Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A couple of years later, a Wednesday morning in Hong Kong



When I wake up, the first thing I notice is the pain. Like red-hot pokers, my eyes ruthlessly bore in to the back of my brain. I cannot believe the pain is so real, so concrete. My subconscious pleads with me, begging me to let my body sleep some more. As I listen to it whine in desperation, I glance around me and, shocked, I tell it to shut up. I stare wild-eyed and take in the damp and dark alley, which makes up my surroundings. A rat scurries a couple inches from my foot, nibbling on a piece of shit. Mold crawls along the cracked walls and a little river of piss cascades from a pipe, landing near the gutter. I try to get up but my legs collapse even before I put my full weight on them. I spy brown crusty blood on my hands and check my body to find out where it comes from. As my fingers glance across my forehead pain explodes in an orgy of chisels and white light. Dried blood decorates my clothes in swirling smears and crimson spots. I finally manage to get up and take a few steps. The pain is still present but it subsides when it realizes I will ignore it. I glance at my watch and realize that in an hour I have to be at work.
I drag myself to the main street and, spying a KFC open a couple hundred meters down the road, I head for it. I walk in and, thankfully, the place is empty. The smell of fried chicken envelops my nostrils and nausea hits me like a sledgehammer. I manage to swallow the acrid puke that my stomach throws up before spilling any of it on to the immaculate white floor. A young Chinese girl behind the bar looks at me, her eyes wide with fear, her lips curled in disgust. I turn around and head for the toilets. The stairs prove to be problematic and I nearly fall to my death. I cannot but find the prospect of me lying dead and bloodied at the foot of some stairs in a fucking fast food joint strangely amusing and I smile. This actually makes me feel better even though I find out that even teeth can hurt if they put their mind to it. I manage to get the toilet door open and then lock it shut. I turn around to face the mirror and am shocked by what I see. A long evil red welt decorates my forehead as though I was some sort of fucked up version of Harry Potter. Blood, probably from the cut on my head, has splattered all over my chest and legs ruining one of my favorite suits. Deep sunken eyes stare at me with red gorged madness. I notice that I am holding my limp hand close to my body and, seeing this, I start to feel the pain from it. I examine my hand and am glad to find that nothing feels broken. One of the fingers rests at a worrying angle but I am quite sure it is still whole. As I glance back in to the mirror I notice that even my forehead looks worse than it actually is. I turn the taps on and plunge my head under the steaming water. A fresh bout of nausea hits me but I bite it down. I use my uninjured hand to splash water on to my face and manage to wipe most of the blood away. I check out the cut and notice that even though it is quite deep, it is rather small. I wash my injured hand and now the pain is more intense. Once it is clean I have another look at it and, even though I am still quite sure nothing is broken, I promise myself that I will get someone to have a look at it.
As I walk back up the stairs I noticed that an older man has joined the girl behind the counter. They both stare at me with distaste as I walk across the white linoleum floor dodging red plastic chairs and miniature tables. I get to the exit and, giving my two spies a red tooth filled smile, I walk out in to the street.