Monday, March 7, 2011

Work abroad: Pierre and his KTV gigolo job in Taipei V

Just a reminder this is the fifth installation of the story of Pierre's work as a gigolo in Taipei. Best to go back and read all in the Pierre and his KTV gigolo job series from work abroad.

After the BBQ on the roof, drunkenness and just down right stupidity meant we agreed to go to Pierre’s gilded cage for a party.
At the time we actually thought we were being clever because Pierre went ahead by half an hour or so – just to check the coast was clear. Who knows what would have happened if we had arrived at the same time? I suppose it doesn’t matter.
John took Eric on his scooter and I took Martina, Pierre’s date. Worried about being caught for drink driving i took things slowly arriving about 20 minutes after the other two. It proved to be one of the best decisions in my life as i guess it saved me the kind of stress that turns you gray. Afterwards, John decided to drive slow as well. 
Anyway, this is how they recounted the story of the first 20 minutes.
“Get the fuck off the back,” shouted John to Eric. They recognized the shirt, they were outside his apartment, and had to extremely reluctantly face the fact that the limp body being dumped in the boot of the car was Pierre’s. (John had seen this once before, when he was walking pass a dark alley, the guys flashed a concerned look at him, to which in reply he pointed two fingers at his eyes, shook his head and walked on).
Unfortunately, now he knew the person concerned and had to do something. Driving off would be the best option, and he thought for a second whether Pierre was a friend worth putting his life on the line for…Probably, not, but he couldn’t risk regretting it the next day.
John left Eric depressed and shaking and sped round to the front of the car, dropping his motorbike to prevent them driving off.
“Just do nothing but translate, word for fucking word, no ideas, no personal input. If they come for us run screaming like a bastard! Got it!” Eric didn’t know whether he was more scared of John or of the guys who had just bundled Pierre in the back of a car and were now coming to the front of the car to confront him and John. For once, he appeared to get the idea that it was best not to threaten to sue.
Eric was actually caught in two minds about the presence of John: if the situation was going to be got out of, he was the man, but if John hadn’t been there, Eric could have pretended he didn’t see, then later justified it on the basis of there was no point in two people getting killed. On his own he knew he would be crap, non-existent; he was not going to much use now - just hoping to pull off being John’s Chinese speaking hand puppet, and he may even fuck that up. He had always thought he was far too logical to get into a fight: he never fought, he wasn’t big; common sense taught him he was going to lose. After all, you don’t expect to go out and beat Federer at tennis when you have only played a handful of times in your backyard. He often got angry, and felt like punching people, but then logic would take over and he would walk away. Now he was just overwhelmed by a sense of helplessness. And, he didn’t know how he had time to think of this because he was frozen and numb with fear; but it seemed his poor attention-span applied to feeling shit scared as well: his mind wandered off until it couldn’t ignore the shaking anymore, then went back to blind panic.
“Right. In you’re best non-arrogant, condescending, listen to me I went to Harvard tone tell them we just want them to leave the guy. We didn’t see anything…But…We ain’t going without him.” For once in his life Eric was sure he could do non-combative, modest, and un-argumentative.
He did as John said but it didn’t seem to be effective: the guys still went to the trunk, pushed Pierre’s body about a bit – they heard a bump and a groan – and started coming towards them with a machete and a baseball bat (Stun and slash seemed to be their operation) clearly intent on taking the two of them with their friend. 
“Hmm, it doesn’t seem this is going to be so easy after all,” said John. “Right. You know what you are supposed to do after you start running?”
Eric thought that was straight forward enough – pump air into his lungs through his nose until they burst while approaching looking back as if he were Hades leading his dead wife through the underworld back to life. “Get around the corner and call the police, then start ringing every fuckin’ buzzer on this street. Use that big mouth of yours for something good for once. I won’t be able to last out too long.”
Eric thought for a moment. “Shouldn’t I…” he said. He knew Pierre got himself into the situation, but John hadn’t and was going to get himself killed and he decided a man can’t be a weasily-coward all his life.
“No!” said John. “Is it going to help the situation if you hang around?”
Things changed again. John and Eric had already backed down the street thirty yards so the guys had turned back and were picking up the bike. John knew he was going to have to provoke them, he looked around for some weapons…Bloody typical, he thought, in this city there is always a skip by the roadside, building sites and scaffolding with materials that would make Mr.T orgasm, now…
“Gan ne ma (Fuck your mother).” He shouted as loud as he could and produced a middle finger. An East/West combo insult couldn’t fail. As expected the guys dropped the scooter, and started to move in his direction. No amount of profession pride could suppress a Taiwanese gangster’s anger at being told to go and fuck his mother. John was starting to feel a little sorry for himself, that life was shit no matter where he lived, and he was going to go out for someone else’s sins.
At this point Martina and I arrived.
I didn’t initially see Pierre, and i had never been in this situation before. All i saw was the two guys with the weapons, but it is funny how fast your worst fears allow you to clue in. 
“Where is Pierre?” I shouted to Martina.
Martina quickly found Pierre and went running in the direction of the guys with the weapons. I followed until i realized she wasn’t going to stop running and i was getting in swinging distance. John changed from backing up to running in their direction to help her out.
Martina stood in front of them. “Na ma, le hai,” she said, and then kept repeating it while dipping her head and being reverential. It seemed completely weird to compliment the guys but i didn’t have any better ideas.
“You the winner. You beat him,” she said. “Please. Let him go. He stupid foreigner. He is very scared now. You teach him. Please let him go.”
It was then a weird couple of minutes as Martina continued sucking up to them and we all stood in our various positions. Two minutes ago my hands had been outstretched trying to grab her and pull her back. John had been sprinting with a motorcycle helmet in his hand. And Eric was running away. Now, my hands had relaxed at my side, John was in half hulk mode, and Eric was slowly edging his way back towards us. Stress levels were dissipating.
Suddenly, the tension then ratcheted up again as the two guys walked back to the boot of the car. They then rather un-lovingly positioned Pierre on the boot entrance lip and ceremoniously tipped his balance so he fell to the ground, spinning and bouncing off the bumper below. While John moved his scooter the window screen was lit by a broad arrogant, menacing smile; as they drove off they shouted ‘bye bye’, in that patronizing way that says you boys are losers.
Pierre was unconscious and and some pools of blood were getting bigger on the floor. I immediately went for the smaller pool whose source was his forehead. I took off my outer t-shirt and held it on his head.
The biggest pool was coming from under his left arm. 
“Hold the cut together, man. Apply pressure to stop the bleeding,” said Eric to John.
“I know. I was in the army knob head. Why me?” questioned John understandably.
“One of us has to call an ambulance. How is your Chinese?” replied Eric.
John grunted and quickly put one hand on either side of the wound and pushed it together.
About 30 seconds passed and Eric was still standing there.
“Why the fuck aren’t you calling?” I shouted.
Eric hesitated again before blurting out. “You know me. My pre-pay card is out and I didn’t have enough money…”
“You twat, earn some fuckin’ money,” shouted John. “Anyway, use my phone.”
There was another moments hesitation before Eric worked out it was best for John not to let go - John was holding together Pierre’s left forearm which had been sliced to the bone. And, it wouldn’t just be the effect on Pierre’s blood volume if he took his hands off, but John knew a game of now you see it, now you don’t with the white bone below was likely to cause him to throw up.
Eric reached into John’s pocket, took his phone and started dialing.
“What a fucking dick, eh!” said John.
“Shut up – maybe, he can hear,” I said. John thought this was bullshit, but given the gravity of the situation decided not to take a chance. He had visited casualty plenty of times on the early hours of a Sunday morning for his own, or friends’ broken noses, cracked ribs or concussion, but they had always managed to wake up from the boots in the head; this he knew was a level above.
“Martina, that was amazing,” i said. “That took balls.”
“I am from the Ukraine,” she replied.
“But i mean the whole reverse psychology shit to calm them down. In a movie but - ” I said.
“Of course,” said John. “We had courses in that in the army. Hostage situation. Talking someone down and all that stuff. It works. Very useful.”
“So,” I said. “You were standing with a motorcycle helmet?”
“There you go asshole,” he replied. “If i could do that crap i might have made it to the special forces.”
He continued. “Besides, do you think they would have allowed me within 2 yards of them?”
For the next 15 minutes, we kneeled and sat on our asses on the road silently, hands occupied holding wounds together – Me on his head, John on the left arm, Martina on the right arm, and Eric on his ribs. Selfish motives for his survival went through our heads along with the noble: neither of us had had anyone die on them before and we had no interest in wrestling with the question, ‘Did we do enough?’
Fifteen minutes later, the ambulance arrived. Unfortunately, the officer thought he could speak English.
“Uh, what…Uh…matter?” he said.
“Ta di shou be bei kan le. Ta liou hen dwo xie,” (His arms are cut. He has lost a lot of blood.) Eric informed the medical officer from the ambulance.
“You say…um...arm. cut…yes…Where?” he replied taking an age to finish his sentence.
Eric repeated it and started to explain about the head and ribs as well.
“Stop. Uh. Slowly,” said the guy. “So…Uh…Head? Rib? Did i say it right?”
For once we were all in agreement with Eric and weren’t prepared to be polite.
“Stop practicing your fucking English,” we shouted.
Offended, he walked off leaving his colleague, who didn’t mind speaking Chinese with a foreigner, to take over.
At the hospital.
“What happened to him?” asked the receptionist in the hospital.
“He was beaten up; hit by a meat cleaver,” replied Eric.
“Hmm, that is nothing. See that man crying there, his daughter jumped from the roof - Se diao le (dead).”
“What did the old bird say?” asked John.
Eric stood pondering the unbelievable level of insensitivity. Almost admiring it. Normally he would have already taken the bait but tonight he was spent. “You don’t want to know,” he replied.
Pierre was taken into emergency and we had no choice but to hang around at the reception desk, accompanying each other for finger biting and cigarette breaks, before checking with the insensitive receptionist if their was any news from the emergency room. She had more important things to talk about.
“Your friend is American,” she asked.
“French,” answered Eric, but her attention had been taken : “Look at that !” she shouted. A suited businessman was being wheeled into emergency on a bed wearing an oxygen mask. “He tried to commit suicide, but failed! Mei you yong (No use). That man’s daughter succeeded…3rd attempt though, I had seen her before today.”
“Maybe, this guy will be back soon. Have you seen him before?”
“Next time is number 2. That is quicker than her.” I couldn’t believe I was having this conversation.
“That is right.” She turned in the businessman’s direction, “Die next time and you won’t be such a failure.”
Then flitting back to me: “You are American?”
“No,” I replied. “But he is.” I pointed to Eric so she turned her attention to him.
“I have been to America. Denver! My friend lives there, opened a Chinese restaurant,” she said.
“Never been,” replied Eric. “Denver is a nasty place. I am from New York which means i find you culturally easier to understand. What is happening with my friend? Uh, i mean the person we brought in.”
Receptionist: “Worry is a waste of time! If they can save him they will. Just wait and see.”
Eric was traumatized, and having seen enough blood for one evening he sat down instead of thrusting the pen, he still had in his hand from filling out the forms, in her eye. The world seemed a cruel place.
Half an hour later, and her shift had finished: “Tell your friend to be more careful - if he survives…”
The lady who replaced her was compassionate, sensitive and understanding!
About two hours later, he woke from his coma, and we were able to go home to sleep. He had twenty stitches in his head; several of his ribs were cracked, his face was a swollen mess, and the most permanent damage was to his left arm. The nerves had been severed meaning it could take months or years or never to recover full feelings.
We went home assuming it was the end of the story of Pierre's gigolo job. Still it had one more episode…
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