Stickman Readers' Submissions June 22nd, 2009


There is a Chinese guy tied up in my bathtub and I’m not really sure what I should do now. I will probably kill him but I can’t decide how. I‘m sitting here on my sofa hoping he’ll just miraculously disappear but it is not going to happen because I’m the only one who knows he is here. I could drop him over the balcony. A fall of sixteen floors would do the trick, but I’d then be one of about twenty-five suspects, one on top of another in my apartment building – unless I could swing him out to the side so it looked like he came from the neighboring stack of balconies. But for my shoulder I could do it. He is small; just under five feet tall. I know this because my bathtub is five feet long and he is lying down dead flat. I put a pillow under his head and there was room for it to ride up the back of the tub. He isn’t heavy either. Lighter than Sophie probably, and I manage to fling her about okay. Even now I can’t bring myself to regret meeting her. She is going to turn me into a killer and I still want her. I will have to kill her boyfriend as well, so killing his pint-sized thug will be no more than acclimatizing to a state of mind I haven’t been in since the time when I took pleasure in burning ants with a magnifying glass. So what started as a warning shot across my bow is going to end very badly, one way or another. He should not have sent his lackey to intimidate me. If I let him go he’ll be back with a greater show of force than his three previous attempts. He has lost dignity, lost face and the only way back for him is to kill me. I see it in his eyes as I hose his excrement down the plug hole and leave him shivering in the cold bathroom, watching snow flakes drift past the window. I turn up the heat in the lounge and prepare a thick rail of coke and tighten the roll of a crisp hundred kuai note. I leave it on the lid of my laptop while I find the Cartoon Network on tv. I love the cartoons and it is a killer line. I take half up each nostril and my front teeth are numb in seconds. This is the good stuff. I turn on some house music and I laugh as Jerry whacks Tom over the head with an oversized frying pan.

It is only a woman who can transform me, an otherwise calm, rational and peace-loving man, into a state of bitter jealously and revenge. Sophie has turned me into a killer. But I think she deserves no less. When she squats naked on my chest, lights a thin menthol cigarette and starts singing sweetly in Chinese, as I lie beneath her in post-coital bliss, I look into her eyes with a dopey grin and complete adoration. Her flawless doll-like face, perfect teeth and deep brown eyes transfix me. She flutters her long fake eyelashes at me, flicks her dyed blonde hair and I feel a hollowness in my chest as my breath catches. I am well and truly fucked and I know it and I think she feels it too. When she finishes her cigarette I know what she will do next. She will shuffle further forward and intoxicate me with her musky scent. She will lower herself, I will oblige and we’ll be off again. Cigarette break in half an hour.

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I change to a Chinese news station and watch coverage of the massive snowstorm wreaking havoc across the country stranding literally millions of people trying to travel home for Chinese New Year. This could play into my hands. I chop another line on my laptop, nail it and head out onto my balcony to catch snowflakes on my tongue. I wish that Sophie were here now. We would turn it into a game and we would giggle like children and then I’d grab her and pull her into me while she pretended to struggle before meekly surrendering to my warmth. I’d slip my freezing hands up her back and she’d squeal and thump me on the chest and then try to tickle me with her cold fingers. Then I’d take her inside and make love to her on the couch and lose myself just like I did the first time.

Two days after moving into a new apartment after leaving my wife I was out on the lash with my best friend here. It was the eve of my birthday. I already knew my birthday was going to begin with a bang. It was just a matter of which beautiful young lady was going to provide it. Midnight arrived and my buddy and I toasted and gulped back another shot of tequila. The bar was tired and mostly occupied by fat middle-aged Germans and run-down Chinese women in their thirties and forties hoping to score some German sausage and a roof over their heads for as long as they put out. And then in walked Sophie. All heads turned. I met her eye and smiled and she sat at the bar stool at the window, her back to the door that she’d come through. She looked different to the thousands and thousands of Chinese girls I’d seen in Shanghai. The bland looking girl already trying to get my attention noticed immediately and tried to put herself in the line of sight between me and the beautiful girl. I stretched up and leaned out over the bar looking around her, my Achilles taut, maintaining my smile and Sophie’s control of my eyes. I felt a hand clamp onto my thigh, a last ditch effort to draw me back. I brushed it aside and seemed to move through her as I was drawn in by eyes that were autumn pools, shimmering above a cloudy depth. I drifted over, feet not touching the floor and sat next to her, our eyes running into each others, grins of realization sparking a flaring recognition. Her hand went straight to my chest flattening out below my throat as those deep waters searched me. I shrugged the bland girl’s hand off my shoulder and leaned in, enhancing the pressure on my chest. She clawed her hand, squeezed and giggled like a schoolgirl. I leaned back a little and went slowly in again, nudging against her tiny nub of a nose with mine, eyes still entranced. She giggled again, blushed and dropped her eyes to her hands which she folded neatly in her lap. I backed away to take her in. She peered coyly out at me from behind her curtained hair which had drifted forward in protection. She giggled again, a high-pitched delight that widened my smile and changed my life.

I am fixating on my problem. My mind is racing. I can’t sit still. I start pacing around the lounge. I am not feeling distraught or panicked though. I am at peace with what I must do, whatever it is. I feel a sense of power and I am invincible. I will have my Sophie back and she will be mine alone. I walk down the hall, through my bedroom and into the en suite. The little guy has shit himself again. Dirty fucker. I turn on the extractor fan and turn on the tap, swinging the handle around to hot. I check the nylon rope that is tied to the tap suspending his bound feet a few inches above the floor of the bath. He is going nowhere. I test the water with my fingers until it is warm and depress the mechanism that switches the water flow from the tap to the showerhead. I take the showerhead from its mounting and spray. He is naked from the waist down. I had to take off his pants the first time he soiled himself. His dick is tiny. I smirk. This is one of the reasons Chinese men can’t compete with me. Without his money, Sophie’s boyfriend would be lucky to get laid at all. The little man sneers at me through his gag so I slap his forehead and turn the water to cold.

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After my birthday, I was hooked on Sophie and I think she was hooked on me. But I am not a rich man and my wife and I promised we wouldn’t hurt each other by getting involved with anyone else so soon after our split. I kept her at arms length, only inviting her to my apartment a few nights a week and refusing to be seen in public with her apart from Chinese nightclubs where no foreigners go. She told me she understood. I knew that on other nights she was freelancing her talents but it didn’t bother me too much. I knew that I was her number one. She told me that if I would let her move in with me she would stop. In hindsight I should have said yes. But I couldn’t leap into another commitment although I later realized that I subconsciously had. She disappeared. Went dark. When I called her I got a message in Chinese and English that the number was out of service. I tried every day for a month or so and then gave up. She’d gone.

The snow has just hit Shanghai today but is forecast to intensify over the next few days. It has started to settle on the ground. The roads will be chaotic. There is no infrastructure to deal with weather like this. It will not be cleared by machinery but with thousands and thousands shivering men and women and their shovels. It will take days to clear once it has stopped. I dump another pile of my own white powder on my laptop, chop, snort and then change channels to Nickelodeon. I really get SpongeBob SquarePants. He knows his shit. I feel no hunger at all but think that the little guy must. I have not fed him in the forty-eight hours or so that he has been in the tub but he has managed to crap three times and piss as much. He must be hungry though and I don’t think he’ll have the time to process let alone excrete what ever I give him. He doesn’t need it either. It’s a kindness, that’s all. I will make him some noodles and feed them to him while I slap his forehead and laugh at his dick as I point out the injuries he inflicted on me, which we both know are superficial in relation to his original intent. Fuck him. He is just a fucking peasant come to the city, hardened and wiry, lacking a brain and a wallet. I should pity him but it is cold. Fucking cold. And the cold and the snow are not good for me.

A few months later I was having a pint with that same mate of mine having not really given Sophie much thought of late. A sexy girl flashed me a smile and it got me started reminiscing about the good times we had shared. He knew how much I had liked her and he met her when we ventured out to various obscure Chinese nightclubs. My phone started vibrating and I checked the display. It was Sophie. I showed my mate and we shook our heads in amazement. I answered and she told me that she missed me. I asked her where she had been and she said she had been traveling. She said she was in Nanjing but would be back in Shanghai soon and she promised to call. Within an hour I just had to hear her voice but her number was out of service. She was obviously swapping sim cards. I called several times every day for the next week. Nothing. It was like falling off the wagon.

SpongeBob solves his problem and I still can’t figure out how to solve mine so I dip my beak in the charlie again trying to reclaim my analytical edge. I catch more snowflakes on my tongue on the balcony but my damaged shoulder starts to ache and the purple bruise just above my knee stings in the cold. I go back inside and pace around again trying to figure out a way to get Sophie’s boyfriend over to my apartment so I can kill him. He is supposed to be coming back from France this afternoon. He is fucking Sophie and he thrice sent his man to hurt me. The third time the little man was stupid enough to come to my home. Now things have gone far enough that I have to be decisive in order to end this. He is fucking Sophie and he is her number one now so I have no qualms. I know it is only money. He has a wife a child but I can’t worry about that. I’m sure they will be better off without him. I go back to the bathroom and laugh at the tiny dick again.

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She turned up unannounced at my door late one night a week later looking amazing. Her striking but garish blonde hair had been softened to a sensual mousy brown, she had less make-up on than usual and wore a figure-hugging floral dress with an expensive leather overcoat. Exuding class. My Shanghai Girl was back and I felt so happy. I didn’t ask any questions; I just held her tight and then picked her up and carried her to my bedroom. We made love like there was no tomorrow and only when we lay side by side gazing at each other did she begin to tell me where she had been and why she had come back to me. He is rich, a steel merchant, and as soon as he saw her he insisted on taking possession. He has a wife and a child and Sophie knew he had another mistress besides her. He set Sophie up in a nice apartment, provided her with a healthy allowance and got her a nine-to-five job with a real estate agency to keep her busy. When he traveled to Beijing or Nanjing or Hong Kong or Guangzhou on business he sometimes took her with him. When he traveled abroad he sometimes took his wife. He bought her a new phone and insisted she remain monogamous. She loved the money, the travel, the expensive hotels and dinners but hated him. He has wife and child, she said, and very small, she said as she grasped my penis, smiling mischievously. But he has money. More money than I could dream of making. I told her I wanted to kill him and she didn’t believe me. I didn’t say it seriously and I was gently rubbing her nipple at the time.

The snow is no more than a light flurry now but on the balcony I can only see white below. Pudong airport is still open but flights are being delayed. The flight from Paris should make it in okay. I surf through all of the channels four or five times and cannot settle on anything. My buzz is mostly gone so I smoke some pot and drift towards the other end of the awareness spectrum. I am tired and I am bored. I want to lie on the couch and close my eyes and fantasize about Sophie and I together and I want to open my eyes and have it as an instant reality. I cannot do anything before it starts to get dark. I lie down on the couch and close my eyes. I take long, deep, deliberate breaths that banish my buzz entirely as my mind sinks into the paralysis that weed provides. The snow is my blessing and my curse. I just hope that the airport does not close. I want to call Sophie but I am numb and I don’t want to move and it is too early. I drift.

I had no control over when and for how long I saw Sophie. I wasn’t her number one anymore. We snuck around like a couple having an affair which I suppose we were, or at least she was, but it never felt like that to me. Over the next few months she stayed with me whenever he was away. One time she was with me for two weeks and I was in heaven. Most nights when he was in Shanghai he stayed with his wife but not before he visited Sophie or his other girl. I hated it when she turned up late at night because I knew he had been fucking her. I could smell his cigarette smoke in her hair. She was always damned horny on these nights because he couldn’t come close to satisfying her and she hated him and loved me. It was last Saturday morning when she got the message from him. We had been out late in a club, dancing all night, doing lines in the bathroom and drinking copious quantities of Johnnie Black and green tea. We fucked and then crashed and then fucked again in the morning. I was in the shower giving my nethers a good wash and I looked through the glass at Sophie. She was squatting naked on the bathroom floor, trembling with her head down, hair covering her face. She kept staring at the display screen on her phone. I got out of the shower and started toweling off. I asked her what was wrong and she said he knows about you and me. She shook her head in confusion and said that it was impossible because he was in Germany and had been there all week and he was going to France for a week before he came home. How could he know? I told her that he must have someone watching her. Her trembling turned to shaking and I dropped my towel and held her close. I was happy that he knew but I was scared too. I knew how wealthy he was.

I am awake again and the darkness is encroaching. The snow is still light but it hasn’t stopped all afternoon and there is good inch on the balcony railing. My shoulder aches and I want my Sophie here. I will need her help to do what needs to be done. I don’t want to pop my shoulder again. I call Sophie because she will be finishing work about now and she says she will come straight here because of the snow. She is worried about being followed but she doesn’t know that he is tied up in my bath with probably less than a few hours to live. She knows about my shoulder and she knows about my leg, but she doesn’t know that he came here two days ago. I told her I had gone to Suzhou to hide out for a few days and I would be back today. I rack up some more lines but decide to wait for Sophie to arrive. It is better to do it together. I turn on the television and watch a violent Japanese cartoon and I like the way it looks so easy.

A few days after Sophie’s message I had my first run in with the little man. I was cycling to work in the bike lane, swerving around slower cyclists and being overtaken by bigger faster electric bikes. I had earplugs in listening to music, minding my own business when an electric bike pulled up beside me and kept pace with me. This isn’t an unusual occurrence. The Chinese are generally happy and curious and often those who are fresh from the country haven’t see a white guy wearing shorts that expose hairy legs, riding a mountain bike and wearing a helmet. They’ll ride alongside me pointing and smiling and shouting “Ni Hao” at me. I’m used to it. But this guy was not pointing, laughing or shouting. He was sneering at me so I sneered back. Then he pulled in closer, hemming me in to the gutter and shoved a length of bamboo through the spokes of my front tire. I flew ass over tit and landed headfirst but with my head tucked to the side so that I landed on my shoulder, dislocating it. He sped off and I was left nursing a few minor cuts, grazes and bruises but with my left arm hanging about 6 inches lower than it should. No one stopped to help, only to stand and look at me sitting on my ass, cradling my arm and wincing in pain. I knew no one was going to call an ambulance because then they would be liable for the bill. It took a few minutes but I managed to get up off the ground and retrieve my phone from my bike panniers. I called Sophie and she arrived in a taxi and took me to hospital. While I was being treated she got a message from her boyfriend asking if I was okay and hoping that I was not.

Sophie arrives and she wants to make love right away. Her boyfriend has cleared customs and is on his way into the city from Pudong. He wants to meet her at her apartment. She has to go soon. I say no to sex and she is confused. I tell her we need to talk. We sit on the sofa and she sees the lines I have prepared. She thinks I want the charlie before we fuck. She hoovers her lines and I hoover mine. I don’t know how to start so I take her by the hand and lead her to the bathtub. She recognizes the little man and shudders in revulsion. I tell her that this time he came to kill me and show her the knife he had. I take her hand and we go back to the sofa and sit in silence. She is manic in her channel surfing and she won’t sit still. I tap my front teeth, which feel like two planks of wood. I tell her that her boyfriend isn’t going to stop until I am out of the way. She doesn’t say anything. I tell her that it is going to be either him or me and she shuffles around in silence, rhythmically pressing the up channel button on the remote. I know she is thinking about his money and her lifestyle and I know she is thinking about how much she loves me and the remote is taking a pounding. I tell her what I want to do and she stops and looks at me. I chop two fat lines for us. Outside the snow is coming down thick and fast.

They popped my shoulder back in, gave me some painkillers and sent me on my way. When we got home Sophie lovingly disinfected and covered the little cuts and grazes and rubbed tiger balm gently into my bruises. She called in sick and lay on my bed with me all day. She barely said a word. On that day I loved her beyond words. I could feel her pain and knew it was for me. We made love that night with her on top being as gentle as she could and when we finished she got straight off, went fetal with her back to me and started crying. I tried to console her but my heart wasn’t in it. I felt pleased that she was feeling bad. The next day she went to work but I was too sore so I decided to take a gentle walk down the road to sit in a teahouse and read a book for the day. I hadn’t gone far when the little fucker jumped out of the bushes and swung a tire iron at my knee. The bastard knew he had to aim a little higher to get me good because he was so short but he swung too high and caught me on the thigh. It hurt like hell but it didn’t hit bone and I didn’t go down. I lunged at him but he skipped out of the way and ran to his electric bike. I tried to follow but the pain hit and he was gone. I limped back home and seethed with anger. Sophie called ten minutes later, crying. She asked me if I was okay and I said I was. I was short with her because I liked that she felt bad. It made me feel loved and I knew it was driving her away from him and closer to me. I told her she had better stay away for a few days because it wasn’t safe for her or me. If the little guy saw her coming here again he would come at me again.

I tell her that I want her to call her boyfriend and get him to come to my apartment straight from the airport. I am worried that he will know that it is my place but Sophie says that he is always telling her that he is too important to deal with minor details. She will tell him that she is at her friend’s apartment because of the snow. She wants to know what I am going to do but I tell her I don’t know and that she should just trust me. She gets off the phone and says that he is coming in a taxi and should be here within half an hour. I fall upon her and fuck her well in case it is the last time. I don’t care if the little guy hears us. He doesn’t have long, the bastard. Then I dare her to stand naked on the balcony in the snow for ten seconds. She does it and I lock the sliding door and she squeals and jumps up and down pounding on the glass. I count to ten slowly and let her in. We are laughing and laughing as I embrace her and rub her freezing skin to warm her up. I bite her breast and she squeals again and punches me in the chest. We get dressed and have a few more lines while we wait for her boyfriend to arrive.

The little guy was hiding in the stairwell waiting for my door to unlock and for me to emerge. I had my back to him putting my key in the lock when he came at me from behind. If he had done it in silence he would have had me but he sounded a battle cry and I instinctively spun around and saw the flash of steel and shuffled sideways. His knife just missed and stuck in the door. I head-butted him and he went down like a sack of shit, his nose a mess. I kicked him in the head to make sure he stayed unconscious and dragged him into the apartment down the hall, through the bedroom and into the en suite. I dumped him in the tub and bound his hands and feet. As best I could I put him in the recovery position and hoped like hell I hadn’t killed him. I stood over him for a few minutes before I doused him with cold water and he started to wake up so I flipped him on his back and tied his feet to the tap. He gradually gained consciousness and when he saw me he lunged at me. His dilemma became apparent to him and he started shouting his head off. I didn’t want to gag him because of his broken nose but I had no choice. I made sure he could still breathe, gave him a pillow and decided not to go to work.

When the knock on the door comes I am surprised and realize that I am not quite ready. I expected to buzz him in from downstairs but he must have come in with a resident. Sophie looks panicked and I tell her to relax and just go and open the door bring him into the lounge and I will take care of the rest. She goes to the door and I run to the kitchen and rummage around in the cupboard under the sink. I rush back to the lounge and flatten myself against the wall beside the door. He starts shouting and I hear him slap her and I hear her cry out in pain. I tighten my grip and wait. She comes into the lounge backwards, arms up, defending herself as he keeps swinging with an open hand. He goes past me without noticing and I step up behind him and hit him on the back of the head with a frying pan. He goes down and is out like a light. I look at the frying pan in my hand and am surprised that there was no loud clang, only a deep thud. Cast iron. It makes sense. Sophie looks at me and she has a red mark on the side of her face. She doesn’t move. She is frozen. She looks down at him and I can see the anger start to bubble inside her. She swings her leg and kicks him square in the nuts. She does it again and again and starts crying and I have to pull her away and hold her close and she trembles and sobs. I tie his hands and feet in case he wakes. Then I take a deep breath and pick up the frying pan. I walk to the bathtub and without pause swing at his head and enjoy the thud and how it jars my hand. He is out cold. He will never awake again and I laugh at his tiny dick.

Sophie has calmed down and she asks me what we are going to do. I take her to the bathroom and I untie the little guy. She helps me sling him over my good shoulder and I walk out to the lounge and get Sophie to open the balcony door. I step out in to the cold and unload him so he is sitting onto the balcony railing and leaning forward against me, limp as his dick. Then I shove him as hard as I can and I lose sight of him as he falls with the snow. I turn and Sophie is staring at me with her hands covering her mouth, eyes wide. I say to her he’s next and nod at her boyfriend on the floor. Her eyes widen further and then a grin slowly spreads on her face and she starts jumping up and down clapping her hands, squealing with delight. We have trouble carrying him but we get him onto the railing in the same position but over to the left a little because I want them to land side by side. Sophie asks me if she can push and I smile and nod.

We put on gloves and scarves and jackets and go down in the elevator and outside. He must have landed on his feet because his legs are like concertinas and we can pretty much keep him upright with his legs folded beneath him rather than out front or back of his body. I find a long piece of bamboo used to help support a tree in its infancy and shove it down the back of his shirt and into the ground to hold him upright. Then we just pack the bastard with snow. He has the perfect physique, crumpled legs not withstanding, and we build a beautifully rounded snowman in no time at all. I wonder where I am going to find a carrot when I realized that there was no way in hell that a Chinese snowman is going to have a big nose or round eyes for that matter. I use his own scarf, which I think is a nice touch. The little guy is spread-eagle on his back and Sophie throws herself on the ground laughing and makes a snow-angel beside him. We start covering him with snow and turn him into a snow angel too. Sophie takes great care in sculpting his wings while I construct a large erect penis for him. Then we have a snow fight and roll around together in the snow. We are wet and cold and we are happy and we are having fun. We have a competition throwing snowballs at the snowman from increasing distances and she wins because I have to throw with my left arm. The snow keeps on coming down and we are tired and out of breathe from laughing so hard.

We go upstairs, finish the cocaine and take cash and cards out of his briefcase and go through his luggage and take his watches. She asks me where we will go and I tell her that we will go to Bangkok because it is the place where everyone goes to escape. As the taxi crawls through the snow on the way to the airport I realize that I don’t know her Chinese name. She was always My Sophie or My Shanghai Girl. I ask what it is and she says Xiou Hu. I ask her what it means and she says Small Lake and smiles the sweetest smile. I look into her eyes and I kiss her hard and I love her so much.

If you are in Bangkok and dining on soi 33 or partying at Bed or Q Bar and you hear a cry of “Ja Neeeeeeee? (Johnny) and a reply of So Feeeeeeee? (Sophie) as you see a stunning Chinese girl with a tattoo of a Snow Angel on her shoulder thumping the chest of a guy with a tattoo of Chinese Snowman on his arm, please come and say hello. We only bite in the snow. It drives us crazy.

John Daysh – 5 June 2009

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