Friday, March 16, 2007

Kate

"I'm falling even more in love with you,
Letting go of all I've held onto,
I'm standing here until you make me move,
I'm hanging by a moment here with you."

Lifehouse, Hanging by a Moment (2000)

Speeding along the Ayer Keroh freeway at 3.30 am.

It’s black luck that I was turned out of the 24-hours McD Drive-thru at 3 am so they could go forth with their “scheduled cleaning of premises and equipments”. I do hate to be interrupted when I was in the middle of a book. I caught sight of the proud “24-hours” endorsement perched high upon its pole in my rear view mirror as I sped off on the empty boulevard in front of Pahlawan Mall. It’s nothing but a hollow boast and an empty promise, I thought grumpily to myself.

Oh well, I’ll just have to make my way to the other drive-thru in Ayer Keroh – which I should have, but did not head to in the first place with the economy of fuel on my mind. That thoughtful consideration now proved entirely moot.

It was a 20 minutes drive at the least of my estimations. I churned up the stereo and began screaming along to some old songs I’ve burned onto a CD (I say ‘scream’ because my lyrical talents could merit no higher description).

I stopped at an entirely deserted crossroad under the watchful glare of a red light. I’m like that; I would not run a red light even if no cars were in sight within a mile away. Besides, I was in no real hurry anyway – and I was still screaming very happily to myself. Oh, the joys of privacy!

Then, I subtly noticed that Ms. Braxton went slightly off-key mid-chorus of ‘Unbreak My Heart’. Odd – the CD was definitely not at fault since I’ve played this countless times. I certainly hope the stereo wasn’t wearing down from the taxing volume I forced it to play daily.

In that shortest of distractions, someone got onto the passenger seat. That someone did not use the door, I’m sure – because I’ve locked it.

It was a girl, no older than 18, I should think – an ‘ah-lian’ to be precise, judging from her much-too-loud attire that covered less than half her body surface. I was shocked. Shocked beyond any single time I’ve been shocked before. Completely but 100-percent-ly shocked from the tip of my toes to the dome of my skull. I felt the blood vessels of my face reflexively drained. I turned away at once and swallowed.

I nearly put my foot down on the accelerator but I didn’t. That countdown timer they suspended in front of every traffic junction read 25. I couldn’t help but thought that this was the one time I should not – must not – break the the rules. Something bad would happen if I run this red light, I was inexplicably sure of that.

“Hello,” greeted the girl cheerfully, her voice heavily Chinese-accented. A true-blue ‘ah-lian’ I thought, I spite of myself. I rudely kept my silence. My eyes were trying to speed up the timer psychically but to my disappointment, the damnable thing actually slowed down!

“Hello,” said the girl, still persistently cheerful. “Are you mute?” This she queried in Mandarin, which I have taken the liberty to translate here.

“No,” I replied stubbornly in English. Maybe she’d go away once she gets this impression that I was a ‘banana-man*’. No such luck, though.

“I’m Kate,” she ploughed on. “What’s yours?”

I told her. My eyes were still fixed on the timer. It said 12. Oh, hurry up already!

“I watch over this crossroad,” she explained unbidden. “You’re the first person in years that would stop to talk. Everyone just flew past, green or otherwise.”

Great – an incentive to break the law. I did not dare to turn and look at her at all. I might see something I won’t like to see.

“Where are you going?” she asked.

“McDonald’s,” I replied curtly and rather formally, belying the undercurrent of panic welling up inside me. The bright red number made an eye-popping leap from 4 to 44. Omnious sh!t.

“To eat?”

“No.”

“Then, why are you going there at this ungodly hour?”

“To read.”

“This book?” she asked as she pulled my half-read ‘Black Powder War’ by Naomi Novik from where she was sitting. I turned before I could stop myself.

She wore her hair long and straight – the customary uniform of Malaccan ‘ah-lians’. She had bright dark eyes and strangely, rosy cheeks. So full of… life? I hastily returned to my dutiful staring of the countdown timer. It read 73 this time.

“Why don’t you read at home?” she asked. Why was she so interested in me?

“I don’t like reading at home,” I said without offering her any explanation. The stereo is now playing ‘Hanging by a Moment’ by Lifehouse. It felt unnaturally loud for some reason.

“You’re a very sad person,” she observed.

“Why do you say that?” I asked her back – this time doing her the courtesy of speaking in my exceedingly broken Mandarin. 99, it said in red and stopped right there insolently.

“You’re driving about at 3 – 4 am in the morning heading to McDonald’s to read this thick English book by yourself,” she said. “I consider that very sad indeed.”

“Reading isn’t sad at all,” I snapped indignantly and turned – finding the passenger seat to be empty. In that same instant, I found that the traffic light was green again.

I screeched through the crossroad in a blink and in a few unimaginably long minutes, reached the Ayer Keroh McD Drive Thru. To my utter dismay, it was closed for “scheduled cleaning of premises and equipments” as well. Oh, dear.

There was nothing I can do but speed right back to home and hearth. I came by the same crossroad again on my way for I knew no other road to take. The traffic light was red – bright and frowning.

This time, I did not stop.

In the company of mist and silence - and of Kate of Lonely Crossroads.


But I wish I looked back,
k0k s3n w4i

*For the education of those even more 'banana' than I am, 'banana-man' (or more accurately translated; 'banana-people') refers to persons of Chinese descent that are weak in or incapable of speaking, reading, or understanding the Chinese dialects. Something lame about having yellow-skin but white-insides.

11 comments:

fuolornis said...

you scare the shit out of me

k0k s3n w4i said...

@fuolornis

Everything was true... except the obvious parts.

Was thinking about this when I was waiting at the junction. So I wrote it down. ;)

michelleg said...

means it's all in ur mind lar? haha..

but really scary wei. issit at the pantai hospital traffic lights? that place is so haunted

k0k s3n w4i said...

@michelleg

Yep... strange things to think about at alone 3-4 am, huh? haha

Two traffic lights ahead of Pantai summore. why you say haunted? I'm going past there again tonight to go mcd.

michelleg said...

ohh.. at the MITC junction.

u know King's hotel? it was a graveyard there b4 the hotel was build. n the courthouse there as well..

k0k s3n w4i said...

@michelleg

Yep. To me, every inch of Malacca probably had someone died on it before.

sXydeViL said...

i agree with fluoronis!!!!!!! Shit, and its 4.30 nw... ARGH!!!!!!

k0k s3n w4i said...

People are all missing the point of my story T_T

pinksterz said...

i was about to say"whoa so lucky you encounter this kind of thing" but i saw your reply to fuolornis so oh well.

conclusion:

1. you read too much (not that it's a bad)
2. you think to much
3. malacca is a cool place if this kind of thing really happen.

i always wish i encounter this kind of thing in my life.

k0k s3n w4i said...

@pinksterz
Weeellll... something did happen to me before at the Japanese Cemetery in Malacca. I'll save that for another blog post.
You're the first girl I know whu's not afraid of these things.

sXydeViL said...

Well, we prefer to ignore ur MAIN point of the entry.
Who asked u to lie? =P