Category: Fiction

The Kitchens of Canton, a novel. Ch. 15: Zigaago

The old hippie sat facing Malmquist, his rainbow-tattooed penis proudly displayed. “It’s like this,” he said, an imaginary sphere poised on his fingertips.

“Hey, how’s it going?”

“That’s what I was getting at.”

“Haven’t we had this conversation before?”

“All conversation is the same. What’s different is the man.”

“Cool. Here’s to Ray.” Malmquist clinked glasses with Cornelius. “Damn this ale is good. Why did I just toast to Ray?”

“That’s just what I was getting at.”

“One minute I was talking to her, then I’m talking to you. I don’t remember you coming back.”

“I never left, man.”

“But you clearly did.”

“Yeah, I left for a moment, but I didn’t really leave. I’m always here. Ray left.”

“I don’t remember that. Didn’t I already leave and come back?”

“You did. You two left together before I returned.”

“I know as a fact I left because I’m still frying from the acid I ingested in Ancient Rome. But I didn’t know I left with her.”

The Kitchens of Canton, a novel. Ch. 14: Roma

ALMIGHTY
TRUTH IS ON THE MARCH
NOTHING CAN STOP IT NOW

Malmquist slammed the straw pillow with his hand. “Fuck!”

Attica walked in. “Quid agis? Esne bene?”

“Do you have a candle? I can’t see the writing clearly in here. It’s too dark,” he said as he responded to the message on his tunic.

“Quid est?”

“A candle. You know, light. Fire. A candle.” He depicted a candle with his fingers.

“Mentula sagittandi?” She masturbated an imaginary cock.

“No! I don’t mean a hand-job. I mean a candle, with a flame.”

“Candela?”

“Yeah. Candela.”

She returned with a candle. The grimy cubbyhole illumined, the tunic now spelled out:

I’M NOT EASY
BUT WE CAN DISCUSS IT

“I’m fucked. I’ve lost the connection and it now seems to be mocking me. Oh, of course, you wouldn’t understand.”

She pointed to her sundial watch. “Hora est.”

The Kitchens of Canton, a novel. Ch. 13: New Gary, IN

He pointed at a food tray behind the cafeteria counter.

“Oh, you again. Hominy grits?” she asked.

“A lot.”

“Can’t give you a lot. Everybody get the same portion.”

“I didn’t ask for a lot. I said there’s a lot.”

“What you mean?”

“You asked me hominy grits, and I’m telling you how many grits there are in that pan.”

“Your humor so bad it’s good. Anyway you can’t eat shit. You can’t fool me on that score. I can serve you a coffee, though. I want to watch that trick of yours again. You seen him do that coffee trick, Akeeshea?”

“I’m watching.”

Deshondra served Carrot a cup of coffee.

“Yep, you folks just lovin’ the sugar,” said Carrot as he opened the dispenser into the coffee and held up his other hand to high-five her. Without taking his eyes off her, he stopped the flow of sugar just in time before the coffee overflowed. “Tee-hee.”

The ladies stared poker-faced.

“Don’t know how the hell you do that,” said Deshondra. “But you wasted us a half dispenser of sugar again.”

“Poor man’s cocaine.”

“What’s up?”

The Kitchens of Canton, a novel. Ch. 12: Gwongzau

At my 180 kilograms it takes an effort to lift myself out of the bath, but I’ll be damned if I’m hooked up to the crane. Ingmon and the boss grab me under the arms and that does the job. Standing up, I can no longer see my penis under my belly even when erect. I can’t get hard anyway, with no place for it to expand. Previously, to check if my erectile function was normal, they would lift the bag of blubber high enough to access the penis and squeeze out a few spurts on the digital spoon. But now that it is getting all too awkward to manipulate they have a device for the purpose — a shelf to raise the blubber bag and a vibrating hose to slurp up the penis. Thankfully, they continue to handle me manually on the bed. They’ve found from experience that the human touch is simply more efficient.

The Kitchens of Canton, a novel. Ch. 11: Roma

广州厨房印章-02Bpurple

“I like the tunic.”

“I don’t ask if you like tunic. I don’t like. Take it off!”

“No.”

Zhang tried to rip the tunic off Malmquist, but he broke free and ran out of the house.

“Wo qu zhui ta,” Giulia told her as she ran off after him.

He hid himself at a table in the back of the little restaurant down the street from the old eunuch’s domus.

“Cosa avrai?” asked a waitress.

He gestured apologetically.

“Vuoi una ragazza?” she said, pointing upstairs and jiggling her breasts. “Belle tette.”

Giulia found him. “Ho pensato che avrei trovato al ristorante.”

He stared silently in the distance. That earned him a hard slap on the face.

“Idiota! Perché sei scappato? Lei ti punirà. Può fare qualsiasi cosa per voi, tra cui ucciderti!”

He stood up. “Why did you do that!”

She dropped her head in her hand. He took her cheeks in his. “Giulia, I need this tunic. Without it I’m lost. You see the words on it? I can talk to people back home who can help me.”

The Kitchens of Canton, a novel. Ch. 10: New Gary, IN

广州厨房印章-01pinkA deafening crack and the lights went out. Malmquist collapsed on the patio floor. Ray and the other customers were gone. Streetlight illumination revealed the premises to be empty and dilapidated and shrouded in dust. Malmquist sat up to get his bearings. Outside chatter suggested it was still early evening. He got up to explore the restaurant, and what he saw cautioned him to stay inside until well after midnight. The city wrapped in silence but for incessant ambulance and fire-engine sirens, he emerged after jimmying open a window — the front and back entrances were padlocked shut — and headed down Lunt toward Sheridan Road on foot, for his bicycle was gone.

He had barely crossed under the El track bridge when a man pulled up pointing an AK-47 at him through his car window. “You’re a fucking pedophile!”

“What did you call me?” He walked up to the car, grabbed the rifle out of the man’s hands and stuck the gun barrel down his throat. “If you don’t want your car interior to be soiled with brain matter, you’re going to do exactly what I say. Park the car in the fire-hydrant spot there. Nice and easy.” Malmquist walked with the car as the man pulled into the space by the curb, the gun in his mouth. “Now, take off your clothes. And drop them behind you in the back seat. Start with your shoes and pants. Underwear too. Move your hands slowly or I shoot. Keep your T-shirt on.”

Malmquist got in the back seat, with the gun barrel now at the man’s neck. With his other hand he rummaged through the man’s pants and found the pockets empty. “Give me your watch.” He folded up the clothes into a bundle next to him. “Now, take Touhy over to 94 and head south down 90/94. We’re going to Indiana. Gary. New Gary.”

The Kitchens of Canton, a novel. Ch. 9: Zigaago

广州厨房印章-03brown

Ray put a condom on the dildo built into her bicycle seat and lifted her tunic as she eased it into her. “Keeps me supple,” she winked. Tattooed around her hips and groin was a scrolling text of Chinese characters.

“What does that mean?”

“It’s a poem by China’s national poet, Gu Sing: ‘Through jagged rocks I walk towards the seashore. I know all your languages. Speak! The sea laughs and proffers up birds that swim, fish that fly, sand that sings.'”

“That reminds me. Can we take a short detour over to the peninsula? I want to see the rocks,” said Malmquist.

“Sure, no problem.”

From Sheridan Road they passed through the Northwestern University campus. They got off their bikes on a sliver of land extending out into the lake. The shore was lined with giant rocks laid out as a breakwater. Some slabs were flat and occupied Chinese students, sunbathing by themselves or slave at hand. Most of the other rocks were jumbled and formed spaces and little caves.

“I used to play on these as a kid,” Malmquist said as he clambered over them. “They were all painted over and covered with graffiti, but it’s all gone now! No, wait. Here’s something I remember that’s still there, on the side of this rock. You can just make out the words. ‘Savor your sorrow like a fine red wine.’ It’s still there! Now I know we’re not in a simulacrum of the city. But why aren’t people painting on them anymore?”

They got back on their bikes and headed toward Chicago.

“Where are you taking me?”

“To start work,” said Ray. She looked at him slyly. “Now, would you tell me what’s really going on with you?”