Alabama vs. Chengdu
Caster learning to meander like the canals. Feet killing me. R.F.
saying yes, hers too. Meandering is what they can do now, weeping like
the willows but not quite. Caster saying I can't eat anymore of this
huajiao I can't taste my own mouth. R.F. correcting his pronunciation.
Caster reeking of dried peppercorn, meandering. The street, slimming to
a narrow lane, pockmarked and crowded. R.F. stopping and throwing up
the braised rabbit. Caster shielding R.F. from the shouting pork
vendors who are not looking anyway and if they are they are not caring.
Caster catching a whiff of the spew and recalling how the chunks of
rabbit swam in oil. Caster finding a pothole of his own and vomiting
the garlicky pork dumplings. No one to shield them. Going on. As far
from home as possible and isn't it strange and new and old and
beautiful and my feet are killing me. R.F. straightening up and
slinging an errant bra strap into place. Following the canal turning
right meandering meandering. Up ahead, seeing fast talkers. R.F. is
saying look a bunch of us. Caster seeing the quartet and saying yes
indeed those ahead are them and they are us. Caster saying turn left
here a soft left I don't want them to see us they'll latch on like
barnacles. Going back into the labyrinthical lanes, stomachs like
begging hedgehogs, mouths numb. Meandering and up ahead a traditional
Chengdu mansion like it shows in the book and look how wonderful how
beautiful this is why we came here and Caster stopping and pointing. A
sign, a circle of green and black and white so familiar as to be
thought a dream a hallucination. Caster saying I'll race you and R.F.
seeing and she could cry and they do they are racing not caring who
wins but racing as if the whole province were on their heels racing
racing right into Starbucks.
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