« Part 1 of this epic is here «
2. A Guide to Yan’an
Hermit woke up. He opened his eyes, and without moving, he could see the Red Star over China shining from the entrance to the canyon, a slight breeze was rattling the tree tops, but besides, he was sure he had heard something else that had stirred his sleep. Wasn’t something crackling there in the woods?
Shit, he thought. If he woke Nanny up for nothing, she would become angry again. Besides, she might opt for a quickie. What should he do? He turned his head to the woods. He could run away and leave Nanny behind. It would be a great opportunity to get rid of the old spitfire, actually… He turned his eyes back to the canyon entrance. The Red Star shone into his conscience and reminded him that there were patriotic duties to fulfill. Without moving more than necessary, he reached for his briefcase and threw it at Nanny’s head.
“Not so loud,” whispered Hermit. “I think there’s some wild animal or Tibetan monk in the woods.”
Nanny reached for her kitbag, took a gun out and unlocked it. Then she rose and pointed at the woods from where there came another crackle.
“Don’t move!” shouted a man’s voice from there. “I can see you, but you can’t see me! I’m as clever as Zhu Geliang, and you better drop your ******* rifle, old fat woman!”
In a fit of uncontrollable rage, Nanny hoiked her gun and fired a burst into the wood.
One pistol shot came back, right into Hermit’s briefcase. “Don’t try that again!” shouted the voice. “I’m in full control of everything, I see everything, hear everything and know everything! I can see you! You can see me not! Drop your gun now!“
“Asshole,” muttered Nanny and dropped her gun.
“Now tell me,” said the voice, “are you progressive forces of society, or are you useless public vermin sucking the blood of the people?”
“We are civilized Han Chinese people,” shouted Hermit, “and we are Taoists and always ready for a jolly revolution. Who are you, bugger?”
A man emerged from the woods. He had lowered his pistol and slowly walked towards them.
“That bloke is absolutely tuifei (decadent)”, whispered Hermit. “Look at his tie and his Hugo Boss shirt (invented in China five centuries ago).”
“But he’s wearing a proletarian cap,” Nanny whispered back.
The man with the proletarian cap shook his head. “Let me introduce myself, said he. “My name is Chinacansayno. I’m the son of a very rich landlord with a lot of real estate…”
“… who owns a lot of slaves,” Hermit chipped in.
“You are obsessed with slavery,” retorted Chinacansayno. “That fat girl there is your wife, right? You know a good deal about slavery yourself, right? She’s controlling you very striclty, right? Hahahahaha!”
Under normal circumstances, Hermit wasn’t a very strong dragonfly, except for his airfoils. He wouldn’t fling his 30*20*10 centimeters briefcase further than a meter or two, but Chinacansayno’s allegation that he was married to Nanny made him furious, Chinacansayno had carelessly put his pistol back into its holster, and Hermit hit him right into the face.
“Bugger,” cried Chinacansayno, “you’ve hurt my feelings, and my nose is bleeding and spoiling my expensive shirt!
“My feelings are hurt, too,” spoke Hermit earnestly. “Let’s call it even.”
He watched Chinacansayno’s hanging shoulders and how he lowered his head, spoiling his shirt even further, and felt very proud of himself – he hadn’t realized that Nanny was standing somewhere behind him, closely watching Chinacansayno and thumping one of her seven-league boots silently into the palm of her left hand.
“OK,” said Hermit, feeling very confident. “Now let me introduce Nanny. She’s a renowned seer. And I’m Hermit the Taoist Dragonfly. Six nights ago, I spotted a red star over China from my observatory in dirty muzzy Xinjiang. We don’t know yet if it means curse or liberation for our great motherland, but in either case we know that our sacred motherland is calling us.”
While Hermit was talking, Chinacansayno had changed the color of his face several times and had become very excited. “Are you the incarnation of Chairman Mao who is coming to save us?“, he cried.
“What kind of superstitious oracle told you that?”, asked Hermit.
“That’s no superstition,” Chinacansayno replied in a venerated tone. “Our seer who is even smarter than your fatass Nan… umm… anyway, our seer isn’t stupid either, and he says…”
“Anyway,” Hermit monkeyed him. “Is that coming Chairman a man or a dragonfly?”
“A man,” said Chinacansayno.
“I thought so,” said Hermit.
“You are very clever,” purred Chinacansayno. “How did you know?”
“Easy. Because Chairman Mao would be a Chairdragonfly otherwise.”
“That’s logical,” Chinacansayno agreed.
“But tell us,” Nanny came in, “if you are a child of such privileged people yourself, why would you join a commie cause?”
“How do you know it’s a commie cause?”, asked Chinacansayno who was very suprised.
“Easy,” said Nanny. “a) you are wearing a funny proletarian cap with a red star on it. b) the red star over China and the one on your cap have five edges, just like the Bolshevik one in Moscow. c) I’m a seer. Forgot, huh?”
Chinacansayno jumped around with apparent joy like an idiot for five minutes and kept yelling “Now I know! Now I know! Now I know!“
“You know what?”, enquired Hermit after Chinacansayno had calmed down.
“Now I also know that Nanny is the Seer,” explained Chinacansayno, pressed his Mao-cap to his chest and made three deep bows. “I’ll lead you to Yan’an, and Nanny will find out who of the new-born there is the reincarnation of Chairman Mao!”
“OK,” muttered Nanny. “No prob. But let me ask you this again: why would you, spoiled brat from a privileged landlord dynasty, join the Commies?”
“Sooner or later the truth will be revealed,” said Chinacansayno. “But for now, even you, Great Seer, can’t know. When the time has come…”
“OK, OK,” grumbled Nanny. “We have no time to lose. We can get three more hours of sleep and then we’ll get on our way to Yan’an.”
Nanny’s mobile phone alarm clock went off at 3 a.m. Zhongyuan Standard Time (or Peiping time, or KMT time) which meant that time was much earlier in the place they were. Nanny slammed her mobile phone onto a rock, they rose, and kept on walking for twelve hours. Then they took a short break and had some Xican porridge for a late breakfast. After that they continued their long march, and when night fell, the red star proved that their direction was fully correct.
Suddenly, a weird noise of hundreds of silly voices yelling stuff like Hare Krishna, Dailai Lama clang through the forest. “Shit,” said Nanny. “Off the path. Let’s hide behind those trees.”
A long procession of people in orange robes lurched by under a cloud of weed smoke and colorful lanterns, on the path the three patriots had been walking only seconds earlier.
“How do you know we need to hide from them?”, asked Hermit.
Nanny shrugged. “a) we don’t know them. b) my vision tells me they’re hostile to the motherland.”
“c) They are Tibetans,” added Chinacansayno. “They never wash themselves, and their cult is as dangerous as Shintoism, and almost as dangerous as muzzie Uyghurs.”
“d) They can’t read and write and are uncivilized, e) they smoke shit, and f) they are some sort of yippie culture,” completed Nanny.
“But our people can’t read and write either, and especially our upper classes smoke opium,” Hermit brought to their attention.
“But that’s something completely different,” said Chinacansayno. “My daddy smokes opium too, but he’s civilized.”
Hermit frowned. “And the Yippie Movement is only scheduled for the 1960s, in America.”
“China – this includes all Han Chinese and muzzies and Tibetans – has already invented the Yippie movement,” said Chinacansayno. “Anyway, that bunch here is becoming a problem. Chairman Mao’s reincarnation will take thorough care of them later.”
After two hours, the weird procession was over. “What can we do now?”, asked Chinacansayno. “They walked very slowly – they are intoxicated with weed. We’d catch up with them within minutes, and that wouldn’t be advisable, would it?”
“We could massacre them,” suggested Nanny.
Chinacansayno shook his head. “Not advisable. Our mission is very secret, and hundreds of dead monks would be no secret. Our news blackout system isn’t perfect yet.”
“Well – you are here to lead us to Yan’an,” growled Nanny. “Make a better suggestion.”
“The key is to get them off this path,” said Hermit.
Chinacansayno wiped some dried blood off his nose. “Smartass.”
“No civil wars now,” barked Nanny.
“I’ll play a God,” said Hermit. “A flying God. They don’t expect any flying object to be a smart creature which speaks their language unless it’s a God, right?”
“You don’t look like a God,” said Chinacansayno.
“I’ll tell them. I’ll tell them that I’m one of the seven Tibetan Kings,” said Hermit. “Can I have one of your boots, Nanny?”
“If you take good care of it,” said Nanny. Hermit took the boot and took off. Soon after, he reached the end of the staggering procession. Flying at the height of the tree tops, he started bellowing into Nanny’s big boot with a voice as loud and deep as he could: “I’m a Tibetan King! I’m a Tibetan King!”
The people in orange dropped their joints and lanterns. “Who is there?”, shouted someone from the first lines. “I’m a Tibetan King! I’m a Tibetan King! Follow meee! Follow meee!”
So they did. Hermit made sure that they stumbled through the forest in circles under his correct guidance and lost their way completely. Then he flew back to his companions. They lost no time and overtook the people in orange before they could find their way back to the trail.
Update: Part three is here