Louie Lue waited patiently at the Honolulu International Airport for his grandson due in from Hong Kong. He was a bespectacled old man in his early eighties who had a thin white mustache and goatee, and he wore a white suit with a white derby hat.
The former police inspector, who was now a private investigator, had not seen some of his relatives in a few years. Lue’s duties as a detective specializing only in strange and weird cases that other detectives avoided had kept him busy despite his age, solving cases not only here in Hawaii but all over the world. He briefly wondered what his oldest grandson Jackie would be like now that he was all grown up. The young man had been raised in Hong Kong but educated in the United States, and Jackie’s father Lee was born and raised in Hawaii and spoke English better than the old man ever had. Louie Lue had heard that the boy had begun probing into strange places. Lee Lue — his number one son — had written him about a problem that only the elder Lue could deal with.
The famous Chinese-born Hawaiian detective had not liked the sound of that. After retiring from the police department in the late 1950s, he had begun investigating ancient forces that were beyond the knowledge of most people. He had learned much about those forces since then, establishing a reputation for himself as an occult detective. If Jackie had been noticed by such forces, the problem could either be very huge or merely tiny. It all depended on exactly what was involved in the struggle. Lue hoped it was something tiny this time.
His last case had been a haunting that had nearly dropped the building down on him. He wanted a case where he could just say nothing would happen, rather than something such as a fight to the finish with the demon hosts of the Yama Kings. Lue looked around the waiting room, having a peculiar feeling that things were about to move beyond his control despite all his efforts. Still, he looked forward to the challenge.
Louie Lue smiled as he saw his grandson walk out of Customs and strolled over to meet the younger man. Instead, two other men rushed over first, cutting the occult detective off from his relative. Lue frowned as the two men grabbed Jackie under his arms, picking him off the floor. The young man began to question the men loudly. Several others surrounded the struggling men in a circle of protection from the other passengers.
Jackie Lue spun himself head over heels in the grip of his assailants, breaking free of their hold as he landed. Then he jumped up, spinning in place, his elbows giving him all the room he needed. Lue smiled as he quietly stepped forward, while his fingers wrote a symbol — a single Chinese character, or hanzi — in the air. One of Jackie’s captors fell asleep when the symbol wrote itself on his forehead. It was a simple protective trick, one of many he had learned during his investigations into the hidden forces in the world. After all, by the time he had left his more conventional career as a police detective, he was already in his fifties. Such small spells had served him well in the years since then, requiring less physical activity but often leaving him mentally exhausted; it was worth it.
Lue’s eldest grandson jumped up, spinning in place, his foot clearing a space. He landed gracefully, ducking a knife swipe from one of the men. That man screamed several octaves higher as Jackie punched him below the belt. Lue stepped forward, writing in the air with his fingers once more. Several signs landed on the attempted kidnappers’ foreheads, and they also fell asleep, quietly slumping to the tile floor.
One of the men turned to face this unexpected interference, an ornate knife gleaming in his hand. He stabbed at the famous detective with the knife. One hand caught the wrist, while the other slapped the blade out of the man’s hand. Slaps began to land on the man’s head as he tried to back up from the gray-haired, bespectacled occult detective who wore a white derby.
Jackie jumped, flipped, and landed outside the circle. He turned, bringing one fist and then the other against the man’s face. He took a deep breath as he faced the collapsed circle and looked around. “Grandfather!” he finally said as he noticed the old man.
“Hello, number one grandson,” said Louie Lue. “Why are you always in trouble?”
“This is not my fault, Grandfather!” Jackie Lue exclaimed, blocking a punch with one arm while punching another man in the face. “I don’t have anything worth this much effort.”
Lue blocked one man, writing on his arm with a free fingertip. The man froze in place, seized by the spell glowing on his arm. At least they had a prisoner to question now.
Airport security rushed on the scene, and the kidnappers still on their feet ran in separate directions. The guards couldn’t stop the fleeing men, who left behind three as well as the one Lue had frozen in place.
“What’s going on here?” said the first security guard on the scene. He gazed at the chaos around the disembarkment area.
“Most unfortunate. These men tried to take number one grandson away,” said Lue, taking a deep breath. “Grandson is Wu Shu champion and defended himself.”
“I am?” said Jackie, looking perplexed. “Yes… I am a Wu Shu champion.”
“Hey, aren’t you Charlie Chan?” asked the security guard, recognizing the famous old detective in his usual attire of a white suit and hat.
“No,” said Lue. “Charlie Chan only fictional character based on me so author not have to pay me royalties.”
“Really?” the guard replied. “Must be a story behind that, huh?”
“Confucius say, to make long story short, don’t tell it,” said the old detective. At the guard’s confused look, he smiled and added, “Is just old joke.”
“Got some knives here,” said another guard after searching the men. He held one up. It was marked with the same symbol as the one Lue had knocked to the floor.
“Come with me,” said the guard. “Get the police department to hold these guys. We’ll wait in my office, if you don’t mind.”
“Wu Shu?” Jackie whispered to his grandfather, quickly following the security guard.
“Wu Shu, Kung Fu,” said the good detective, keeping up with the younger men. “All same to me.”
“You get hit by bao bien shen,” said Jackie. “It won’t all be the same to you then.”
“You sound like your father,” said Lue. “What’s more important is why Tigers wanted you.”
“Tigers?” said Jackie, pausing in mid-step. “I don’t know that or why they had the tiger symbol carved on their knives.”
“We’ll find out once honorable police are done with us,” said Lue. “What exactly brought you to America?”
“I thought I was going to take a vacation with my free time,” said the younger man. “Maybe look up an old girlfriend or two.”
Louie Lue and Jackie Lue answered every question ten times. They had no idea why someone would assault Jackie and try to kidnap him. The young man worked for the Hong Kong Museum of Natural History and had taken some vacation time. The last thing he was involved with was a statue excavated out of the wilderness of Indonesia and taken to a local museum there. He was not carrying a lot of money and had no credit cards.
The famous occult detective had been a local fixture in the city of Honolulu, especially in Chinatown where he lived. He was comfortable on the income he earned from being consulted for weird problems, and as a former police officer himself he had helped the police on numerous occasions.
Louie Lue led his grandson across Honolulu to his home in Chinatown. They entered his shop, which doubled as an office, talking about the city’s history. Lue went to the shelves where he kept the items he had collected over the years during his private practice. He turned to show Jackie a knife marked in the same way as the knives at the airport, then placed the blood-stained object back in its place.
“That was from Tiger Demon cult,” said the occult detective. “Clashed in San Francisco Chinatown in 1940s with fellow countryman Dr. Fung, master sleuth of Orient. He and assistant Dan Barrister thought they had crushed and exposed them to authorities. Either they were wrong, or someone has adopted dishonorable Tiger Demon’s methods and means to get what they want.”
“Grandfather,” said Jackie. “I swear I am on vacation. It’s my first one in years. I was supposed to take one last year, but the museum asked me to recover that artifact I told the police about.”
“What did this artifact look like?” asked Lue.
“It was a statue that resembled a man with a cat’s head, I think,” said the young relic hunter. “It looked like a–”
“Tiger’s head,” finished Lue for his grandson. “How many people touched it?”
“Did we touch it?” asked Jackie. “Of course. I did. So did a bunch of loaders and the curator.”
“Any still alive?” asked Lue.
“I don’t know,” said Jackie. “I left Indonesia and returned to Hong Kong as soon as the artifact was delivered to the museum.”
“Anybody know you retrieved thing?” asked Lue.
“I guess anybody would be able to find out if they asked,” said Jackie. “It wasn’t a state secret.”
“Let me make call, see what can be found,” said Lue. “Make yourself comfortable.”
Jackie walked around the small shop, looking at the souvenirs and objects. He wondered what the stories were behind these things. Ancient books stood beside hand-drawn maps and scrolls.
“Have some information,” said Lue. “All other people who touched statue are dead. You are last one still alive.”
“Marvelous,” said Jackie. “Any reason why other than pure fanaticism?”
“Probably because you have signaled end of world,” said Lue.
“Grandfather, there is no way that statue was unnatural,” said Jackie. After a pause, he added, “Uh, let me restate that.”
“Know what you meant,” said Lue, holding up a hand. “Have to get to bottom of this before something else happens.”
“What else could possibly happen?” asked Jackie.
The screeching of locked wheels burned against the street outside the small building. Men jumped out of two vans and rushed the door. Jackie glanced out the storefront as he ran for the door.
“Me and my big mouth,” Jackie complained as he grabbed the door handle to prevent entry. Jackie jumped up, bracing his feet against the frame in an attempt to hold the door shut. Two thumps precluded a crash that sent him to the floor. Men holding marked knives stood in the shattered door frame.
“What is problem here, honorable gentlemen?” Louie Lue said, putting himself between the intruders and his grandson.
“No problem, as long as he comes with us,” said the large spokesman of the group.
“We’ll both go,” said Lue quietly.
“We will?” asked Jackie from the floor.
“Would like to see man behind this,” replied the famous occult detective.
“You must be joking, grandfather,” said Jackie. “These men aren’t here to give us a tour of Honolulu.”
“Would you excuse us for moment?” Lue asked the Tiger Demons, waving them out of the house. “Be right there.”
“What?” said the spokesman, looking at his assistants on either side of him. They seemed as befuddled as he was.
“Be right there,” said Lue, soothingly. “You watch us through window.”
“No tricks,” said the spokesman.
“No tricks,” said the good detective, smiling. The Tiger Demons went and waited outside for the two to exit.
“Are you crazy?” asked Jackie, getting to his feet and looking for a back door. “Those guys want to do unspeakable things to us.”
“Calm down, number one grandson,” said Lue, waving at the spokesman with a grin. “He is just taking us to one person who has all answers. Think that would be faster than asking he who I paralyzed. What do you think?”
“I think we should run away really fast,” said Jackie sullenly.
“Am not doing that,” said the famous detective, with a sharp gesture of his hand. “Won’t get us anywhere.”
“Let’s go,” said Jackie.