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Dark Tongs of Chinatown Part 2 - The Fortune Teller

Max_Writer

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* * *

 

 

 

Friday, May 28, 1875, was another beautiful day. They talked at breakfast at Professor Stalloid’s, Wilder noting he needed to stop and purchase a pistol, as rifles were frowned upon in the city. Otto slid a .44 Colt pistol and holster across the table at him.

 

“Are you expecting payment for this?†Wilder said.

 

“No,†Otto said. “Just being friendly.â€

 

“Then I will … take it,†Wilder said.

 

“Quite fine,†Otto said.

 

They headed back to Chinatown and met Mr. Li at his office there before all of them set out. Mr. Li mostly did the talking as many of the people they met didn’t speak English and the residents of Chinatown seemed to trust him more than they did the people of other races.

 

He learned several things. He heard there was an old Chinese lady called Lin Chou who was a fortune teller that lived on the corner of Jackson Street and Stouts Alley in a garret above a barber shop. He was told she knew everything and could probably help him. Though the people were nervous about talking about the tongs, rumor had it there was some kind of squabble going on with numerous combatants. Usually, when the tongs fought, it was on a personal basis with only one or two people getting involved. It was suggested Mr. Li talk to Chang Hai, one of the representatives of the Six Companies who were responsible for the Chinese in San Francisco. The Six Companies was a Chinese benevolent association that worked against the tongs. He was told he might be able to help.

 

He told them about Mr. Chang and they went in search of him. By lunchtime, they were able to see the man in his home in Chinatown, thanks to the respect Mr. Li was held in.

 

They were shown into a nice parlor where tea was set out. Mr. Chang entered shortly after. He had a mustache and wore a fine suit. He bowed to them and asked them to join him for tea, which he served. It was a green tea and there were rice biscuits. Sugar and cream was on a sideboard and Otto kept eyeing it. Mr. Li noticed that.

 

As Professor Stalloid finished off his tea, he traded off his empty cup for Otto’s.

 

“If you thought the fight last night was bad, try putting sugar in your tea and see what happens,†Mr. Li said to Otto.

 

“I’ll keep that in mind,†Otto said.

 

“How may I help you?†Mr. Chang said as he sipped his tea.

 

“There was a fight last night,†Mr. Li said. “I don’t know if you’ve heard of it. Between two tongs.â€

 

“Yes, I did hear of a fight.â€

 

“I have been told to come to you asking why they were fighting. The only thing I was able to gather is there seems to be a child that both tongs believe the other has taken and it has led to a very bloody brawl and something … most foul that I saw last night.â€

 

“Which tongs were involved?â€

 

“The Clean and Pure Serenity Tong and the Rightful Spirit Tong.â€

 

“Hm. They both control brothels. Small brothels in Chinatown. And they have been competing closely ever since they took that over a few years ago. There is a rumor about a child being taken from one tong by the other but I am unsure which is the aggressor and which is the victim in this case. From what I have heard, a white man took the baby.â€

 

“Hm.â€

 

“Do you know the name or the family of the child that was taken?†Jacali asked.

 

“I do not know,†Mr. Chang said. “I have only told you what rumors I have heard. I am unsure whose child it is. And I’m unsure of much more than that a child was taken by one from the other. I do not even know why they would take a child. It seems blatantly aggressive.â€

 

Mr. Li turned to Professor Stalloid.

 

“You are a white man that visits Chinatown,†he said. “Do you know of other white men that might try to steal a child?â€

 

“Usually not the kind I associate with,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“He is a child savior after all,†Jacali said.

 

“You are a child savior after all,†Mr. Li said.

 

“Do you think you know anybody who might have more information about the child kidnapping?†Jacali asked.

 

“I do not know,†Mr. Chang said. “You could … if you are brave … or foolish … or both … you could go to the leaders of the tongs and petition to speak to them and find out directly from the source. If you are so inclined. I would bring gifts if you are going to speak to the leaders of either tong.â€

 

“And this is something that you will not help us in, I assume?†Mr. Li said.

 

“They would not look favorably upon any of you associating with me if I tried to help you. The Six Companies works against the tongs and has been for some years. We will hopefully break their power soon.â€

 

“If we bring gifts and we come in peace, they are not allowed to hurt us, correct?â€

 

“They should respect the hospitality of the house. So long as you are careful not to offend them …â€

 

“Like the tea,†Otto said.

 

“Like putting sugar in tea,†Mr. Li said.

 

Mr. Chang nodded.

 

“Try not to offend them,†he said. “Bring gifts or money. Money is probably going to get you the furthest. They might at least talk to you. I don’t know if it will be helpful or not. I wish I could help you further. I am sorry I cannot.â€

 

“Which tong would be the more peaceful to talk to?†Mr. Li said.

 

Mr. Chang didn’t think there would be a difference. He was also unsure who was in charge of each of the tongs. Leadership changed regularly and, as there were so many tongs to keep track of, it was impossible to say for sure. However, he was able to find the locations of the brothels for them and tell them the locations. The Rightful Spirit Tong controlled two brothels set in buildings directly connected to each other on Pacific Street where Pacific Place was. The other was on St. Louis Alley a block or so away. Both were small setups.

 

“What is your opinion of Lin Chou?†Mr. Li said.

 

“She is an old woman from China,†Mr. Chang said. “She came here ten or twenty years ago. She tells fortunes to people to make her living. I, of course, do not believe in such superstitious nonsense!â€

 

“Neither do I.â€

 

“Much as the talk of the demons being in Chinatown seems … superstitious. However, the police are loathe to send anyone into Chinatown unless absolutely necessary. There have been people disappearing, which makes me wary. I would be very careful, especially at night, in Chinatown.â€

 

“Oh, I think we know,†Jacali said.

 

“Lin Chou knows much,†Mr. Change said. “Many people talk to her and sometimes attempt to bribe her with information in an attempt to get free fortunes as well. She might have some information. Or she might lie straight out to you. I do not trust the old woman.â€

 

“I do not either but she does seem to be a lead in this case,†Mr. Li said.

 

They finished their tea and Mr. Chang bowed and saw them out, wishing them luck with finding out what was going on. He noted they could bring any information they wanted back to him and he would help them in whatever capacity they could, noting that “Anything that hurts the tongs is good for Chinatown and China.â€

 

They briefly discussed what to do next. Mr. Li pointed out, when splitting up was brought up, that he could not be two places at once, and he was unsure who of the people they wanted to talk to spoke English. Professor Stalloid was convinced he needed to talk to the Clean and Pure Serenity Tong but, when Otto started to accompany him, he changed his mind and told the rest he’d go to see Lin Chou with them.

 

“We should go to Lin Chow just in case the tong talk goes terribly wrong,†Mr. Li said.

 

They found the Chinese barbershop and the stairway up the interior of the structure. The apartments in the hot, stuffy building were tiny and they heard a crying baby somewhere, as well as the noise of people talking through the thin walls. They went up to the third floor and found a tiny landing without windows, lit only by the cracks in the walls and ceilings. A single door led off it. Written on the door in Chinese was “Lin Chou†and “Fortunes Told.†It was stiflingly hot.

 

“Fortunes sold, more like,†Mr. Li mumbled. “Are there any of you that are superstitious?â€

 

“I was not,†Jacali said. “But I have seen many things that defy my belief.â€

 

“What do you mean?†Professor Stalloid said. “I was going to say basically the same thing. What do you mean by superstitious?â€

 

“Do you believe that this lady actually knows your fortune?†Mr. Li said.

 

“Why not?†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“All right, what about you Otto?†Mr. Li said. “Do you believe this lady knows your fortune?â€

 

Otto shook his head.

 

“No?†Mr. Li said.

 

“I don’t believe she knows my fortune,†Jacali said. “But I believe, like most fortune tellers, she knows how to read people and tell them what they want to hear.â€

 

“I agree with Jacali,†Otto said.

 

“What about the other two of you?†Mr. Li said. “Bear Man and Dr. Lady? I’m sorry. I forget names. I’ve only known you for a day.â€

 

“Weisswald,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

The other two didn’t answer.

 

“The only reason I ask is that I’m sure this room is cramped and I would like for the person that actually believes this lady to be at the forefront of our party,†Mr. Li said.

 

“I can go,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“You must be wide-eyed and believe everything she says and do not disrespect her in any way,†Mr. Li said.

 

“Okay,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“Also, she will probably ask for coin, and I’m guessing from looking at the rest of us, that you might have the most,†Mr. Li said. “Child savior.â€

 

“There are two women and four men on my landing!†A harsh voice came from the door. “Enter!â€

 

“I guess it’s time for us to go,†Mr. Li said.

 

They entered the door.

 

“Hello Madam Lin Chou!†Professor Stalloid said.

 

There was an odd and unpleasant smell in the room. They had never smelled anything like it. It appeared there was a second room as another door led out of the tiny sitting room where an old and ugly Chinese lady sat behind a small table. Fetishes and odd things hung from the ceiling and there were small items and gewgaws all over the tiny pieces of worn and sometimes broken furniture.

 

“Who are you and what do you want?†the old crone growled. “Are you hear for your fortunes?â€

 

“I am here for my fortune, Madame Lin Chou,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“Sit!†she said.

 

She gestured at the only other chair in the tiny room. It was hot and cramped with so many people there. Lin Chou turned away and then turned back to Professor Stalloid.

 

“Twenty dollars for your fortune,†she said.

 

“Okay,†he said.

 

He took out $20 and handed it to the woman who tucked it away. She turned away and went to a small fireplace that burned in one corner. She put a kettle over the coals and it hissed and boiled almost immediately, as if the water was already hot. She started chanting to herself in a language none of them other understood. It wasn’t Chinese or English or any language any of them knew. There might have been some Arabic in it or perhaps some strange language that mankind was never meant to utter.

 

She put tea leaves in a cup, followed by nearly boiling water, mixing them up with a dirty-looking spoon. She placed it in front of Professor Stalloid and stopped chanting.

 

“Drink the tea,†she said. “But leave the last sip and the leaves.â€

 

He did as instructed and she chanted and waved her hands in the air as he drank the terribly hot tea. He felt himself break out into a sweat from the stifling air and the steaming beverage.

 

“Think of the future,†she growled before going back to her chanting.

 

He finally, finally finished his cup of terrible tea. He held it out and she took it from him, still chanting and humming. Her eyes, which had been rolled up in her head, rolled back down and she looked at the cup.

 

“Ho!†she said. “You … you seek … you seek a child. Stolen. Stolen by one of your own … from ours.â€

 

“That’s incredible!†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“You … you will find the … answers in the bowels … of the Rightful Spirit Tong lair,†she said. “If … your answers are there, if you know how to ask … and can calm an addled mind. Hm. You should bring the child to me once you find it.â€

 

“Wise Lin Chou,†Mr. Li said. “Who is the child?â€

 

“The tea leaves do not say. They only tell me what I told you. What they say is left up to your interpretation.â€

 

“Who took the child? Can you see that?â€

 

“It is not in the leaves.â€

 

“We need new leaves.â€

 

“In the bowels of the Rightful Spirit Tong.â€

 

She pointed down.

 

“But what of my future?†Professor Stalloid asked.

 

“You have more money?†she said to Mr. Li, ignoring Professor Stalloid. “Give me more money.â€

 

She looked at Professor Stalloid.

 

“I told you your future,†she said. “Where you will find the child.â€

 

He handed her a dollar.

 

“More of these,†she said, taking the bill.

 

“I shall help you, good sir,†Mr. Li said.

 

He took out another twenty-dollar bill and put it on the table.

 

“I do know there are two tongs fighting … and they are using magic!†she said.

 

“Dark magic,†Mr. Li said.

 

“Yes. I’m sure such fine people as yourselves do not believe in such things.â€

 

“I didn’t.â€

 

“I am unsure which side has the child aside from what the tea leaves have told me. But you should perhaps go beneath the streets to find your way. To the Rightful Spirit. It is said the hill upon which Chinatown rests is filled with … riddled with tunnels, sewers, and caves. If you find your way in, there is one there who can probably tell you. Give you all your answers.â€

 

She was looking in the cup again.

 

“There are secret ways underfoot that lead to both tongs,†she said.

 

“So, could we start in the Clean and Pure Tong and make our way into the Rightful Spirit Tong?†Professor Stalloid asked.

 

“There is a way,†she said. “It would … it would be a long way. The tunnels are not built well under San Francisco. But I could tell you how to get to the Rightful Spirit Tong. If you wish. To the lair. Their underground lair.â€

 

She looked over them.

 

“Do you wish?†she asked again.

 

“Sure,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

Mr. Li took out more money but the woman waved him off.

 

“No no,†she said.

 

She gave him precise instructions on where to enter the sewers nearby and how to follow them to the lair of the Rightful Spirit Tong, a block or so away. It seemed like a long way through the sewers for such a nearby location. Mr. Li wrote it all down in a small notebook as did Professor Stalloid.

 

“You, medicine man,†she said to him. “You. You must ask yours to find me a young girl to be my apprentice.â€

 

“Ask mine?†he muttered.

 

“Your people,†Mr. Li said.

 

“Okay,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

She waved at them to leave.

 

“We are done here,†she said.

 

They left the horrible cramped garret, passing another Chinese woman heading up the steps as they descended.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

They returned to Mr. Li’s office and discussed what to do. Mr. Li wanted to change his clothing if he was going down into the sewers. Professor Stalloid suggested a second party go into the tong brothel as the other group went into the sewers in an attempt to distract and gain information. He pointed out if they had the tong boss in their company, he wouldn’t be down in the sewers.

 

“Why do you want to split up so often?†Mr. Li said.

 

“Iunno,†Professor Stalloid said with a shrug.

 

“If you think it is a good idea, I should distract the tong. They will not let foreigners in without someone like me. And even if they did, I would fear for your safety.â€

 

“I could accompany him,†Otto said. “I’m armed.â€

 

“I feel like we need your arms in the sewers then,†Professor Stalloid said. “We are not trying to fight up top.â€

 

“Yes, but if they decide that they don’t like you, you’ll be defenseless,†Otto said.

 

“Yes, but I should be able to reason with them,†Mr. Li said.

 

“I do not believe they would kill such a well-known man in cold blood,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“You’re a white man,†Otto said. “In Chinatown.â€

 

“Yes!†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“But I will protect him,†Mr. Li said. “My words─â€

 

“That might actually get the police here!†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“I don’t know that we want that either,†Mr. Li said.

 

“They won’t get there in time though,†Otto said.

 

“No, not to save me,†Professor Stalloid said. “But I’m saying it’s a discouragement.â€

 

“What I am also trying to say to you, bounty hunter man,†Mr. Li said.

 

“Otto,†Otto said.

 

“Otto,†Mr. Li said. “Is that if I cannot sway them from killing this man, your sword will not do much better.â€

 

“Which is to say if they even let you bring the sword in,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

Dr. Li suggested he and Professor Stalloid enter the tong with gifts, only for peaceful talks. He would give his notebook to the others and they could travel in the sewers. Otto suggested Stalloid bring them medicine as a gift and he said he was planning on it. He assumed they liked opiates and had some other plans.

 

“I have $200,†he said.

 

“And you’re only paying me $10 a day for this scroll that I haven’t looked at yet?†Mr. Li said.

 

“You haven’t even looked at it?†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“I have it in my desk, which I’m sure it will never get stolen from,†Mr. Li said.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Otto, Wilder, Dr. Weisswald, and Jacali changed into simpler clothing and crept into the sewers where Lin Chou had told them to enter. The sewers were brick and a hodge-podge of tunnels that smelled terrible and were built haphazardly in random sizes, crossing one another wherever they met, and flowing into the nearest open water. Storm drains were combined with household flows and everything was obviously built by different people. It was simply awful.

 

Lin Chou’s instructions were correct and they found a place with a door they were able to enter. Beyond it they found a stone tunnel with light ahead. They crept in and saw the tunnel turned and then opened, after 20 feet or so, into a large room. They saw a man’s back near the entrance and, when they crept forward, they saw three other men in the room. They appeared to be armed with hatchets.

 

The room had several torture devices. In the center of it all was some kind of rack with a man strapped down to it. Over him was a large tank and they could see a pipe led to about a foot over the man’s held head and a single drop of water came out of it and struck the man in the forehead every second or so. He was talking, in English, apparently to himself. There were also three other cave entrances that led out of the room.

 

Wilder and Dr. Weisswald recognized the man strapped down. It was Pete Sutter, who muttered to himself and changed what he was saying every time the water struck his forehead.

 

“Oh mother, I don’t want to get up yet,†he muttered. “Oh. Look at the pretty, pretty clouds. Two thousand five hundred and ninety eight. Two thousand five hundred and ninety eight. Two thousand five hundred and ninety eight.â€

 

He was obviously in distress and rambled somewhat loudly.

 

They crept back a few feet and held a whispered discussion on what to do.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

“How may we help you gentlemen?†asked the man at the brothel. “Would you like the good rooms upstairs?â€

 

“I’m afraid not,†Mr. Li said. “I have brought this man, Brandon Stalloid. He has come to pay homage to the leader of the tong. He has gifts.â€

 

“I must see these gifts,†the Chinese man said. “What gifts are they?â€

 

“And a business proposition,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“What gifts?†the man said. “Show me your gifts.â€

 

Professor Stalloid brought out a sack of opium and what looked like three cigarettes.

 

“This is something new,†he said. “For the business proposition.â€

 

He also put five twenty-dollar bills on top. The man gathered everything.

 

“I will see if he will speak to you, honorable … Stalloid?†he said.

 

“Stalloid,†Professor Stalloid said. “Brandon Stalloid.â€

 

“Honorable Mr. Brandon,†the man said.

 

He turns and went into the brothel. Two men showed up shortly after that. Both had hatchets tucked into their belts. They told the two men, in Chinese, to come with them, taking them upstairs to the highest part of the terrible house. A room in the back had a balcony that looked out over Pacific Place. The room was lavishly appointed with silks and they were made to remove their shoes before entering. They saw the package and the cigarettes on a low table in the center of the room.

 

Professor Stalloid had been working with opium quite extensively and had made a discovery about the substance a year before. He learned an English chemist working at St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London by the name of C.R. Alder Wright had followed a similar path around the same time, synthesizing what he called diacetylmorphine or morphine diacetate around the same time. However, he had seen no use for the drug. Professor Stalloid thought differently. He had added the substance to tobacco and found it produced a relaxing effect in those who used it. However, it was highly addictive.

 

The man there was older, probably in his sixties. He wore a western suit and hat and had a white mustache and long, curling goatee. He smoked a cigar and smiled at the men when they entered, standing from the cushion he sat upon.

 

“Ah,†the old man said. “Honorable Mr. Brandon. I am Yan Min. I run this establishment. How may I help you?â€

 

Professor Stalloid told him about the items he had brought and Mr. Yan had the drugs taken away to be tested, noting that if they were poisoned and his man died, they would both die.

 

“You understand this of course,†Mr. Yan said.

 

They both nodded.â€

 

“Very good,†Mr. Yan said. “It is how business is done. We do not deal with drugs often.â€

 

“I did not know that he was bringing three new things,†Mr. Li said. “I was told there was opium and money. So, if your friend does die, I am not aware.â€

 

“The new things are also opiates,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“Well, we are a brothel, but the girls enjoy their … stimulants,†Mr. Yan said. “Please. Tea? Or whiskey?â€

 

“I will have tea,†Mr. Li said.

 

Mr. Yan also wanted to hear about the new drug and how it would help his tong, which he said was trying to help the people of Chinatown, giving girls a place to live and a roof above their heads, food on their plates, and safety. Professor Stalloid talked about bringing more for sale if his people enjoyed it as he sipped whiskey. Mr. Yan said he might be interested.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Underground, the others discussed what to do, Dr. Weisswald saying she could get the near man if they could take out the others. Otto didn’t think they should use firearms and the doctor agreed. Otto slung his rifle and quietly drew his saber. Wilder thought he could creep in and take out one of them. Otto was for taking them out as quietly and quickly as possible. Jacali noted she could shoot the man across the room with her bow and arrow.

 

They decided Wilder and Dr. Weisswald would enter the room quietly, hiding in the shadows, while Otto prepared himself to ambush the man nearest their door and Jacali shot the man across the room.

 

They set their plan into action.

 

Wilder crept into the room, moving behind the man nearest them. He felt there were few shadows, so moved very, very slowly in order to stay as hidden as possible. Dr. Weisswald did the same, moving quietly in the shadows over to the right behind some tables. Otto crept up behind the nearest guard while Jacali aimed at the man across the room with her bow.

 

A few of the guards in the room sniffed at the air and made faces. They talked amongst themselves in Chinese and didn’t seem pleased.

 

Wilder crept closer, going slower and slower and slower as he was sure the others were watching him. Then Dr. Weisswald, as she crept near the man on the left, bumped into the table and knocked off several torture instruments and sharp scalpels and knives, making a terrible racket, alerting everyone in the room. The hatchet men let out surprised shouts and all of them looked towards the woman.

 

Jacali let her arrow fly. It flew straight and true as the man across the room pulled out his hatchet. The arrow struck him in the right hand as he pulled the weapon from his belt, spearing the man’s hand onto his hatchet. He let out a shriek. At the same moment, Otto took a step forward and ran through the man in the doorway. The man grunted and fell to the ground.

 

The man to the left ran across the room, hatchet in hand. The man nearest Dr. Weisswald drew his own hatchet and swung at her. She drew her Arkansas toothpick and defended herself, blocking his blow and stabbing him. He let out a shriek.

 

Wilder leapt from the shadows and rushed the man with the arrow in his hand and hatchet. He attacked the man with a knife and the man defended himself with his hatchet and let out a cry as it obviously hurt terribly. Despite the pain, he swung again at Wilder, screaming in pain, and struck the man a telling blow on the chest.

 

The man attacking Weisswald was again cut by her knife.

 

The man in the middle had seen Otto cut down his friend and rushed him. Otto ran the man through, stabbing him in the heart. The man went down with a gasp and Otto heard the death rattle in his throat as he struck the ground. Dr. Weisswald stabbed the man she faced again. He fell to the ground with a cry.

 

Otto crossed the room to the hatchet man fighting Wilder. Another arrow flew from where Jacali hid in the tunnel and struck the Chinese man in the head. He screamed as Wilder moved away from the man, putting the rack between the two.

 

“Mother, is that you?†Pete Sutter muttered. “I’m not ready to get up yet, mother!â€

 

Wilder started working on the manacles holding Pete down. They were built to be unscrewed instead of having keyholes.

 

The last hatchet man fled, running towards one of the other tunnels in the room. Dr. Weisswald gave chase, running across the room, and Otto charged the man and stabbed the man in the back with his saber. He crashed to the ground.

 

“It’s so nice and quiet - ugh!†Pete muttered.

 

Dr. Weisswald got to work helping Wilder release Pete Sutter.

 

“We need to get rid of these bodies,†Otto said.

 

Then the others recognized Pete Sutter on the table.

 

“Who’s Pete Sutter,†Jacali said.

 

“The man who shot Jack West,†Dr. Weisswald said.

 

“What!?!†Jacali said. “How’d he get here!?!â€

 

Pete had a strange facial tic and but they managed to get him loose of the terrible wrap and away from the dripping water.

 

“Where’s my piece!?!†Pete said. “Who’s got my piece!?!â€

 

Dr. Weisswald treated the two survivors of their attack, keeping both of them from dying.

 

“I believe I know the man we were supposed to find,†Otto said.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

After a half hour, someone came back to talk quietly to Mr. Yan. He told the men he wanted a few days to make sure there were no slow-acting poison. He said he might be interested in the new drug, or might be able to put the medicine man in contact with someone who might be interested.

 

“As an intermediary, I would, of course, need 15 percent,†Mr. Yan said. “For introducing you to those who might find use of your products. Do you have a card?â€

 

“I do not, sadly,†Professor Stalloid lied. “Just to make sure because I’m not wanting to get in trouble with the law myself. You’re not trying anything right now that might link me to anything, right?â€

 

“Trying anything?â€

 

“I’m just trying to make some money.â€

 

“What? What do you mean?â€

 

“I’m just trying - I don’t want to - ‘cause I came in here - I know tongs have very … versatile … skills … and multi-objective … paths.â€

 

“We are at odds with another tong right now. But this is a brothel. Everything we do is illegal.â€

 

“I know but I’m … you know … I don’t think I’d get into trouble for that. That’s what I’m saying. For coming here. For that.â€

 

“There’s nothing that you need concern yourself about.â€

 

“Okay.â€

 

“Is that all, gentlemen?â€

 

They nodded.

 

“Mr. Li, as always, a pleasure,†Mr. Yan said.

 

They were escorted from the premises. Mr. Li took Professor Stalloid to a nearby restaurant where they enjoyed Chinese food. They noticed they were being followed but ignored the men while they ate.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Dr. Weisswald saw to Wilder’s wounds and stopped the bleeding. While she did so, Otto dragged the dead bodies out of the room and chucked them into the sewer. Jacali recovered her arrows. They found some rope and tied the wounded tong men together.

 

Jacali went to the other entrances to the room. The one furthest to the left was a corridor. The one in the middle led to a small room. She got a torch and looked in, finding weapons: hatchets, knives, and pistols. The last room was smaller and had packages and bundles she guessed were opium. She told them about the other rooms. Dr. Weisswald got knives out of the armory. Otto got another pistol and ammunition for the .45 Peacemaker. Wilder took a hatchet out of the room.

 

Pete Sutter was very out of sorts. He wandered the room aimlessly and was obviously very confused. Wilder found Pete’s hat and put it on his own head.

 

“It’s certainly dark out here,†Pete muttered.

 

He walked over and stared at one of the torches. They talked about what to do with him and suggestions of tying him up or tying him to something were both made.

 

“Where’s my piece?†he asked again. “Have you seen my piece? I can’t find my piece.â€

 

“We’ll find it for you,†Dr. Weisswald said. “You just stay right here.â€

 

“I gotta find my piece,†Pete said. “Without my piece, what am I gonna do? Hello puppy.â€

 

They tied a rope around Pete’s waist and tied the other end to the rack he’d been attached to. He wandered a little ways in the room and seemed mystified when the rope kept him from going far, but never tried to untie himself. He was too out of it to make the connection.

 

They went down the tunnel, which led around a corner and to a set of wooden steps to a door. Otto went up and heard what sounded like several people behind it. He returned and told them what he’d heard. Jacali suggested they get out of there with Pete and Dr. Weisswald noted Pete might know something. Otto pointed out they would find the man who they sought there and Dr. Weisswald agreed he was a white man. Jacali suggested they leave with Pete.

 

When Dr. Weisswald mentioned the men had seen their faces, Otto wanted to know if she wanted to kill them. She wondered if they should take them with them. Jacali asked if they had seen their faces. Otto noted they might recognize his saber. They figured Dr. Weisswald was the only one who any of the tong members had seen clearly.

 

“Eva, I think you have worse things to worry about and doing something to keep these people from ever talking about that is going to be very … more difficult or morally dubious than I think we have time for,†Jacali said. “Especially with Pete.â€

 

“Yeah, but if we take them, they might know some stuff,†Dr. Weisswald said.

 

“I’m Pete,†Pete said. “My name’s Pete. Pete Leviticus Sutter.â€

 

“Do you think that lawyer will be okay with us taking a hostage from the drug operation and tying him up after beating him to unconsciousness and then interrogating him?†Jacali said.

 

Dr. Weisswald thought on that.

 

“All right, who wants to leave him?†Dr. Weisswald said.

 

“I think we should leave him,†Jacali said.

 

“I want to take him with us but I just don’t see the logistics of it working out,†Otto said.

 

“Don’t leave me,†Pete said.

 

“We’re not leaving you, Pete,†Otto said.

 

“Who’s Pete?†Pete said.

 

“What do you think?†Dr. Weisswald said to Wilder.

 

“Sutter was … one of the ones that said he was from the Secret Service?†Wilder said.

 

“Well, we’re taking Pete out of here,†Dr. Weisswald said. “I’m talking about the two Chinese people. One of them saw me so they would be able to tell people.â€

 

“I would suggest leaving them but leaving something behind that makes them think it’s secret service that came through,†Wilder said.

 

“But they wouldn’t know who that is,†Dr. Weisswald said.

 

“What do we have on us that looks like secret service?†Jacali said.

 

“I don’t know,†Wilder said.

 

“If anyone can write Chinese, we can put ‘The other tong was here,’ on their opium,†Jacali said.

 

“I can write German,†Otto said.

 

“I don’t think the German gangs are a big problem in Chinatown,†Jacali said.

 

“Yes, but it would confuse them, would it not?†Otto said.

 

They decided to take some of the opium and Pete and get out of there. It didn’t take them as long to escape the sewers once again.

 

“Now the question we’ve all been waiting for and dreading,†Jacali said. “Who’s cleaning Pete?â€

 

“Have you seen my piece?†Pete said. “I’m looking for my piece.â€

 

“I don’t want to see your piece,†Jacali said. “That’s why I don’t want to clean you.â€

 

“I’m a doctor, I’ve seen worse,†Dr. Weisswald said.

 

They found a bathhouse to clean themselves and get Pete cleaned up. He kept asking about his mother. They were given simple clothing and robes and their own clothing was put in thick canvas bags to try to hold in the smell. They headed for Nob Hill to Stalloid’s house.

 

 

* * *

 

 


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