For a moment much longer than a mere instant, I was captured within eye contact with one of the convicted. She was young looking, certainly no older than mid-twenties, a dish-faced, moon-faced girl with unraveling pigtails and bad acne as a red mask across her brow and beneath her eyes.
The truck that carried the convicted had slowed to lurch through the deep potholes at the intersection. The placard around her neck announced her crimes: excessive fascination with foreign videos, prostitution. One had apparently led to the other, but I couldn't decipher which. Her dunce cap was somewhat tilted upon her head and the way her head limply bobbed with the movement of the truck made me wonder if it might not fall off altogether.
Our eyes clicked together, she with her wrists bound and riding in the back of the People's Liberation Army truck under machine-gun armed escort to her execution and I enjoying a lukewarm-warm Xian Beer with my 1/8 kilo bowl of dumplings at the roadside shack the foreigner's called Jiaozi Hut. She looked drugged or stupefied, seemed only vaguely holding herself erect, but I saw her still register some surprise when she saw me. It was if somewhere still inside her some part of herself was still able to exclaim, "Oh, look! A foreigner! A yanggweizi!"
I felt an urge to wave, to move my arm and my hand together in a synchronized and friendly gesture but, by then, the truck had waddled through the rough spots and was pretty much gone.
(Click on the cover or the title for more information about Artifical Rats & Electric Cats from Camber Press)