Portland, Oregon

David’s oldest brother had cancer of the liver that was spreading to his bones. The brother didn’t want anything to eat, not hospital food in the corridors of Formica trays, not the elaborate meals David brought him—prawns, broccoli, domes of white rice. When the doctors said that the brother had only weeks to live, David spent hundreds of dollars shipping an ounce of a small herb from China. It was used to heal the sick, something he’d grown up with as an orphan in Mao’s China, playing his accordion on the streets. He made his way to the United States, started a business, and made a small, lonely fortune. When he wasn’t at work he built models, planes made from balsa wood and aluminum. They hung from the rafters like bright, fragile birds.

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