He can hear Allen and Carol talking downstairs. Allen's voice rises
as he punctuates some joke, and she responds with a hysterical giggle.
C.J. has never seen her giggle in person; he wonders what her face
would look like at such a moment.
Like the rest of the house, Allen's bedroom is a strange mix of spartan
furnishings and clutter. A rumpled futon is in the center of the room,
caved in where Allen and Carol have slept. Folded-up newspapers and
magazines are everywhere. Along the far wall is a set of rattan dresser
drawers. That's the difference between here and home, he thinks; none
of the furniture feels solid. No oak or cherrywood so heavy they're
like facts of life.
A few eight-by-twelve photos are scattered on the dresser~photos from
Mr. Chen's funeral. There is Mrs. Chen, dressed in somber colors and
mascara, a portrait of her husband erect on her lap as she accepts
condolences. Next to her is daughter Annie, always next to her, in
all the photos, and yet none of them seem to have a clear shot of
her. In one her hair hangs down, hiding her face, and in another,
she is turning while the picture is being taken, a single eye in focus
even as the rest of her is a windswept blur.
One of the dresser drawers is open, and he peers into it. Lingerie
items, some black, some off-white and drab, obviously purchased on
the street. He opens the other drawers, one at a time, and hunts.
More clothes, random souvenirs from other countries. A wood mask from
a southeast Asian country, a smiling face carved on one end and a
frowning one on the other. Various chains and trinkets that make pleasing
clinking noises as they shift in his hands. More shirts, more pants.