Monday, October 5, 2015
It's a Punt
I don't have the time or energy to come up with something. So here's an excerpt of the first chapter of my latest. It's rough.
Meg is walking to the school where she teaches in South Korea.
A thin man yelled prices for his fruit truck through a loud speaker, parked on a busy corner. In another time and place, his chants might have been the monotonous dribble of political slogans. Cars eeked past his truck, avoiding a woman and her baby carriage. Several bicyclists and motor scooters shared the narrow road with the cars, and Meg wove through the traffic, finding a place to cross, preferring to take a different road with less traffic.
And in the traffic and chaos of the strangely homogenous city, she knew people stared at her. Even in the rain and after a month of walking the same streets to and from school everyday, she felt people come to the front of their shops to look at her. People stared at her. She stood out like a bright red, pimpled nose.
In a strange way, it felt good. People recognized her and waved at her. They pointed at her as if she were a celebrity, even though she knew there was nothing special about her except that she was far away from her home and very out of place.
She walked through the small market district of Meeyong Jung Dong and turned at a five-story pizza restaurant that advertised pizza with squid and shrimp on huge neon lights and strange cartoon squid.
This was past her neighborhood, just outside of Meeyong Jung Dong, farther away from her circle of comfort. The shops seemed larger but not stranger, and the pedestrians and bicyclists tended to the wide sidewalks.
A crab restaurant was on her left. She couldn’t read the Korean neon signs out front, but the wall of aquariums with four-foot crabs clued Meg into the type of restaurant. The crabs slowly tapped the outside glass, knocking at the passersby as if they quietly begged to be let out. Let out.
The strange and grotesque monsters fascinated her. They should have become part of her normal routine, a normal part of her walk in the last month, and she did pass them with only a long look, as if they weren’t the mysterious creatures she thought they were and she weren’t the tourist and foreigner that she was.
She stopped to stare at them. The aquariums displayed them like a wall in a zoo, but she wasn’t sure if the people watched them, or the crabs watched the people, in their bug-eyed, ambivalent, and crustacean way.
One particularly large crab pressed his eyes up against the glass. He, it, seemed to look at Meg. She couldn’t be sure because crabs weren’t self-aware and could stare at other beings with as much curiosity as this crab stared at Meg. The crab pressed up against the glass and looked at Meg, and she couldn’t help but gaze at the creature.
Everyone else watched her. The crabs might as well stare at her, too, with the eyes like brown marbles.
She stared into the glassy eyes.
“You don’t belong here,” the crab seemed to say to her.
“I know,” she whispered back.
The crab raised a huge claw and tapped at the glass as if to make sure she was listening. “You don’t belong here.”
Meg looked away from the crab and kept walking. She pressed her ear buds to her ears as if she tried to block out the city.
This city, Busan, was the best place to hide.