Things in my life seem to come in threes. When I was a young man I disappeared into Chinatown for three years and lived with a woman named Chun-Tao. She gave me three children (triplets) but they looked at me strangely and never learned English, and one morning at 3 a.m. I slipped out of Chinatown and never returned.

Back with my own kind, I found that my eyes were now slanted and my chest hair had vanished. I made a stab at catching up on my education by enrolling in a junior college that ran on the trimester system, but prejudice ran deep, and I soon dropped out.

“He’s been a strange duck since childhood,” I overheard my mother say one night to her party guests from my cot where I slept in the laundry room.

In my dreams that night I saw three plucked chickens with glazed eyes, their feet bound, hanging upside-down from hooks in Chun-Tao’s father’s poultry shop. I awoke with my heart pounding and slipped out before sunrise, taking only my ginseng, my paring knife and my prayer beads.

I drifted aimlessly for three months and then joined a circus. They put me in the freak tent on a platform next to three caged mice that walked tightrope on a strand of spider web strung between match sticks.

I was two thirds into my life, and not amounting to much.

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