canadian ~ twenty-first century literature since 1999

Go to Sleep

by Craig Buckie

My head tilted at Xiao Zhong's playacting defiance and giggling. She was behaving spun and flaky. Then my head twisted three hundred and sixty degrees with a snap and pop—no lie—as I made the effort to comprehend what she said. I asked again, "You do what?"

I loved Xiao Zhong. Really loved her. And was used to all her baggage. A mother who had twelve fingers, a brother still holding a prison habit for teenage boys, and a father with only two constants in his life—morning prayers at mosque, and his morning shot of heroin. But this? This was something else. "You what?"

Xiao Zhong stopped her playing and said without pause, "I drink, brush my teeth, wash my face with it."

We were both shaking our heads as she slapped my knee for being silly. Silly foreigner, of course, I drink piss. Her words—piss. Not pee, not urine. Passing water, no. Piss. Then because I was a funny lao wai, not wise to the ancient ways of the Chinese, she added a footnote said in the tone of, this is basic everyday knowledge, commonsense. How could I think otherwise—"It's not I drink other person's piss. It's my piss I drink."

I have no idea how the conversation started. All I remember is we were huddled on a mattress in front of an electric heater in Xiao Zhong's one room apartment in an old alley-hutong and it came up. I wish it hadn't, I don't want to remember Xiao Zhong drinking pee. There are some things you don't want to find out about the person you love. Certain details left unsaid and unrounded keep love magical and mysterious. I know now you should never ask a woman too much about her past. Never ask who she loves the most, never ask who owns the biggest dick, and never—never—ask if she drinks pee. But I was young and asked questions to which I didn't want the answers.

Xiao Zhong reached under my layer of sweaters and twisted a nipple. "Why you think I'm so good and healthy?"

I exhaled long and slow. God, I wanted this to stop, but it was like a car crash. I had to slow down and see the wreckage. "It's not from pee," I told her. Not said or asked—told.

Her hand back to my knee, she tapped out every word as if it would aid in comprehension. "After every menses come, I drink."

"Oh, I see—out with the bad and in with the…" I froze and shuddered. "Don't tell me you drink that, too?"

She gave my knee a resolute tap of finality and stood up. "Look." She opened up a full teeth smile and flashed her eyes like a bratty girl. She danced little pirouettes and profiled her face from both sides—just two of the many reasons I loved her. "You see?"

"See what? That you love yourself? I didn't need the dance." Then all at once what she had been trying to achieve with her private show hit me. Everybody in Kunming had pocked skin and black nubs for teeth. I myself had Chinese teeth, brown and full of holes, after only a few years living in the country. But Xiao Zhong's shone. And her skin was soft and clear, an incredible light olive and almond color possessed only by wealthy Asians who never have to venture outside the house to do the menial and mundane. I loved Xiao Zhong, I never realized she was beautiful outside of my mind as well. "From pee, eh?" I asked.

I sat stunned for counted moments. I never thought Xiao Zhong cared about looks—she never wore make-up, her hair was always short, and I only once saw her in a dress. She was the end product of China's Cultural Revolution.

"Pee?" It was somewhat seeping into my loved addled, but newly horrified for possessing this love, brain. "No. ...Pee?"

However, Xiao Zhong was also the product of a twelve-fingered mother and a heroin-addicted father. Maybe the pee made sense. I looked at her in wonder and something came over me. I asked her, "Can I watch?"

She sat back down on my lap and frowned. "Heh?"

"You drink pee. Can I watch?" I asked with complete sincerity and honest curiosity.


It's over a decade since I last saw Xiao Zhong and I'm talking to my wife, Tet. Xiao Zhong is the topic. Again. Early in my relationship with Tet, I made the mistake of truthfully answering who the first girl I loved is. Then after knowing Tet for a while, and we were serious, I caused further problems with honesty on why I loved Xiao Zhong. By then I knew no words, positive or negative, about Xiao Zhong were the right ones to say. But the constant questioning. I gave up. Admitted to myself that with Tet, I was washed up like Iron Mike after the tattoo and the Kevin McBride fight.

I answered everything from what originally made me love that girl to the confusing but persistent need of Tet's to know how I loved Xiao Zhong. It's now five years of marriage and the questions still haven't stopped. So I'm fully aware it pays to lie. But tonight, this time it's my fault.

As we get ready for bed, all Tet says is, "Bobo, yo. Pipis dulu, sayangku." Talking in baby talk to me—Come on, nightie night. Pee pee first, sweetheart.

And I forget who I'm thinking about and say, "I used to know a girl who drank pee."

Now, I'm telling her the whole story. 


I think I'm wired wrong. I can remember the first time I robbed somebody, but I can't remember my father leaving me and my mom. I can't think of the first time I had sex, but I can the first time another kid's girl gave me head. Sniffing aerosol cans and breaking into houses gave me hard-ons before I knew how to masturbate. Growing up, something was wrong. Xiao Zhong was the first right for me.

She made me insanely jealous. Not because she was a married woman, I liked that, but because on nights I passed out drunk, she'd blow my friends. I had to get an extra girlfriend—Xiao Yi, my little girl—to stop my ego from collapsing.

It wasn't the best situation we had going, but Xiao Zhong understood me. She wanted to sleep with Xiao Yi, too. So we did. Together. Tried to at least until Xiao Yi started crying.

Xiao Zhong was the first person to allow me self-acceptance. When we continued to fuck beside the weeping Xiao Yi—the best sex I've ever had—I knew we could do anything together.

So that was why I made the decision to drink pee as well. 


Tet is a Muslim—not Xiao Zhong's and her race, the Hui's, idea of Islam—Tet is a real Muslim. I mutilated my dick and grew out my beard. I shalat, maybe not five times a day, but at least once. Or truthfully, only Friday Jumu'ah, all for her. And Tet makes sure everybody knows she's a Muslim, particularly our sleeping Christian neighbors, with her loud voice.

But tonight, I don't understand it, this is something she should whisper. If she wants anyone to see their crooked path, and come to the one true road the Prophet Muhammad has taught us, then she should be hush hush. Especially not give our Christian neighbors the knowledge there are forks in the straight Islamic highway to heaven.

At every off point in my peesy tale, an increasingly louder tone accuses me for merely knowing of its happening. "No Muslim shalat fly. Heroin? Can't," Tet yells disgusted. "And no Muslim drink pipis. No Muslim."

She's right. Everything about Xiao Zhong and her family was haram. You can't do those things. But I explain to Tet if it wasn't for Xiao Zhong—and in its own way, drinking pee—I wouldn't have been led to the woman I love. To my wife. To her. Tet listens to the reasoning, but still hits me—and not a playful hit—she says, "No. Piss? No, Tom. Dirty."

She looks hurt and I'm at a loss. Then I realize her twisted face and mumbling is not over the forbiddenness of pee drinking, but because of who did it. I stop Tet before the whole what where when why about Xiao Zhong can start with a short clip, "Go to sleep. Who did I marry?"

Tet grabs the scraggly hair hanging off my chin—the only reason I can see why she wants me to have the scruff—and juts hers inches from my nose. "Why you love that Chinese whore?" she wants to know.

What compels her need to know this? I begin to say, no more stories, but what originally caused me to answer Tet's first question about Xiao Zhong, about being truthful, no matter the cost, stiffens my spine and I re-start the story. 


Xiao Zhong peed in a glass to spilling level. She told me, usually, she drank half pee half tomato juice, but this time was special. Xiao Zhong talked so fast, "I never think this. It's just for my healthy, I never know you want."

I was paying attention and heard the words, but I only saw her lips move. I was lost in myself.

How did the world change? Breaking rules used to be celebrated. The world's first literate populace wasn't formed because of the Bible, but from the love of pornographic stories, crime broadsheets, and Robin Hood. Nowadays, it's not even acknowledged breaking societal norms is liberating. That it destroys oneself. You reach a point where the edge of the cliff is behind you and there is no turning back. Everything must move forward whether you want it or not. You have no control and are running on auto-pilot. Xiao Zhong had washed her face and brushed her teeth with half of the glass. Shortly, she would drink the other. Then it would be my turn.

All I had seen in China flashed through my memory. A man twisting his body and breathing funny—centering his qi—then pressing his fingertips to my chest. It was as if an elephant had trampled me. A doctor taking Xiao Zhong's pulse in three places, looking at her eyes and skin, then telling her she was pregnant. He was right.

Xiao Zhong swirled the peesy glass and sniffed its contents, "You know, baby piss very good. Old man drink, can have sex. Baby, then mother, then your piss only. Never another."

I loved Chinese medicine, all the what would be called fucked up things, but none of them ever got me feeling all over the place—so happy, sad, and afraid—as drinking pee. Xiao Zhong emptied the glass in one gulp. Here it was, the moment—my turn.

Xiao Zhong's face twisted at what I said next and she pinched me, "Why you say that now?" she asked as I leaned back into the mattress and ignored her flailing arms.

It's popular sentiment the best part of sex—especially with someone new—is the anticipation. But for me that's shit, nothing but a lie. I like sex, I like fucking, I like coming. I don't want to wait for it. However, its flipside, that anticipation is the worst thing about fear, is true. My mind doubles—triples—the pain. With Xiao Zhong hopping like that brat, I could taste what was in store.

I imagined her swarming legs pinning my head to the ground, a small wift of hair tickling my nose, forcing my mouth open. Cruel laughter and screams wake the hutang watchman from his cot in the alley. Him winding his way to the window of Xiao Zhong's room and seeing nothing but shadows. The watchman pumps up the pressure on his kerosene lantern, and slowly, a picture forms of a horror-frozen face trapped beneath an appendage swirling monster. He smashes the glasspane and starts to climb through, but it's too late. The beast spreads wide and unleashes a storm onto the imprisoned face.

I reached out a hand to stop Xiao Zhong prancing and pull her on my lap. I drew her close and explained what made me change my mind. I wanted her to pee in my mouth.

As Xiao Zhong cracked open beer after beer in an effort to replenish her reserves, the fear crept back inside me. I wondered, what in hell put me here. To calm myself I read through her husband's letters. Simple words about honest love.

Be a good girl. I hate being here and you there. We'll be together soon. I love you and miss you much. Be good.

Xiao Zhong never belittled her husband, she did love him in her own way. However, she let me read his letters, something I doubt he would have wanted. He wouldn't want me fucking his wife, but I somehow knew he would have been more upset about the letters. I would be. And I definitely wouldn't want my wife pissing in some man's mouth. What normally made the animals in my blood want out to play, only made me feel—I don't know how. Just wrong.

Dancing on one foot in front of me, Xiao Zhong tore the love letters from my hands. "Okay. Piss ready now," she said.

She pulled me off the mattress on to the matted floor and sat on my chest. What we were doing was wrong, but I loved her. She was real, her face soft and free, everything I wanted for myself. Removing her bedroom sleeping shirt, Xiao Zhong squatted flat on her feet over my mouth. She began to squirm, making something inside of me jump out to restrain her in my hands. She giggled, "Big man talking, but afraid now, heh?"

I asked her, "You love me, right?"

She freed herself from my grip and rolled off. Her face beside mine, she asked right back, "You love me, right?"

I did. We left it at that and I tapped her hip. "Let's do this."

Xiao Zhong was in my face, it was in my face. I looked at all its folds and creases. A woman's thing is beautiful, so inviting, I started to forget why it was in front of me. I was amazed, I could see right inside her. I never thought about how a woman pees, a man pees. It just comes out. Xiao Zhong was opening like a flower in the morning feeding off the first sun. So breathtakingly beautiful that I was lost. When a little hole gaped wide inside her I couldn't believe it—the female body is wonderful, incredible, so perfect. The tiny hole shuddered and my mind woke up. Fuck, she was about to piss on me. I threw Xiao Zhong off using two knees to her chest. As she twirled in the air, I watched the little dot inside her well up and shed a small tear. 


Tet nods like a epileptic and enjoys her righteousness. I can see her thoughts as if she is a Visible Man doll and her clear plastic skull only needs to be removed to read her mind. Tet's thinking, hah, Xiao Zhong couldn't make Tom do everything. But I can. She doesn't say that though, she just slows the nodding and tones down her smirk. "Good. Too dirty. How can a man drink pee?"

I think about finishing the story, but some things are better left unsaid. I close my eyes and curl up on the mattress. Tet yanks the dutchmaid pillow from between my arms and replaces it with her body. She grabs my ears, pulls on them, and says, "So your Chinese girl angry with you, ya? Good."

Maybe better unsaid for her.

I cup her hands and look straight into her furled and curling lip. "Why you say that? She had no reason to be angry," I say.

Tet jerks upright, but remains still as I continue. When I stop, she lets go of my ears and says, "You do what?"

Tet loves me. I know she does. Really does. She's used to my falls back into heroin, used to the exploded tire circumcision I got when entering Islam, and used to how fast I go through jobs. But this?

She asks again, "You what?"

"I drank my pee. I put it in a glass with some tomato juice and I drank it." Tet leans her full body weight into me. "I was curious," I say. I explain to her it wasn't Xiao Zhong's pee, I'm not crazy, it was my own pee. "I'm not doing it again, trust me."

Tet clenches her hands into tiny fists and pounds the bed. I smother her arched back with the entire length of my body and press her flat. I begin to tickle and play with her, hoping she will roll back into my arms laughing, but it only makes her silent and unresponsive. I let go then slap her ass. She flips over and sits on the edge of the bed to cuddle her legs. I place a hand on her knee, but she flinches.

"I'm joking," I say. "Forget it."

What starts out as an angry guttural sound from deep within Tet turns into a sniggering mumble then all at once becomes a hmmpf and a grin. She looks over at me and asks, "What's it like?" She sees my confusion and says, "Pee. What pipis like?"

"The taste?" I ask. She nods and waits for my answer.

"Pee tastes like shit."

Craig Buckie has lived in S.E. Asia most of his adult life, but it seems that Canada is the only place that likes him (which is good because he carries their passport) as it has the best record in printing him. He has written for NOW Magazine Toronto and similar type magazines in S.E. Asia, however, this is his first placement in a journal.







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