Destroyer: The Adventures of Remo & Chiun
By JOHN SIMCOE
His name was Remo and he was never much of an art lover. He thought
most modern art was bullshit. Sure, Da Vinci was OK, and even some of
those other Renaissance guys from Italy, but this stuff? It was just
The gallery was a small one, but thanks to its proximity to Chicago, it
had plenty of patrons willing to shell out big bucks for paintings that
could have been done by a four-year-old with a can of spray paint.
Remo Williams was looking at one painting that contained a grouping of
red circles in one corner of the painting and a smaller yellow circle
hovering in the center. It was titled “Alone,” and the gallery had
listed it’s price as $3,275.
“True brilliance,” a man dressed in black said as he stepped close to
Remo. The man wore a in ID tag around his neck that labeled him as
“To me it says that even in a great mass of people, in some small way, we’re still alone,” Philip said.
“That would explain the title,” Remo quipped.
“Yes, quite true,” Philip agreed as he took a delicate sip from his wine. “But to me, it’s all about the color.”
“There’s only two colors there.”
With his wineglass still in hand, the man pointed at Remo and nodded.
“Yes, but the two colors chosen are what matters. Red. Why Red? Because
it’s about aggression. The world is about aggression. Yellow is us. Or
rather the individual. Why yellow? Because we’re afraid of all the
world. We are all essentially cowards.”
“Then why is the stupid thing called ‘Alone’?”
“We are lonely cowards, you and I.” the man observed.
“Oh, come on!” Remo waved his hand the colony of red and yellow
circles. “It looks like a rejected package design for Wonder Bread!”
Philip studied this angry visitor. He wore a necklace badge similar to
Philip’s own. The visitor’s tag said his name was “Remo.” This “Remo”
was two steps away from looking like every other person in the gallery.
First was his most striking feature — deep eyes. They were like voids.
Even in the bright, clear light of the gallery, they were hidden by
shadows, giving him the look of death.
Remo’s age was hard to place. Something about the lines on his face
made it difficult, but he was easily past 30. His visage had a cruelty
to it, Philip thought, like that of person forced to do things he knew
Like Philip was dressed, Remo was head to toe in black. Black T-shirt, black chinos and black loafers.
Despite cruel demeanor, Remo wasn’t unusual in a place like this.
Everyone in the building was in black. That’s just how people that came
to these things dressed. It was the look.
The second thing that set Remo apart from the other patrons was his
physique. His body was solid and healthy. This solidness stretched all
the way to his wrists, which were unusually thick. As Philip watched,
Remo began rotating his hands absently. It was a sure sign of an
artist, Philip decided.
“You’re a painter, aren’t you,” Philip guessed.
“Naw. Not that I couldn’t do this crap,” Remo grimaced. “I’m just a nobody.”
“Exactly my point about this masterpiece! We’re all nobodies. We’re all alone. Now do you see the genius?”
“All I see is somebody who still needs to connect the dots.”
Another man in black approached. He studied the circle-filled painting.
“Striking, isn’t it?”
“Thanks for reminding me,” Remo said brightly, turning away from the
two men. He had been diverted by the paintings, not lost in thought,
but lost in his disgust. He couldn’t believe that people would pay good
money for garbage like that. They weren’t willing to pay a living wage
to people that drove trucks, waited on tables and all those other jobs
that were real work.
Art wasn’t work, Remo thought, it was an excuse for rich people to throw away their money.
Remo was after one of those rich people. As the sole operative of CURE,
a federal agency so secret that less than half a dozen people knew of
its existence. The agency was created long ago by a soon-to-be
assassinated president who saw his country foundering in a sea of
crime, drugs and corruption. It was then, all those years ago, when
Remo Williams was recruited into CURE.
“Recruited” was a delicate way to put it. Prior to landing at CURE,
Remo Williams was cop. Remo’s soon-to-be boss framed him for a murder
he didn’t commit. The trial was quick and the punishment was death. But
Remo wasn’t killed. Instead he was slipped a special pill that allowed
him to survive. Later, he was brought to a special government compound.
There, he met Chiun, a little oriental man who was aged beyond years
Remo thought possible. Chiun’s job? To train Remo in the ways of
Over the decades, Remo learned Sinanju, the sun source of all other
martial arts. By mastering Sinanju, he became nearly unstoppable. He
became an assassin. That’s how CURE handled threats to the United
States of America. The agency solved problems that the courts couldn’t,
and that always meant the death of the troublemaker.
Today, in this small art gallery in Illinois, Remo was on the trail of one of those troublemakers.
His name was Denton Tyler. As president and respected member of the
Greater Chicago Patrons of the Arts, he was in the perfect position to
rub elbows with the city’s biggest of bigwigs.
Unfortunately, Denton wasn’t a nice guy. Harold Smith, the buzzard in
charge of CURE, had traced a long trail of money back to Denton. That
money funded the exploits of a group of environmental terrorists.
According to Smith and his vast computer network, Denton was a secret
member of The Revolution of Life, or TROL, an ultra radical group who
sought equal rights for every living thing on Earth. From slugs to
humans, TROL said they all had rights, which despite being a completely
wacko belief, was all right with Smith.
While Smith wasn’t bothered with their philosophy, he was bothered by
their tactics. As near as Smith could determine, TROL was responsible
for 27 arsons, two bombings, at least one assassination, and 12 serious
injuries in the last six months alone.
To Smith, that was too much. So he ordered Remo on the case, which
meant Remo was to eliminate Denton Tyler. That’s what an assassin
schooled in Sinanju did — he killed. It was his job, just like all the
previous masters did for their employers.
Remo had been following Denton through the gallery since it opened that
evening, waiting for the right time to deliver a bare-handed blow that
would bring instant death. For Remo, it couldn’t have been a more
typical assignment. He had been on similar missions dozens upon dozens
of times over the years.
Denton was busy talking to a small huddle of black-garbed snoots.
He talked about contrast, symbolism and technique as they all took in a
painting that consisted of three shapes, a green blobbish semi-human
figure, a red near-square partially obscured by the green thing and
black, lopsided figure-eight that looped around the green semi-human’s
head. The background was painted blue with a light wash of orange.
Denton said it represented “man’s mind being pulled in all directions.”
Another claimed it was “an obvious expression of a woman’s love for her home.”
Remo knew exactly what it was — a piece of garbage. He approached the
group and studied the painting for a moment. Even though he stood
behind the gaggle of goofballs, his eyes saw more than they did. Over
the years, Sinanju had enhanced his senses past those of a normal
Beyond the swipes of colors and lines, he saw the weave of the linen
and the strokes of the paintbrush. In those strokes he saw that the
paint had coagulated just a hint of a fraction of an inch upward, which
was opposite the normal direction for drying paint.
“I think you hung it upside down,” Remo said.
The snoots in black stopped their chatter and started to tilt their heads, each twisting at a different pace.
“Hmm,” one observed, followed by another and another.
“Hmmmmm,” came another chorus from the snoots.
Denton approached Remo. “You’ve got a good eye. I can tell you’re an
art lover. Someone who knows exactly what he’s looking for.”
“You can say that again,” Remo smiled, wondering how he’d kill this guy.
“As you of course know I’m Denton Tyler, proprietor of DT Gallery.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard all about you.”
“So what has peaked your interest this evening?” Denton asked, leaning into Remo’s space.
Despite his instant annoyance, Remo stood his ground. “I’m looking for
something for my father. My Little Father.” Remo said. He was referring
“Well, let me show you this piece,” Denton said, urging Remo to follow him.
Remo did and watched Denton approach a particularly dreadful display.
“This says ‘Father!’” Denton proclaimed.
Remo rubbed his chin as he eyed the work. It was a striking blue wedge
of paint with a splatter of mustard-colored droplets. “Boy, I don’t
know, I don’t think he’d much like it.”
“It’s sophistication. It’s machismo.”
Remo furrowed his brow. “I just don’t think he’d appreciate it.”
“Your father, what’s his name?”
“Chiun,” Remo said.
Denton was mildly surprised. In his line of work it wasn’t uncommon to
hear names like Deter or Francois. But Chuin? How strange, he thought.
“Chuin? Is that Belgian?” Denton asked. “ Well, it doesn’t matter. This says power. It says power and money.”
“Money? Well he does like money. Especially gold. In fact, he’s crazy for it.”
“And this is power over gold,” Denton declared. “The blue is the power.
The same quiet power most fathers wield. The gold is the the bleeding
splatter of mustard yellow.”
“You know what, you’re impeccable interpretation of this masterpiece really impressed me, I’ll buy it,” Remo decided.
“Excellent!” Denton cried. He gave Remo a brief singular applause.
“But there’s one problem, I need to take it with me tonight. I’m only in town for the evening and then back home to daddy.”
“Oh, that could be troublesome,” Denton admitted. ‘Normally, we keep
everything up until the end of the show and then we ship it out to the
“I’ll pay double tonight,” Remo said, suddenly relishing the idea that
he’d be able to aggravate Smith with his gag gift to Chiun. As director
of CURE, Smith was a notorious penny-pincher. More than once, Remo had
ridden coach with crying babies or repulsive smelling neighbors. Making
Smith buy an over-priced explosion of tackiness seemed like a decent
“You’d buy that for $6,000?” Denton said in disbelief. “It’s all yours!”
Denton clapped his hands together twice, and Philip dashed up to his side. “Wrap this up for our friend here.
“Now, sir, if you’ll come with me,” Denton said, drawing Remo over to his office.
“How will you be paying?”
“Credit, of course,” Remo said with a bit of high-brow attitude in his voice.
“Excellent,” Denton said, as he walked inside a small chamber decorated
with equally awful art, some of which Remo was sure had to be
“Y’know what? I’m still looking for one more thing,” Remo said.
“Oh really?” Denton said, eager for a bigger commission.
Remo pulled the office door shut. “I want to help the animals,” he whispered.
Remo summoned a conspiratorial tone. “You know — TROL.”
Denton winked and joined in the whispering. “My comrade, you have
already helped the animals. The painting you just bought — most of the
money from this entire gallery goes to TROL.”
“What else can I do for TROL though?” Remo questioned.
“There’s so much!” Denton said with zeal. “You can help us recruit. You can help us with donations.”
“But what I really want to do is create!” Remo explained.
“You’re an artist?” Denton asked. “Then maybe I can host a show of your work?”
“That sounds good, in fact, I can do one right now.”
“Really? Kind of like a performance piece?”
“Well what sort of material do you need?”
“What ever you got,” Remo said.
“Gauche? Oil? Watercolor?” Denton asked as he turned and pulled open a cabinet full of artist’s supplies.
“That sounds great. Just great.”
Denton plucked up a handful of bottles. “This will be wonderful. Anything to help TROL. You know what the TROL motto is, right?”
Remo hadn’t gotten much of a briefing on the assignment. All he knew
was that this guy was funding a group of loopy terrorists that were
killing people all over the Midwest. “No, I don’t. What’s their motto?”
Denton cleared his throat and grew solemn. “‘If humans don’t give
animals equal rights, then humans don’t have the right to be equal.’”
He paused, letting the statement sink in. “Deep, isn’t it?”
“I think I read that in a fortune cookie.” Remo said, as he walked lightly behind Denton.
“Really? I didn’t know of any TROL operations like that.”
Remo grew quiet. In an instant, a dark cloud drew over his mind. It was time to exterminate his prey.
His senses reached out around him. From the corners of his eyes, he saw
everyone in the gallery. None were watching. His nose filled with the
smell of cigarettes, wine and perfume. His ears filtered out the
chatter around him and zeroed in on Denton’s heartbeat and breathing.
He listened for the point when all of Denton’s vital signs reached
their zenith, and with lighting-quick jab from Remo’s hand, Denton
With that single blow to the back of Denton’s neck, Remo had caused
every muscle, every vein and every artery to seize and power itself up
with all the energy the art dealer had. The effect on Denton was
disastrous. His life was blown out of him like a balloon popped by a
Denton crashed to the floor, causing the paint he was carrying to
explode on the floor around him. His arms and legs spasmed as the
feeling drained from them. As Denton thrashed around in the paint, Remo
noticed a pattern being created on the floor. Broad strokes of cottage
blue and crimson. A smattering of brown ochre. A dash of mauve.
Having not seen Remo’s half-second-long attack, Philip approached.
“It’s magnificent, Denton!” he said, impressed with his employer’s
As blood from his exploded veins filled his lungs, Denton gurgled in return.
“I didn’t know you were an artist! You’ve been hiding your talent all this time. “
Another final choking gurgle came from Denton, and then he died.
“Yeah,” Remo said, turning to leave. “He’s a real piece of work. Is that my painting?”
“Uh-huh,” Philip said as he watched Denton. “Are you all right, Denton?”
The corpse offered no answer.
“Hey, mister, what happened? Sir?” Philip said, looking for the man who was “just a nobody.”
But the nobody named Remo Williams w