William "Shanghai" Pearce
William “Shanghai” Pearce

Short Listed

I met him the first time when he came into the bookstore and bought Cannery Row. He was roughly my age, thick black hair combed straight back in that derelict, Bukowski style. We jabbered a little. He was full of it. I liked him.

We met the second time on the landing across from my room. I don’t think he placed me. The third time he was in No Sé bar and having a good time.

He remembered me.

His name was Shanghai, he said.

The next morning he came staggering into the patio at ten in the morning while I was having breakfast with Dulce. He could barely stand. He was carrying a dozen roses.

Said, “Every woman loves to get a rose,” and gave one to Dulce.

He bumped into the fountain on his way across the patio and fell down. I gave him a hand getting up. He continued down the hall. I waited awhile and decided to check on him.

I found him on the couch on the landing between our rooms.

He said he’d fallen down the stairs but he was okay. He was still clutching the roses. I know this couch. It sinks to the floor. He was sinking. His backpack was being pulled up behind his neck, but provided a nice headrest.

“You want a hand getting up?” I asked.

“No. I’m comfortable,” he said as he sunk further to the floor. “It’s the one-year anniversary of my mother’s death,” he told me.

I extended my sympathies.

His butt was on the floor now with his knees bent and his feet flush.

I asked him, “So, are you here for a while?”

He got a funny look on his face.

I added, laughing, “Well, not that way.”

He laughed too, and said, “Yeah, I know what you meant, but it gave me pause. I know that you know that we’re both short-listed.”

We got a laugh out of that.

I left him on the landing.

Click here to pick up the latest issue of La Cuadra for your mobile phone or e-reader!

Click here to follow us on Facebook.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

About the Author

Bill McGowan is a freelance writer who spends most of the year living in Antigua, Guatemala, where he manages an eclectic bookstore, Dyslexia Libros, owned by an equally eclectic dive bar, Café No Sé. As such, part of his pay is in drinks. Bill was born in 1947 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and spent much of his life in Chicago. In recent decades, Bill was based in Knoxville, Tennessee, but after retiring in 2007 from a career in government he began traveling. Those knockabouts eventually landed him in Antigua, Guatemala, where he began writing stories for La Cuadra. A collection of those about his friend Ali Akbar were recently published and are available at bit.ly/TheAliFiles.