1928 – A Shaolin Temple in Henan province, China
Jian held his hand over the bullet hole in his side and watched helplessly as the temple’s master, Miao, was hit by a hail of bullets from one of the warlord Shi Yousan’s sons rifle.
In spite of his pain, he used his mastery of kung fu, closing the gap between him and the shooter in one swift move, disarming him. Still moving in the Explosive style of kung fu, he kicked the mans head! He dropped, dead before he hit the ground. Jian ran through the burning temple looking for other survivors. The seven main halls were burning and scattered with the bodies of his fellow monks. Finally, before the smoke could overcome him, he stumbled outside into one of the three gardens the temple was famous for.
May 1, 1928 – London
It was a grand day of celebration, and Detective Edward Blaine was feeling optimistic, a state unusual for the notoriously grumpy senior detective who ran roughshod over Scotland Yard.
Crowds gathered to watch the inauguration of the North Eastern Railway’s Flying Scotsman, a steam-driven express train. It connected the 393 miles between the East Coast Main Line from London King’s Cross to Edinburgh. It was a celebratory crowd that kept growing long after the train steamed away accompanied with well-wishes from all. They slowly drifted apart into the pubs or went home, content that they’d witnessed history.
Detective Blaine day was coming to an end as he casually strolled down a street, when he heard a cry for help! His trained eyes and ears took him to a nearby alley where four thugs were attacking an old man with clubs. Pulling his “Billy Stick” as he ran, Detective Blaine slammed into the group! His ferocity held them off at first while he got some good solid blows in, but their superior numbers began to tell. He took a shot to the side of his head that almost dropped him. Reeling, his vision blurry, and bleeding from the head, it looked like his career was going to end in a stinking alley.
Then there was movement in the corner of his eye and his attackers turned away to direct their attention to a small Chinese man who moved like a demon and was kicking their asses! In minutes it was over. The thugs were unconscious. Spread about on the cobblestones like broken puppets. The Chinaman came up to Detective Blaine who was slumped against the brick wall and asked, in broken English, if he needed help?
“Blimey! I never seen anything like that. I’ll be fine. I need to check on the old man,” he gruffly replied.
As Blaine kneeled over the man and checked his pulse, he asked the Chinaman his name.
“That’s it? Jean!”
“Jian,” he corrected him.
“What are you doing this time of night Jean? Most people have gone home or are still in the pubs.”
“I was sleeping over there,” he pointed to some trash cans in a nearby alley, “When I heard a man cry out for help. So, I went to see if I could offer assistance.”
The old man was awake and sitting up with Blaine’s help.
“Are you here illegally?”
“I came here in a ship as a deckhand. I had to leave my country or the warlord Shi Yousan would have taken my head and put it on a pole, along with my dead Shaolin brothers.”
Blaine finally thought to blow his whistle. Within minutes, bobbies were swarming the area. He instructed them to take the old man to the hospital and to take down a report. The thugs were hauled off to jail.
When everyone was gone, Blaine thanked Jian again for helping him.
“It’s brass monkeys outside. We can’t have you freezing to death, now can we? Why don’t you grab your belongings and I’ll take you to my flat.”
“I wouldn’t want to inconvenience you, sir.” Jian said.
“No problem. I’m a bachelor and live alone. My couch is comfy enough, I warrant. Stop calling me sir. My name is Edward.”
“I have no belongings…Ed..ward,” he said, bowing his head slightly while following the burly detective into the night.
One year later.
Jian lived with a Chinese family in London’s Chinatown, located in the Limehouse area of the East End of London. The entire Chinese population in England set up businesses, houses of worship, and neighborhoods in the area. Chinese sailors often frequented the Docklands (the old river front and docks), looking for prostitutes and opium dens. In this bustling little community Jian found his niche as a teacher of Zen Buddhism. He chose not to pass on his mastery of kung fu to eager students. He did give demonstrations of his power sometimes in an entertainment setting. People came to him however, for his sage advise and knowledge of Zen Buddhism.
Among his many visitors, was detective Blaine who came by often to discuss cases and to just visit with Jian. The two had become unlikely friends. Blaine lived in a very racist world where Chinamen were considered beneath the English race. They were tolerated however, and said to make good servants in fine homes throughout the country. In spite of the stiff societal norms, Blaine respected Jian as a wise man, and warrior. They formed a firm bond over time.
One day Blaine came by to give Jian a warning.
“Listen up, mate. My snitch down at the docks says there’s some blokes looking for you. Chinamen. He’s not sure how many there are. They’re going around the East End asking about where you live. They’re also offering a reward for you dead, or alive.”
“They must be warlord Shi Yousan’s men,” he said with a resigned note in his soft voice.
“You’ve mention this warlord before. Why does he want you so badly?”
“I killed his son,” he replied.
“How can I help mate? You know you can count on me.”
“Many thanks my friend. You honor me. But I will take care of it.”
“I owe you a life Jian.”
“You owe me nothing. If you wish to honor me let me deal with these men. I know they are deadly assassins skilled in martial arts. Few can stand up to these rogue warrior/assassins that I’m sure Shi Yousan has hired. Short of shooting them, you won’t be able to stop them. And you, Ed…ward, don’t even carry a gun.”
“I can’t just stand by and let someone threaten you. There must be something I can do. I have a lot of good men who can come running to help no matter where I’m at…and that includes Chinatown.”
“Forgive me…this is your country and laws. Perhaps you can keep me informed with your snitch as to where these men may be found. I must warn you, and your men, these assassins who seek me can kill with their fingertips. Their whole body is a weapon. Use numbers if you confront them.”
After Blaine left, Jian went back to his humble room and meditated. When he was done it was dark outside. He blew out the lone lantern in his room, and stealthy entered the night.
He went up and down the alleys where he lived, like a cat seeking it’s prey. The three assassins looked like gray ghosts in the fog. Jian, whose senses were supernaturally keen heard then before he saw them. When they saw him they fanned out without a word, forming a semicircle in front of him. He recognized their golden silk robes with dragons emblazoned upon the back. Shi Yousan’s personal bodyguard.
A stray dog barked, and a cat screeched while streaking across the dirty lane where the four men stood silently looking at one another. Jian wore his orange monk uniform.
“Go away now, and never come back. I don’t want to kill you,” Jian said as he slipped into his fighting stance.
“We will avenge our master!” they cried out and rushed towards Jian.
The ensuing battle was deadly and ended in minutes. Jian was ready for their move and jumped high in the air, coming down with hand chops on two of the men’s necks! Bones cracked! The third attacker kicked Jian’s chest, shattering his ribs! He backed up but didn’t go down despite the severity of his wound. His brain blocked the pain and he wheeled around and caught the third attacker with a kick to his head, shattering his skull. The short but deadly fight did attract attention and soon bobbies came running to the scene.
When Blaine arrived Jian was stretched out on the ground and two ambulance drivers were preparing to load him onto a stretcher.
“Whooo there laddies! Is this man dead, or alive?”
Before they could answer Blaine’s question one of the bobbies came over to him.
“He’s barely alive govnur. Those blokes have croaked,” he explained while pointing at the bodies lying nearby with sheets on them.
“I’ll meet you at the hospital,” Blaine shouted out to the ambulance driver.
Eight hours later.
“Doc says your going to live mate!” Blaine said happily when Jian regained consciousness.
Jian tried to rise up in the hospital bed but was too weak and slumped back down.
“Take it easy, me bucko,” Blaine chided him. “You got all the time in the world. The threat is over now.”
“I wish it were so Ed…ward. But as long as my enemy lives he’ll send men after me. I must disappear to a place where I can live alone, and in peace. Out of sight of others. Is there not countryside like that in England where I could go?”
“Yes, there is somewhere mate. When you heal up I will take you there. It’s not far.”
“May I humbly ask for a favor?”
“Of course mate! anything!”
“Will you report that four Chinamen died last night?”
“Consider it done.”
In Henan province, peasants still talk about the last Shaolin monk and how someday he may return when the time is right.
As It Stands, this is my humble tribute to the martial arts.