And That I WalkA Story by papaed
Beginning of a much longer story I'm considering.
The waxing gibbous moon calls to me with rippled streams across the black ocean. Massive steel pistons slide through their oily tunnels, responding to explosions of pleasure with a rhythmic thrum I feel in both hands on the painted steel rail. The steam ship Empress of China, of the Ephemera Lines belches a long black cloud as it steams across the Pacific.
My mind wanders to my thirteenth consort, my most recent. Thirteen is a good number, the number four is earthy and sensual. Wei was always a challenge. The tiny geisha had the strongest will of any woman I’ve met. Of course, no match for mine. This made her more transparent, and molding her to fulfill my appetites while maintaining her false sense of security became my challenge, my game. Her secret desire to be totally dominated made her putty in my hands, and mind. But as her fighting and resistance became less creative, her mortal companions less a challenge, her urges less insistent, and age crept over her. The game became no more than masturbation to me, and io withdrew to other pleasures. Surrounded by so many with, no vision, no esteem, no hope, while fodder for my fantasies and my needs, have become unsatisfying.
The Manchu family always looked to me for special duties, but their power had waned as the century came to a close. Guangxu’s hundred days of reform should have taken place a hundred years earlier and were met with too much resistance. Now nearly 30 years later I felt I was leaving a sinking ship. I left my estate to Wei, turned most of my possessions into gold, packed a case of my beloved ‘putao jiu’, my copy of Li Bai’s poetry, and departed from the new “treaty port” of Shanghai only one month after the British landed. The general strike that followed crippled many of my money making ventures and it was clearly time to move on.
It is 1927, the year I cross the Pacific. My life is going to change.
I’m drawn back to the present by a stimulation, a violent intention, directed at me. Unmoving, I assess. A bully boy, believing me wealthy and vulnerable approaches from behind. Leaving my eyes on my beloved moon, I reach into his shallow mind and cringe at the filth, the lack of discipline. An American sailor, without family. I wait my moment, watching myself through his eyes.
A longhaired slight, oriental man wearing a black over-cape. He feels me in his mind and hesitates, confused. I spin and grab his outstretched right arm, rabbit punch his throat to keep him quiet, and use his own momentum to drive him over the rail. He falls clutching his throat and kicking. A small splash. I smile calmly with incisors flashing in my beloved moon, place both hands back on the rail. America will be fun.
Two nights later, we are proceeding down the Columbia River. The lights of Portland glow on the western shore in the low hanging clouds ahead. Other ships and smaller boats dot the water. Red, green, and white lanterns sparkle on the water. The full moon peaks through the streaked high clouds to greet me. A good omen. It reminds me of Shanghai bay some weeks ago.
I stand in the morning shade with wide brimmed hat and tinted glasses watching three porters with two wheelers bumping my piled trunks and bags down the wood plank ramp. The ship could not come to port as Portland has no proper wharf, so I’d come by smaller boat. An official asks each departing passenger about the missing sailor and the missing dancer. I am offended that they think I would associate with such filth. His mind easily flows to my will. He turns to the gathered crowd. “Move along. Nothing to see here.”
A young girl dressed as a boy approaches and greets with a bow. “I find you place to stay?” I’m enchanted. This girl clearly sees me as a victim to be used and stolen from. She is bold. She is not Chinese. Her mind is quite strong for one so young. I will play this game.
“What do you have in mind my little man?” I ask with a touch of Voice for good measure.
She hesitates only a moment and I’m pleased to see she has a touch of untrained Will. She bows and points. “My taxi is over there.”
The black unkempt machine is an open truck. The engine idles with a pronounced clicking and a small cloud of oily smoke belches from under it ever few moments. A strapping young man in plaid coat and knit hat sits behind the wheel with a vacuous, open mouthed grin.
Their plan becomes clear as I hand her a small piece of gold and nod to the porters. I reach out to her friend and find his mind nearly empty. He is immediately my obedient dog. “Help load the trunks, “ I say and he steps down, open mouthed to help. I slide behind the wheel. The girl, alarmed, jumps in beside me. When my luggage is loaded, I pull out with grinding gears. I leave the boy standing in the crowd, awaiting his next order. “Forget the girl and myself.” I send. I see him shake and turn away, dazed.
“Where are we going little man?” She is not rattled. Good.
“Turn here.” All traces of humble helper are gone. Good.
I gently stroke her mind, against much resistance. I find four others are waiting behind crates ahead. I relax them to sleep and pass slowly by. “What’s your name?”
“Eva” with mouth clamped in resistance.
“Where do you live, Eva?”
Lips pressed together, she remains mute. I get an image of a single, dirty, dark, noisy room above a small shop, possibly an apothecary.
We travel down Burnside Street and I watch her mind for directions. As we approach 3rd St., I can see her struggle, so I turn North. The streets are crowded as I travel slowly. Now I see the shop through her eyes. I pull over. “Go up and get anything that you want to keep. Bring it back here in 5 minutes.”
She came back with one bag, resigned. One block away I see a sign for Chen’s Hotel. It looks like my kind of place, so we stop in front. Opportunities and dinner everywhere. I pay to have my bags brought in and get us a room. She remains a little distant, but I can see she is intrigued.
“A good bath, and a fine meal would serve you well.” I tell her and she follows me up the stairs.
© 2012 papaed
Added on May 3, 2012
Last Updated on May 3, 2012
Kansas City, MO
Aboutno erudite pontifications, no complex extrapolations no intentional hurtful lies, just simple age-wise aliteration and prose, of a man who's in the throes of living day to day from his head down to.. more..