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Laughter, deep and hearty, mingles and intertwines with other laughs, of higher pitched, but no less exuberant.

Kenzo Wang is having the time of his life. Head titled back, the laughter bursts forth. But is cut short, as a blob of mud enters his mouth. He sputters, and wipes the blob from his face, and looks around to see who threw it. He sees the culprit, and his laughter takes on a menacing tone. The attacker sees Kenzo start to advance, but cannot escape before a large arm snakes forth and wraps around them. A squeal escapes the hapless assailants as they are scooped up and slammed down, rather gently.

Squish

The woman sputters, and wipes the mud from her face and hair. Kenzo laughs again, but is cut short, as the woman’s team mates jump on Kenzo from behind. Kenzo staggers, and tries to grab a slippery leg, but his hand slides off. Another woman trips him, and he falls down and is soon buried under a pile of nubile flesh.

He laughs again, in mock terror, and the woman giggle, and throw more mud on him. A ref in a striped bikini top, the bottom may be striped, but it’s hard to tell, as it just looks like one stripe, and a narrow one at that, counts a 2, Before Kenzo powers up with a roar…

Madison watches Kenzo roll around in the mud with the several women. This is definitely not what she had in mind after finding Kenzo paralyzed and a panicky race through the dead of night to the outskirts of town. The frantic phone calls, the yelling, the demands, she expected to pull up to one of the fanciest hospitals and be greeted by specialists flown in from around the world. She definitely did not expect to pull up to a what looked like a bricked up building, and be greeted by topless Asian waitresses. She makes a tectching sound, which attracts the attention of her employer.

Wevv Mang: Something the matter my dear?

Wevv is sitting in the VIP area, his designer jacket unbuttoned, and two, Madison had to admit to herself, they were gorgeous, Asian women sitting on either side of him. A third was massaging his shoulders and neck. Wevv did not even bother to look at her. His attention was focused on a chessboard in front of him. The set appeared to be carved out of stone. Wevv merely turns his head, and taps the side of his face with a long stemmed pipe, attached to a hookah.

Wevv tucks the pipe in his mouth and puffs, and then inhales deeply. Madison looks over at Wevv, and rolls her eyes.

Madison: He’s making a damn fool out of himself.

Wevv reaches forth a hand and lays it on a piece. He puffs deeply, and then slides it to its new position. He then looks up at his opponent. Across from him sits a woman. She is Asian, and of an age that is hard to define, partly due to the heavy make up she’s wearing and partly due to the aura she projects. Calm self-assuredness. She is wearing a long, jeweled robe, which is open, exposing her loincloth, and painted nipples. She holds a cigarette in a long holder between fingers with nails at least three inches long. She lounges, as opposed to sits. Her green eyes are nearly closed, but they open and look at Wevv as he removes his finger from his piece. Then, she looks Wevv straight in the eyes. The eyes that lock with Wevv’s have no remorse in them. But perhaps, a faint hint of amusement. That amusement unnerves Wevv in more ways than one. Wevv breaks the gaze, and turns to look over at Kenzo, who apparently is trying to apply an abdominal stretch to three women at once. He’s not having much luck, as the women are all covered in mud, and Kenzo’s hands slides around trying to get a grip. Kenzo doesn’t seem concerned, and neither do the women.

Wevv: He’s having fun. Something I suggest you try and do.

Madison makes another tetching sound, and turns to look into Wevv’s bloodshot eyes, and loopy grin.

Madison: This just seems a waste of time! I mean look at you! Are you sure we should be doing this now? I mean, shouldn't we be planning? Or as you would saying “Planning”? Not sitting around playing games?

Wevv seems to sober up, and he looks at the board, as the Madam makes her move, with the tip of a finger, sliding the piece slowly across the board. She bumps it into one of Wevv’s pieces. She then slowly takes the piece and places it beside the board. She smiles. And inhales on her cigarette, and leans back. Once more in a pose described as languid, she exhales, and says something in Malaysian, very quietly.

Wevv: Damn. I needed that piece. Madison, sit down. Have a drink. Or a smoke. This Thai Stick is outstanding.  Very smooth and mellow. Just the thing to calm you down.

Madison: But:

Wevv: Sit. That’s an order. And stop staring at Kenzo. You're ruining his fun.

Madison throws herself into a chair. A woman approaches her, to rub her neck. She tenses up, and holds up a hand.

Madison: No! Just…give me a Mojito. Heavy on the rum. OK Wevv, I’m sitting. Happy.

Wevv: Not really. Madam Hsing here is about to have me in check.

Madison: Well, maybe if you spent more time planning, instead of staring at naked women, you’d be playing better. You know what they say about chess, how it’s supposed to be a good indication of one’s strategic ability? Helps form coherent thinking? Maybe we should get out of here, and back to the hotel.

Wevv: Nonsense. We paid for the evening, and I plan to get the full value. Besides, listen to Kenzo! I haven't heard him laugh that much in moths! Let him have fun. He’s earned it. He’s saved my life more times than I can count. Hell, That could have been me tonight.

Wevv appears to lose himself in a flashback. He freezes, a chess piece in his hand. He then shudders, and looks down at the board. He appears to concentrate, twitching a finger over the board. He then seems to come to a decision, and places his piece. He takes one of Madam Hsing’s. He then says something in Malaysian. The madam frowns, and then leans forward to look over the board. She looks up at Wevv, and says something in Malaysian, with points of her cigarette for emphasis. Not angry, just serious. Wevv replies. Madam Hsing nods, and cups her face in a hand, and studies the board. An attendant moves an ashtray under her cigarette. She waves a hand to shoo her away. She speaks a command, and the girl, a blond Australian, bows and hurries away.

Wevv stands up and takes off his jacket and removes his tie. He then turns to speak to Madison, hookah pipe still in hand.

Wevv: Madam Hsing has graciously allowed a short break from the game. Now, what is really bothering you?

Madison: It’s…I should have know they were there! I mean, if Pope Fred and Rosanne could get into our suite, then who knows who else could have gotten in! I mean, we’re working against some very clever and ruthless people, and I let my guard down! WE could have all been –

Wevv: Stop it. You can't blame yourself for what happened. Pope Fred is…well, Pope Fred. A most … unusual character. And nothing happened. Well, nothing serious anyway. An unfortunate, unforeseen turn of events, but it all worked out.

Madison: Sometimes..I…sometimes I just think we’re in over our head…

Wevv sits down. He leans over and takes Madison’s hand.

Wevv: Madison, listen to me. There is nothing to be alarmed over. You have what it takes. I would not have hired you on, and brought you with me when I left Cuba. There is still business there, that you could be attending to, but I think your talents would be wasted. I need you here. With me. And Kenzo. The Plan is at a very dangerous stage. Soon, the final stages will be in play. We already have Watson on the ropes. Random is throwing barbs without aiming. Everything is coming together. And as for our other business, well, that will soon be at an end. So tonight, just relax and enjoy yourself. We may not get another chance.

Wevv pats Madison’s hand and turns back to the board. He begins to speak with Madam Hsing, and then two share a laugh. Madison’s drink arrives, and she sips at it, not really calmed at all. But slightly reassured.

Madam Hsing makes her move. Wevv counters quickly, with a devilish smile. Madam Hsing returns it, and makes her move. Wevv is suddenly no longer smiling. He rubs his chin, and stares at the board. Madison watches in silence. Wevv touches a piece, but leaves it in place. He rubs his chin again, and then removes his finger and moves another piece instead. Madam Hsing then leans over and slowly, moves a piece into position. She bumps it into Wevv’s king, and then topples it over. She speaks one word in Malaysian. No translation is needed. Checkmate. Wevv stares at the board. Madam Hsing lies back and puffs on her cigarette, staring at Wevv with half lidded, purple painted eyes. Wevv then stands up.  He starts to speak slowly in English. He puts his hands together.

Wevv: Thank you for a challenging game. Well played.

Wevv pulls off his finger a large, school ring.

Wevv: It is my class graduation ring from Yale. It has some value, but a greater personal one. I hope you find it acceptable as a token of my respect.

Madam Hsing stands. Her attendants rise with her. Wevv bows and holds forth the ring. Madam Hsing reaches a hand over, and takes the ring.

Madam Hsing: An honorable gift from an honorable opponent.

Wevv: Thank you Madam. I hope to one day win it back from you, should our paths ever cross again.

Madam Hsing eyes Wevv.

Madam Hsing: I think we will meet again Wevv Mang. I will be taking my leave now. . Please, enjoy yourself in my establishment.

Madam Hsing returns Wevv’s bow, and turns and leaves. Her attendant follow. Wevv does not straighten up until she can no longer be seen. He then stretches, and picks up the hookah pipe. He takes a last toke.

Wevv: A remarkable woman. They may say the weaker sex, but that’s a laugh. I’ve known some very dangerous woman, and that one is near the top of the list.

Madison stands up as well.

Madison: Sorry you lost your game.

Wevv: Clever. Very clever. Saw right through me. Eh? Oh, that. Posh. It’s just a game. I’ve never been very good at chess. Besides, it’s not real life.

Wevv puts an arm around Madison and starts to lead her over to the mud pit.

Wevv: You see, chess is just an exercise in logic. But in real life, well, not everything fits into strict rules. Life is full of unpredictability. Chance. In real life, the winner of such games, are those who can react, and adapt to the unexpected. Those who can think quickly and be ready to from an alternative, and act on it quickly. And of course, you have to be able to buy that time to act. So many variables. Now, we have the rest of the evening to enjoy ourselves.

In the mud pit, Kenzo has suddenly found himself surrounded. More women are coming from the back, these ones still clean. With a shriek and a squeal, they launch themselves at Kenzo. He disappears under squirming, writhing female flesh.

Wevv suddenly starts to remove his shirt and shoes.

Wevv: Uh-oh! Looks like Kenzo is in trouble!

Wevv rushes to ringside. He pulls off his pants and socks. He finally gets down to just his boxers, as Kenzo valiantly tries to escape from under the pile.

Wevv: KENZO! I’M HERE FRIEND! QUICK! TAG ME IN!

Kenzo looks up at his friend and employer. He sees the smile on Wevv’s face. He laughs, and smiles right back. He reaches out his hand, and slaps a handful of mud onto Wevv’s. Wevv roars in mock fury, and starts to grab and pull squealing, giggling females off Mr. Wang.

The sun is rising. Wevv and Mr. Wang, clean and wearing freshly laundered clothes sit on the curb outside of Madam Hsing’s. Both are smoking cigars. Wevv looks over at Mr. Wang, and Mr. Wang looks back at Wevv. Both men say nothing, but chuckle. Wevv sticks out a fist, and Mr. Wang gives him a pound.

Madison: Men…

Wevv: What?

Madison: Well, I hope you two had fun. There’s a lot of work we could have been doing, and now we’ve wasted an evening playing.

Wevv stands up, and throws his jacket over his shoulder. Mr. Wang slowly gets to his feet.

Wevv: Easy there, old friend. Madison, I –

Just then, the door to the establishment opens, and a young Asian girl comes out. She is wearing a richly embroidered dress, with her hair in stylized buns on either side of her head. She hurries up to Wevv, and bows.

Girl: Mr. Wevv-san. Madam Hsing wanted me to give you this.

She bows and holds out a piece of paper. Wevv takes the paper, and bows in return.

Wevv: Thank your mistress for me. She has my gratitude and thanks for her hospitality.

The girl does a quick bow in return, and hurries back inside. The sound of the door locking is the only sound heard.

Wevv opens the paper and reads it. He then refolds it. He holds it up between his fingers.

Wevv: It’s only work if you’re not having fun. Let’s go. Where did you park the car? I could have sworn it was around here somewhere…

*August 7, 2007

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