"There’s an our kind and a their kind."
I was Indiana Jones, hanging from a rope above a pit of snakes, my moves skilled and sure. My recorder was below, begging to be rescued like whatever unrealistic female heroine Jones would fall in love with and then totally forget about by the sequel.
Out here, she knew, was his sanctuary, away from his daughter’s problems. Here, only these more easily governed fruits of his labor existed.
I was just taking some time off, I told myself. From college. But more and more it felt like from life.
Nora learns “gaijin” when she hears the teenagers say it. She’s not heard an adult use it, and when it’s said in her proximity the eikaiwa manager turns stern and scolds the student. So while she knows that it means “outsider,” it must mean something else, something a little shameful, the kind of word said only at home.
When Amy whispered in Russ’s ear that what he wanted her to do would cost him fifty bucks, she meant it to be sexy.
With a clogged throat and quivering bowels he’d watched the river of muscle flow beneath his balcony, the white-clad men in their blood-red neckties tumbling through the streets, vaulting over the barriers in their frantic attempts to escape the horns of the onrushing beasts.
Mrs. Marion heard Ronnie’s car turn into the driveway, and then shortly afterward the top of its hood slid into view out the kitchen window, breaking her concentration. A sour rush of annoyance spurted into her face like a grease explosion.
His mind raced over a series of firsts. The first time he used a men’s room; the first time a man took him for another man; the first time a woman did, and the first time one flirted with him; the first time he introduced himself with his new male name.
The world raced by in the opposite direction, a dazzling blur of sun-kissed blues and greens and browns. The sound was an ever-crashing wave. The driver’s eyes darted back and forth between the road and the rearview mirror. “Tell me something,” he said. “You have children?”