THE GATES OF BEIJING (4)
In which the narrator gets an invitation that is hard to say no to even though he has no idea what he's getting into. The weather is alluring, the destination enchanting, and then there's her.
It’s a brilliant sunny day in late September and I’m cooped up in my study, slouched over the desk on the third floor of the foreign expert dorm. I open the rusted latch on the dusty window to let in a rush of of fresh air. The sky is high and cloudless. Even in the semi-enclosed courtyard autumn is beginning to show. The stubborn, stunted trees don’t have much foliage, but what little they have is given over to yellow and faded green.
Thumbing through a book of romantic poetry for class, a dog-eared copy of Wordsworth kindly lent to me by Kirk, I mull over some rapturous lines about the essence of nature, the change of seasons, thinking of what a shame it was to be stuck inside prepping for a lecture about the Romantic poets on such a nice day when someone knocked.
A slightly out-of-breath dorm attendant presents herself when I open the door.
“Oh. Hey, Lil’ Wang. It’s you!”
She answers my greeting with her signature pout followed by a coquettish silence. It’s a put-on, and a …