black t shirt
When I first walked down the street by the hotel called, “The Grand Hyatt Shanghai,” I found myself looking over towards the Oriental Pearl Tower; it reminded me of the tower in Kyoto, Japan . It was a marvelous looking city–this Shanghai, I thought at the time, with its modern architecture and western fashion. Thus, the old civilization I pictured had faded away like the movies of Charlie Chan; whom I watch in the 50s; although I think they made them in the 30s and 40s. Oh, my name is Milton Carpenter, and I write travel articles for a magazine.
As I was about to say, I ended up visiting the beautiful Shanghai Huangpu River a dozen times when I was in Shanghai. Reminds me when I was in San Antonio, Texas , I visited the Alamo five times. I get this sense of wistfulness, or is it nostalgia in me and I go back to the places I love, many times; yes, I see it once, end up thinking about it often and feel it in my soul, and got to go back again and again, until my thirst is quenched. Like in Paris, I went back to Notre Dame several times, each and every time I’m in Paris, and I’m normally only in Paris for less than a week each time; but that’s the way it is for me.
Anyhow, I found myself going back to the river-walk, or front, along the banks of the river over and over in Shanghai. And I should add, rivers calm me, so it is second nature for me to do this, should I find a river, and should I need calming; for example, like in Cardiff, Wales, the river runs right through it, right by its Millennium Stadium, and the Seine in Paris, seems to run right through it, as does the Tames in London, and the Mississippi which runs through St. Paul, St. Louis and New Orleans–I end up always in a daze walking by them, or along side of them I should say; as if they were hypnotic.
So I found myself at the riverside watching all the cars go by, like in any big city of eight-million I suppose, such as Lima, or Cairo, but I think the worse traffic is in Madrid, and the worse air pollution is in Quito, Equator, yet I love the city and its people in Quito. As I was about to say, Shanghai has all the electrical gadgets any big city has also, like New York City, or Chicago, Rome or San Francisco. And let me add, Mai has not been forgotten in Shanghai either, his picture is everyplace, like in Habana where Che’s picture is all over.
–But it is the river front I wanted to tell you about, the Huangpu River, that is where it all started, and ended. It was most recently I experienced this mishap, which is the best I can call it. The year was, the year of the new century, 2000 AD. I left Beijing, did an article on ‘The Forbidden City,’ I traveled a lot back then. Now they wanted me (The Travel Magazine, Editor) to go to Shanghai and do a travel article on ‘The Dogbianmen Watchtower;’ which I really never got to do.
When I arrived the riverfront was sparkling with reflections from the gold, red, blue, yellow and green neon lights that covered the city riverwalk area. The red Chinese flag was waving in the wind, as a mist filled the port region–it was a whimsical day.
For the most part it was a cool day in late September, and capitalism seemed to be exploding, and free expression likewise. Kids on bikes, art centers open, rolls of lights along the streets patrolling the river, like in Malta, akin to policemen. So I stood leaning against a solid stone divider between the sidewalk, street and the river itself, waiting for the ferryboat to take me down the river on a short tour, it was near dusk.
He departed the bank of the river along with a crowed of others whom went directly into the dinning hall, which was on the first of the three floors of the huge ferry. He was left alone on the lower deck and paced back and forth in the front of the vessel–close to the bow, watching a dog run loose and listening to a man and women argue some twenty-five feet to his left, they were somewhat covered, better put, camouflaged by a winding white stairway that lead to the second and third decks.
It wasn’t long before the boat and passengers were headed down river. As he looked into the water leaning over the edge of the vessel a giggle of music came out from the loud speakers–fading back and forth with some static attached to it, as if the airwaves were being disrupted from a radio antenna; at the same time waves within the river were picking up he noticed, a storm was brewing. He started to fall, to sway a bit here and there as the vessel seemed to wobble with the influence of the torrent waters, consequently creating sluggishness to its forward thrust. Then he fell–I should say crashed into moving objects, and he found himself getting wet from the waves, and then the rains came pouring down.
As the storm started to increase so did the waves and everything on the deck become more slippery, icy, slimy, everything started to slide, or tried to slide that could slide: chairs, tables, ropes, lifeboats twisted, lifejackets tied down, all moved about with the rocking of the boat. He looked to the dinning hall, and many folks had gathered by the secured tables, holding on tightly–as others were hanging onto railings overhead.
–There, over on the other side of the boat was the couple, in-between two small safety boats, and some lifevests. And that dog, the dog he seen before, he was now slipping and sliding trying to get to the lower deck door and each time he made it, he slide back to the edge of the ship, almost becoming airborne into the water. But a more serious matter seemed to dawn on Milton, the man and woman were actually fighting, in fact pushing and grabbing each other, as the black clouds of Hades-water filled the sky overhead. He seemed as if he wanted to [he being the alleged assailant], trying to throw the woman overboard; she looked at Milton as if in desperation, her attacker was an elder man in his 40s, she a younger woman in her 30s. He was much larger than her, he could see. And should he throw her over, who would know but him. She looked at Milton again: bellowed out,
“Save me, save me, please, he wants to throw me overboard!”
The man looked briefly towards Milton–almost an indifferent look and went back into a guarded position
he had time for one quick thought, and that was all–‘save the woman,’ his mind said, ‘it’s now or never.’
Even though he was having trouble saving himself he managed to hurdle himself to their side, and although he–the other man–was more muscular, Milton was quicker with his hands and feet and kneed him in the groin, and as he bent over he throw him overboard–with a quick thrust, landing him into the hammering river. He got his senses back and went to throw a lifejacket to him, yet he could not see him; hence, he bent over to get one and slipped a bit, grabbing onto the cold wet railing and as he did; the woman to the side of him took a hold, a solid grabbing onto the small boat and pushed it against Milton’s side, and he flew head first through the railings into the water with the lifejacket in his hands. As he found himself in the water he had come to the conclusion it was her trying to throw her so called husband in the waters, and he ended up doing the dirty work for her.
It was classical he told himself, kicking his detroit tigers sweatshirt off and undressing to his flesh and underclothes in the bogy-cold water; he told himself, ‘where now!’ He was feeling more like a glacier by the minute. She was calling over the railing, “Murder, murder,’ yelling it into the wild storm, into the river in somewhat of a frantic warning. Sure enough he thought, ‘…now she’ll tell them all I was the murderer, yet she does not have my name, matter of fact, if I can make it to the shore before the storm lets up, before they come looking for me, whose to say I was even on the boat [?]’ he asked himself, he told himself, which of course was a rhetorical question.
His knees seemed to melt and bend along with his lower body, everything collapsing in the slapping winds and waves of the water; his neck-muscles cramped, his forehead bumped into his lifejacket several times which was halfway on him, but the waves slapped his head so bad he couldn’t tie the strings properly. For the moment the wind was free, and so it seemed to make his eyes evaporate into the thick of the fog; he could only see but a foot or two in front of him.
He had the foretaste of drowning. He put his arms out so he could get more floating buoyancy with his armpits. Yet he knew he had to make it to shore quick or die within these waters, no one was coming back looking for him. What a predicament he had gotten himself into, he admitted. His brain was slipping, he felt like a fossil of a murder. He had killed a man for her, and airily he thought, ‘who was she, nobody but a stranger’ (his heart was still hammering; it told him he was still alive though).
Just then, just when he felt all the earth was dead and its grave was this water, something alive moving by his side touched him a few times, he looked, it was the dog, the dog on the ship, and he was a good size mutt. His big dog eyes looked up to him, barked at him and started paddling to the shoreline. He grabbed his tail and padded with his feet as much as he could–it took all his energy, and every once of hope, and he prayed and prayed, and within fifteen minutes they found themselves laying on the shore, he was still hanging onto the dog’s tail.
The last time I heard, Milton had taken the dog to Lima, Peru, and he is guarding his friend’s house, he lives on top of the roof in a little wooden house, but he never uses the damn house he just sleeps outside and guards the premises; Milton named the dog Tomasa [he died recently].
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write by Eunice