Lin Page 9
eyes and hair. Every so often she holds up her phone to her ear, and the wrist strap bobs back and forth.

He is distracted as a bus bounces past. The petroleum nearly chokes him. Still, there is freedom in this movement -- it is a rare pleasure to be able to pick up speed on a city avenue like this, the hot air whipped up into something that is nearly invigorating, the spell of possibility hanging over him, as if the next turn could lead to an enchanted place, much like when he first arrived in town and was wandering aimlessly down a faceless office boulevard when he happened upon a jazz bar called Sirduke, the interior fashionably angular and polished, but the be-bop genuine and setting his toe tapping against the marble floor as he nursed two drinks the whole night through and marveled at the thought that one can find anything almost anywhere.

Now she has turned north, away from downtown, up a side-street, and the smooth black of the road gives way to bumpy pavement. The only sound now is the hum of his own engine as it sputters away, deafening in contrast to the stillness around him. He almost feels like apologizing: Sorry, just passing, I'll be gone in a moment. Around them are more apartment buildings, clothes dancing on the lines, the faint scent of fish. A theater marquee drifts past -- another American action film translated into generic Chinese, Kill You Two Times -- and alongside the marquee is a hand-painted poster adapted from the original one-sheet, the features of the lead actor altered: Brad Pitt? Tom Cruise? Impossible to tell.

She is heading east again, the traffic thinned to almost nothing, the road slimmed to a single lane, the Sun Yatsen highway snaking above them. He eases back to a safe