Lin Page 24
fingers again they are sticky and red. He shoves the hand deep in his pocket.

The policeman is gesturing at his face. Are you hurt? he asks.

C.J. laughs. A comfortable laugh this time, perfectly judged. Oh, no, scooter accident. Was riding with a friend. You understand me? Speak the English?

A few other policemen had sidled up to the first one, but seeing that the subject is now docile and under control, they are backing off, returning to the tables from whence they sprung. The first policeman asks in Mandarin: You speak Chinese? Taiwanese?

Um -- his cheeks bulge with effort, spitting out mutilated Taiwanese, not so difficult for him given his limited knowledge of the dialect: A little. Taiwanese, a little. Sorry. Stop hamming it up, he thinks; stop being so stereotypical for Chrissake.

Visiting. Tourist, the policeman says in English.

Yeah. Just visiting. No identification

You have passport?

Of course. It is his only chance really -- if nothing else, his U.S. passport is the genuine item, able to withstand a cursory examination. Very unlikely these town cops would run a detailed check on a passport.