Ming Lang Chen is a New York based writer/filmmaker. He earned his M.F.A. in NYU’s Graduate Film Department and has written and directed seven short films. Born in Taiwan in 1970, he grew up in an environment that was changing every day which is known to the world as the Economic Miracle of Taiwan.

Before migrating to New York, he served as a Lieutenant in Taiwan’s army for two years. He has also worked as a journalist for a Taiwanese newspaper. Currently, he is working on a feature film script.

Excerpt from Wonder Girls and the Emerald Sea Tea House, a short story:


I turned at the corner to my street.

There was a guy sitting in a car parked along the sidewalk, talking on his cell phone. There was another guy standing on the sidewalk talking to his cell phone as well. For a second I almost thought they were talking to each other through cell phone. But that would be too weird. And that was it. The whole block was empty. Empty, besides those two guys and me and the shadows of the trees and the black iron gates.

Where did those wonder girls go?

It suddenly occurred to me. Where have they all gone to? I kind of missed seeing them. Then I recounted, it was about two or three years ago that they have cleared out of here. Gradually, silently.

Shortly after I moved in this apartment, I have noticed some unusual nightly activities. The wonder girls, so I called them. They would stand on the sidewalk waiting for cars to pull over. They would go up talking over the half opened car window and then either get in the car or get on to next business. People in my building talked about them. That’s when I was confirmed about what I thought what it was. Moreover, after midnight, there would be unusual amount of traffic. It was said that people who drove the car would circle the block over and over. Literally, cruising. While they came back around to this strip of the sidewalk, they would slow down and take a good look at these girls.

I never minded that I happened to live on a block like this. I was sort of proud of the fact that this was the one and the only block to be in the downtown area after midnight. Well, if you are into this, that is. I would walk home and observe them one by one. Sometimes I’d get some girls say to me,

‘Hey, want some company?’

They all look much more interesting than those girls I’ve seen in bars. Not in a sentimental way.

I grew up living across a street from a whore house. In where I came from, we call it ‘Tea House’. And this one has a beautiful name, ‘Emerald Sea Tea House’.

The street I lived in was a two way busy street which connects the town to the countryside. It was more of a provincial road than a street. There was a big fifteen by fifteen square foot yard between our house and the street. Of all seven years I lived there, I rarely went across the street.

The ‘Emerald Sea Tea House’ was one of the two adjacent houses over three stories high on the other side of the street. On the left side of its cement wall painted a white full moon emerging on a big green serene sea and four Chinese characters which was the name of the business. Since they didn’t open until late at night and I was a child so I never actually got to see any girl working at that place. What I can recall was the noise of the girls and drunken customers that came to my ears before I fell asleep.

One time, I heard a gunshot in the middle of the night. The next day I woke up and found our window at the front facing the street had a hole as big as a thumb.

At school, there was this boy. There were rumors spreading around that his mother was a prostitute. He was always part of the trouble. I remembered one day we were all gathering around drinking soda during class break. He asked us if we know how a man and a woman make a baby. Of course I had no idea. I was never a curious kid. I never asked questions like this to my parents or anybody. Actually I think I hardly asked questions. So he told us, it’s done by putting your zizi into a woman’s pussy, like the train going through the tunnel. And voila, that was my sex education lesson one. And I didn’t believe it.