scruta

Either you are sorting it out, or you are full of it.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Shanghai in a Box – Part 5

[Ferret is standing in front of 20 Shouning Lu. It's a restaurant that specializes in crayfish and barbecued seafood. In fact, every storefront on the entire road is specializes in this. He fingers the book nervously and checks the address one more time. Yeah, it's right. He walks up to the man behind the barbecue hesitantly.  The man yells:]

Man Behind the Barbecue

小燕!两份烤扇贝!

Xiao Yan, two orders of grilled scallops!

[Ferret is taken aback, and fails to speak. A woman shoves into him carrying an empty metal plate, receives the grilled scallops - large white medallions smothered in minced garlic and noodles, then scurries away. Ferret works up his courage and approaches the man again.]

Ferret

你好!

Hello!

Man Behind the Barbecue

嗯,你好,你几位呀?

Yeah, hello, how many of you are there?

Ferret

你是王先生吗?

Are you Mr. Wang?

Man Behind the Barbecue

嗯,我姓王。

Yeah, my name is Wang. 

[Ferret pulls out the notebook.]

Ferret

我收到这个小笔记本,里面…

I got this small notebook, inside…

[The Man Behind the Barbecue smiles and cuts him off.]

Man Behind the Barbecue

哦,那个奖励,是吧?

Oh, the reward, right?

Ferret

对的。那个奖励,不过寄给我什么意思?

Yeah. The reward, but what are you doing sending to me?

[The Man Behind the Barbecue ignores him.]

Man Behind the Barbecue

小燕!

Xiao Yan!

[A middle-aged waitress comes out from the small seafood restaurant behind.]

Xiao Yan

嗯?

Yeah?

Man Behind the Barbecue

老外就笔记本,来收奖励啦。

The foreigner has a notebook. He’s come to claim the reward.

Xiao Yan

是吗?我以为王清不会再寄笔记本出去了。

Really? I thought that Wang Qing said that he wasn’t sending out any more notebooks.

Man Behind the Barbecue

我怎么知道?我在干活,没空来管我笨蛋的弟弟。真是个阿斗。他要干什么都不关我的事。

How do I know? I’m making a living. I don’t have time to go manage my little brother. He really is an imbecile. He can do whatever he wants, it’s no concern of mine.

Xiao Yan

那我要不要带老外去看他?

Then should I take the foreigner to see him?

Man Behind the Barbecue

哎哟,你把他带过去。快回来,今晚客人好多。

Okay. Take him over. Hurry back. There are a lot of people here tonight.

Xiao Yan

嗯,好的。你觉得他听得懂吗?

Yeah, okay. Do you think that he understands us?

Man Behind the Barbecue

肯定不懂。

Definitely not.

Xiao Yan

那我告诉王清给他多少钱的奖励?

Then how much money do you think I should tell Wang Qing to give him?

Man Behind the Barbecue

王清不给钱。他没钱,他整天看电视放屁。

Wang Qing doesn’t give out money. He doesn’t have any money. He just farts around all day watching TV.

Xiao Yan

哦,我以为 —

Oh, I thought–

[The Man Behind the Barbecue begins motioning for Ferret and Xiao Yan to leave together.]

Man Behind the Barbecue

走!走!你们一起 — you! — 走!

Go! Go!  You together – you! – go!

Xiao Yan

好好好。

Okay, okay.

[Xiao Yan starts walking and Ferret follows her down the street full of crayfish shells.]

posted by ferret at 5:07 pm  

Monday, January 13, 2014

Invisible Shanghai

Now there are days when I see nothing at all. The city has grown familiar, and as a result, invisible.

These streets have too many stories. When I walk down them, I no longer see them. I walk through the past, oblivious to everything before me. I don’t see signs. I see the sets for heated conversations and philosophical rants to nothing nothing. I don’t see the wavering expressions of strangers. I see the eyes of acquaintances come and gone, peering at me across time. I don’t see the pleading of storefront displays. I see the shops that came and went before, and the anxious owner smoking cigarettes on the pavement outside.

There are no cracks in the pavement. There are only the scars of ineffable moments of joy, grief, panic, love. There are no young savages decamped to the park at midnight to bathe in reefer glow. There are only trees and the turning of seasons. There no old crones oggleing me from under swaddles of clothing in the morning sunlight. There is only the sunrise over half-finished buildings, now finished. All is invisible now.

I stumble about like a blind man, muttering to myself, unaware that others are in my presence. I am chanting, ranting, raving, praying.

Some part of me hopes it will restore my sight.

posted by ferret at 6:10 pm  

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