Em Gai' Thuong. Hai?
1) ENCOUNTER WITH MY LOVER
My name is Nikki but my friends all call Coco after Coco Chanel, a French lady who lived to be almost 90. She's my idol, after Henry Miller. Every morning when I open my eyes I wonder waht I can do to make myself famous. It's become my ambition, almost my raison d'etre, to burst upon the city like fireworks.
This has a lot to do with the fact that I live in Shanghai. A mystical fog envelops the city, mixed with continual rumors and an air of superity, a hangover from the time of the shili yangchang, the foreign concessions. This hint of smugness affects me: I both love it and hate it.
Anyway, I'm just 25, and a year ago i published a collection of short stories that didn't make any money but got me attention. (Male readers sent me letters enclosing erotic photos.) 3 months ago I left my job as a magazine journalist, and now I'm a bare-legged, miniskirted waitress at a joint called the Green Stalk Cafe'.
There was a tall, handsome young man, a regular at the Green Stalk, who would stay for hours drinking coffee and reading his book. I liked to watch his changes of expression, his every move. He seemed to know I was watching him, but he never said a word.
Until, that is, the day he gave me a note that said "I love you," along with his name and address.
Born in the Year of the Rabbit, and a year younger than me, this man enchanted me. It's hard to put a finger on what made him so good looking in my eyes, but it had something to do with his air of world-weariness and his thirst for love.
On the surface we're two utterly different types. I'm full of energy and ambition and see the world as a ripe fruit just waiting to be eaten. He is introspective and romantic, and for him life is a cake laced with arsenic-every bite poisons him a little more. But our differences only increased our mutual attraction, like the inseparable north and south magnetic poles. We rapidly fell in love.
Not long after we met, he told me a family secret. His mother was living in a small town in Spain, with a local man, running a Chinese restaurant. It seems you can make a lot of money in Spain by selling lobster and wonton.
His father had died young, suddenly, out there, less than a month after going to Spain to visit his mother. The death certificate said "myocardial infarction," and his ashes were flown home in a McDonnell Douglas jet. Tian still remembered that sunny day, and how his tiny grandmother, his father's mother, cried, tears streaming down her wrinkled face like water dripping off a wet rag.
"Grandmother was convinced it was murder. My dad didn't have any history of heart desease; she said my mother killed him. That she had another man over there, and they plotted it together."
Staring at me with a strange look in his eyes, Tian said, "Can you believe it? I still can't work it out. May be Grandmother was right. But whatever-Mother sends me a lot of $ every year to live on."
He watched me in silence. His strange story grabbed me immediately, because I'm drawn to tragedy and intrigue. When I was studying Chinese at Fudan University in Shanghai, I'd wanted to become a writer of really exciting thrillers: evil omen, conspriacy, dagger, lust, poison, madness, and moonlight were all words that sprang readily to my mind. Looking tenderly into his fragile, beautiful face, I understood the root of Tian sadness.
"Death's shadow only fades little by little as time passes. There will never be more than a thin glass barrier between your present and the wreckage of your past," I told him.
His eyes grew wet, and he clenched his hands tightly. "But I've found you and decided to put my faith in you, "he said. "Don't stay with me just out of curiousity, but don't leave me straight-away."
Last edited by erik; 01-12-2003 at 11:42 PM.
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