“You have a beautiful baby boy, Miss Selnick. You can hold him for a while, and then we’ll get him all cleaned up.”
“No. I don’t want to hold him. He’s so icky! His ears—he has black hairs growing out of his ears! They look like pig bristles. You’ll have to pull those out.”
“That would hurt him, Miss Selnick. And anyway they look so cute.”
“He’s my baby, nurse, not yours, unfortunately, and I say they’re ugly like the rest of him. But oh well, leave them alone. I’ll do it myself later. His dad has them, too, the pig. Why is his head misshapen? And he has a big lower lip. ”
“Miss Selnick, many new babies have misshapen heads because they are compressed during birth. In a few days he will be the handsome boy you expected. “
“Really? Well, I’ll have visitors in a few hours, not a few days. At least you can clean him up and give him some formula so he won’t keep squalling with company here.”
“So you aren’t going to breast feed him?”
“Are you kidding? I can’t even bear to look at him.”
“That’s a terrible thing to say! You’ll grow to love this little guy, I’m sure. What’s his name?”
“Daniel. He’s named after his father.”
“And will his father come to see the two of you?”
“There’s only one of me. And yes, My sister and her husband will be here in about an hour.
God’s Unlikely Hero
Wearing only scanty panties, Corporal Rochana Toch (a female Cambodian emigrant who looks like a skinny prepubescent girl) seductively, sinuously sways toward Corporal Daniel Selnick, murmuring, “Me so horny. Me give you beaucoup suckee fuckee.”
An expression Dan had heard in a Vietnam war film. Now very close, her eyes beckon, and she rasps “Wake up, Corporal Selnick, or I will have you thrown in the drunk tank.”
Startled awake, Dan picks up his mike and assures Sergeant Donald Yost: “I’m following a suspicious character into the Dairy Queen on 10th and Gordy, Sarge. I’ll keep you posted.”
Dan knows that Yost knows that Dan has been sleeping, that he will not keep Yost informed, that there is no suspicious character, that Dan has a sound and moving picture recording of Yost and Toch vigorously copulating on Yost’s desk, and that Yost will continue to pack Dan’s performance reviews with fulsome praise.
Dan also knows that his fellow cops despise him because he’s unapologetically useless. When he’s on station to catch speeders, they suddenly develop a reverence for speed limits; when he’s sent to investigate a possible burglary, the burglars always get away, and so on. Other cops (except Yost and Toch) wonder how Dan keeps his job, let alone how he earned his corporal’s stripe.
Dan yawns and leaves his squad car, which is conveniently located in the parking lot of a Dairy Queen. “Lily promised roast beef tonight, so I won’t eat a lot,” he thinks, “so I’ll just have a Blizzard.” He approaches the door. “No, I’ll have a peanut butter milk shake.” He walks through the door. “Maybe I should order both. Wait, I think….”
“Oh, God, help us!” A high-pitched shriek.
Reluctantly, for he resents the interruption, Dan turns just in time to glimpse a man charging him—a large, round, hairy, naked man clutching a baseball bat over his head. So Dan turns toward the safety of the exit, and in so doing cork screws his left knee. The knee buckles in agony. Largeroundhairynaked’s momentum carries him over Dan’s left shoulder, and he (Largeroundhairnaked) bounces face first on the floor. Dan collapses with both knees on the back of Largeroundhairynaked.
“My God! Why does this shit happen to me?” Dan whimpers.
“You saved us,” responds a breathy, girlish voice. “That monster would’ve killed us all.”
Dan’s eyes climb up a Repunzelesque blond braid until they reach the braid’s resting place in the valley between two mountainous breasts. This topography causes Dan to to relive experiences he’d had when he was a small child, when he would stand in a shower while holding a soapy wash cloth and looking up at his mother’s massive breasts and an angry black cloud between her legs, and the black cloud would command him to “Take this wash cloth and wash your Mother everywhere.”
The PTSD episode ends in a flash, enabling Dan to identify the owner of the useful braid and threatening breasts as a young woman with adoring blue eyes whose many curves and bulges threaten to escape from her aqua blue—matching her eyes—slacks and a white sleeveless blouse. She is cocking her head to the right and her hips to the left. And she is thrusting out her chest, and running her tongue around her lips.
With a braid and clothes to match, a girl of about 10 years of age, with adoring blue eyes, stands next to this fertility symbol while sending the same signals: cocking hips, licking lips, etc.
Farther back are five other girls of about 10 years old. Dan takes no note of their appearance, but does notice that they are all using their phones to take pictures of him and his trophy.
He focuses on a boney girl with a crude, helmet-shaped hair cut and wearing a shapeless, too large dress. She’s standing apart from the rest of the girls and looking at her feet, but seems to sense he’s looking at her and looks up and smiles just long enough to reveal large, crooked teeth. She looks down again and chews her thumb nail. “She seems to be restraining herself from sucking her thumb,” Dan thinks. “Lily must’ve looked and acted like that when she was 10 years old.
Largeroundhairynaked bounces once, reminding Dan that he needs to deal with the pain in his knee. To be a cop, too. He handcuffs the perp (the first such use of handcuffs in his career) and assures Girl-Lily “This beast is SUB DUED,” and calls the dispatcher: This is Unit 48 located in the Dairy Queen at 10th and Gordy. 10-26.10-61. Situation 10-18, code 3. 10-3. 10-78. 10-52. 10-91.
“You gotta be kidding,” says the dispatcher.
“Officer down. Officer down. 10-40,” says Dan gleefully, for at this point he is feeling euphoric, and not just because he’s a hero and his heroism will be pictorially displayed on the front pages of the local newspaper, thanks to the picture taking witnesses. No. Infinitely more important is the realization that his knee is so badly bunged up that he will almost certainly retire at age 27 with half pay, adjusted for inflation, and fully paid health insurance for the rest of his life.
Lily will continue to work at the post office, of course.
At 6:53 am, she runs her fingers over Assistant Surgeon Wu Patriot’s face, pausing at each bump and scar to remind him of the beatings that should have made him strong. He kisses Woman With Beautiful Smile’s calloused and knife-scarred hands, acknowledging her message and her hard labor in the fur processing plant. He hears her sharp intake of breath as he uses his right index finger to gently trace her lips as he would the lips of a Han vase. You are well named, he thinks. She presses her body against his, again taking the initiative, then breaks away and directs her eyes toward their ten-year-old son.
Patriot puts his hands on May The State Rule’s shoulders, saying, “You must stay by Mah Mah at all times today. Obey her without question.”
May The State Rule’s round, unmarked, innocent face—the face he inherited from his mother—looks shocked and close to tears by Patriot’s rough voice and demeanor as he replies, “Yes, Bah Bah.”
“You may bring your dog inside to play with her,” says Patriot. He regrets frightening the boy.
Patriot thinks, Woman With Beautiful Smile is teng, stronger, more Central Nation than I am. She grew up as a farmer. She has Central Nation’s soil in her blood. I spent my childhood on pavement and in barracks for factory workers. Not that I was coddled. My parents beat me worse than the bullies until I learned how to gouge their eyes and smash their balls. Still, it is good that Woman With Beautiful Smile is teng because if I fail, she is the one who will place a cyanide capsule between May The State Rule’s teeth and tell him to bite down.
At 12:10 pm, during Patriot’s lunch break, he tells Director Wang Become Great that Chief Surgeon Zheng Autumn is selling organs and driving a Chevrolet. Patriot knows that Become Great rides a bike, and that by driving a car, Autumn is usurping Become Great’s status.
At 5:06 pm, the team (composed of the chief surgeon, two assistant surgeons, and two nurses) has just finished cleaning up after the last surgery when a soldier comes in. Patriot inserts a cyanide capsule in his mouth. The soldier orders Autumn to report to Director Wang Become Great.
The remaining members of the surgical team cover the floor with an unzipped bag made of thick plastic. Once finished, the team members sit around the room—each taking a position determined by status—to await orders. Patriot draws up his legs and locks his arms around them so that he cannot jump up and flee.
Patriot thinks, Autumn almost certainly sells organs for Become Great, who pays him. But Become Great will not accept losing face to Autumn. I am afraid for no reason. My plan will succeed.
A 5:32 pm, two soldiers carry Autumn into the room and position him on the plastic bag. As with all donors, his vocal cords have been cut and a thin rope has been tied around his neck and around his wrists, which are behind him. The team dons clean surgical uniforms. Patriot puts the capsule in a pocket of his smock before reading aloud the order pinned to Autumn’s chest: “Wu Patriot is now Chief Surgeon. Prisoner will donate his kidneys and eyes.” Patriot thinks, I will sell organs for Become Great and share the profits. I will be rich.. The assistant nurse firmly grips one of Autumn’s legs and steps on the rope, which causes it to cut into Autumn’s neck if he struggles. Using scissors, the head nurse cuts Autumn’s clothes from the middle of his sternum to the umbilicus. He swabs disinfectant twice over Autumn’s abdomen.
Patriot grips a scalpel and looks into Autumn’s pleading eyes (Patriot thinks, You should have accepted your place.) before cutting Autumn open from the umbilicus to just under the sternum. Autumn’s legs twitch. Blood and intestines gush out. Tonight we will prepare a feast. Patriot pushes the intestines aside to reveal the kidneys. I can save enough for bribes and tuition to send May The State Rule to People of the Han Police Academy. He removes the kidney from the right side while the assistant surgeon removes the kidney from the other side. They place the kidneys in an organ transporter.
The assistant surgeon grips Autumn’s head and holds his eyelids open with two fingers, revealing the terror in his eyes. Now I see how much my parents loved me! They wanted me to be teng, to crave terror in inferiors. He grips a pair of hemostatic forceps. But I have been weak and have allowed my son to lose his Central Nation and become lo sen. We cannot defeat westerners by becoming like them.
Become Great enters the room and nods to Patriot, who gouges the left eyeball out and hands it to the head nurse. I must teach my son as I was taught. He gouges out the right eyeball, hands it to the head nurse, and then stands aside and surrenders the scalpel to Becomes Great, who removes Autumn’s face.
“I have gained face and Autumn has lost his face,” he announces. The team members bow their heads to acknowledge Become Great’s renewed status. Become Great hurls the scalpel and Autumn’s face upon the intestines and leaves.
The assistant nurse takes her foot off the rope, zips up the bag, and knocks on the door. Two soldiers appear and carry the bag away. The team cleans the room and removes their bloody surgical uniforms.
At 7:16 pm, Woman With Beautiful Smile says, “May The State Rule, it is time for you to become a man. You will bring honor to Central Nation, to your ancestors, to your parents, and to yourself. Find Kind Peace and bring her into the house.”
“Yes, Mah Mah.”
He leaves. Woman With Beautiful Smile goes into the kitchen and brings back a skinning knife, a thin rope, and a roll of tape.
Patriot says, “Let’s blindfold the dog. The boy loves Kind Peace. It might be too much for him to look into her eyes.”
“OK. After we beat him into submission, we will tape the knife to his hand. You choke the dog with the rope while I force May the State Rule’s hand to skin her,” she says.
“I wonder if he will ever love us again.”
“Our ancestors will be pleased,” she says.”