Two Times Bureau

Nicholas Quirke believed he was visiting the Exit/Entry bureau for the last time on 16 June 2021 when he went to pick up his passport. He deliberately went early so that’s he could also get back to Chanchunjie to register for one last time with the police. Annoyingly he had run out of time on his bike package and ended up having to walk to the station and then to the Bureau. As he walked to the office he spotted a large gathering on the path a head of him and as he got closer he could see that some of them were in old style red army uniforms. He got some interested looks as he approached and he pointed at the cap of one young man who immediately burst out laughing. As some were carrying guns it looked like it was a possibly a film crew, but he could not see any cameras or vans and as he did not have the wherewithal to start questioning the large group he walked on ruminating on their presence and the reasons for their attire. He got to the station and discovered that although he had been instructed to collect it on the 16th it was not ready and he was day early he would have to come back on the 17th. He was sent away and he laughed out loud that he treated the trip as his final visit and savoured every sight when he was now going to have to return. As the temperature was now in the mid 30’s he had promised himself a visit to ‘Veggie Table’ to get a vegan ice cream and as he now had plenty of time he sauntered to the Lama Temple and the cafe. For the first time he noted that the walls of King’s Joy, the 4 Michele’s star restaurant he had now eaten at twice had names written over the bricks and as he examined further his assumption that they were the names of celebrities who had dined there was wrong as he spotted Albert Einstien’s name and George Bernard Shaw’s and though they may well have been prominent vegetarians, he seriously doubted they eaten in the glamorous diner. Whatever the reason he was quite pleased that he had frequented an establishment where Leonardo Di Caprio, Toby Maguire, Candice Bergen, Natalie Portman and Michael Tyson had eaten. For him the vegan Mr Whippy he was served was as good as it was going to get that day. He had no other plans and had not bought his I-Pad with him as he expected to be going back home and he made his way back to the apartment. He wasn’t teaching at the school that evening, but did have an online lesson with Dylan and they watched the latest episode of Lissey Story before he sat down for his lesson only to discover it was cancelled. This meant there was time for a movie and they watched ‘Tragic Jungle’ which was ‘And then there Were None’ set in the jungle in Mexico and Belize, Agatha Christie on mescaline. Watching this film made him feel like he was on drugs. The pace was impossibly slow yet hypnotic as the lusts and passions of a group of illicit workers, who scar and bleed the trees for their sap, lose their lives. There is some kind of message in there but it was too dense for him to want to really work it out and he chose to sleep instead. 17 June 2021 felt like a repeat of his 16th, as he followed the same path, in the same intense heat to the Bureau, though the outcome was the one he had expected the day before. The x-ray machine was broken and they searched his bag, which was bad news as he knew they would confiscate his Go-Pro. When this had happened before he caused a fuss but the heat, that it really was likely that it was his last ever visit made him passive and he handed it over with his only noticeable protest being the photographing of the camera and its temporary guardians. As on the 16th he took another slight detour to eat yet another vegan Ice cream from Veggie table which, at 12 yuan was a delectable bargain. He again took a train back too Changchunjie and made his way to the police station. He had written a short note of appreciation in Chinese to give to the officer who time after time had taken his details and he was disappointed that for the first time in all the months he had registered the policeman was not there. He was given his certificate and he went home for lunch. He was working that afternoon and as soon as the food had been consumed he left for The Little Nap Cafe. It was such a hot day that he had planned to take the subway but once he was on the bike something compelled him to ride the whole way. He didn’t have the energy to lose patience with Willis and Harry and though he was initially reluctant to let them play a game on the I-Pad he finally with 10 minutes left succumbed to their pleas. It was English after all and there would be some benefits to them. They started watching a film but they were both so caught up in the ‘Mosquito Coast’, it was decided to finish the season asap. Thus the day ended for him in the delirious unworldly of Mexico and heat drenched sleep.

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