It is Sunday. It is a beautiful day. The sun is shining on the mountains, on the buildings, on everyone's smiles, on the mounds of wet spent firecracker tubes. The rain has been unrelenting since Friday a week ago, since the first day of vacation. Tomorrow I have to go to work. This is a mean trick to usher in the year of the tiger. There is an expression "Dragon moves, Tiger changes". I don't know what it means but I can sense profundity there.
The rain did nothing to stop the revelry. Firecracker Pops and Pows and drums and horns and sounds of singing were as constant as the rain. Last night the rain stopped.The noise, it reached a fever pitch. Around 11 o'clock I left my apartment. It was too loud to think in my cell, I thought I could better cope with the noise if I were in the crowds. I wandered the streets of Sanshia. At such a late hour the streets are usually empty. Shops closed up. Wilted vegetable debris from the market gathered in the gutter. Maybe an old woman carrying a bag of tin cans some where and a pack of stray dogs but that is all the life prowling at night. Last night it was a different town. As I got closer to the temple I was swept up in the throng. Riding the crowd like riding the monorail at Disney World. Look left : a man with a microphone in front of a wall of toy cars and airplanes hawking his wares. Look right: Girls in cow suits playing with their mobile phones and selling icecream. Left: two South Indian men rolling dumplings. Right: a man selling leather belts, first he dips them in butane then he lights them on fire. Left: Biam! Pow! Watch out for those fire crackers! Right: A man sucking on a sausage on a stick. Right: A group of women poking their skewers into a warm greasy bag of mushroom nuggets. Left: candy coated cherry tomatoes on a stick. Right: a silhouetted group of little girls running through the crowd with sparklers. Walk up to the pedestrian bridge. From there I could see scores of little boys on the river banks shooting off fireworks. I stood and watched. I watched lovers stroll by with their hands on each others confections, cotton candy, candied strawberries, candied squid. I walked across the bridge. In the center of a bridge stood some police. they roped off a bit of the bridge. I looked into the roped off area. No bodies, no people, just a couple spent boxes of fire works and and..some thing wet. A pool of wet. Red wet. No juice containers nearby, no bottles of beer, just a massive pond of blood. I walked faster.
I came home and passed out.
Earlier that day I'd walked to the neighboring town, to Yingge and I went to the ceramics museum. They had more toilets on display then the the HomeDepot. But it was a beautiful museum. Some eclectic labeling system and strange organizing but a great space.
Ashley had already been to the museum with her Judge earlier in the week.
Ashley has a Judge now. One early morning when she was at the gym for her swim she met Judge T. He struck up on conversation with her. He is in his 60s. He studied at Harvard when Ford was president of the US. He invited her to lunch. Since then they have had lunch and dinner and hikes and hotsprings around the northern part of the island. He always picks up the tab and hasn't made any romantic advances. It is still hard for me to believe but there is a little part of me that says, here, a lonely man of means just wants to have a friend. He has children but they are grown and live away, he has a wife but we still haven't found out where she is. He's picked a good friend to have in Ashley and she learns a lot about the island and its people from her adventures with him. So for now it is win win.