xún guī dǎo jǔ :: all rules and regulations to be observed
by Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé
“So, sex was never an enjoyable activity for you, is that correct?” The phone rang, its loud ring making Dr. Eichelberger leap to his feet, stagger to his desk as if shocked at his own forgetfulness to leave it off the hook. He took the call anyway, an important one it seemed. His back faced Gigi, as if an invisible wall had formed between doctor and client. He spoke casually about another client. Gigi felt like a patient, so that’s what the distinction felt like. An alterity is what Geronimo would have recognized it as. Gigi turned to her side, still lying on the couch, and picked up an open-faced sandwich. There was beef tongue on it, and a poached egg. She took some onions from the adjacent sandwich, and placed it on her own, to mask the taste of the meat. She also added pepper. Dr. Eichelberger’s desk had neat stacks on it. Everything was organized, as to be expected of a doctor. But one cupboard against the left wall was filled with every kind of thing. A real mess, and it seemed that was the one place he allowed such ill discipline, or abandon, depending on the way you looked at it. There was a large corkboard near his desk. Seated in his swivel chair, he would push himself with his legs to reach it, and retrieve a picture from it, ever so often. It was a collage of pictures. Were they family portraits? Were they his clients? There were newspaper cuttings. A crossword, an old one. Unfinished. There were pages torn from books. Many of them were paintings. Gigi recognized one. It was a piece by Anselm Kiefer. The one with the white cot near a window. The window seemed to belong to an attic, the ceiling being so low. There are no people in this work. Closer to the viewer, it no longer feels like crawlspace. It’s about Parsifal, and his quest for the Holy Grail, but Gigi didn’t know this then. The cot is Parsifal’s, but it might as well have been Gigi’s.
Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé helms Squircle Line Press as its founding editor and publisher. He is the author of The Arbitrary Sign (Red Wheelbarrow Books), with I Didn’t Know Mani Was A Conceptualist(Math Paper Press) forthcoming in 2014. He has edited more than ten books and co-produced three audio books, several pro bono for non-profit organizations. A former entertainment journalist with 8 Days, Desmond has traveled to Australia, France, Hong Kong and Spain for his stories, which have included features on Madonna, Björk and Morgan Freeman, culminating in the authorship of the limited edition Top Ten TCS Stars for Caldecott Publishing. Trained in publishing at Stanford University, Desmond studied sociology and mass communication at the National University of Singapore, and later received his theology masters (world religions) from Harvard University and fine arts masters (creative writing) from the University of Notre Dame. An interdisciplinary artist, Desmond also works in clay, his ceramic works housed in museums and private collections in India, the Netherlands, UK, and USA. He is the recipient of the PEN American Center Shorts Prize, Swale Life Poetry Prize, Cyclamens & Swords Poetry Prize, Notre Dame Poetry Fellowship, NAC Writer-in-the-Gardens Residency, Stepping Stones Nigeria Poetry Prize, and Little Red Tree International Poetry Prize.