Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Stabbing of Tina: A Fairy Tale

This image was originally posted at

Yesterday's Taipei Times had an unsettling headline, Australia agrees to China uranium deal, downplays dangers. I don't believe dangers should be downplayed when dangerous commodities are sold to nefarious customers.
Australia and China signed deals yesterday clearing the way for Beijing to buy Australian uranium -- but only for use in its nuclear power stations.
Oh whew! It's a good thing they're not buying the uranium for their growing nuclear arsenal. Then it would be pretty irresponsible for Australia to make that deal, and considering that, semantics aside, Australia and China are in much the same neighborhood, it's a roundabout way of helping to shoot themselves in the head.

Oh well, money must be made. The markets must be fed like the insatiable leviathan that they are, and profits are not to be ignored. Rather, prophets should be ignored, but only in that they occasionally get in the way of profits. Profits over prophets; no change since the time of Christ. It all reminds me of a story, The Stabbing of Tina.

The Stabbing of Tina

Once upon a time, not so long ago, in a place where money mattered more than happiness, there lived three people. Oh there were more than just three people there, billions more, but they will only get in the way of the narrative so let's just keep it at three; Austin, Charlie, and Tina.

Austin, Charlie and Tina lived in roughly the same neighborhood. Austin always said that he lived in a different neighborhood than Charlie and Tina, but then, he used to be a bit of a racist. It was much the same place but where Austin lived was a little paler, shall we say whiter. Or should it be more white? Anyway, less brown, less yellow and so he always maintained that it was a distinct neighborhood, despite being right beside where Charlie and Tina lived. Such was the way of that world. {Central America always looked like a part of North America to me but then a lot more than geography goes into cartography}

Austin sold knives. Great big powerful knives for cleaving the flesh from the bone and long, thin, sharp knives for flaying and jagged, serrated knives for slicing bread or for gnashing a thigh bone in two. His wares were said to be a joy in a busy kitchen and a terror in a dark alley. Some called Austin a weapons dealer, though only behind his back. People were careful because Austin, it was whispered, used to be a thug. He called himself a Purveyor of Fine Kitchen Utensils. Austin had always been a bit of a thug, but now he was a thug in a shiny silk suit, which means he could call a shovel a spoon and no one would even smile.

Charlie was a businessman, with a capital 'B'. He had his fingers in every pie, and he owned most of the pies he had his fingers in. He bought and sold everything, from buttons to bombs, from money to minefields, from parakeets to people, although he denied about half of this. Charlie used to be a criminal with a capital 'C', although he denied that as well. Charlie had a whole closet of shiny, silk suits and a whole room full of writers to write nice things about him and quietly un-checker his checkered past. He didn't force the writers to lie, but he did keep their families in a different room, and Charlie did have a reputation.

Tina was a tiny creature. She was by no means defenseless, though. Many men had tried to conquer her, and lost, and lost it all. She was fiercely beautiful, long and slender, with deep green eyes. A lifetime ago, a man had called her simply, the Beautiful Girl. Tina was a victim, but a survivor. She always had been a survivor, until Charlie. Oh yeah, Tina used to be with Charlie.

It was an off an on relationship that seemed like it had been going on for hundreds, but not thousands, of years. Charlie always claimed it was thousands of years, and that he was the only one for her and that she was a part of him that would always be a part of him. So macho. He denied that there had ever been others, and that Tina could never and would never truly leave him. Some said that in his darker moments, which were really more like extended periods of utter black, he even whispered that curse borne of the greatest desperation of the Lover Scorned. You know how it goes, "If I can't have her..., then no one shall!"

So when Tina finally left him, Charlie threw tantrums and called down the worst sorts of threats and curses against her. Charlie didn't only have a reputation for the way he treated Tina, he had a generally bad reputation for quite some time. A bully, and a thug, with delusions of deity-hood, now all wrapped up with respectability. Nobility so fine that he could head down to Austin's 24 hour Blade Emporium and select a monster of a blade with deep wide blood gutters down the sides; flat black metal that didn't reflect any light, or make any sound when it was withdrawn from its sheath; with the box, also a flat black which read, The Amputator, for Dark Alleyways, and Charlie proclaimed that he needed it to peel the skins off his apples, and no one had even smiled.

And one day Charlie decided that his shiny silk suits and his roomful of synchophantic writers and his new-found surface respectability were never going to bring Tina back. He fell into one of his black moods and quietly, and single-mindedly switched to Plan B. He took his matte black cleaver and crept from the kitchen in his fine restaurant and walked until he found her, in a suitably darkened alleyway, rummaging for something absentmindedly in her handbag. He looked around, but even the shadows had fled. A knife flashed with blood in the darkness.

A knife flashed with blood in the darkness and two bodies fell. Charlie and Tina lay still. Her with a face of satisfaction and him with a look of stunned surprise. Tina you see, had visited Austin as well. And Austin had seen no harm in outfitting the kitchens of two such well known and bitter enemies. He was too busy looking at the bottom line. Besides, they didn't live in Austin's neighborhood, not really. Maybe cartography should have more to do with geography, and less to do with making things look a certain way.

Austin only realized that Charlie and Tina lived in the neighborhood after the fallout reached his door. Knives that he sold found in bodies that had too recently become corpses. No longer a Purveyor of Fine Kitchen Utensils, no longer respectable, and his shiny silk suits looking somehow more plastic than before. And everyone saw that he was a thug and he had been one all along. If only Austin had kept his knives to himself, maybe everyone would've lived happily ever after.


Cam V. said...

Good story...also a good thing it's not the least bit political....

J @ Taipei said...

What a "Fairy tale." It's hilarious and sarcastic, especially Charlie, China, a macho guy who could never let go of the breakup with Tina, Taiwan. Well, even Charlie is a chauvinist, or way worse. Tina has her own problem as well; she suffers from multiple personality disorder: one part of her addicts to the dangerous liaison while another part struggles against his control.