T.

T.

“T”, she used to say, “is such a nice guy. It’s a shame what’s happening to him.”

I never saw T when he wasn’t drunk. Whether it was in the morning on the way to teach kindergarten or on the train at night, he was always drunk. T. had overstayed his visa by 3 years. Sounds pretty bad, but his boss thought it was a good thing. It meant he wouldn’t be missing any classes for visa runs or disappearing one day because he got tired of the place.

T was a babe magnet. Everywhere he went girls followed him like the Piped Piper. She said that it wasn’t so much that he was handsome, but that Chinese girls liked his personality and character.

At one point T wanted to break up with his girlfriend. She was the beautiful graduate of a national university waiting to begin training as an air hostess. Not being able to handle the rejection, she flipped. As T explained, she had begun following him all over Taipei; to work, to home, anywhere. She would attack him, one time strangling him with a hair drier cord. Another time, when he tried to escape by moving, she searched through all the hostels and finally found him at the Taipei Hostel. She forced him to go back to her house and have sex with him. “I had to,” he said. “If I hadn’t, she’d have hurt me even more.”

Then the police caught him. It was just a routine road check, but they figured out he’d overstayed and ordered him to report to the immigration police. He didn’t and instead moved out of the city, where he figured he was safe. But she had to fire him anyway.

Eventually, his money dried up and he moved to Hualien, where he got a job in a male host bar. The local drag queens found out there was a foreigner working there and when they began to flock to the bar, he quit. Or that’s the story that T told us, but I’ve been to Hualien many, many times and I’ve never seen and host bars or drag queens.

Later, I saw him on the train. He told me that he had a job in the kindergarten of an apartment building that wasn’t finished yet. When they finished the building, they’d give him a free room and pay him to teach the kids in the building’s daycare. When they got finished that is. Until that happened, he was staying with 2 girls. “But I have to have sex with them” he said.

I told him that he should go to the British Trade Office and ask for help getting home. “But I don’t want to leave” he replied.

Several years later, I had forgotten about T when the situation for overstayers got more serious, with arrests and detentions, his name came up again. She said that T. had got really sick and had to turn himself into the police. He had asked them for a place to stay where they’d feed him. They deported him instead.

T told her that he hadn’t been asked any questions about how he’d managed to live in Taiwan for 5 years. Who knows if this is true. She sure believed it. But I’ve been to Hualien and know the night life there really well. There are no male host bars there and the red neck Taiwanese culture there would make it unwise for an drag queens to go out in public. What really happened to him I can not say, but I don’t believe a single word that came out of his mouth.

“It’s such a shame what’s happening to T He’s such a nice guy,” she still says.

“No,” I replied, “He’s not very nice. He’s just not dangerous.”

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