CHAPTER 2 (REMIX / THE SCROLL OF THE MASTERS)
Since his arrival in this country years ago, Meng had lived in a cozy Chinatown studio apartment. A spacious yet cozy apartment nestled in Chinatown.
On this evening, Meng vigorously washed the few dishes before him.
Meng was a particularly deceptive looking Neverending Master. He was a man of average height, but a tad bit shorter, bald, thin, small goatee and mustache.
On any other evening, Meng’s mind would be preoccupied, thinking about the future. However, on this night, he worried about the commission he was about to give his pupil. His pupil’s appointment, and the great task ahead, they weighed heavily on his mind.
As he washed there was a knock at the door.
Masternever entered the apartment. Meng often kept the apartment door unlocked. There had not been any crime in the building since the late 80s when Mrs. Lu’s sons dealt drugs.
Meng looked at Masternever and managed to forge a grin.
Masternever walked to the kitchen area. As usual, the two greeted each other with a dap. Meng continued cleaning the dishes.
Masternever leaned against the counter and scanned Meng’s facial expression and body language. He didn’t know for sure, but he realized something was wrong. Meng focused on the dishes and scrubbed with vigor.
“What’s good?” asked Masternever.
“The dishes” replied Meng.
“You’re on your own with that,” said Masternever “I have enough dishes in my life.”
Meng was amused by Masternever’s response until he noticed speckles of blood on his sweatshirt. He knew what had happened.
Meng stepped forward and inspected the faint red specks on Masternever’s sweatshirt. Masternever had often hoped that Meng would show approval of his frequent night adventures.
Meng returned to the dishes. “You have been out crusading,” said Meng.
“Yeah. I’m out there fighting the forces of evil” replied Masternever “Doing what a Neverending Master should be doing. Right?”
Meng tried to find humor in the situation, but he thought about the great task he would assign his pupil. Masternever was prepared to share his version of the story, but it had been a long night. He walked to Meng’s refrigerator, and took out a bottle of water, and drank. Meng washed the final dish and dried his hands with a towel.
“I’m glad you’re here, we must have a talk,” said Meng. Sensing that Meng was displeased or about to make him do something he did not want to do, Masternever replied “Talk? I don’t like that. Whenever you tell me we need to talk, you’re always want to discuss what I’m doing wrong.”
Meng walked to the far end of the kitchen and picked up a plate from the counter. The plate was covered with a metal lid to keep the food warm.
“Follow me,” said Meng.
He proceeded to walk to the area of the living room that had a shrine.
“Are we eating?” asked Masternever, who then followed Meng and placed his bottled water on the kitchen counter.
Meng walked to a shrine located in his living room. The shrine was made of wood and stood four feet high and a foot in length. It was painted in a brilliant red, decorated with the writing of the Han people. There was a statue of my master in the shrine, surrounding him are sticks of incense.
Meng sat on the floor in front of the shrine and opened the bottom drawer. He revealed a worn wooden box, with mysterious carvings. Meng placed the box on the floor in between the two of them.
He looked at Masternever intently and put out a pair of reading glasses. Masternever was confused and thought Meng played some sort of joke. He smiled at Meng, but as he looked at his teacher’s face he understood the severity of the moment.
“Do you know what this is?” asked Meng. Masternever shook his head.
Meng opened the box and in his hand, there was a worn and tattered scroll. Masternever looked at the scroll while Meng unraveled it.
Masternever inspected the scroll, it contained a number of lines, that resembled graffiti and Chinese characters. In fact, it was the style of marking that I have perfected and that Masternever would soon learn.
The style is known to Neverending Masters as “Forgotten Hand.”
Masternever had been told about the scroll frequently in the past. The writing was a mystery. Beautiful, but something he could not decipher. Next to the strange markings, were various masters in fighting stances.
“The Neverending Masters!” said Masternever.
“All of the masters who have carried on the tradition of the Neverending Masters are listed here” explained Meng. “This is the Scroll of the Masters. Each master is listed along with the fighting style they have mastered. Each master, including myself, has made a contribution to this legacy. You have yet to contribute” said Meng.
“I’m still learning to use the powers that you’ve given me.”
“My young friend, since your appointment, you’ve progressed a great deal. You have only learned a few of the basic styles from the scroll, but now it is time for you to step forward and contribute to the legacy and add your name to the Scroll of the Masters” said Meng.
Masternever always knew that he would have to add to the legacy, but he thought this assignment was years away and truthfully, he never thought about what his contribution would entail.
“What can I possibly do? What can I add to the legacy? I don’t think that I’m ready. I don’t have anything to add” said Masternever.
“That is where you are wrong my friend. You, like every other master of the scroll, has something to pass onto the next” replied Meng.
Masternever looked at the scroll with confusion. “Meng, I can’t read this. I don’t understand these characters, this isn’t traditional writing. What is this?”
“If you need help deciphering the Scroll of the Masters, perhaps you should find the creator!”
“You didn’t write this?”
“The creator is the one who has given me my style and all of the masters before me. He is known as the Style Master. His name is Majid.”
“Is he in China?”
Meng stood up. He walked away from Masternever. He looked out the apartment window and stared at the silhouette of the nearby buildings and thought about when his master gave him the same task many years ago. “A similar night,” he thought to himself.
“It has been some time since I have seen the creator of the scroll. He lives here in New York City. He was someone that I was close to for many years. He will help you decipher the remainder of the document and help you develop your style” said Meng.
“Develop my style? How can he help me develop my style if he doesn’t know me?” asked Masternever.
Meng turned around and looked intently. For the first time, Masternever was frightened of his teacher.
Meng walked away from Masternever and sat in front of a small table where his food placed. He removed the lid from the plate and started eating.
Masternever stood by idly. He hoped that Meng would provide him with some type of assistance. Meng reached for his remote that is on the table and turned on the television.
Masternever sensed that his journey to find me — he would make this journey alone. Masternever picked up the scroll and the wooden box.
“Master, where do I begin?”
Meng ignored him and continued to watch the television and eat.
Meng looked at him and returned his attention to the television.
Masternever placed The Scroll of the Masters in his bag and made his way towards the front door. He paused and looked at Meng. There was a silence, interrupted by the chatter of the television.
As the front door closed, Meng looked at the door and sighed heavily. He closed his eyes and lowers his head. He is worried and concerned about his pupil’s journey.