Shadows of New York
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by Teel James Glenn
Description: In the 1930s, the world stands at the brink of war, Japan is intent on its conquest of China, and criminal masterminds are using the confusion to carve out their own empires. Into this world strides Dr. Shadows. When his plane was shot down over Korea by the Japanese, Dr. Shadows was nearly killed, being rescued by Korean monks who nursed him back to health with an herbal treatment that turned his skin an ashen gray, but that also gives him a speed and agility unmatched by others. After years of healing and martial arts training, Dr. Shadows is back in New York where he's established the Shadows Foundation for Justice. Through this organization (and with the help of sidekicks Slugger Harris and monk and martial artist Dr. Hoon and perky Lee Han Ku (Hank)) he'll attempt to right wrongs, solve crimes, and defeat crimelords whose greed is spurring the world toward war. Author Teel James Glenn creates a pulp-fiction hero who would have been at home with the pulp action characters of the 1930s--Doc Savage, Batman, the Shadow, and Secret Agent X, and who would have battled arch-fiends like Fu Manchu. Glenn's New York is not the glamorous stage for theater and the super-rich, but bars, Chinatown, and secret societies. Fans of pulp fiction will chuckle over Glenn's name-dropping of mostly-forgotten characters, and his careful reconstruction of an era that is now in the past and perhaps never fully existed. As for his characters, Glenn gives Dr. Shadows just a bit of angst, and gives us a full range of villains, from classic arch-fiends to surprisingly complex and honorable enemies.
eBook Publisher: BooksForABuck,
eBookwise Release Date: April 2011
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [362 KB]
Reading time: 226-317 min.
Welcome to the world--of Dr. Shadows.
A golden age icon that never really existed but could have.
The Great Science Fiction writer (great writer period) Algis Budrys once stated that 'The essence of pulp writing is that it must offer a clear cut resolution to a sentimental problem." Or simply put: white hats and black hats slugging it out. In the hero pulps the white hats always won; in the dark world of noir and hardboiled detective pulps it was not always a clear-cut thing and there were a lot of 'gray hats' by the end of the era.
It is an era of covers painted in bold strokes and larger than life characters painted with equally bold strokes of the typewriter. It was not an excuse for poor writing as so many literati would have everyone believe, but it was absolutely the place where dull writing was not allowed.
It's a world that has faded into the mists of time, devoured by, and then reborn into, its own offspring, the paperback novel.
Some say the pulp era was a more innocent time, but I think it was just a time with different priorities and ethics. Values that to this day I find alluring and inspiring.
For many years I enjoyed the adventures of the real pulp heroes of the 1930s; The Shadow, the Green Lama, Doc Savage, the Avenger, the Wraith, and their hardboiled companions: Nick Carter, the Continental Op, Secret Agent X, Dan Fowler, Perry Mason etc They were time capsules of attitudes and action. They may have, from first glance, been a pretty uniform group of do-gooder, but they were not as bland, nor as cookie cutter, as many have been led to believe
I made up my mind then to visit that time through characters who lived there. I felt an original pulp hero was needed, but not one who was a ghost of someone else, no pastiche of Bronze or a Shadow's shadow. I sought to create a character that could have graced the newsstand in the golden decade of the '30s and would have fit in as 'just one of the guys.'
I searched for a bit to find the elements of the pulp greats that appealed to me the strongest: Doc Savage's self discipline, logical mind, secret gold horde (Mayan) and companions, the Avenger's ashen skin, his distinctly non-racist world view (he has an African American couple as assistants and treats them as valued team members) and personal stake in fighting crime (his wife and child were killed by gangsters in the incident that cause his unusual physical condition), the Shadow's mysterious eastern connections and hidden gold horde (Aztec), the Green Lama's gentle humor and spirituality(he was the only bona-fide Buddhist Lama in all of pulp action), the Green Ghost's use of stage magic and illusion to foil the badguys and put it all into a pot to stew.
What bubbled to the surface was Anton Chadeaux, Ph.D., who, the world would come to know--as Dr. Shadows!
With the stories, I try to deal with some of prejudices of the time in an enlightened, but not a finger pointing way. The best heroes of the period, after all, like Doc, The Shadow and others did not practice the virulent racism of the more sensational pulps or movies, albeit the 'Yellow Peril' attitude was everywhere.
In the case of the Gray wolf of Justice, he has no problem with Korean, Chinese or even Japanese people, but he does have a BIG Problem with the Japanese government (as did many Americans and Chinese after the horrors of Manchuria) so the Japanese are often the villains.
No winks to contemporary attitudes or camp humor, just straight up pulp!
Keep in mind as you read them that while I may have softened some of the more extreme views that some characters held, villain and hero alike, I have not written a PC paean, or pastiche of a 1930's story.
I have done my best to write the time as it was; so don't be ruffled by a derisive sneer or dismissive attitude; in the end, goodness and toleration win out.
After all--it was simpler time, right?
--Teel James Glenn, author/creator, 'Dr. Shadows'
* * * *
The world trembles on the brink: In China, the Japanese have invaded and annexed Manchuria, In Europe, Germany plays cat and mouse with a frightened and impotent League of Nations, and across the sea America does its best to ignore the gathering storm clouds. The year is 1937...
The Height of Arrogance
A Sulsa warrior is loyal to his country and his fellow warriors. Fearless in battle, never takes a life unnecessarily and always acts for justice.
* * * *
Chapter I: A Lady in Distress
"I fear for my father's life," Suzie Duk whispered in accented English. She was a pretty Korean girl, though she masked her looks with a forced plainness and a pair of round glasses. Suzie was small and nervous, but she attempted to hide her nervousness with a sort of cartoon oriental calm that involved a lot of down casting of eyes and folding hands in laps. The quiver in her voice she could not hide.
She sat in the office of the most unusual man she had ever seen. That man sat across the sleek marble-topped desk from her. He was a tall white man but he might have been an icon carved from granite. He wore a gray suit and tie, had long silver gray hair swept back from his high forehead in a widow's peek.
This granite man had a movie-star-handsome, angular face with piercing gray pupils like chips of flint. His feature seemed a granite mask, with a cool skin tone that seemed to suggest a sculpture's hand. He almost startled her when he made a slight motion with a hand for her to continue with her statement.
"Two nights ago," the Korean girl elaborated, "My father received a note threatening his life if he did not give my brother John his share of his inheritance immediately. It was written on a typewriter in Korean. Then last night--" she stopped to compose herself, casting a sidelong glance at Dr. Hoon, the only other one in the room. Hoon was her friend and had induced her to come into Manhattan to the white stranger to plead for help.
Dr. Hoon was northern Korean, broad faced, raw boned and big, taller than most men on the streets of New York. He looked like the peasant he had been born, still dressing in the long blue robe and loose quilted pants of his mountainous home. He had been trained in a monastery in Korea as a traditional herbal healer and it was in that capacity that he had come to befriend the Duk family and hear of Suzie's troubles.
"You can trust him," Hoon said, referring to the man he had brought her to see. "The truth is a powerful sword, Suzie. Kuk Sa Nim Chadeaux wields it for the right." When he spoke in English his words were halting, but when he conversed in his native tongue, he had the voice of a poet. Then it was not so hard to believe then that he was the chief physician for the small and wealthy Korean community of New York.
The girl looked up at the granite-skinned man and studied him with new eyes. Though he was younger than the Korean doctor, Hoon treated him as if he were the senior, even using he honorific 'General of the Army," to denote his regard for the strange man.
His Gramercy Park brownstone was an odd exotic mixture of the orient and modernistic American, as indeed was the man. He spoke perfect Korean, with the same mountain accent as Hoon, but there was nothing of the pupil about his manner or bearing. If the Honorific was to be believed, he was a highly ranked Sulsa warrior trained at the same monastery in Korea, now destroyed, where the older Hoon was trained as a healer.
"Last night," she continued in a subdued voice after looking at Hoon again, "an attempt was made on my father's life. My father believes my brother made that attempt; I cannot believe that." She lifted her downcast eyes to plead directly and was startled by the power and clarity of the gray eyes that looked back at her. "My brother has fears, some call him weak. He is also a hothead whom my father disinherited years ago for reason of his own, but he loves our father. I know it."
The Granite Man smiled and life jumped into his stoic features. A gray flame seemed to ignite in his eyes and he spoke in Korean. "I will do everything I can to discover the truth of this matter and aid your father," he said in a soothing voice and then, as if it were the most important reason of explanation in the world added. "You are Hoon's friend."
At that Suzi felt a strange sense of calm come over her. He looked up at Hoon who nodded and smiled imperceptibly.
Doctor Shadows, known for his tenacity as the Gray Wolf of Justice, was on the case.
* * * *
Chapter II: Distrust in the Family
Mr. Ki Nam Moon lived up to his name. He was a wide, muscular fireplug of a Korean man with a shaven head and a round lunar face. He looked very uncomfortable wedged behind a full oak desk at the ground floor offices of Minotaur Enterprises Limited. He would have been far more at home as a bar bouncer than as the personal secretary to the Duk family business in remote Astoria, Queens, a borough of New York City.
"My name is Anton Chadeaux," the Granite Man said. "I would like to speak to Mr. Duk regarding an important personal matter."
Mr. Moon adjusted his tiny glasses with hands that looked as thick and callused as bear paws and blinked. "My word," he said in the King's English, "The famous Doctor Shadows the newsreel chappies are always talking about, rather as famous as that other Doc S fellow, eh what?" Mr. Moon blinked again as he absorbed the rest of what the Gray Wolf said.
"We have come regarding an important matter; we are making inquiries about the death threats to Mr. Duk."
"Death threats, eh? I think I'll have to call and speak to Mr. Duk about this!" The secretary looked past the tall American to regard the peasant-dressed Hoon.
"This is Doctor Hoon," Dr. Shadows added introducing his companion as the secretary picked up the phone and depressed a switch, "Mr. Duk will know him."
Mr. Moon spoke quietly in Korean into the interoffice phone, his large hand shielding his mouth so that neither visitor could overhear his conversation. When he replaced the handset in the cradle he looked up and adjusted his glasses unnecessarily. "You may take the elevator at the back of the building to the third floor. Mr. Duk's study is through the sliding wooden doors when you get off."
Dr. Shadows thanked him and followed Hoon to the elevator. "Did you notice his knuckles?" Dr. Shadows asked Hoon in a whisper, referring to Moon. "A Karate man."
Hoon nodded, familiar with the deadly Japanese empty handed fighting style. "A useful skill in a secretary in New York, I should think," Hoon said with a wry smile.
The automatic elevator door opened to disclose a wide carpeted hallway that ended in the promised wide oak doors. They knocked and when the portal opened they found the patriarch of the Duk family, a man as stolid and formidable as the doors.
The two visitors stood in a wood-paneled old world room that was lined with books in Korean, English and Japanese. The elder Duk held court from behind a massive ebony wood desk that spoke of stability and tradition.
"My daughter had no right to bring an outsider into our family's affairs," Kim Mu Duk said to Hoon in Korean, his voice firm, cold and condescending. "Take your American friend and leave; I regret your fruitless trip." He let his eyes drop to the ledger book on his desk, effectively dismissing the two men.
"I have no wish to interfere with your family," Dr. Shadows said in English, for the moment pretending ignorance of his companion's native tongue and of the dismissive gesture. "But Suzie, as a dutiful daughter, fears for your safety."
"I have no fear," the elder Duk said. He was a proud old man, small like his daughter with the same delicate hands, but with a hard life written on them in wrinkles. He wore the Confucian scholar's long white beard that he stroked thoughtfully in a gesture he had obviously cultivated.
"An attempt was made on your life," Dr. Shadows said. "Surely you do not wish to deny your daughter your council before she is wed?" In the question the Gray Wolf had provided an out for the old man's pride, for with concern for his daughter, a proud man might escape accusations of cowardice.
For a long moment it looked as if he would ignore the offered out, but then Kim took the loophole.
"A shot was fired at me from outside this window." Kim Duk indicated the one behind his desk. He rose and turned his chair around to reveal a bullet hole. "Had I not slumped forward a moment before in sleep," he continued, "my slumber would have been eternal."
"Have you spoken to the authorities?" the Granite Man asked.
"I will not do so until I have spoken to my son." The old man took a deep breath and when he spoke again it was with an emotional pain that was so deep as if to be physical. "Though I disinherited John for his activities against the government presently in control of my homeland, he is still the fruit of my loins. The young do not realize the compromises that must be made in business."
The senior Duk bowed deeply. "If you can clear this matter up, I will be a grateful father. My secretary, Mr. Moon, will aid you anyway he can. Please excuse me."
Hoon and Dr. Shadows watched him go in silence, knowing no words could console a man so torn between pride and parental love.
When the door to the study closed, Dr. Shadows and Hoon sprang into motion with a well rehearsed routine that required no talking. The chair was quickly reversed and positioned as it must have been when the shot was fired: this was determined by judging by the worn spots in the carpet.
Next Dr. Shadows produced a thin telescoping tube from his suit pocket and used it, first as a magnifying lens to examine the bullet hole in the chair. He telescoped it to sight through to the hole to the window, studying the lower edge of the window where tape covered the broken glass.
Hoon moved to the window and removed the tape to clear the line of sight.
Dr. Shadows tied off the end of a black string and handed it to Hoon and the Korean stretched it to the hole.
Sighting down this string from the chair's position, the Granite Man spoke, "A tree, about a block away, is all that is in direct line."
Hoon looked out the window, noting with disgust the city soot and grime on the wide ledge that ran around the outside of the building.
"I see it, Kuk Sa Nim," Hoon said. "It is tall enough, but it looks like more a weed than a tree; it will bear close examination."
The two men reversed their sighting down the string. "Somewhere near the door, it would appear," Hoon said.
"Search for a bullet, if you would, Hoon; I will interview Mr. Moon." Hoon bowed and began the search as Dr. Shadows exited.
"It is a sad affair, that of John Duk, I mean," Mr. Moon said when Dr. Shadows found him at his desk again. "He and his father were once quite close."
"When did a rift develop?" Dr. Shadows asked.
"John's mother died in a fall from the top floor landing in this very building. John, fifteen, saw it and was never the same. He somehow blamed his father who had just had an argument with the woman and was present at the accident. The father installed the elevator and sealed up the stairs to help the boy cope with his fears, but he went off just after college--about five years ago. It would, by Jove, seem to prove what comes of inferior education."
"Cambridge man, eh?" Dr. Shadows said. When Moon looked puzzled, the Granite Man pointed to the Korean's class ring. The Korean smiled and held the ring up proudly. "Did this rift have a specific cause?" Dr. Shadows continued.
"John's political activity," Mr. Moon said flatly. "He began to participate in anti-Japanese causes--rallies and the like, which he felt took precedence over his family's well being."
"I take that to mean that Mr. Duk still has holdings in Korea?"
"Extensive, as well as his import/export business," Mr. Moon noted. "And quite profitable now that the raw materials from Manchukuo are being allocated to loyal citizens."
"But why a threat from John now?" Dr. Shadows asked, "Why not sooner?"
Mr. Moon removed his glasses and wiped them vigorously, his face assuming a dark phase. "John was just released on parole after two years in prison for aneh--altercation with a policeman outside the Japanese consulate in Washington; he almost killed the man. It has been a major heartbreak for Mr. Duk."
"His burden is great indeed," Dr. Shadows said. He rose from his seat and moved to the door. "Where were you when the shot was fired at Mr. Duk?"
"In my room down the hall," Mr. Moon said. "I heard glass shatter and Mr. Duk call out, but when I rushed in I saw nothing but my employer slumped it the chair."
At that point Hoon joined the two men, bowing to Dr. Shadows. "I searched diligently, Kuk Sa Nim," Hoon whispered. "I but I could not find either bullet or bullet hole."
"Very interesting," the Granite Man whispered back. "This is shaping up to be a very challenging case."
Aloud Dr. Shadows said, "Thank you for your help, Mr. Moon." He moved to the door and paused. "My next step is to find John Duk; what college did he attend?"
"Columbia University," Mr. Moon said with obvious distaste evident in his expression. "But then, what could one expect from such a place."
"That's my alma mater." Dr. Shadows smiled genially. "Good day, Mr. Moon."
* * * *
* * * *
Chapter III: Old School Ties
The Granite Man and Hoon went straight to the tree they suspected of being the sniper's roost. It was in a vacant lot some two blocks away from the Duk family residence, almost at the foot of the new Triboro Bridge. It was thin and weed-like but towered above the two-story stone structures around it. It was, however, as Hoon had said, little more than a three-story weed. Its upper branches swayed in the slight January afternoon breeze and seemed to offer little purchase for a sniper.
Dr. Shadows removed his suit jacket and climbed the tree, his lean two hundred and thirty pounds causing the top branches to oscillate precariously.
Climbing as high as he could, Dr. Shadows used his multi-tool in telescope fashion to sight in on the Duk residence. It was an unsteady perch and vantage point at best. He found he could not reach the required height to get the direct line to the window that had been pierced.
Hoon conducted an exhaustive search of the area around the tree for a cartridge casing. "My luck with the father of misfortune," Hoon said when Dr. Shadows had returned to the ground, "is the same as with its child."
"No cartridge and no bullet." Dr. Shadows nodded. "I almost expected it." His voice took on a new urgency. "We must work quickly to find John Duk or there may be dire consequences for the Duk Family."
The two men got into Dr. Shadows' sleek gray roadster, Dr. Shadows driving and Hoon in the rear passenger's seat. This was not out of disrespect for Hoon's employer and friend, but rather out of Hoon's dislike and distrust of cars. He had a fear of head-on collisions that he retained from his mountainous home in Northern Korean, where almost all car accidents were head-on around narrow mountain roads. He had pronounced too many victims dead to ever be comfortable in the front seat.
They drove back over the year-old Triboro Bridge to the edge of Harlem to see Suzie Duk at Columbia University, where she worked as a secretary in the Oriental Studies Department.
When the Granite Man entered the building, word spread up to the secretarial pool quickly, and many of the women darted to the powder room to reapply their makeup. While he was in the department, those same women suddenly had many important errands that kept them passing Suzie's desk.
"An hassa na seiyo." Dr. Shadows greeted the pretty coed.
She bowed gracefully to the Granite Man and Hoon, a little embarrassed to be visited by such noteworthy individuals at work.
"I have spoken to your father," Dr. Shadows said, "And I believe your concerns for his safety were justified. Now it is most important that I find your brother. Do you know where he is?"
She inhaled sharply as if to exclaim, but composed herself, adjusted her glasses, and shook her head. "I do not know," she said quietly. "He has not contacted me since his release, but--" She looked around to the large office to see the other secretaries quickly turn away from staring at the Granite Man and leaned in to whisper. "But there was a poolroom where he used to spend much time. It is called 'Hank's'." She spoke with downcast eyes. "It is not a nice place; the element is disruptive. Someone there might know."
"It will not be the first 'not nice place' that I have ever been," Dr. Shadows smiled, "as Doctor Hoon can attest."
Hoon did his best to look innocent.
When the two unusual men left the secretarial pool, Suzi's desk was swarmed by giggling women and the poor girl had a hard time dealing with her own new found celebrity.
Hank's Billiards and Snooker Hall was indeed a "not nice" place. It was a squalid hole in the ground basement establishment on One Hundred and Thirty First Street in Harlem. Tenements bordered it and it was doubtful if the sun's light touched its dirty front windows for more than an hour on a good day.
In short, it was a dive.
"Young Duk does not seem to haunt the paths of the four hundred," Dr. Shadows whispered to Hoon.
The Korean nodded and added, "Perhaps a penny in a dung heap has greater value than amongst gold dust." He cast a glance around the room to take in the clientele. "Our friend Slugger would be much at home here."
The denizens of "Hank's" looked like a who's who of steerage and the brig. Mostly young would-be tough guys: Asians of Korean and Chinese descent, many mixed bloods, several Negroes and one very out of place red headed hooligan whose face was the map of Ireland.
"The place is closed," the redhead said in a guttural tone when he stepped up to block the two from entering.
Dr. Shadows stood impassive, surveying the pool game continuing on the center table and a dart game progressing in the dim rear of the establishment. His gray eyes were as impenetrable as obsidian. "I see that," he said.
The redhead, a thick-necked thug was almost Dr. Shadows' height but twice as wide. He stepped up to a foot from the two interlopers. He closed and opened his meaty fists with deliberate theatrics.
"So blow," Red ordered. "Hank don't like sightseers."
Dr. Shadows stood stock-still. He might have been a monument of stone, his impassive features rigid. The atmosphere in the room was charged with tension: suddenly no darts flew, no billiard balls rolled across the felt. Thick smoke drifted through the room seemed to pause in its passage, swirling around the two monolithic men.
"I said, blow," Red repeated. Suddenly he launched a sucker punch from a coiled right, its speed as blinding and as good as Dempsey's best.
The others in the room saw the fist complete its arc, heard the crack of contact and an exhalation of air, but the Granite Man stood unmoving.
It was Red that crumbled to the floor with a cry of pain.
For a moment no one moved or spoke. The only sound in the room was Red's moan of agony.
What the occupants of the room had seen smacked of magic. They knew, or until then they'd thought that no human being could take a hit on his jaw from Red and remain on his feet, much less stand unflinchingly. They all searched their minds for all the stories about the remarkable Granite Man that they had heard--that he was some sort of supernatural force for right, an unstoppable agent of justice who had survived countless attempts on his life and could accomplish the impossible. Maybe the street talk was true. Maybe Dr. Shadows was more than human.
Only Hoon's eyes, of all those in the room, perceived what had really happened. Trusting his finely honed reflexes, Dr. Shadows had waited until the punch was thrown (for in studying Red's stance he knew it would be) before dodging his head back mere inches to slip the arc of the punch. At the same time he had flicked his left hand up to snap an ornate ring on his hand against a nerve center on Red's wrist causing intense but non-injurious pain.
So finely honed were the Granite Man's reflexes that it had all occurred in the blink of an eye while all were focused on Red's swing. It was the stuff of legerdemain and legend that had ascribed to the ancient Shaolin monks of China, the Ninja spies of Japan, and the great Houdini (whom Anton Chadeaux had once spent a weekend with trading magic secrets). 'Occult' abilities created often by speed, skill, and dim lighting.
"I am looking for John Duk," Dr. Shadows said in a quiet, firm voice. "I'm not bringing him trouble."
"John carries his own trouble around with him." A feminine voice cut through the tension in the room.
All eyes shifted to the source of the voice, a stunning shorthaired Eurasian woman dressed in a blue three-piece pinstripe pants suit that did nothing to conceal her curvaceous form. She also had a matching pinstriped eye patch over her left eye, which had the effect of making her one good green eye glow like an emerald. She stood in the doorway to a small office that had been hidden in the gloom of the place.
"In here, big, gray and gruesome," she said to Dr. Shadows. Her gaze shifted to Hoon. "Leave the hick out there."
Hoon bristled at the remark, but obeyed Shadows' hand signal that told him to wait.
"And you are?" Dr. Shadows asked.
"Hank," she said through lips that were clenched around a cigarette holder. She turned her back and walked into the office.
Hoon and Shadows exchanged a look, and the Granite Man shrugged. Then he followed Hank into the office like a lamb to slaughter.
"So you want to see John?" Hank asked. She sat behind an oak desk that dwarfed her and propped her delicate feet up on the edge, affecting a casual posture.
"Family business," Dr. Shadows said. There were no other chairs in the room, a simple ploy obviously intended to put anyone being interviewed ill at ease. Dr. Shadows stood relaxed with a wry smile on his chiseled features.
"Family business?" Hank repeated. "You don't look like a relative of John's." She made a deliberate gesture of looking the Granite Man over from head to foot. "But you could be like family to me if you wanted."
They locked eyes. "Maybe after I help John with his problem," he said, "we could rack up a few ivories on the felt."
Both of them laughed. "You got moxie, Colossus, I'll give you that." Hank blew smoke rings from the hand rolled cigarette at the end of the ivory and gold holder. "What's your business with John?"
"He's threatened his father," Dr. Shadows said. "And an attempt has been made on the old man's life."
Hank was on her feet instantly. "John talks big; he's uh, passionate about his views. It's what got him jail time, talking big at some John Law, but it's all talk. He's full of fear--can't even go up stairs without somebody holding his hand. He may have yelled at his old man, but he'd never hurt him."
Hank was face to chest with Dr. Shadows, looking like a child next to a statue. But it was a furious child. "You hurt that confused kid, and I'll make your life miserable."
The Granite Man smiled broadly. "I don't doubt you could," he said. "Or vice versa. But I'm trying to help John, and you've just given me the facts I need to clear him!"