These Are Not Your Asians
[brought to you with limited commercial interruptions]
A waspish woman inside a cubicle hears gunfire coming from the offices one floor below. The unceasing barrage requires no human thought per bullet fired — no pause for human intent to squeeze, retract, and reload. These are automatic guns, perfect cycles of combustion, momentum, inertia, and ignition encased in lightweight steel
[convenient for the soldier on-the-go]
and carried by Asians.
The cautious, waspish woman knows they are Asians because they are shouting over the gunfire in a language best suited for heated arguments or love poems. She departs her cubicle, exiting calmly but quickly to the stairwell. As she climbs upward, she conjures an image of the ninja/Yakuza/Jet Lee set downstairs
[coming to a theater near you]
with the Empire of the Sun staining their headbands, and empty bloody sockets where their third eye should be.
[Breaking news exclusive: “Virginia Tech Shooter: Korean Name, American-Born”]
The shooters do not wear headbands. They wear black leather dusters
[offering comfort and freedom of movement],
[recently seen on a teen pop sensation],
and gelled hairdos
[maximum hold, alcohol-free].
One wears a luxury watch
[self-winding perpetual gears].
And they are Asian. They say: Sit at your desk. Do not get up. If you are working diligently, you will not be shot. This is followed by bursts of automatic gunfire and non-Asian screaming from those judged not to be diligently working.
The cautious, waspish, monotheistic woman arrives on the floor above and hears the rolling avalanche below her. The same sounds. The same combustion, momentum, inertia, and ignition. The same Asian love poems or arguments directing her co-workers to keep working and followed by non-Asian
[aw, you know you all look alike]
screaming. Inside the designer watch, self-winding perpetual gears complete the cycle and start a new one. Asians might call that the Wheel of Life. Or Wheel of Death, depending on what side you’re looking at
[it’s all the same to them].
The waspish, slightly diabetic woman climbs another flight of stairs, and another, floor by floor, until she reaches the top. There she finds overturned chairs, slanted cubicle walls, whiteboards hanging by broken hinges, blinking computer screens, and half-eaten lunches
[breaking news exclusive: “15 Ways to Maximize Your Lunch Hour”]
on abandoned desks. She sits at a desk that is bare except for a microwavable fish fillet on a Styrofoam plate. A man seated at the desk next to her stares. He believes in Jesus only at Christmas, under-tips his servers, and wears the same short-sleeved collared shirt with a clip-on tie
he has worn to work every day for the past thirteen years. He cannot get fired, nor can he get promoted. He checks “Caucasian” when the Census arrives. He listens to hip-hop on his car stereo
[niggaz on the block].
Sweat stains spread in his armpits.
The cautious woman finds no paper and no computer at the desk. The man next to her moves papers from a wire rack to a manila folder. Trying to appear busy does not come easily to him. He has never been busy in his life and he doesn’t know what it looks like to appear busy. She can tell he’s not going to make it.
She writes on the fish fillet with a ballpoint pen. The breading is peeling off. She inks words onto flaky, overcooked white meat: Don’t bother me. I’m trying to work here.
The Asians arrive, and the cycle begins again: Sit at your desk. Do not get up. If you are working diligently, you will not be shot. Combustion, momentum, inertia, and ignition
[self-winding perpetual gears].
One Asian stops. He stands over the woman and rests his
on his hip. His designer watch passes in front of her face and then swings back again. The inked fish fillet dangles between his forefinger and thumb. In a heavy accent, he reads the words the woman wrote on the fish aloud. He waves the fish like a parade flag and proclaims the waspish woman to be an example, the finest example, of efficiency and productivity. Then he withdraws a pistol from his leather duster and points the gun’s cold steel point to her cheek.
The woman wonders how she would describe this situation if she were to make it out alive
[breaking news exclusive: “Woman Talks Her Way Out of Certain Death”].
She thinks: if oblivion had a finger it would be cold like this, a cold finger that stops your breathing, your memory, until you are one with the moment — no past, no future, only present — and your toes tingle and your eyes dry out because when oblivion touches you, you are suspended. Then the woman speaks: My name is the Universe. I am. People love me. I have a life. I am tangled in it. The knots are intricate
[rinse and repeat].
The Asian screams: Stop that talking. He screams: There is nothing personal in severing a soul from its life. The wheel must keep moving. It is a love poem. Then he pulls back the hammer on the cold pistol and he shoots the sad sack Caucasian right in the middle of his forehead.
The Asians all leave. The woman indulges herself in feelings of sadness. Such a mess. Everyone is leaving. Such a nice party.
Office workers — survivors — stream out of the high rise. They locate their cars in the parking garage.
[The knots are intricate.]
There will be a huge traffic problem because they are all leaving at once.
[I am tangled in it.]
Someone will become impatient. A horn will honk. Vitriolic words will spew inside each soundproof automobile unit.
[People love me.]
The woman remains with the fish. Stuck.
She can see them, though, all of the people inside their cars, windows rolled up tight. She thinks
[My name is the Universe].about the author