Ghost Month

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The short fat guy was speaking fast as he guzzled his beer from his bottle. In my dream, William Burroughs was working as a hired hand on the farm I grew up on. I’d just got out of a situation working for evil, twisted rednecks where I could not figure out my responsibilities nor what my job was; yet if I didn’t get it done I was gonna be in deep shit. Burroughs and me went to get three bales of hay for this small chewed down pasture called the North Pen. We got the hay. I rode on the tractor with Bill, standing on the axel, towing a manure spreader covered with an algaeic felt-like coating. We went to a big Quonset. Bill told me to go in.

He took another big gulp. In one corner, the air felt it had gained solidity like water or crystal clear Caribbean sea water. Three Venus fly traps, huge, with gaping toothy maws were there, as well as big thistles and milkweeds that were plant predators. I got goose pimples. Burroughs said, Whaddya think? It’s my new theme park. C’mon, I’ll show y’the rest.

We go to a house just like the famous Steiner house in Vienna, only with other worldly ornamentation in the same deadly plant predator scheme. I didn’t get to go inside. The windows were large and covered. Burroughs said, The house and creatures are from my visions. It’s all for my theme park, Camp Taboo.

The house is in the woods, flat country, on a lake or a big river. Nearby were blockish three story row houses and apartments. Between Burroughs’ big house and the lake is a walk almost two meters wide, not flat like rolling prairie, made from two by fours glued together.

I see some attractive women walking on it and walk over and say hi.

The talk turns to education and I said I’d studied philosophy. I made eye contact with a woman who said, I’m 39. I never graduated from high school.

I though you were ten years younger than that, I said.

The one I first spoke to said, I’m a lesbian.

I said, I just wanted to tell you the names of five books to read. The dream ended.

Incredible dream, his companion, a gray bearded thirty/forty something man said. Is it time for your William Tell act?

You know Burroughs?

I tried to read him once in Spanish. He took a sip from his vodka lime.

You read William Burroughs?, a tall thin man asked the beer gut man.

Who are you?

This is the guy, the gray haired man said, this is the guy I was telling you about that was in Jakarta and saw the burning and looting. Give me one minute. I got to go talk to that boy.

Cheers. So what’s yer story. Were y’ in danger?

The night when it was the worst, I got a ride back to my apartment and there was a gang hanging outside the gates. They stopped the car but they let us go in. My friend’s girlfriend is Chinese and she was with us. The gang yelled at the car when they left.

My friends called me when they got home.

So nothing happened.

I saw that mall that got burned when I left the next day. My money was in rupiahs.

Why didn’t you buy U.S.dollars?

I didn’t think of it.

You lost your money and you saw some toasted buildings. Big deal. I’ll get you a beer. A draft, bartender, he said to the bare chested blonde man in swim trunks.

Big deal?! Are you on drugs?

I wish I was. Alcohol’s a sloppy high and heroin’s too debilitatin’.

Jakarta was the most real thing in my life.

You saw a riot. Were you in the Gulf War?

My friend was.

‘My friend was’. It’s not the same as being there is it? Nothing happened to me when I was there, waiting for casualties on the hospital ship I was an electrician on. Nothing happened when I went to Mogadishu in ’93. Here’s your beer. Drink up. Get over it. Welcome to Taipei.


Cheers. So whatcha gonna do here, he slurred.

I’m Vinson, without the t. Thanks for the beer.

Nice ‘t meetcha. Gonna stay long?

Maybe. Where are you from?

I’m an ex-pat but I’m a Cayman Islander.

I’m from the States. You sound like you’re from the states, too.

I am. I got two passports.

How did you do that?

Anything is possible with money.

What does that mean?

English is your first language, isn’t it? You kaynarca escort pay and you can do.

I mean, I’m sorry-

Did you fart?


Why y’saying sorry? Cheers. Bartender. Another. So were y’ workin’ in Indonesia?

I was teaching English.

Lots of jobs here. You can go to school for your visa.

Is that what you do?

You ask a lot of questions, y’writin’ a book? I’m sorry. Do you have an inquiring mind?


Do you talk about people, things, or ideas?

What are you talking about?

I thought so. He took another deep drink.

Would you tell me how you got your Cayman Island passport?

I got to get out of here. I’m goin’ home. I gotta take a leak.

There’s a bathroom here.

I don’t want to see what’s goin’ on in the bathroom here.

Aren’t you gay?

I’m straight.

Why’re you here.

I came to have a drink with Rubin. Good luck, Vins. You’ll do fine in Taiwan.

It was still hot outside. A young Taiwanese man was burning ghost money near the door of the bar, crinkling up yellow pieces of paper and throwing it into a fire burning in a short red waste can. Paper ash flew up as the man threw more ghost money into the flames in his mindless on-the-clock ritual.

Something soft was under his right Reebok. He scraped the dog shit off on the edge of a sidewalk and dragged his foot hard to try to get the remainder out of the treads.

Fresh fuckin’ dog shit, instead of fresh ideas, a Taipei bad joke, he cursed in a half whisper, lips nearly moving. He walked in the street because the sidewalks were packed with motor scooters and 125cc motorcycles.

Late at night, the city was less of an eyesore because the business signs that killed the space above the narrow streets were shut off to save on electric bills, not out of a concern to save energy and the environment. Only the heartless halogen glare from the streetlights played off the dark concrete and tiles of the buildings and black pavement of the streets. Motor scooters whined and taxis honked off accidents from drunks in passenger sedans. He found his way to his apartment, alone, which was ok tonight because he was too drunk to fuck.

***Why’s your friend such an asshole, Rubin?

He’s a nice guy.

He doesn’t talk like it.

I can’t say what I know but all I can say is that he is in love.

Jesus, like he’s got his asshole torqued.

Doesn’t love drive everyone crazy?

***He was working hard on his black Russian. After he finished it, he poured Heineken over the ice cubes in order to maximize the alcohol’s effect. The black lights above the bar and the small spotlight by the mixing board and CD player were the only lights in the bar. On the barstools next to him, a Taiwanese man had his head on the shoulder of another Taiwanese man built like a body builder. The muscled guy stroked his friend’s hair. The dyke DJ had just put on the new remix of Sweet Dreams Are Made of These. The windows were papered over with black paper. In the corner booth, a pair of legs squirmed against each other.

Ok, Rubin said. Tell me now.

Read this first.

Rubin took the piece of notebook paper that had been heavily folded many times. ‘I didn’t know that you had any feelings for me. I want us to be we, not you and me. My feelings are true. Friendship is my highest value. I don’t live life as a lie, according to some cash calculus, cold pluses and minuses and dollar signs. I avoid those who do. Peace and love are my fundamentals but love alone is narcissism or infatuation.

I want us to be together but that’s only if you do. We got a start. Please give me a chance. Love.’

I gave that to her.

That girl you were in here with?

Yeah, Saturday night-

Rubin’s cellphone rang. Give me one minute.

He poured the rest of his beer into the glass and held up his bottle. Rubin got him another and he gave him a hundred N.T. note.

We don’t get many foreigners in here. It was one of the pair of squirming legs, a thirty/forty-something white woman, tall, strong looking like a wrestler. You an English teacher?

I’m a writer. I’m working on my third book. I’m orhanlı escort adding to my second and trying to sell it.

What do you write?

Everything. I teach, too. You a teacher?

I’m on vacation this week.

Where do you live?


I live in Yung-ho.

You can take the subway now.

Yeah. I used to always bus it.

Don’t you have a motor scooter?

I want to live a long life. I get to all my gigs OK.

I don’t have a motor scooter either.

Where do you teach?

I don’t teach. I’m a tai chi master and a masseur.

Why don’t your students just go to the park early in the morning and practice with the old people?

I teach a discipline I learned from the student of a man who escaped during the Communist revolution in China and re-located to Singapore.

I like Singapore. The air is so clean. There’s no litter.

I liked it better before it modernized.

I heard they got rid of Boogie Street. I was there once.

Were you looking for a date?

I was there with the fleet, the American Navy. I was a tourist.

Why are you here? Are you gay?

Rubin’s my friend. I practice my Spanish with him.

Studying Spanish in Taiwan.

I study Mandarin for the visa.

Rubin closed his cellphone. Yes?

Two vodka limes, she said.

Un regular.

Are y’from Canada?

No, I’m Berkeley.

I used to ship out of Oakland. Berkeley’s like my second home.

Here’s your drinks.

She paid. It was nice meeting you.

Can I ask you a woman question, I mean, I only know one woman here and she’s Taiwanese and married and I can’t ask her any sexually explicit questions.

Go ahead.

Saturday night, I went to this video room with this Korean woman I’d been doing language exchange. I just wanted to watch a movie. Anyways, we started kissing and I got her pants off but I couldn’t it in so I gave her the best oral sex I could. I felt she reacted to me and her legs were jerkin’ around-

OK. What’s the question.

What do you think my chances are?

It sounds like you’re in there.

Thanks. Thanks for listening.

Good luck.

You got a girlfriend? Rubin’s eyes questioned.

She said she didn’t love me and to wait one month.

Note to mental diary: Subtitle to a sad unlived life-always counting time instead of living life, but I’ve lived; seen the midnight sun, scuba dived the Sulu and Carribbean Seas, snorkeled in the Florida Keys and Bermuda, seen the Mona Lisa, Picassos, the Forum and Coliseum, made money and spent it, eaten out of trash cans and in five star restaurants, slept on the sidewalk and in the Hilton but it’s not enough; to be without love…

Don’t do that, Gary.

Teaching kids was a piece of cake once they learned the drill, he always told

the itinerant ESL teachers who said they couldn’t teach children. Kids don’t

cancel class. Kids parrot what you teach. As long as you keep them doing, it’s painless, like taking money from the money tree.

What time is it.


Bye-bye teacher, bye-bye teacher, bye-bye teacher, so a long, see you again, see you again, see you again next time.

Four more hours of life gone for marginal gain.

The new plan was to get the MBA. Save money, get the MBA, learn Mandarin, the new mental mantra he said nearly every hour of the day as he dodged kamikaze motor scooters and ignored the ugliness of his new adopted city, an eyesore of a city scape; plastic signs jutted out of every business and windows were barred ledges so what would be a smooth post-modern surface was a visual confusion. The mantra had been enough but now there was this woman keeping him in limbo.

The students lined up to get their stickers for their sticker books. The week’s lesson had been sea, star, moon, sky mountain, hill, volcano, and island.

Taiwan is an island! was said nine times by nine different students.

I’ll see you tomorrow at ten, he said to the kindergarten boss.

Nothing until tomorrow, no classes, no homework.

The last month he’d drank with Rubin every Tuesday night and sometimes Wednesday. tepeören escort By Saturday, his body had recovered enough to drink again, scotch chased with milk. His roommates, a Korean woman and a Taiwanese man, had

all the TV cable channels. He loved watching this program that featured

Japanese bar girls semi-nude. He was so hard up he could make out every

feature of their sex. Saturday night he was watching the show alone, drinking scotch, chasing it with milk. He finished his milk and went to 7-11 to get more of both.

A taxi screamed a woman’s wail, pure pain, a soul being murdered. A butch woman got out on the far side, opened the cab door, and dumped a screaming woman onto the street. Her long dress was above her hips and her athletic type boxers clung to her closer than spandex. A scruffy looking guy came out of the pub, looked, and went back in.

The 7-11 clerk didn’t make eye contact. Her make up was perfect, the lipstick so red. Al hurried home and poured himself a big glass of scotch and swallowed a big gulp like it was water. The image of the woman’s underwear made him think about going to his favorite local disco lounge. He shaved as close as he could and used his roommate’s cologne and dusted off his cowboy boots.

T.U. was packed. Taiwanese girls danced on the stage. Al bought a beer and drained it in two long swallows and put the empty on a table full of empty glasses and bottle. He danced on his toes to the American hip-hop, letting his body move to the groove, high on the alcohol. He looked at girls without looking at them, trying to disguise interest. His shirt soaked with sweat and his throat dry, he bought another beer, drank it as fast as the first and went back to dancing. There was nowhere to sit or stand. The bar was three deep and the dance floor full of Taiwanese men and women and black and white foreign men. He danced and danced and looked at the women.

A woman put her wet lips to his ear and said, I want to be your date. She left just as quick.

She was standing at the bar.


Buy me a beer.

Two Heinekens.

The first hotel they went to had no rooms, it being Saturday.

I know a video room we can go to, five minutes walk, he said.

Do you have a girlfriend?


Why not? You’re a nice guy.

The English Patient was on the big screen. She gave him a condom after he gave her his money. He stripped and pulled her pants and panties off. Condom clad hard on in hand, he looked at the slit in her pussy hair, and pushed himself down on her, her sitting up, shirt unbuttoned.

No, no, shut the movie off. She wouldn’t lay down.

No problem, he murmured in Mandarin.

No, no, no, there could be tiny cameras, shut the movie off-

We can go to my house.

Yes, I can go to your house.

You must be very quiet. My roommate doesn’t want me to have women in.

I can be quiet. I can go to your room. I don’t care how small.

He flagged a taxi. In the back he sat close and kept his hand between her legs.

You must be quiet.

Shoes, he hissed inside. They walked in socks to his room.

He stripped in his room. It was dawn.

Pull down the curtain.

They can’t see through the glass, he said as he shut the windows.

He converted his sofa into a bed. She sat primly on the edge in skin colored bra and panties. He peeled her panties off but she wouldn’t take the bra off. He pushed the straps down and sucked on her pencil eraser-sized nipples. She was wet or lubricated from what she put in her in the video room. He got a condom on his semi and she helped him get in with his semi and he found his stroke. The sofa creaked metal on tile so he shifted his weight and she closed her legs on him, head to the side, oblivious. His equipment still worked. He climbed off and pulled his condom off with a tissue.

She dressed. She snatched one of his name cards off his desk and said, I have a pager too. Call me.

Where do you live?

Twenty minutes from here by taxi.

I’ll help you get a cab.

Self esteem so low and so hungry, he felt a little proud to be walking a woman in the early morning. It had been so long.***

He had been telling Rubin, All I want is to be held, to have a real kiss.

Don’t talk that way. I haven’t been with some one special since my ex-wife. That was over for a year before she moved out.

What happened?

You ask too many questions.

Warren Weappa ©2001

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