A Time for Unreasonable Men
Starring in, "Kung Fu Liu Versus The Seven Fists Of The Shotokan"
It was a hot day in the California sun. And banging the railroad spikes the past few hours had taken their toll on young Liu Wong. Finding a seat on a box of the never ending railroad spikes was an ironic spot for a break. While wiping the sweat from his brow, he picked up his dirty cup and dipped it into the water barrel for a semi-refreshing drink. The water was warm and a little salty. More likely due to sweat from other workers as they were getting their drinks.
“Great”, he thought to himself in Chinese. “Water is always this bad when its my turn for break”. Sighing, he turned down his hat and tried to cool off from the hot sun.
He continued his break for a few minutes more till he heard that ear-piercing voice of one of the foremen.
“O.k. break times over….let’s go get back to work chinamen”. He shouted around trying to get everyone back in line to continue the pounding of the spikes. The workers, mostly all Chinese, muttered in their native tongue while picking up their tools to continue their work. Liu being one of them, quietly went back to work. Eyeing his mallet carefully, as his friend Ping held the spike fast. Concentrating he swung down hard doing his best not to crush Ping’s hands. Speaking in Chinese, Ping stated, “All this way to this new world and we are working harder than if we stayed in China”. “Don’t worry, this is just a temporary job, when we all earn enough, we’ll be able to do better for ourselves”, responded Liu.
The two, like the rest of the workers continued until the night came. And when the sun fell, it was time to stop this hard labor and return to their mix-matched families.
Later in the evening, Liu was walking with his grandfather, Chow Lei. Chow Lei had a very wise sense about him. He knew that Liu was getting tired of working on the railroads. Waiting for the right time, the old man states without looking at Liu, “Although the hot sun can be burning, let not your heart burn with heat of anger”.
Liu stopped and made a face of confusion. His grandfather continued to walk on without pause. “But grandfather I hate working on the railroad. I thought we came to America to have a better life for ourselves”.
Chow Lei continued to hobble along. Being nearly ninety years old, Liu was surprised he could walk for so long. Without turning his head, Chow Lei responded, “Working hard is the root for hardly working and a better life”.
Liu looked at him and turned his back and thought, “Old man starting to lose it I think”. Then Liu shook his head and looked down at his feet, lost in his thoughts and trying to put together the words of his grandfather. Then another thought occured to him, “He stopped but his grandfather didn’t”. Turning Liu started to jog to collect him.
As he jogged down the road, he couldn’t see his grandfather. He stopped and looked around, “Where is he” he thought. Then at that moment he heard the sound of fists and legs rubbing sharply against clothing. And even some quick shouts and grunts. He whirled around to pinpoint the sound. The world seem to close in on him until he realized it was coming from down the alleyway. Liu rushed down to see his grandfather slumped down on the wall. Liu rushed over to him and knelt beside his grandfather. Grasping his hand into his and supporting his head.
“Grandfather what happened?”, Liu shouted into his ear.
His grandfather had trouble speaking but was able to sputter out, “Family…..crest…the Sh…Shotokan”, and at that moment, Chow Lei’s soul left his shell of a body.
Liu quickly looked for his family’s crest medallion that always hung on the patriarch’s neck. It was nowhere to be found. Liu thought, “Shotokan will pay”. Liu then stood up, he quickly pulled tight his sash belt, and threw out his right hand in a tiger claw and his left crossed his body with a block that ended up being a slicing palm to an imaginary neck. With each gesture, made the sound of a towel being cracked when rolled and whipped. Then bringing both hands in to his side. He again thought, “They Will Pay….”.