The Policy

By Lindsay Redifer

Lee is sitting on the newest HP Inkjet in a just a blouse and heels. I frame the shot one more time — the logo has to be nice and clear.

“Lee, move your feet a bit. I need to see those ink cartridges on the desk.”


God, that voice. It’s like a cat whining into a garbage disposal. I try not to think. Just work. Just do. “Action!”

The printer starts spitting out glossy pictures of female eyes, crystal clear and beautiful on double-bond off-white paper. Lee moans and begins to masturbate wildly.

“Urrrhhhhnnnnoooohhhh!!!! The quality! Oooaarrggghhhh!!!” I shudder, but I seem to be the only one.

Ang, our script girl, stands watching without expression. Ang is Burmese and therefore banished to behind the scenes while Lee moans and grunts in the spotlight. Ang’s big, soft eyes are the same as those spewing out of the printer, over and over and over.
“And cut! Okay, let’s set for scene 8. Someone get Fat Man.”

Lee grimaces as she un-sticks her ass from the surface of the printer. Fat Man, our Canadian, walks in and quickly runs to help her down. He has his shirt off and his shoulder blades are like tectonic plates, shifting.

Fat Man loves to tell me that he’s not really fat. He shows me with his arms and air in his cheeks just how big some of his countrymen can get. I know it’s true, I’ve seen pictures. But, that doesn’t make Fat Man skinny.

Fat Man and Lee put on their Gucci shades and get on to our IKEA set. The crew just finished putting together all the pieces and screwing in the shelves. Please, don’t let it fall.

I refocus, making sure I can see all the brand names. The Party has been very clear about the importance of showing each and every logo. I almost got fired after my first film because I missed the Victoria’s Secret label on a brassiere Lee wore. They were furious.

Fat Man and Lee are in place. She’s bent over an oddly shaped desk and he’s got one knee up on a new office chair. In their shades, in this set, they look like CEOs. I feel dirty just looking at them.


The two of them grunt and pant and sweat. “Oooarrrghhh!!! Your! Gla-sses! Make! Me! So! Wet! Aaaaooonnnhhh!!!”
I asked Fat Man once if he found Lee as irresistible as the rest of China, and he’d nodded, grinning.

“Really? You’re truly attracted?”

He just shrugged. “I can’t explain it. I just want her.”

Oh, well.

We break and send out the babies. They scoot out, not quite crawling, in their cleaning onesies. On the underside of them is a kind of mop attached to the fabric. Everyone on set loves the babies. They all want one to scoot-crawl over to them and they get pretty competitive.

“Look! This one prefers me!”
 “You distracted him from me, cheater!”

Everyone looks away when the ayi comes out to take the mop-babies away and cleans the floor with an actual mop.

“Why do we use the babies?” Fat Man’s face is idiotic with wonder.

“The Party wants to test out the cleaning outfits. They’ve made some deal with a Japanese company.”

“Kind of silly.”

“Nothing the Party does is silly.”

Fat Man’s eyebrows lift, but he says nothing.

Just then, Master Chang walks in and picks up one of the little boys. I’d heard one of them was his son, but you can never be certain. He and his son hug and kiss for a moment, then he turns to me and gives me a nod.

“Director Chen.” The room goes silent. Everyone is staring at me, eyes wide. “Nice work.”

“Thank you. Thank you Master Chang.”

Master Chang turns his attention back to his little son and walks out slowly. Everyone quickly moves out of his way. I get several pats on the back and big smiles from some of the ladies on set. Ang gives me a warm smile that tells me everything I need to know.

I leave the building with Ang, the gray sky swirling around us. Just as we step out a bird falls from the sky, nearly hitting her in the head. We look at the dead, dusty bird for a moment and then walk on.

“That’s the third time that’s happened to me. I must be unlucky.”

“You aren’t.”

She shrugs. “My mother got all the luck in my family. She’s always winning things. And dead animals leave her alone.”

“I’m sure you will inherit some of her luck.”

We go quiet again. Up ahead of us is a Fresh Air by Starbucks booth and we pay the toll then step inside. We just close our eyes and breathe, listening to the recorded sounds playing. The poster on the wall says we are hearing birds singing. I wasn’t aware that birds could sing. What a shame no birds in China can do it.

Lee’s hand creeps up my torso and on to my neck, then my cheek. Her eyes are closed. She puts her head on my chest and takes a big, deep breath, breathing me in. She comes up and looks at me, then gives me a soft, long kiss. My vision blurs when it ends. This fresh air is so strange.

We step out and the heat from the burning piles of rubber hit us in the face. We both grimace and continue walking, my arm around her shoulders. That’s the problem with these fresh-air outlets; they make real air unbearable.

Lee and I continue. I want to take her to a little restaurant I know near my house. I’m starving and I’m sure she is as well. Something about pornographic films makes us all desperate to eat.

We come to a little broken door and I help her step over the carcass of a dead dog. Inside, the lights simulate sunlight, or so they claim. Again, I hear the recorded birds and I take a deep breath, a reflex. I hear Ang do the same and we laugh at one another. Finally relaxed, we sit at a long table and introduce ourselves to the others. There are 30 of them, so this takes quite a while. Master Chang’s approval has made me famous already, eyebrows raise when I say my name.

“Oh? You are the filmmaker? Really? Please, let me buy you a bottle of water.”

The water flows all night, cold and clear. This place is famous for its water. No one knows where they get it and they’re not telling. We order so much we get three bottles on the house and it sloshes around in our bellies. It compliments the vegetables and rice nicely.

Full and happy, I look over at Ang who is chatting with the couple beside her. I want to take her to my tiny apartment, show her my small, condensed life. I want her inside of it, not beside or looking into it. I put my hand on the small of her back

“I’d like very much to take you home. If that’s alright.”

“I don’t know….”

“It’s alright. You don’t have to come. But I would like you there.”

She’s silent for a long moment. I know she has to be careful. As a Burmese woman, she’s often called a slut. I even heard Lee once accuse her of having no control over herself, just like everyone in Burma. I couldn’t believe it; Lee even had others from work on her side, cheering. As far as I know, Ang hasn’t even been on a date since she moved here.

Suddenly, she turns to me and agrees to come to my home. I give her a small hug. The table murmurs a moment of disapproval at our affection, but they let it go. We pay and go out, the broken door falling off its rusted hinges behind us.

At my apartment, Lee stands and looks around. There is the bed in the center, commanding the space. On the wall is my television by Exxon and the medications from the P&G pharmacy. I ask her if she would like a pill and she asks for a digestive. We both take one. Her eyes fall on the bedside table, where I keep the one antique I own.

“What is that?”

“Here, I’ll show you.”

I sit on the bed and pick it up. It’s getting so small; I have to stop using it. I get the box of matches, strike one and light the thin string that comes out the top. Ang quickly runs to turn out the light and we stand at look at the glow filling the room.

“It’s called a candle. People used to use them, a long time ago.”

“Where did you get this?” She comes closer, kneeling in front of me. In this light she looks unreal.

“My grandfather gave it to me. He said he made it himself.”

She looks at me sideways, not believing me.

“Do you think I’m lying?”

“No, I think you are a good man.”

She smiles again, then leans forward and blows out the light.