It was like a fantasy, descending from the clouds into the Orient horizon. The sky was alive with purple, scarlet, gold, blue, orange, nearly every color of the rainbow. Philip couldn't remember seeing anything as beautiful.
Leaning against his seat, he readied for the landing. He wasn't sure what he was doing. He wasn't sure why he was doing it. Everyone in the small coastal town of Baytown, Washington where he'd been living for the past seven years had encouraged him. His best friend, Anthony Ferrone, Captain of the Homicide Division of the Baytown Police, his assistant, Darla, his girlfriend, Ellen, even his parents with whom he'd just reconnected all told him he needed to take some time for himself, see the world, and allow himself to enjoy the inheritance left to him by his deceased ex-wife, Lily.
Choosing a destination had been easy. He'd never been to Hong Kong and Eddie Tseung, the Asian action mega-star he'd met the year before, had been after him to come.
Philip smiled when he thought of his new friend. He and Eddie had met on the movie set after Philip had been assigned as Eddie's bodyguard. The star, a decade older than Philip's thirty-six years, was constantly on the move, working all the time on his movies and keeping an eye on his cast and crew, so much so, he'd lost a great deal of time with his wife and son. That was what had pulled him and Philip together. It was Eddie who had persuaded Philip to at last reconnect with his own parents.
Philip hadn't let Eddie know he was finally accepting the invitation to visit Eddie's hometown. He'd wanted to surprise him but had made some inquiries, so he would know exactly where Eddie would be since Eddie was constantly on the move. Locating him at any given time was an adventure in and of itself, so Philip had waited until he knew for certain Eddie was in Hong Kong filming his newest movie.
The plane landed smoothly and Philip released a sigh of relief. He wasn't the best of fliers, and fourteen hours on a non-stop flight over an ocean didn't exactly instill him with ease. The flight had been tedious. Even the movie hadn't kept his attention. He listened to music, but that didn't help either. After the first eight hours, he was ready to be back on the ground. He finally managed to fall into an uneasy sleep, awakened by the hostess serving breakfast.
As soon as departure was announced, Philip stood and retrieved his duffle from the overhead compartment. With tension and security so high in airline travel, he had opted to travel with only the small duffle and one suitcase checked through cargo.
He cleared customs faster than he anticipated, glad not to answer any questions other than “Why are you visiting Hong Kong?” His passport was in order, and his underwear didn't interest the customs official who allowed him through with a smile and “Welcome to Hong Kong.”
Trying to remember what little Cantonese Eddie had taught him, Philip walked out of the cool airport into unexpected heat. He remembered Eddie had told him summer in Hong Kong could be sweltering at times.
“Cab? Cab?” A small man dressed to rival any New York cabbie hurried over to him. “You need cab?” He pointed to his cab parked along the curb.
Before Philip could answer, the cabbie snatched the suitcase and was walking quickly to his transport. Philip had to trot after him, reaching him as the cabbie placed the suitcase into the trunk of the cab and then grabbed the duffle from Philip's hand to place it in with the suitcase.
Looking pleased, the cabbie smiled at Philip as he opened the passenger door. “Where to, Mister?”
Philip slid into the backseat. “The Hilton.”
The cabbie's smile broadened as he hurried around to the driver's seat and slid in. “Good decision,” he declared as he pulled heedless into the traffic and barely missed colliding with another cab. He let out a stream of Cantonese that Philip didn't understand but had the gist of by the hand signals the man made to the other driver. Cab drivers, Philip decided, no matter where they were, all seemed to come from the same mold. The blame of near misses was placed on the other drivers, no matter who was at fault.
“You love Hong Kong,” the driver said. “Firs' time here?”
Gritting his teeth and praying they would arrive in one piece at the hotel, Philip said, “Yes.”
“Many thing to see here,” the cabbie said.
“I'm sure,” Philip said, “And I would love to see them other than from a hospital bed.”
An explosive laugh erupted from the cabbie. “Good joke, mister.”
Philip decided not to tell the cabbie that he wasn't joking. He had the distinct feeling he'd been safer in the airplane.
“Know where you go firs'?” The cabbie was peering at Philip in the rear-view mirror.
“Uh, would you mind keeping your eyes on the road?” Philip asked.
The cabbie laughed again but did as asked.
“You not going to stay in the hotel all the time?” The cabbie sounded concerned.
“No, I have a friend here. I thought I might look him up.”
The cabbie nodded as if he understood exactly what Philip meant. “Who the frien'? Eddie Tseung?” He laughed, obviously thinking he'd made a joke since Eddie was the biggest star in Hong Kong.
“As a matter of fact, it is,” Philip said.
The cabbie stared at Philip and failed to notice the light ahead turn red.
“Hey!” Phillip grabbed the back of the seat. “Watch what you’re doing.”
The cabbie slammed on the brakes. The cab stopped with inches to spare behind the car in front of them. Philip felt his seat belt dig into his abdomen as it clenched to keep him from hurtling out of his seat.
“There’s going to be a bruise there tomorrow,” Philip muttered as he straightened. His shoulders and neck felt as if every muscle had just been stretched to their limits.
The cab driver looked sheepish as he turned to check his passenger. “Sorry. You okay?” Then wonder seemed to seep into his dark eyes. “Really? I mean, you really…”
Irritated, tired, and not a little afraid, Philip nodded then pointed for the driver to turn his attention back to the road. The light had turned green.
Again smiling broadly and looking excited, the driver turned back to his driving. “Then I know where you go. He filming a new movie. I know where. I take you to hotel, drop off luggage, then take you to movie.”
A few minutes later, the cab screeched to a halt in front of the hotel. The cabbie, looking pleased with his self-appointed task, carried the suitcase and duffle to the desk as Philip checked in. Philip directed his luggage be taken to his room and was then hurriedly ushered back to the cab and whisked breakneck through the crowded Hong Kong streets to Eddie's movie site. Philip closed his eyes and prayed they would make it alive.