Lin Page 7

The records are private. In police custody.

I was told that you have permission --

It's dangerous to arrange such things. Lots of work hours, money ... Mr. Liu lets the words hang, and shears off a fresh piece of pork with his teeth.

He watches the older man eat, a sense of revulsion clogging his throat. Finally, we come to it.

Evenly, he says: Mr. Allen asked me to give you a message.

, Mr. Liu grunts.

Mr. Allen said that Peitou is still open.

When Allen had handed him these words -- say them exactly, he advised -- he had done so with a puckish rise of the left corner of his mouth. I guarantee you, say it to him and if you ask him to screw himself right there, he will happily chop off his penis and shove it in his derriere. So this is the game: talk in generalities and veiled innuendo, and sooner or later a promise will be made, and you must not be the one to make it.

Mr. Liu stares at him, mouth dumbly open. Damn, he hisses. That son of a --

He sits there like that for a period, fists on the table, curled into white balls. At a nearby table the pork chop goes right on sizzling merrily. Finally Mr. Liu looks at him again. Respect or disdain? Difficult to tell. You've worked with Mr. Allen for a long time? he asks.