Three baited breaths later . . .
While they’re discussing which way to smash us into jelly, Ricky adds some much needed fuel to the fire, “And anyway, what’s your claim to the book?”
They all get quiet and the lead guy turns back to us, “We’re the descendants of Temuchin.”
“The great Mongolian warrior-ruler. The greatest conqueror in history.”
Ricky raises his hand, “Oh, wait, wait . . . I know this one.”
You do not.
“Do, too,” Ricky says. “Bet me two hot apple pies.”
“You’re on,” I say as we hit knuckles to lock-in the bet. That’s how they do it on BET.
And then, real slowly, as if he’s in front of a crowd of spectators, he says, “Genghis . . . Khan. Died on August eighteenth, twelve twenty-seven.”
We both look to the mean guy, “Westerners refer to him as Genghis Khan, yes.”
I turn to Ricky, How would you know that? Who knows that, other than those guys over there?
He shrugs, “Discovery channel, last Tuesday night.”
The little mean guy looks agitated enough to come out of his skin. He snaps, “We are the rightful descendants of Temuchin, and we want what is ours. We took possession of the book in eleven eighty-four. It was stolen from us in the late eighteen hundreds. And we will stop at nothing to bring it back. It will only be safe when it’s in our hands.”
Seeing this all unfold, us and them, our empty parking lot full of secrets and innuendo, I’ve got to admit that this is exciting. Perhaps intense is a better word.
“We don’t have what you’re looking for!” I say loudly, for the benefit of everyone else in the parking lot. “And another thing,” I say, “how old are you, anyway . . . like nine hundred-years-old?”
Ricky crosses his arms, trying not to smile like a Cheshire cat. “Best thing for you guys to do is get back into your rental cars and go back to whatever airport you came from.” Kind of ballsy move on his part.
“Where is the Book of Sighs?” the man says sharply. His patience seems to be worn to the bone. “I will not ask you again.”
Ricky turns to me, “You want to deliver the punch-line?”
No, I say. I wouldn’t want to steel your thunder.
He nods, “This is your last chance, Fu-man-chu.” Ricky is taking the aggressive angle. Interesting, really.
The angry little Genghites all start to step forward until Ricky extends his arm, pointing past them. They pause in mid-step, turning around and they seem less interested in Ricky and I.
It could be that they’ve seen the futility in beating us up over a book we might not even have. Or perhaps they realize that Ricky and I are formidable opponents, him with his head butts and knees to the nuts, me with my two weeks of Jiu-jitsu and kick boxing. Maybe they realized that we would never give them what they wanted, no matter how long and painful their torture sessions were.
Sure, it could have been any of those things. But, more likely, those mad little men were all frozen solid because there were five or six police cars spread out in the parking lot, turned sideways with cops behind the cars pointing guns.
Apparently, one of Ricky’s favors from the other day at that haunted house had been called in by Billtruck. The police had been driving quietly into the parking lot for the last few minutes.
No flashing sirens.
Foreigners always expect some kind of spectacle. That’s too much Hollywood, for you.
“That has got to be embarrassing,” Ricky mused.
And slowly, all of these men look nervously to their leader for an order.
“ . . . place your hands in the air and slowly lower yourselves to the ground!” an officer barks into a microphone.
The Mongolians talked amongst themselves, then conceded the day, lifting their arms higher than they probably ever had before.
The police moved in, searched, and cuffed all of them. One by one, they were loaded into white and blue police cars.
“Have fun with I.N.S.,” Ricky quips, as he’s waving at them.
I wave, too, “And send our regards to the Khan.”
I can’t see their expressions, but I hope they do get deported. If not, they’re going to come back here and kick the holy shit out of Ricky and me.