Karl Taro Greenfield, "Silver"

An American takes a job at the Hong Kong office of his floundering conglomerate and joins the soccer team.

(from The Paris Review, Spring 2007)

He took a deep breath, leaned forward, then back again. “Um.”
I kept quiet.
“Yes.” Then he hit his own forehead, as if trying manually to jog his memory. “So, yes, you are the most senior staff member to play ever.”
I shrugged. Was he trying to tell me that I wasn’t welcome?
He seemed to be waiting for a response. From me? Good luck.
“So. We will be honored if you will join our football club.”
We stood up and shook hands.
On his way out, Silver had a lengthy exchange in Chinese with my assistant after which she came in and explained that I would be the most senior employee ever to join the football club.

You know, this story kept elbowing me, leaning in and whispering “Our narrator isn’t a bad guy the way we’re all bad guys. He’s like bad for real.” But still, with each jab, I didn’t believe it. “The man is a just a cool customer,” I countered. “A realist. A dude who knows the score.” And when the narrator revealed his final bad guy move, the final one of the story anyway, I was surprised. But that’s my fault. I had been warned. Excellent, excellent story. Although I’m not sure the time frame really adds up — this soccer season with weekly matches lasts a bit too long, perhaps — this story was otherwise tight and entrancing.

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