Tuesday, 3 January 2017

The Walking Stick

For audio click here 
This is a fictional story, any similarity to real events or people is purely coincidental.

“Hey Wei, I need a new stick,” Wei’s mother waved her old walking stick in her son’s face.
“Again?” Wei said. “I only got you that one a few months ago.”
“It’s old and anyway Mrs Wang has the same one.”
“Don’t worry mum, I’ll sort you out. Anything else you need?”
“Well, Mrs Chang needs a new external battery and Mrs Wang needs some face creams.”
“No problem, tell Mrs Chang it’ll be 100RMB and I’ll see what creams I get, okay?”
“You’re a good boy,” Wei’s mother said.
Wei pulled his jacket on, shut the door behind him and headed for the lift. He’d try to do his mother proud.

He saw him coming from a mile off – the westerner with the stick, in a hurry too; he was manna from heaven. This guy even looked like a victim, a right patsy. It’d be like taking candy from a baby.
“Not allowed,” Wei said, picking up the walking stick from the X-Ray belt. He could speak better English than that, but he didn’t want to give that away.
“What do you mean?” the foreigner said.
“Dangerous, not allowed on plane.”
“Don’t be stupid.” Wei was surprised. They didn’t usually fight back. They were usually scared of the uniform.
Wei ignored him and started searching his bag. Bingo, an external battery.
“This too,” Wei held it up. “Wrong type, dangerous. Also not allowed on plane.”
“You can’t take my stick.” The traveller was not such a victim. “I can’t walk without it.”
“I arrange you wheelchair.”
The foreigner waved his hands around in anger and spoke so quickly that Wei didn’t have a chance of understanding. He stared at Wei.
“I said, I want to see your fucking manager.” he said slowly.
Wei shrugged.
“Who is in charge?” The man towered over Wei. Wei could smell coffee on his breath.
Wei shrugged again. This was dangerous now; if the duty manager came, he might discover what Wei was up to. Walking sticks were allowed on Planes as long as the passenger had reason, and as this guy had just taken his shoe and sock off to reveal a strapped foot, Wei might be in trouble. It was time for plan B.
“Sir,” he said, Wei’s English suddenly improving a few levels. “You are threatening a Chinese security official. I can have you arrested. This carries a minimum term of one year. Do you understand?”
It worked. It always worked. These foreigners had all heard stories about Chinese prisons. The merest hint that they might end up there turned them into little pussy cats.
“Now, if you could just sign here please.”
The westerner signed the form whilst mumbling to himself.

“Have a nice flight.” Wei smiled, but he’d pushed it too far. The westerner swivelled on his good foot and brought all of his hefty weight around through his fist. As Wei lay on the floor looking at the blurry lights in the ceiling he thought he might need to confiscate some false teeth the next time he was in work.

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