Twisting Dagger Chapter Four
      By the time it was daylight, Eddie's jaw had swollen so that he couldn't do any dialogue scenes.  Those scenes were postponed and the injury was written into a fight scene after, upon the insistence of the insurance man, a quick trip to the hospital verified the jaw wasn't broken or cracked.
     The shoot was running a day behind and Eddie worked at a frenzied pace to make up for the delays.  The cast and crew were pushed to their limits.  Several times they fell victim to Eddie impatience and frustration at not being able to film the speaking scenes.  By lunch time, everyone except Eddie was ready for a breather, but he kept them working until after one.
     It was a minor twisted ankle that finally put a halt on the work and allowed everyone a chance to eat.  Eddie nursed his ankle with an ice pack and sipped a mug of soup through a straw, all the while trying to make his instructions understood on a tablet provided to him so he wouldn't have to speak.
     After lunch, the scene with the crane was reshot, but only after the crew had gone over it with a fine tooth comb to make sure none of the oil lingered and nothing else had been done that might cause another accident.  Tony had verified the night before that Philip had been right about the small clear capsules.  The forensics team discovered a remote attached to the controls of the crane.  It had been moved but not by anyone on the crane or the site.  The lab was checking the frequency to ascertain how far the remote would reach.
     The run went smoothly despite the twisted ankle and the scene was shot without any more difficulty.  Eddie was pleased with the results and waved to Philip who was on his spool.  He hadn't moved from the spot since the filming began except when he joined Eddie for lunch and to make a couple of unavoidable trips to the trailer's bathroom.  His arm ached, but Ellen had given him some pills to dull the pain.  
     By six p.m., Eddie's scenes for the day were finished, so he asked Philip to show him Baytown.  He had explained the day before that he liked to shop for antiques and other unusual items as a hobby.  Philip drove him to Baytown's antique mall Bygone Era situated on the outskirts of town.  The shop was housed in an old rock mansion that had belonged to one of Baytown's forefathers and was currently run by the descendants.  The house was three stories of everything imaginable, some of it extremely valuable in historical reference. 
     Eddie prowled the rooms on each floor with the eye of a professional and made several discoveries that impressed Philip.  Eddie knew what he was looking for and looking at.  He was also an accomplished haggler, despite his momentary handicap and the purchases were made for hundreds of dollars less than they were ticketed.  Philip suspicioned that part of the reason the proprietors were allowing the merchandise to go at such bargains was because of Eddie's star status, not just his ability to haggle.  
    Purchases made and shipping arrangements made, Philip took Eddie to another shop tucked away on a wharf a short distance from the main commercial docks.  This shop was a treasure trove of nautical antiques that Philip visited often.  The old man who owned the shop was a retired sea captain and many of the items for sale he'd brought back with him from his travels.  Some he had purchased from treasure hunters and divers.  Some he refused to divulge how he had acquired them.  There were no fakes and no junk.  Philip knew that museums all over the world sometimes purchased pieces from the captain and that his prices were high.
     Eddie was in seventh heaven in the shop.  He prowled every corner, every shadowed area, finally discovering a small ebony chest bound by gold and inlaid with jade.  He carried it into the light for a better look.  Philip saw evidence of damage, but the chest had been carefully cleaned and polished.  
     Eddie was given a small gold key and with great care, he unlocked and opened the chest.  Inside the faded red velvet interior was a dagger, about twelve inches long, with a jade handle carved in the likeness of a dragon, a delicately painted Chinese porcelain teacup, and a gold medallion the size of the palm of Philip's hand impressed with the image of a dragon.
     When asked about the history of the chest, the captain explained it and the items inside had been part of a pirated cargo bound from China to San Francisco in the early 1800s.  Rumors were the chest and other treasures had been stolen from the Forbidden City and that most of the treasures had been lost when the ship carrying them sank during a storm at sea.  A century later, divers had recovered most of the ship's cargo, but what became of it, the captain didn't know.  He had, he said, been fortunate to purchase the chest and the few items with it from an acquaintance that he refused to name.  He could, however, supply Eddie with an affidavit of authenticity. 
     Eddie didn't think twice about the price.  He made the purchase and saw to the careful wrapping in silk and crating in straw packing before he was satisfied and willing to leave the shop.  The captain provided him with the certificate of authenticity as promised, as well as the bill of sale and a registration certificate.  Philip helped secure the crate in the backseat of the Camero.  He had watched the entire transaction with interest and amazement, but had a feeling he knew why Eddie was so keen on acquiring the items. 
     "So, what are you going to do with the chest?" he asked as they drove back toward the docks.
     "Return them to China where they belong," Eddie said solemnly.  "Anytime I can return any Chinese artifact to China, I am proud to do so.  Do you know how much has been lost over the centuries?"
     "I can imagine," Philip said.  "Probably as much as anywhere else there has been archeological digs or sunken ships."
     "Those objects," Eddie said, "belong to the people not a government or a museum in a foreign nation, or even to an individual.  It's something I am very passionate about."
     That was easy to see, as far as Philip was concerned.  He agreed to some extent.  He didn't agree with raiding of pyramids or tombs.  He hated to think that in a couple of hundred years some scientist would come across his grave and dig him up to study.  A grave was supposed to be a resting place.
     The subject began to depress him.  He stopped at one of his favorite seafood restaurants where they could eat dinner and forget about it.  Eddie's jaw was moving more freely, though it was still too swollen for him to eat anything but a lobster bisque.  Both men were enjoying the repast when Philip's phone vibrated against his side.  His expression darkened as he listened and said nothing until the call was concluded.  Anxious, Eddie waited until the call was completed.
     "There's been some trouble at the site," Philip said.  "Filming had stopped for the night and the equipment was being put into the warehouse when someone shut the crew inside at gunpoint and locked the doors."
      "Gunpoint?"  Eddie asked.
      "The crew told the police the men were all in black, wearing black ski masks, all carrying guns.  No one was expecting anything like this and the crew was taken by surprise," Philip said, paying the check and leading Eddie out to the car.
 "Tony says whoever it was had to have come by boat.  They had to be professional due to the speed they were in and out.  What equipment that hadn't been placed in the warehouse was taken after the crew was locked inside."
     He let the news sink in as he drove above the speed limit to reach the docks. 
     "What about the film?" Eddie asked.  "The cameras?"
     "The cameras hadn't been put inside," Philip said.  "The film was taken.  The crew had only just started putting things away."
     "What about the security guards?" Eddie asked.  "Where were they while this was going on?"
     "Gone," Philip said.  "Tony said there's no sign of them.  His men are looking.  Fortunately your guys had their cell phones with them and were able to call for help, but by the time the police arrived, it was too late."
     Eddie shook his head as if to clear it.  He stared out of the windshield, the grim look on his face caught in the glow of the dashboard lights.
     "Why?" he said.  "What is happening?  Who are they and what do they want?"
     "That's what we have to find out," Philip said.  "And we have to do it before anyone gets killed.  Do you have any idea, and possible explanation...even a wild guess?"
     Eddie shook his head again, this time with more force.
     "I don't know.  There is nothing special about this movie.  Nothing.  It's just a movie, like all the others.  There is no reason I can imagine."
     He was clearly beyond upset.  Philip didn't blame him.  If he didn't know what might be behind it, then they had to start digging and digging fast.
     He slid the Camero to a stop at the lot.  Eddie was out of the car almost as soon as it came to rest.  He hurried to the warehouse to check in with the crew.  There was a lot of talking in various languages that Philip couldn't understand as he followed close behind.  Tony came to him, his face as grim as Eddie's had been.
     "This is a mess," Tony said.  "I can't get anything out of the crew that makes any sense.  They were scared.  I don't blame them.  My men are missing.  Eddie have any clue what's going on?"
     "No," Philip said.  "But I don't think it's a good idea for any of these people to stay here.  Move them to the hotel."
     "We are," Tony said.  "There's a bus coming to take them to town.  What about Eddie?"
     "I'll keep him with me," Philip said.  "That's what I'm here for."
     Eddie returned to them looking angry and confused.  Tony told him of the plans to take the crew to the hotel and Eddie readily agreed. 
     "You'll stay with me," Philip told him.  After last night and tonight, I don't trust you staying in your trailer.  I can't protect you if you're not where I can keep an eye on you."
     He expected Eddie to argue.  Eddie surprised him by agreeing.  They went to the trailer to pick up his belongings as Tony set dog patrols around the perameter of the site. 
     The phone inside of the trailer was ringing.  Eddie quickly opened the door and snatched the phone from its hook.
     There was a long silence as he listened, his face draining of color as shock flooded his features.  He swallowed hard and sank into a chair.  He held the receiver in a death grip.  Philip quickly moved closer and pushed the speaker button on the phone.
     " exactly as we tell you and you'll get him back safe and sound."
     The voice was low, gruff, and unmistakably American.
     Philip clenched his jaw against the sickening twisting in his gut.  He didn't know who the man was talking about, but by Eddie's reply, it became horrifyingly clear.
     "If you hurt him..." Eddie said in a dangerous voice.
     "Do as we tell you and no one gets hurt," the voice cut him off.  "You got a day to think it over.  Stay by the phone.  You'll get a call tomorrow at the same time."
     The line went dead. 
     "Eddie," Philip said.
     Eddie sat rigid, holding the receiver, staring at it as if to will the caller back on the line.
     "Eddie," Philip said more sharply.  "Who was he threatening?"
     "Jaing," Eddie said.  "My son."
     "What'd he say?" Philip said.  "I didn't hear all of the conversation."
     "He said if I want my son safe, I should do what he tells me."
     Philip pulled his cell phone off his belt and dialed Tony's number.  
     "Get over here to the trailer," he said.  
     A minute later, Tony came through the door.  
     "The bus just got here," he said.  "What's up?"
     Philip told him about the phone call and the threat.
     "Where is your son?" Tony asked. 
     "College," Eddie said.  "In California.  Too easy to reach."
     "Do you have his phone number?" Philip asked.
     "Hai," Eddie said.
     "Call him," Tony said.  "Call him right now and make sure he's safe, that he's not already been taken.  We'll decide what to do after we know that."
     Eddie dialed the number and they all waited until someone picked up.  Eddie kept the speaker on so they could all hear what was being said.
     "Hello?"  It was a sleep male voice that answered.
     "Is Jaing there?" Eddie asked.
     "Wha?"  The voice was trying hard to wake up.
     "Jaing," Eddie repeated.  "I want to speak to Jaing."
     "Whosis?" The voice on the other end belonged to a young male, but was obviously not Jaing.
     "Eddie, Jaing's ba ba," Eddie said.  "Please, tell Jaing it's ba ba."
     There was a wait, then another young male answered in Cantonese.  Eddie breathed an audible sigh of relief and let loose in rapid Cantonese.
      "English," Philip mouthed at him.  "Calm down."
      "Dui m je," Eddie said, and repeated what he'd said so that Tony and Philip could understand.
      "Ba ba, what's wrong?" Jaing asked.
      "Someone call me," Eddie said.  "They threaten to hurt you if I don't cooperate with them. I'm calling to make sure you are okay."
      "It's okay, Ba ba," Jaing said.  "Slow down.  I'm fine.  Nobody's bothered me or followed me that I can tell.  Why would someone tell you that?"
     "I don't know," Eddie said.  "They are calling tomorrow.  The man who called talk as if he already have you.  I want you to go someplace safe."
     "Ba ba, you're upset," Jaing said.  "Calm down.  I'm right here."
     "Do you understand what I'm telling you?" Eddie asked with a touch of annoyance.
     Suddenly he turned off the speaker and snapped something in Cantonese that even Philip understood.  Jaing wasn't cooperating.
     "You cannot stay there," Eddie said.  "It's not safe."
     There was a long silence.
     "Home," he said.  
     Philip and Tony heard Jaing's voice explode through the receiver.  Eddie held it away from his ear and they could hear what Jaing was saying.
     "Are you crazy?  What about Mom?  You want her kidnapped?"
     Eddie growled through his teeth and tightened his grip on the phone until his knuckles where white.
     "Why won't you mind me?" he asked.
     Philip pried the receiver out of his hand and turned the speaker back on.
     "Jaing, my name is Philip Chandler.  I'm a Private Investigator hired as your dad's bodyguard while he's on location in Washington.  Can you go to where his people are?"
     "Yeah," Jaing said.
     "Alright," Philip said.  "Do that.  Keep someone near you at all times.  Keep a cell phone handy and if anyone you don't know approaches you or seems to be following you, call for help and get to the nearest crowded area. Understand?"
     There was a long pause.
     "Yes," Jaing said.
     "Okay," Philip said.  "Call someone right now and get away from wherever you are.  Check in with your dad every day at the same time.  Say about two p.m. our tie.  That way, he'll know you're safe.  If you don't call, we'll know you're in trouble and we'll be able to get the police to you immediately.  Got that?"
     "I got it," Jaing said.
     Philip handed the phone to Eddie who took it reluctantly.  In quiet Cantonese he spoke to his son before saying good-bye.  Philip decided by his expression, Eddie had apologized for losing his temper.  
     "It's going to be okay, Eddie," he said.  "I promise.  We're going to put an end to this."
     "Okay, let's get you two out of here," Tony said.  "From now on, there'll be twenty-four hour surveillance, dog patrols, and security cameras at this site.  You..."
     He pointed at Eddie with emphasis.
    "Are not to leave Philip's side.  Tell me if Jaing doesn't call.  I want to know everything that happens.  Understand?"


kt6550   kt6550 wrote
on 5/22/2009 7:21:08 PM
A good chapter. I think I would have broken it into two chapters, fattened it up, and allowed the suspense to build a little. Just one man's opinion. :)

Novel / Novella
writing shwangltd
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Rating: 9.5/10