Goddamn, I’m tired.

Lijuan ‘Alice’ Fung shook herself awake with a start, and wondered if she’d actually missed the ferry home to Kowloon while she snored away some of the long night of office cleaning at the Peng Building in Sheung Wan.

In Mandarin, Li-Juan Fung meant ‘beautiful and graceful bird’.  But with all due respect to the honored, long-dead parents who named her, right now Alice felt a lot more like an old goat.  No imminent, glorious flight here, she thought; just a lot of bone-ache and back spasms.

‘E-yah’, she said to no one in particular, as she noticed that the Star Ferry she’d meant to be on was, in fact, already docked across the bay.  At least the next one’d be along in twenty minutes and she wouldn’t be too late.

I’ll still have time to shower, make a bowl of congee with that leftover chicken, and maybe even watch half of my TV soap before taking the #23 bus to the early afternoon pai-gow game with my useless cousins.

Gotta keep sharp.  The only way to have another good weekend in Macau was to keep playing, keep learning, and keep figuring out the angles.  All that, plus a whole lot of joss, and maybe, just maybe, her winning streak in the glittery casinos would keep rolling.  Fortune had certainly been with her.  More or less.

Work wasn’t nearly so glorious, and lately it’d been even worse.  The Pengs were cold, ungrateful bosses, who hadn’t given her a raise in who knows how many years.  She was fairly certain she was heading to an early grave because of the cheap cleaning products they made her use as she went from floor to floor six nights a week. 

Recently, the Pengs were even more irritable, as they negotiated the sale of the building to a Kowloon holding company, which was surprising given it had been the cornerstone of their very profitable Hong Kong real estate empire.  It was, after all, a very solid building – well-built, good location, with fairly reliable, established white-collar tenants.  It even had decent congee downstairs in the restaurant, although their lai wang bao were disgusting.

Alice looked back across the landing, and noticed that the ferry was about to dock.  It was the Meridian Star, which meant nothing to her other than she knew all the classic Star Ferry ships had ‘Star’ in their name.  How much this city has changed, she mused.  The Star Ferry was once the only reliable, affordable way to cross the bay between Hong Kong and Kowloon.  But with multiple (expensive) underground tunnels for traffic and the MTR, and all the land reclamation projects, the Ferry was being relegated to nothing more than a tourist must-do.  Still, she thought, she’d used it her whole life.  No sense switching now.

She climbed aboard the green, black and white ferry, and took her favorite wooden bench seat on the sunny side of the ship.  As she did, the first smile of the daylight hours crept across her face.

She couldn’t wait for her purchase of the Peng building to close next week, so she could finally tell those pig-fuckers what she thought of them.  Thank you, Macau. E-yah!


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