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9 4 Dear Haha, That story I wrote about my cats has landed me in all sorts of trouble. Now my cats have become celebrities; there are all these reporters who keep coming around and asking me how they are. And then there are people who write tirades about the degenerate lifestyles of artists, giving me and my cats as a prime case. I tried taking the cats to my father’s place, but they all got colds and stomach ulcers. There’s a big one I call Prince who’s taken to sneering at me as if I’d done something terrible to him. . . . I bought a mouth organ so I can play to them when I’m not busy. . . . When cats go crazy, they’re crazier than people are . . . How are you these days? It’s so hot here. . . . Wazi From the day Little Ding and I shouted “your mother’s cunt” in the school yard, we became the best of friends. One day I told her, “Our house was searched by the Red Guards!” “Fantastic! Great! Ours was searched too!” Her eyes widened with delight. “My mom and dad’s salaries were cut off. They’re down to living expenses!” “Same with mine!” “My mom and dad got locked up!” 9 5 “Mine, too! My dad’s in jail, and it’s a jail that was built on his orders, for locking up nationalist officers!” “Amazing how things change, eh? Like in a book.” This was a real thrill. “You remember what it used to say in the stories about ‘united in disaster at opposite ends of the earth’? Who’d ever have thought that it would apply to us?” “Yeah, right. And what about ‘pitiful victims of the same fate’?” “Right! We’re what they call ‘friends in need.’” “Yeah! We’ll have to ‘make a sacred vow.’” “. . . A ‘Peach Garden Oath.’” “‘Even under threat of death . . .’” “. . . ‘I’d never let you down.’” “‘Hook our fingers tight together . . .’” “. . . ‘Be best friends for ever and ever!’” From that moment on we became friends who had hooked fingers in undying loyalty. Later on we also hooked fingers with Wazi. “We get the bits by the ears clean; then we rinse around the back of the head.” That was what Auntie always used to say to me when she was washing my hair. Now I thought of her words as I did the same for Little Ding. “Okay, it’s done.” I toweled her hair dry. She hadn’t washed her hair since her mother was arrested. “How’s it look? It feels great!” Little Ding was beaming as she combed her hair. “Hold on! Let me look!” I suddenly realized something was wrong. “What’s up?” “Oh, hell!” I wailed. “I’ve screwed up!” I started to laugh. She rubbed her head and looked at me as if I was crazy. I was laughing so hard I could hardly speak. “I did the bits by the ears,” I spluttered. “Then I rinsed around the back, but I forgot all about the top of your head. Now 9 6 there’s shampoo in it as well as dandruff. It’s worse than ever!” “What the hell. I’ll just comb it a bit harder.” Little Ding hauled her comb through the tangles. “Let’s go to the bathhouse down the street. You ever been?” “No. There’s nobody to keep the boiler going at our place now, so I can’t wash.” “Silly! Come to the bathhouse with me. It’s really fun.” So I took her along to the public bathhouse, where we talked and shrieked and giggled and scrubbed each other’s backs. “It’s great. We’ll have to come here again. It’s much more fun than washing at home.” She was watching all the naked women wandering about. “Do your tits itch?” she asked me. “Mm.” I was embarrassed to admit it. “Mine too. It’s scary, like you can feel them growing. Sooner or later they’ll get all big and floppy like those old girls.” She stole a look at the women around us. When we got back to my place, we searched out a couple of my mother’s bras and tried them on. They slipped off the minute we moved. If we lifted our arms, they ended up around our necks. We almost died laughing. “Did you ever eat cabbage rolls, Little Ding? Come and try. There’s one each...


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MARC Record
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