The New Year of the Rabbit

The boat rocked heavily.

That made me trip, not the whiskeys, nor the pills or the beers. Cross my heart! The railing was cold and wet under my grip, and for a moment, I wondered if I should let go of it. The stupid pink rabbit ears slipped and went bye-bye. They took a dive into the big black hungry Hong Kong Bay. Maybe I should jump straight after them, and end this farce.

Roy, our tour guide, handed the plush bunny ears out, during our trip to Lei Yu Mun Fish Market. I saw the logic, or worse, the genius in it. Easier to keep track of fifteen strangers in a mass of people, if they looked like bad unsexy knock-off playboy bunnies.

Reflections danced on the surface. A coward’s solution was never a solution for me. So why start with it now? My lips stuck together. A dry mouth had one antidote. The whiskeys in my belly were lonely, they screamed for company. The pink fabric surfaced.

The water slapped the hull, and I ducked into the doorway to the empty board-restaurant, before I had the chance to trip again.

The glinting bottles caught my eye. Innocent drinks, here I came.

“Eight!”

Roy’s magnified voice boomed on deck. His accent cracked me up.

“Seven.”

Who gave that man a bullhorn?

“Six.”

The other’s joined into a mad chorus of trigger-happy tourists. Chatty monkeys.

“Five!”

I reached over the counter to help myself to a glorious bottle of The John Walker.

I’d pay, I’d pay. Probably… If the crew caught me drinking, I would. Cross my heart.

“Good lad.” A croaky voice made me jump. Bummer. I mentally kissed my wallet goodbye. I didn’t have enough cash on me.”Your fortune for a drink?” I turned, and to my surprise, a stooped old lady in a long red silk dress stood behind me. Thousand pearl necklaces covered her neck, her arms. The beads clinked. The weight must be a pain in the ass. “Deal?” She smiled one of those old people smiled, that made go oddly “aaawww.”

“Four!”

I gestured at the seat beside me and poured her from the bottle. Her long spindly fingers ended in shiny bloodred nails. She climbed unto the barstool beside me like a weasel. Huh.

The boat stilled. “My fortune?” What a curious thing to offer, when I knew, that I had not of any kind of future.

“Three!”

Her ancient toothlessness beamed at me. And just like that, that “aawww” ran away screaming. She sent shivers up my spine, but I nodded anyway. The liquor in my system smoothed her creepiness out.

“Only a tiny peak.” Her trembling voice sounded giddy. Suddenly, the air left the restaurant. I had the feeling the world stood still. Nothing moved, but the lady. She swirled her drink, as her dress whispered. Her red talons came away from the glass, but the liquid kept moving. How did she do that?

I couldn’t peel my gaze away. The John Walker turned into a luscious crimson and then to a poisoned black, like the water of the bay. I stared and tried to breathe. My eyes stung and watered.

“Silly boy, you can’t hide from fate.” My fortune was a house of cards in a hurricane.

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