Number 100

Ferret’s contribution to the Laowai Behaving Badly Groupthink. A despairing narrator takes a load off his chest in a drunken existentialist monologue. Condescending self-obsessed laowai captain of industry? – Check. Cash for sadistic sex? – Check. Booze, flooze and KTV? – Check. Hotel existentialism and a sympathetic hooker? – Check. All systems go for laowai on their best behaviour…

by ferret:


“Yes, good.”

“You will sleep now?”

“Maybe. I don’t know.”

“You want more fucky?”

“No, but I like the way you say that.”

“You like me?”

“No, I like the way you say the word – fucky. I think it’s cute.”

“You want fucky with me?”



“No. Not now, nevermind…No, stop that. I’m tired.”

“So sleeping?”


“Oh. I go.”

“No. Wait. It’s just … All of this … These things … Like every single thing that brought us here. Don’t you think about that?”


“You do? Christ … It’s this goddamned existential meltdown I seem to be having, you know? I could really use to get all of this off my chest … Haha. Look at you! What the fuck are you doing? What the fuck am I doing? I’m drunk. I’m fucking drunk.”

“You want doggie?”

“No. Stop it. Just lie down again. Put that cute little ass of yours down. It is nice. But no- no, we can do that later.”


“Okay. Just … shut up. Please.”


“No. Okay. Look at me. Look. Here. I’m going to talk, and you just listen, okay? You no talk. I talk. You listen.”

“Yes. Listen.”

“Yeah … Well … I guess it all started with this book I have. It’s a – It’s a notebook I used to keep notes at meetings, jot down my thoughts, keep reminders of things. I bought it in an airport after I first got this China job. I was on my way to Beijing. The first big client: those dammed printers. American Printers or something I think it was. They’d gotten skinned, and they wanted me to come and graft it all up for them. Sit down for legal negotiations, start rattling the various swords of the law that could come down on the sons of bitches who’d fucked them over. I was optimistic, beaming like a chimp doing stand-up with a banana. I was beeming like the whole thing might require some sweat, but that we’d come out on top …

“Heh, that was three years ago now, and I can’t believe how much everything has changed … Those bastards. Those bastards didn’t want sweat, they wanted blood. They wanted the flesh from our bones. Still-beating … No. No….That’s not it. More than that! They wanted our souls. They wanted to eviscerate everything we held dear and hold it in front of us, still beating. Even cannibals have more grace than them. Shylocks have deeper convictions than they do.

“And I don’t want to portray them as bad people. I understand it all too well now. From their point of view, I was the bad one. I was the bad one for daring to come into their house and scream robber at the things that they held inside. And I did. Yelling in those board rooms like a foaming madman ready for the straightjacket when the whole thing fell through…

“And we would have lost it all if it hadn’t been for Sunny. That crazy son of a bitch. I guess it sounded okay in Chinese, but that lisp he had made him sound ridiculous in English. Haha. But he was the one who took us all out and got us drinks and got us girls. That’s where the book comes in. The book …So we were having this party at one of these KTVs. And this other guy on the delegation got real plastered with me. Jerry Wang I think it was …Yeah, his name was Jerry something … We were talking about stuff back home. We talked about the first girls we’d fucked. Real male bonding type of stuff. He did his girl in a back alley in Shanghai. He said it was right next to a pond of scum leaking out from the sewer. He said everytime he smelled the sewers he got a boner, or something like that. I think he was shitting me, but swore it was true …

“And then he and I started talking to his KTV girl. She was much more fun than mine. The one I had didn’t speak much English, kind’ve like you, and she just sat there. I didn’t find her all that interesting, but this girl with Jerry was electric. She was one of those bigger girls with the giant tits who’s half out of her mind and carries this spirit of madness about her. Like enough booze and sex and laughter and dancing could somehow ressurrect all the good things that fall away from the world …Yeah, and her English was pretty good, too. You could make jokes with her. Dirty jokes especially. She got all of ’em. Told some good ones too …

“We drank on into the night, and soon all the guys started taking girls home, back to their hotel rooms. The hotel was right upstairs, just like this one. Rooms with the showers you could look into. The whole bit. Jerry says to me, ‘I want you to trust me. I want you to trust me.’ And I say to him, ‘What do you mean?’ And he said, ‘We need to share this girl.’

“I laughed really strangely for a second because I thought he was joking. But he wasn’t. I looked him in the eyes. And even then. Even in that drunken haze I knew that nothing mattered. The drinks wouldn’t matter. The law didn’t matter. If I didn’t do this with Jerry, then the whole thing would fall apart. The whole negotiation. This guy was on their side and he could be an ally, a friend. But he needed this thing by sharing this girl, whatever it was…

“I asked him what he meant by sharing. And he said, ‘We take turns.’ I said I didn’t want to see him do it, and he said that’s not how it worked. He said we’d each take turns. We’d have two rooms – a room for rest and a room for work. We’d see how long we could go, how many times. We’d wear the girl out. That’s what he wanted. Oh … It was … There was something about this girl. All of her life. All of her life. All of the life fuming out from her face that came cascading around her as her chest heaved when she got excited. There was that look in her eyes that refused to let up, something deep in her soul … And he wanted that. And I guess, I wanted it too … So we did it. We took turns having her until the sun came up. And I don’t know why, but I didn’t even think about it. As I slept in the hotel room next door, waiting for my turn when he’d come and get me, I didn’t think about anything. I didn’t think about my wife back home, six months pregnant with my boy. I didn’t even think about what I’d name him. I didn’t think about anything …

“The both of us left in the morning, invigorated. I felt like I’d slept for days before that, like there was fire coursing through my veins. He did, too. We left her lying in that one hotel room, a sweaty, stinking heap, collapsed with exhaustion. Several thousand kuai lay next to her. The deal went through. Well … good enough. I can’t say we got everything we wanted, but we got something. We got something …

“And then there was the book. I can remember at the end of the meeting I flipped to the back and made a tally mark. Just one in the back of the book. And it was for that girl, that collapsed heap that I’d pounded six times in a night, sucking the vitality out of her, leaving her with nothing but shame and a pile of cash. And I loved it … And I marked it down. I marked it down …

“I marked it down with a tally, and I kept marking them down. I kept marking them down … And now there are so many. I’m ashamed. I feel like I’m one of them now. I’m just sucking for souls just like them … But that’s not how it is, is it? I’ve never done anything too wrong. I’m just doing what I’ve had to do …

“There are so many. There are so many. God, you’re number 100 …

“You’re number 100.”

“I’m number 45.”

“No, you’re number 100!”

“At KTV, I am 45 number. You choose me.”

“No! You’re number 100!”





“You want doggie?”

” Yes I do.”