A Dr. Shadows Novel
Teel James Glenn
Copyright 2013 by Teel James Glenn, all rights reserved.
No portion of this novel may be duplicated, transmitted, or stored in any form without the express written permission of the author.
Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.
This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and locations are fictitious or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or people is coincidental.
To Robert Lee who supported me and
encouraged me through many dark hours.
The granite man would not prowl the streets of New York, Hong Kong or Harbin City if it were not for those who have helped me bring him to life over the years: June, Joan and Donna my editors of yore, Rob Preece of BfaB and my far away muse Janis who has always been the best Jimminy Cricket a writer could ever ask for.
The Empire of Japan is on the rise when it invades and annexes Manchuria in 1932 in a thinly veiled conquest. They proclaim it the independent nation of Manchoukuo which then conveniently ‘asks’ for help from the Children of Amaterasu-O-Mi-Mani the Sun Goddess. The Japanese feel divinely charged to rule the world and arrange that every official of the new nation had a Japanese ‘advisor.’
In the frozen north of the new ‘country’, near the Siberian border, the Russian founded city of Harbin is a hotbed of insurgent anti-Japanese activity. An impotent League of Nations does nothing but appoint committees, while across the sea. America does its best to ignore the gathering storm clouds of war………
It is the fall of the year 1937…
warrior is loyal to his country and his fellow warriors.
Fearless in battle, never takes a life unnecessarily,
and always—acts for justice!
“We defy augury. There’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come—the readiness is all.”
Hamlet Act 5 Scene 2
Anton Chadeaux was paralyzed again. Once more he was lying in the smoldering wreckage of the plane crash, his limbs useless and unable to even cry out a warning to his parents as Chinese bandits swarmed over the crash site.
The leader of the armed thugs was a portly man wearing layers of silk coats and cotton shirts. His skin was the color of old ivory, his eyebrows bushy and his fleshy mouth split with a wide smile that exposed crooked teeth. He laughed frequently as he ordered his men to ‘take everything of value.”
Anton’s father, his right arm broken and with blood trickling down his face tried to protect his wife of thirty-five years by struggling to his feet. The brutish leader, still laughing, simply shot the elder Chadeaux once in the head. The Chinese thug grunted and said in a tired voice to his men to “kill the female and be quick.”
Then the bandoliered ruffian lumbered over to the bloody Anton and looked down on him with a smiling moon face.
“The apple has fallen far from the tree, eh?” The bloated bandit quipped. He raised his pistol to point at the helpless boy, cocked it but hesitated when he saw no response from his victim. “Why waste a bullet, eh?” He laughed yet again. “This one is not a wasteful fellow!”
“No!” Chadeaux screamed. “Kill me too!”
Suddenly Anton bolted awake, breathing hard and confused. The sheets wrapped around him like a shroud were soaked with sweat.
“Kuksa Nim!” A tall Korean called from the doorway to the bedroom. “Is all well?”
“It was the nightmare again, Hoon,” Chadeaux said. “Nothing new.”
“Memory can be a doorway to pain,” The Korean said in his mountain dialect, “but also to joy. Remember your parents in the good times before the crash.”
“The very last thing I need is to remember anything.” The now fully awake Chadeaux shook his head to clear out the last of the cobwebs and scatter any shards of memory.
“I should know better than to nap in the afternoon. I have to shower and meet with Hank. Maybe I need to head out of town while I’ve got no active cases to keep me occupied. I have too much time on my hands.”
“Lost time is never found again.” The Korean said.
“Really,” Anton said. “Another old Korean platitude?”
“Poor Richard’s Almanac,” Hoon said. “For a round-eye that fella was pretty smart!”
The Chinese Ho Ming Wa was lost because the stupid Korean at the Ghost Healer’s office had an atrocious accent.
Ming walked along the hilly streets and confusing roads of the place called “the Bronx” feeling vulnerable and exposed. A yellow face in a sea of staring white faces that looked curiously or accusingly hostile at him, Ming clutched the large brown wrapped package to his side as if it were a wounded comrade.
Ming was a scholarly-faced man who wore round glasses that might have given him a stereotypical bookworm appearance if not for his broad shoulders and determined walk. He was a student of Gung Fu Wushu, the martial disciplines, and on a mission of vital importance to his homeland, China.
Why couldn’t the Korean have spoken descent Mandarin? Ming thought. He only wanted to obey the “Madame’s” words exactly. “Give this to the Ghost Healer,” she told him in Hong Kong as he boarded the clipper plane. “It is vital that he learns the message of this box.”
Ming had known the Chinese communists had agents on the same plane as he took. It was a certainty that Japanese agents had picked up his trail in San Francisco in his journey across the country of America, which was truly almost as large as his beloved China.
Ming was by no means a bumpkin, having grown up in Shanghai and visited Hong Kong and Harbin City, the Paris of the Orient, frequently. Yet he felt like a country boy amid the splendor of the United States.
New York City had taken his breath away with its canyons of stone and crowds to rival Hong Kong in bustle and noise. He didn’t let the strangeness of the city throw him off guard, however, and took pains to make sure he was not followed from Idlewild Airport when he went onto the island of Manhattan to deliver his valuable cargo.
He had made his way to the home of the Ghost Healer near the park called Gramercy, but the man he sought was not home: only a tall Korean who spoke Chinese poorly. The Korean had attempted to take the package for his employer, but Ming would have none of it. He insisted on finding the Ghost Healer himself and handing the package to him.
“The Bronx Zoo,” the Korean mumbled, and on a map indicated where the Ghost Healer was. Ming found and braved the underground train to the northern borough. He could read much more English than he could speak, and was able to decipher the symbols for the train stop where he would find the man in whom The Madame had so much faith.
The train was above ground when the signs indicated his stop and Ming found himself in the middle of an area of low buildings and wide boulevards several blocks away from the zoo.
Ho Ming Wa had no idea as he walked toward the Zoological Garden that two agents of his enemy had been waiting when he exited the train and followed him with sinister intent.
Williamson puffed intently on his cigar and silently cursed the economic realities that forced him into the contract. Not that he cursed the money; he never cursed easy money.
It was just that the poor financial quarter forced him to rush into a deal he otherwise would have let sit awhile. It was too good to be true.
“I believe all the papers are in order, Mister Williamson.” The speaker was a stunningly beautiful Eurasian woman, dressed in a three-piece pants suit. Even the eye-patch she wore over her left eye did nothing to mar her beauty. In fact, it added to her exotic appeal. Williamson had first figured her for a one-time model or movie starlet who was the bed bunny of some reclusive millionaire: nothing more than a messenger. When she spoke, though, it was with the authority of one used to being obeyed, not out of financial power, but from the fact that she was a natural leader. She knew the ins and outs of the contract as well as any of Williamson's lawyers, and said she was an Oxford Law School graduate.
“You will see that my principal has signed already, on all three copies. If you will do the same we can consider this closing done.” She brushed some lint off the cream colored suit, and stood in a relaxed posture at the head of the conference table.
“Now Miss Lee,” Williamson said, “I don't doubt that all is in order, uh, it's just that-” Williamson looked at his subordinates in the room and realized that he had to raise some kind of fuss to keep his corporate face. No executive got any particular glory for a deal that fell in his lap. He grimaced, which involved tightening his jowls and changing the timbre of his voice. “We're not children here, Miss Lee, so I trust we can speak freely?”
The woman slowly changed her relaxed position to a stronger posture and crossed her arms. “Anything you could say to a minister's daughter you can say to me, Mr. Williamson.” Her expression was set.
“Well then, heh heh,” he said, “we both know I'm going to sign, our lawyers have gone over the deal. Your lawyers have—”
“I serve as attorney for my principal's affairs as far as these leases are concerned.” Her expression was unreadable.
“Ah, well, yes. In any case it is airtight. For as long as there is oil beneath the land my company will have rights to it provided we leave the wildlife untouched and place thirty percent of all profits over operating expenses in a fund for the use of the valley’s populace. All to be overseen by a board of specialists that a trust fund—made from the profits of the oil—will hire.” Williamson wrinkled his features into a shrewd smile. Han Ku Le steepled her fingers and inclined her head.
“Your point, Mr. Williamson?” she said. His smile disappeared.
“Just what do you and your principal get out of this, Miss Lee? Nobody gives away millions to protect a bunch of Chinese villagers!” He held his features intense.
“My principal does,” she said. “Now if you would please sign. I have to meet my principal in the Bronx shortly.”
Williamson tried not to look as flabbergasted as he felt. “Damn pushy woman,” he thought. He leaned forward, his rolls of fat creasing and grasped the pen. He signed all three copies without further word.
“This has been a pleasure, Miss Lee,” he said in a sweet voice. “I hope you haven't been offended by my questions.” He tried hard to look apologetic.
“Mr. Chadeaux’s motives are sometimes difficult for others to comprehend, Mr. Williamson. No offense taken.” She gave a formal smile that only hinted at warmth and gathered her documents, placing them in her oversized shoulder bag. With a nod she walked out of the conference room and closed the door behind her.
“Some woman,” one of Williamson’s aides said.
“Yes,” Williamson said, “a real shrew. I pity any man in her life, must be a real mush. No man could stand up to that kind of woman.”
“Oh, I'm not so sure,” another aide said, an attractive young woman in a skirt suit. Trying not to sound like she was correcting her boss, she added, “He would just have to be some man, this Anton Chadeaux...”
The Bronx Zoo was one of the largest urban zoological gardens in North America. It once had spearheaded the conservation effort of the American buffalo—the bison, and had its own herd. Long ago they had sent those furry humped beasts to live in the west, but still took a leadership position of breeder for many species of creatures near extinction, or extinct in the wild.
The zoo's North and South America, Africa and wild Asia areas were each, in themselves, bigger than many zoos. Beside a replica statue of a gorilla advertising the monkey house, a cage housed a majestic Himalayan Tiger who paced restlessly back and forth with contained fury. However gilded a cage, it was still a cage.
In front of that cage stood the adventurer Anton Chadeaux.
How very different from your home big fella, he thought. Though he was born in New York, Chadeaux had been raised by a globe trotting father and mother in the far corners of the world and was intimately familiar with the wild places in it. He treasured those wild places and the animals and people who lived there.
He was all too aware that civilization and its god, progress, were swiftly driving many of the wild places into oblivion. He’d traveled extensively often on expeditions with his father, Kent Allard and Jim Wade to many of the wild places left in the world. It made him aware of how, in time, those places would all be gone if not protected for future generations.
Chadeaux had been back in the states from his last trip abroad for fewer than three months and memory of those wild places was still strong with him. Now, with the Chinese land contract, he had arranged to preserve some of those wild places past his death—which in his “line” of work could be any time.
Chadeaux had suffered a life changing near-death seven years before in China, and when he returned to the United States after five long years of recovery he had vowed to use his new, second chance at life to a greater cause. Danger had become a daily occurrence in this new life and death a very real possibility.
It was after he began this ‘second life’ that the newspapers had taken to calling him by the stage name he used during a brief fling at stage magic in college, a corruption of his name, “Dr. Shadows.” It was a new name for a new life and purpose and he thought of himself by it more than his own name now. The criminal element he often opposed called him “the granite man” among other names both because of his complexion and his seemingly indestructibility and implacable attitude.
Dr. Shadows gazed at the magnificent beast stalking back and forth in its cage with a profound sense of regret.
“We rare creatures have to stick together,” Dr. Shadows said to the great cat. “I wish I could do something for you.” He was already a major contributor to the Bronx Zoo, but that did little to lift his mood. Like many who truly care, he felt he should do more.
He wore a gray leather tunic and tailored slacks that barely contained his athletic physique. He eschewed a hat and his hair was swept back from his forehead in a silver gray mane like a skullcap. He stood relaxed except for a barely noticeable tightness along his jaw and he might have been a statue carved in granite save for his piercing gray eyes that glowed with an inner intellect like a furnace.
While in another the ashen skin might have indicated sickness, the herbal baths in the Korean monastery that had saved his life and his daily regime of training in the ancient arts of Sulsa Do, gave him an almost preternatural health and vitality that radiated from him. The gray skin of his arms where he had rolled up his sleeves showed long healed scars that testified to how hard he had fought to snatch his second life from death.
Chadeaux watched the tiger pace neurotically back and forth in his tiny compound, separated from a field of deer by a frustrating moat.
Better to die by claw then be sentenced to a life in a cage, eh fellow? Dr. Shadows thought.
The great cat returned his gaze with a look that seemed to agree.
I’d feel the same way about an office job, big guy.
“Look next to the monkey, mommy,” a tiny voice said from behind the adventurer. “It’s Dr. Shadows!”
The gray skinned man half turned, his hardened features softening into a warm smile.
“Hush now,” the child's mother said. She pulled the eight year old swiftly past the granite man. She tried to hide her embarrassment with a quick smile.
Dr. Shadows watched the woman and child walk away still smiling with the memories the sight awakened. Life had been good to Anton Chadeaux, Ph.D. despite the tragedies that had recreated him. From a youth that had been filled with privilege and world travel to the deaths of his parents at the hands of warlords in Northern Korea near the Chinese border, he had learned and experienced things most could never dream of. Though he was not one to dwell on the past, he could think back without regret. The experiences had caused him to claim a mission that had become his life’s work: helping of helpless, bringing light to the dark corners of the world and seeking justice for the guilty had brought him great satisfaction and even greater danger.
As often as he was the hunter, he was the hunted, and so he identified with the great cat, and once again felt a disquiet at the steel and concrete world the beast could never really understand.
Just then there was a cry. “Anton!” in a crystal voice that trembled with emotion.
Dr. Shadows whirled.
A hundred meters down the street, walking unsteadily beyond the gate, was Han Ku Lee.
Dr. Shadows did not have to see the spot of blood matting her hair on her forehead or the rumpled condition of her clothing to know that something was wrong. Terribly wrong.
We hope you enjoyed this excerpt from MANCHURIAN SHADOWS by
Teel James Glenn. You may purchase the entire eNovel,
in multiple eBook formats, for only $3.99 by clicking the ‘Buy Now’ button