He gazed at the sky, the sun barely peering over the horizon, hovering in a faint blue pool without a cloud in sight. Another sunny day! After the Dragon Boat Festival, the weather gradually stabilizes and becomes warmer, a welcome respite from the cold rainy spring. Yin Mo-Qian (Yeen Maw-Cheean) had a vague sensation that this was a very significant day in his life but he was not exactly sure why. He knew it wasn’t his birthday or a holiday, but what?
A cool morning breeze whipped fallen leaves into tiny swirling tornado-like clusters which reminded him of children dancing and scurrying about while their parents were trying to get them to go home. Strange to him, that although he normally felt a slight chill in the morning, he now felt a comforting warmth; even though the sun had just barely begun to warm the air.
Suddenly a troubling thought intruded on his reverie. Would this be the last time he would enjoy the freedom to peacefully bask in the comfort of the warm sun? With this thought came a gradual self awareness, not in a sensory sort of way but in a vague wisp of intuitive knowing as if peering at a familiar scene through the fog. He was leaning against the black marble wall of a building that was unfamiliar to him but he recognized it as the lobby entrance to a hospital. He was momentarily curious as to why the stone did not feel cold to his touch.
He looked down at his clothing and noticed that his white shirt was stained in blood like a butcher’s apron at the meat market. And He felt a tightness in his chest and heard a loud banging noise in his head, causing difficult breathing and dizziness. He supposed that must be the feeling of waking from a concussion or coma.
An urgency about an appointment that he somehow knew must be kept surged to the forefront of his consciousness. He glanced at his Rolex to check the time but it had stopped at 5:12 pm and the second hand was twitching in death like seizures trying to pass the bent minute hand as if the passing of all time depended on continuing its relentless journey. I must find out what time it is he thought.
Qian desperately queried passing strangers to get the correct time but to no avail. They did not see or hear him and did not acknowledge his touch. They acted as if he did not exist. A panic surged through his soul. He now realized that he had somehow transformed into a state that was outside the reality of existence that he was familiar with. He also knew that the inability to mark the passage of time would make him insane.
With some relief, he noticed an LED sign across the street that displayed:
" 8:33 am”
“Saturday May 30 2009”
Out of habit, he quickly glanced at his watch as if to check its accuracy and noticed the date dial read “21”. Unbelievable! How could I not notice that my watch was broken for 9 days!
“8:33, I should be able to get to Zhao De Tang (Jow Duh Tawng) by 9:00 o’clock. Zhao De Tang?” He mumbled to himself.
He now felt a compulsion to recover the missing part of his life from the afternoon of the 21st until the morning of the 30th and understand the mystery of how he came to know about his pending appointment at Zhao De Tang.
He remembered relaxing in the back seat of the company Mercedes on the afternoon of the 21st, while his chauffeur skillfully navigated the crowded streets of Taipei to get him to a vendor conference on time. On this particular day, relaxing consisted of reading the celebrity gossip columns in the local newspaper.
Father Exposes Daughter’s Scandalous Past
“The father of singing superstar Tan Lin claims that she worked as a stripper in a Taipei men’s night club.”
Qian remembered thinking that it was ironical how the young star with such a beautiful body, that normally welcomed the attention of the press, was now desperately trying to escape them. Just like the press to quickly crucify yesterday’s sweetheart at the slightest hint of any, frequently unsubstantiated, scandal.
He mumbled to himself, “Just a high classed whore posing as a celebrity. If you have enough money you can get any woman. Just ask her agent about the ‘fee’.”
He entertained the fantasy of having sex with her, completely dismissing the fact that he was old enough to be her father.
He also recalled asking the driver to stop to pick up some special dumplings after the meeting, to reward his staff back at the office for their diligent work. That is the last thing Qian recalled before seeing the sunrise on the 30th.
“This must be a dream!” he murmured to himself, “I can’t make any sense out of these thoughts.” His attention suddenly switched to the incessant, indistinguishable, chanting sound overwhelming his ability to concentrate on remembering the missing events of his immediate past. He was compelled to listen to the message to understand what the voice was trying to convey. It sounded familiar somehow but it was from so goddamned long ago in the past that he couldn’t identify it. He had to be at Zhao De Tang, now!