16426 (Hong Kong)
18 December 2018
I am not sure how many shots I had with the two Hong Kong Triad gangsters.
I just knew I was walking from Lan Kwai Fong at 6 AM to Wan Chai. I could feel myself staggering but I was happy.
It was December 18. One day after my birthday.
And I remember Murphy saying on multiple occasions to me, to Chok, and to Diego as our birthdays hovered days apart from each other, “I am glad you all were born.”
Two years ago, I was walking this same path – down the steep hill that made Lan Kwai Fong, to the empty crux of Central, past Pacific Place that is Admiralty, and past the red neon signs of the red light district of Wan Chai. Then finally hurrying past Victoria hotel, an hourly one, and seeing lovers and sex workers push out of the entrance/exit door and trying to hide as strangers on the sidewalk – but at 6 AM – they share it with the newspaper assemblers that sprawl out their paper sections and tie them to deliver.
And there was me on the same sidewalk.
Alone. Asking myself, “Why am I here?”
Two years ago, I was a month out of Hong Kong prision. Indebted to a dozen people who had paid my legal fees. Volunteering for a job that paid me only 5000 HKD in the most expensive city in the world. Had a date with a beautiful Indian woman who had paid for my brunch on my birthday – because we had swiped each other on Tinder – and I was hungry and lonely.
And a year ago, I was driving aimlessly between Colorado Springs and Pueblo – as I had cancelled my big comeback comedy show because we had sold no tickets. And the money I had spent to put everything together – was gone. I had no more money for food, gas, and rent. And I was going to be homeless.
I went to a bar with my last twenty dollars in downtown Pueblo – and confided to the bartender who listened skeptically as I explained I had cancelled a Comedy Central associated show – with one of the greatest comics of all time – Paul Ogata.
People say that the show must go on. But I had stopped it. Broke the golden rule of show business.
I had failed.
Since I was little, I believed because my biological parents didn’t want me and gave me up to my adopted parents – I was born to do something great. I was meant to be in lights. To be on stage.
Now I didn’t know anymore.
Now I am 45. Drunk. Walking alone on an abandoned Hong Kong street.
Somewhere along the way, I dug into my pocket and pulled out my mobile. And I went to my contacts – and dialled immediately. It rang twice and then there was an answer. “Hello?”
“I want you to know you were made to change the world,” I slurred out. She laughed. “Yes, I have been drinking. But it’s not something I wouldn’t tell you to your face when I was sober.”
“Where are you?”
“I am still in Hong Kong. I am walking home.”
“Are you okay?”
“I am amazing.” And I smiled. She could hear it. “16425.” I said.
“That’s how many days I have been on this planet. Sixteen thousand, four hundred, and twenty-five days. Sounds small doesn’t it?”
“Wow – you are drunk but you can do complex math.”
I let out a big HA! “No I used the calculator on my mobile.” And I paused. “Oops, it’s sixteen thousand, four hundred, and twenty-six days – counting today.” I felt one of the big Hong Kong buses filled with employees going to their morning jobs blow past. “Some of those days lasted forever. Some of those days flew by. But sadly, most of those days I don’t remember. “
“Well the ones where you had the flu or diarrhea don’t count. And did you figure in Leap Year.”
“First, shitting is just as important. Hell the first night I met you – I sharted. And it was the most important one out of the 16425.”
“You mean 16426 or more based on Leap Year.”
“Yes, ok. Just want to make sure you know. I would say I spent ten thousand of my days – hurting those I loved because I didn’t feel like I deserved them. I pushed them away.” I stopped as I went under the underpass that separated Admiralty from Wan Chai to look for traffic. Then I continued on, “I want to spend the next ten thousand days fixing my karma. And if I can, go to those I hurt or took from – and fill them up.”
“Hey, maybe they deserved it.”
“Maybe they didn’t.”
“They might not want to hear it. Or as you say, ‘Be filled up.’”
“Maybe not. But its my next 10,000 days.”
She waited before she spoke again. “Hey I am working. I am not supposed to be on the phone.”
“Okay, okay. I just wanted to start with you. “I am glad I met you. And you will change the world.”
She blew out a breath, “No pressure.”
I repeated, “Yep. No pressure.”
“Safe flight home and see you when you get back to Asheville.”
“See you soon.”
And she hung up.
Here I was walking from Lan Kwai Fong at 6 AM to Wan Chai. I was happy.
It was December 18. One day after my birthday.
And my 10,000 days had begun.