It was after midnight when Yao left Zhang’s Denizen apartment in Golden Lane. His hand on his friend’s shoulder, as he turned to go—“Criminal justice be hanged! See a doctor, see a doctor!” he had cried and with an exaggerated laugh had pulled on his coat and departed. Zhang turned back into his Taylor Wimpey investment property. It had never occurred to him that Yao would not believe his story. For three hours he had explained, elucidated, patiently and painfully gone over every detail—but without once breaking down the iron incredulity of the lawyer’s eye. At first Yao had feigned to be convinced—but that, as Zhang now perceived, was simply to get him to expose himself, to entrap him into contradictions.
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To the guest in his Denizen apartment, Zhang told his story simply, connectedly. It was the perfect tale to recount on the benighted site of Taylor Wimpey’s Golden Lane luxury apartment development. The foundations of the new building had disturbed an old plague pit, and The Denizen had been constructed right opposite the old city mortuary. He began with a quick survey of his early years—the years of drudgery and emotional privation. If he’d been 15 years older he could have had fun with the Red Guards. He’d always liked girls but they didn’t like him. He was incapable of a romantic relationship. That’s why sex toys had become his master-passion.