My Kind of Town

Don Chapman

A total botch job

>> East-West Center

As the meeting of the second Lama Jey Tsong Khapa and Hawaii's religious leaders began in Jefferson Hall, outside the hall Fon Du, head of the local Te-Wu bureau, watched in horror as two pairs of his men were taken quietly away by agents he presumed to be FBI.

That made five of his men arrested in two days.

Beijing would not be happy.

At least Fon Du was able to offer himself a small compliment for going undercover today. Instead of the usual crisp business suit that validated his cover as VP of the Bank of Lhasa's Bishop Street office, he wore one of those broad-brimmed straw hats, wrap-around Oakleys, a blue palaka shirt, jeans and sandals.

But his safety, perhaps even his freedom, could be in jeopardy. Somebody within the organization had talked. Somehow the FBI must know about him. And that led to an equally troubling question: Did the FBI also know about the new members of Te-Wu who had arrived just today -- flying in from Taipei after roughing up a couple of nationalist senators -- and were now inside the hall, one dressed as a Jewish rabbi, one as a Muslim imam?

The troubling answer was that if they didn't, they soon would.

Fon Du had earlier thought it curious that priests, bishops, rabbis and pastors of all kinds were made to walk through a metal detector before entering the hall, and then to check their cell phones outside. Which meant that Le Nip, the imam, and the one known as Devil Snake, the rabbi, had no way of knowing that their colleagues would not be there to clear a path through the crowd after the duo killed the young lama.

The good news was that the lama would be dead.

Bad news was that they could still be identified as Te-Wu. The Snake had ridden from the airport with Zip Lok, who was now in custody and had also met Le Nip in their planning session.

In its 550-year history, the Chinese secret police had never been broached. Many had tried infiltrating, representing many nations and interests, and many had died painfully. Meanwhile members who kept the silence and the secrets were well rewarded for loyalty, as were their families. But those suspected of cooperating with an enemy, or even having an agenda separate from Beijing's, they and their families suffered. It was all falling apart in Honolulu, apparently.

It occurred to Fon Du that even if the lama died today, the rest of the mission had been a total botch job. He could forget the promotion to Hong Kong. Instead he would face some suffering in Beijing. Perhaps it was time to take the out he'd always left himself.

But after the lama was dead.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Don Chapman is editor of MidWeek. His serialized novel runs daily in the Star-Bulletin. He can be e-mailed at


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