took refuge at the New Park, camped under-neath
the willowy trees, kept awake by his throbbing arm and the clang of
the garbage trucks at three in the morning.
Outside the My Family's Pork Chop restaurant scooters litter
the sidewalk, haphazardly parked, cutting off pedestrian movement.
People must venture out into the street to proceed, and risk the wrath
of the buses and compact cars. Wrestling his scooter into the tight
space between two bulky older models he strains and pushes, metal
body rubbing other metal bodies. A stray piece of scooter scrapes
his hand, leaving a cut. Cursing, he shoves harder, and now his vehicle
is wedged, the front tire poised a few inches above the ground. He
is angry at himself for his callous approach to parking -- once one
surrenders to this environment, one reaches a state of perpetual irritation
complacency. Who cares if you scratch up your scooter or someone else's?
Who cares if you're blocking the sidewalk? No one else does, so one
must accept the fight on those terms, and thus the battle is lost.
Still perturbed, he wraps his poncho into a ball before he enters
the restaurant and squeezes out as much rainwater as he can. Against
his sweaty back, his short-sleeve shirt is like wax. Being in the
subtropics will do wonders for your complexion, he had been told.
No more need for moisturizers. Which was true, he hasn't touched
lotion in months, but now the ring finger and pinky of his right hand
are wrinkled, flaking and itchy with some unknown fungal condition.
He recognizes Mr. Liu almost immediately -- it is as if he has emerged
whole and unharmed from the photo Allen provided. Baby face perched