The traffic was three times that of New York and the air was stifling. There was sweat running off my head, down my neck, and down my back. Noticing a bank across the street, I decided to change some money. At least there'd be air conditioning in the bank, and maybe even a city map with romanized names.
In the bank were two lines. The teller for the long line was an older lady who looked very relaxed: she was wearing a wig, and her makeup was poorly done. The teller for the other line was a nervous-looking little man with grey hair. I decided the nervous man's line would be faster. That in fact was a mistake. Rather than speed, his nervousness induced in him a more refined carefulness regarding the authenticity of all foreign bills. He kept checking them in a machine.
As I was waiting, I noticed a woman who kept looking at me from the next line over. Attractive and rather tall. About 35. She'd look at me, then smile. Of course I smiled back. She was probably Japanese, I thought. She had a Japanese nose. My spoken Chinese was good enough to say to her: "Your nose is very Japanese, isn't it?" She laughed at this ridiculous remark, and the woman behind her smirked and gave a puff of disapproval. So this Japanese could understand Chinese too, or at least a little.
We got our money from the tellers at about the same time. If only we hadn't my life might be very different right now! As we stepped out of the bank, we both paused near the door, as if deciding which way to go. I asked the Japanese woman, first through my very faulty Chinese and then through hand gestures, where she was headed. She laughed again and smiled and pointed down the sidewalk. I began to walk along next to her.
I couldn't say much, so I didn't. As we walked she continued with the infectious smile, looking up at me in what seemed anticipation.
Her car was a silver-green Mercedes, which surprised me. I’d taken her for a tourist like myself. She played a CD of Spanish flamenco music, and during the ride--thanks to the flimsy seashell-pink dress she had on--I was able to consider her more carefully: her milk-white Asian skin; her long black hair draped over her bare ivory shoulders. Her legs under the steering wheel looked smooth as polished jade. Given the glint of promise in her smile, I had a hard time keeping my hands off her as we waited at the first stoplight. She looked delicious, and she was taking me with her.
On to Chapter 6