Wang Chi felt like James Bond in his tuxedo. To westerners it was an uneventful February 11, 2002. But to the Chinese it was just hours before the year 4699. Wang loved to celebrate Chinese New Year and the San Francisco Mayor’s Chinese New Year’s Gala was THE place to be. But he had to remind himself that reconnaissance not partying was tonight’s agenda.
“And who do we have here?” asked Lois Lee, a beautiful reporter from CNN, “It’s Wang Chi- world-renowned chef and restaurant owner. What do you think of this year’s Gala?”
Lois shoved a CNN microphone into Wang Chi’s face. Wang Chi was blinded by the camera light at first. But he was used to it by now and he played it off with his usual charm. “Even better than last year, Lois.”
“You’ve been a critic of recent Chinatown developments. It has been rumored that you will run for office in November. Is this the time when you’ll make connections and begin a campaign?”
“Actually I’m just here for the fireworks, Lois.”
“And to make sure everyone knows about the new season of ‘Wang Chi’s: Taste of Asia’,” interrupted a voice from behind, “Thursdays 8 to 9 PM on the Food Network.”
“And you are?” asked Lois.
With a big smile on his face the man put his arm around Wang Chi. Wang tried his best to look composed.
“Eddie Lee, Mr. Chi’s agent and most trusted friend.”
Eddie continued, “This promises to be a spectacular year even better than the first two seasons. This season he’ll feature…”
“And who is this lovely young lady with you?” Lois interrupted scandalously.
Wang Chi knew he had Lois and took advantage of the opportunity to get the camera off of him and get back to spying.
“This is my lovely daughter Zhilan.” Chi answered in a tone which exaggerated his offense to the accusation.
The sixteen year-old Zhilan, or Zhi for short, had her mother’s cheeks, her mother’s hair, her mother’s smile, and her father’s eyes. She was petite and walked with a tomboyish gait. She had yet to discover boys. She was more interested in school. Her father was grateful for that. But the way that the men at the gala stared at her in her long black dress made him uncomfortable.
With an awkward inflexion, Lois responded, “I see. Very well then. Enjoy the party.”
Lois slinked away and found another unsuspecting attendee to shove the microphone into.
“Thanks, we’ll talk more about the show later,” waved Eddie as he grabbed his cell phone from his coat pocket.
“Good job, Pop!”
“I’m a professional Zhi”
Zhi squeezed his arm with loving awe. Eddie turned to Wang covering the cellphone mouthpiece with his hand, “Hey, Wang. I got William Shatner on the phone. He’s asking about a walk on.”
Before he could even grimace, Wang caught a glimpse of Ling Han, Chinatown’s most prominent political figure. Wang looked around Han for the man who was never far from the Chinatown Leader and who was the real power in Chinatown. General Gonsung Chang stared directly at Wang who returned the steely eyed gaze. Wang found himself almost stepping forward to meet Chang face to face but his sensibilities stopped him. He broke his gaze to look over at his daughter. She needed to be kept safe. Wang had hoped Chang would not see them but realized that the General had been watching them since they entered the Gala.
“And enter the villain,” sighed Eddie, “who’s looking particularly dastardly today, I must say.”
Zhi noticed Chang as well. “Oh my God. We’re dead.”
“Don’t worry, Zhi. They can’t touch me. They can’t take the political gamble,” responded Wang.
“Yeah,” stated Eddie, “You can’t exactly kill the biggest celebrity in Chinatown.”
While Zhi accepted that her father was the biggest celebrity in Chinatown, she certainly didn’t enjoy knowing that the most powerful man in Chinatown wanted to kill him.
Wang gave Eddie a cold stare, “How long you gonna keep Bill Shatner waiting?”
Eddie realized he still had a deal to make, “What was that, Bill? Which do I think would make a better segment? Wrath of Kahn-golian Beef or Kobayashi Maru Goo Gai Pan? Hmmm..tough choice. We should discuss details over lunch…”
Eddie rolled his eyes at Wang Chi then turned to find a quiet corner. Wang and Zhi left Eddie’s side, trying to hide in the crowd but Chang followed their every move. Fortunately, someone stepped right in front of Chang.
“General Chang. Is there any particular Chinatown project that Mr. Han will focus on in the coming year?” asked Lois Lee as she shoved a microphone in Chang ’s face. The hostile glare towards Wang remained until Chang realized the camera lights were on him.
“What…I’m sor…, “ Chang composed himself as well as he could, “Please, Lois you can call me Mr. Chang or simply Gonsung. I have long since retired from the military.”
Chang had left China about seventeen years ago and came to Chinatown just after Lo Pan was defeated. He had indeed retired from Chinese People’s Liberation Army before he came to the U.S. However, he held himself in a way that only an authoritative communist could. He even threw in a menacing scowl for good measure. It felt unnatural to call him anything other than “General”.