He offers the passport to the police officer, and the man greets the
embossed eagle on the front cover with a small sigh, as if he has
understood for the first time that this is just another drunk American-born
Chinese at play, wasting a summer away in Taiwan. He opens up to the
first page and looks at the photo, then C.J., then the photo again.
As the man flips through the book C.J. has the sense he is doing it
less for formality's sake and more out of curiosity -- So this
is what a Taiwan visitor visa stamp looks like. Visa stamp. How
long has he been here? Three months? Four? Is the visitor visa good
for that long? What had he wrangled before he left America? Was it
one of those multiple-entry visas, or the standard two-month version?
Or was it the other one, the one given to those with family in Taiwan,
good for up to a year? He hadn't paid attention to the details. This
what I mean, he thinks. How can you live a life when you're so lax?
No wonder you're here, you fit right in. Not paying much attention
to anything, you just float along until you vanish. Stick me in a
prison cell and maybe I'll just disappear tonight.
The policeman hands the passport back to him. Thank you, he
says with an almost apologetic smile. Please stay, until check
Sure. Sure, friend, he says, flashing his best Sunday school grin.
The young policeman has already turned away and moved on to the next
table. He overhears him saying to the couple sitting there Let
me see your identification, his tone now icy and in full control.
He moves along the back wall, several policeman eyeing him as he passes,