Chapter 3: Uncover (1/9)

Wednesday (1/9)

If less is said, decipher more.

Knock knock knock.

“It’s 5:30 in the morning,” Elle said to herself.  “Who is it?” she asked.

“It’s Xiong.”

She opened the door.  “Morning.”


“Why are you here?” she asked casually.

“I thought you might want some help.”

“That’s really nice of you.  Thanks.  I’m not done,” she said quietly as she scanned the emptier space.

Elle lifted each of the two boxes of cameras and listening devices, then lifted her suitcase and purse, then placed them down.  “I’m going to the bathroom before going to the subway station.  Do you want to go first?” she said pointing at the bathroom.

He chuckled.  “I went before I came here,” he said quietly, following her lead.

“Ok,” and she went to the bathroom.  When she returned, she put a box with her bed sheet, blanket, and pillow in the hallway, then lifted the other box for Xiong to carry.  She held her rolling suitcase tied to her purse and closed the door on the outside.  She took the box from him with her free hand, then said, “That one,” so he picked up the other one.  They walked to the subway station with Elle leading slightly.

They were quiet on their way to the station, waiting for the subway to arrive, and in the car itself.  In the subway car, a few drowsy riders were awakened by the sight of Elle’s arms.  The black-sludge bruises contrasted with her pale white skin hanging freely from her lavender blouse.  As more and more stops were made, more and more riders saw the unmoving spectacle staring blankly in front of her.  They took pictures, filmed, and gossiped about Elle and Xiong, but never did they approach the two.  Soon the car was full and Elle noticed an elderly man enter the car.  She blankly gave her seat to him, holding tightly on to her belongings and box of bats.

She looked at Xiong when it was their stop and they exited the car.  On the way out of the station, Elle briskly walked naturally while Xiong tried to catch up.  People photographed and filmed them with their phones as the two passed, and then found themselves on the sides of buildings 20 stories above the ground.

They were hastily walking quietly from the station to the silver building when Elle felt a strong tug behind her.  She quickly turned her head and saw a robber with a tight grip was pulling her purse.  She dropped the box and held onto one side of the luggage bar attached to the purse, stepped toward the robber and kicked him back.  He did not let go.  She released her grip on the belongings and he fell back with it on top of him.  She quickly went to him and pounded him with her belongings.  With one foot, she stomped on his throat and twisted her foot, staring down at him, she asked in a dark tone loud enough for him to hear, “Do you want to die, bitch?”  He shook his head the best he could, she released him, got her stuff, and walked away like nothing happened.


JZ was chatting with the lobby security guard when he saw Xiong open the door.  Then he saw his angel with her hair flying behind her in a lavender blouse and khaki short shorts.  As she got closer, he saw her with black and white wings.

“Good morning,” JZ said cheerfully.  “Let me help you with your things,” he said and went for Elle’s luggage and purse.  She gave him a death stare, and he decided to withdraw his hand.  She released her grip from her belongings and held up the box in front of her.  He took it from her and she put her finger over her lips.

He went over to the elevator and pressed the button.  In the elevator JZ looked over Elle’s head to Xiong and waited until he made eye-contact.  Then JZ mouthed the question: “Why is she so mad?” Xiong shook his head slightly to not arouse her, then left his head turned forward.  Awkward silence and tension overpowered the music in the elevator ride all the way to the 36th floor.

The awkward-silence-and-tension mixture spilled into the hallway of the 36th floor.  JZ adjusted the box onto his hip and retrieved a key from his pocket, and opened the door.  Elle entered first, placing her luggage in the suite’s living room, then looked for the bathroom.  JZ waited until Elle was out of earshot and quietly said to Xiong, “Can you believe she didn’t even take in the whole space?”

Henri Matisse, "The Desert: Harmony in Red" (1908)
Henri Matisse, “The Desert: Harmony in Red” (1908)

Xiong was obviously taking in the space of the studio apartment.  The beautiful French Victorian conversation couch with two additional chairs to match, an expensive mahogany coffee table on a Persian rug with a design like one of Matisse’s red paintings, a curved screen TV mounted on the wall, and a small ruby and clear crystal chandelier hung in the living room.

The long dining table in the dining area fit eight people.  The dining area led to the white and ruby kitchen, with gold handles and knobs on the cupboards and drawers.  Brand new touch screen stove and refrigerator.  The long window covered half of the kitchen and extended to the outside wall of the bedroom closet.

On the closet’s wall facing the living room, there was an enlarged picture covering 60% of the wall; it was of Elle in the ruby dress she wore to her first date with JZ.  She was a freshly budded maiden shyly presenting herself to the world for the first time.  An image that always took JZ’s breath away.

Elle emerged from the bathroom and noticed that she was on the wall with the TV about a meter away.  It was her in the sky blue blouse with lace sleeves and short shorts sitting at the café on a breezy summer day with her ankles crossed.  She was focused on the paper, with an empty seat in front of her, and realized there was no one in front of her, which meant it was JZ who took this picture of her that day, stopping the people who blocked his shot of her.

“Do you need to go to the bathroom?” Elle asked Xiong like she was crossing something off her to-do list.

He nodded his head and slowly walked to the bathroom still observing the space.  Elle was in the living room unpacking her purse.  Feminine hygiene product.  Toilet paper.  Toilet paper.  Toilet paper.  Toilet paper.  Toilet paper.  Toilet paper.  Toilet paper.  Cup.  Bowl.  Shampoo and conditioner.  Body wash.  Toothbrush and toothpaste.  Hairbrush.  Razor.  Spoon.  Knife with sheath.  JZ’s dirty dress shirt and basketball shorts.

Xiong emerged from the bathroom.  “Why did you bring the box with you?” Elle asked trying not to laugh.

“I was looking and I forgot I still had it in my hands.  Your bathroom is really cool.”

She walked to Xiong and took her bed sheet, blanket, and pillow from the box and placed it on the couch.  With her purse detached, she walked to JZ and stuck her hand out.

JZ handed her his phone.  She shook her head and flatly said, “Key.”

He took the phone back and dropped the apartment key on her palm.

“Let’s go,” Elle said flatly ordered, and dropped the key into her purse.

The awkward-silence-and-tension mixture was less strong as they returned to the elevator and into the studio.

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I manage two blogs - Elle's Adventure in China (EACh) and Read and Write Here (R&WH). EACh currently has China-related content from reputable news sources. R&WH is to express my creativity through writing, art, jewelry, and to inform others.

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