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


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.]




Man Behind the Barbecue


Yeah, hello, how many of you are there?



Are you Mr. Wang?

Man Behind the Barbecue


Yeah, my name is Wang. 

[Ferret pulls out the notebook.]



I got this small notebook, inside…

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

Man Behind the Barbecue


Oh, the reward, right?



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

[The Man Behind the Barbecue ignores him.]

Man Behind the Barbecue


Xiao Yan!

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

Xiao Yan



Man Behind the Barbecue


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

Xiao Yan


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

Man Behind the Barbecue


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


Then should I take the foreigner to see him?

Man Behind the Barbecue


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

Xiao Yan


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

Man Behind the Barbecue


Definitely not.

Xiao Yan


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

Man Behind the Barbecue


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


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  

Powered by WordPress