China-focused Satire, Social Commentary, Comics and More

Swinging to Freedom


Totally Awesome Picture of the Week 62


The boy stands spinning the long thread of twisted foil with unfettered fascination. His eyes, in following the shiny extension of his arm, cause his head to move in small circular nods as though also attached to the magical whip.

Much like the powers of Dorthy’s tornado, this overwhelming phenomenon rips from his surroundings the neatly arranged bottles, cans and piles of sacks. It flings rolls and nuts and other assorted goods into a chaotic storm which subsides only by disappearing, replaced with a mesmerizing mental conglomerate land chalk full of warped memories, books, cartoons and folk tales.

Here in this boy’s Oz he has no wants or needs. Foes pass by unnoticed, as do possible companions. Because there is too much in the way of stimuli, nothing exists but the swirling, ultra-concentrated universe of his immediate imagination. Like attempting to breathe when there is not enough oxygen, his attention does not wander.

What a glorious escape! Away! from the mislaid letters of his black market sweater. Away! from the old women who spit and coddle. Away! from the curious passersby. Away! from this afternoon’s bowel evacuation (which is yet to be swept away by foot traffic or a street cleaners broom). Away! from the din of desperate street vendors. Away! from his father’s cigarette smoke and his grandfather’s smelly feet. Away! from it all.

On the cluttered floor of the shop I find what I am looking for. I pick up the stray piece of foil, and watching the boy to perfect my swing, I flail it with all my might. Locking my jaw, I squint my eyes to minimize distraction – “Hypnotize!” I mutter forcefully, demanding. “Hypnotize, hypnotize, hypnotize.” My eyes follow until I am dizzy. My stomach hurts, my arm is tired, and I begin to wonder if eating that street fried “Chinese Pizza” with the egg, meat, veggies, mystery powders and sauces was a good idea. I roar at the idea, That is not concentrating. My arm goes numb and I knowingly let my momentum slow to a miserable little flop before allowing it to cease all together. I am going nowhere by this method of travel.

I walk carefully around the boy, who is still going and who, if he noticed the strange foreigner’s failure, did not show it. Stepping carefully over his feces and out from the heavy scent of raw cooking materials, I spot a new solution. Without so much as a glance back at the young adventurer I hop across the ancient cobblestone street and into a travel agency, where a ticket away costs a little less than my dignity.

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