Lin Page 18
room than it was when he was outside. An empty table nearby holds half-finished beer glasses, and he snatches two of them, gulping them down in rapid succession. He finds an open spot along the wall and leans against it -- blessed be the distribution of weight! -- and waits. Staring at the inside of one of the emptied glasses, he sees the spectrum of light formed by the glitterball overhead as it whirls in perfect circles. When he lowers the glass he sees Annie: alone, on the opposite side of the room, seated at a table, her coat neatly draped on the back of her chair, her bare shoulders weaving from side to side in a fair approximation of a hip-hop dancer. A cigarette hangs, gangster-like, from her mouth. She is staring at the dance floor, where couples are clumped together, with no room to do anything except awkwardly bob up and down in place. No one wears baggy, low-hung pants, thank goodness -- he hates that particular modern American fashion. He stands, steeling himself, opening lines

careening about in his head -- Miss Chen, I need to talk to you Excuse me, are you ? Can you help me with something? -- and then he sees the group of uniformed policeman that have just entered the hall, at least a dozen of them in their blue shirts and caps, fanning out along the walls, edging closer and closer to him, looking for all the world like a baseball team lining up on the diamond for pre-game introductions.

He covers the distance to Annie's table within a dozen steps, each footfall as careful as military strategy, bodies seemingly giving way in deference to his need. She does not see him until they are eye to eye. His back to the policemen, he seats himself across from her. Now that she is up close, he observes that she is much more petite than he thought, much like movie stars off-screen. Her face is freckled about her nose and under her eyes.