故事 – 50 years (2)

「叫雞?」You hear people yelling this to whoever disembarks on one of our over a thousand islets, together being the most extravagant pearl necklace covering the most gorgeous neckline and collarbones of our Country’s lady-like blue body, the South China Sea, if viewed from the outer space. That is what our Country always tells us.  The question literally means, you wanna call a chick?  It used to be a cheeky and not-so-subtle way of soliciting prostitution services on the streets in old times.  Now it only means, do you need a motorboat trip around our islets, which is one of the main income sources of ours, apart from fishing.   In Cantonese, 雞 is pronounced “ghie", an higher pitch intonation of 偈/機, meaning the Motor, what we now call those motorboats.

Yeah we do have some foreigners joining our motorboat trip time to time.  But those old folks say they cannot compare with the Island’s heyday, that used to attract millions and millions of foreigners for visit and business long time ago, guess before the Event.   They say there are some evidences still remaining on the Island where those villains go as their last journey, where if one dares to go.  Those huge sundered flyovers along the northern coast of the Island that should be designed for traffic volume we cannot even imagine ever happened in this place.  That prison we call IFC whose architectural design hints not a bit at its existing function, that they say used to be one of the tallest commercial buildings in Asia, that they say used to be the most spectacular and luxurious symbol of the vivacity of the Island at that times.  Those much shorter concrete remnants surrounding IFC, dot-spreading the middle of the Peak, the abandoned southern coast of the Island, spared but guess not for long by the rampage of the tropical forest re-colonisation since the Event.  They say those remnants are the evidences of what a forgone and forgotten place called Hong Kong represented once upon a time. Big government and bureaucracy, astronomical riches, capitalism to the prime, advanced culture to the fore, utmost greed and corruption rotten to the marrow.  They say, one Chief Executive, the leader of the place-used-to-be, whose name they scantily remember as Wong, gave a powerful speech to the people-used-to-be, that “this place, and with her what we preciously hold and proudly show, our core values, our virtues, our pursuit of the most pristine form of civilisation, will withstand and thrive, against however great the challenges, crises and damages, from Nature or Human or Other Species." Huh, they say, but this place could not withstand the Event, a mistake or conspiracy no one can tell still, a damage beyond any kind of heal for sure,  a sword struck right through this vampire where his heart is with the tip blade coming out the other side. All the spell and ghoulish blood that used to make it so powerful got sucked out violently off this creature. Those greed and corruption. Those bureaucracy. Those riches. Those which they used to call civilisation. Those prime quickly decayed into putrescence, reclaimed bit by more and faster bit by what it had been much earlier. Tropical forest. where here should be, at the Northern latitude 22.3 degree. To tell what that Wong said was such a romantic joke.

「叫雞?」I kept yelling in that afternoon I met him, at the end of the jetty of the Islet I lived.  That white guy with goaty mustache and was wrapped in a blue denim jacket that obviously too big to him.  He stepped off his ferry from the North, the land which they say used to be part of that Hong Kong, walked at such a slow pace that told me something should have happened to him. Sick or other things I did not know then. Even more odd, that slow walker wrapped his jacket in a way that I could not even see his arms and hands. No hint. Not even a piece of shoulder joint.  「要艇?」I pursued my asking. A Cantonese that now means do you want a prostitute. Prostitution is also one of the pillars of this place, even though no one wants to speak out this fact. Not even our Country.  Prostitution service is provided on a small rowing boat, on which a prostitute handles the oars. One calls I want a boat, that is what 「要艇?」literally means, we arrange him to get on the small boat he chooses. The girl then rows the boat out with him to the water we don’t care to watch, where she lets the man control the boat, and everything on board.

That white guy did not answer. But did he not seem he got nothing of what I said. He seemed to use up what was still left of his might to nod.  It is not a custom to touch your customers. So I just stand at a distance in his front, to guide him to those boats while attending him.  When we walked, at that snail speed, to the boat where June (六月) rode, that white man fell. Fell like dead.

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