Lin Page 16
 
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.