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Justin Chin

26 Acts

1. You stab yourself.

Sometimes you think the sadness will never end and you fold like a drop of sand caught in the deep furrows of a seashell that some kid in bright-eyed excitement brings home from a seaside sojourn. The fond treasure sits in a special place on the kid's dresser—beside wishing trolls, snapshots, spoiled toys and hairbrushes with that drop of sand hidden, but the germs and bacteria contained in that drop moves faster than delight.

"I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith."

2. You hang yourself.

I have no more rituals left.

3. You jump out of the third floor window.

I had a friend who would call me in the middle of the night because she believed that there was a spirit in her room and it was trying to push her out of the window. The spirit had no face like in stories told in primary school. "It's not a druggie flashback, I know what a flashback is," she would say and then we'd talk for a while until her boyfriend came home from work.

4. You push drawing pins into your thigh.

5. You cut your fingertips with a bic.

Do this: count the rings on the flats of your fingertips/ take a sharp knife and open them up/ collect the blood in a chinese soup spoon/ use blue porcelain if you can/ your lover will come & say/ o. you're into that, are you / you must not say a word/ he will take the knife and cut/ the shapes of animals onto your shiny stomach/ when you move/ the animals will masturbate each other/ you will laugh and wonder/ what it is to feel something good on your sex.

6. You bang your head against the fireiron.

All I know of the man is that he has a raspy cough, the sort old people who smoke too much have. Even though I do not see his tongue, I can tell just by the feel of it on the underside of my cock, that it is coated with the layer of green furry mucus that characterizes that cough. I know because the last time, and it was a different person, I saw his face when he looked up mouth opened tongue sticking way out doglike in anticipation of some warm jism. "Cum's good for the body," he tells me and he needs it cos he's got "a fuckin' bad heart" from working in some shitarse-pissant cleaning job. The harsh chlorine cleaners make his hands rough and his fingernails corrode as if he were a pathological nailbiter. Funny thing, he says, is that he would bite his fuckin nails if he could but now it's too late so he smokes like mad. Nervous habit and it keeps him warm, he says.

7. You bite your thumb till it bleeds.

"You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things."

8. You shoot yourself.

shin shin shin shin
shin shin shin shin
shin shin shin shin
shin shin/ shin

8A. You drive splinters into the back of your hand.

The angels in books and bible stories were always clean shaven white men. You knew they were men because they didn't have breasts like they did in old old paintings. And those wings, like big pigeons, as if someone broke the wings off a pigeon and stuck to those white bodies. The angels always wore slippers, or sandals as my Sunday School teacher said while retelling bible stories with local street names so it would be interesting for us to think that Jerusalem had a 7-11 or a MacDonald's right around the synagogue. What a mess it would be to walk around in slippers all the time, especially after a good rain, and when you walk, the slippers flick little spots of mud onto the back of your outfit. A real pity as those angels had such white outfits. I wondered if Jerusalem had a Safeway, did heaven have a laundromat?

8B. You walk into on-coming traffic.

One day, we did Revelations and the angels became quite serious. They started flying everywhere with fire and pots of boiling stuff and had strange animal pets and I wondered what happened to those nice clean shaven white men.

8C. You drink weed-killer.

Then there was the New Year's Eve service. My mother told me that at 12 midnight, an angel would appear right above the cross in the tallest part of the ceiling right at the steeple. I wondered if it would be a nice clean angel or a serious fire angel animal. So I listened to the choir, played with my fingers, read the hymn in Praise Songs backwards, pinched myself to stay awake. At 11:59, we were supposed to pray but I peeped. I never saw the damn angel.

9. You burn your chest with cigarettes.

Cigar ashes are much hotter than cigarette ashes. Ashes from a pot stoogie you barely notice. When they tell you that your loved one's ashes are in the urn, they lie. It's mostly scrapings from the inside of the furnance. To be sure, always check for the big bones, the ones that don't burn easy. A real urn would have big bones that look like clean polished hamhocks and dust, lots of it.

10. You step barefoot on broken glass.

11. You step barefoot on live wires.

Sometimes his kisses taste like sand, the kind you accidentally take a tongueful of when you go under the tide and rise, head popping out of the green foam like some marine prarie dog, and the grains rub between your teeth, into your gums, making the sea-salt water sting right into your mouth all along up to the cracks at the sides of your eyes.

12. You cut your big toe with a cheese slicer.

13. You whip yourself with telephone wire.

14. You club yourself with a putter.

15. You wrap barbed wire around your waist.

Americans have this fear and loathing of large people. They have the idea that a big man will run up behind them and mug them. Perhaps this is why Americans feel so safe in Asia. There, most people are short and real small; what harm can they do? And even if they did try anything, the bigger chap would definitely win, hands down, no contest.

16. You put your fist through the tv screen.

Aileen Wournos, the Florida highway lesbian serial killer is 5 feet 4 inches tall. She killed 9 men who treated her like shit. Eye-witnesses who remembered her at truck stops and diners said that she was 5 feet 8 inches tall. Aileen Wournos did not wear stiletto heels.

17. You cut your tongue while chewing on razor blades.

It is easy to tell who will win on People's Court: If you are the better groomed party, you win. If you are vaguely coloured, you lose. If you look and talk nice, you win. If you have an afro or long hair and don't wear a power suit, you lose.

If Aileen Wournos was on People's Court and if (with the help of her new guardian, the born-again Christian woman Arlene Pratt) she did her hair up real nice like Shelley Hack on Charlie's Angels, she would be free.

18. You pour battery acid on your legs.

In the TV movie of her life, the actress that played Wournos was 5 feet 10 inches tall.

19. You pour battery acid on your testicles.

The first time I ever knew of someone else's semen was in a park. I had found a used condom under the bench I was sitting on. I slipped two fingers into the floppy sheath and withdrew with a sliver of wet and smell on my fingertips that I wiped on my lips. It was about 7 in the morning and there were few people about, joggers mostly, so I was sure no one saw me. But the smell of semen stayed in my fingernails for the rest of the day even as I washed my hands repeatedly.

20. You insert a toothpick into your urethra.

21. You staple your eyelid into a neat fold.

Pain/No pain.

22. You burn your left nipple with a hot curling iron.

On Championship Wrestling, the sort with fake theatrical names and silly costumes to fill out those names, we are treated to large men pulverizing each other. The slap of flesh against flab, spandex stretch and loud loud foul curses. I have a theory that if you sat close enough, you could smell the men's pheromones and biologically, that would be a turn-on.

23. You get zinc poisoning.

If Santa Claus did come from the North Pole, he would look more indigenous, more Eskimo, not like a big white bloke. If he merely moved to the North Pole, that would only prove his colonial tendencies. What is more important is what those elves he has enslaved look like. Are they the original inhabitants of the land that Santa invaded?

24. You get stung by catfish.

Cats and dogs see spirits that humans do not. When I walk through my apartment with my cat, we see different things. I see a mess that needs cleaning up, a stove, a scratching post, a dehydrated plant. My cat sees powerless demons lounging around with nothing to do.

25. You burn in hell.

According to some Chinese mythology, there are seven levels of hell each governed by a presiding demon. At Haw-Pa Villa, the Tiger Balm Gardens in Singapore, there is a sculpture of hell where ceramic demons punish ceramic sinners. Liars' tongues cut off, gluttons disemboweled, murderers pierced by meat hooks, fornicators dipped in molten sulphur. Parents usually bring their children to see this exhibit to teach them the value of obedience and filial piety. Even Christian parents who do not believe in anything vaguely Buddhist will drag their children on sunny Sunday afternoons to witness hell. A person always knew where the exhibit was in the Gardens by following the sounds of children wailing and shrieking in fear. There you will find children, red-eyed and crying, held firmly by their parents and forced to look at hell. Once, the cleaning crews started work late. The visitors got to watch the tired old caretaker sweep and dust the ceramic hell. This was the only time there was no fear on either side of the glass.

"Let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers, Amen."

26. You burn in heaven.

In the 26th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, Paul tells the King of Agrippa how he turned from a sinner, how he met the spirit of the crucified Christ face-on and was transformed to a disciple of goodness and love.

In the 27th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, Paul sails for Rome where God saves the ship from a storm.

In the 28th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, nothing much happens.