Lin Page 14
blood. Sorry, I came out for fresh air and I fell asleep

Asleep? You son of a bitch. Bullshit

C.J. is sitting down again -- such a nicety, to be able to sit down on soft earth. A beer bottle under his ass, intact. Lucky Star again. The man is reaching over to the side, unzipping the knapsack.

No! Stop that! C.J. yells, or at least he thinks he yells it, certainly the sound of it lingers in his throat, but the man seems not to have heard. He is pulling out the folders inside, opening them to see the photos of Mr. Chen. There is a faint rustling as the man searches for a cigarette lighter, the better to see with.

Stop, C.J. sighs one more time. His right hand is around

the neck of the beer bottle. The man's lighter is being flicked. Once, twice. Still no ignition. Bottle up, raised above the head, but how long can his arm maintain this position? All the blood rushes from the hand. The simplest of magic tricks. Hold a ball to your head, and the magician guesses which hand has the ball. The pale hand always holds the ball. But what if you raise your hand to your head for only an instant? Or raise both hands? Or you have some sort of defective condition in which one of your hands is always pale with blood loss?

The man's lighter sparks to life just as C.J. brings the bottle down on the man's head. There is a satisfactory moment in which the bottle remains solid in his grip as it meets flesh and bone, and then everything gives way as the glass shatters and the half-beer, half-riverwater remains inside roll down his exposed arm. The man yells once, shouting an expletive in Taiwanese, and then he is up and