Midlife Triad and other excellent stories by Hong Kong based writers can be found in the HK Writers Circle Anthology: Of Gods and Mobsters.
中文版本: 蛊惑仔的中年危机 （上回）
WHEN Dragon Arm Ah Wah arrived at Dorm L1 of the Tong Fuk Correctional Institution, I was stretching in bed, breathing into my knee tendons.
Each evening, I’d do some gentle yoga to prepare my body for the damp hard bed, and to create a little mental space while young inmates built up an evening cacophony. The room, nearly full, could incarcerate up to twenty-eight in fourteen bunk beds.
One could tell from his calculated gait — unhurried and confident — that Ah Wah had walked into more troubling situations before. His tiny round eyes, deep-set and intense, scanned the room as he came through the door, taking snapshots. They were cool and alert, but not hostile, even cautiously friendly.
The de facto head inmate Fat Shing, a quiet 30-year-old Wo Kee Gangster bearing an image of the Wheel of Fortune on his back, told him which beds were available. He took the one across the central aisle from mine. The kids’ quarter, though only a few feet away, was nominally noisier. He must have had taken note of that in just a few short minutes. Before settling down, he gave me an assessing glance so quickly that I did not have time to offer a smile back.
After expertly laying out the military blankets, he took off his shirt, revealing a blue dragon caught in a web of bulging veins, entwining his right upper arm. Dragons, tigers and eagles used to be standard body adornments in gangland. Now they have become classic. Judging from the young ones in the room, nearly anything goes these days: Wheel of Fortune, Tree of Life, Mickey Mouse, Buddha, Popeye. One guy had a plum blossom bonsai across his back. His sobriquet was — as would be expected — Plum Blossom. I was at first surprised that a thug by profession, not gay, not even effeminate in manner, would call himself Plum Blossom; but what did I know.
Time had changed everything, sparing nothing, not even the underworld.
Ah Wah’s dragon looked weary, slightly crinkled, not as assured as its host.