The Ballad of Billy Chan

by wechslerh66

the most American guy I ever knew
was a Chinese guy named Billy Chan

moved to Tarzana when he was two
loved In-N-Out Burgers
spent weekends at the mall
wore John Lennon glasses from
Sunglass Hut
all year round

wrote a YA novel about a
serial killer who
took a cheerleader home
to his basement
& tortured her
before the hero rescued her
that no one would read
I told my roommate
who told me
your friend’s psychotic

we went to writers workshops every Wednesday night
in downtown Westwood
run by a screenwriter in his seventies named Bernie
who had never sold a screenplay
and his friend Bob from Brooklyn
who introduced himself every week as
an old friend of Boinie’s
and who never wrote
but just sat there
until eventually we stopped

Billy knew a girl from high school
he called The Shrew
he never told me why
talked about her nonstop
went to Tijuana one weekend & brought back a pair of
brass knuckles & a whip
told me he would use them to Tame The Shrew
I told my girlfriend back East
who was horrified

I went home with him one weekend &
we met The Shrew
at the mall
went to a matinee at the multiplex
“Cape Fear,” the De Niro version
she was scared at one point & went to hold him but
he was scared too
he was weird with her later
maybe he liked her more than he knew or
maybe he hadn’t tamed himself yet

two weeks later he told me he was joining Campus Crusade for Christ
because of a hot blonde
he never mentioned The Shrew again
we met up a few more times
he was becoming serious
about Christ
one night I asked him how many blondes
were in the Bible
to be a jerk
& he started counting

I saw him one more time
when I was moving back East
& he was being baptized
in Catalina that summer
I told him my flight home
was on Sunday at noon
he said, Oh well, I guess
I’ll never see you again

& walked away

God bless Billy Chan
& God bless America

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