Amazon Author Page
Fine Art America
Podcast 2019
Middle Kingdom Podcasts (2005-2017)

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

The Language Company
Timothy M. Leonard's books on Goodreads
A Century Is Nothing A Century Is Nothing
ratings: 4 (avg rating 4.50)

The Language Company The Language Company
ratings: 2 (avg rating 5.00)

Subject to Change Subject to Change
ratings: 2 (avg rating 4.50)

Ice girl in Banlung Ice girl in Banlung
ratings: 2 (avg rating 4.50)

Finch's Cage Finch's Cage
ratings: 2 (avg rating 3.50)

Amazon Associate

Entries in trade (4)


Maybe 20


The demanding accusatory tone of voice is always an admonishing attitude of voice how reality is. Shanghai commands are simple and direct. 

Heels strike cold hard pavement in darkness. The sharpness belongs to a girl escaping from family for the night. Muted voices of an old couple walking through narrow concrete canyons echo as heels fade.

An elevator door opened on the 11th floor of a five-star business hotel in Shanghai. 

A beautiful Chinese girl, 20, in a white dress clutching a small black purse stared at a scuffed marble floor. Small puddles of rain water gathered around her shoes.

She raised her face from the ground. 

Deep dark brown rings circled old, tired, fearful eyes hiding her heart's knowledge, revealing her soul.

There was no place to hide, no magical cosmetic concealing the truth of everything she knew. The woman and witness instinctivily understood each other. Passing toward another temporary hope, another ethereal reality.

She was on the wrong floor and pressed another number. Doors closed. She was moving up in the world. Up to the room of a foreign businessman taking her through night into morning.

Everyone in town was making money. 

Billboards shouted, “Making Money in China is Glorious!

She carefully folded hard earned hard currency into her black purse after a long hot shower and took the elevator down. Gliding through a revolving glass and brass door, she passed a deserted dark empty Japanese restaurant and negotiated gray stained industrial steps to Nanjing Xi Lu.  

One million serious adults in blue industrial clothing practiced Tai Chi with controlled balanced concentration.

Every methodical movement had meaning.

Dawn's collective mist breath crashed around her well worn heels skipping over cracked stones through shadows. 



Silk road


The Secrets of the Silk more...

2,000 years ago. 4,000 miles connecting China and the West. Raw materials, goods, inventions, religions, languages, cultures, ideas.

The Penn Museum has a fine exhibit with maps, stories and images. Explore. Penn Museum...



Taxi Girl

Where are you from?


I am from here. This is my country. I am a rich businessman. You are very beautiful.

Thank you.

How much for one hour?

I played stupid. What do you mean? 

He laughed. Are you stupid? I said how much for an hour. With you.

I looked at my girlfriends. One raised her right eyebrow. Go for it.

How much are you willing to pay?


This was the most money I’d ever heard of. I gambled. Make it $500 for one night. I’ll take good care of you all night. Maybe you can help out my friends.

He looked at them. Five hundred is easy money, he said. Let me make a call and have another drink first.

Ok, take your time. He bought me a whiskey talking about making money, exploiting the poor, twisted business deals using connections, property development. I pretended to be interested. It was getting late. I gambled. Time’s up, I said. Are you going to help my friends? If you want me it’s $500. All night.

Ok, he said. He called someone. I have some chickens for you. He laughed and hung up. I have a place near here. Get me a taxi.

We went through dark streets and stopped at a house. Inside were two older men, drinking. They looked at the girls, paired off and disappeared. 

I was a virgin and he was my first man. It hurt like hell, he was rough but I handled it and didn’t cry in front of him. I swallowed all my bitter tears. He fucked me all night. It was brutal.

In the morning I could hardly walk. He paid me in cold hard cash. Five clean crisp hundreds.  I couldn’t believe it. I gave Miss Tan her cut and she was very happy.

The pain will pass, she said. Get used to it. I was in business. Easy. Turn on the charm, smile a lot, dress up, be smart, gamble, be open to suggestions, don’t drink too much and be ready, willing and able. Be a passive machine. Close your heart. Pretend you’re somewhere else.

That’s how I became a taxi girl. I was beautiful and tough. A girl has to make a living. 


This life


This life is a test - it is only a test.
If it had been an actual life, you would have received further 
instructions on where to go and what to do. - Jack Kornfield



Rasta, a doctor from Cuba in town for a convention on radiology was looking for action. He took a seat at a bar. One was 32 with three kids. Heavy blue eyeliner and reasonable English, the language of barbarians. He preferred Spanish. Short shirt, high heels. Dressed to make an impression. Flattery, hands and negotiation. Slow season hard symphonic sympathy.

I have three girls, 11, 8, 6, showing Rasta cell phone images. I need to send money home to my father. I live with another girl in a small room. It costs $50 a month. I work from 5-2. You like me? How much? Up to you. $40 for the night. You pay the owner $10 so I can leave. Rasta drank water, watching the girls, watching foreign men sitting across the street, watching a parade of cycles, high heels, and begging children in oversized dirty torn t-shirts, hearing them say Mr...Money for School, Money for School.

The scene reminded him of Havana.

She was persistent. She needed work. You like me? I go with you. All night. I stay with you. Rasta paid, she said goodbye to her friends chattering, clattering, teetering high heels on broken dream street stones downhill. 

Did you bring the instruction book?