The Chengdu Concubine
Ju-ling could be a descendent from Khazar refugees at the turn of the first millennium
Ju-ling is a vibrant Sichuan Opera performer.
Ju-ling met with Chiang Fang-liang ( born Faina Ipat'evna Vakhreva, Jewish bride of Chiang Kai-sheck's son) during the siege of the Chengdu Central Military Academy.
On 1 October 1949, Mao Zed-ong has proclaimed the PRC in Beijing. In a state of complete disarray, the remaining KMT troops have retreated to Sichuan. Chengdu is the last city to hold. An airlift to Taiwan is being secretly organized for senior officers and their families. Ao-nan, an officer close to the Chiang family developed an affair with Ju-ling, a very young Sichuan Opera performer. When offered the possibility to flee the mainland with her lover, she is confronted between her duty as a CCP covert agent to either kill him or marry him and leave her family and beliefs behind.
Main Hall, Opera House, Chengdu, Sichuan, China, November 25, 1949
The main hall of the Chengdu Opera House is dimly lit. A single spot illuminates the turquoise costume of the last standing character. Ju-ling has just poisoned her old husband in order to acquire his wealth. He is lying at her feet. The loud click of the shutting spot precedes the slow fade of the 5000W incandescent bulb. Vibrant applauds echo in the pitched black room. Ju-ling is frozen centre stage. -Should I do it tonight? What if I fail? What if I freeze? What if he kills me instead? Two Neon Tubes intermittently light up as soldiers open the side doors of the wooden building letting the cold winter air in. Ju-ling has left the stage. Ao-nan walks towards the backstage against the exiting crowd, mostly NRA officers, KMT officials and relocated industrialists.
Backstage, Opera House
Ao-nan knocks repeatedly on a locked door. Amongst stage gear and costumes, the performer who a moment ago was lying dead on the stage walks by Ao-nan and warns him.
-Be careful. Genuine Sichuan girl. They're a fierce breed.
Changing Room, Opera House
Knocks resonate in the sparsely but carefully decorated changing room. Ju-ling removes her headgear, staring at the opaque mirror. A prop dagger shoved in its scabbard, lies on the desk in front of her. -If I open, I'll have to kill him. If I don't, I'll be blamed for not helping the revolution. Knocks persist. Ju-ling walks to the door and opens it. Ao-nan grabs Ju-ling before she could say anything and kisses her passionately. He's a tall 30 years old NRA officer. Northern Han stock. Ju-ling is barely 20, darker than he is. Black lines around her green eyes accentuate their size. Her fine nose rests above vibrantly red painted lips. The embracing couple lands on the wooden bed. This is Ju-ling's room.
-Not now, you'll have to come later. Everybody is still here.
-Forget about everyone. I just see you. I don't hear anything else. I don't see anyone else. I don't think of them, I don't think of war, I don't think. I'm just here, with you and only you.
They resume lovemaking. A moment passes before Ju-ling lights up a cigarette.
-Who were you with? Next to you, I saw many guards and the row in front was empty.
-Chiang Ching-kuo. The General's son. He was very impressed by you. But I was not to bring him here. He's a vicious man. He has many mistresses. Maybe he would want to have you too.
-I don't like old men but you should have brought him anyways. I would have entertained him. Maybe you would have become captain. I know how to treat old men... Like you...
A moment passes. Ao-nan buttons his trousers.
-There is a dinner organized tomorrow at the General's residence and Ching-kuo has invited me. You should come. I'll introduce you to his mother-in-law.
Through her relationship with Ao-nan, Ju-ling has been introduced to the General's son and to the First Lady. She is now one step away from meeting the General himself.
Streets of Chengdu, Night
Ju-ling discreetly exits the Opera House through a side door and ventures into the Chengdu night. From the other side of the paved road, a silhouette brushes against the walls. Hearing footsteps, Ju-ling nervously swivels her head towards the noise but as the darkness doesn't reveal any shadows, she continues on her frantic paths.
Tea House, Chengdu, Night
As Ju-ling turns onto a lane, a narrow door cracks open to let her in. Inside, she is lead by an old woman to the main room of a unlit tea house. Sitting at a table, three CCP officials order her to join them.
May-ling, the First Lady, who's agents had been tracking Ju-ling's every movements, decides to turn her into a double agent.
Opera House, Chengdu, 10 December 1949
A covered convertible Ford Coupe stops in front of the opera. It's head beams light up the dust it has raised into the cool dawn air. Moments later, Ju-ling walks out of the side door carrying a small leather suitcase and walks into the car as it departs.
Road to Qionglai, Chengdu
On the backseat, Ju-ling sits next to the First Lady who greets her with a satisfied grin, a cigarette in its holder between her lips. Ju-ling remains silent for a moment, looking at city waking up thought the car's window.
-How did you know I would be there?
-Because it was your only way out. You couldn't go back to your people. You couldn't wait for them to capture the city...
Ju-ling looks at the Railway Movement Monument as they cross Renmin's Park. She's a traitor to her people, her family, her cause. All that for the man she loves.
-So why are you doing this? Why didn't you denounce me?
-From one concubine to another... I know you'll be valuable to me where we go...
The Fist Lady exhales her cigarette smoke onto Ju-ling's face.
Qionglai Air Base, Chengdu
The First Lady's Ford is idling on the tarmac as a military convoy arrives to secure the area. The General's car followed by several other jeeps make their way pass the Ford as a C-47 Skytrain aircraft pulls out of a hangar and stops on a patch of grass near the strip its engine still running. Ju-ling anxiously looks at the military personnel and other dignitaries boarding the plane.
-Ao-nan's not there.
-Don't worry mei-mei, he'll join you later. Nothing will happen to him, he'll probably be in Taipei for Christmas, before our New Year for sure. You want him to come, don't you?
Ju-ling looks at the inscription painted under the cockpit: May-ling. How did a Christian concubine became so powerful? China's most influential woman. What's waiting for her on the other side of the Taiwan Strait?
-Of course I do.
The C-47 take off with Ju-ling, the presidential couple and a dozen chosen officials.