A Story that Kills Dreams

By Ryan Carter

We were riding beside one another, cutting off traffic. He said, “I want to cut off a piece of your cheek and keep it in my pocket. I can carry it with me.”

He said, “I want to cut off one of your lips and keep it with me.”

I said, “Would you pull out my eyelashes?” He said, “What is the meaning of eyelash?”

I said, “After you pulled out all my eyelashes, you could blow dust in my face? You could tie me up in a chair, and throw dust through a fan, into my face?”

He said, “Yes.”

I said, “Would you enjoy pulling out my fingernails with pliers?”

He said, “Yes, of course.”

I said, “Would you like to cut me all over with tiny pieces of glass?”

He said, “Yes of course. You know that from Qing Dynasty?”

I said, “I’ve seen pictures. They cut off a woman’s tits. Would you want to cut off my nipples and leave the raw part to ooze?”

“Ooze?” But he went on. “I really want to. I would put vinegar on it.”

“Would you like to clip off my D with scissors?” When we were nude together, we’d settled on this hammer of a letter to tenderize the meat.

He said, “I want it more than anything. Cut off your D. I could keep it with me.”

A bridgemouth opened to our right, crossing Suzhou Creek. Before we reached the intersection he hung back and I lost him from my eye. A piece of construction equipment, a bucket, a shovel, perched on a barge and poked around in the sludgy water.

I mean, we really couldn’t get enough. As he pulled up beside me again I asked, “Would you like to throw me in the river?”

“Yes, but that not exciting enough,” he said.

“Would you like to hold me under the river until I stopped moving?”

“What river? I want to do it in the big river. It’s more dirtier.”

Before we had left the museum from which we were cycling home, we had climbed to the sixth floor with its roof terrace. From which we spied the Peace Hotel’s pimply backside and the Waldorf’s ass and the Customs House’s, too. This museum is drawing gashes across its neighborhood. I had asked him there, “Do you want to throw me off the roof? I’d like to throw you off.” He was smaller than me and I reasoned that he would float down.

“To throw you off is more fun. You make a bigger mess.”

Before the museum we had sat a high tea at the Peninsula. His treat: our anniversary, one year. I even let him take pictures of me while I scowled at the others taking pictures and making their pigs-feet picture faces. When they set the dainties on our table I had asked him, “Would you like to poison my tea and make cakes of my eyes?” To illustrate, I pointed at the topmost cake: eyeball-width, crowned with a marzipan peach.

He had said, “Of course,” nonchalantly, “Why not?”

Now I asked, “Do you want to stab me repeatedly?”


“Do you want to cut off my head and feed it to a bunch of dogs?”

“Yes, that is funny to see. Dog head foot ball.”

“Do you want to lock me with no food in a building full of hungry rats?”

“Why I want to do it?”

“So I would either starve, or the rats would eat me.”

“This is better. I will put the juice of duck on your body. It feels good. Are you feeling good, thinking about I am putting juice of duck all over your body, with my hands?” I nodded. “Then I will put you in the house with rats.”

“Would you watch?”

“Do you think I have time to look you when I study university all day? Anyhow I don’t care. We see dead person with bones every day, in university. But I will come get your bones two years later and sell them to my university. Foreigners with big bones, will get a lot of money from university, which wants to teach with you, OK?”

He added, looking purposefully into the sun, “I will put you, tie you, and put you in those places back there, we saw from the museum top. There have rats.”

We slipped on a few cycles more and he added, “Or I can rent apartment. All this,” he nodded at stack after stack of pink and gray apartments, dated to an age of excitement, “they have the girl massage place, the factory, the store for robbering (robbering?” he winced a bit) “and so why not the house for you eating by rats? Anyway I thought that foreigner loving me will make me rich, but you don’t make me rich, even we love, except I sell your bones to university. Foreigners have long legs so their bones very expensive. Then I buy my apartment and give people to live there, then buy more apartment, and I love other foreigner who rich, and mother tell everyone about me, and foreigner marry me in Europe or America, and then,” he said, smiling widely at me.

“You know you don’t want to love anyone but me.”

“Baby,” he said. “I love you, so much. I don’t want to be with anyone else. I see your ear and I want to bite it.” We were gazing at one another. If we were alone in an apartment, we’d be taking off each other’s clothes.

Around a blind wall I winked at him and at the intersection behind it, the squarest of trucks barreled through its right turn. Of course I was killed.

I saw my bicycle mangled. One wheel spun and the other was folded into a chrysanthemum, the flower they call the little asshole, or the other way around. He had disappeared again; it was as if he had never ridden beside me. I knew also how I had been mangled and could see those parts of me hanging outside the skin that was supposed to keep them in: a loop of gut, ripped on some part of the transport. I was puzzling on how I could just, look upon myself like this, and so I knew I had awoken.

He stood with his knees against the bed, flushed and moist from the shower, cupping something precious in one hand. As the world wheeled back upright- last night’s fucking and drinking had knocked it from its axis- I lolled in the juices beneath my back and calves.

I smiled and my face became a shell of pain. I rolled and the sheets stuck to me. It was blood, and rolling I retched, and I kept it down, and my hand found my cheek missing. He had cut off my lower lip, too. I saw dull scissors first glinting in his hand, and then before he lay my meat across my severed lips, I saw the tweezers. Now I know the meaning of an eyelash.

Which comes next. It is strange to remember a dream so well.