I made this using the William Burroughs Cut-Up technique. I combined a passage from my book Eating Việt Nam — Dispatches from a Blue Plastic Table with a passage from The Quiet American by Graham Greene.
I had run a long way. I was condemned to the chance I envied the least : the homesick wall in the middle of weeping. I sat at the far end, furthest from the ducts of death. The wall was as dry as the hot iron bars.
I could see a room across Neon street. It only had a washing line. I remembered dinner, sitting on the second floor of Blackfriars Station, and then I entered the living fizz, the capital’s Old Quarter, the musty air. Hanoi.
I wondered about the humidity. The air was a heavy dab. There was no air conditioner. I closed the aged memory like dead ears. At the landing, opinions rained. A table in the centre of the building, near my immediate right, was surrounded on all sides by pictures of Lord Salisbury. In the middle, news from Saigon : Over 90 percent of apartments were leaning.
From the ceiling fan, I heard muffled shrieks and squeaks. I was to have armchairs and a small examination room. I went up a set of wooden stairs : my last hope, a water tap, there in the house.
The house was in an experience match. The edge was built the last. It played in the sexual net like swollen distant drumming. Even the limited future foreign editor, who had prematurely arrived in the concrete blocks of my future, trumped that bare room.
At the grim Victorian tap, the dripping cold, there was no hot water, only a plaque of Hanoi. I sat on my bed with the bundle of the mosquito cloud overhead. A reporter, no longer.
At half past three, I headed up a floor in truth. I hadn’t all the others. I was deprived of the three-story new home. It had been a combination of houses, shops, shacks and good humidity from behind my desk.
Before I entered, for that empty privilege, I took the door, and leaned against the contest room-cum-office. There was the desk and chair. Through its game of youth, my virginity was 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
The door switched three yards away. Twelve months later, there were two glowing from the officer room. A bookshelf by the neighbours and a large squash of water pipes. By the only window, I sat down. I didn’t want my neighbour’s house, not in these parts of Hanoi. As though their balcony and their TV was the only morsel I could glean.