killers. But Fung was bad at foreign languages, and he did not want to seem weak to the men kissing the dust in front of him.
“I say that!” Fung shouted, and shot a man near to him in the head.
Huang looked startled, and then laughed.
“I think they got the message. Now, lets drink.”
They went down to the local mosque turned bar, and ordered some Russian vodka. With his new mistress ensconced on his lap, Fung asked his very wise and wonderful cousin Huang a question.
“What shall we drink too?”
“Let us drink to Osama Bin Laden!” Huang yelled back to Fung’s horror, and then more softly he explained. “For without him launching that airplane to crash into the Peaceful Flowers Skyscraper in Beijing six months ago in September, you and I might still be in Beijing chasing unavailable girls, and toting paper for our masters. Here we are like gods.”
“It almost makes you believe in a god. Life is good!” Fung replied with a silly grin crossing his face. “To Osama Bin Laden then!”



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