place. He throws the empty knapsack into a nearby ditch, and seconds
later he is back before the usher, this time at the ready with the
citizen ID Allen fabricated for him two months before. Come on
you bastard, he thinks. Too much longer and the bruises will
start to show. The usher's penlight dances on the ID photo. What
a rictus grin he has there. Just like Lee Teng-hui. The
usher has the alacrity of airport security as he glances at the photo,
then the face before him. Eventually he nods silently and gestures
towards the front door with a slight bow. Thank you, C.J. says
-- yes, he can play this game too -- and he pushes through the front
door, immediately to be swallowed by translucent lights, the chattering
of loud voices, the unmistakable conglomeration of nicotine and beer,
a DJ shouting All right all right all right! above the music.
straight for the bathroom, where he ensconces himself for the next
five minutes, his swollen reflection staring at him from the mirror
as the world continues to move. It is a small bathroom, three stalls
crowded into a space scarcely bigger than a kitchenette. Suggestively,
the window is big enough to squeeze a man through without incident,
the glass swung outward on rusty hinges, the
poking through, enough to make the hairs on
the back of his neck stand up. Men in spiky jelled hair come and go.
Almost all of them have some sort of leather bracelet or chain wallet
or satin shirt, and all of them regard him with quick, hooded glances.
He stares right back at them; without exception, they all look away.
Back outside in the main dance hall, blue and red floodlights war
for dominion. The music is a big ball of noise, somehow less defined
here in this high-ceilinged