Glass Curtain by Thaddeus Hutyra

chapter 24

 

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China,the Middle Kingdom of the World and...the Monkey King.

Author:Thaddeus Hutyra

 

Steven Mac Dantosch,Tadek Vangard and Melissa Charleroi did not have any problem with the Indian custom officers.They were exeptionally lazy and sleepy,perhaps because of the hit of the tropic and the dryness of the air.Just the fact the travellers looked Europeans was enough to let them pass the counters without whatseover control.The customs did not even look at their passports.-“Just go.”- Were the signs by their hands.Thanks to it,the three friends found themselves ahead of other passangers on the board of a Chinese plane which had a scheduled departure one and a half hour later.The Chinese stewardesses were exceptionally friendly.While being seated in the middle of the plane and waiting for a completion of the board by other passangers,they turned themselves onto their memories and the most what they truly remembered was the monumental torch of the Mount Abu on one side and wholeheartedly farewell with the catholic nuns in Lonavla on the other hand.
The flying to Canton,the biggest town on the mainland which bordered Hong Kong,lasted just a little bit over three hours.Even flying to a communist country as China was did not stop them from thinking how rapidly the world was becoming a global village.They did not have any problems with the Chinese customs as well.They got Chinese tourist visas easily and fast,were not controlled at all and were treated by the Chinese customs officers with smiles from ear to ear.When they,however,looked at the fellow travellers,from the mainland China,they encountered first tastes of mistreatment of the Chinese people by the various officials of their own government.The Chinese travellers were treated rudely,not only by the customs officers but also by the policemen who felt themselves free to approach any Chinese person they wished.The Chinese travellers were searched routinely and the launguage applied to them was harsh and threatening.They found themselves on the streets of Canton and instantly were surrounded by many young,Chinese people who offered them whatever services,from bringing to a hotel by a car to a black market changing money.They had to keep themselves away from intrusive Chinese guys like from unpleasant flies.Once they found a taxi of their own choice the problem with the interlopers seemed to be solved for now.They,however,knew this will be a persistent problem they will encounter every some time while staying in China.They were brought to Dongfang Hotel,a budget hotel for young international travellers,which was situated next to a five star hotel,called “Swan Hotel” and a beautiful Canton Orchid Park.Already after several days of staying in the hotel they knew most of the young travellers who came to China from such distinct countries as the United States,England,France,the Netherlands,Brasil,Australia and…Poland.The tourists from Poland shared tourist pleasantries with money making activities.They bought whatever stuff which they could sell later on either in the Soviet Union or in Poland,quite often with big profits.They were buying everything what they knew was good for selling in the Soviet Union and Poland:from clothes and shoes to cameras,video cameras,walkmen,CD players and other electronic equipments.Black,unofficial market was thriving,from the streets of Canton to the streets of Irkutsk and Moscow in the Soviet Union,and the streets of Warsaw,Budapest and Praag in the sattelite states.There was some magic when tourists talked about Beijing,the capital of China.Perhaps because of the Chinese Wall in Badaling,just about two hours trip away from Beijing.The Chinese were proud of their Great Wall,which had its origins in the ancient times and spread through much of the Chinese territory,and was one only object built by the human activities which was seen from the Moon.
-“Let’s go to Beijing.”- Tadek Vangard proposed to his friends.
Yet the same day in the evening they found themselves on the train which took them through picturesque places as they had a pleasure to see the next day while travelling on the train.They have seen the wonders of nature ,single mountains separated from other mountains by lowlands which spread many kilometres around.The views were breathtaking.No less delicious was observing the ordinary Chinese villagers and their lives.It seemed like if the train travelled through a fabulous,mithical planet,lost somewhere there in the Universe.The train went on and on for two nights and one day.It was noisy and crowdy beyond anything imaginable.Nevertheless,the Chinese travellers were exceptionally friendly,curious of the strangers from some far away places,as Steven Mac Dantosch,Tadek Vangard,Melissa Charleroi and a small number of other travellers of a European origin were.Some of the Chinese travellers did not have sleeping places and had to travel sitting all the time for two nights and one day,in the tremendously overcrowded carriages.Many of them occupied every free space on the floor.Beacause it was already spring the windows could be open and,therefore,at least the air was fresh enough.
Shortly after the six a’clock in the morning,after two nights and one day of travel,they have arrived into a monumental Beijing Central Railway Station.
They have rushed out the station,together with thousands of the Chinese travellers.
When they found themselves outside the front side of the Railway Station,they have stood nailed to the ground and it seemed long enough time for the crowdy Chinese to think of them as some foreign fools.They knew one thing for sure: they will never forget what they have seen.Away from the large square rather,adjacent to the Railway Station,went on wide street,long for about five hundred meters only and connected to a main road,which was at least one hundred meters wide.Behind the main road there was an impressive building with wings,high for about twenty floors,coloured in white and finished with a masterful,architectonic touch of a round structure,all glassed.It was the Beijing International Hotel.But still this was not what made the travellers feeling nailed to the ground.It was the look of thousands upon thousands of Chinese bicyclists who pedalled steadfastly to their workplaces.And the image of the Chinese bycyclists was never ending,it went on and on like a monumental rope which could tie easily the Earth's equator.Never ending columnade of the Chinese bicyclists against a background of…the morning Sun,deliciously oranged,which just woke up and began to shine with its golden,enlivening sunbeams.The travellers were sure they will never forget this fantastic scene which will stay in their memories like a painting created by some world famous painter,perhaps even Pablo Picasso,Marc Chagall or Paul Cezanne.
They have gone to Qiao Yuan Hotel,a popular destination hotel among young European travellers,by taxi.The hotel was situated in the south-western part of Beijing,along a street which bordered an artificial channel behind which one could see a beautiful park with a number of small lakes.The hotel was full of young,international tourists,beaming with happiness and passion,and a curiosity to see everything one can wish and imagine.There could not exist any hide-out they could not see.The curiosity and inventiveness of their minds was endless.The privilage of the young minded who thought they were the kings and the monarchs.Perhaps this was the main reason why they did their crusade like tourist trips to the communist country as China was.Most of them had already some trips accomplished,to many parts of China and amongst others to the troubled provincies of Urumqi and Tybet.They,naturally,solidarized with the local people in their quests for freedom and independence eventually from their Chinese overlord.They also symphatized with the ordinary Chinese folk and wished them wholeheartedly at least a bit more freedoms from their communist regime.While the worldwide tourists had a paradise in China and could enjoy their freedoms they were accustomed to in the West,their Chinese compatriots had a hell in their own country,being mistreated and misruled,reduced to a status of human chickens…Was this world not strange?…
The days went after days and Steven Mac Dantosch,Tadek Vangard and Melissa Charleroi felt themselves as if they stayed in China at least for months.They did not intend to go out of the country.There was no reason for this at present.They had their happy lives here and made numerous friendships with international tourists and some friendships also with the local people.Small Chinese cafes and restaurants were spreading along the street like mushrooms after the rain.And there was still a shortage of restaurants to accommodate the tourists who stayed in Qiao Yuan Hotel and the nearby hotels,such as Yongdingmen and Jingtai Hotels.There was an entire drive in desire among the international tourists to depart China by the transsiberian train via Siberia and Moscow in the Soviet Union to East Berlin in East Germany or to Budapest in Hungary and then Vienna in Austria.Of course,after completion of all the destinations within China.There was one big problem concerning the transsiberian trains:no tickets were available.Most of the tickets were bought by the Chinese travellers much earlier who travelled across the communist bloc,to Moscow,Warsaw,East Berlin,Budapest and Bucuresti amongst others.Tadek Vangard found out the Chinese official tourist beauraus,CITS,accepted the return tickets for the transsiberian trains,which were bought in Intourist offices in Moscow,Orbis offices in Warsaw and Express offices in Budapest.While the Chinese tickets cost approximately plus minus two hundred US dollars for the second class sleeping places,the tickets purchased in the other communist capitals cost less than…fifty dollars,just one fourth of the Chinese price.He got an idea:why not to purchase a large number of tickets in Budapest,Warsaw or Moscow and make a profit of at least one hundred dollars on every ticket while still being competitive towards the Chinese tickets and making the tourists happy because of enabling them going further on,via their ultimate tourist trip through the Soviet Union,much earlier than they would be able otherwise.
He called to his brother,Marek Vangard who lived in Poland together with the rest of their family,and ordered one hundred return transsiberian tickets,Beijing to Moscow,Berlin and Budapest,for both,first and second class sleepers.Within a week he had the tickets delivered to him by the Beijing branch of DHL.
He was lucky to make reservations for up to three months forward.And…nearly a miracle happened:…all the tickets were sold within a week.He ordered from his brother even more tickets and also this tickets were sold within a week.
Then he ordered from his brother five hundred new return tickets,this time for second class hard sleepers,first class soft sleepers and the deluxe class which was as good as on the famous Orient Express which had its route from Western Europe via Turkey to India.There were even showers in the deluxe class compartments!The transsiberian train was a new star on the horizon,soon as famous as the Orient Express,fastly becoming a legendary one.Especially the Chinese train which was a bit more popular than the Soviet train.Most of this tickets were also sold nearly at once.
Tadek Vangard ordered a new set of tickets from his brother,Marek Vangard: a thousand of tickets.By the time the summer arrived he had a full set of reserved tickets which were selling like fresh bread rolls.Everybody was happy:the international tourists from all the major western countries,including the United States,England and Germany,and also the Polish tourists who numbered at least one fourth of the total tourist arrivals in China,and even some Chinese individuals who did not bother to buy this “unofficial” tickets,and,in the end Tadek Vangard himself who knew he was famous among the international tourists all over Asia,even as far as in Sri Lanka,Hong Kong,Thailand and Indonesia.There was no place in Asia western tourists would not travel to.They were the best messangers on whatever happened around while they travelled across Asia and shared information among themselves eagerly.Melissa Charleroi and Steven Mac Dantosch were less interested in the tickets and travelled around China like most other tourists did.They always had some tickets with them and,while travelling,sold a number of them.Tadek Vangard had his “office” not only in his hotel room but also in the café situated in the Friendship Store,a department store designed only for foreigners.There he was seen every day at midday at a corner table.There was no an international tourist who would not know it.On one sunny,overwarmed day of July their light-heartedness and absence of cares came to an end.
Tadek Vangard was just sitting at his “office” in the café of Friendship Store,together with Steven Mac Dantosch and Melissa Charleroi,when their Chinese friend,Lao Tsiao, came to them with two crying Chinese ladies,one older,one younger.Soon they knew what happened after their friend,Lao Tsiao translated to them what was the problem.A brother of the younger woman and a son of the older woman,Zhenju Dong,who was a student at the local,Beijing University,was arrested by the Chinese secret service and placed in a jail.His crime was no crime at all,except For the arrogance of the communist overlords who used such methods to terrorise the students and the entire Chinese society.Sometimes the best order could be brought upon a society through a misrule and the Chinese one party officials knew it absolutely so.The “chickens” could not defend themselves and something normal in the West,just calling a solicitor,was a tale from a fable in the Chinese structure of the society.What they heard from the mouth of Lao Tsiao who narrated what the two women said was thrilling beyond comprehension.Zhenyu Dong did not belong to any underground group of dissidents and once found himself in the University dining room among many students who happened to have had some mysterious meeting he had no idea what was it about.At that moment the police came.Most students disseappearred at once.He stayed in place,feeling himself innocent.When the policemen arrived they beat him,put handcuffs on his hands and brought him to the jail for dissidents.It was already three months he stayed there and there was no light in the dark tunnel for realeasing him.Steven Mac Dantosch asked many questions,and Tadek Vangard felt an action plan freezing blood in the veins was evolving in his friend's mind.
-“Don’t cry.”- Steven Mac Dantosch announced in the end to the two women and Lao Tsiao hurried to translate the news to them.-“ Yet this night you will have him with you.”
Both women jumped to their feet,approached Steven Mac Dantosch and began to kiss his hands.
-“Oh,no,no,don’t do it!”- Steven Mac Dantosch felt himself embarrassed.They got the photo of Zhenyu Dong and said good bye to the ladies,saying them also they will stay in touch with them via Lao Tsiao.
The evening came quite fast and when midnight arrived unyieldingly,Steven Mac Dantosh and Tadek Vangard had not any other choice as to get to an action which could result in their deaths or “at least” their disseappearrance from the face of the world,if they were not successfull with their action.The Chinese rulers certainly could be as cruel as the regime of the general Pinochet in Chile where his “death squads” just threw their political victims out of the helicopters or military planes,many kilometres above the earth.Cruelties seemed to have been endless and the world said nothing.The world even seemed to have enjoyed hearing and watching the cruelties as the example of a tremendous popularity of the Hannibal,the psychopath, in the Oscar winning movie “Silence of the Lambs” had shown it.Steven Mac Dantosch and Tadek Vangard found themselves outside of a three meters high wall behind which there was the jail for political prisoners.They put monkey masks on their faces,climbed on the wall and then jumped on the inside periphery.They got unnoticed inside one building and moved carefully step by step.Once for a while they saw guards who dozed.Steven Mac Dantosch used ancient,Indian method called tribushu,thanks to which he brought the Chinese guards into a state of immediate unconsciousness,sure to last at least for an hour.They found an entry to a monumental cellar and realised the political prisoners were kept just in this thrilling place.Underground and with no natural light ever getting in.In one of the corridors there were four more guards who played cards and listened to a tenor performance in radio,clearly sang by Jose Cura.Steven Mac Dantosch put a guard's clothing on himself and while having the monkey mask on his face,he approached the guards.They thought the man with the mask was one of them,just making a joke and began to laugh.Powerful blows out of the centrifugal movements of the Steven Mac Dantosch’s hands and legs placed them instantly in the land of perpetuous unconsciousness,sure to last at least for an hour.Jose Cura’s virginous and devinely voice,getting out of the radio in the meantime,seemed to kill the hellish landscape of the underground jail.Not,however,with enough force to realease all these political villains,who seemed to be left in the dark forever while some president of the United States talked about strategic partnership with China and the leaders of the European Community sprinted in competition with the rest of the world to make maximum money profits in dealing with China.Still the protest song of the Argentinian tenor,Jose Cura,seemed to have blown the entire structure of the underground jail…In the end,however,even with his voice gifted to him,it seemed,by God Himself,he could do nothing more as just bring a temporary peace of mind to the listeners,as long as the powerful of this world were not willing to do anything on behalf of the human rights in China…Steven Mac Dantosch and Tadek Vangard had only an hour at its most for themselves.They had to hurry,find Zhenyu Dong and escape with him.And the other political prisoners?…God,the hearts of the just were filled with cry and blooded by the thorns which stayed there in their hearts,the thorns of those who continued infamous,biblical road of Kain and his descendants.While the Jose Cura’s voice,getting out of the radio in echo waves,still sang an ultimate protest,painted in the pallet of all colours of the world,Steven Mac Dantosch and Tadek Vangard rushed to find Zhenyu Dong.Their hearts beat hard…God,they might be too late…An alarm might sound out of a sudden…Hundreds of guards could appear out of nowhere…They went from cell to cell and were thrilled to see people who were dying,hurt beyond whatever to express,the human wrecks…It was a sort of a hell…How many political prisoners were there? Fifty?…A hundred?…Two hundred?…The two mysterious men with the monkey masks on their faces showed a photo of Zhenyu Dong to the prisoners who seemed to have understood there was no way to save them all.One of them out of this hell and it was already lots.A sort of solidarity was evolved among the prisoners who in the weak electric light showed to the men with the monkey masks where they can find Zhenyu Dong.They found him in the end.He looked not better than the others,hurt on all of his body and weak beyond whatever to say.They lost a bit time to open the door to the cell and then to free Zhenyu Dong from a metal chain with which he was chained to the wall.They took him in between their arms and rushed to an exit.They met on their way four new guards who just entered the building and did not yet know what happened inside.Steven Mac Dantosch used ninjutsu to bring them into the state of unconsciousness.He was a fighter no one was aguall to.The master.Perhaps the best in the world.They had a problem to get over the wall,because Zhenyu Dong was to weak to climb.They had to tie him to a rope and bring him up the wall and then let him fall onto their hands.
-“Where am I?”- Zhenyu Dong asked them when they carried him in between their arms away from the wall.He was visibly half conscious and dazzled,and perhaps could still not believe what happened was real.Perhaps he wanted this sleep dream to last and was afraid to get awoken.
-“You are free…”-Tadek Vangard answered to him. Powerful alarm sirens were heard at this moment and this meant the security guards realised one prisoner was no longer in the jail.They were lucky Lao Tsiao and one unidentified dissident were already waiting for them in a nearby place with a car.They went away.There still was a danger they might be stopped.The traffic was empty on the streets of Beijing at this time of the night.Nearby Jixiang theatre there waited two more cars for them.In one of the cars were the mother and sister of Zhenyu Dong and in the other car two Chinese dissidents from an underground movement.Both women took Zhenyu Dong into their arms and welcomed him with tears of joy and at the same time bid a farewell to him.They could see him never again because he was just being taken by the underground activists away from them and in a due time was due to be smuggled out of the country and,perhaps,one day was due to find himself in the United States.
Steven Mac Dantosch and Tadek Vangard still had the monkey masks on their heads.They did not know one sure thing:up from now there would spread a new legend among the Chinese as China was long and wide,the legend about a…monkey king,who brought Chinese political prisoners to freedom by the means of spectacular actions.Steven Mac Dantosch and Tadek Vangard personified this new legend,which was due just to evolve,from the mouths of the mother and sister of Zhenyu Dong and the mouths of the dissidents who were just going away from them,with Zhenyu Dong in their car.Steven Mac Dantosch and Tadek Vangard bid farewell to the two women and were brought by Lao Tsiao to their hotel.They had an image of Jose Cura in their minds,performing a tremendous,heavenly act of the Monkey King…To be continued…Author: Thaddeus Hutyra,e-mail address: tadekhutyra@hotmail.com or: tthbe@yahoo.com
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