The story of Harry Chow

There was this guy, see, who’s name was Harry Chow.  He wasn’t Chinese or anything, but that was his name, Harry Chow.  Ordinary guy, I guess:  average height, average build, nothing very striking about him.   The kind of guy you’d forget about five minutes after you met him.   You know the kind of guy I mean.  He was Harry Chow, that’s all.

Anyway, Harry Chow got into this argument with a fellow one time.  Don’t know how it started.  The fellow said something to Harry and Harry said something back to him or maybe it was the other way around. It doesn’t matter.  The next thing you know the fellow pops Harry with a fist smack to his face.   Hits him right on the nose or the kisser. Harry loses it.  He grabs something, something big and heavy, maybe it was a pool cue if they were in a pool room or maybe it was just one of those sugar dispensers like they’ve got in a diner, it doesn’t matter, ‘cause whatever it was, Harry hit him so hard and heavy that down goes the guy in a heap.

Now Harry wasn’t the kind of guy to stick around and see what’s gonna happen next.  He figures he might of killed the man or at the least done some very serious damage and he doesn’t want to have the police throw him in the clink for life or, if he didn’t kill him, have the guy coming after him with a meat cleaver or something.   So he gets the hell out of there.

So he’s driving in his car and starts thinking that the car is the easiest way in the world that somebody, anybody — the cops, the guy, the buddies of the guy — could track him down in ten minutes if they wanted to.   So he drives the car way the hell out to the middle of nowhere and ditches it.   Nothing around by warehouses and half-empty buildings.  Probably somebody’ll see it sitting there after a while with nobody coming for it and strip it down for the tires and seat cushions ‘til there’s virtually nothing left.  One way or another, it’s gotta be better than driving it back to the motel he’s staying and leaving it there like an advertisement of where he’s at.   It was a piece of crap anyway, he figures.

So he walks a couple miles ‘til he finds a bus stop and eventually works his way back to his motel.  He tells the desk clerk some cock-and-bull story about his car being in the repair shop and costing more money than it’s worth to fix, so now he’ll be hoofing it for the time being.  He’s got about three hundred in cash on him and the place is cheap so he figures he should be able to lie low for at least a couple weeks.

Now he’s stuck though.   He’s got no credit cards, no checks, just the three hundred bucks in his wallet.   He can get chinese food and pizza delivered and he watches cable TV in his room all day.  Nothing happens.  Nothing on the TV or in the papers about a guy getting clobbered  with a cue stick or a sugar dispenser.

One day he works his way back to where he left the car. It’s gone.   He’s not totally sure, though, if he remembers correctly where he left it.  Nothing looks exactly the same.  He was in a complete panic at the time, so he’s not even sure this was really the part of the city he was in.

No one comes to the motel to arrest him or beat the life out of him.

What does Harry Choy do?   Does he, as in a story I saw on TV once, get a book on games of great chess tournaments and become a grand master?  They’re supposed to be reclusive weirdos anyway.  No, just a fantasy he had one day, stuck in his dreary room.

Does he take a job working the store at the gas station on the corner next to the motel?  Possibly.   Possibly he’s still there, earning just enough to keep his crumby room with the cable TV.

And where was he before?  What happened to his credit cards?  Was the trauma of maybe killing a man cause him to lose his memory of everything before the possibly fatal blow?  He remembers getting into the argument, though, but what was his life before that?   Was he already on the run, or just passing through?

Poor Harry Chow.

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Essays on creativity, community, social change, and the search for meaning