Late at night, after much snow has fallen and while vestiges of the downpour continue gently, the streets are very quiet. The blanket of white inhibits sound and makes the yellow streetlights eerie beacons. In those hours, empty streets offer themselves to me, and I take them slowly, unwilling to ravage them after their recent purification.
I drive slowly, allowing in the darkened sound from outside. Ahead of me, on a small street well-lit, a car stops. I slow at a short distance behind, not unhappy with the respite. At my left, some ways behind, a young man with a red toque trudges next to a young woman with a yellow toque, both of them bundled in winter coats. Out of the car in front of me jumps a chinaman. He is followed more slowly by a female chinaman, and a taller, thinner white man wearing a three-piece suit in the old style and a bowler hat atop his head. In stark contrast to the chinaman, his expression belies detached curiosity.
The chinaman walks ferociously towards the young couple, and starts screaming at them. The snow on the ground muffles sound, but his words are decipherable. ‘You walk in front of me when I’m driving? I’ll show you!’ I hear the crunch of the snow under his boots as he runs toward them. Lighter crunches follow quickly: the female chinaman. The young couple looks up and recoils with surprise.
The chinaman attacks the young man. They struggle. With my head turned, I watch the scene through my car window. The girl in the passenger seat next to me is silent. I glance at the man in the suit, still standing at the open door of the small, red, beat-up car, looking curiously at the chinaman beating the young man.
At first, the female chinaman helps her counterpart, but seeing his dominance over the young man, she tries to pull him away. The young woman puts herself in between the chinaman and her ostensible lover. The chinaman’s barrage forces him to the ground. The young man is huddled on the sidewalk, his lover crouched above him. She is yelling both to him and at the chinaman. The female chinaman has been able to subdue her counterpart and the chinese villains retreat slowly to their car. The man in the suit smiles crookedly and gets back in the car.
The female chinaman sits in the passenger seat and her counterpart sits behind the wheel. A brief repose. Suddenly, the chinaman rushes out of the car with his teeth bared and in his hand a saw. A hand saw whose brandished teeth mirror the chinaman’s. He runs toward the young couple, who are picking themselves up off the ground. The female chinaman jumps out the car and runs after him once again.
The young woman wraps herself around her weak lover and yells at the chinaman, hoping her voice will be a match against the saw. He tries to get purchase on the young man, but she clings to her lover tightly, turning this way and that, attempting to outmanoeuvre the saw’s wrath. The female chinaman pulls at her counterpart, trying to diminish his rage. She falls to the ground, a victim of his fist. Frustrated, the chinaman finally grabs a hold of the young woman, whose hands are wrapped around her inept lover. Hypnotised, I watch while the chinaman takes the saw to the young woman’s hand, while he saws off the tip of a finger, while she screams in pain, while she grips her lover’s body.
The man in the suit is out of the car now. He is alarmed. He notices me. The chinaman follows his gaze. I get out of my car, leaving behind the girl in the passenger seat. I run to a building, a building like those in 1920s Chicago, with a gilded lift. I enter the lift and ascend, sparing a thought for the girl in my car.