The Price Is Bright - 011
We flew to Beijing in an official government jet with Deng and his entourage. MacLow gave Deng the paper with the woman’s name and number and told him of what had occurred, which Deng thought amusing, especially my handling of her proposition. Deng then explained how since the Gang of Four trials there had been those who in the party and government who had made special vows to oppose any nepotism and thus any elevation to a senior post of any relative of a politburo or central committee member was automatically under suspicion and that relative subject to extra scrutiny and such attempts. Though, he explained, the majority of Chinese recognized that there were merit-based promotions that despite relations occurred.
When the smoke cleared I could see from the temporary stage a scattering of chairs and bodies. MacLow was moving thru the crowd stageward stopping to check pulses. I lookt myself over and saw that my body was intact. When MacLow made it to the stage I saw small trickles of blood from his ears like ribbons or ruby strand earrings.
–What the fuck happened?
–A suicide bomber, unintentional, I believe, he said. Lookt like someone tried to get in that wasn’t on the guest list and they blew their top, and a couple of hand grenades, one of which was in his pocket.
–Shit, is Deng...
–He’s fine, his security detail rushed him out the back in the confusion. The bomber obviously never played baseball, his throws were weak.
MacLow and I went to a waiting embassy SUV and were taken to the US compound. The ambassador was waiting for us at the door and after an initial check by the staff physician went to his office for several whiskeys.
–Official word is it was an Islamic separatist group who thought Deng was a high profile but soft target.
–Soft? I lookt at MacLow.
–Not much security. Thing is there was since his uncle was supposed to be in attendance.
–The Premier or is it President?
–Premier or President doesn’t really matter. He didn’t make it. Lucky huh.
–I was being sarcastic, MacLow said. The reason he wasn’t there was not tied to luck at all.
The ambassador poured another round and sat down. He looked at MacLow and then at me.
–The reason is he knew something would happen. There is a very bitter struggle which has developed within Chinese politics between those seeking more interactions with the West and those who would prefer China to close the Great Wall again. Recently it has moved from rhetoric to violence. Thought it wouldn’t but it has. Actually Deng might be at fault for this escalation.
The ambassador lookt at MacLow again before he continued, leaning forward and looking me in the eye.
–Deng had your attempted seducer picked up. They traced her thru the number she gave you and rounded up her and some others. Word is they did not survive their interrogations.
–That’s crazy, I said. I can’t believe Deng would be a party to that.
–What you have to understand is that in a country like China, there is so much at stake for both sides, and an attempt to sabotage one side will bring an escalated response. I believe perhaps not Deng directly but those near him or those that have thrown their lots in with his saw this as an attempt to find out where the chain led, trace the beast from loins to head if you will.
There was not enough whiskey in the bottle to erase her, the rise of her skirt, the deep black cascading hair, the soft brown eyes. My desire to see my poetry published had been so great that I had become a party to events that were antithetical to everything I believed in, and now there was blood on my verse, and a rising guilt. I began to feel as if there were no way back, no way to return home when this was over. They put me on a plane to Moscow that night. Despite the two showers I’d had the scent of burnt flesh and gunpowder still surrounded me.
Summary Report #006
The project has come off the rails a bit although it is believed that everything is now back on track.
As you know, US telecommunications were comprehensively shut down by coordinated cyber attacks originating from three different continents. These cyber attacks effectively crippled all fiber optic, wireless, and satellite based communications within the US and all outbound traffic overseas on such systems. All that was not affected was old analog terrestrial lines, which basically translated into some public phones in isolated urban locations and some rural exchanges.
The effect on our project was that we were unable to direct a contact to meet Troubadour and that we were unable to sent a reading list to Troubadour prior to the reading in Munich. We had sent the information regarding poems for key and coded text to our asset in Munich a few days before, but we had no way to call off the asset from attending and unknown to us at the time, Bibi attempted to call off Troubadour from reading that night but she was unsuccessful as he saw that things were in place for the reading and decided he did not need a proscribed list to read his poems. Such strong headed sureness was one of the downfalls of using an untrained asset rather than a trained operative as I had predicted.
Bibi did succeed in convincing Troubadour to get a train to Berlin following the reading in order to fly to Shanghai.
From what I have been able to gather following the reading by debriefing our Munich asset, was that after the reading, for which Troubadour was apparently very drunk, Troubadour exited quickly and made for the hotel and then the train station. Our Munich asset confronted him with respect to the garbled nature of the coded text as the poems did not match in their order, disabling our Munich asset from assigning any legible message to it. He attempted to confront Troubadour as Troubadour entered the U-bahn, whereupon Troubadour disabled him with a swift kick to the groin and a following upper cut.
But Troubadour did make his plane and is on his way to China. Our communications have been restored. Maclow will be meeting him and escorting him in Shanghai.
Brave, brave the face may be, even in the death cages. Even when that face is stung by dust, then rain, a moat needed, even when confronted with uncertainty of time indefinite, by no hope of ever reaching Taishan who looms large snow topped refuge from the detention plains. But what face can remain or reclaim such bravery in the glare of the unblinking eye, pushed to understand the finite thread & in such light see beyond the death cage to only death, knowing that should it be now there is no cohesion, only a flaw that I cannot put straight, that time has forgone its loops and is pulling out single strands meant to terminate and give in the inner circle of that glare. The white shined details of death to come and cognizant then that there is no evergreen, solely dust & rain upon the shouldered coffin, broken black stands of bamboo under the raking wind.
What is the counter-balance, a man’s actions and thoughts expressed, but what if they are all in error & nothing was gotten right, the ground work all wrong so that there was no one listening to thunder even as they saw an approach of clouds, and am I Elijia or Tiresias, or more Cassandra, but then what can one do after seeing such in the center of the unblinking eye’s emotionless glare, realizing that it was all done for vanity & vanity has led to this death cage and all of it does not cohere & cannot ever because the infinite loops of time are not intertwined but at best stacked in toppling columns to be shook by earth unsound.
The best that can be done is to pull them down and find what fragments may mosaics make and so there is no path away from the beamed light, the cruel eye, except by collapse & by collopse I mean Samson pulling down the temple and that is all there is left, chained to the constructions of one’s life, to remove them and salvation means to pull down thy vanity, pull down...