TCSC Ep 36 – The Real Michael Wong

“Many years ago, I was recruited out of college into US intelligence. My specialty was financial investigations. I got too close to the truth on one search, and the people we were after retaliated.”

“The next morning my house was gone, burned down. Only I made it out, called my superiors, and they picked me up. We allowed them to think they won. I was no longer Michael Wong of Oak Ridge Tennessee.”

“When someone stole my identity, it was looked into, and since it was in another part of the country, they sent me. My beard and mustache gave me a different look, in case whoever had bothered to look at pictures. Apparently they hadn’t, he looked nothing like me, nor did he try.”

“He was very intelligent, and meticulous. We were getting very close to finding out his plan, when his own group killed him. We were faced with a dilemma, tell the widow, or let her grieve her husband.”

“She had loved him, and the baby knew nothing of course. The more we found out, the less we wanted to reveal to them, to spare them.  From a distance, I monitored things. When Erik married her, and they moved here, I was sent to follow.  That’s how I eventually became the head of our Embassy on this island.”

“Five years ago, I reported on the activity you now know about, and we made a discovery. We weren’t the only government unhappy about it.  It turns out, the Chinese government considers this group a rogue coalition. They claim they are acting independently of them.”

Michael Wong paused to let this sink in. So I asked what I was sure Monty and I were both thinking. “Do you believe them?”

He smiled. “I don’t completely, but for them to ask for our help, there is at least an element they don’t have control of. That scares them, and they want something to change. In espionage, you don’t trust anyone but your handler, and you check up on them.”

“However, I do know we’re safe as long as we’re on their boat. It’s an acknowledged mission in both capitals, so enjoy the cruise.  Get some rest, it may be the last you get for some time.”

TCSC Ep 35 – Slow Boat To China

“His family worked for the same man that started all this, the Diplomat’s brother. Apparently they felt they were getting close to the treasure, but needed to get closer. His original plan was to marry Audley, she worked with Uncle Erik.”

“He would get close to our family, then take us down. That was his plan, but he didn’t know what his superiors had in mind. After his death, Audley kept the child. She was struggling to raise him herself. Uncle Erik saw, and started helping. They fell in love, and he married her.”

“Her stepson is innocent, as far as we can tell. Five years ago, the family of the Diplomat’s brother made a visit to Audley. They told her how much was at stake, what it would be worth. She set all this in motion, with their help.”

The car stopped, and we went inside. I couldn’t believe where we were, but it was nothing compared to where we were going. I also couldn’t believe who we’d be traveling with, the real Michael Wong. Monty shook his hand. 

“Mr. Wong, care to tell my Wife your story? We have time. It’s a slow boat ride to China. We won’t reach Beijing for several days.” He started in on a story even crazier than even the wicked Stepmother.

TCSC Ep 34 -Messy Relations

“I did some research myself, prior to conversation with Uncle Erik, and after. I reached out to Dad, and had him arrange some things. Then text him in the car on the way.”

“When we got out, Uncle Erik took the keys, and gave the driver the night off. He didn’t question, just jumped at the chance.  That’s when I got the keys from Uncle Erik.”

“Audley’s maiden name was hyphenated when she married into the family. Meaning of course, she had married once already. He called himself Michael Wong, a Japanese businessman, who had a son named Zachary.”

I picked up on his tone. “He wasn’t really Michael Wong, or he wasn’t Japanese?”

Monty winked. “Right each time, and that’s how this whole mess ties together. Aunt Audley marries him, he gets unexpectedly murdered, and she raises his child.”

“What she didn’t know was, how he died, until five years ago. It would have been better for everyone if she hadn’t learned at all. There are some Messy Relations in our family aren’t there?”

TCSC Ep 33 – Stepmother?

“One thing my Uncle is not, is stupid. We had a conversation in the car. That whole thing was staged for Audley’s benefit.  He knew what he was signing, enough to take it over to his desk. He signed it with his back turned to her.”

I was only half listening, as I was trying to stop the bleeding.  “How does that help? He still signed it.”

Monty laughed. “With the wrong hand, and the wrong middle initial.  He handed it back to her, and she looked straight at it. She didn’t notice, that’s when he knew. It had went beyond greed, she had lost it.”

“He was hoping he was wrong, but needed to buy time.  Prior to arriving at our hotel Uncle Erik was busy.  He made a few phone calls, and made arrangements.  The window thing was improvised, because I saw the guns of the men with her, but everything else is planned.”

“So he let us walk into a trap, knowing she was crazy?  What kind of man does that? Why?”

“The same reason his brother distanced himself from us for years, to save his kids.  Aunt Audley has done some very bad things, more than I suspect Uncle knows. However, she’s the Mother to his children, and as it turns out, Stepmother to another child.”

“Wait a minute Monty, Stepmother?  I thought they married young.  This is getting weird.”

He wasn’t laughing now. “You don’t know the half of it honey.  Wait til you hear what Uncle Erik didn’t tell us.”

TCSC EP 32 – Slipping Through The Glass

Monty’s Aunt had just did something she shouldn’t have done. She placed us in threat mode.  We both had talked out how we would handle different situations on the plane, so I knew, partially what to expect, but he still surprised me.

Before I knew it, Monty pulled me in front of him, and lunged backwards out of the window.  His body and the jacket he draped over me kept me from the glass.  When we landed, I heard him cough, and say “Let’s run girl!”

I didn’t look at his face, there wasn’t time.  We made it to the car that had brought us. The driver was gone, but Monty said, “I’ve got the key, Aunt Audley doesn’t know everything. I figured we didn’t have a slipper, but we could slip through the glass.”

We floored through the gate. I realized three things as I looked at him. He was smiling, his face was bleeding, and Monty knew where he was going!  I didn’t know how, but he had a plan.

TCSC EP 31 – Eyes Of Greed

I’ve seen greed take many forms, everything from the finest apparel, to the cheapest clothing. I had never seen it more embodied than when I saw Audley.  Had I not heard the story, I would have admired her dress, knowing it, I feared her eyes.

“Welcome to our little kingdom. William has been telling you his version of the story I suppose.  He sees it differently, but I am right. I have to protect him you see, and my children. They will need money, and your branch has so much more than mine.”

“So I thought I would shake a few branches. If I had wanted Sven dead, he would be. What I want, I get. I wanted his baby boy in my trap. Sven will pay anything to get you two back safely.  So we have rooms prepared for a prolonged stay.  It can be as pleasant, or as not, as you like.”

Monty’s Uncle Erik raised his voice. “Audley you cannot do this!”  She went over, kissed her husband, before speaking. 

“Dear, do you remember that letter I had you sign this morning. It’s a little gift from my friends in local government. You are now considered mentally unstable, and as a loving wife, it’s my duty to care for you. I can do anything I want. “

TCSC EP 30 – Enter The Villain

He looked like Monty’s Dad, only skinnier, and more weathered. I wasn’t sure, at first, whether it was the Caribbean climate, or the hard life he was describing.  After Monty explained Sven would never hurt family, we settled back for his Uncle’s tale.

I’ll never forget how a simple question could be  such chilling words. “Have you ever loved a dangerous woman? No, I can see that you haven’t. Understand ma’am, I mean no offense. I’m sure you are tough. You are capable of dealing with danger, but you yourself are not dangerous.”

“I fell in love with a woman who was, although I didn’t know it at the time.  Sven didn’t mention Audley did he?  He probably hasn’t given her a second thought, but she’s the real reason I left home.”

“Mother knew in time, but I had first to convince them I was a lazy, bum lacking any ambition.  It was the only way I could protect them, and keep Audley at the same time.  I had already married her when I knew, and I couldn’t leave her, but I also could not let her stay.”

Monty didn’t like it when men blamed their wives, and he interrupted.  “Are you blaming the attack on my family on your wife?  If you are, you’re proving my Dad’s point!”

“I assure you nephew, I’m doing the opposite.  It was at the party when Mother announced her fortune.  Audley and I had just been married. We were very happy, until Mother revealed how wealthy she was.  I saw a look in Audley’s eyes I had never seen before, and it terrified me.”

“I tried to tell myself I was wrong, but she continued to prove my point.  From that night out, every conversation was about the fortune.  Two days later, she asked who would inherit if something happened to Mom, would Sven and I split evenly?”

“I knew, if I didn’t get her away from Mom and Sven, I would lose all three, at Audley’s hand. So I concocted the convenient story of a man who didn’t want to try, asked Mom for a small percentage instead of a full inheritance, and brought Audley here.”

“In this town, with the money we had, I could make her a queen.  The businesses I’ve invested in have made me more.  She never wanted for anything, and I rarely saw the danger in her eyes.  That’s why I have to know.”

“Did Sven try and kill me, or is this all not enough for her any longer?” Before answering, Monty and I could see the grief in his eyes.  He already knew, but was hoping he was wrong.

Monty had just replied, when she walked into the room.  When I saw her, I could see what her husband had seen, all those years ago, and it was terrifying!  If my cousin Walter the scriptwriter was here, he’d caption it, “Enter the villain!”

TCSC EP 29 – Skip The Styling

I expected shooting, or being ran off the road.  It was worse. Two days of constantly being watched.  They made no secret about it, in fact they went out of their way to make it obvious. 

Monty does this smart Alec thing when people are stareing at us driving. He waves at them smiling with a silly grin. It’s embarrassing, and lovable at the same time.  I wish he had waved, but he didn’t. Instead he ordered a pizza, and headed outside.

He did this while I was in the shower, my husband knowing I wouldn’t have been comfortable with it.  He told me later, after my loud reaction, “… if they were going to kill us, they would have already.” Monty’s opening words to them were, “Cheese or pepperoni?”

“We could play the game. You beat me up, threaten me, I come back and beat you all up, but that’s messy. Instead can’t you just tell me who wants to scare us?”

That’s when the back seat window rolled down, and Monty’s Uncle stuck his head out of the car. “First you can tell me why my super spy brother is trying to kill me? I left him all the money like he wanted. Can’t he leave me to die in peace?”

Obviously this was a whole new wrinkle in the story.  It’s also when Monty excused himself rushed back, told me to throw my hair in a ponytail, and to join them in the car.  I don’t like wet hair, and Monty knows it.  All I knew at that point was, for him to ask me to skip the styling, it had to be bad.

TCSC EP 28 – Passport To Trouble

Four names on the list, each was associated with the death of Monty’s biological Grandfather. Number one of course was the Ambassador’s brother, number two and four were major players in the government, but number three was the fuse for the firefight we escaped from.

It was also the only international name on the list.  We had reason to think he was involved, we just didn’t know how deeply at first.  Now we did, you see, he was the only American on the list.  No one else could have organized an attack that quickly.

We were starting to piece together what had happened all those years ago.  Monty didn’t know everything, but we knew the initial person behind the murders, and now we knew the trigger man.  What we had to complete, was how Sven’s brother fits into it all.

Which is why we booked two tickets for a trip, only this time we were going to use them.  Monty and I were headed to the island where Sven’s brother disappeared to, hoping to locate the link between the two groups.

The plane ride was long, and uneventful. It was while they were stamping our passports that we first saw two pairs of eyes watching us. Any hopes I had for a little vacation ended at that moment.  There was going to be trouble, again! I did laugh though when my Cinderella Stamp Collector and I hired a driver, his name was Gus.

TCSC Ep 27 – An Explosive Response

The windows blasted open, glass went everywhere.  We would have been dead, had we been inside. That’s the beauty of a fake entry, if you live underneath it, and the first floor gets blown up, you’re as safe as the ground level’s roof, ours was titanium.

At least Sven said it was that strong. He had safe houses stashed everywhere it seemed. Monty told us this one was where his Mom had took them on vacation once.   

He had asked her why it was mostly underground, and she had explained to the eleven year old genius, “It’s safer during storms.” It was logical, so he accepted it. Now the type of storm she had really meant, was raining down on the top level.  

We used one of the tunnel exits to walk out two blocks down.  The news that night had some cover story about a small gas explosion.  We knew the truth.  I’m tempted here to use some cliche around the word Stamp, but instead I’ll tell you about our delivery to them.

It’s probably what caused such an explosive response, sorry, had to do it.  We sent a thumb drive containing old news reports about the death of a Chinese Ambassador, and a list of four names on it.  We suspect it was the third name that made them nervous, so much so they didn’t care how we knew, they just wanted us dead.