Sunday, December 27, 2020

 


The plane lands in Chubu Centrair International Airport in Nagoya. It was a grueling 22 hour trip and Dao Ming Si and his family are exhausted. It was 5:30 p.m. local time. Dao Ming Si was wearing a baseball cap pulled down low, while San Cai had a head scarf on. Both were weating dark sunglasses too. The climate in Nagoya in December is really cold. It was around 5 degree Celsius and snowing. Good thing Hua Ze Lei advised them to dress warmly. 

"Mama, it is very cold here. Let's go back to La Mancha. I like it better there. It is always nice and sunny." Xiao Tang tugged at his mother's coat.

"Xiao Tang, Papa needs to do some business here for a while and then we will go to Taiwan where we will stay for a long, long time."

"Will it be this cold in Taiwan?" Xiao Tang asks.

"No, my son. It gets cold there too, but not this cold. Don't worry, we won't be staying here in Japan for long."

Dao Ming Si was looking for the blue Ford Transit van with license plate 64-13. Hua Ze Lei said it will be the vehicle that he will use to pick them up at 5:45 p.m. 

Dao Ming Si kept looking at his watch. Hua Ze Lei, don't be late!

Soon as he lifted his gaze towards the road, a blue Ford van appeared and stopped in front of them. The door slid open and Hua Ze Lei was inside.

"Get in! You guys might freeze to death!" Lei said.

They loaded their bags inside the van and climbed in.

"Thank God you're on time, Lei. I was worried about Xiao Tang. He's not used to this kind of weather." Dao Ming Si said.

"Of course I will be on time. I missed my little buddy!" Lei gave Xiao Tang a hug. "Hey, San Cai, you seem awfully quiet. What's wrong?"

"Nothing. Maybe I am just tired from the trip. I just need some rest and I will be okay soon." Hua Ze Lei, I hope this plan of yours works out well. I am very, very, extremely worried."

"Buckle up everyone. Let's get you to your temporary home. I have a little surprise for you." He said, smiling.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

The house was pretty! It had all the amenities for a transient stay. It was neat, and the location was perfect. Lei opened the door and Dao Ming Si's eyes widened when he saw who was inside the house. He just could not believe it.

"Ximen!"

"Ah-Si!"

"Ximen, I..."

"I know, Ah-Si. Lei has told me everything. No worries, buddy. Brothers don't harbor ill feelings toward each other. I totally understand. Really." Ximen said.

"No, Ximen. I am truly sorry. I should never have cut communication with you guys." Dao Ming Si said.

"If apologies are acceptable, what do we need the police for?" Ximen smiled as he said this.

Dao Ming Si, Hua Ze Lei and Ximen all burst into laughter.

"Mama, I am sleepy. Where is the bedroom?" Xiao Tang asks.

"Oh, so this is the little Dao Ming Si. Haha. He looks exactly like you Ah-Si. I hope he did not inherit your temper though." Ximen kneels down to look at the little boy's face. "What is your name?" He asks.

"My name is Dao Ming Tang. Papa and Mama call me Xiao Tang. I am 5 years old. What is your name? Are you Papa's friend too?" Xiao Tang asked.

"Yes I am. You can call me Uncle Ximen."

"Okay, Uncle Ximen. I am really sleepy right now. Can we play tomorrow? You and Uncle Lei?" Xiao Tang says while rubbing his eyes.

"Sure! I would love to play with you." Ximen points San Cai to the second floor where the bedrooms are.

San Cai brings Xiao Tang in the bedroom, gives him a kiss and tucks him in. "Sleep well, my son."

San Cai goes back in the living room to join her husband, Lei and Ximen.

"Honey, will you please give us a few beers? We have a lot of catching up to do." Ximen calls out to someone in the kitchen.

"Honey? You mean your wife is here with you?" San Cai asked.

"Of course. I don't go anywhere without my honeybunch." Ximen says.

Lei had this impish smile on his face, eagerly awaiting for San Cai's reaction. Out of the kitchen, a woman holding 6 cans of beer on a tray comes out and says, "Hello, San Cai."

"Xiao You?!! You married Ximen? You are Ximen's wife?? How could you do such a thing? This man is a womanizer! He cannot keep to just one woman!"

Ximen stands up and and takes the tray from Xiao You. He puts the tray down on the table and puts his arm around Xiao You.

"San Cai, this woman is the reason I have changed my ways. She is a very patient and loving person. I have learned what commitment is all about when she accepted me to be her fiancee."

Xiao You blushed with Ximen's compliment. "San Cai, Ximen is a good man. Believe me. He loves me and I love him dearly too. He followed me all the way to Canada to win my trust. We dated for a few months and got married 3 years ago."

"See, San Cai? Nothing to worry about. 6 years can change a person, you know." Ximen gives Xiao You a kiss on the forehead. He then gives Xiao You a nudge. "Go ahead and help San Cai get their stuff inside their room, honey. I know both of you have a lot of catching up to do too."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

"Now that the ladies are not here, let's talk about the rest of the plan." Lei said.

"Right." Ximen responds.

"I'm listening." Dao Ming Si says.

"Okay, here it is. I got confirmation from my father's friend that he has the passports ready and will be sending it out through a courier service as priority mail. You, Ah Si, will assume the name of Liu You Hen, and San Cai will be Liu Pi Qi. Your son's passport will bear the name Liu Qing Bian. The passports are expected to arrive two days from now and it will be delivered to my office. Once I have the passports, I am going to arrange for your flight back to Taiwan." Lei said.

Ximen tells Dao Ming Si about his part in the plan.

"Ah-Si, you guys will be flying back to Taiwan with me and Xiao You. From that day onwards, you will be assuming your new identities. When we arrive in Kaohsiung, we will drive north to Hsinchu. I have already found a house for you to stay. It will be in the east district of Hsinchu City, close to the bus and train stations, and walking distance to a good elementary school for Xiao Tang. I have paid for two years rental of the house, so you won't have to worry about paying rent for a good two years. You don't have to worry about employment. I made arrangements for that too. You will be working in a restaurant that my friend owns. Just make sure that you already know how to fry an egg, okay Mr. Liu?' 

Dao Ming Si sits quietly. His mind was still unable to grasp all these things that his friends were able to put together in just a few days. These friends who he abandoned years ago. And yet, here they are, doing all these for him.

"Ah-Si! Are you listening?" Ximen notices Dao Ming Si's silence.

"Yes, I am. I am just overwhelmed with everything you have done for me and my family. I promise I will repay you guys. Just give me some time to save enough and I will pay you back."

Lei spoke again. "We are not finished discussing the plan yet, Ah-Si. Aside from the passports, the flight back to Taiwan, the house, the job, Ximen and I have agreed to give you NT$ 500,000 to help you start your life anew. Just promise that you invite us to your home for a few beers once in a while. We promise we will be discreet." Lei puts his hand on Dao Ming Si's shoulder. "Welcome back, Ah-Si."

"I cannot thank you guys enough. The only thing I can promise you right now is that I will raise my son to be a sensible, caring and respectful little boy. I want him to be himself, to chase his dreams and be happy. I don't want him to go through the things I had gone through when I was young. No more of that. You guys are the best "uncles" my son will ever have. Thank you, really." Dao Ming Si says with tears in his eyes. "Now if only I could see and speak with my other brother, Meizuo, I would be complete once more."

Hua Ze Lei and Ximen's eyes meet. There was something they would rather not let Dao Ming Si know. 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

"How have you been, San Cai? I missed you so much. I was upset when I heard that you and Dao Ming Si decided to stop any correspondence with all your friends, even with your parents."

"Xiao You, it was for our protection. I know you witnessed those awful things that happened before. All we want is a happy, peaceful, simple life and we did have that... except until lately, which is why we left Spain. Do you have any news about my parents? How are they? Where are they staying now? Still in our old house in Taipei?"

"They are fine, San Cai. I am sure they miss you like crazy. I paid them a visit a few months ago. They asked me if I had any contact with you, and if I did, they asked to me to let you know that they miss you and that they love you very much."

Tears started streaming down San Cai's face. 

"Ma... Pa..."

"San Cai, I don't understand why you and Dao Ming Si need to keep running and hiding. You have been away for such a long time and there are things that you really need to know..."

Just as Xiao You was about to proceed, Ximen was at the door, calling both San Cai and Xiao You to join them for a "welcome celebration."

The ladies go out of the room and join the men. Lei had some authentic Japanese food delivered to the house and all of them enjoyed the good food, the wine, and each others' company. Before they noticed, it was almost midnight.

Hua Ze Lei said, "I need to get back to my place. My father would want me to report for work early tomorrow. He hands Dao Ming Si a cellphone. "Here is a phone you can use, Ah-Si. My phone number is saved there already. If you need anything, call me."

Ximen and Xiao You likewise say their goodbyes, promising to check on them the next day. "Hey, we are staying at the hotel two blocks from here. I know Lei will be busy with work, so I guess me and Xiao You can take you guys around. I'd like to take your son to play in the snow."

"Sure, Ximen. Me and San Cai will just be here. You can drop by anytime."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The next morning, Hua Ze Lei calls Meizuo.

"Meizuo, its me Hua Ze Lei."

"Hey, man! You still in Nagoya? I can't believe you are up this early! What's up?"

"I found Ah-Si."

Meizuo fell silent for a while.

"So what? Don't you remember how he turned his back on us? On his family? With that awful temper of his, I am surprised he is still alive." Meizuo was feeling a mix of anger and resentment.

"Meizuo..."

"Oh please, Lei. After all those years of not trying to reach out to us? You still think he wants us to be his friends? You think I still want HIM to be my friend? Seriously, Lei."

"I will give you some time to sort out your feelings, Meizuo. I will call you again when you have thought things over."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Yu Tian reports to Dao Ming Feng that Dao Ming Si, San Cai and their son has left Spain. He is verifying if they crossed borders or if they flew out of Europe.

Dao Ming Feng is saddened by the news. She felt drained. Dao Ming Feng picks up her phone and calls someone.

"Hello, President Shui? I won't be able to be at the meeting today. I am not feeling well right now."

"Furen, I was expecting you to be there and so you could choose the best bidder for the project and sign the documents for the release of funds. This is a big project. Any delays will not be favorable for your business and mine."

"I am aware of that, President Shui. If you were in my shoes right now, I am sure you will understand. Give me a few days. I will call you again."

President Shui is upset. He needed this project. His company has not had a lot of contracts lately and this opportunity would help get his reputation back as a world class engineering and construction company. He thinks Dao Ming Feng was intentionally causing the delay. Maybe she is just trying to get rid of me. Maybe she is favoring another contractor. 

President Shui slams his fist on this desk. "That woman! She makes my blood boil!"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Hua Ze Lei knocks on the door. San Cai opens it and lets him in.

"Hello San Cai. Where is Ah-Si?"

"He is upstairs giving Xiao Tang a bath. Let me call him. Sit down for a while and make yourself comfortable. Do you need anything to drink? Have you eaten lunch yet?"

"I'm good."

"Okay. I will call him. Wait a minute."

I have always been waiting for you, San Cai.

"Dao Ming Si!!!! Hua Ze Lei is here."

"I'm coming. No, no, Xiao Tang! Don't run on the wet floor! Ai-yo!"

"Uncle Lei! Xiao Tang went running down the stairs. We play today?"

"Sorry, Xiao Tang. I have work to do. But Uncle Ximen and Aunt Xiao You will take you out to play in the snow. Would you like that?"

"Yes, yes, YES!" Xiao Tang was jumping with excitement. "I will go get dressed and wait for Uncle Ximen." Xiao Tang runs up the steps and into the bedroom.

"Ah-Si, I would never have imagined you to have so much patience with kids! Haha."

"Wait till you have a child of your own, Lei. It is challenging to raise a child, but it a totally rewarding experience. What brings you here? Any news yet?"

San Cai serves them some fresh brewed tea and biscuits. She sits down beside Dao Ming Si.

"Yes. I have your passports with me. I have already informed Ximen and he is currently booking a flight for all of you. Are you ready to go home to Taiwan? Ah-Si? San Cai?" said Lei.

"I am." Ah-Si said.

"I am ready," San Cai said, nodding her head. "I am excited to see my parents again."

Lei warned San Cai to avoid meeting up with her parents first. "You have to be discreet. You never know if there would be someone who would recognize you. Maybe a phone call would suffice for now. I just hope your mother won't be screaming your name at the top of her lungs. I wish you could stay a little longer here in Japan though. I haven't shown you around yet." 

"Once we get settled and have saved a little, we can come and visit you here, Lei." San Cai said. 

I wish, San Cai. I really wish that to happen.

There was a knock on the door. Dao Ming Si looks through the peephole before opening the door.

"Ah-Si! Where is Xiao Tang? I promised to take him out today to play in the snow."  It was Ximen. 

"Xiao Tang, your Uncle Ximen is here. He will take you out to play!" San Cai calls her son to come downstairs. She was surprised that he was able to get dressed properly - all by himself. He had on a coat, scarf, bonnet and boots. 

"Good boy, Xiao Tang. You know how to dress warmly. Go ahead, don't keep Uncle Ximen waiting."

"Ah-Si, Xiao You will be coming over to hand you your plane tickets. I had to come here ahead of her because I promised your son that I will play with him."

"No worries, Ximen. Run along now. Have fun, Xiao Tang. Don't give your Uncle Ximen a hard time!"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Lei was at the airport to send off Dao Ming Si, San Cai, Xiao Tang, Ximen and Xiao You.

"Call me when you get there. Have a safe trip. And Ah-Si, no more cutting communications from now on, okay?" said Lei.

"Understood." Dao Ming Si says.

"With the way this guy's brain is wired, you can never be too sure, Lei." Ximen smiled.

"Did I ask your opinion?" Dao Ming Si snapped at Ximen.

"Yes! He is definitely still our Ah-Si!" Ximen and Lei both laughed.

"San Cai, take good care of my best friend, okay? And always send me pictures of little Xiao Tang." Lei said and gave Xiao Tang a kiss.

"I will, Hua Ze Lei. Thank you. Take care of yourself too." San Cai gave Lei a quick hug.

"Bye, Uncle Lei. Visit me sometime. Let's play with my trains again."

"Go ahead, you guys. You need to check in now or you'll miss your flight." Lei said and waved goodbye to the group.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Dao Ming Si and his family have settled in their new home in Hsinchu and assumed their new identities as the Liu family. Dao Ming Si was doing well in his job and San Cai was happy and content being a wife and doting mother to her child.

Xiao Tang was enjoying school and has made new friends. He is growing up fast and is indeed the spitting image of Dao Ming Si.

It has been two months since they've arrived in Hsinchu and life has been good for the family. However, San Cai misses her parents so much she is so tempted to give them a phone call. She picks up the phone and dials...

Dong Mama answers. "Hui?"

San Cai kept silent. Just hearing her mother's voice was enough for her.

"Hui? Hello? Hmp! If you don't want to talk, fine!" Dong Mama hangs up.

San Cai felt tears running down her face. "Ma..." she says and sobs.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

"Meizuo, I want to go home to Taiwan to spend the New Year's holiday there. It has been so many years since I have been away. Would you please come with me and celebrate the Chinese New Year the traditional way? It is just not the same here in Los Angeles." Meizuo's mother was close to pleading.

"Alright, Ma. But we will go back right after the holiday. You know your doctors are here, and if you stay in Taiwan, they might require you to undergo the same medical examinations again." Meizuo said. "Shall I inform the butler in our house in Taipei that we will be spending the holidays there?" Meizuo added.

"No, my son. I said I want to celebrate the traditional way. I want to stay in my hometown, in Hsinchu." said Meizuo's mother.

"Hmm.. that's different. You think there'd be a lot of pretty girls there that I can hang out with?" Meizuo smiled at his mom.

"Meizuo! You are already engaged! Stop thinking what you're thinking!"

"I know, Ma. I was just kidding you."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Dao Ming Feng instructs Yu Tian to set up a meeting with all the bidders for her construction project in Keelung. After two hours, everyone was in the conference room and Dao Ming Feng makes her entrance. Even if she was in a wheelchair, she still had the regal, powerful look of a hotel mogul. 

She starts addressing everyone in the room. "After careful thought and a lot of research, I have made my decision. I have chosen the Chen Builders Corporation to build my hotel in Keelung. Mr. Chen, you may proceed to my office for the signing of the contract. That's it. Thank you everyone for your interest in this project."

Dao Ming Feng motions Yu Tian to wheel her out of the conference room.

"You lying bitch!" President Shui shouts at Dao Ming Feng. "You made me believe that you will choose me, and then you pick this company that has yet to prove themselves in this industry!"

Dao Ming Feng turns around and says, "It is my hotel. My money. The decision to choose who will build it is still mine." 

President Shui storms out, pushing away everyone in his path. "You will have your day, Dao Ming Feng!"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

© Eileen L. Layno 12/27/2020

Part 1 - Click here 
Part 2 - Click here 
Part 3 - Click here
Part 4 - Click here
Part 5 - Click here (The Finale)

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