The KMT wins, Carol's father gets a nice payoff, so he can afford
to send his daughter to the bushiban, where we met …
Oh yeah, C.J. thinks, I forgot about that. Among his many sideline
jobs, Allen has been a part-time English lit instructor at a high-priced
cram school. No doubt populated by the two types that populate any
expensive bushiban: studious and spoiled. Maybe Carol and Mr. Wang's
daughter met each other somewhere in there. What a conversation that
must have been.
A juddering beat inhabits the air, trumpet riding cool on top.
Bebop-era jazz. Miles Davis, C.J. guesses. Allen is on his feet, the
tune still pulsing from his cell phone. Yes, the guess was correct,
it's "So What."
Sorry guys, Allen says. I think this is Liu. Be right back.
He sails out of the room, leaving C.J. and Carol alone. In the living
room, Herbie Hancock has died down to an almost subsonic pattering
of bass. C.J. is not used to this kind of quiet. He has come to expect
noise everywhere, in every thin-walled building, every square inch
of street, even out in the parks where the old people blast their
boom boxes so they can practice their tai chi and social dancing.
This is something foreign and vaguely threatening, as if he is receiving
a perk that will be paid for later in blood.
Carol gives a wry little smile of forbearance. More drink? she
asks in English. To Allen, she always speaks Chinese.
No thank you. He sees that she has a new set of press-on nails~these
are an aquamarine blue, with sprinkles that dance in the light.