Hong Kong Rose

PROLOGUE

October, 1987
Guess Iím not going to become an American after all.
Regina will. Tomorrow. Sheís ecstatic. Now sheíll be able to come out of "concealment" as an illegal alien, and go back to Hong Kong for the first time in sixteen years. Amnesty. From the US Government and our mother. Sheíll also register to vote and apply for a passport, While Iíll be facing deportation, if Iím lucky.

Poor Mum. What will she do when she finds out? How can I expect her to understand that one day Iím earning over six figures, boosted by an expense account plus enormous bonuses, and the next day, nothing? Or that the last five years spent legalizing my alien status are now classified as allegedly criminal activity? All Iíve got to show for my American exile is an extravagant co-op mortgage, non-existent savings, endless rows of dresses, shoes to rival Imeldaís and a speedboat on Long Island. It would have taken her years as a secretary back home to earn what I did in one year here on Wall Street.
Itís a good thing Dadís not exactly around to see this.

But Dad would have been kind. With his usual resignation, heíd consider my companyís misfortune nothing more than the exigencies of life. I wish he were around; at least heíd understand that all this is about more than just losing a green card.

Now why does the East River actually look clean tonight?

Iíll miss this view. 5108 Chase Manhattan Plaza. Respectable address, nice office to swan around in, and the Statue of Liberty against the red glare of twilight. Gordie laughs when I say I never intended to live in America, that I didnít want to leave Hong Kong ó he thinks Iíve always been American at heart. Maybe thatís why I work for him. He brings out both the yin and yang in me. Besides, I can talk to Gordie about who I really am, and he listens, the way no one else ever has.

So when he told me this morning, too late, to start shredding, a bomb exploded inside me. But I did it. It wasnít because Rent-A-Wing, Inc. was over. My recent American life has been about more than merely this job. But the Feds showing up here this afternoon unleashed the full horror of my situation. Now here we both are, prisoners in our steel and glass tower, while strangers ransack through files just outside our office doors. They wouldnít even let us sit through this night together. What did they think weíd do? At least we each have our bottles of scotch.

But as Gordie told me only an hour ago, Iím an innocent accessory at worst. He had me managing the legitimate side of the business. I never really believed it though, all his aircraft financing from dubious sources and leasing of suitably equipped private jets to Chinese and Arabic millionaire "entrepreneurs". Gordie was running arms. Just when did I finally figure it out . . .? Doesnít matter now. I supposed I liked the insanity of it all. Besides, Gordie made me laugh. You can get through life around someone with a sense of humor.
I suppose Iíll go home in relative disgrace. Gordieís lawyers will keep me out of jail, I hope. Heís already figuring out what to do next, and once heís set things up, Iíll go work for him again. At least I have a temporary home to go to. Mum may have her peculiarities when it comes to me, but sheíd never cut me off completely. She may have trouble understanding why I wonít seem to care, but that's another story.
Tonight though, I close this chapter. My story, the one Iíve told Gordie in bits and pieces over the past six years, is about a perpetually reluctant dance full of unexamined, but highly choreographed, movement. How else did I end up here, in my thirty-third year, staring out of a plate glass window, sipping yet another scotch with the sun in my eyes, talking to Lady Liberty?

In January 1972, I, Rose Kho, went to college in the United States. By May of Ď74, I came home with my BS in political science and a minor in mathematics. I married my childhood sweetheart Paul Lie in the summer of Ď77. Gordie says it was those early American years that really changed my life.

Copyright © 1997 Xu Xi (aka S. Komala)