Ed leans against the bathroom stall. He knocks.
“Yes!” Ed’s student calls out from the other side, in Chinese.
“Spiderman?” Ed asks.
“How old are you?”
There is a pause. I light a cigarette; Ed too.
I frown. “His name is Spider-Man?”
Ed shrugs. “I guess. They let them pick their names.”
“So what’s his real name?”
Ed looks at the stall. “Spider-Man! What’s your real name?”
“Yes!” Spider-Man calls.
Ed sighs. “Well, anyways,” he continues, “this kid can’t be more than four and we’ve been working here, what, two days?”
“Yeah, so, what do they really know about us? I mean, they didn’t even ask for my passport. You?”
Ed thinks through a few drags.
“This would never fly in England. I mean, I’m a grown man. A strange grown man. I was just observing in the back of the class and the teacher put his hand in mine and said bathroom.”
“That’s it. I don’t think she knows much more English than that to be honest.”
I chuckle, commiserate.
“Well,” Ed says, “I mean, it’s like I said. I’m just a strange man. And this bathroom is way out here, down the hall. And you know the stairwell is right there.”
He points through the wall. I know where he means.
“Yeah, so, I got to the end of the hall and just stopped and looked at the stairwell and thought, well, I could just take this boy down those stairs and be gone.”
I frown. Ed holds up his hands.
“Not saying I would or wanted to, just saying, a bit irresponsible.”
My cigarette is almost finished. I walk to the sink and place it in the make-shift ash tray. There is a flush. Spiderman comes out of the stall. He really can’t be more than four. He waves at me. Ed motions to the sinks. He washes his hands then Spiderman and I wait while Ed finishes the last drags on his cigarette.
“China is weird, huh?” I ask.
“Yes!” Spider-Man cries, picking his nose.