Twisting Dagger Chapter Five
       The next morning, a meeting of the company was held early and Philip was introduced to Paul, the director, a young man with the enthusiasm and the innovative personality that complimented Eddie.  However, this morning, both men were uncharacteristically quiet. 
     The damage to the set and the equipment was assessed and the losses tallied.  The result did nothing to improve anyone's mood. 
     "We'll have to reshoot everything," Paul said.  "To do that means new equipment, returning to former locations...we're virtually starting from scratch."
     "What about insurance?" Philip asked.
     He had remained silent throughout most of the meeting, watching and studying everyone in the room, gauging their reactions and emotional levels.  None of them showed any signs of being anything but what they were.  The entire company showed signs of fatigue, worry, and fear.  Eddie most of all, plus he had anger added into his mix. 
     Eddie hadn't slept at all the night before.  He was too worried about Jaing and refused to relax until Jaing's call came that he was with Eddie's people in Los Angeles. 
     "We've already spoken to the company," Paul said in answer to Philip's question.  "They're sending a claims adjustor to go over the inventory.  They aren't happy, I can tell you.  It took me over an hour to convince them that I wasn't exactly thrilled and that Eddie was outright furious over what's happened.  What's worse, they say it could be weeks before they settle.  They'll be investigating with a fine tooth comb."
     'Downtime', Philip thought.  How well he understood that.  He also understood what it was like to have everything one had worked for suddenly jerked out from under one's feet.  Memories of those lost days were still fresh in his mind.
     "I'll call the studio tonight," Paul said.  "We'll see what they say, but I have a feeling..."
     He didn't finish.  It wasn't necessary.  Everyone felt much the same way.  The cast and crew were on standby.  What equipment that had been salvaged from the warehouse was secured with armed guards at the doors.  Eddie was distracted and restless.  After the meeting, he informed Philip he wanted to be alone and went to his trailer. 
     Reluctant to leave him, but respecting his feelings, Philip went to his office and tried to concentrate on some of his pending cases, checking every 30 minutes through the binoculars to make certain everything was quiet at the site.  
     Darla had already handled the smaller cases; a couple of background checks for applicants to the fish packing plant; an insurance claimant who said he was injured on his job at the local automobile crusher; and a few others that required mostly phone work.  There was one missing person's case and Philip managed to locate the arrant brother of an upstate woman through the man's credit card history.  The man was found safe, but intoxicated in jail in Olympia.  The grateful sister explained to Philip her brother had just lost his job as an accountant after his wife ran away with his partner. 
     Philip hung up afterwards with a shake of his head.  He wondered how those cases always found their way to him.  They only served to remind him of days he'd just as soon forget. 
     The house phone rang and he answered, his mind still on the previous conversation.  It took a minute before he realized the new caller was Eddie's son checking in.  He glanced at his watch: two o'clock on the dot.
     "I tried to call dad," Jaing said.  "But his phone is off."
     "He's had a rough day," Philip said and gave him the number to the trailer's phone.
     "Is ba ba okay?" Jaing asked.  "Last night he was freaking out.  I've been worried about him all day."
     "He'll be alright," Philip said.  "But he had good reason to be freaked out.  He was worried sick about you after that phone call.  I'm glad you kept your word and called now.  Let me know if he doesn't answer the phone.  I'll check on him and let him know you called."
     The phone disconnected and rang again a few minutes later.
     "No one answered," Jaing said.
     "Okay," Philip said.  "I'm on my way.  I'll have him call you.  Do you have your cell phone?"
     "Yeah," Jaing said.  "Ba ba's got the number."
     They hung up and Philip drove to the set.  He knocked on the trailer door and after a few tense minutes heard the lock click.  He breathed a sigh of relief as the door opened and a disheveled Eddie appeared dressed in a pair of faded jeans and an oversized sweatshirt that had seen better days.  He was unshaven, the shadow of his beard making his face look gray and drawn.  His eyes were bleary and puffy from sleep.
     "I know you wanted to be alone, but Jaing called," Philip said.
     Eddie squinted at the clock on the wall behind him.
     "Oh shit," he said and grabbed his cell phone.  "I forgot to leave it on."
     "How about the other phone?" Philip asked. 
     "I unplugged it," Eddie said as he punched in Jaing's number.
     He waited then spoke quickly in Cantonese.  There was a brief exchange before he disconnected.
     "He was worried," he said as he set the phone aside.  "I told him I was sleeping and din't heard the phone."
     "He'll be alright," Philip said.  "I think the threat against him was just that; a threat meant to keep you off balance."
     "I can't stan' this," Eddie said.  "I can't stand to do nothing.  I can't concentrate.  I don' want to stop the movie.  I have too much time, too much everything invested.  We only have few weeks left.  This was final shooting."
     As always, the more upset he became, the more fragmented his English became.  The cell phone rang and he jumped, a testimony to how raw his nerves were.  He snatched it up.
     A submissive look crossed his features and he spoke to the Caller in Cantonese, but only said a few words.  When he disconnected and put the phone down, he looked more dejected than every.
     "That was Ba ba," he said.  "He jus' heard on the news."
     "How?" Philip asked, alerted.  "There hasn't been any news coverage of what's happened."
     "Maybe the studio," Eddie said.  "News people were here first day."
     Philip remembered.  There had been reporters at the site the day of the crane incident. 
     "Ba ba is upset," Eddie said.  "The news showed the fall, you rescuing me, everything!"
     "I understand his feelings," Philip said.  "He's concerned, the way you are about Jaing.  Is he in Hong Kong?"
     "No.  He's staying at my home in Los Angeles until after the filming," Eddie said.  "He likes to stay there." He laughed.  "He likes the swimming pool.  What about your father?  Do your parents still live?"
     Philip suddenly felt very uncomfortable.  He shifted uneasily in his chair.  That was a subject he didn't want to discuss, but he couldn't very well ignore Eddie's question.  
     "As a matter-of-fact," he said, "Yes, they live just outside of Los Angeles."
     The same piercing scrutiny Eddie had used at their first meeting returned.  His eyes never left Philip's face as he waited for him to go on.   
     "I've...not...been in touch with them," Philip said.  "I've hardly spoken to them in the last ten years."
     "Did you have falling out?" Eddie asked.
     Philip felt like an idiot.  It was going to be had to explain and would make him look like the ass he felt.
     "No," he said.  "After what happened with...well, I felt too humiliated to face them.  They don't know what I do for a living...what I did.  They think I'm a lawyer in Olympia."
     He fidgeted, unable to look into Eddie's searching brown eyes.  He really didn't want to talk about it, but it was a matter of trust, like Eddie had said in the beginning.  He had a right to know about the man who was guarding him.  Part of that knowing included all of his background.
     "I hurt them pretty badly," he said.  "I thought I was more than I really was and then found out the hard way I was a fool and a jerk.  I never told them the truth, never told them I was married...never told them anything.  Then I didn't have the courage to tell them."
     "So silence is what you have given them?" Eddie asked, but there was a trace of scolding in his voice.  "Is not right.  When I'm struggling and go to my parents, I feel that way, but the love me anyway.  Ba ba didn't like what I'm doing, but I know nothing else.  When I return to Hong Kong, he is not pleased, but now, it's different.  I work hard.  I do what I had to.  He understands.  So will your parents."
     Philip couldn't answer.  Eddie was right, but it was hard to face.  The pain was one Philip didn't want to deal with.
     "Do they know where you are?" Eddie asked.
     "No," Philip said.  "Like I said, they think I'm a lawyer in Olympia.  I do have a law degree, but I never wanted to be a lawyer.  I've wanted to be a P.I. since they read all those mysteries to me when I was a kid.  They kept telling me to remember it was only fiction, that reality was nothing like that.  That only encouraged me more.  I thought I'd be a successful P.I. and they'd be too proud to disapprove.  Sometimes I wish I'd listened to them.  This life is different, but I like what I do.  When I did achieve that success..."
     "You were too embarrassed," Eddie said.  "You knew they would still disapprove because you lied to them."
     "I tried to convince myself it was because I didn't want to embarrass my wife," Philip said.  "I know I was wrong.  If I'd been honest with my parents, I would've saved myself a lot of heartache over the past five years.  Now I just don't know how to tell them."
     Eddie studied him, his eyes boring, it seemed, right into the core of his soul.  Eddie could do that.  Philip had noticed it from day one and not just concerning him.  Paul and several men of the crew had met that same stare.  They knew what it meant.  When it was aimed at them, they stopped whatever they were doing to warrant it and got away as soon as they could break the spell.
     "Let go of the past," Eddie said, reaching over to plug in the phone.  "Give me their number."
     That caught Philip completely off guard.  
     "Give me their number," Eddie said.  
     He wasn't asking.  He was ordering.  
     "I don't think," Philip said, but Eddie cut him off.
     "Now is as good time as any," he said.  "You can't run away forever.  They deserve to know."
     They stared at each other for several long minutes, the phone held in Eddie's hand, his finger poised over the number pad.  Philip had an idea what it must feel like to Jaing when Eddie was in his father mode.  He gave in and told him the number.
     Eddie turned on the speaker and pressed the numbers.  The phone rang several times before a woman answered.
     Eddie looked to Philip who stared at the phone in uncertainty.  He was having second thoughts.
     "Hello?" the woman said again.  "Is anyone there?"
     Eddie gave Philip an encouraging nod.  Philip took a deep breath and started to answer.  
     "Who is this?  If this is a prank..."
     The voice had changed.  This one was male.  Philip swallowed hard and vehemently shook his head.  He couldn't do it.  
     "Listen you," the man said, "I don't know..."
     "Mr. Chandler," Eddie said, glaring at Philip with disapproval, but keeping his voice quiet and pleasant.
     Philip hissed an intake of breath through his gritted teeth.  He was tempted to disconnect the call, but Eddie put his hand over the disconnect buttons.
     "Who is this?" Mr. Chandler demanded.
     Eddie gave his name and a long silence followed.
     "That's not funny," Mr. Chandler said at length, but there was a wariness when he spoke.
     "It's not a joke," Eddie said.  "I promise you, I am calling on behalf of someone here who needs to talk to you."
     Eddie waved for Philip to speak.  Philip shook his head, having a hard enough time breathing, let alone talking. 
Eddie nudged his foot.
     Swallowing the knot that had suddenly formed in his throat, Philip took a deep breath.
     "Uh, uhm, Dad?"
     He heard a gasp on the other end of the line.  His mother was listening on the extension.  
     "Philip?" Mr. Chandler asked.  "Is it you?"
     He spoke as if he was afraid he might be wrong.
     Philip sighed heavily, feeling ashamed and embarrassed.  Suddenly he wanted very much to see his parents, to beg their forgiveness and feel their arms around him.  He offered Eddie a smile of gratitude.  He was glad that his new friend possessed the courage that he didn't.
     "Yeah, Dad," he said, "It's me."

kt6550   kt6550 wrote
on 5/25/2009 11:39:05 AM
Good chapter. Excellent ending.

Novel / Novella
writing shwangltd
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Rating: 9.5/10