Chasing the Dragon

Chasing the Dragon by Domenic Stansberry

Book: Chasing the Dragon by Domenic Stansberry Read Free Book Online
Authors: Domenic Stansberry
Tags: Mystery
deaths lay strewn on coffee tables and front porches. It was in the air at Cavelli’s. In the cigar smoke that clouded the back booth of Il Fior d’Italia, under the gold record of Tony Bennett. The cops had let Dante loose, and as he walked down Vallejo, still in his father’s pajamas, he could see the evidence of those deaths all about him. In the way the awning kiltered over Rossi’s Grocery, and in the bent heads of the old women inside Mara’s Pastries. In the eyes of the passersby. In the drooping clothes of the old Chinese man and in the fat ass of the tourist clutching to her chest a purse as big as Texas.
    There were ghosts everywhere, Nanna Pellicano had said. The land of the living and the land of the dead, they overlapped.
    Later that day Dante had an appointment with the Wus, and he needed to change. The cops meantime had made a mess of his father’s house. They’d pulled things out of drawers and left the drawers hanging out of the bureaus, extending like tongues in some kind of cartoon show. They’d piled his mother’s and father’s clothes onto the furniture, and they’d opened the refrigerator, and rolled back the carpets, and torn down the drapes. They’d taken his Glock into evidence, his .40 caliber, and most of his clothes, hauling them down to the lab, looking for fibers, for samples. They’d left him little to wear. They’d left his father’s clothes, though, so Dante began looking through them.
    His father had been a flashy dresser. Chintz Polo shirts. Baggy pants. Double-breasted jackets of raw silk. Shoes of calves’ leather with toes that came to a point.
    He dressed himself and left. Off to his appointment.
    When Dante was growing up it seemed Chinatown had a million doors, all forbidden, and those doors opened into a labyrinth of the unknown, visible only in glimpses. Chinese women on balconies. Girls who turned away when you looked. Men gathered in circles in the dark end of the alley.
    Child eaters. Kidnappers. Traders in severed testicles and loose eyeballs.
    Now he made his way to the Wu Benevolent Society. It was an old building faced with stucco and balustraded in the Chinese style. It had been allowed to decay, but the art deco lamps still hung over the outdoor balconies. On the windows above street level you could see the gold-lacquered names of Wus numerous associates, but on the street level the building was a Chinatown bazaar: stores full of statuettes and paper fans and cheap jade.
    Dante headed to the back of the bazaar, as he had been instructed, to a small office where a young Chinese woman in a polka-dot dress sat behind a travel desk stacked with invoices. Though she was younger than himself, when she looked at him it was the same look he remembered from when he was a boy—as if he had crossed some line into a place he didn’t belong.
    “I’m looking for Mason Wu.”
    She shook her head. “He doesn’t have an office in this building.”
    “I was told I could make arrangements here.”
    She regarded him blankly from the other side of the desk. Her features were cold and beautiful, and she wore a white flower in her hair.
    “My name’s Dante Mancuso,” he said, and handed her his card. “I’m looking for Mason Wu.”
    The woman pushed through the door behind her and left Dante alone. Behind him the bazaar was in full swing. He could hear the cacophony of the market.
    Buy a fish from a Chinaman and your dick will fall off.
    People bought the fish anyway. They slept with Chinese whores. They used the laborers in their truck farms and in their restaurants. And when the Chinese money came from Hong Kong, they sold them their houses and moved down to Burlingame.
    The woman in the polka-dot dress returned, head up; she carried herself with a marvelous disdain, avoiding eye contact. At the same time it was clear there was very little she missed. She hand him back his card, flip side up; there was an address handwritten on the back.
    Step through a door in

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