by Michal Malek
The whole room
oohd and aahd as he lifted his shirt
to show off his new tattoo. Some of those oohs
and definitely a few of those aahs were for
the six-pack and bulging chest muscles that
accompanied the healing body art. Chen watched
from afar. He was an exchange student in a place
as foreign to him as a cheeseburger is to Mr.
Chen had just
started enjoying the house party, but with the
arrival of this inked Hercules the whole affair
had deteriorated into an ogling orgy. In the
blink of an ab muscle Chen had gone from exotic
new guy to a Chinese wallflower.
The guy in
question, whose name could only be something like
Clive, or Cliff or Cody, claimed to love the
orient and everything Kung and everything Fu. His
latest tattoo was apparently the Chinese symbol
for Dragon, representing his zest for
life and inner fire or whatever the tattoo
parlour had sold him.
From beneath a
low brow, Cody-Cliff-Clive scanned the room for
someone. His gaze fell on a garden of wallflowers
growing out of a sofa in a far, dark corner of
the room. Pale and nerdy faces all turned to one
another wondering why this demi-god was looking
their way. Soon they realized that he was
beckoning to Chen.
Chen felt the
heat of the social spotlight on him. He stood up
and the party parted before him like the red sea
before a skinny Asian Moses. Cliff-Clive-Cody
called Chen over and promptly insulted Chens
elderly horse. Chen had had his horse insulted
many times since his arrival in this foreign land,
and understood that he was being greeted in
mountain of a man pointed at the ink on his
granite body and said, What do you think?
he asked in a voice as rough as his designer
For the first
time, Chen actually looked at the tattoo chiseled
onto the writhing mass of grotesque musculature.
This one means Warrior. It
represents the challenges Ive had to
overcome, said Clive-Cody-Cliff. He then
pointed to the next one down the column of
symbols, but before he could open his mouth Chen
said, Donkey. Urinal. Hiking pamphlet.
The man whose
nickname was no doubt Cod-Oh or Cliff-Oh or Clive-Oh
went quiet. Then a whisper crept from the back of
his throat, What? he asked. Chen
shook his head and deliberately pointed, one at a
time, at the three symbols running down this
party thief's rippling right flank. This
word means Donkey, this one is Urinal, and this
one isnt even Mandarin, its Cantonese
for Hiking Pamphlet.
The party went
as quiet as a wake.
disappeared under a wilting shirt, and somewhere
a wallflower started to laugh.