Chapter 204: Mahjong in San Francisco
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San Francisco, California Territory, the United States of America
March 21st, 1836

"Hello, Ms. Jackson. Are you here for your father?"

Sacagawea smiled apologetically to the Chinese businessman and bowed her head, "I am. I'm sorry that he's been causing you trouble recently."

Mr. Chen waved his hand, "Nonsense! He's the life of the party around here. And recent arrivals feel reassured by his presence since he can speak semi-fluent Cantonese. If anything, I'm thankful that he's always causing a ruckus."

The Shoshone woman thanked the man again and entered the main parlor, which was brightly lit with gas lights and filled with dozens of people. As she closed the heavy wooden doors behind her, the smell of tobacco and marijuana assaulted her nose, causing her to grimace. Sacagawea scanned the two dozen Mahjong tables arranged neatly across the room and noticed a tall man wearing a green shirt and jeans. His messy white hair and rolled-up sleeves stood out as he glared at the thirteen tiles in front of him. After grabbing a tile from the pile and tossed one back into the center, his weathered face broke out into a frown as he organized his new piece into his hand. A young Asian woman to his right drew a tile a few seconds after, and her face broke out into a grin as she laid out her hand, "Mahjong."

"Damn it!" The man shouted as he rose from his seat, "That's your third win today! Are you trying to empty out my wallet, Chuntao?"

"We always bet a dime each round. Losing a dollar or two per day won't make you a beggar," Chuntao mused.

Andrew Jackson grumbled as he sighed and rubbed his neck, "I shouldn't have standardized this blasted game. I hardly ever win."

Sacagawea rolled her eyes as she walked over to her father's table. Before he could start another Mahjong game, the middle-aged woman grabbed her father's arms, "Father, stop playing Mahjong and come with me."

"What?" Jackson looked up confusedly. He locked eyes with his daughter and looked down with a sheepish smile, "I swear, Aippu, I was only going to play for an hour more!"

"You said that last time, and you came back home at midnight."

"Alright, just let me finish this round then."

"Father," Sacagawea raised her voice as she pulled his arm harder, "There's a guest at our house."

"Who?"

"Lucius Bonapart, your friend's sibling? He arrived twenty minutes ago."

"He was supposed to arrive tomorrow, before the Statehood Ceremony!" Jackson quickly grabbed his coat jacket and rose from his seat. He nodded his head towards the three other players and left a dime for them each. "That old geezer, coming early without warning and making me hurry like this."

"You're sixty-nine, father," Sacagawea noted dryly.

"Don't remind me."

The two hurried back to the Jackson family home, which was a small, homely residence that oversaw the bay in the northern parts of San Francisco. When they entered, they were greeted by Lucius Bonapart, who wore a dark blue suit and a top hat. He smiled when his eyes arrived on Jackson, "Good to see you, Andrew."

"You as well, Lucius. You're here a day early."

"Oh, I did mention that my arrival date was an estimate. After all, I can't just take a train from New York to San Francisco. The ship I sailed in arrived a bit ahead of schedule."

Jackson nodded, "I was just surprised, nothing more. It's good to see you again after all these years. Aippu, can you get the two of us some refreshments and some space?"

"Of course. I'll prepare some coffee and then head to the Market District."

The two sat in comfortable silence as Sacagawea prepared two cups of coffee and an extra pot for refills. After she left, the two of them took some time to sip their beverages. Lucius finished his cup and poured himself another as he spoke, "How is your son?"

"Good," Jackson leaned back into his chair comfortably, "Vancouver is a bit quieter than New Edinburgh, but not by much. He's doing everything he can to quell the tension in the area as the local garrison commander, but it doesn't help when some of his own men have... anti-British sentiments."

"They're everywhere, Andrew: New York, Montreal, Sovtaj, New Orleans. If someone is suspected of being British, they're croched. A few innocents have been caught up in the cross-fire, mainly Irishmen. President Peters is doing everything he can, but..."

"Well, it's not any better out here. If you say that you're from Oregon or Vancouver, you're denied entry into most San Francisco shops. Hawaiians and some Native American tribes get treated the same way to a lesser extent. The federal government has sparse control over here, so it's hard for them to put an end to discrimination. I've been working on fixing the problem, but I can only do so much."

Lucius frowned, "We'll need to stamp that out before the eastern states get any funny ideas about copying them."

"I'm assuming you're going to inform your brother about the situation in California?" Jackson asked evenly.

"Of course," The Bonapart replied. "He needs to know about the situation in the west to fix the problems. That's not the only reason why I'm here, though."

"I should've known this wasn't a social visit," Jackson grumbled.

"I do enjoy talking with you, Andrew. However, there are a lot of things that I need to settle here."

"Even though you resigned from your Secretary of Defense post?"

"Well, yes. I'm still a member of the Society, which is one of the reasons why I'm here," Lucius leaned forward with his hands folded together, "What do you think about letting Nathaniel into the Society?"

The former president crossed his arms and looked at the ceiling, "I'm all for it. The man has devoted his life to the defense of the United States and has demonstrated his commitment to our nation's ideals. It would be a disgrace to leave him out of our 'circle' because of his 'other' self. Benedict Arnold was a traitor in the Mississippi, but he was a hero in the Ohio River."

"That's reassuring. I asked the opinions of the surviving former presidents, and they all agreed as well."

"Are you going back to New York after asking me a single question?"

"Of course not," Lucius waved his hand as he sipped his coffee, "I'm thinking about living here, possibly in San Francisco or down south in San Diego. The weather is much nicer here, and I want to take a long break away from the eastern states. If I live in New York, I'll be pestered by other Society members. I don't mind their company, but I do mind the amount of work and stress I am constantly facing."

"We would be more than happy to have you aboard. There are only a dozen Society members out here, so the more, the merrier," Jackson slapped his counterpart in the back, prompting the former Secretary to choke on his coffee. The cooled liquid dripped onto Lucius's dark trousers, which was quickly wiped off with a handkerchief. "Then how will you let the others know that I approve?"

"Oh, they'll inform him about the Mississippi later this month. Our local group already passed the vote, and the majority of members throughout the other chapters approved as well. Even without the Western chapter, we reached a solid majority."

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