Danny threw Brig’s backpacks into the trunk of his new black Camry. Brig walked to the right side of the car as Danny moved aside and watched. Brig opened what he thought was the passenger side door and balked when he saw the steering wheel.
Danny laughed, “You want I should sit on your lap?”
“I forgot, you Honkies drive on the wrong side of the road. I think it would be safer and more comfortable if I just sat over there,” Brig said, pointing to the passenger’s seat.
As they drove out of the airport parking lot, they shared news about what some of their old friends were doing and reminisced about the times they lived and worked together.
“You’ve changed,” Brig commented, with a tone that suggested that he didn’t approve.
“Yes, and no,” Danny replied “You haven’t changed a bit,” he added sarcastically. “Can you believe it’s been over fifteen years? It feels like yesterday, but in other ways forever ago.”
Realizing he didn’t know where he was taking Brig, Danny asked, “So where will it be? Brigham Central or the Brigham in TST?” referring to the two Brigham International hotels in Hong Kong. “Or is there another one I’m not aware of?”
“Um. Yeah. Well, I told you how I’ve been feuding with Seven, right?”
“My dad. Brigham Young the seventh. I’m Eight.”
“Eight…Ahhh. Why didn’t I know this?”
“Anyway, he disinherited me, told me he never wanted to see me again and made me sign a contract that banned me from all Brigham properties. I was hoping I could crash at your place.” An awkward silence ensued as Danny considered his options. “Look, dude, if it’s too much trouble, just say so and I’ll find a hotel.”
“No, it shouldn’t be a problem. I need to give my wife a heads up. But Brig, I’ve got to be honest with you, I have concerns. I’ve got my wife and son. We lead a simple life, with a rhythm and a pattern that suits us. Now, I know you don’t like being preached to, or having rules imposed on you, but you can’t be drinking or doing drugs or freaking out at my home. Frankly, you look like shit, and as your friend I’m worried. I want you to stay with us, but my family comes first. Understand?”
“No drinking. No drugs. No freaking out. No problem. It’s only for a few days. I’m heading to Shenzhen after I catch my breath here in Hong Kong. I only stopped here to spend time with you, brother.”
“Uh-huh.” The Buddha was unconvinced.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Come on. You’re here to find Happy.”
“That’s a lie, but since you brought it up. Have you seen her?”
“No. We don’t run in the same circles these days. I heard she’s back in town.”
“You heard? From who?”
“Stay away from her, Brig. She’s running with a tough crowd, and she obviously doesn’t want to see you.”
“How is it obvious?” Brig challenged.
“Never mind. I’m just trying to give you some friendly advice.”
“OK. I’m listening. Tell me how it’s obvious?”
“She left you a month ago, and you haven’t gotten anything from her since. It seems obvious to me.”
“Could it be that she’s testing me? Suppose she wants to see if I really love her, and by coming to Hong Kong I’ve proven it. Perhaps now, she’ll want to get back together.”
“Yeah. I didn’t think of that,” Danny said sarcastically. “That’s gotta be it.”
“Fuck you!” Brig yelled in English. He was too angry to speak in Cantonese, and there was half a chance the Buddha couldn’t understand. The Buddha laughed, trying to take the tension out of their conversation, but Brig’s last dose of OxyContin was beginning to wear off, and agitation was creeping in.
“The last time I was with your wife, she begged me to prove it to her.” Brig grabbed his crotch and rubbed it like a rapper.
“Be careful, Brig,” the Buddha warned in flawless English.
“What are you going to do, sit on me you fat fuck?” The Buddha maneuvered the car over to the side of the freeway as Brig ranted. “Seriously! Fuck you. Fuck your family, and fuck me! Let me out of this bitch-ass car.”
“That’s your answer for everything, isn’t it? Fuck, fuck that, fuck this, fuck me. You’re strung out right now, aren’t you? Were you hoping to find something in my home medicine cabinet? Borrow a little money?”
“Don’t worry about me. I’ve got more cash on me right now than you make in a year.”
The Buddha grabbed Brig by the back of his head, taking a handful of dreads. He pressed Brig’s face hard into the passenger side window. “I had drinks with Happy about a week ago. She looks fabulous! She told me how pathetic you were, and how glad she was to get away from you. That’s why it’s obvious to me.”
Brig struggled to breathe. His bleeding nose and mouth were pinned roughly against the window as his hands searched for the door handle to escape. He realized too late that the Buddha wasn’t fat; he was strong.
“I felt sorry for you. What Happy did to you was cruel, and I was trying to let you down easy. But now I get her point. You’re a worthless junkie. I can see it in your eyes, the way you hold your body, the way you smell. And I was going to let you into my home?”
Brig found the door’s handle, but it was locked.
Buddha switched to English, “Add me to the growing list of people that never want to see you again.” The Buddha hit the unlock button and Brig yanked the door handle upward to free himself. With one hand, the Buddha lifted Brig out of his seat and threw him out of the car and onto the Lantau Highway while stepping down on the gas. Small pieces of gravel pinged off of Brig’s face as the car’s tires fought to gain traction on the road. Brig rolled into a ball to protect himself.
Just as the Camry’s wheels stopped spinning in the gravel, Brig heard the car skid to a halt and reverse to about thirty feet away from him. The Buddha got out, opened the trunk, grabbed Brig’s backpacks and threw them to the ground. Without so much as a glance back, the Buddha got back into his car and drove away.
Other cars drove by, some honking, as Brig staggered along the roadway to retrieve his packs. He held the front of his now bloody t-shirt up to his bleeding nose and wondered When did the Buddha learn to speak English?