It seemed unusually busy for a weekday morning to Brig, but what did he know? This was China, and China did have a lot of people in it. Brig was entering China for only the second time in his life. Back when Brig was a missionary, he and the Buddha had accidentally visited China when the train they were riding stopped at the Lo Wu terminus. He and the Buddha were returning to their apartment in Yuen Long after a hard evening of “prospecting” and had fallen asleep on the MTR. Usually they would have gotten off at the Sheung Shui train station and ride a bus home from there, but when a train employee shook them awake they realized that they had missed their stop and ridden the train into China.
Brig remembered how frightened he had been. One of his early missionary companions had taken him out to a place near the border and showed him one of the ubiquitous “Do Not Enter” warning signs posted every ten feet, and a few hundred feet away from the twenty-foot fence that marked the boundary between Hong Kong and China. The sign read, “Danger – Do Not Enter.” More disturbing was the stick figure cartoon that was printed underneath the warning, intended to communicate the consequences of crossing the border. It showed a stick figure wearing an army helmet and pointing a rifle at a second stick figure that had fallen and whose eyes were X’d out, as though he’d been shot and killed.
The Buddha, however, was unconcerned. He knew that all that they had to do was cross the platform and get on the next train heading back the way they came. However, Buddha could see that Brig was distressed and pretended to be very concerned as well. Upon being kicked from the terminating train by the MTR clean-up crew, the missionaries stepped onto the Lo Wu platform and into China. A sign, pointing back the way they had come, read “Hong Kong.” The return train was nowhere in sight, and the platform was empty. The Buddha sprinted away from Brig and ducked down behind the only available cover, a single garbage can. Brig followed nervously and tried to duck down behind the Buddha.
“Hey! There isn’t enough room. Find somewhere else,” the Buddha whispered.
“C’mon! There’s room!” Brig was being cautious. Better to be safe than sorry. He didn’t want to be fooled by one of Buddha’s pranks, but the image of the stick figure with the X’d out eyes had been burned into his memory and he didn’t want to die.
“No. There isn’t. The shots could come from any angle.” The Buddha looked up and around, suddenly ducking his head as though he had seen something. “Shit! There’s a guard. Over there. No! Don’t look! He’ll see you. Hide!”
Brig looked around for somewhere else to take cover. He spied the platform edge. He could drop onto the train tracks. If this were real it was his only hope. Just as Brig made his moved towards the edge Buddha grabbed him, laughing hysterically.
“Where were you going?” The Buddha asked after he had stopped laughing.
Brig pointed down at the train tracks, “Where else?”
“Elder Young. Have we met?” the Buddha asked rhetorically. “Ride or die. Remember? I will always have your back.” Buddha pulled Brig to his feet and put his arm around his shoulder. “In fact, I‘d take a bullet for you!” he said as the train that would take them back to Hong Kong pulled into the station.