《Fatal Weakness》CHAPTER THREE: The Scalpel of God
Back when I was in New York studying at Columbia, I used all Sundays and public holidays to go around nearly every street in the city. It's the best way to get to know a city, and of course you also get your money's worth. Since then, whether it was when I went back to Beijing or off to Guangzhou, I use the same approach to find my way around. At the beginning, it was a bit exhausting and boring, but as I followed road after road, I grew more deeply with the city without even being aware of it, and this process of change from the quantitative to the qualitative was pretty much complete by my third worn-out pair of running shoes. Though I've only lived a few years in each of New York, Beijing and Guangzhou these three cities, I feel I know them just as well as any of their locals.
On my second day in New York, I pulled out the address to Catherine's place that Director Zhou had given me. I took a good look at it, then closed my eyes, more or less bringing to mind the look of the road and that of the residents there. The road is just a little street across and behind the Brooklyn Bridge just three blocks to the left, situated in a ghetto in a borough with one of the highest concentrations of black people. As I made my way over, I felt a bit spooked; the buildings on both sides of the road didn't go any higher than four floors, and it was almost hard to find any that didn't have any broken windows. Walking down the street you have to be a bit careful or something might trip you up. What something? Well, that something could be some trash, or it could also be some drunk dude lying in the street, maybe even a junkie or a corpse. Sometimes things trip you up and you can't even tell what on earth it was. Except for these unknown somethings, the thing that left the deepest impression was the smell of death there and the lack of life force in its residents, with their eyes like those of dead fish. All of this just gave me an intense feeling of being in a far-off foreign land. I've been to a lot of cities in China, even to their so-called poor or vagrant areas, and though they're just as filled with trash, with unknown 'somethings' of their own, namely dilapidated housing or even iron huts, despite the smells there, the people's eyes at least give one a sense that hope still exists.
A thirty-something year old white woman who lives alone in a small apartment on this street, and I can already imagine just what kind of person and what kind of life. Coming out from the hotel, I find a taxi, and when I tell him the name of the street, the forty-something Afghani driver just sits there, doesn't start the car. I know he doesn't want to go, but when I repeat the address in standard New York English, he reluctantly starts the engine. On the way, he grumbles in English you have to stretch your ears out just to understand: 'whenever I go to this place every time I am losing money, it is very common for people to not pay, and the worse is when you get robbed. Sometimes you're lucky you can back out safely, but the car cannot avoid the bottles which drop down and smash.' Hearing him tell me this is really too much, so I agree to let him stop the car two blocks away and get out, taking the risking of walking in myself.
Catherine lives on the second floor of a run-down little three-story apartment building. Climbing up a wooden stairwell which looks like it would collapse if given a little push, I find the door. Probably because I phoned beforehand, I've barely just knocked when someone opens the door: "are you Yang, from China?"
It's a chubby white woman. I smile and nod as I push past her. As she lets me in she mockingly says, "standing here in front of the mirror, seeing this face and body of mine, I sure don't see anything worth smiling about, so what are you smiling at?"
I keep smiling politely at her.
I size up everything in the room; it's actually not that messy, probably because there's no furniture anywhere. Catherine's just the kind of Caucasian woman I'd imagined she'd be, which luckily wasn't as a skin-and-bones junkie or a cheap whore caked in make-up so thick some drops off her face every time she smiles. She's the kind of fat woman that's built solid like a German beer mug, arms as thick as my legs. Her chin is like a scrunched-up napkin hanging off her neck, swaying back and forth as she moves.
"Yang, help yourself, my home is your home. I don't have any tea, will pop do?"
"Sure, thanks." I take out the present I brought for her from China, handing it to her: "just a little something I thought you might like." Catherine takes the wrapped box and keenly rips it open. It's a Suzhou style Chinese silk scarf I went out of my way to get. She anxiously wraps the scarf around her fat neck, and I breathe freely when I see her finally manage to tie the scarf's ends together.
"Yang, do you think I'm fat?" Without even waiting for my response, she laughs: "you don't need to answer that, I don't want to hear you say 'no, not at all, you look great,' because you'll just be laughing inside. I'm fat and I know it." She has a little trouble bending down to pull a yellowing photo album out from under the coffee table. "Yang, these are all photos of what I used to look like, take a look if you want."
I open the album and flip through a few pages, noticing the same slim, blonde young woman in each photo. I know this is the old Catherine, but I still try and hide the awkwardness of seeing these, because I don't know what I ought to say.
"Yang, that's what I used to look like. Back then, I'd put a picture of myself in every week, but I stopped after 9-11. These last three years I haven't let anyone take my picture. You think I was pretty, don't you?"
Catherine's questions are in the past tense, so I just politely answer in the present: "you look good."
"Yeah, I looked really good back then; even though I didn't have much money, I pinched and saved enough to rent a place in the trendy area downtown. I still had hopes then. Looking like I do in those photos was one of those hopes; the other was him. Now, I have neither; everything makes sense to me now, not that it does me any good." Catherine lets out a deep, futile sigh. She stops, looks scrutinizingly at me for a minute, then asks: "Yang, tell me, back in your country, how do you look?"
At first, I can't tell what she's asking me; I'm confused, don't know how to answer. Catherine rephrases, and then I understand. It's an interesting question, so I tell her the truth, that a look like mine is extremely common in China, that at 5'7" I'm the average height for a Chinese man, that my eyes aren't so big, and they don't have double eyelids, that statistics show roughly two-thirds of Chinese men my age don't have double eyelids. My face shape is also quite common, there must be five or six hundred million people in China with this face, the kind you'll never read about in Chinese literature: not friendly, but not wicked either. Then there's my body. There was a time when I used to work out like a madman, but we grew up only able to eat meat once or twice a month and now you can't tell for looking that I've ever been to a gym in my life.
Hearing this, Catherine chuckles and says, candidly, "well, if you really want to stand out from others, you're just gonna have put in twice the effort." Then she adds, "I don't know what it's like over there in China, but from what I've seen on TV, whether it's your Communist or government officials, they all look pretty tall, on average at least more than 5'9", and every one of them seems to have two eyelids. Ha ha."
"But then again," Catherine sounds a bit serious, "here in America we really judge people by the way they look. Just go down to any high-class spot and you can see what I mean. There was some statistic a while back; it said all the top executives of the five hundred biggest corporations in the world all rate at above-average appearance. Especially for women. If a woman wants to get ahead, the first and most important thing she needs isn't talent, but looks. You know, the money we spend on make-up and facelifts each year here in America by far exceeds the amount we spend on education. They say God created people as equal, and the American Declaration of Independence states that all people are born equal, but it's all bullshit. That what's-his-face of mine, he didn't buy into any of that, he said his job was to see the completion of the unfinished work of God and the American Constitution."
I yawn and stretch, then sit up; Catherine has finally reached the crux of the matter. Though I only gave her a simple reason for my visit over the phone earlier, since our meeting began this nearly two hundred pound heavy woman has known straight through what the real subject is, that being the guy she mentioned: Mike, both her former employer and lover.
"Yang, can you tell why it is you want to know more about him and I?" The way Catherine suddenly changes the subject, I guess she's worried about divulging her clients' information.
"Like I told you on the phone, I lost my job recently, my girlfriend just died, and then I was arrested by the Chinese police and locked up in prison for a few weeks. All of sudden I felt quite lost, things seemed meaningless. Over the last while, I've found that only old memories give me the strength to pull myself back together. You know, Guo Qingqing and I went to college together. I don't know if you could say she was my first true love, but I've always been in love with her, though I don't know if she loved me back. After working for a few years following graduation, the two of us happened to come to New York at the same time to do our Masters, and we tried, but for a variety of reasons we just weren't able to stay together. A while after that, I suddenly felt the need to look her up, though at the time I still wasn't sure what I was going to do when I found her. I would have at least asked one question, though: whether or not she ever did love me during those years."
I haven't finished talking, but Catherine's eyes have already started to well up with tears, and she mumbles to herself: "did you ever love me? Did you ever love me?" Her voice is actually pleasing to the ears; if only she didn't look like a human version of Dumbo, I could easily imagined it was one of those loving, passionate heroines from Chinese martial arts novels speaking, with their sighs that seem to promise unconditional love. I see there's no need for me to say more. Sure enough, Catherine gets up to go to the bathroom and when she sits back down, spends two hours telling me the following story.
Yang, I might not be all that pretty, but I'm not ugly either. Look at the photos, not how I look today, and you'll see what I mean. Most importantly, I'm not stupid. Do you know which kind of men are the most handsome and successful? I'll tell you, they're the ones in the courtrooms and hospitals, all the hunky young lawyers and medical interns. You wanna find yourself a lawyer, you can try taking someone to court, but it wouldn't be that much fun. Doctors, though, they're different; you can just say you're not feeling well and you're in. That's how I met Mike, in Queen's Hospital. Oh, how stylish and handsome he was. And professional. He was so set on medical research, spending all his time with seniors and patients, he was almost thirty and still a bachelor. The first time I went to see him I was stuck on him, and from then on I couldn't help but pretend to be constantly sick, just so I could see him again. You know he's a surgeon, and faking diseases that need surgeons' treatment isn't so easy. Things got pretty twisted for me back then.
With me taking the initiative, Mike and I quickly got it on. It was only later that I saw we weren't actually all that suited for each other. He wasn't just hunky and handsome with one of the highest-paying professions there is, he was as respected as one can get in America. And me? Of average looks, no steady job, I was pretty bummed for a while. When Mike found out why, he couldn't stop laughing. He never paid any attention to my looks, he told me, but that even if he did, he still wouldn't mind. He can say what he likes, but while I knew that marrying a man like this would only one day end up with me regretful and hurting, one the other hand, not marrying him, starting right there and then, would mean regret and hurt, day in and day out. So we got married. After that, we still often talked about people's looks, and from looks to jobs, success and destiny. In the end we agreed, that in this world looks are still the most important; the better you look, the easier it is to get ahead, and with the right looks, you're pretty much set for life. You could even, I said, find yourself a good husband or wife. Aye, if only I'd known then how deeply all this talk would affect Mike. He went from deep consideration of all this, to action. One day, he held me as we sat on the sofa and said:
"Honey, I'm thinking about quitting, and opening up a plastic surgery clinic."
So shocked I almost jumped up, because you know how respectable being a doctor is, and that the public sees plastic surgery as some sort of heresy. Mike's explained, saying the main reasons society doesn't accept plastic surgery lie with outdated concepts and religious restraints. In the East, the common view is that skin and hair are given to us by our parents and can't be changed, while in the West, things used to be bound by the philosophy of God's creation of man; you were the way God made you. Later, the West started pushing for freedom and democracy, coming up with the Declaration of Independence and all people being created equal. Nothing wrong with that. But, no matter how righteous Eastern sages, God, or the Declaration of Independence all appear to be, they still overlook an injustice that even a blind man can see: babies who at three months already know to smile a bit longer at the more attractive adults; the charming little boys and girls who get favored by their teachers; all the successful women in this world most of whom get by on their breasts and not their brains. Mike said his plan to open a plastic surgery clinic came from wanting to complete the unfinished work of God and the American Constitution.
Mike said his research into body structure and dermatology had gone so deep that he didn't just know how to use a scalpel to completely change a person's appearance, but also that with the development of modern medicine, full-body cosmetic surgery would have almost no side effects. He gave an example: remember when you were a kid all the places on your body that got hurt, cut or even broken? And what side effects do you see now?
I was totally persuaded by Mike; we made our minds up and we went to it. Cosmetic surgery clinics aren't medical care facilities, so I just had to take a crash course in nursing, and then I was a clinic nurse. Mike had been putting money away for a few years already, so we chose to open the clinic on the sixty-ninth floor of the North tower of the World Trade Center. As far as we knew, there were a few clinics inside the twin towers, but this was the only one doing cosmetic surgery.
Within just a few days of opening, business at the clinic was already taking off. Most of the time, Mike just did the more conventional kinds of cosmetic surgery: breast enlargement, liposuction, butt lifts, rib removal, penis extensions, double eyelids and double chins. Each time seeing those women come sneaking in, leaving with their heads and chests held high, I yearned to look like they did, but every time I mentioned to Mike that I wanted a bigger this or a smaller that he'd just chuckle it off and tell me to be patient. But I also noticed that though Mike was no longer a doctor, in between these routine operations he was still spending a lot of time researching surgical skin and body construction procedures.
Then came one day, I remember it was one August four years ago. We'd just arrived at the office and I was doing the morning coffee, when there came a soft knock at the door. Pushing it open was a young Asian woman who looked about thirty, very carefully composed: an almond-shaped face, a tiny nose with the slightest upward curve, slivers for lips and, despite her single eyelids, full, large eyes of sharply defined black on white. The only thing was that she looked a little tired. I asked her to sit and she introduced herself, wanting to know more about our clinic. She said her name was Qingqing Guo, so I guess that'd be Guo Qingqing for you Chinese. As we talked, I could feel she was quite familiar with the plastic surgery circle in New York and had obviously done her homework. When she finally said she wanted to speak directly to the chief surgeon Mike, I said that this was out of the question, that Mike's schedule was booked solid for the next six months and he barely had time for his surgeries, so how could he find the time to personally greet clients? Just then Mike happened to pop in to ask about one upcoming operation, and when heard this part of our conversation, stopped to asked this Ms. Guo what she needed to talk to him about.
This Guo Qingqing saw her chance, so she threw her request out, for him to completely change her body from head to toe. By completely, she emphasized, she meant redo each part to the be the best of its kind.
I hadn't even even fully understood what this Qingqing woman wanted when I saw Mike's shoulders twitch a few times. I kept quiet, because I know that Mike's body only twitches like this when he gets quite excited. Then Guo Qingqing said money wasn't a problem as she had just received a large divorce settlement.
"What about time?" Mike asked.
"What do you mean?"
"If we do like you say, it's not just money but a matter of time as well. You're at least going to need over twenty separate operations in total, and time to recover after each one. Under normal circumstances, something like this would take about a year and a half, most of which time you're going to have to spend like any surgery patient would, in bed." As Mike answered her questions, I got even more confused. The kind of full body cosmetic redesign that she's talking about is unheard of. But as he kept answering her questions, especially seeing that Mike didn't even need to think them over, I suddenly began to feel that he had always been waiting for someone like Ms. Guo to come along, even that Mike's only reason for opening the clinic was to wait for a day just like this.
Of course, it didn't take me long to clue in. Ever since Mike had quit at the hospital, he had clearly been waiting for this day. The reason he could never seem to have raised enough breasts, suction enough fat or remove enough tattoos was because all along he had been trying to perfect his surgical skills, waiting for the day when he could use his own scalpel to fully change somebody's entire appearance. Naturally, such an opportunity was rare. First he'd need someone with about a million dollars to spend on the twenty-something operations this would require with about a hundred different knives and, secondly, she'd need to have a year and a half to spare. Even rarer is that she'd need superhuman will to withstand the continuous pain. When Mike explained all this to Qingqing and she still seemed determined to go through with it, it all seemed a little inconceivable. I kept trying to make eye contact with Mike, hoping he wouldn't get too excited and make Ms. Guo any promises, but then he asked her to come back again the next day.
That night, Mike made love to me like he'd gone insane. We don't usually speak when we have sex, but this time Mike was kissing me and ceaselessly caressing me all over, muttering to himself the size of each spot as he stroked it, followed by the sizes one finds on the most beautiful women on earth. Then when he came, he almost roared as he told me that he could make each part of my body as sexy and pretty as any other on earth. Completely remaking a person's appearance, Mike said, whether in theory or in practice, was completely feasible, it’s just that since the birth of the cosmetic surgery industry, nobody had ever tried it. He—Mike, would be the first! But because we didn't have the money, he said, or the time, that's why he hadn't started first on me. But now Guo Qingqing had come along at exactly the right time. He wouldn't admit, though, to using Guo Qingqing as an experiment. Instead, Mike said that in two years, after Guo's work was finished, that it would be my turn to be remoulded. The more Mike went on, the more excited he got, finally turning over and pressing me down again beneath his body, panting, "Honey, just you wait, when the time comes I'm gonna make you so pretty it'll put all the stars in Hollywood to shame." Saying this, he excitedly started pumping away again. In the end I agreed to Mike's plan. After all, no matter what he did, it was all for me. When Mike came a second time, exhausted and bent over my body, I felt my luck was just like my womb then, swollen and full.
The next day, Guo Qingqing showed up right on time and everyone hit it off well. Because the sheer scale and medical techniques involved in the plan were unprecendented, we had to operate in secret, unable to even write up a contract. We explained this to Guo Qingqing. She agreed, and so we got started.
That day, we immediately began searching the internet, collecting portraits and body stats of Eastern celebrities, which took quite some time. Our understanding of what passes for a beautiful woman over there in Asia isn't that great, so in the end we had to just let Guo Qingqing choose, and she decided to go with Vicki Zhao's eyebrows, Gong Li's butt and lips and Veronica Yip's breasts and waist.
Then in the operating room, Guo Qingqing stripped down naked, first pacing back and forth, then lying down perfectly still, later swaying from left to right, everything we needed to get all of her into the computer. The three of us sat down afterwards to put all the butts, boobs, noses, eyebrows and everything we had chosen from what we thought were the most beautiful women in Asia, pasting them one-by-one onto Guo Qingqing's body in the computer. Then as we watched the computer compile the new Guo Qingqing, an Oriental beauty appeared, so perfect that even women would swoon upon seeing her. Looking back at the real Guo Qingqing, I only felt troubled. The woman I saw on the computer screen was no longer Guo Qingqing, but a completely different person. Just to be beautiful, I wondered at the time, would I be willing to become a complete stranger? Though, this thought didn't last long. Seeing the two of them so excited they were hardly breathing, so red-faced, I was struck with another thought. Thinking back now, no matter if you're speaking of the Eastern standard of beauty or the Western, Guo Qingqing could have been described as quite beautiful to begin with. The memory's not so clear now; that was the last time I saw the body of the person called Guo Qingqing.
Starting the next day, the surgery began, step by step. The first day we sliced open her stomach, removed some body fat. A few days later we took out a pair of ribs, to bring her waist down to the average size for Miss World contestants. She eventually had three ribs taken out, and by the end, she stood almost fully double-jointed. When the wounds got better, work started on her calves, and then her chest, shoulders and arms. Every day was quite gory.
If only things had been so simple. Day by day, as Guo Qingqing disappeared and the person Mike was creating gradually took shape, the more I noticed things that just didn't seem right. When I said Mike had thrown his whole being into this clinic, forgetting to eat or sleep, now he was putting everything into this new body; he didn't just stop eating or sleeping, but became unstable too. If he went more than a day without seeing this new Ms. Guo, he'd get abnormally jittery. But this wasn't what began to scare me, what scared me the most were Guo Qingqing's eyes. How can I describe them... You know how eyes are the one part of the body that plastic surgery can't change? The windows to a body's soul? Never mind all the cosmetic surgeries I've seen, the face lifts, the rhinoplasties, you just need to see their eyes to know it's still the same person underneath. But Guo Qingqing was completely different. As the days went by, I noticed the look in her eyes slowly changing until, finally, she seemed like a completely different person. The more time I spent with her, the stranger I noticed the look in Guo Qingqing's eyes had become, and I was afraid. The way I always saw it, a body and a soul are indivisible, and that the kind of soul you get was given to match your body. Right? But as Mike transformed Guo Qingqing's body, the soul inside clearly became affected somehow. The worst part was seeing Mike bewitched by the new soul. Mike began using examinations as excuses to watch Guo Qingqing undress or lie naked. You have to know, the Guo Qingqing at this point, after having undergone so much careful work beneath Mike's scalpel, even with her clothes on was enough to seduce anyone. When she took her clothes off, with her new clear, sculptured skin and nearly perfect body ratio, not to mention her exquisitely carved face, even I wanted to wrap my arms around her. So the foolish and drunken look that would appear on Mike's face came as no surprise. Ah, what else could I do? I was willing to believe that Mike had fallen in love with his own surgical craftmanship, and not with the creation itself.
As the more unrecognizable Guo Qingqing became, the more of a stranger Mike felt to me. Oh, how naive I was back then. I thought maybe we'd offended God, seeing as how it's Him that creates all people. Around this time Mike also had become a bit muddled. Some of the things he'd come out with were shocking, talking about wanting to make real history out of all the sculptors of the past. He was sculpting a real human body, he said. Who would ever again sigh at a mere plaster statue? He also said that when he was done, all the stars in Hollywood would be ugly little ducklings in comparison, that he had been able to fulfill the mission to which the Declaration of Independence and God had proven unable, that he, Mike, had made it possible for people on earth to be truly equal.
On the morning of September 11th that year, I should have been first at the office to prepare some things, but as Guo Qingqing had a consultation scheduled for that day, Mike went himself earlier than usual. That's how he was, like he'd been possessed: everything revolved around his masterpiece, Guo Qingqing. That day, as terrorists crashed airplanes into the World Trade Center, I was stuck in traffic on 52nd street on my way to work. When I heard the news: it's over, I thought, both Mike and Guo Qingqing are gone. Around noon, I got a call from Guo Qingqing. I told her, "Mike's in the clinic!"
"Oh no! He hasn't finished the work yet, what am I supposed to do now?!" This was the only reaction I ever heard Guo Qingqing have to Mike's death.
"Well, did the work get finished or not?" I can't help but interrupt Catherine's story, only to immediately feel it was inappropriate. Catherine glares at me, then shrugs her shoulders. "I'm not sure, because this project of Mike's was way beyond the traditional, even contemporary, allowed limits of medical science. Each day was a new exploration. The way Mike was so concentrated on it, I had no idea if he was done or not. He'd be tinkering with something one day, slicing something off the next, I was just so scared. Mike had already descended into madness. He didn't just want to play God, he wanted to make a goddess! As time went on, Mike felt I didn't agree with his work, and eventually we hardly spoke at all."
"After 911, what happened to Guo Qingqing?" I ask, but not without feeling sorry. The main character in Catherine's story is Mike, but the story I want to hear centers around Guo Qingqing.
"Later, we talked a lot on the phone, but we only met once. She wanted to get all the records and medical documentation from the clinic."
"And you refused?"
"Why would I refuse? Because Guo Qingqing's cosmetic surgery case was so special, we were extraordinarily cautious with her therapy records, keeping copies only in the clinic's computer. Mike also kept copies of the related files on his laptop for easy reference in his research, but all this was buried in the ruins on 911."
"He didn't keep backups anywhere else? Like the—"
"I told you, Mike's work, sculpting away at people like they were made of plaster, would never have been accepted by the American medical or cosmetic surgery communities. This is why we kept the whole process completely secret. And as it was kept secret, with the harm being done to Guo Qingqing, there was also no way she could have bought health insurance or anything like that. Though, this was all carried out with Guo Qingqing's full understanding and signed agreement."
"But you must have kept a photo of Guo Qingqing, post-operation?" I'm still not willing to give up on any last remnants of hope.
"I didn't. Mike made sure that until the last of Guo Qingqing's operations were complete, it would be impossible for any photos of her to be leaked, so all photos taken during the year and a half were stored on his computer. Mike's plan was to wait until his work was finished, and then shock the world with just two photos: one of Guo Qingqing before the operation, and one of his masterpiece."
"Could you describe a bit what Guo Qingqing looked like after the operation?"
Catherine stretches and yawns, then looks at me with a rather comical expression. "I can't, I'm afraid, but if one day you ever see some woman with eyebrows like of your Chinese state television stars and the breasts and butt of a Hong Kong glamour queen, it might just be Guo Qingqing. Just remember, the Guo Qingqing you remember is gone, and not just in appearance; deep down, in her soul, she's not the Guo Qingqing you used to know."
** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **
Coming out from Catherine's home, both my legs have gone like jello. Tales of ghosts or the supernatural never used to have this effect on me. And so, I hobble to the Brooklyn bridge, and sit there with an empty mind, looking towards Manhattan, sitting there like I had years earlier, when I was studying here. Back then, whenever I had too much on my mind, I'd come sit down beside the Hudson river, just sitting here, waiting for the sunlight to slowly fade and the lights to start showing in the windows of the skyscrapers all around. I thought of all the stories there must be behind each of those windows, so much joy and worry. I'd think like this until my mind would become as calm as the river I saw before me.
I get up and head to the phone booth nearby to phone my parents, tell them I'm coming home, then phone Liu Mingwei in Washington, to tell him I won't be coming. What my parents tell me is upsetting: just after I left, the Guangzhou Industry and Supervision Bureaus shut down the Pan's corporation, proclaiming the Pan's Nutritious Oral Tonic to have none of the effects advertised by the company, and Ah Hua has been laying low, afraid to run into my parents. It's hard hearing that my parents have just found out they'd been taken advantage of again, and I feel twice as desolate knowing that I won't be able to see Ah Hua when I get back. Hearing my parents' clearly aged voices on the phone puts me at an even greater loss. Then Liu Mingwei answers my call and gets worked up while chewing me out, blaming me for not telling him beforehand that I'd be coming to the States. There's nothing much I can say, but before I even get a chance to explain, he's already decided to drive in from Washington, first thing in the morning.