Autumn 1884 – An Ocean Away From Home, Two Steps Away from Hell


Chang continued ironing shirts as if I had not spoken. I leaned over the counter so that he could not help seeing my face. I said, “I understand that you don’t wish to be seen talking to me. I know that you want that even less than to actually talk to me. I shall make this easy for you. I shall get very upset. I will shout and holler and behave like an angry African. I will say, in words loud enough for your neighbors to hear, that you are a stupid stubborn Chinaman and that you deserve to have a demon eat your soul. I will stop out of your shop, slam your door behind me and walk out of Chinatown without looking back. Then, at midnight tonight, I will be waiting on the roof of your building. No one will see me arrive. I will be there for fifteen minutes. If luck finds you there at the same time, perhaps you can answer one or two of my questions.”

Chang made eye contact with me for, perhaps, a second.