Twisting Dagger Chapter Six
       Philip was still fuming when they went to supper.  His parents had been so relieved to hear from him that his mother had started crying, which, in turn, made him cry.  He felt like a complete idiot.
     He'd filled them in, without a great deal of detail, on where he'd been and what he'd been doing, minus the five bad years.  He promised them a more lengthy explanation when he saw them because what he had to tell them he didn't want to over the phone.  When he hung up, he had to admit he felt relieved to finally confess what he'd done to the two people who meant the most to him.  But he wasn't admitting that to Eddie.
     Eddie had sat through it all, smugly smiling, especially when Philip's eyes teared up.  Philip had a strong urge to kick him, despite the fact that deep down, he was grateful. 
     Eddie slept fitfully that night.  Philip checked on him several times throughout the night, unable to sleep himself.  The evening had been pleasant enough, but the respite was short-lived.  Eddie worried while things hung suspended in uncertainty.
     Paul called early the next morning to advise Eddie a meeting had been called and everyone in the company was to attend.  Philip drove him to City Hall and told him to call as soon as the meeting concluded. Judging by Eddie's demeanor, the calling of the meeting didn't bode well.  The loss of the film already shot and the expensive equipment would, no doubt, be the main topics of discussion.  Even worse, to continue shooting would mean more time, money, and hard work.  Eddie could no doubt handle the work, even taking a loss and having to spend extra time of the shoot, but calling it quits would mean failure.  Philip had a strong feeling that was something Eddie wouldn't be able to deal with.
     He drove back to his office and sat distractedly mulling over the situation.  Darla tried to gain his attention several times, but finally gave up and handled what few cases were on his desk by herself.  He knew she could do it.  The cases were a skip trace, a missing car, and a background check on an applicant at the packing plant south of town.  
     The phone rang at noon.  Eddie was calling to be picked up.  Philip drove to City Hall and saw the dejected look on Eddie's face as soon as he came out of the building.  The news was bad.
     Silently Eddie climbed into the Camero and grimly stared straight ahead.   Philip steered for the docks, but after a minute, Eddie asked if he would drive to the beach.  Once there, Eddie got out and asked if Philip would walk with him. 
     "I need to talk," Eddie said.
     "Okay," Philip said. 
     They left the car in the car park and walked slowly along the wet sand.  It was quiet on the beach.  The weather was cool, but not as cold as it usually would be at that time of year, and there was no wind. 
     "It's going to cost two million dollars to replace the equipment," Eddie said, "and set up for reshoot.  It's too much money and the studio decided to cancel the movie.  Our Hong Kong backers say it's cursed.  Stupid superstition."
     He stopped walking and shoved his hands in his pockets as he stared out across the ocean.
     "There's reason for this," he said.  "Paul and I talk after the meeting.  We agree the movie would recover at the box office.  It's great story.  If we could just convince the studio and producer to continue, we can complete it and make back what we lost."
     He paused, shoving the toe of his shoe into the sand with frustration.
     "But what about the threats?" he asked.  "I have to know.  I can't just quit.  Someone's trying to ruin this movie...or me.  I have to know why, who is behind it.  I want you to help find out.  I don't need bodyguard.  I need detective, a good one."
     Philip saw in those earnest brown eyes that, with or without his help, Eddie was determined to get answers.  It wouldn't be a good idea to let him do it on his own.
     "Let's start at the beginning," Philip said.  "Tell me when it all started going haywire."
     Before Eddie could answer, his cell phone rang.  Both men automatically glanced at their watches.  It was two o'clock. Eddie answered and looked relieved.
    "Ho.  Stay close to the others," he said.  "How were classes today?"
     He listened and smiled for the first time that day.  
     "Because I'm your dad," he said.
     He listened some more, still smiling, but not as happily as before.
     "Ngoh ji do," he said, "ngoh hai gwaan waai."  He paused.  "Wei?  Ho.  Ngoh hai hoi sam teng.  Tell him I'm sorry I haven't call. I should have.  Stay there, okay?"
     He turned off the phone.
     "Jaing says Sai Lo is up and around."
     "That's good news," Philip said.
     "The problems started our second week of shooting," Eddie said.  "At first, the accidents were small, routine...things falling, props not secure, things missing...then the first stuntman fell.  He shouldn't have.  I checked everything myself before we shot the scene.  I thought he was inattentive.  Then, things start going wrong.  Several of the stuntmen were badly injured from falling lights or collapsed scenery.  Sai Lo and I were in middle of fight scene when the balcony fell.  The floor gave and he fell backward, hit a rail, flipped, and landed flat on his back ten feet below.  I was thrown off balance and forward through window.  It was raised, broke, and came down just as balcony shift and threw me back and over the edge.  I landed on debris.  Two of my stuntmen were buried.  It took minutes to reach them.  We were all taken to hospital.  Sai Lo sprain his back and shoulder and hit his head.  My stuntmen were badly hurt.  I was bruised, winded, and just missed being decapitated by the window pane."
     "Did anyone find out what caused the collapse?" Philip asked.
     "The police came.  They found the struts severed in a way no one would notice."
     "Then it was no doubt that it was deliberate sabotage?" Philip asked.
     "They questioned everyone," Eddie said.  "But that was all.  They never came back and we start shooting again.  I thought the police were doing something, but later found out they report to the studio and that was it."
     "Did you ask about it?" Philip asked.  "What police came?  Where was it?"
     "The shoot was in Canada.  I met with Langley, the producer, and some heads of studio in Los Angeles," Eddie said.  "They all treat me like a child.  They told me it was taken care of, they had spoken with Canadian authorities and that it was just accident.  I may have trouble speaking English, but I'm not stupid.  I been in this business over twenty years.  I know what is and isn't accident."
     "They warned you off?" Philip asked.
     "Politely," Eddie said.  "They said not to pursue any further because we were ahead of schedule and it would slow us down. What could I do?  We were sent to next location, here.  The docks had been scouted and we weren't suppose to be here until next month."
     Philip didn't like it.  He'd have to contact the Canadian authorities and hopefully find out what exactly was reported.  
     "Tell me what you know about the studio and the producer," he said.
     "Not a lot," Eddie said.  "They request for me to star in this movie through my manager.  The script was good.  Everything seem credible.  We always check.  I had no reason to think it wasn't good idea.  Now, I question my judgment."
     "There's nothing wrong with your judgment," Philip said.  "I might question the judgment of your agent.  Someone is taking a lot of trouble to see that this movie doesn't get made.  Somebody wants it, and maybe you, to fail.  What we have to do is find out who and why."
     "Where do we start?" Eddie asked.
     "We start by me checking into the backgrounds of the studio execs, the producer, and the backers.  I also want to get in touch with whatever authorities were involved.  I'll  need that info from you and, probably, for you to back me up.  They might not want to release the information to us.  Find out who's handling the money, then we'll find out where it's going, if it's going into the movie.  Once that's done, we'll have a direction, and maybe a lead."
     "What about the threats?" Eddie asked.
     "Probably a ploy, to keep your attention focused elsewhere.  Whoever is behind this wants to scare you, to worry you so you'd back out or call the movie off and leave to protect Jaing.  You've been asking questions.  They don't like it."
     "Maybe then I getting close to something?" Eddie asked.
     Eddie sighed.  "You know, I almost did.  I almost left.  Last night I was so worried, I call him and we had long talk.  he told me stay, not to run.  He said, "Don't do it, Dad.  Don't let them get to you."  Maybe I will listen to him."
     "Good," Philip said.  "Sounds like Jaing has a good, level head.  When I get back to the office, I'll get digging.  I don't know what else to tell you.  Everything is still on hold as far as the movie, right?"
     "We can go on," Eddie said.  "I can choreograph some of the fights and run through them.  At least, if we do go ahead, we'll be ready."
     Philip dropped Eddie off at the docks and went to the office to get started on the investigation.  Using the information Eddie had given, he called the Quebec authorities for the police reports on the shoots there.  As he expected, they weren't keen on releasing those reports to him.  He called Eddie, who in turn called his Agent, who called the Chinese consulate in Quebec and soon the reports were on their way via special courier, to arrive the next morning.  
     Philip next called the Producers Guild in Los Angeles to request information on Langley and any of his projects to date.  A simple background check had brought to light the fact that Langley didn't spend a lot of money, lived in a nice, but not elaborate house, and drove a car that was several years old.  His bank account, however, didn't agree with his lifestyle.  There was a lot of money coming into and going out of his account.  His credit cards were maxed out and two of them were in collections, so wherever the money was going, it wasn't to his bills.
     It was all too familiar to Philip what must be going on.  The Producers Guild report wasn't favorable, stating Langley was a low rate producer with no hits under his belt.  None of his movies had even done moderately well, and two of them had been canceled due to a series of accidents and thefts.  
     Mid-afternoon, Tony called with news that Philip didn't want to hear.  The bodies of two of the security guards had been found washed up a mile down shore from the docks.  Their necks were broken.  They were dead before they went into the water.  
     "Have you told Eddie?" Philip asked.
     "Yes," Tony said.  "I had to break it to him and the director.  He didn't take it well, I can tell you."
     "What did he say?" Philip asked.
     "Nothing," Tony said.  "He was too stunned.  You realize this changes everything.  Harassment, prowlers, theft, that's bad enough. Now it's murder, and probably four counts if the other two guards were dealt with the same way.  I feel like none of us have done what we were supposed to."
     "The trouble came with them," Philip said.  
     He told Tony what he'd found out so far.  
     "Send me what you have and as soon as those police reports are in, get them to me," Tony said.  "I want you to come in.  I need to talk to you."
     "About what?"
     "Just things," Tony said.
     Philip detected that protective, big brother note in Tony's words.  
     "I really don't have time, Tony," he said.  "I've got a lot to do..."
     "It's not a request," Tony said.  "Get in here, now, or I'll have you hauled in.  Clear?"
     He wasn't going to argue about it.  For an answer, Philip slammed his phone down.  He knew what was coming and he knew he wasn't going to like it.  And Tony wasn't going to like what he had to say about it, either.


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Novel / Novella
writing shwangltd
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