Drifting – 13

She turns and keeps walking away. I follow as best I can.

“Where will you go?” I ask.

“Don’t worry about it,” she says. “You’re staying in Xichang.”

“I cannot!”

“You aren’t built for this life,” she says.

“Those ruffians at Bottomless Zhao’s saw me with you. They heard me call you by name.”

“Yes. That’s why I’m leaving,” she says.

“If I stay in Xichang, they’ll want to know where to find you.”

“Even better that you don’t know then,” she says.

“Do you think they’ll ask me politely?”

She keeps walking. She says nothing.

“Do you think they’ll believe me when I say I don’t know where you’ve gone?”

Still walking.

“Fine,” she says. “You don’t have to stay, but you don’t have to follow me either. You’re slowing me down.”

“On the contrary!” I say. “Were it not for me, you’d still be languishing in that dungeon of a wine house.”

She comes to a stop and turns to me. She opens her mouth to say something but nothing comes out and she closes her mouth.

She does this two more times.

She rubs her temple again. In all my reading about the wulin, I never considered what a strain it must be to possess the excessive internal energies that are naturally cultivated by extreme martial prowess.

“You’ve got to stop making my head hurt,” she says.

“I could find a reputable acupuncturist.”

One of her fists tightens. This must be a particularly bad attack.

“Look. Just keep quiet.”

Easily done, I write rather than say. Ha!


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