Rules of Engagement (Hong Kong) So while wearing the shirt she bought for me, I called her and told her that we should break up. Not because things were bad – actually they were good with Sophia. If anything I had been the bad part. I had not been the best boyfriend and there was no denying it or hiding it – but she was still fighting for me. So I called and told her I needed someone in my life. And I did. I have spent so much time on the road – alone – away from the person I want to be with. And long distance relationships did not work for me. And I would rather break it off on a high note, as we still love each other, care for one another, than in a moment of weakness, I make a mistake as a guy on the road – and ruin what we had. This was the rules of engagement. When in a relationship, you make sure you are upfront about what you might or might not do. Do not try to hide your feelings. Your fears. I also wanted to free her up for her to date. She shouldn’t pine away waiting for me. Sophia was attractive, intelligent, and has dozens of men trying to beat down her door. But I needed to start my life now. I was tired of waiting around. I was tired of not being able to travel and see the world with the person I cared about. I was tired of fighting the Hong Kong immigration department every time she flew in or we took the ferry to and from Macau. And I was too afraid of engagement. Too afraid of marriage for legal status. So very cordially, without any bitterness, and without the typical, “It’s not you, it’s me” kind of bullshit, I told her, “I think we should take a break.” Pause. “We need to go forward with our lives.” Another pregnant pause. “And besides, I need someone in my life – instead of having a very sporadic evening phone call over a mobile phone trying to recap 24 hours in a 30 to 35 minute call.” I told her that I wanted to be alone. Left to my own vices.
And so it was, as I was looking down at the families shopping and the domestics pulling the hands of the children they were keeping through Cityplaza in Taikoo Shing – we settled it. We would break up. And it was much later that night, close to 1 am, when I was lying in a pool of my own blood with the doors of my apartment’s elevator closing and shutting on my chest – while my legs were sprawled out onto apartment building’s lobby floor did I realize being left alone to my own vices – might mean I might not survive.
I was walking down Wellington Street away from Lan Kwai Fong. My head was a blur from a bottle of white wine, a couple of beers, a couple of Red Bull and Vodkas, and a couple of shots. And I was in a hurry to get home to collapse and sleep. The week had been hectic. I had been teaching everyday until 8 or 9 pm. So my body was shutting down as I walked. And I was across the street from the Vietnamese Restaurant I had dinner earlier in the evening with two Managing Directors I respected and learned from – and it was also where I had began the consumption of my first alcohol – a bottle of white wine. And there in the shadows of that restaurant, a fat Chinese guy in a white shirt with blue or black stripes – grabbed me by the arms hard. At first I thought he was just going to pass me, but he didn’t. He walked close and gripped my arms above my elbows – fierce. And I was instantly pissed off. I broke his grip and slung my fist back and caught the soft part of his face. And I put everything I had into the punch. I saw him thrown back and heard the loud rattle of his body hitting the closed metal sheet that covered the closed store front. That’s when I saw in the corner of my eye – of another guy – approaching fast – incredibly fast from behind me. And I saw there was something shiny in his hand. He was also Chinese wearing a pink shirt and blue jeans. I was about to turn around and slug him too – when I felt something stick in my head and I heard the shattering of glass. I turned and shoved him away and ran. While I was running, I put my hand on top of my forehead and felt the broken bottle sticking out of the crown of my scalp. I jerked it out quickly and faster than I ever have before – I punched in my security code to my apartment. I shot through the gate and slammed it shut just as I saw the guy in the pink shirt approach but he turned and disappeared quickly. That’s when I felt the warm water running down the back of my neck and felt the collar of my shirt grow damp, wet, stiff. I touched the back top of my head and my hand came back red. Deep red. I couldn’t even see the white of my skin. I touched my neck – and my hand grew more red. I
hurried into the elevator past the sleeping security guard. And I went upstairs to my apartment. As the elevator went up, I tried to look at my reflection in the mirror of the elevator. Wherever I touched the inside of the elevator I left my red fingerprints. I started feeling dizzy. The elevator doors opened on the 14th floor and I came out – fumbled with my keys trying to unlock my door – but I noticed that the more I fumbled – the more the silver of the key disappeared and became deep red. When the lock slid inward and pushed the door open, a deep red hand print was left. I went into my apartment and turned around to shut the door and I noticed red circles following me. Red circles that trailed out of the elevator. Red circles across my apartment floor. I hurried to my bathroom to see if I could see what happened to the back of my head. I went to the mirrored bathroom door – and my knees became weak. I reached out and steadied myself so I wouldn’t fall. On my reflection, was a red hand print. I saw the blood pouring down my neck. I reached into my back pocket and pulled out my Blackberry Bold. I called Sophia. As if she sensed danger, she answered on the first ring. “Babe?” “Hey,” I managed out. “I got stabbed. I am bleeding. I am bleeding everywhere.” “Babe! Go downstairs! Tell the security guard! Tell the security guard…” That’s when the battery of my mobile phone died. I looked down at my Blackberry and it showed the red blinking battery light. That’s when I saw a red blood circle hit it. I wobbled out my apartment door not locking it behind me. I hit the elevator button and the doors opened instantly. As if it knew I was coming back. And going down, my body kept feeling heavier and heavier, and finally when it landed and the doors opened, I used my hands to move myself forward. I peered over my sleeping security guard in his cot. “Excuse me…” I tried to say loudly but it came out like a whimper. “Excuse me sir…” I said. And that’s when my legs and knees couldn’t hold me up anymore. And I toppled. I fell head first back into the elevator with my legs hanging out into the lobby. The elevator doors began to close. The shut on my chest and then reopened. Waited. And then they attempted to close again. Hit my chest and quickly reopened again.
My security guard was trying to talk to me in Cantonese and then he resorted to his original home Pakistani dialect. Neither of them I couldn’t make sense of. I just held my hand over the back of my head trying to stop the bleeding. Then everything went black. Finally I heard someone speaking English to me. “Hey buddy, are you okay?” I groggily opened my eyes and saw a younger Pakistani man who was leaning over me – and he had pulled me completely into the lobby out of the elevator. “Hey man, you okay? We have called the police and the ambulance. The police and the ambulance are coming.” He looked me over. “What happened?” My mouth was very dry. “I got jumped outside. Two guys. One guy stabbed me with a broken bottle.” He patted my shoulder. “Okay, my friend. Hold on there.” And then he started talking to the Pakistani security guard and explained what I had told them. Everything went black again. Then I heard lots of English voices. “Sir, can you hear me? Can you hear me?” I opened my eyes and saw a policeman. And then I heard the rattling of the security guard as the paramedics ran inside the building. “Can you hear me?” the policeman asked again. “Yes. I can hear you.” And I closed my eyes because my eyes were so heavy. The next thing I remember was being in the back of the ambulance. I remember feeling every bump, pebble, crack in the cement of the road going to Saint Mary’s Hospital. I opened my eyes and felt a bandage on the back of my neck. I saw the paramedics looking over me. “Sir, we are taking you to the emergency room. Do you understand me?” “Yes,” I managed out. Then things went black again. Next I remember I was being rolled into the emergency room and it was very, very cold. My body started shivering. And a Chinese man and woman in regular street clothes showed up beside me.
“Mister Jackson, we are with the Hong Kong police. We would like to find out what happened. Can you tell us what happened?” I tried to nod but it hurt. “Yes. Two men jumped me outside my apartment.” “Mister Jackson, it looks like you have a broken bottle stuck in the back of your head. Did you see the person who did this to you?” “No,” I managed and I had to swallow hard. “I did not. But I did see one of the guys.” “Were they foreign or Chinese?” I suddenly felt guilty because I didn’t want to sound racist. Crazy thought to think but I did. “Yes, they were Chinese.” The plain clothes police officer pulled out a pad of paper and started writing something down. “Can you describe them?” “I don’t remember his face. But he was fat and was wearing a white shirt with black stripes. Or blue stripes…” I paused and swallowed hard. “I can’t remember what color. I am color blind.” “That’s okay Mister Jackson.” Suddenly one of the ER nurses came up. She spoke to them in Cantonese. “Mister Jackson, they have to take care of you. We will talk to you when you come out. Okay?” “Okay,” I said nodding off. And again everything went to black. Suddenly I woke up and I was on my side. The ER nurse came to look me in the face. “Mister Jackson, we need to clean out the glass. And you have a large wound. We need to put in stitches. Is this okay?” I nodded. Suddenly they pushed a paper waiver in my face. “Can you sign this Mister Jackson? We need you to give us permission to engage.” The ER nurse with the blue surgical mask paused her words and then restated, “Give us the authority to do the emergency work.” And she pointed. “Here.” And they put a pen in my deep red hand. The blood had dried on my fingers and I could see my fingerprints and the wrinkles of my skin showed up as faint white lines white while the majority of my skin was painted. And I gave my worst signature I have ever given.
“So sorry Mister Jackson, but you also have to sign here.” And she pointed again. I gave the second worst signature I have ever given. And a little breathless I said aloud, “Rules of engagement.” “What was that Mister Jackson?” I tried again, “Rules of engagement.” The ER nurse spoke Cantonese to the ER doctor who was approaching. The ER doctor, who was also a lady, shook her head. The ER nurse returned to my face, “I am sorry Mister Jackson, what did you say? We didn’t understand you.” “It’s okay-la.” They seemed to laugh. And with that – the two disappeared behind me and pushed my bed on wheels against the wall. I heard my ER nurse and the ER doctor speak in Cantonese again. Then the ER nurse spoke up, “Mister Jackson, we are going to put some anesthetic. So we are going to give you several shots – okay?” “Yes ma’m.” And that’s when I felt the cold needle in my wound. And I felt several bee stings. My toes curled. Then there was one final bee sting – where the needle seemed to bend against my skull. My foot lifted and gently kicked the wall. “Okay Mister Jackson. We are going to clean out your wound from the glass. There is some still lodged in your wound. This might hurt a little.” And soon as she finished, I felt white pain. Pain so precise that I couldn’t see when it hit and then finally I felt the liquid being sprayed in my wound. It was like I was getting my teeth cleaned but instead they were doing a brain cleaning. The cleaning seemed to go on for so long. And every time the water stopped and started again – my foot would jerk and kick the wall. Then everything stopped. They spoke in Cantonese. “Mister Jackson, we need to shave your hair. Is this okay?” “Yes.” I said simply. And just as quickly, I heard someone open and close scissors. And then I felt the excruciating pain of the knotted, bloodied strands of hair being cut off. “Mister Jackson, we are going to stitch you up. You might feel your skin pull a little.” And then I felt what they had described. And my scalp moved and tugged. Felt it on my
eyebrows. Felt it on the back of my ears. It was like they were sewing a garment with the skin of the top of my skull. I could feel the needle enter, pull, the string move through its hold and then the needle enter again, pull, and the skin tugged. They did this several times. “Its going to be six stitches, Mister Jackson.” The ER nurse said finally. Finally they were done. And they pulled me away from the hospital wall and looked at me face to face. “We are done. Remember to not wash your hair where the stitches are okay?” “I will not.” And then another ER nurse came and rolled my bed into a waiting area with other patients. Then the plain clothes police man and woman showed up again. They continued asking me simple and basic questions. I answered with simple sentences or with yes or no. Finally, the police man was finished with his report and he read it back to me. “Does that sound complete, Mister Jackson?” “Yes. It does.” And I laid there like an invalid. He held out a paper on a clipboard for me to sign. “Please sign here Mister Jackson.” And I gave my third worst signature ever. “Thank you Mister Jackson.” And just like that they left. And I was all alone. I was shivering, my body shaking from the cold of the ER. One of the ER nurses so my body trembling. She came up to face me. “Are you cold?” “Yes.” She took off her blue ER jacket and wrapped it around me. “Here you go.” And she disappeared. I closed my eyes and tried to relax. Suddenly, my ER nurse returned. “Can you walk, Mister Jackson?” “I think so.” I said. And the ER nurse helped me sit up. And my body felt like lead and my head was numb.
With the help of the ER nurse, she walked me to the waiting room. She sat me down in one of the seats. She handed me two pieces of paper. One was something written in Chinese. One was written in English they told me how to care for myself when I got home. Then the ER nurse left. And there I was – all alone. Sitting by myself in the waiting room. I sat there for a long while. Wanting to know if I should pay anything. Should I sign a piece of paper to let me leave. But then there was nothing. The sun was showing into the lobby. I looked outside and I saw a taxi pull up. Two people were getting out. So I stood up slowly and walked through the emergency room doors and I did my best to hurry to the taxi. The taxi driver opened the passenger side door with his secret button. I slowly sat down. “You okay mister?” “Yes. Can you take me home?” “Yes mister. Where do you live?” “I live in Central on Wellington Street.” And just like that the passenger door closed on me. And the taxi jerked off – and I felt it in my head. And we drove away from Saint Mary’s. I saw the morning sun rising over Hong Kong. Many minutes later, the taxi stopped at a light on Hollywood Road and I recognized where I was. “Right here is okay.” And I reached into my wallet and paid out all the money I had in my wallet. It worked out to be 2 HKD over the fare. “Keep the tip.” “Thank you mister.” And he opened the passenger side door. And bandaged and in my blood saturated clothes I walked down Peel Street to Wellington, turned the corner, and returned to the scene of the attack and the safety of my escape. Putting in my security code and going inside – the security stand was empty. And I took the elevator which was now clean of my blood up to my apartment. I saw my flat door covered with my own blood and it was unlocked. I pushed myself inside. And I collapsed on my bed. Alone.
Left to my own vices.
Written by GS Jackson, ÂŠ 2009 LOL Entertainment Group, LLC (USA) Limited (HKG)