I peeped over my garden wall — which also serves as the perimeter wall for the development I live in — and saw that my neighbor was home. This is a neighbor that lives amidst the gardens of Hong Kong’s New Territories in a simple tidy house. The house is tin and therefore entirely grayish save for the band of red Chinese decorations around the door. The place is always locked up during the day, but in the evening and on weekends the house is alive with laundry-drying, TV-watching, and dog-barking.
So, yesterday afternoon when I casually looked over the wall and saw my tin-house neighbor dressed in white at home in the middle of a weekday afternoon, I was surprised, and curious.
As my eyes focused in through the afternoon sun, I suddenly realized that he was standing in the open doorway, holding and inspecting a handgun. I yanked my head back out of view, then slowly peeped one more time to confirm what I had seen: a guy in white checking the action on a black handgun.
It was as surprising as if I’d looked over the wall and seen a giraffe.
A handgun in Hong Kong. Not in America, where one can get the impression that everyone is “carrying.” Not in America where, apparently, guns are so common that restaurants in National Parks have signs like this one:
He hadn’t noticed me peeping. I ducked back away from the wall and heard click, click…click, click….click, click…. He was screwing around with the (clearly unloaded) gun for 5-10 minutes.
Perhaps there is a simple explanation? Perhaps it’s a simple air gun that rural dwellers use on pests? My neighbors in the other direction have been trying to capture a stray cat that has been scratching the roof of their car with all kinds of elaborate, baited traps. Maybe my tin-house neighbor is also bothered by the feral cats that jump 15 feet down from the development wall onto the tin roof of his house at 2 am?
Let’s go with the more comforting explanation for now: he’s just a simple Cantonese hillbilly driven to extreme measures for a peaceful night’s sleep.