Two hundred protesters walked down the street, hands on their heads. Eighty police officers herded them, wearing full riot gear, all equipped with shotguns firing bean bag rounds. I walk in the mix of protesters, wearing a thick guy faux mask. Something caught my attention- a protester breaking away from the crowd. An officer screamed "Stop!" I found myself whispering "Please, just stop!"
A bean bag round hit the runner in the stomach, causing the man to double over in pain. Officers surrounded him and placed handcuffs on him. A police officer with a microphone started to yell in both Mandarin and Cantonese "Obey police orders! Do not run! Obey Police orders! Do not run!"
Helicopters flew overhead and I started hearing screams. I ask myself how the hell am I going to get out of this? It's not like I'm dumb, everyone knows how dangerous it isto join the protests. At least I'm wearing a thick mask to protect myself against the NCAD street cameras. They scan everyone's faces and automatic fines are given to anyone attending a protest. Not only that, but if you're caught wearing a mask or are wearing makeup designed to fool NCAD, they toss you in jail for six months. I can't imagine what they'll do to me for smashing the cameras. A kid taps my arm. I lean in and he says "Mister, what's that wall?"
I must have been daydreaming too much to miss that. A twelve foot metal wall stood in front of us, covered in NCAD cameras. A sniper looked at me, shaking his head. Something terrified me... the man's using a real gun. He's not police, he's army!
An officer yells "STOP! Everyone stop! Thank you, I expect your co-operation and we will all get through this quickly. People from my right to my left will go one at a time, when told, to the door. Those with face paint will come to my right towards the tent. We will clean you, then you will proceed when told to the door. Those with masks must remove and hand them to a police officer. Be ready with your ID. You, squid face, you're first."
A laugh escaped me. I can get out, I can fool them! All I need is to get my face mask, they'll think I'm a student! My eyes scanned the officers. Wait for it, wait for it... I drop to one knee and reach into my brown coat pocket. I pull out a face mask and press it on. When it's my turn, I hand a false ID and the cameras get a false face. I walk through the door and out side the wall where twelve police officers tell us to return to our homes. Looking back at the wall I realize they've sealed off Kanto district. Damn it, why didn't I think of that sooner?! My apartments right in Kanto's limits!
Wiping my forehead I walked to an officer and said "My place is in Kan-"
He pushed me aside, yelling in Cantonese. Damn it, why isn't he speaking mandarin in Shanghai of all places?! I approach another officer, he screams in Cantonese, waving a can of pepper spray. Looking around, I realize every officer here is speaking Cantonese. Perplexed, I start to wonder why officers that can only speak Canto are giving directions? Don't they know only a few percent of the city speaks Canto? The officer gives me a whiff of pepper spray. Coughing, I wave my hand at him yelling "Alright, alright, I'm going!"
This is bad. I take my cell phone out and think of people to call. I can't call Angua, he's out of the city for the week. Randy's still pissed about his girlfriend, it's not my fault really. Most girls in Shanghai don't find white boys attractive. I'll try my buddy Caii.
Two hours later...
I plead "C'mon Bahai, can't we just bury the past?"
She laughs "I buried my love in a hole six foot deep."
"That's not fair, just listen to what I'm trying to say! Bahai... hello? I know you haven't hung up."
I look at my phone- she did hang up. Humiliated, I turn my phone off and walk to the nearest homeless shelter.