I bounded out of my seat expecting to meet my former martial-arts master and mentor. His son entered and bowed to me. I returned the bow and easily addressed the man in Chinese. “I am honored by your visit. Please forgive my impatience, but I have long wished to know how your father is doing.”
“My father is well and sends his greetings.”
“I am thankful to hear this. I owe him much.”
“You gave him the right to own property. You gave him the right to vote. You gave him rights to the old treaty properties.” He bowed. “It is the Wu family who is in your debt.”
I bowed, “It is a debt only in your minds for I acted only out of love for all my people.”
He bowed, “Still it is a debt that I have come to make a payment on. In two days there is to be an attack. “Almost two thousand troops will assault The Compound.”
I bowed my acknowledgement of this information.
“The leaders of this assault will be giving their commands from the park.” My father sent me to tell Mr. Jake that he does not need to worry about the commanders in the park.”
I bowed again, “The wise Mr. Wu thinks to allow his students to play in the park. You shall have more fun than me. I must insist that I want live bodies. They will make better workers for my irrigation projects in the mountains.”
“Irrigation is good for the rice crop. My people will deliver your workers. Perhaps if we search through our basements we can find you more of your workers who arrived early.”
I bowed my acknowledgement and thanks while doubting that we could prosecute insurgents who were unconscious in Chinatown basements during the attack.
Young Wu took his leave.
I smiled again as I remembered this visit and my profound relief to know that Mr. Wu was well. If I’d thought that the Chinese would be in any danger, I would have risked offending their honor by forbidding them to enter the park. I snorted and thought they would be in less danger than I would and the insurgents in the park would never know what hit them.
I felt less lonely as I thought about my friends. I gave thanks again for the northern fishermen waiting on the roof to cast their nets for landfish. I thought about young Ramirez at my door and his grandfather S’PnG. Once again, I had a vision of thousands of people fighting for justice in this country. I’d do my best to serve them.
Midnight came ushering in December twenty-fifth, the day of the attack. I’d received reports for the past three days of an excessive number of men entering the city on foot, by train, and private auto. I wondered how many were coming to attack it, and how many were coming to its defense. How many insurgents would fall to a farmer’s machete or a fisherman’s belaying pin before they ever reached The Compound? I thought of the railroad workers with their wicked track bars and shuddered. Civil war hovered over the capital tonight.