Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Hungry Ghost

The moon was round,
yellow and bright,
at Sam Wun Chuk,
that August night.

Mich and I,
we were famished,
so filled our bellies,
with 3 Bowl porridge.

The waiter brought,
to my disgust,
his thumb in broth,
Is that a must?

I must admit,
disgust was fleeting,
for the joy,
is in the eating.

Our hunger appeased,
we turned attention,
to the impending,

For tonight,
of many others,
we share our land,
with undead brothers.

The Hungry Ghosts,
it would appear,
will walk the earth,
2 months this year.

A fact reminded,
by my sister dear,
"Come not after midnight!'
"You'll bring them here!"

I realise,
something's not right,
for Mich had gone,
quite pale and white.

"I see them..", she said,
thru lips turned purple,
I knew she meant,
"I see dead people..."

"Ignore them!", I say,
as calm I might,
my timely advice,
lost to the night.

"I can't, I can't...",
" Qi is low!"
"I have been warned...
by a mosquito".

I squint my eyes,
next to her ear,
a mosquito indeed,
hovers near.

"She looks at me!",
said Mich frantically,
jumping to her feet,
ready to flee.

That very moment,
on my back I feel,
something creepy,

Without a thought,
I thrust my arms,
to restrain evil,
from causing harm.

I crane my neck,
and looked straight,
into crimson eyes,
that seem quite dead.

Long, coarse hair,
black of colour,
enveloped a face,
of greyish pallor.

My skin crawled,
but momentarily,
it looked surprised,
and then was angry.

With wicked snarl,
it hisses bile,
into my eye,
that thing so vile.

My face contorted,
my lips withdrawn,
flashed wolfen fangs,
my teeth were gone.

Our growls fill,
the air with dread,
for this twilight,
who will meet fate?

In bed I soaked,
in my own sweat,
did I but dream,
of hungry dead?

- Stephen Tan '06

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Dean Martin and Hainanese Chicken Rice

I was having a late lunch in Jalan Gasing today when I bumped into Dean Martin.

Not at the popular Restaurant PJ Chicken but the one next to it. The 70's-looking coffeeshop in the corner. Restoran Satellite. An unlikely name for a coffeeshop, a name inspired perhaps by it's close proximity to a telecommunication tower. Telecommunication = Satellite. Perhaps.

It was a lazy Sunday afternoon, I was feeling lazy and didn't exactly feel like cramping into a restaurant packed with ravenous families so I chose the anti-social option. Restoran Satellite.

It still had those small, green and white tiles which created symmetrical designs on the floor. Round formica-topped tables and chairs on the main part of the restaurant and green colored, concrete round tables with matching concrete stools in the open air courtyard, partly shaded by a retractable green awning with used-to-be white stripes.

I'd just ordered a bowl of kon low kuey tiau with a side order steamed chicken drumstick and taken my seat at a plastic-topped table in the courtyard area of the coffeeshop when I heard someone sing," Volare, oh, cantare, wo oh oh oh..."

"Dean? Dean Martin?", I heard myself saying. "Hello. How do you do?", he replied, pleased to know that someone in a Chinese coffeeshop in PJ recognised him. I must have looked really surprised to see him cos he said,"You look like you've seen a ghost".

"Um, a matter of fact, er....Aren't you dead?", I said regretting it almost immediately. "Sometimes I am, sometimes I'm not", he said, as though it was the most logical thing in the world.

I introduced myself as the Myanmar waiter brought my kon lou kuey tiau and steamed chicken. "Join me.", I said to Dean. "Why not", he said and plonked himself across the green concrete table.

The waiter recited the menu," Chicken Rice, Kuey Tiau Soup, Kuey Tiau Curry, Beefball, Nga Choy..." "Thanks, I had some chicken rice earlier...but I wouldn't mind a cappucino", he said to the waiter. " "Here not have cappucino sir! Got kopi, kopi O kau, kopi O, kopi peng....", replied the waiter. "Well, um, a kopi O kau then".

"How's the Rat Pack?", I asked, trying to recover from my verbal faux pas in between mouthfuls of smooth, thinly-sliced kuey tiau tossed in a combination of black sauce and sesame seed oil and tender steamed chicken lightly-flavoured in soy sauce and garnished with spring onion parsley.

"Dead", he said. "And loving it! Frankie and Sammy D. Jr both agree with me that it's more swinging down there that it is up here". "They just don't make music like they used to". "Apart from that it's pretty much the same as it is here".

The waiter brought his kopi O kau just as Elvis Presley walked in and started singing Kentucky Rain. He looked well in his white, sequinned catsuit and trademark oversized sunglasses. Not the bloated, 5 kg a day coke habit Elvis that died of a heart attack. He looked lean though I'm sure he still had peanut butter and banana sandwiches. He'd been spotted all over the US but here in PJ?

Dean Martin raised his kopi O kau to Elvis and I did the same with my teh peng. I made a mental note to tell my dad and brothers about this place where all the old greats were hanging.

"You mean same in the physical sense?", I asked, continuing our conversation about life after death. "Yup! From Beverly Hills to Monte Carlo to PJ". "We got the clubs, the parties, the booze, the broads." "But I gotta tell ya Stevo, Chinese houses down there look goddamn awful!"

I smiled knowingly, thinking about the mansion we sent granma more than a month back. I wonder how she's keeping.

"Are there angels? With Harpsicords?", I wondered out loud. "The only angels I seen are 70's reruns of Charlie's Angels". "Harpsicords?", he laughed. "Nobody plays that anymore".

As though on cue Sam Cooke came on next singing Cupid as he joined Elvis at a table. "Dino, ma man!", he yelled across the coffeeshop. Dean turned around and waved. I finished off the rest of my lunch and pulled out my pack of Marlboros and offered Dean one. "Gracie!", he said as he exhaled smoke that drifted lazily up to the green and white retractable awning.

More and more familiar people appeared in the coffeeshop. Elvis Costello was there. Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline.

"So, what brings you back from the dead to a coffeeshop in PJ?", I asked finally. "The Hainanese Chicken Rice mostly", Dean Martin said. "I might be dead but I still gotta have my Chicken Rice". "And this is the only Hainanese Chicken Rice place that I come to. Same with Elvis, Sammy D and the rest of the guys from my era".

"Why's that?", I wanted to know. "You see that?", he pointed to two old wood speakers sitting on a cupboard inside the coffeeshop. "When the boss turns that on, he brings me back to life", Dean said smiling. "You know any other Chinese coffeeshop that serves Hainanese Chicken Rice and plays swingin music from my time?" I nodded, understanding finally,"Radio Redifusion".

"Hey, if you ever crave for Hainanese Chicken Rice, if you don't make an appearance here, you look up my granma". I borrowed a pen from the towkay, pulled out the foil from my Marlboros and scribbled my granma's name and on it. "Look her up in the YellowPages".

"Much obliged Stevo", he took the piece of paper from me and beamed like he'd hit the jackpot in Vegas. With that I paid the bill and got up to leave. " It was my pleasure Dean!", I said as I shook his hand. "Dino", he said.

As I walked out of the coffeeshop I passed a tall, well-dressed Negro who was humming a familiar tune. It was Nat King Cole.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


She came into my life like a ray of sunshine intruding a typhoon. She was bright, beautiful, funny, caring and as bubbly as Moet in bad turbulence. And as wholesome as home cooked beefstew. The sort of girl a doctor would prescribe if he could prescribe one for a jaded bastard like me. The sort of girl I could bring home to mom.

And mom would undoubtedly have given her seal of approval. I knew the moment I laid eyes on her. This quintessential girl next door in a universe increasingly starved of girl next doors. And she liked me.

For the next few days over the course of work we got to know each other a little better. Our dates felt, different. There was a purity about it I haven't felt since I was 17. I was a late bloomer. I took her for coffee on Monday, dinner on Wednesday, ice skating on Saturday. And home on Sunday.

She was 25 going on 30 and knew exactly what she wanted out of life. And a relationship. If it wasn't working out she would go cold turkey, she tells me. But that doesn't stop us from spending time together. I even got to meet her family. And I looked forward to her meeting mine.

But she stops replying my messages. I try a few more times with the same result. I think I tried calling her as well. I don't always remember the bad details. She doesn't reply when I send her a birthday greeting. I respond to her non-response by saying that she wasn't very nice.

Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. Then one day she calls me. We talk briefly. A few days later we had some work together. A guy drops her off. I presume he's her boyfriend. I can sense these things.

We have breakfast with a young friend of ours two weeks later and basically hang out the whole day. Later that night I have dinner with her parents. I message a friend that I'm nervous having dinner with her parents. But I accidently send it to her. Clever.

After dinner we head off to watch a comedy/mime duo called Gamarjobat from Japan. On the way she asks me why we stopped keeping in touch.

I tell her she never replied my SMSes. She tells me she did. I tell her I thought she'd decided I wasn't the guy for her and she'd gone cold turkey on me. She tells me she thought I'd met someone else and decided not to call her. She tells me she replied my birthday greeting. She tells me she'd been seeing someone for 4 months. I sit in dumbfounded silence.

Gamarjobat was wildly entertaining and hilarious. Without saying a word they conveyed every conceivable expression and emotion. A direct contrast from the two of us, both articulate and with every telecommunication technology at our disposal. And yet we'd miscommunicated with grave consequences. For me at least.

After I drop her off she sends me an SMS saying things happen for a reason. I can't for the life of me figure out the reason. I lay in the dark trying to make sense of it all. I want to cry but my tearducts are as a well long drawn of its last drop of water. And then it hits me like a cold drizzle, a little at first before I am drenched in the knowledge; the Girl Next Door Doesn't Exist.

In my world she belongs to someone else. In my world the women Smoke. And Drink. And Swear.

But they Stay.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


My skin crawled to consciousness before a balmy numbness took over. Then my mind woke up. It struggled to register where I was. And the relentless tapping that echoed from the bathroom at 3 in the morning.

Slowly it came to me. I was in the master bedroom of a house somewhere in PD. It belonged to my mom's fellow churchgoer. Just the day before my mom had given me the keys and a group of us had driven down to spend the weekend. My godbrother, his wife and daughter and another couple.

We had arrived in PD about eleven in the morning, grabbed a quick breakfast and then found our way to the house in a residential area off the 6th mile of the Port Dickson trunk road. It was a nondescript single storey link house. We unlocked the wooden folding doors. It was a decent enough house, spartanly furnished but enough to accommodate a proper night's sleep. We unloaded our luggage and proceeded to sweep and mop the house. It must have been unoccupied for at least a couple of months judging from the amount of dust.

Then we had lunch and spent the entire afternoon at the beach. The beach in Blue Lagoon was as it is now, not the sort of beach you see in a travel brochure that sends thousands of tourist flocking to our shores. But not too bad for not-very-picky city folk who needed a quick fuss-free weekend away from Kl. Dinner was at the warong by the main road before we returned to the house about nine. I was dead beat by eleven and decided to call it a night.

My godbrother had taken the master bedroom in the front when we got there in the morning and then decided against it as it was a little dark and gloomy. But I like dark and gloomy. So I plonked my duffel bag on the bed and proceeded to wash the adjoining bathroom which was as dusty and covered in cobwebs as the rest of the house.

It was from the same bathroom that the sound of tapping of feet had woken me. I thought I was dreaming but the cold sweat on my body reminded me that I wasn't. My heart pounded violently at first then I told myself to remain calm. I laid in bed for about five minutes, getting accustomed to my surroundings and the tapping feet.

Then to convince myself that the tapping feet didn't belong to any one of us, I got up slowly and walked to the bedroom door. I opened the door. In the hall, sleeping on thin matresses lined next to each other were my godbrother, his wife, my goddaughter and the couple. All five of them. All there.
All fast asleep.

That discounted the possibility of anyone of them being in my bathroom. Besides there was only one entrance to the bathroom which was thru my room and it was locked. No one else could have gotten in. Fear gripped me.

Then obstinacy stepped in, closed the bedroom door and led me back to the bed. I laid down. The feet were still tapping, one after the other. Tap, tap, tap, tap... I said to the tapping sound coming from the bathroom," Please leave me alone, I just want to sleep.." Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.....I repeated the words again, in Cantonese this time, "Mm goi mou cheng ku ngo, ngo you fan gou...." Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap..... I tried a different approach,"Tiu nia ma hai!" and kicked the bathroom wall for effect. Taptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptap.....

My pleas went unheeded so I decided to just ignore the tapping feet and try to sleep. And after a long while, it did stop. And slowly I drifted off to sleep...tiptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptap it started again but with more intensity now. I cursed again and tried to ignore it. Fifteen minutes later it stopped. I started to drift off again.

Terromm, teroomm, trumm, teromm, terumm.... goddammit! Fingers drummed on the bathroom door now. That cold, numb feeling spread all over my body all over again. The hairs on my hands moved as tho they were carressed by some imaginary breeze. "
F#@k you!", I yelled at the bathroom and spent the next stubborn hour or so trying to sleep in spite of the drumming. And every once in a while it would stop and when I was just about to doze off it would start again.

Terum, trum,terrum,terum, trumm, two hours later I was getting really, really tired and falling asleep in spite of the drumming. "Crashh!" It sounded like the cistern cover hitting the floor. I jumped up from the bed, snatched the pillow and blanket and stormed out of the room cursing the bathroom door as I passed. I wasn't getting any sleep here.

In the morning I was woken up by my god daughter, 3 years old at that time. She climbed on me as she always does, pulling the covers from my face and chirping,"Good morning Godpa!" I opened my sleepy eyes as she climbed off and tottered into the room I had tried unsuccessfully to sleep in. Almost immediately she runs out again, "Momok, momok.." she laughs in her nervous little voice.

I dragged myself off the sofa which had become my bed only a few hours ago and walked into the room. I opened the bathroom door. I wasn't too surprised by what I saw. The bathroom which I had washed just the day before was a complete mess. The cistern cover was on the floor and the entire bathroom was covered in dirt and wood splinters. Whatever was in the bathroom musn't have been too happy with my cleaning.

I told the others of my experience the night before. Not surprisingly none of them had heard the tapping and the loud drumming or any other disturbance. Lucky me.

We spent the rest of the day at the beach. But it wasn't exactly my day in the sun, I felt drained cos I'd had an almost sleepless night. And I couldn't wait to get back to KL.

The next day at work I spoke to my boss. He was a this Hokkien guy from Penang who had a gift for reading palm and dabbled in a little bit of fengshui. He looked at my eyes and said," Wah, your luck is very bad lah! You better do something about it." It had occurred to me that my luck was indeed unfavourable. In the past two weeks I'd had my car knocked into while it was parked and I'd also been run off the road into a ditch.

A colleague recommended a medium somewhere in SS3 who was supposed to be very "ong". I called the medium and she summoned me to her house at 8.00pm the following night. I can't remember now if the time I saw her had any kind of significance.

So at 8.00pm the next night I found myself in front of another single storey house, this time in SS3. It looked like any other Chinese owned house in SS3, a couple of potted plants ran the length of the drain and a big-ish mango tree grew in the middle of the garden. A little red altar hung from the wall on the left side of the doorway.

A middle aged Chinese lady greeted me at top of the tiled stairs and I followed her into the house. At the end of the hall was a huge rosewood altar about six feet across and six feet high. The legs of the altar were about about 3 feet tall. Several ceramic deities that looked like fierce medieval Chinese warriors stood on the altar. In front of the deities were copper pots filled with ash and a bunch of joss sticks stood impaled in the ashes. Mandarin oranges and pink colored cupcakes were placed in pink plastic plates as offering.

The lady asked what my problem was, the way a doctor does. I told her my little experience in PD. She said my "chi" was low and that I should stay away from water for a year.

I almost choked. I loved water. I had to be in and around water. Nothing made me happier than being immersed in water, doing strokes in a pool or diving into the salty shallows of the sea. In water I thought clearly and the world seemed a better place. I breathed better in water.

She made me crawl under the altar three times, I think to humble myself before god and to cleanse my body from the unholy. And drink the ashes of a yellow paper scrawled with Chinese inscriptions mixed with water. Officially I was cleansed. But I wasn't happy. I couldn't stay away from water.

I wanted a second opinion. And the coming weekend I got it. At a Chinese temple hidden away in some corner in the predominantly Indian neighbourhood of Brickfields. I wondered what a Chinese temple was doing in Brickfields.

It was a red, brick building with giant joss sticks sculpted with dragons at both sides of its entrance. Spiral joss hung from the ceilings amidst Taoist chants and the chimes of brass gongs.

The medium was a stern looking fourty-something year old woman. She looked me in the eyes and said," Wah, hou hak ah lei!" (Wah, very bad luck ah you!) She asked me why I was there. I regurgitated my PD story.

"Hmmph! Mm gin guai mm pha hak" (Hmmph! Don't see ghost don't fear the dark), she spat. "Yee ga gin zho, leng mou?" (Now you've seen it, is it pretty?)

"Ngo mou geen tou, ngo theng tou" (I didn't see it, I heard it), I answered defiantly in off-key Cantonese.

"Leng mou hei tseng?" (Is her voice melodious?), she taunted.

"Ngo mou theng tou hei tseng" (I didn't hear her voice), I insisted and drummed my fingers on the table, a little demo on what I'd heard.

"Ha ha ha ha, looi guai lei ge. Mou tau ge, hou leng ge!" (Ha ha ha ha, it's a female ghost. Don't have head, very pretty!), laughed the phony tho I really couldn't see the humour in it.

"Yee ga hai guai jeet, zhong wui geen goh ge, hahahaha..." (It's the hungry ghost month, you will see her again, hahahaha...), echoed her laughter as I drove away. She also warned me to stay away from water.

"Yee ga hai guai jeet, zhong wui geen goh ge, hahahaha...", her taunt resonated in my head as I attempted to sleep that night. And the next night. And every night for the rest of the month.

Every time a cat scampered across the roof, a bird fluttered outside my window, a dog barked, every rustle of every leaf, every howl of the wind, I would wake up with a start, visions of a headless woman floating across my mind's eye. It was a very long August.

Eventually August came and went and the dark rings under my eyes began to fade away. I longed once again to be in water. What the mediums had told me about staying away from water for a year became an afterthought.

So I found myself standing at the edge of the public pool in Kelana Jaya. Never had water in a communal pool looked so inviting. The blue, chlorinated water sparkled in the afternoon sun. So pristine as it splashed against the tiled edge of the pool. Splish, splash, splish, come in, splash, stephen, splish, come, in, splash...

I took in the warm mid-morning sun, and the green trees, and the blue sky and finally a lungful of air. Then I closed my eyes and dived into the pungent, chlorinated depths of my world.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Nuthin' much, just blowing bubbles by the pool...
(Ezra was killing himself doing this, then I thought it would make a good picture.
I asked him to keep on blowing...)
(Juli did a lot of cartwheels in Santubong. I like this shot
cos it looks like something out of Streetfighter)

Thursday, January 05, 2006

A Hard Day

Today sucked. More than it sucked on the other days that sucked.

The offline session was just going downhill by the second. The clients were painful and unreasonable, the agency even more so.

Everything had seemed to go perfectly, without a hitch. The agency had briefed me on the storyboard about a month back and I had reverted with two treatments. In one of the treatments I had attempted to inject an idea into the TVC which was execution driven (read: NO IDEA). The second treatment was pretty close to the agency storyboard albeit with a visual tweak here and there, just in case they took offence to the fact that I had tried to alter the storyboard.

Which they did. "You dun like our storyboard ah?", Phua, the not so creative Creative Director had said. "I like the storyboard, I just feel we can push it further", I answered diplomatically. I knew shootboard A wasn't ever going to see the light of day though a week earlier the agency had raved about how they liked the direction the treatment was going, tho some of them seemed a lilttle nervous. That was when the Art Director was still around. Now that he had left for another agency the story was different.

"Don't worry, I have a treatment that doesn't wander too far", I said plucking shootboard B from the folio bag. And the agency rejoiced.

A few days later we had the final pre-pro. No problem! I breezed thru the talent cards, location, wardrobe etc. There were minor changes to the wardrobe, made by me. Too many flowers on the dress I felt, too clumsy! No objections.

The shoot? A breeze. Except for a shot where we had to splash water on Samantha which gave us a bit of a headache. Water splash not big enough. Water splash too big. Splash more on Sam's hand. Sam don't react before the water splashes you. Sam don't grimace too much when the water splashes you. Piece a cake!

So what went wrong with the edit? Everything was planned and shot with the agency's approval beforehand. They were even there beside me while I was shooting, stuffing their faces with pisang goreng and currypuffs all day. What a joyful day out!

The client had a problem with the colour, too dark. I reassured them that this was just one-lite TC and we would go in for a final grade. They didn't like the shots. I told them I would look for different takes and go for a faster edit.

The agency reacted to the clients comments the only way they knew how. They disassociated themselves from me. I was now public enemy No.1. Phua responded to every comment that the client made with, "We told him!" Jane the MD and Felice the writer were no different.

Now this was totally unexpected. I had spent a decade as an Art Director with a multi national Advertising Agency. I backed up my Film Directors if we made a joint decision on a shoot. I didn't weasel off when clients had negative comments. What were pre pros for? Why was this agency different?

Small matter. Wai Woh the editor and I made the changes for the next preview with agency and client. Agency came in first. They were the same people who sat next to me on the shoot, happily stuffing their faces with pisang goreng and currypuffs. Yet they were now cold and withdrawn. They made changes to the changes that I had done against my objections.

The clients came in. They made changes to the changes that were made to my changes. In other words the clients wanted it changed back to the way I had done it. "We told him so!", said Phua. "Agency must be responsible also, cannot always blame Director!" Phua's eyes bulged with contempt for me. "We already told him, he dowan listen!", repeated the double headed snake. My patience died.

I got up from where I was sitting next to the edit machine, jumped up on the sofa and grabbed the decorative katana from the wall. "Why you wanna kill us ah?", mocked Phua. Little did he know that the katana hanging on the wall was hardly a decoration but an instrument of death crafted by the master swordmaker of the Edo period, Inoue Shinkai over 700 years ago. A thousand men had seen early deaths at the end of its steely blade. It hung on the wall for little emergencies, such as this.

"I am going to teach you a lesson in Bushido", I said. "Death before dishonor." "Hahahahahaa", he laughed. A blinding silver flash and half his mullet fell slowly to the floor. My sword was still in its scabbard. Everyone gasped in silent awe.

"Honorable clients, I beg you leave this room", I said. They scurried out of the edit suite. Wai Woh was smiling. He had died a hundred deaths at the hands of this agency without honor and integrity as had a dozen Directors before me. "Edit them nicely ah!", he said as he left the suite. "Ha,ha,ha,ha!"

Phua lunged at me suddenly with a rusty NT cutter. I stepped to the side and elbowed the back of his head as he flew by. He crashed into the edit machine. "Keehehehhheeee", it was Jane. She had transformed into an old witch. No, Jane was always an old witch! Except now she crouched on the wall drooling green slime all over the yellow sofa. The hair on the back of my neck stood.

She leapt at me. I ran up the wall and drew my sword. Everything was moving in slo-mo now. Her leaping at me. Me running up the wall. Drawing my sword. Her flying pass. My sword slicing thru her torso. Green slime splashing all over the room.

"Argheeeeeeeeee", her shrieks pierced the room as the two decapitated parts of her body landed on the floor. "It's all your fault, your fault!", she screamed from a legless body. Her scrawny legs thrashed around the other side of the room, trying to get a foothold.

My eyes scanned the now dimmed room for Felice. She was no where to be seen. A pair of claws reached down from above and grabbed my throat in a crushing vice, lifting me off the floor. Felice was standing upside down from the ceiling. I would have sliced off her hands but in the struggle my katana had fallen from my grasp. I could feel the veins in my neck thickening and my eyeballs bulging from lack of oxygen. I was losing consciousness..

Then I remembered the colorful stabilo pen in my shirt pocket, the one I kept as a color reference. I fumbled for it with my right hand while my left hand clawed at her hands around my throat. I uncapped it with my thumb and with whatever life I had left in me jabbed it into her eye.

"Wroaarrrrrr!", she screamed uncannily like a man as I crashed to the ground and gasped for sweet life-giving air. "You bastard!! I'll never wear turqouise eyeliner again, sob!" Bitch! At a time like this all she could think of was looking good.

I hardly had time to catch my breath. Phua was standing over me, black liquid oozing from an open wound on the left side of his head, with a swivel chair held above his head. I was pretty sure he didn't intend to sit in it. I crashed my boot into his groin. I heard a sickening crunch and wondered why I felt only bone. I was right. This man had no balls!

The door flew open. It was my EP. "You Directors! I've had enough of th*" My shuriken sank deep into her windpipe. She knelt at the alter of god but Monday thru Saturday she double-dealt, lied, connived, cut corners and brown-nosed her way into the devil's heart. She must have wondered if my shuriken had eaten into production cost as she hit the ground.

My ordeal was far from over. Jane's legless torso had found her way to me and was grabbing at my legs and Felice had momentarily forgotten about turquoise eyeliner. From the corner of my eye I noticed a faint glint of silver. It was my katana. I lunged for it but fell short of it, the witch was on my heels. She opened her mouth wide to sink her dentured teeth into my flesh.

My katana was almost within reach. Almost. Just a little more. Got it. I lobbed off Jane's head, spun my katana around and jabbed it into Felice's chest in one fluid move. Felice's arms were still clawing, trying to reach me. I twisted the blade hard, her body convulsed until her arms went limp as sinful life ebbed from her.

I felt cold steel enter my side. I felt only cold at first then it turned into searing pain that spead thru my body like frost over a slowly freezing lake. It hurt like hell but much less than the dozen symbolic daggers they'd stuck in my back.

I tried to pull my sword from Felice's bony chest but it caught. Phua came at me again with his rusty NT cutter. I caught his arm with my left hand and slammed my right elbow down on it. Hard. It popped like a party cracker.

I ripped the 12" monitor off the table and brought it crashing down on his head. The force broke the glass on the monitor and his head sank into the little grey box as sparks flew around his neck. His body twitched in the blue electric aura that covered him. "That'll teach you good TV!", I thought.

I looked at the carnage before me and felt an inner peace I hadn't felt for months. The lifeless body parts and blood splattered on the walls had a surreal beauty about it. It seemed like I was in a Goya. This dance of death would have looked good on my reel. Where was my film crew when I needed them?

I yanked out my blade from Felice, stepping on her flat chest for leverage. I flicked her unholy blood from my katana and wiped the remaining ooze on Phua's blood splattered, once white shirt. But my blade was still stained with the lifeblood of evil.

Only fire would wash away the blood of the unholy. I took the can of Ronsonol from Wai Woh's table and splashed some on my sword. I splashed some on the bodyparts of Felice, Jane, Phua and my EP for good measure. Then I lit my blade with my zippo. Unholy blood sizzled and evaporated in the ensuing flames of vengeance.

I clinked my zippo open again and flicked the wheel. Fire sparked to life. I threw the zippo into the middle of the room. The flames danced around like little Red Indians, before they spread onto the bodies littering the floor.

I kicked something as I opened the door. It was Jane's head. Lifeless eyes stared accusingly at me. I kicked her head. It bounced a little and rolled into the fire. "It's your fault! All your fault!!", it screamed as it burst into flames.

A solitary tear ran down my face as I closed the door. I will miss my zippo, I've had it for 13 years. And it's been hard day.

Friday, December 30, 2005


She stood at the bar consoling an endless glass of wine, her in-my-eyes-perfect figure, not too slim with curves in all the places that mattered, silhoutted in a black dress. Her breasts, two perfect orbs resting precariously in the fragile nest of her plunging neckline. Her eyes were dark and intense, her nose straight and narrow, her lips I wanted to kiss, framed by her long almost straight hair.

She looked close to perfect. Except for those arms entwined around her. Obsessive, jealous, claw-like tentacles guarding her, protecting her. But I was left defenceless to her gaze. Her eyes looked at me, thru me, at some infinite point beyond my comprehension.

Every now and then she would tear herself from him, and make her way thru the crowded tex mex restaurant cum bar to share a glass of wine and wayward laughter with me. We spoke of mundane things like the weather but our chemistry was hardly lukewarm.

But he was never far away, always watching her every move like a gargoyle from a dark concrete corner. Always hovering near us. With a giant flap of his leathery wings he would be beside us squatting on a barstool or crouching on the bar between us or hanging from the giant speakers mounted on the wall, above us.

And like some helpless, habitual prisoner she would return to her dark, dank dungeon yet at once long for the sunshine and freedom without.

But evidently even creatures from nightmares heed some dark, evil calling. When he left to answer nature's call I saw an opportune moment to say goodbye. And I did. She crumbled in my arms like a badly baked loveletter. I kissed her on her cheek, my lips floating dangerous centimeters from hers. Her lips were parted expectantly the way a carp gasps for air at the water surface. I was tempted to suck the life from her welcome lips.

Instead I broke free from her embrace even as the shadow of giant wings broke from the gents toilet. Yellow, bloodshot, suspecting eyes scanned us for the slightest hint of misdemeanor. Gargoyles speak a forgotten tongue but do they read body language, I wondered.

My eyes said goodbye and I dissappeared into the crowd and out the door. I've never been one for grand entrances but I sure know how to make an exit.

The night greeted me with its Rempits, Fengtaus and Machas. The acrid KL air was a curious blend of cooling asphalt, carbon monoxide and the decay of the day gone by. My sensitive nose picked up a familiar scent. It was trouble brewing in the air.

I whispered a silent prayer for strength. To the deaf gods of my unanswered dreams.