Borders of Heaven
Part 1 of 2
Previously Published in Issue one of B Magazine
These days I always see them before they see me. Not only that, but I also know all the ways and means to avoid them. In the past it wasn’t always so. In fact it was the total other way around, I would without exception walk right into it, utterly blissful in my considerable ignorance. There was no specific place to be, so lets get that out of the way. There was nowhere they could not be found, and nowhere they would fail to find me. I didn’t exactly blend in. I was a Westerner. It stands to reason they would pick me first. Why shouldn’t they?
I could be anywhere, in the street walking from one place to another or in a shop – even in a restaurant, and there they would come up to me and ply their wares. Christ! Can you even imagine? In a restaurant trying to eat your rice or drink your tea or whatever, and then this random person comes sauntering up to you. If I was in a shop or restaurant when it happened the staff was never any help, regardless of the class of the establishment. Cheap or expensive, they let it happen. I think they thought I wanted it to happen, which never failed to make me sickly uncomfortable. It would be a greasy feeling, like something nearby was wantonly dirty, but I would get over that in time though. I could see their side of it well enough; so many Westerners go to far places on the Earth just for that very reason, which apart from being unfortunate and embarrassing – is also the truth.
They were always young, very young. I only ever met one exception to that rule. Right out of High School was their normal age, faces still fresh with the last whispers of childhood. No doubt their mothers loved them very much, how could they not? They were only trying their best to do what they had to do; they might have even thought it the right thing under the circumstances. Some of them may have come from broken homes, or no home at all, and this was just a better life in comparison. I don’t hate them really; it’s just that they always made me so uncomfortable, so uneasy, so awkward that the situation cannot be allowed to pass without comment. That and the fact that, by the end, as I have already told you, I could see them coming for me a mile away.
They were without fail from the countryside, whenever I got so far as to ask where they originally came from. I never met a single one of them actually from Taiwan. But believe it or not the strange thing was though, that whatever country they came from, Russia, Philippines, Canada or the United States they always came from some rural and lonely place. Some town I imagined nearly untouched by the passing of time in other parts of the world. Their world is definitely one different and distinct from our own. Their clothes varied greatly, from the clothes of a world-weary and inexperienced highschooler in far, far over his head to suits and elegant dresses prepared with the greatest care, attention and cleanliness. The ones who knew their work well were much harder to shake, and their outward appearance reflected it.
Doubles were quite frankly the normal arrangement. It was unusual to be approached singly – unusual but not unheard of. Some pairs were both male, others both female and the remainder a combination of the two, obviously. I have been approached many times by both sexes. They always spoke English and never Chinese. I would often reply in Chinese, though I got the sense that they never understood me well when I did. The women were sometimes awkward, still too adolescent to be fully mature, but too adult and experienced to truly be children. Some of the women were to tell the truth – hopelessly ugly. What was the point of going out if you are just going to terrify your mark? The rest that weren’t ugly weren’t necessarily attractive either.
I don’t remember the faces of those women being a trip to Hollywood, so let’s leave it at that.
The men were another case entirely. Some were downright sexy by any standard. I remember this one fair-haired boy from Utah. . . What a body! I could see plenty of it through his bicycle riding clothes, or whatever you call them. Others were ugly. Hotness garnished generously with a biggie-sized portion of fugly. I have never been a fan of coleslaw.
My first line of defence is pretty obvious and often used, and It didn’t take me long to come up with “I’m gay, sorry, no thanks”. Obvious, quick and utterly devastating. There was nothing to argue with, no way to convince me. Of course there are a lot of other ways, but this one is the easiest. But just in case that didn’t work there are other useful strategies that could be equally effective.
“Dear God!” Alex interrupted my speech.
“What is it?” I looked at him intently.
“Here comes one right now!” He said in a quick and clandestine way, like a 4th grader trying to whisper before the teacher got too close. I could feel the football being passed to me at this point.