FORBIDDEN JOURNEY, 3

Dr. Chee’s Meet and Greet

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“Professor Otto Eichelstein.”

“And I am Professor Ivan Pavlov. We are both teaching at Peking University.”

“A Psychology Doctorate,” added Prof. Eichelstein.

“Education is the key to heaven’s gate.” Dr. Chee nodded towards Mingzhu. “Please allow my daughter to attach a raffle token.” Mingzhu pinned a silver disc upon their shoulders. The camera’s flashbulb thumped. Prof. Pavlov wore a puzzled frown, trying to recall a classical quotation regarding “Education…” “Yes–er–I believe so,” he mumbled.

“I am Dr. Chee, your host. May I introduce you to my daughters, Mingzhu and Chunhua.” He proffered his hand. “Welcome, and enjoy the evening. And you are?…”

A tall and obscenely obese Japanese man in a tailored formal kimono bowed his head towards Dr. Chee’s daughters. He was full of shame as he looked each of them in the eyes. He extended his open hand towards Dr. Chee, cringing as if expecting a reprisal for any ill conceived thoughts he may or may not have been harbouring towards the beautiful young women. The reprisal came after all, but from a tiny old woman hidden from view by the massive girth of Tatsuo Akiyama. She slapped the ham sized hand of young Tatsuo and scowled. “Keep your eyes and your hands to yourself you stupid ox!”

The old woman held out her hand to Dr Chee. Her English was sharp but her accent was strong–easily recognized as Japanese. “I am Arashi Akiyama, Dr. Chee. This oaf is my son Tatsuo. He is as rude as he is fat I am afraid. Please forgive his clumsy leering. He will pay dearly for his manners I assure you.”

Tatsuo nodded to Dr. Chee and lowered his head.

Chunhua, glued to Dr. Chee’s side, eyed Tatsuo up and down with a slantindicular smile, as if she found the Japanese man to be deliciously revolting. Mingzhu jangled her calf-skin bag of raffle tokens. “Zhēn de ma, bà ba?”

“Madam,” said Dr. Chee, and bowed almost imperceptibly. The camera’s flashbulb thumped.

“I am Dr. Chee, your host. May I introduce you to my daughters, Mingzhu and Chunhua.” He proffered his hand. “Welcome, and enjoy the evening. And you are?…”

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Waiting patiently was a tall, travel-worn gentleman. He bowed correctly in the Chinese manner, conveying just the right amount of respect but not an ounce more. “Santiago”–a glimmer of a smile played around his mouth–“El Águila. And this gentleman is my traveling companion. I’m afraid I don’t know his name–he doesn’t speak much.” He turned to the beautiful daughters and bowed to them silently in turn. The robed Chinese man that stood beside Santiago bowed also. They could see his bare feet .

“Spanish, but not from Spain, yes?” Then Dr. Chee addressed Santiago’s companion: “Sēng?” Dr. Chee nodded towards Mingzhu. “Please allow my daughter to attach a raffle token.” Mingzhu pinned a silver disc upon Santiago’s shoulder. The camera’s flashbulb thumped.

“I am Dr. Chee, your host. May I introduce you to my daughters, Mingzhu and Chunhua.” He proffered his hand. “Welcome, and enjoy the evening. And you are?…”

“Good evening.” A slender woman wearing a black chiffon dress approached the doctor, offering up her hand in greeting but unsure of the local customs and obviously tentative. “I am Violet Montgomery, actress. Let me start by saying that your country is most beautiful and I am impressed with your establishment here. I–” she was interrupted by the man standing behind her, who immediately stepped forward to place himself within the conversation.

“Hello. I’m Mario Giovanni–Ms. Montgomery’s travelling companion. We represent Hong Kong’s Tianyi Film Company. We heard this was the place to be in Peking this evening. Thanks for welcoming us.” The man grinned and proffered his hand too. Violet rolled her dark eyes and looked towards Dr. Chee with a hint of embarrassment.

“Most kind, Miss Montgomery.” Dr. Chee took her hand and pressed his lips to her fingers; Violet felt a wet touch… There was a sharp intake of breath from Chunhua. Dr. Chee shook Mario’s hand. “Signaore Giovanni, benvenute.”

The camera’s flashbulb thumped, the photographer took a picture of Violet and Mario, the final guests. Also, a bearded ancient inscribed, with exquisite calligraphy, a record of everyone.

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