|时间：2017-03-12 21:52:46｜人气：119 |
|Lois went with Martha Fox to Menlo Park mall. She really hated shopping unless absolutely necessary. But Martha importuned her so hard that she felt a flat rejection would hurt her feelings. So reluctantly she went with Martha to the mall. Martha deliberately took time to choose her things, which was actually trying Lois''s patience. After two hours, Martha finished her buying task. Perhaps, she felt Lois‘s impatience and abbreviated her commitment. Martha was carrying all her shopping bags, walking through the exit door of the mall. Lois didn''t feel like helping her with the bags. Though there were many bags, they were not heavy and Martha was a big strong woman. |
Now Martha was putting all the bags into the trunk of her car, a cream-colored Mercedes. She left her purse on the top of her car. All of a sudden, a young guy came, snatched up her purse and ran away with it. Martha cried, “Thief!” Lois gave a big leap and overtook him. She blocked his escape. Another guy sneaked out from behind a parked car and stabbed at her back with a knife. Lois sensed the movement behind her back and crouched down, stooping a little forward and kicking her right foot backward at the guy''s knee, sending him tumbling a few meters away and bumping against a car. The guy before her brought the purse down on her head. Lois had already pulled back her foot. She ducked the purse and threw out her right arm, grabbing the purse fast in her hand and wrenching it out of the guy''s grasp with the help of a kick at the guy''s belly. He had to release his grip on the purse and leaped backwards. Two more guys appeared from between the parked cars. The guy who had been kicked down by Lois had already gotten up. The four goons surrounded her, each holding a knife, the blade reflecting a blue flicker in the setting sunbeams. Lois knew it should not touch her, so she used the purse as a weapon, holding its strap. Martha Fox hid herself in her car. Lois got a glimpse and eased a little. She had been afraid that one of the guys would have taken her as a hostage, but when she saw the poisonous knives, she was aware that they came for her; the thieving action was a false move.
The knife had a long chain attached on the handle end. The thugs now wielded the chains like lassos and the knives became much longer. They put their chi through the chains onto the knives. The attack force was stronger. Lois had to fill the purse with her chi to parry off the flying knives. Her chi protected the purse, so the knives could not cut through it any time they clashed. Though the kungfu of the four guys was on a much lower level, Lois had a disadvantage. She could not use her left hand. In the attacking process, the guys jumped onto and down from the hoods, tops or trunks of the parked cars. Sometimes, the knives clanked on the car bodies, making dent marks or erasing the paint on the car surfaces. Some windshields, some windowpanes, some rear windows and even side mirrors were broken. They slung their knives on the chains at Lois at the same time from different directions and different distances, one at her face, one at her right shoulder, one at her back and one at her left thigh. Lois whipped up the purse to fend off the closest one aiming at her face, then she pivoted on her left foot, bringing the purse down slantingly in a curve to knock away the knives coming at her shoulder and back and at the same time, kicked off the knife flying at her thigh with her right foot. The rascals jerked back their knives and flung them at Lois once more. Lois jumped high and kicked at the three knives in midair with both her feet while the fourth one just reached beneath her right foot as she descended. She landed on the ground unharmed with the fourth knife still under her foot. She trod on it hard so that the rogue who was holding it could not tug it back. The other three knives came again, one at her butt, one at her left leg and the last one at her right knee. She had to make moves and jumped up again. The fourth knife was released and jerked back. The other knives hit the empty air and were pulled back, too.
Five minutes slipped by. Lois grew a little impatient. As the guys pulled back the knives, she suddenly leaped forward, following one of the knives, and shot out her chi from her left hand striking one hoodlum on his abdomen. He was knocked out of his wind, badly injured inside. He rolled down from the hood of a car and fell on the ground, groaning. The other three knaves were distracted and another was hit on the chest by the purse full of her chi as Lois jumped up to swoop down at him. The three rogues had to flee. The one whose chest was wounded, coughed and spat blood. Two ribs were broken and his lungs were injured. Lois gave up chasing the three. She got the fourth under her foot. Lois recognized the four villains who were among the seven people Lois had fought in New York. The police came and took the guy in custody after Martha and Lois signed their statements. Someone must have called the police.
Lois felt the suppressed poison in her lower left arm threading upward. The barely discernible bluish color restrained on her fingertips now spreading to her knuckles. She went quickly to Martha''s car and gave the purse back to her undamaged. Martha had looked frightened, but seeing Lois was safe, she relaxed and thanked Lois opulently. Lois got into the passenger seat and told Martha to drop her at home as soon as possible. Martha quickly pulled out of the parking lot.
Half an hour later, Lois was at home. She sat down on the den floor, exercising her chi as self-treatment aided first by her mother, then by her father, who was summoned back from the video store. But this time the remaining poison could not so easily be oppressed.
When Tricia and Sally came home in the evening, they were worried, too. After two hours, the poison was temporarily under control. Lois finished her self-treatment and came to sit on the sofa in the living room. She told them about what occurred and wanted Tricia to contact Sam to interrogate the guy under police custody.
She went with Sam to the prison infirmary where the injured rascal was being taken care of. He was lying in bed, but looked all right. He had been exercising his chi in self-treatment in addition to the medical care. Kungfu people have some advantage over ordinary individuals when injured or taken ill. They can use chi, which really has a healing effect.
“Do you remember we met once in New York the other night and had a fight?” Tricia asked.
“Yeah,” he replied as succinct as possible. Then he demanded to call his lawyer to be present at the cross-examination, or he wouldn''t answer a single question. That was his lawful right, could not be denied. So they let him make the call. While waiting for the lawyer to come, everyone in the infirmary room kept silent.
At long last the lawyer arrived, a middle-aged man, about five foot six with a meager build. The lawyer sat down on a chair closest to the thug. Now the interrogation began, but the lawyer interrupted Tricia almost at every question she asked, which was truly annoying. Tricia sat next to the lawyer. She raised the index finger of her right hand imperceptibly and pricked the lawyer''s Sleep Xue with the invisible chi. The lawyer started to nod, then hung his head before his chest and lightly snored away just like a baby after being fed milk. Such things never, ever happened before. Whose fault was it but his? Maybe, he hadn''t got a wink of sleep for three days, for some reason or other, unknown to the prisoner and the detectives. Sam was greatly astounded, but said nothing. The thug knew that something was wrong, very wrong. The bitch detective must have done something to the lawyer. It was known to all those in his circle that the three bitch detectives were on a very high level of kungfu, close to the master level. He couldn''t complain about the foul play of the bitch detective if it was really her who had made the lawyer fall asleep. No one would believe him even if he complained. And he could not refuse to answer questions because of his lawyer falling asleep. He was frustrated. He had seen his boss torturing some disobedient followers with kungfu. The worst was that after the torment, no one could detect any torment even done. No trace left. Only the tormentee could feel it within, more unbearable than those inflicted from outside, which left telltale traces all over for anybody to see later, for a long time. He didn''t want to recall it. He shook his head to toss away the bad memory. Who said that a computer''s like a brain, or a brain''s like a computer? You can''t delete a memory if you want to, like some data on the computer.
“Why did you want to snatch the lady''s purse?” Tricia started to question him again, with her raised forefinger in the air making small circles. The goon looked at her moving finger, feeling a little nervous. But he could at least….
“I need money.” A good pretext for the bad deed, Tricia thought.
“Who are the other three guys?”
“Just friends.” An ordinary reply would lead nowhere. He was sure as slippery as an eel.
“What are their names?”
“Do you want any nicknames? We know each other only by nicknames.” Tricia knew he would give phony names if she insisted.
“Where do they live?”
“Don''t know. We just meet in some public places.” This was a dead end answer.
“Why did you come to New Jersey? I thought New York was the place you always met.”
“We meet anywhere we want to.” Sure, this is a free country. You can go anywhere you want.
“Where are you working?”
“Out of a job right now.” This must have been the truth.
“Where did you get this knife?” She showed him the knife in a plastic evidence bag.
“Bought it from someone.” Hmmmmm?
“We never ask each other''s names. The deal closed, we went our separate ways.” Good answer.
“Where did you buy it?”
“On a street in New York.” Imaginable.
“Forty-second.” A famous street in New York City indeed.
“Describe the whole dealing process.”
“We met someone on that street after midnight. That was a night last winter. That guy wore dark sunglasses, his baseball cap pulled low, and his lower face hidden in a scarf. He came up to ask us if we wanted to buy these knives from him. So we took the knives and paid the money.” That was a typical scenario in a movie.
His answers were recorded. All his answers seemed to have been through repeated rehearsal. Though Tricia and Sam knew he didn''t speak a bit of truth, they could not find a better way to get the truth out of him. Tricia was fully aware that she could not really torture him in the jail infirmary. They needed time to think of some other means.
Two days later, Sam called. “Hi, Tricia. I have some bad news for you. The guy was charged with robbery, fighting in public places, possession of a lethal weapon and attempted murder. The lawyer came yesterday to bail him out, but was refused accordingly. He had an interview with the guy, but last night the guy died from poison.”
“Is it the same poison as on the knife?” Tricia asked.
“How did the poison get into him?”
“He had a prick on his right hand. The possibility is that the lawyer did it.”
“I remember world history had an example. A king was murdered through a handshake with his enemy, who wore a ring that could bite unconsciously and release the poison into the king''s blood system. Did the lawyer shake hands with him before he left?”
“Probably. No one would notice such things. It''s too common and happens everyday--handshake between two men.”
Tricia filled others in on the information in the evening when she got home. “That Black Panther sure has long paws,” said Lois. “Another string of the yarn of clues was broken.”
Martha Fox came to see Lois when she heard on the phone that Lois didn''t feel well, but when she saw that Lois seemed okay, she relaxed.
“I''m lucky to have a friend like you, or my purse would be gone.”
Lois suddenly remembered her fortune told by Mr. Chen that she would have a misfortune owing to a female. That''s it. Mr. Chen was right. Martha was a female. She caused it without any knowledge of it and she didn''t even guess it. The bluish color, which looked a shade deeper, had spread all over her left hand now. Martha suddenly noticed it and asked in astonishment, “Why do you paint your skin blue? You want to start a new fashion? The blue mascara should be applied around your eyes, not on the hand.” Lois smiled wryly to her friend who looked so innocent with her Mona Lisa smile. Lois offered her a cup of coffee, but she said she was busy, would soon leave, but she actually didn’t leave until one hour later. She prattled and prattled about her idea of fashion, her fellow clerks in the office, how to do her makeup, her likes and dislikes and her favorite movie stars, about almost everything on the good Earth. Lois had to listen politely till she felt her head swimming and aching.
After Martha had actually and physically gone, Mr. and Mrs. Chang came to see Lois when they heard of the situation. Louise offered them two cups of tea and sat down to talk with them.
“It seems we can do nothing at present,” said Mr. Chang. “It would be best to cut off the affected arm as soon as possible lest the poison spreads to the heart. I have a kungfu pupil who''s a doctor, working in a general hospital. Can I call him from here?” But without waiting to get the answer, he lifted the receiver and dialed the number.
“May I speak to Doctor Jeffrey Woo?” He was put on hold as the operator transferred his call to the doctor''s extension. Someone else answered and put him on hold again. Almost five minutes elapsed before Jeffrey came on the line. “Hello, Jeff, this is Richard Chang.”
“Hi, Master Chang, how are you?”
Mr. Chang was not in a mood for small talk. He went directly to the point. “You know we have a Dry Daughter, Lois Lin. Her lower left arm''s been poisoned and should be cut off or it''s haphazard to her life. Can you help there?” He sounded urgent.
“No problem, Master Chang. Maybe, I can do more than that.”
“What do you mean by more than that?”
“A girl just died in a car accident. Maybe we can use her left arm to replace that of your daughter if they are about the same size. But of course, we must get agreement from her family first.”
“Is she married or--?”
“We know nothing about her yet. I''ll go find out and call you back later.”
Mr. Chang gave him the phone number of the Lins. Then he passed on the good news.
Mrs. Chang said, “If the girl''s family doesn''t agree, I can give her my arm. I am old and she''s still young.” Then she turned to her husband. “I can still cook for you with one hand.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Chang,” Mrs. Lin said. “But we can not accept that. If anyone gives her arm to Lois, it should be me, her own mother.” Then the two ladies argued as to who should donate her arm. And the argument really got hot since Mrs. Chang was so obstinate.
Tricia and Sally came home just in time to hear the debate between their mother and Mrs. Chang, which was so touching.
“My skin color''s so different than Lois''s, but if she doesn''t mind, I can give her my arm,” Sally said, her mouth moving busily with a wad of gum inside. She couldn''t blow bubbles before the guests.
“If considering the skin color, mine is better,” Tricia offered.
“You two don''t even think about it. You are too young. You need arms to work with,” their mother interrupted them.
Mr. Lin came out from the den. Mrs. Lin told him about the news of the transplant.
“Let''s wait for Doctor Woo to call back first. Then we''ll see what we can do,” said Mr. Lin.
One hour later, Doctor Woo called and asked to speak with Master Chang. “The police tracked down the girl''s mother, Mrs. Nancy Gallagher. I talked to her. Though she grieves and weeps over her daughter''s tragic early death, she is really a compassionate woman. She sympathizes with your daughter''s situation and doesn''t want another girl to die young. So she has agreed to our plan. You can take your daughter to the hospital right now.”
Mr. Chang thanked him and hung up, then gave the others the information. Everyone was hopeful. Now the two old couples took Lois to the hospital, leaving the young ones at home. No need for everyone to go to the hospital. They could do nothing there. Lois would be left to the skillful hands of the doctors, namely, the surgeons.
When they arrived, Doctor Woo was waiting at the double doors of the hospital entrance. Master Chang introduced Doctor Woo to Mr. and Mrs. Lin and Lois, who could walk by herself.
After all the preparations were made, both girls were put on gurneys, one dead and one wounded, and pushed into the operating room. The two old couples met Mrs. Gallagher in the hallway and expressed their hearty condolences and gratitude, too.
“As a mother, I know what a mother feels if her daughter dies young,” said Mrs. Lin to Mrs. Nancy Gallagher. “Mothers take many pains to bring their children up and when they are grown up and independent, they suddenly die. It''s so grievous and mournful.”
“I feel just like that, so I don''t want your daughter to die young. Only with my daughter gone, I am feeling so lonely,” Mrs. Gallagher sighed, fresh tears trickling down her cheeks.
Mrs. Lin took out a tissue from her purse and offered it to her, asking, “How many children do you have, Mrs. Gallagher?”
“My son lives in Ohio with his own family. Only my daughter lived with me. For many years we were attached and endeared to each other. And now--” She shook her head and sobbed again.
“Since my daughter''s saved through your kindness and understanding, I can give up my daughter to be your daughter. I don''t always like the modern American conception. It''s like the bird. When the young saplings grow up and can be independent, they fly away, far away. But we are humans, not birds. Why must an old parent be exiled to the nursing homes? Why can''t we live with an old parent and let him or her enjoy the remaining years among his or her own flesh and blood? Don’t the young people know that their old parent living among strangers, like nurses, though they are nice and kind and look after the old people attentively, will not feel the same? Some old lady lived alone and was dead for several months before she was accidentally discovered. That''s terrible. I don''t want anything like that to happen to you just as you don''t want my daughter to die young like your own daughter. From now on, you can live with my daughter--no, I mean, your new daughter. Her name is Lois.”
“I know that generally parents love children much deeper than children love parents,” said Mrs. Gallagher. “You must love your daughter. How can I take her away from you?”
“That''s all right. I have three daughters, though the other two are adopted.”
“Maybe, I can adopt one of your adopted daughters, if she herself agrees.”
“We can talk this over later.” Mrs. Lin hugged Mrs. Gallagher.
“I always have a suggestion that when one celebrates his or her birthday, the first thing he or she should do is buy a gift for the mother and thank the mother for their birth,” Mrs. Chang broke in. “But now it seems the other way around. Mothers give gifts to children for the birthday, on which they themselves labored so hard, even risked their lives. That''s really unfair and not the way we should do it.” She shook her head in disapprobation.
Doctor Woo was not a surgeon; so he was not in the operating room, but he could get constant information of the operation process and convey it to the old couples and Mrs. Gallagher. The operation was supposed to be long. Doctor Woo advised them to wait in the hospital cafeteria so that they could have something to drink and eat when they felt like it. The operation lasted deep into the night and was finished successfully in the end, because both girls had the same stature and the same length and thickness of the arm. Mrs. Chang and Mrs. Gallagher had fallen asleep at the table when the good news came, but the other three had stayed awake. Then they left for their respective homes while Lois was kept in the hospital for further observation.
Next day during visiting hours, the two old couples came to see Lois. Everything looked the same on her. If people didn''t look close enough, they couldn''t tell if anything was different, but when scrutinizing, they would be able to distinguish the difference in the shades of the skin color on Lois''s left arm, the newly-transplanted part showed a slightly whiter shade than the original skin color, and there was a thin red line barely perceptible round the arm bordering the two different shades of the white color. Later a plastic surgery would mend it.
“How do you feel about it?” her mother asked concernedly.
“It''s okay. The doctor said it would feel like my own when it grew together if nothing happened, that is, no rejection in the transplant of the limb coming from a different body,” Lois informed wearily. “At least I''m safe now.”
Mr. Lin put down some containers on the night table beside the bed. “Your mother cooked something for you,” he said. “The hospital food is always terrible everywhere.”
Mrs. Chang laid a container on the table, too. The contents showed through the transparent sides of the container--cubes of watermelon and cantaloupe mixed together. At the end of visiting hours, the two couples left, promising to come the next day. Lois persisted that Mr. and Mrs. Chang shouldn''t come every day since they knew she was well now. She would be back home in a few days. Mr. and Mrs. Lin helped to dissuade them from coming again to the hospital.
“Come to our house when she''s back,” Mrs. Lin said to them. At last Mr. and Mrs. Chang had to yield to their obstinacy.
After a few days, Lois was back home and her left arm felt like her own. For now she could not use it much, certainly not to lift heavy things with it. She must let it grow into one sturdy piece. Then she needed plastic surgery for the stitched line round the arm and a little suntan on the transplanted part to make the different color shades as less perceivable as possible. Before these were accomplished, she would wear something with long sleeves.
It was Sunday. They would hold a small dinner party at home to celebrate the successful operation on Lois''s arm. Mr. and Mrs. Chang were invited. So was Mrs. Nancy Gallagher. Doctor Woo was also invited, but he was on duty and could not come. Before the party, they’d had a family meeting to discuss Mrs. Gallagher''s problem of loneliness. Though her daughter didn''t die for any member of the family, at least she acceded to donating her daughter''s limb to save Lois. So they decided unanimously that a compensation of some kind should be made to her. Now what she needed most was to have someone to keep her company. If they hired some girl to be her companion and paid for it, which they could afford, it would be so unsentimental, because the relationship between Mrs. Gallagher and the girl was based on money, not on love and friendship.
According to common sense, it should be Lois who went to live with Mrs. Gallagher, to whom she owed a big favor, but Mrs. Gallagher insisted that she should not take her away from her own parents. It was not like taking a pet kitten from its mother. But she would not refuse if one of the adopted girls was willing to live with her as her adopted daughter. But the two girls, Tricia and Sally, hesitated. Generally, people adopt small children, not adults. The idea to adopt the adopted adult is really like transferring the adoption, which is never heard of. Besides, they knew almost nothing about Mrs. Nancy Gallagher; namely, her character, her disposition, her temper. They wanted to be able to live with her peacefully, without any brawl, like in this family. But no one could foretell anything of the future, or guarantee anything. One could learn consequences only through experience, but by then it was too late.
Finally, Sally said, “We can see that her late daughter had such fair skin. Look at my skin. She may not like it.” A big bubble appeared in front of her face.
“Are you discriminating yourself or just making a lame pretense?” Tricia eyed her questioningly.
“I just tell the truth and a possibility,” Sally pleaded for herself after the bubble was sucked in.
“She needs company for her emotional sake since she lost her daughter so abruptly and so young, and she wasn''t prepared for it. It really has nothing to do with the color of the skin,” retorted Tricia.
“It sounds like she should go to see a psychiatrist,” said Sally. “She has an emotional problem.”
“I think you should go to see a psychiatrist, not her,” Tricia said to Sally.
“Me?” Sally looked befuddled and stopped chewing for the moment. “If we go out together, people won''t think we look like mother and daughter.”
“Adopted,” Tricia corrected her. “You need that epithet.”
“Fine. I will print that word on every T-shirt and sweatshirt that I put on when I go out with her.” Another bubble floated out of her nicely shaped mouth.
“It really doesn''t concern other people. It only concerns her and you. If you feel like mother and daughter, that''s okay,” retorted Tricia.
“That''s enough. Stop here,” Lois cut in. “I''ll persuade Mrs. Gallagher to take me to live with her. We can come to visit as often as possible. We''ll make it like an extension of the family.”
The small party went on happily. Everyone showed concern for Mrs. Gallagher and Lois. Even Alida said something that made Mrs. Gallagher laugh.
“You can adopt me, Mrs. Gallagher,” said Alida, “since my parents are both dead. Only I''ll make trouble for you, if you don''t mind.” Alida sat right on one side of Mrs. Gallagher.
“You are a nice girl.” Mrs. Gallagher patted her on the back. “If I could earn enough to pay for a babysitter, I would adopt you.”
“Then, you have two more years to wait. I''m ten now.” It sounded like it was all settled.
Towards the end of the party, Lois said to Mrs. Gallagher, “I think it''s me who owes you a big favor and I''m willing to live with you as your daughter. You can adopt me, or whatever you call it.”
Mrs. Gallagher shook her head. “I can''t harden my heart to tear you away from your own parents.” Mrs. Gallagher guessed something was different from what she suggested, seeing that Mr. and Mrs. Lin didn''t speak and the other two girls didn''t speak, either, and she added, “I''m not that desperate. When my daughter was alive, she had a boyfriend once and lived out with him after she graduated from college and found a job, but she often came to visit me. So I had a feeling that I had a daughter who cared for me though not living with me anymore. That made me happy. Before she died, she and her boyfriend separated and she moved back to live with me again, but I felt sorry for her. Since she''s gone, I have a feeling of vacancy, of emptiness, like I lost everything in the world, things most precious to me, her endearment, her caring, her filial love. That''s why I want to adopt a daughter, which will give me a feeling that I still have a daughter. I don''t really care if she lives with me or not,” she sighed, wiping off a few drops of tears with her hand that she could not hold back.
Unexpectedly, Tricia moved to Mrs. Gallagher and hugged her tightly. Words were futile before actions. Mrs. Gallagher hugged back, the water gate opened and tears gushed down her cheeks. They were not tears of woe and despair, but tears of joy and hope. Everyone in the room clapped their hands to make the touching atmosphere lively. Mrs. Gallagher wiped off her jovial tears with a tissue Mrs. Lin handed to her.
“I''ll get a room ready for you in my condo. You can live wherever you want.” They didn''t go to any lawyer, or to some government department. They didn''t need any paperwork. They got what they needed, the understanding, the love and the concern. Mrs. Gallagher dwelled in a small two-bedroom condo in East Brunswick, New Jersey, twenty minutes drive from the Lins'' house.
Mrs. Gallagher invited everyone at the party to go to her condo next Sunday evening. “We need a celebration in my place and Tricia can stay for the night if she wants to see how she feels.”