Lin Page 8

A few years, he lies.

Your parents are Chinese?

Father from Hunan. Mother from Fujian.

. Mr. Liu breaks into a greeting in the Fujian dialect, which also happens to be the local dialect. Not a word of it is comprehended, but the younger man has enough wherewithal to break into a relieved smile and respond: Ah, a fellow from Fujian ...

Jowls working on seeming thin air, Mr. Liu leans forward. You know, Mr. Allen is a dangerous one. He has connections. Distribution. Import and export.

Now it's his turn to grunt, in an Is that right? sort of way. It could very well be true, he

wouldn't doubt it if it was, Allen was that sort of man. He would make some cursory remark about his finances, how he couldn't afford to eat at the new expensive restaurant down Tunhua Road, and in the next breath he would mention a little real estate enterprise on the side that was earning him sixty thousand NT per month.

You shouldn't trust him. Once you know him long enough, he has something on you. Like this.

Mr. Liu has reached into a soft-shell briefcase, and he places two VCDs in clear-glass CD cases on the table. The CDs are the kind you can buy at any computer store, and are labeled in chicken-scratch Chinese handwriting that he cannot decipher.