The Ghosts Of Walker Pines (Dragons Among Us Book 1)

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Buru [7]. Reptile or giant lungfish. Arunachal Pradesh , India. Cadborosaurus [8]. Pacific Coast of North America. Canvey Island Monster [9] [ unreliable source? Fish, originally described as bipedal. Champ [5] [10]. Champtanystropheus americanus , Champy. Lake Champlain , North America. Chessie [ citation needed ]. Dingonek [11]. Extra-large otter -like carnivorous aquatic mammal. Giant anaconda [13]. Igopogo [5]. Lake Simcoe , Ontario Canada. Isshii [5]. Kusshii [5]. Loch Ness Monster [15]. Loch Ness , Scotland.

Mamlambo [5]. Manipogo [5]. Lake Manitoba , Canada. Mokele-Mbembe [8]. Nahuelito [5]. Nahuel Huapi Lake , Argentina. Ogopogo [5] [10]. Lake Okanagan , Canada. Sea serpents [16]. Selma [5]. Lake Seljord , Telemark , Norway. Steller's sea ape [17]. Tahoe Tessie [ citation needed ]. Trinity Alps giant salamander. Giant salamander [18]. Almas [5] [10]. Abnauayu, almasty, albasty, bekk-bok, biabin-guli, golub-yavan, gul-biavan, auli-avan, kaptar, kra-dhun, ksy-giik, ksy-gyik, ochokochi, mirygdy, mulen, voita, wind-man, Zana.

Non-human ape or hominid. Barmanou [5]. Ape or hominid. Batutut [5]. Vietnam , Laos , and Borneo. Beast of Bodmin [19]. Cornwall , England. Beast of Exmoor [13].

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Bigfoot [20]. British big cats [19]. Bukit Timah Monkey Man [21]. Forest-dwelling hominid or other primate. Chuchunya [22] [5]. Chupacabra [23]. Ebu Gogo [24]. Small primate , possible early hominid. Flores , Indonesia. Elwetritsch [25]. Fouke Monster [ citation needed ]. Hominid or other primate. Honey Island Swamp monster [ citation needed ]. Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp [ citation needed ]. Maricoxi [ citation needed ]. Mngwa [19]. Mogollon Monster [ citation needed ].

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Bipedal primate. Mogollon Rim , Arizona , United States. Mongolian death worm [13]. Gobi Desert Asia. Monkey-man of Delhi [13]. Old Delhi , India. Orang-bati [5]. Orang Mawas [5]. Ozark Howler [ citation needed ]. Shunka Warakin [ citation needed ]. Carnivorous mammal; wolf -like, boar -like, hyena -like.

Western United States especially Montana. Skunk Ape [26]. But after their initial reluctance or rebellious pro- tests, most of them ended up accepting their fate. As time went by, their lives became better and more harmonious. As for being tied up and beaten, it is quite normal in the country- side. Once, my wife and I were car- rying some corn back from the field. I became so horny and wanted to have sex with her. I wouldn't give up and insisted that I fuck her in the daylight.

She then said she was too tired, and didn't want to take off her pants. I got mad. Before I had the chance to grab a wooden pole and force her to strip, she bolted out the door. I chased after her. She jumped in the village pond, attempting to drown herself. Guess what? The water was only waist deep. Oh well, those girls that I transported to the northwest had much better luck than my wife. As the saying goes: Beatings and quarrels make good couples. I'm just trying to supply what the market needs.

The Human Trafficker 17 liao: You deceived those women and tricked them into the business. You ruined their lives. In some northern regions, there are too many bachelors. The regional climate is too dry and people are poor. Sooner or later, there will be disturbances. By taking women over there, 1 bal- anced the yin and yang. As you know, the matchmaking service in the city collects fees. I was in the same business. Actually, if you deducted the cost of train fare, food, and other miscellaneous stuff, there wasn't much left as profit.

If you read newspapers nowa- days, you will constantly come across stories about how someone became enlightened and has finally come to realize the true value of life, blah blah blah. When someone earns money without working hard, he begins to bullshit about the value of life. Just like a pop singer, who only needs to open his or her mouth, sing a couple of songs, and the money pours in like crazy. That's why everyone adores pop stars and models. Nobody envies the life of a peasant.

I admit that I lied to them and used deception. But in this world today, could you tell me a person who has not lied to get what they want? The only honest beings are animals, such as stupid pigs. In many cases. These guys are having sex with their wives. Of course, you're a city guy. You can meet girls at nightclubs or dance parties, or even at train stations. If you re a shy guy, you can always join a government-run matchmaking service, or place a personal ad in the paper.

If it doesn t work out with one date, you can meet someone else. Poor folks in the countryside are not so lucky. As for weddings, accord- ing to the local tradition, as long as you have a ceremony, with drums and horns, and invite everyone to a banquet, you are considered hus- band and wife.

Country folks have been following these traditions for generations. Are you going to get the death penalty? Qian: I actively cooperated with the prosecution and they reduced my sentence to life imprisonment. I accepted the verdict and pleaded guilty. Now, seven are here in this jail.

Those guys working in the northwest were thrown into local jails. The two group leaders have been executed. I persuaded my colleagues not to touch the goods because northerners are pretty conservative people. They want the goods in their original packages. They want to see blood on their wedding night.

One of them was working on her doctoral degree at a university. I acted very sophisticated. They would see through your tricks right away. I dropped all my masks. I told them I was a peasant from a fairly well-off region, which was covered with fruit trees and thick forests, an uncul- tivated Shangri-la. Then, I pretended to seek their advice on how to do business. I told them that my village desperately needed some educated folks to go help cultivate the natu- ral resources. I invited one of the Ph. I told her we would hire college students and pay them high salaries.

She fell for it so easily. I've got a remarkably slick tongue. Unfortunately, once you snatch those educated women, they can be a handful. One girl was locked up in a cell for over a week, but still wouldn't cave in to our demands. It deserves to be cut off. I had known of Zhou for quite some time. His restroom stands almost next door to my mother's teahouse.

But we were simply nodding acquaintances. One night last year, I sum- moned up enough courage to get over my concerns about losing my social status as an intellectual, and started a conversation with him. Based on our rules, I need to charge you extra. But since you're a regular client, I'll waive the extra charge. I want to take you out for tea. Actually, the more her customers drink, the better for my business. When their bladders are full, they come to my place. The Public Restroom Manager 21 liao: In this world, there are rich people and poor people, aristocrats and common folks.

Even the emperor has to take a shit. Hey, you're a writer, you like to collect material for your articles.

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Did you know there was an attempted murder here not long ago? About two days ago, a guy was chasing a young woman and she ran into this restroom. I tried to stop the guy at the door but couldn t. All the female customers were startled and began to scream. I sent my son to break it up, but the man took a knife out of his pocket. Nobody dared move. The guy seized the young woman, and was about to slash her face. She went to her knees, beg- ging for mercy.

You know, in many public restrooms, the fertilizer companies put plastic containers near the urinals to collect urine. I grabbed one of these containers and splashed its contents all over the guy. That stopped him. He was soaked. Later on, someone called the police and they took both the man and the woman away. Guess what happened the next day? I saw the man and woman walking on the street, hugging and kissing like lovers. I tried to dodge them, but they came up to me. The guy pointed his fingers at my nose: You motherfucker, how dare you pour all that pee on me?

Look what you did. My whole body smells like piss. When I heard that, I lost it. I said: If I hadn't poured the urine, you d have killed someone! It had nothing to do with you. Why call the police? We got detained yesterday and our families had to bail us out. When they saw us, they all covered their noses.

Our neighbors laughed at us. Weve come back to seek compensation for our emotional trauma. Nowadays, everyone in China talks about the rule of law. My son was incensed and got into a terrible argument with them. I tried to hold him back, but that bitch jumped out in the street and screamed murder. All hell broke loose. We got quite a crowd. What pissed me off was that the guy pointed at my son in front of the crowd and said: Did you just use that ladle to stir up the shit in the latrine? You're a born toilet cleaner. You even use a shit ladle as a murder weapon.

So insulting! That was no shit ladle. It was for cooking. My son threw it at them. The people in the crowd thought it was covered with shit and ran away as fast as they could. This jerk I was telling you about still shows up at my restroom now and then. What goes around comes around. When I used to work as a latrine cleaner, I liked to go out of my way to help people.

Sometimes, people used to make fun of me and call me the Shit Samaritan. Well, it took me half a month to go through the various bureaucratic hoops before I could obtain the contract to run this restroom. If I had been born ten years later, I would never have thought to make a living in the restroom business. All public restrooms were under the supervision of the municipal Environment and Hygiene Department. Later the department assigned each public restroom to its nearby street committee. The street committee then asked the local residents to take care of the restrooms themselves.

In the end, nobody was taking responsibility for their maintenance and they got dirty. When it rained, the street flooded with human waste, and cars couldn't even drive through. When the sun was out, the human waste dried up, and the moist stink could bring tears to your eyes. There are still a cou- The Public Restroom Manager 23 pie of free restrooms like that in the city, in the old residential areas. People had to rely on public restrooms. Sometimes, they had to walk quite far.

At night, families had to use chamber pots. In the old days, chamber pots painted in red were popular items for bridal showers or dowries. A sturdy chamber pot could last over ten years. In the old days, every morning, families used to dump their chamber pots into the public restrooms or wait for the human-waste truck. Those trucks were more punctual than public buses. It was quite harmonious. I used to drive a human-waste truck. Nobody looked down on me because I was handling shit.

My clients called me Master Zhou. There were even people who stole shit from the latrines. Sometimes, they would get caught and the street commit- tee would detain their carts. People in that era had no sense of money. There was no such thing as a fine. All they wanted from those shit thieves was a soul-searching self-criticism. During the Cultural Revo- lution in the s, they would blame the capitalists for poisoning their minds and making them steal.

In theory, everything belongs to the government. In the old days, the waste we collected every morning was sent to a collective farm called the Red and Bright Commune, which is famous in our region because Chairman Mao visited it in They were really proud of that and they still display the plaque Mao gave them.

Each time we brought a shipment to the commune, we'd beat drums and gongs and decorate the trucks with red flowers.

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When they saw our trucks approaching, the peasants would hold large welcoming ceremonies. Many young students volunteered their time to help with the mission. On weekends, we would pick horse manure off the street and donate it to the communes. He met Chairman Mao in person and had a picture taken with him. Everyone was excited that Mao would grant a public restroom cleaner like him such a high honor. We all tried to emulate him.

The structure of the public bathroom was quite simple: a wooden platform with many holes in it was laid on top of a pit. The people squatted and relieved themselves through the holes. Every morning, a tube drained the waste from the pit into the truck. One day, the tube was blocked. When I went to investigate, I saw that a fetus had got stuck there. In the last decade peo- ple have become more relaxed about premarital sex.

In those days, without a marriage certificate, a woman would never have the guts to go to the hospital for an abortion. Premarital sex was considered extremely shameful. The stigma would stay with her the rest of her life. As a result, many girls would secretly procure medicine and the pub- lic toilet was like an abortion clinic, a dumping ground for dead fetuses.

Some girls took the wrong medicine and died. In China, life is cheap. The Public Restroom Manager 25 zhou: Many professors and scholars were labeled counterrevolution- aries, and yes, they were assigned to clean toilets. For people like me who did this for a living, we suddenly found ourselves with nothing to do. I still got paid, but I ended up staying at home all day long, sleeping and goofing around. Since I was used to doing hard labor every day, I got really bored. Sometimes, in the mornings and evenings, I would sneak out to the toilet to coach the professors on their technique.

Considering how Chinese emperors slaughtered dissenting intel- lectuals in ancient times, I think Chairman Mao and the Communist Party were pretty merciful. Mao emphasized the importance of initiat- ing mind reform and reeducating scholars. He ordered intellectuals to engage in hard labor, and at the same time, encouraged working-class people to read hooks.

Reading books was easy for us working-class folks. We enrolled in literacy classes, and took courses in history and politics. That was fun. But when you forced professors to clean toilets, they considered it a huge loss of status.

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On the surface they acted as obedient as dogs. People thought it was tragic whenever a professor died while clean- ing the restroom. But I was born a restroom cleaner. If I have a sad life, nobody gives a damn. Only book learning is exalted. I still remember those hig, spacious public restrooms.

We would play hide-and-seek in them. Sometimes, when we forgot to bring toilet paper, we would wipe our little asses along the edge of the wall. I constantly got scolded for that. But I have to say that the public restroom was my second class- room. You call the public restroom a classroom? It was shocking and exciting. From another drawing on the wall, 1 learned about sexual intercourse.

I was only eight years old. I became indignant, took out my pencil, and wrote beside the picture: This is two counterrevolu- tionaries doing bad stuff. So I wrote on the bathroom wall: Wang Xiaohong is a whore. She sleeps with evil capital- ists. It's more dif- ficult than sweeping the floors or even cleaning out the pit. And when I finally erase it, the minute I turn around, new graffiti appears. Restroom graffiti has been in existence since ancient times. The only exception was during the Cultural Revolution. Most of the time, the mere sight of graffiti makes me so mad that I dont even bother to read it.

There are limericks, dirty drawings, vul- gar phrases, political slogans, and even paragraphs copied from pub- lished articles. It goes like this: You are a bird flying in the sky, I'm a cockroach, in shit I thrive: You are flying in circles in the clouds. Why do you memorize vulgar lim- ericks like that? The Public Restroom Manager 27 liao: Sorry to embarrass you. But think about it: there are well over a billion people in China. Only a few can get their writings published in newspapers and magazines, and you need to go through rigorous reviews and various levels of censorship.

By the time your article gets to the paper, it no longer resembles what you originally wrote. Many people will never have an opportunity to express themselves in public. It was a limerick to commemorate Chairman Mao. It was pretty easy to remember. It went: Chairman Mao, Chairman Mao, if you rise from your grave you will see embezzlers in raves. Chairman Mao, if you look to your right, hookers and druggies at your side. Chairman Mao, if you look to your left, fake goods are what you get.

Chairman Mao, if you look behind your back, laid-off workers are deep in debt. Chairman Mao, if you look down, extramarital affairs are common. Chairman Mao, Chair- man Mao, close your eyes, out of sight, out of mind. People want their iron rice bowls back. But anyway, is your busi- ness good, Grandpa? Then again, so many people are unemployed here. My monthly profits are about two hundred to three hundred yuan. I'm pretty content with that. And for an old guy like me, managing toilets is easy work.

Life is tough and tiring. All my nerves are strained. Most of the time, the tales are so dramatically exaggerated that one has to discard them as fiction. On the anniversary of my father's passing I traveled to Lum- ping in Sichuan, where my father was born and where his ashes are buried. Luo is an old family friend, now in his seventies. He looked healthy and energetic; his vision was still keen and his mind sharp, and we spoke for some time. Do you think there is any truth to these stories? Corpse walking has never been an officially rec- ognized profession, but the practice had been around since ancient times.

When I was young, I had several friends in the business of trad- ing salt. They used to travel by foot on dirt paths to the central provinces of Shaanxi and Henan.

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When my friends told me about this, I said: When a person dies, he becomes stiff. How can he manage to cross the border? Did that mean the border that sepa- rates the worlds of the living and the dead? As I told you, transportation was not very well developed then. The so- called national highway was a rutted dirt road. When a traveling busi- nessman died of a sudden illness or accident, it was hard to transport the body back to his village to be buried in his native soil.

And if a dead person is not returned to his hometown, as custom dictates, he would be called a lonely soul and a homeless ghost. So, since buses or trucks werent available, if the family could afford it, they hired professional corpse walkers. Was there magic to it? In the early s, the new Communist government sent a work team to launch the Land Reform movement, which took land from the rich and gave it to the poor.

The work team categorized people according to their wealth and beliefs. The thing was covered with a huge inky-colored robe. The bottom hem of the robe was splattered with mud, and from time to time a leather shoe poked out below. The footsteps were heavy and made a repetitive, thudding noise, like some- one knocking the ground with a block of wood. A man was there, walking a few paces ahead of the corpse, wearing a beige vest and carrying a basket filled with fake paper money. In his other hand, he held a white paper lantern. Every few minutes, he would reach into the basket, grab some money, and toss it high in the air.

But why the lantern in broad daylight? And the white lantern, the fake money, and the black robe helped create an atmosphere of mourning. The lantern also served a practical purpose — but let me finish my story. Piggy and I decided to keep following the corpse walker.

The corpse looked a head taller than an ordinary person and wore a big straw hat. Beneath the hat was a white paper mask — one of those sad-looking masks like they wear in operas. He followed the guide with great precision. Piggy and I followed the pair for about six or seven kilometers, all the way to a small inn on a quiet side street. While the corpse waited at the entrance, the guide walked into the lobby, tapped on the counter, and said in a low voice: The god of happi- ness is here.

He bowed to the guide and led him and the corpse to the back of the inn. We tried to get closer but heard an angry shout from the innkeeper. He grabbed my coat sleeve and snarled: Get away, you little bastards. LIAO: Wasn't the innkeeper afraid of getting bad luck from accommodat- ing a corpse? There was even a saying: If the god of happiness comes to your inn, good fortune will follow. Of course, an innkeeper could charge three times as much for providing accommo- dation to corpse walkers.

We hung around in the lobby. Soon the innkeeper returned from the back with a shiny silver dollar in his hand. When he noticed us, he called us over, handed us some small change, and told us to run to a restaurant down the street to get fried peanuts, cooked pig ears, pig tongues, and some hard liquor. We were also told to buy candles and fake paper money from a funeral-supply store. Strangely enough, the innkeeper specifically asked us to get two sets of bowls and chopsticks from the restaurant. He said one set was for the god of happiness.

We ran our errands quickly, and the innkeeper thanked us pro- fusely. He tipped us a couple of coins and invited us to sit down with him for tea. He told us that over the past twenty years, he had accom- modated over ten corpse walkers who were passing through the region. We peppered him with questions. The innkeeper said the magic lies inside that black robe. But he wouldn't say anything else. Piggy said: We live in a new Communist era now.

Corpse walking is a practice from the old society. It is now considered superstitious and illegal. After our begging, then our threatening, the innkeeper told us. During the trip, the per- son who carries the corpse has to use two hands to secure the body so it doesn t slide off. As you probably know, the body of a dead person becomes as stiff and as heavy as a stone. It takes eight people to carry a coffin. Imagine how tough it would be for one person, wrapped up in a large black robe, to walk hundreds of miles with a dead body on his back.

Since it is hard for him to bend his knees, each move must be very stiff and awkward.

see url On top of that, the black robe prevents him from being able to see what is ahead of him. Remember the white lantern that we talked about earlier? The light from the lantern is used to guide the corpse carrier. LUO: Under normal circumstances, corpse walkers only eat one meal a day, and they travel ten to twelve hours without any rest. Since they work in pairs, they alternate days carrying the body. Sometimes a corpse walker's journey can take over a month. With such a long travel time, it is impossible to make the trip during the warm months because the corpse would decay in the heat.

Even in winter, corpse walkers have to inject mercury and other anti-decaying solutions into the body. The innkeeper said people in the profession had to go through years of specialized physical training. They often had good kung fu skills and could defend themselves against roadside robbers. Piggy wanted to go to the backyard to check it out. The innkeeper stopped him, saying the The Corpse Walkers 33 door was locked. I said: We can put our ears to the door and listen. The innkeeper pinched my ear: If they catch you, they will chop off your ear and serve it as cold cuts with their drinks. Corpse walkers are very pri- vate people.

Once they get in the room, they never come out again till early in the morning when they set off. It was a slow night for the innkeeper, so we ended up chatting for quite a while. It was pitch- black outside when we finally left. He said that if offi- cials knew that he was renting them a room, his business would be closed down.

I'm not finished. After I got home, I couldn't get to sleep. I was still haunted by images of the corpse walkers. The next morning, I was awakened by the sound of the village chief walking up and down the street banging a gong. He was calling an important meet- ing for the whole village. I jumped out of bed, grabbed my coat, and ran out into the drizzling rain, skipping breakfast. From all directions neighbors were coming out of their houses.

As I got closer to the village square, I spotted Piggy. He pulled me aside and said in a muffled tone of voice: I have to tell you something. After we split up last night, I kept thinking about the stories the innkeeper told us. Something felt wrong to me. Chairman Mao told us to smash all superstitious practices. So I got up in the middle of the night, walked several miles to the county offices, and reported the corpse walkers to members of the Land Reform work team.

I slapped him: You weren't sup- posed to do that. Didn't we promise the innkeeper to keep quiet? It was all about money, wasn t it? In that era everyone wanted to gain favor with the new government. Piggy was just trying to be part of the group. With Piggy's help, soldiers armed with rifles burst into the inn and rounded up the innkeeper and his staff. There was no response. The soldiers had to bang on the door violently before they heard some rustling sounds from inside the room.

Who is it? That infuriated the soldiers and they broke down the door with their rifle butts. The soldiers jumped inside, waving their flashlights around the room. Piggy, who had witnessed the whole thing, told me that the two corpse walkers were standing in their underwear by the bed, shaking. The corpse, still covered in the black robe, was leaning against a wall. One soldier pulled up the robe and saw that it was the body of a woman, a rich lady — she had permed hair and heavy makeup, and she was dressed in an expensive, green silk cheongsam. Neither the village folks nor the soldiers had ever been that close to a rich lady before.

Out of curiosity, some poked at her face, while others fingered the material of the dress. Her nose, ears, and mouth were filled with mercury and some kind of smelly liquid, but that didn't stop them from probing. The two corpse walkers raised their hands over their heads. The soldiers ordered them and the innkeeper to stand along the wall, side by side with the dead body. Piggy said that the whole thing was pretty weird with the room lit so dimly. The older one was thirty-five, stocky and very muscular.

The younger was thirty-one, thin- ner and taller. Their father had been in the profession for many years and was known in the region as Guijianchou — warrior that scares the ghost. The two brothers inherited the profession from him at an early age. They said they had tried to be farmers but gave it up because they couldn't make ends meet. When the soldiers pressed them for informa- tion regarding the dead woman, the two brothers looked at each other, shook their heads, and said it was a violation of their professional code 35 The Corpse Walkers to disclose information about the dead.

The soldiers slapped their faces and pointed their rifles at their heads, shouting: Chairman Mao teaches us, leniency toward those who confess and severe punishment for those who refuse to cooperate. Scared shitless, the brothers both fell to the floor and confessed everything. When the Nationalists were defeated, the officer and his wife ended up wandering from place to place.

It was wintertime, and the wife caught pneumonia. On her deathbed she made her husband promise to return her body to her hometown for burial. The weary officer promised to pay them a large sum of money if they would deliver his deceased wife to her native village. They accepted the deal and carried the woman for two months over the treacherous terrain.

When Piggy and I saw them, they were only six- teen kilometers from their final destination. They were locked in a dark room, together with the corpse. Corpse walking was quite labor-intensive, much harder than farming. They were not exploiters, but working-class people — the allies of Communism. But they had committed a double crime: first, they engaged in a busi- ness connected with tradition and superstition; second, they were employed by a Nationalist officer.

It was considered quite a serious crime to cooperate with an enemy. Soon the village square was packed with gawking spectators. Loud drums and gongs drowned out the chatter of the crowd. Country folk seldom got to visit the city and had no access to entertainment all year long. Public denunciation meetings offered free drama for many onlookers. None of them wanted to miss it. A makeshift stage had been set up next to the grain warehouse.

Next to him were the head of the gov- ernment Land Reform work team and three soldiers. About a dozen wooden chairs and stools were placed in the front row. They were reserved for the head of the village militia, the chairman of the newly formed Poor Peasant Revolutionary Committee, and several peasant activists.

Soon the loud gongs and drums stopped. The county chief grabbed a microphone that occasionally blasted out piercing squeals. People standing near the stage shuffled around to make way for the criminals: More than ten people were pushed onto the stage. They were wearing tall dunce caps, their hands were tied to their backs, black cartoon boards hung in front of their chests with characters such as evil landlord Zhang Kan, et cetera. After the slogan shouting died down, some poor peasant activists stood up and began to tell dreadful stories about how badly they had been treated and exploited by those landlords before the Communists came.

Their testimonies were followed by another round of slogan shouting. Then the soldiers escorted the pair of them and their lackeys out to an open field nearby, and the whole bunch was shot dead on the spot. Where are they? About half an hour later, the corpse walkers were paraded onto the stage.

People immediately pushed toward the front, trying to take a good look at these people who were supposed to possess legendary powers that could make a corpse walk. The gathering became quite chaotic and several kids were trampled in the crush. The soldiers on the stage stood up and jumped down into the crowd to help maintain order. They tried to push the crowd back from the stage. Chaos will create opportunities for our class enemies to stir up trouble. But the people wouldnt back down. Who could blame them? The older brother and the cheongsam-wearing corpse had been tied together, back-to-back.

The younger brother was forced to put on the black robe and carry the white lantern and the basket with fake paper money. The scary mask was tied to the back of his head. The older brother had a black sign hung around his neck that said "The Lackey of the Counterrevolutionary Corpse. We could see her permed hair and makeup. It was quite a frightening but comical scene. People began to ooh and ahh. A woman in the audience screamed: She is an evil fox! Didn t people worry about retribu- tion for blaspheming the dead? It was like a circus. The crowd kept getting rowdier.

The excitement was quite contagious. Some younger guys tried to climb onto the stage to touch the corpse. The soldiers wrestled with them, attempting to push them down. It was a real mob scene. Then suddenly we heard a loud crash: the stage had collapsed. People were screaming and falling over one another.

One soldier raised his gun and fired at the sky several times before the crowd became silent and under control. Luckily for the two brothers, their kung fu skills came in handy. The soldiers then untied the corpse from the elder brother's back and sent both of them back to the dark room. That night the two brothers broke a window and escaped. They were soon discovered by soldiers on patrol, who chased after them for several kilo- meters.

The elder brother, though shot in the leg, didn't want to surren- der. As he stumbled forward up on the mountain, he accidentally stepped on a loose stone and fell into a ravine. After that the younger one was caught without any resistance. Then he was deported back to his local village with the death certificate of his brother. They had received a letter from the officer telling them to welcome home the body, and they had set up an altar and were prepared to hold a wake. They waited and waited, but the corpse walkers never showed up, and eventually they got word of what had happened at the public denunciation meeting.

She had already been buried. They begged him to give the body back. Normally, the county chief wouldn't dare meet such a request for a Nationalist officer's wife. But the fiasco at the public denunciation meeting plus the killing of a corpse walker, who was considered a member of the working class, had made him nervous. He was afraid that the relatives of the dead woman could take the 39 The Corpse Walkers issue to a higher level of government and get him into trouble. So he let them dig up the body. The relatives then hired some professional mourners, who carried the body home.

It was quite a procession in the old-fashioned style, which the county officials pretended they didn't see. It had been a long journey home for that woman. As for the elder brother, it was really sad that someone who had spent his whole life returning the dead to their ancestral homes should end up getting buried in a place far away from his own home. Since then, he has been traveling around Yunnan preaching Christianity and offering medical help.

About two years ago, while visiting a tuberculosis patient in Shimenkan, he came across a dilapidated hut hidden in the woods on the slope of the mountain. Intrigued by this lonely dwelling far from town, he decided to find out who lived there. His local guide tried to prevent him, saying that this was the residence of the village leper. Sun ignored his advice. Sun told me their story and I decided to intenhew them. After hours of driving on a winding, red-dirt mountain road, I found Zhang sitting in his yard, dozing off in the sun. So 1 should be seventy-five this year. This is my new wife.

She is a horse — seventy-six years old. I used to live down in Shimenkan at the foot of the mountain. They said I was contagious. So I just moved up here. Before Dr. Sun visited us, we hadn t talked to a living person for years. I think it was before Deng Xiaoping came to power and began to give some land back to peasants from the collec- tive farms. Early one morning I went to the mountain to dig some herbs so I could sell them at the local market. I used to make my living that way. As I was climbing, one of my feet caught on a piece of rock and I fell.

While I struggled to get up, I spotted a wild azalea near my foot. The azalea root is a type of rare herb and it can sell for big bucks. So I took a berry hoe out of my backpack and carefully dug around the plant. It turned out the root was quite fat, worth a lot of money. While I was lost in happy thoughts, a snake darted out from the bushes and wrapped its body around the azalea root. It had rough brownish skin, and I saw that it was what we called a Ma snake.

I was startled and began to shake. Before the snake had a chance to attack, I hacked at it with the hoe. I missed its head the first time but cut its tail off. I aimed my hoe at its head and whacked it a couple more times. When I was sure the snake was dead, I dug out the azalea root and went home. Soon after, I began to be haunted by the experience. My skin itched and I felt cold all the time. I wore a cotton-padded coat even in the middle of summer. I tried all sorts of herbs, hoping to find a cure for myself.

Nothing worked. One day, I went to buy some salt at the nearby market and bumped into the head of the collective farm. When he saw that I was shivering with cold in the summer sun, he asked what was wrong. I said I was possessed by the spirit of the Ma snake. He was shocked and his face turned ugly. Those Ma snakes are holy creatures. It's a taboo to kill them. Since Ma snakes sound similar to leprosy, mafeng- bing in Chinese, he told people that I was suffering from leprosy.

He contacted the local leprosy clinic, but their damn doctor didn't even want to get close to me. He examined me from five feet away and said 1 was suffering from leprosy. I tried to argue with him. He said, Look at your face. It's as pale as ashes. Several militiamen from the village put on face masks and gloves and dragged me to the local leprosy sanatorium. Instead they assigned me to work in the kitchen, where I ended up cooking for other patients for four years. Eventually the director of the hospital realized that it was against Party policy to lock a healthy person inside a leprosy hospital.

So they let me out. We hung out together all day long. It was no big deal. Nothing happened to me. When 1 got home, the world had changed. Chairman Mao had already died, and Deng Xiaoping had taken over. The commune no longer existed. Since I wasn't around, they didn't leave me anything, not even a piece of dirt. Even if I had been around, they would have told me that I wasn't eligible because I was a leper. So I became homeless overnight — no land and no home. But I didn t give up, and I began to petition the local government.

Why should I have to put up with this shit? Finally, a leader from my village made a proposal: since I was a bachelor and was way past marriage age, he promised to fix me up with a girl from another county. In this way, I could move out of the village and get a wife and some land in another county. Why not? That didn't sound too bad. So I accepted. Neither of us was picky. Soon after we met, I thanked the matchmaker, held The Lefer 43 a wedding banquet, and moved out of Shimenkan.

I did the opposite.

The locals called me a relocated son- in-law. Even so, people were afraid to be around her. That was probably why they fixed us up together. Even now, people here are scared of leprosy. Over the years, many healthy people have been sent to the hospital because fellow villagers suspected they had leprosy. So Xu Meiying and I turned out to have a similar history. Before me, she had several boyfriends. None of them had a good reputation.