Engagements of the Rule (Hong Kong) As the stitches began to take root in my scalp, I slept. I fell asleep wearing the same bloody clothes I had when I was assaulted and went to the Emergency Room in. And I dreamed. I was flying through blue sky and clouds. Then suddenly I was back in New Orleans – or a place in my mind that was a mix of New Orleans with a little of downtown Makati. I was walking through the streets and the people were in panic. They were racing down sidewalks and thrashing through stuck traffic – one man pushed me down and I felt my head pang. But I quickly got up. And suddenly the storefronts that reminded me of downtown Makati – changed to little wooden and brick houses side by side like on the outskirts of downtown New Orleans. I started going door to door – knocking and asking if they could hide me. Help me. Some doors opened. Some doors didn’t. But regardless the answer was the same: no. And not knowing what the panic was – I was suddenly very afraid. Scared. Like when I was five and I would cry out to my parents – swearing there was an invisible monster under my bed. And the fear was not the monster – but the fear of being alone to face it. And I kept knocking on doors – pleading, “Let me in! It’s coming! I need a place to hide!” But still not sure what ‘it’ was. And then finally I turned a corner and I heard people say, “Don’t go there. I would rather die than ask them to help me.” Looking down the street, it was a mix of Bourgeois Street and the Red Light District in Amsterdam. I left the people that were searching for a place to hide and knocked on the first door.
The door opened and two beautiful women answered. They smiled. “I need to hide!” They opened the door immediately and ushered me inside. Then the door shut. I found myself surrounded by scantily dressed women fussing about me – making sure I was okay. They were preparing a chair for me to sit and others were working on getting me something to drink. And I felt fortunate but strangely, I still felt alone. Actually my loneliness went deeper this time – although in the company of so many women who genuinely seemed to care for me – I felt desolate. And the women were all different types – Asian, European, and Latin American – and all were speaking words at me – but I heard nothing. I couldn’t comprehend what was being said. Then suddenly, I felt a woman’s hand on my back. It was like I recognized the touch – either from my past or my future. I turned and saw her. It was the woman I dreamed about when I was five years old – who used to save me in my nightmares. I hadn’t seen her in thirty years. And now – instead of being the older woman who saved me – we were the same age. She smiled and made a joke. I laughed so hard – I think I laughed out loud in my sleep. I felt safe. I was no longer alone. I had this feeling, she was mine. And I was hers. And her hand stayed on my back. She leaned into me and I could smell her perfume and feel the warmth of her skin. “There is one rule to staying here. It is the rule.” “There are always rules – right? This rule, a new rule…” “No, it is the rule.” And we were looking at each other so close I thought we were going to kiss. “What is it?” And I was watching her mouth. Her lips opened to tell me. Then I woke up. It was the middle of the day. The previous night’s attack and the stitches came racing back and my dream was swallowed up by reality. My head was aching and the back of my head was tender.
I tried to go back – I closed my eyes to try and return. To remember her. To go back to her. I could no longer remember what she looked like. But oddly I had this strange feeling I would see her again.
I checked my Hotmail account and the attached picture of my dad’s swollen, sewn up testicle made me sign out immediately. But it did prompt me to call my parents. “H-e-l-l-o,” my mom answered in her Southern drawl. “Hi, mom. I am calling to check on you and dad.” “We are okay. Your dad is doing better. The swelling is going down.” I laughed. “Yeah my dad took a picture of his testicle and sent it to my email.” My mom laughed. “Yeah, he told me he was going to do that.” “Funny that the testicle that I sprang forth from is the one he is using to prove that he is sicker and funnier than me.” My mom was quiet. “Gary, you were adopted.” I laughed. “I know mom I am just trying to make a joke.” “Oh.” And she was quiet – lost. And so was I – so I moved on. “So what did the surgeon say?” “They think they got all the staph infection but they are not sure. And it might pop up somewhere else. That’s the problem with staph.” I was silent realizing the mortality of my father. “Well, another reason I am calling you. I don’t want to worry you further. But I got attacked two days ago. They stabbed me in the back of the head with a broken bottle. I am fine now. But I got about six stitches.” “Gary! Oh my. You okay?” “Yes, mom, I told you I am fine.” “See that’s why I don’t like you being so far away from home. Its dangerous over there.”
“Mom, you just had a guy in southern Alabama drive down the highway – shooting random people and burning down his momma’s house. I think I am a little safer than you guys.” “It doesn’t matter. If something happened to you, who is going to take care of you over there?” “Don’t worry momma. I am okay. I am fine.” “I couldn’t lose you and your dad at the same time. My heart couldn’t take it. You two are all that I have.” I could hear her voice crack. “And I mean that. My heart is very weak. My pacemaker is not doing too good.” “Okay, okay, momma. I know. I understand. But I am okay.” “I don’t like it.” I had to do something before she became an emotional mess. “Is daddy there? Can I talk to him?” She got her composure. “Yes. Let me get him.” And I heard her move the phone away from her face. “Bo!” There was quiet. “Bo! Gary is on the phone!” There was a quiet pause being tallied as mobile phone long distance fee. Then there was a click as my dad picked up the cordless phone. “H-e-l-l-o,” my dad answered in his Southern drawl. “Thanks for sending the porn.” He laughed and then coughed. “Yeah, it was awkward taking that picture. A little uncomfortable.” “Your testicle is huge!” “Yeah, it has swollen a lot. And there is a lot of bloody drainage where they made the incision. I never thought I would see the day where as a grown man I would have to buy woman’s maxi pads to put down there – like I am menstruating.” He laughed and coughed again. “Yeah. If someone told you years ago that you were going to retire and have your period at the same time – you would believe they were shitting you.” “No shit.” And we laughed as father and son. “I told mom but I will tell you too. I am having my period though the back of my head.”
“Huh?” “Yeah I got stabbed in the back of the head with a broken bottle. I had to have six stitches.” “Damn Gary. You okay?” “Well it’s not as bad as you getting stabbed with that knife when you were in Army Boot Camp in Texas.” “But the difference I was a medic. So I just went to the hospital and stitched myself up.” He paused. “You okay?” “Yeah. I am okay. I think it was a random situation. Because Hong Kong is incredibly safe. This rarely happens. I just happen to be the unlucky person that it happened to.” “Why did it happen?” “I guess they were trying to get into my building. Actually I don’t know. And I didn’t really see them.” “So the police didn’t catch them?” “No.” “Well you know what the rule is?” I was taken back – remembered the woman in my dream who also said the same thing. “No. What is the rule?” “Things always happen in pairs. First me. And now you.”
Nearly a month later and with my stitches removed, Derald was transitioning out of the deejay booth and I was standing in the shadow of his supermodel tall wife, Bani, at the new club Play in Lan Kwai Fong. I tasted my god awful Vodka Red Bull. “I am proud of you two.” I said loudly over the hip hop music. Bani wrinkled her brow. “Why?” “You are a couple that won’t quit.”
“Well I am stubborn. And when I gave my life to this marriage and Derald is committing to not giving up. That’s all I need. Relationships and marriages have problems. And people make mistakes. But as long as both people want to fight and make it work. The hard part is done.” At that time, Derald came up. And he was towering over both Bani and me. He started dancing. Then he went to the middle of the dance floor and started working his body against the stripper pole. Bani and I started laughing. Derald came up and took a sip of his Vodka and Red Bull and grimaced. I leaned into him and he knelt down to hear me. “I have never had Red Bull and Vodka taste bad before. They must be using cheap vodka.” I said. “Yeah, this sucks.” He took another sip. “You know, we should go Kid – N – Play on them. Say, House Party 3!” And his face lit up in a smile. I kicked my foot towards his and shuffled backwards and then shuffled back – and he had started with the same moves – and we bumped our feet together. Then we did the shuffle again. Bani was hysterical and a crowd was gathering around us. Bani leaned towards me and I stopped dancing. “And I forgot to tell you the rule.” Instantly, I remembered the woman of my dreams. “The rule?” She took a drink of her San Mig Light. “Yeah, it is the rule.” I leaned in closer. I was watching her mouth. Then Derald cut inbetween us. “Let’s get out of here! There is new club I want to go to. It’s by the same guy that owns Volar. It’s called the Ash Tray – its upstairs from Volar.” Bani answered quickly, “Okay.” I looked at both of them. “You two are my bosses. I go where you go.” And as we were climbing the stairs of the former Q97 now Play, I turned to Bani as Derald dragged behind us saying his goodbyes to everyone in the club. “So what is the rule?” “What did you say Justin Timberlake?” And she laughed and squeezed my shoulder.
“You were about to tell me the rule.” Bani rolled her eyes and thought for a second. I looked back and saw the hulking man of her husband with his hand gripping the big metal case of his vinyl’s taking the stairs. Bani finally said, “Honey, I don’t remember.”
Written by GS Jackson, © 2009 LOL Entertainment Group, LLC (USA) Limited (HKG)