What year is it?
It was a dark and rainy night (it really was) in Yangshou. Here's my story. I received a letter from a woman in Yangshou China. She has a problem; she doesn't know what year it is. This I can handle. She offers me full expenses and a daily fee. After this gig, I'm turning consulant. Give your clients the answer they want. Good money. But back to my story. It is July 1938. How do I know this? Because the Magnolia Hotel flashing neon light is outside my window, and all detective moves from 1938 have a flashing neon sign. I am Peter, P.I. and this is my "Yangshou Mystery."
I take the Pan Am Clipper across the Pacific, land in Hong Kong and catch a crowded sleeper train to Yangshou. I check in to the hotel about midnight. Within minutes, I hear a knock on the door. It's the woman, she's American and beautiful. I fall hard for this women. After I get up (from the fall), she tells me her story. She doesn't know what year it is. "No problem, it's 1938," I reply. She says that strange occurances have made her think it is not really 1938. We will take a bike ride tomorrow morning to check this out. I fall asleep within seconds, a serious case of propeller lag.
We continue bicycling by rice paddies where workers with cone-shaped hats harvest the ripened rice.
This is spooky. Now I place it! I'm expecting copters any minute. Mekong Delta 1968. "Yes, yes, see. I really don't know what year it is," the beautiful American yells.
We peddle our rusty bikes and head back to Yangshou. On the way, a peasant farmer passes us, pedaling his tricyle, overloaded with chickens on the way to the market in town. Five minutes later we notice that he has stopped on the side of the road. Does he have a flat? Did the US forces shoot him? No, he is talking on his cell phone! Can it be 2008? Oh, it is so confusing!
We return to the hotel. The beautiful American says she is leaving tomorrow for Guangzhou to conduct some business. Will I come along, she asks, to continue to work on this mystery? Is this a trick question? I will follow her anywhere. Maybe there I will be able to find the answer to my "Yangshou Mystery."