When I first started working in China, my students laughed at my name. A day or two later, as I talked with my manager, I was told that my name had been a bit of a problem in the hiring process. “Our last teacher was called David,” he told me. “The Chinese didn’t want us to hire another one.”

I thought this more than a little strange. If my name had been “David Hitler” or “Kim Jong-David”, then it might have been a little more understandable… But even so, I couldn’t imagine why my name – surely one of the least imaginative a parent could bestow upon a child – had been jinxed by whoever came before me.

Then the stories came out, albeit slowly. My co-workers – a friendly and talkative bunch with whom I can discuss just about anything – were very reluctant to acknowledge the existence of “Crazy David”, as he was known.

I learned a few things about him that began to explain why he was so intensely disliked:

  • He was Welsh.
  • He was crazy.
  • He was extremely delusional.
  • He had no social skills.

Okay, that’s a bit unfair of me to have added the Welsh thing to the list, but there you go. None of my co-workers had ever met a Welsh person before, and they will do whatever it takes in the future to avoid meeting another. He has forever destroyed Wales’ reputation in China.

When I enquired as to how exactly David had proven his craziness, I was given a number of stories, but the first was this: David had taken the job and quickly decided that it wasn’t good enough for him. He began insulting the staff and the school, making unreasonable demands and threatening to quit. When his demands were not met he would simply pretend that he had never made the ultimatum. In the end, after a surprising amount of patience by all concerned, my manager had accepted one of David’s letters of resignation. When David claimed that it was a forgery, my manager insisted that it wasn’t and began looking for a new teacher.

Thus, I began to picture David as a poor pathetic loser. You see a lot of them drifting through Asia; exiles from their own country due to their innate weirdness. People who are inexcusably rude or offensive in their native lands often pass off as exotic and attractive on the other side of the world. If not, they just blame the other side for not accepting them.

More stories came, and soon I wasn’t entirely sure whether I could trust my co-workers. No one could be as crazy as they said David was…

  • Apparently David liked to talk about his big penis. He liked to tell people about it when he first met them, and also about how his giant dick caused a problem with small Asian vaginas. He also liked to ask people about their penises and how it fit into vaginas.
  • He had been a part of various Thai and Burmese gangs during his travels. During a stint in a Thai prison, he helped a convicted murderer to escape and thus became a local hero.
  • David liked to talk about race and religion. He said that blacks were the only truly racist group of people… except for Muslims, of course. Muslims were out to destroy the world, and they were starting with Wales.
  • He and his girlfriend had extremely loud arguments and would beat the merciless shit out of each other in public and in private. Then they would make up by fucking so loudly that they disturbed all the other residents in their building.
  • Most worryingly, David claimed to have killed 27 people. It was never made entirely clear how or when he killed these people, but he was very proud. He claimed – on other occasions – to have been in the army, so it’s possible he did killed these people in some war…

Of course, after a few weeks of David stories I wasn’t really listening. Part of me just chose not to believe what I heard. It gets boring around Hefei and I got the impression that The Tale of Crazy David was maybe an exercise in killing time.

One day in November I was in the office after class, talking to one of the Chinese staff whose job it was to look after the foreigners’ apartments. I was in the middle of explaining that my internet was broken when a short, fat, middle-aged white guy walked into the room.

“Don’t ask this silly bitch to fix it,” he said. “I know what’s wrong.” The man, of course, was Crazy David. He went on to give a long explanation of China’s dial-up internet connections, during which time the mild-mannered Chinese woman quietly walked off without protest. She knew exactly how to handle the situation.

Although I knew better, I asked David if he could explain exactly how to fix my connection. I was sick of being without the internet and I was willing to talk to a probable psychopath in order to reach a solution.

David looked at his wrist – on which there was no watch – and said that he would just come over to my apartment and fix it himself. I have always been too polite to deal with people like him, and I said, “Oh, okay,” instead of turning and running.

When we got outside he said that he would cycle over to my place and meet me there. “You want to just walk your bike?” I asked. “Otherwise you’ll be waiting over there for me…”

“Oh no I won’t,” he replied with a grin. “I have a key.”

It was true. Crazy David had a key to my apartment. It turned out that he had been the previous tenant, and that he’d cut an extra key for some awful reason. By the time I ran over to the apartment, David was already sitting at my computer, fiddling with the settings. He still had his shoes on. His dirty fucking shoes.

Immediately, the rants began.

  • This school was the worst school in the world and I should get out before it’s too late.
  • My co-workers would quickly start plotting against me like they did to him.
  • The Muslims were already plotting against us.
  • You can’t get decent bread in China.
  • The apartment was a mess when he moved in but he had scrubbed it “immaculate” for me and that I should be grateful. (The toilet was black when I moved in, along with the windows and floors.)

When he was finished with my computer, he told me that we were going to lunch with his girlfriend. He didn’t ask; he told me. Being too polite/stupid to protest, I went with him to a small restaurant near the university gate.

His girlfriend was a haggard-looking Chinese woman of around five or more years younger than him. She looked suicidal with a bottle of Chinese whiskey (baijiu) in front of her, along with a tiny plastic cup. The bottle was full.

She didn’t speak any English but David seemed to have a reasonable grasp of Chinese. Even so, they didn’t talk to each other. David talked to the waitress and to the people at the other tables, who were typically amazed to see a white man. His girlfriend – whose name I was never told – just sat and smoked (women don’t smoke in China) and drank her whiskey.

David ordered two beers for himself and told me about his last school: “The curriculum, David, the curriculum was shite. A disgrace. Seriously, I’ve worked everywhere in China and I know my stuff… This school was a disgrace. So you know what I did? You know what I did? Well I went to the principal, see? I went to the little fucker and I said to him, I said to him, now, I said to him: ‘You’re gonna give me a pay rise. Fifty percent. Or else. Or else what? Or else I’ll report you to the education minister.’ Stupid bastard agreed, but I reported him anyway. I didn’t need the money. So you know what happened? I sent an e-mail to the education minister – who’s a friend of mine, I’ll have you know – and had the school shut down.” David laughed maniacally and threw back his beer. “Fourteen foreign teachers. All got arrested and deported. I told him they were working illegally and they probably were.” He laughed harder and banged on his knee.

“You know, Steve Davis taught me to play Snooker. You know Steve Davis? Steve Davis. Snooker player. World class. Nice guy. Good guy. Best in the world in his day. Taught me, me, to play snooker. Yeah, upstairs from my house…”

From this amazing change in topic, David went on to describe how he had beaten each of the greatest snooker players of the last few decades, but that fame hadn’t interested him enough to go professional. He told me that he played snooker once a week with the Chinese champion and that he beat him every time they played.

Then he told me about his son. Snap. From destroying lives to being the best snooker player on earth to his son. His son, he told me, was sixteen years old and working as a professor somewhere in the south of the country. He’d printed out a fake degree and a fake teaching certificate and gotten him a job at a big university. He laughed at having beaten the system and told me that his son was big with the ladies. “Got a big dick like his dad,” he said. “The whores here are cheap, don’t you find? He doesn’t need to pay but sometimes I treat him when I’m down there. Can’t come to China and not do it, eh? Young lad and all.”

His girlfriend, after about thirty minutes of sitting and listening to David rant, had finished the entire bottle of whiskey. Her eyes were glazed over and her head was lolling about, but she still stared at David with contempt. David glared back at her from time to time, beginning to look a little drunk himself. He’d consumed four large beers in the time we’d sat there.

When he began talking about “niggers” I stood up and said that I had class starting in ten minutes. It was a lie. I walked quickly outside, crossed the street, and bought a heavy lock for my door.

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DAVID WILLS is the managing editor of Beatdom Magazine, and the author of The Dog Farm and Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult'. You can learn more about him on his website.

64 responses to “Crazy David”

  1. Zara says:

    ‘The Tale of Cazy David’ – jinkers! I’m so glad you bought that lock.
    I really think you need to compile a book about all the crazy people you meet. I love reading about your experiences- you make me laugh, you make me scared, you make me breathe a big sigh of relief when you escape all these crazy situations. I don’t know how long you will be in the East, but you will have so much material- I’m envious!

    • I certainly meet a lot of crazy people. I was thinking about making it into a series of posts – the weirdos I might on my travels around Asia. Seriously. It’s a long list. But David was probably the worst… I mean, who boasts about killing 27 people? That’s creep.

      My lock has held up thus far and I’ve mercifully not seen David since. Wonder who he’s bothering these days…

  2. Simon Smithson says:

    Somewhere, Hunter S. Thompson is loving this.

    Also, I love the idea that Crazy David so screwed the pooch that even the name is considered dangerous.

    ‘Another David? Oh fuck no!’

  3. Irene Zion says:

    David,

    Obviously you need to change your locks and make sure your place is locked up tight, including the windows.
    This guy is a menace.
    But I still don’t understand why the Chinese would think another person with the same first name would be similar trouble. That just doesn’t make sense.

    • The windows, thankfully, have bars on them. The door has a new lock but the wood is flimsy as hell. In fact, you could probably punch through the damn walls. This apartment is a joke.

      I could’ve gone on and on about the Chinese and their suspicions regarding my name. The fact is, superstition here goes beyond anything you’ll see in the west. People take it very seriously. If something bad happens, you can’t talk about it – and that’s not just because the govt might get you… it’s because the sincerely believe it’ll happen again. So really it’s a surprise I got this sweet job at all.

  4. Greg Olear says:

    You seem to be, Mr. Wills, one of those people to whom people like Crazy David are inexplicably drawn.

    The craziest of all his rants is that the great Islamic takeover would begin in Wales. I have a few drops of Welsh blood myself, but come now.

    • Yup. I agree completely. Then again, it seems Crazy David pushed him madness upon many people, so in this case I don’t feel so special.

      Wales seems like an odd place to start, unless they want to convert sheep. Actually, have you seen the movie Four Lions? It’s a Jihadist comedy by the fantastic Chris Morris. At one stage they blow up a sheep.

      • D.R. Haney says:

        David — not Crazy David but David Wills — is what’s called, or used to be called, a weirdo magnet. I’ve thankfully somewhat outgrown being a weirdo magnet, and that I was one in the first place had to do with my being too open, too naive, and my unfortunate desire to stockpile experience for future performances (as an actor) and future scribbling (as a writer).

        I do see signs, though, that David Wills is faring better as a weirdo magnet, since Crazy David isn’t quite as crazy as the messiah of Korean days. Among many memorable TNB pieces, that one still stands out for me.

        • “Weirdo magnet” is a pretty apt term. As I mentioned somewhere else on this thread, I actually have a fairly good collection of similar stories that could probably make a TNB series… But I suppose you’re right: The Messiah was the worst. That guy was awful. What makes these people creepier is when they randomly burst into your life again and it gives them an almost supernatural side. Of course, now I’ve said that I fully expect to see Crazy David standing outside my window…

  5. Brad Listi says:

    This calls for a Taser, man.

    I have a sort of a somewhat similar story that I should probably tell at some point. From back when I was on the Appalachian Trail. In Virginia somewhere. Morning. Eating breakfast. And this old woman — in her sixties? — a vagrant of some sort, carrying her belongings in a plastic trash bag, emerges from the woods and starts talking at me. Stood over me for the better part of three hours, ranting about every conspiracy theory under the sun (O.J. Simpson, I recall, played heavily in her mind.) Just she and I in the woods, miles and miles from civilization. She did all the talking. For hours. And I let her do it. Didn’t know how to extricate myself without offending her. Was actually sort of afraid of her.

    Anyway.

    Love reading about your life over there. Always an entertainment.

    • Thanks, Brad.

      It’s odd when a crazy person is talking to you. They could be saying the most offensive things you could imagine, and yet the last thing you want to do is to offend them. I was in Big Sur a couple of years ago and there was a guy who would appear outside my tent every morning, and who was most likely there all of every night. This was miles from anywhere… but he was always there, just asking questions. He wanted to know my home address. Obviously, he didn’t kill me. But I was never sure what he wanted.

      Urgh. The world is full of creepy little bastards.

      • D.R. Haney says:

        One of my own scariest encounters during the height of my days as a weirdo magnet was with a potential roommate in Williamsburg. He came by to look at the place, and something about him instantly scared me and everyone else who lived with me, so we never considered having him move in. We all had the same reaction, that he seethed with barely repressed violence, though he didn’t talk about particularly nutty or violent things. In fact, I remember that we spoke quite a bit about Viggo Mortensen, who was relatively unknown at the time; the potential roommate’s brother had made a short film at Columbia University, and Viggo had appeared in the film.

        I ran into this guy in Midtown not long after he stopped by to check out the apartment, and he wanted to have a cup of coffee and I couldn’t bring myself to say no, and that led to a number of phone calls (he still had my number from the ROOMMATE WANTED notice). Then late one night, while I was coming down from an acid trip, he showed up on my doorstep, and I didn’t know how to get rid of him, so I walked downstairs with a hidden butcher knife, just in case. I’m sure he didn’t see the knife, but that was our last encounter. I’ve often wondered what became of him. He didn’t seem long for this world.

        I’m sounding extremely paranoid in all of my comments today, huh?

        • That’s creepy… He kept the ROOMMATE WANTED notice? Wow.

          I’m glad I’m not the only one who answers the door with a knife from time to time. Sometimes when you’re faced with someone who oozes danger, it’s the only way to deal with the situation.

          I couldn’t imagine having met David or the Korean Messiah when on acid. Jesus. It’s bad enough when you have to deal with an average asshole at a time like that.

    • Gloria says:

      Once, on a Greyhound bus from Dallas to Roswell, I had a man who claimed to be on OJ Simpson’s legal team (maybe even his lawyer?) remove my bra and godknowswhatelse while I was sleeping. He was nice and conversational before I passed out. After I woke up, he was shifty eyed and paranoid. Was rambling some thing about protecting me. I ditched him in Amarillo.

      • He removed your bra while you slept? That’s impressive in a terrible, terrible way. I wonder how many times he practiced that trick.

        • Gloria says:

          Actually, no. That’s an exaggeration. I woke up and had to go to the bathroom and noticed my bra dangling. It was completely unhooked. Now, you being a heterosexual man understand the delicate intricacies of a woman’s bra hooks. They don’t just come undone. Furthermore, unless I’m mis-remembering, It may very well have been a bra that hooks in the front. At any rate, I realized something was amiss the second I stood up. It took me a few minutes to shake off sleep and put two and two together.

        • I guess it’s marginally less creepy that he just unhooked it… I was picturing him being shifty because he stole it. But yeah, it takes a bit of effort for our dumb, clumsy man-hands to unclasp a bra. He really must have had had a some practice.

  6. Reno Romero says:

    wills:

    this was great. funny, funny.

    ‘Don’t ask this silly bitch to fix it,” he said. “I know what’s wrong.’

    ha!

    people like this are scary. really. i hate this guy and hope a dragon breaths fire on him. there are dragons over there aren’t there? if not, mr. wills, i think it’s your duty to kill him. he killed 27, you killed 1. keep us posted.

    • Okay, fine, I’ll kill him. When the cops find me I’ll calmly explain: “Reno Romero made me do it.” Or alternatively I could just do the Chinese thing and pay them $50 to go away.

      China has lots of dragons. Mostly they stay to residential areas and lead quiet lives. If they stray out into the wilderness the poachers will most likely get them.

      • Reno Romero says:

        ha! well, if killing a man could get you in trouble i say don’t do it. but you’re a smart feller and i’m sure if and when david does find you again (these types do tend to resurface – always with bad timing) you’ll come up with a way to dispose of him. which, in my opinion needs to happen.

        really, though. like i said people like this are fucking scary. real scary. i don’t need lame devil stories and such. i’m worried about the b-hole next door, my uncle that always had THAT LOOK on his ugly face. see what i’m saying?

        okie doke, sir. watch your back and keep writing these great stories. you’re one hell of a writer.

  7. good one. a slice of life, just the wrong life.

  8. James D. Irwin says:

    Sounds like a fun guy… jesus christ… Loved the last line…

    Did he have a proper Welsh accent? I don’t know if that makes it better or worse, I’m just amused by someone that fucking crazy having a thick sing-song welsh accent…

    • Good question. He did indeed have a good Welsh accent. It was actually hard to write because I wasn’t sure how accurately I wanted to capture it. For example, when he was on his bread rant (yes, a bread rant) he kept talking about “hoolmeal” instead of “wholemeal”. Kept talking about “hoors” instead of “whores”. Although, to be fair, we Scots sometimes do that same thing.

  9. Quenby Moone says:

    I cannot believe you met the anti-David and he lives in the same town, nay, lived in the same apartment, as you!

    If you see any tears in the fabric of the universe, you’ll know it was that fateful meeting.

    I mean, he HAD YOUR KEY!

    Seriously. Watch your back. Beware the Ides of Every Month. You never know when the anti-David will appear again!

    • Anti-David… Ha! I like it.

      I remember when I was in Korea I ran into a girl. I’d never seen her before but when we spoke it turned out that we were both from Scotland… but not just that. We’d lived in the same building at the same time for a year without meeting. We’d been in the same classes on the same course for two years. Creepy. But we only met once, on the other side of the world.

      I’ll keep my eye out for that creepy bastard. You’re right. You never know when they pop up again. Probably, no, certainly, when I least expect it.

  10. Thank goodness you bought a heavy lock for your door. The crazy in Crazy David is an understatement. So funny, though. I mean, since he didn’t kill your or anything.

    I replaced an apparently crazy woman once. She was a little more than obsessed with a well-known author in the area and took the students on a field trip to said author’s house where they all gathered in the bushes and snapped pictures. She was let go after that.

  11. I got the same stomach ache reading this as I get when I read Bukowski. Well told. And I’m with Zara, book!

  12. Joe Daly says:

    David-

    Once you said he was Welsh, I stopped reading, as I knew exactly how the story would end.

    OK, that’s a lie- I read the whole thing and have been flabber gasted by how extraordinarily demented your predecessor is. Super creepy about the key to your place. Have you considered that you may be at the outset of a “Single White David” scenario?

    Sometimes it’s funny and sometimes it’s sad to run into someone full of so much self-loathing that their entire perspective of the world requires them to see everything as broken and everyone as incompetent.

    Ultimately I find these people funny because I think we’ll all admit that it’s enormously gratifying to feel superior to someone who walks around with a false air of superiority. Don’t we? Wait- it’s not just me, is it? Shit…

    • Haha, poor Wales. Whenever you travel the world you always meet a few English people, a dozen or so Scots, and tens of millions of Irish. You never meet any Welsh, though. But now whenever a Welshman sets foot in China I have a feeling that the poor bastard will be lynched.

      I guess I never put much thought into understanding why David was so crazy, but I guess it was a combination of self-loathing and a fucked up perspective. To me he just seemed so unreal, like a cartoon character, that it was almost like a routine. Like he went around the world telling the most insane stories just to keep his life interesting.

  13. Matt says:

    You, sir, may in fact be a bigger shit magnet than me. Or maybe, “shite magnet” would be better, him being Welsh and all.

    People like this tend to corner me on the bus, or in bars. I’ll just be minding my own business with a quiet drink and suddenly there’s some asshole who wants to talk to me about the vast conspriacy involving city hall, the U.S. Navy, mysterious black helicopters, pollen, the Illuminati, and space aliens (which actually sounds like it could be the plot of the next Nicholas Cage movie). I don’t know where these people come from, or what it is about people like you and me (pheromones?) that attracts them.

    Per your exchange with Irwin, I now have a mental image of someone with a very thick Welsh accent and someone with a very thick Scottish accent ranting indecipherably at each other. It’s very amusing.

    • Ducky Wilson says:

      Me, too, Matt. I get ALL the nut jobs.

    • Ah buses… and trains… public transport in general, I suppose. When I was young and stupid and took off for America on my own I found myself constantly sitting next to the weirdest people. There was Chrissie the nympho manga-porn fiend with a giant sack of dried cranberries, some Christian rock “star” who claimed to be 99% Scottish, an old guy who told me “dropping that bomb on the Japs was the best darn thing dat ever happened to me”, and many, many, many others. I suppose that’s why I put up with David for so long. He was creepy, but not that much creepier than many others I’ve met.

      Conspiracy theorists, I must admit, are the best. Because you can totally jump into that and talk about it, and they’d happy to have someone actually participate in their insane banter.

  14. Ducky Wilson says:

    CREEPY! You might just consider moving to another building.

  15. Ashley Menchaca (N.O.Lady) says:

    Crazy David talks as much shit as my brother. Sad truth.

    • Yeesh. That is sad. I feel sorry for people who are compelled – for whatever reason – to fabricate as much bullshit as David. That is unless he’s actually telling the truth… I don’t know which would be worse.

  16. Gregory Messina says:

    I’m working on an essay about a compulsive liar and he pales in comparison to Crazy David. I’m glad that you got to meet him for yourself and realize your colleagues were not exaggerating.

    Very entertaining.

    • Thanks, Gregory. Compulsive liars are scary. David is a prime example, but you might a lot of others when you travel as much as me. I think when they’re far from home they feel secure in bullshitting about everything.

  17. Erika Rae says:

    I laughed the hardest at the part where he killed 27 people. I think something might be wrong with me.

  18. Gloria says:

    I’m so glad I decided to (finally) read this before I turned off the computer for the night. You have a way with a story. And with people, apparently.

    That dude’s poor, sad girlfriend…

    Cheers.

    • Thanks, Gloria. I’m lucky, I guess, that these stories push their way into my life on a regular basis. It always gives me something to talk about… although rarely does it make for civilised dinner table banter.

      I don’t think any of the comments so far mentioned the girlfriend, but yeah, sad indeed. I heard that they used to beat each other pretty badly – throwing things and always showing up with bruises and cuts.

      • Gloria says:

        You are welcomed at my dinner table any ‘ol time, David. And you’re welcomed to talk of anything you wish. Plus, since you’re Scottish, I won’t understand a damn word you’ll say, so it’ll be impossible to offend me! (Although, I do have to admit that in the reading you did of the time the cab hit the pig, your accent sounded really faint to me.)

        • Thank you. I will probably show up one of these days, but only after practicing my Fat Bastard accent (which, I’m told, isn’t that bad).

          Hmm… Now I think about it, Erika Rae’s kids said that I sound like Shrek, so I suppose my accent comes and goes.

  19. Brian Eckert says:

    I think being a weirdo magnet has something to do with being nice and polite…unassuming. I’m the same way to some extent…I can’t tell people no, and so before you know it I’m sitting before this ranting lunatic trying to find a way to get out, but still being too fucking polite to just tell them to fuck off, until eventually I fabricate an excuse to get away.

    Man, those crazy Asian expats. I’ve tried to explain it to to friends and family, but feel I never do it justice. Perhaps I’ll refer them to this piece.

    • Yup, it’s odd how the rude people in this world can get away without engaging these freaks. I should learn to become more of an asshole.

      I’ve tried to write about it before, but I haver never adequately gotten to the bottom of why there are so many freaks wandering around this part of the world.

  20. angela says:

    i’ve been looking forward to reading this piece since you posted it, then kept getting sidetracked. so glad i finally got around to it!

    the weirdest foreigner i ever met in China was a fellow teacher. at first the Crazy David reminded me of him – ranting against the school, complaining all the time – but i don’t think this guy ever killed anyone and he never talked about his penis, at least never to me.

    i feel like i’m the weirdo repeller. maybe from living in NYC all those years, i put up this wall that repels everyone, attractive young men and weirdos alike. my boyfriend is a weirdo attractor, which of course freaks me out whenever he attracts one in my presence.

    as for terrible bread in China, i’d have to agree with Crazy David on that one.

    • Yeah, he was insane but he was certainly right about the bread. Terrible. However, you can buy your own flour here and so Amy and I just make our own. It’s been a success so far.

      What I love about China’s foreigners is the amount of diversity here… there are Europeans, Africans, Americans, South Americans, Asians. In Korea there were thousands of US soldiers and thousands of 23yr old white college grads from America. You meet so many interesting people here (although obviously some of them are best to avoid).

      Good for you with your weirdo shield. Best to keep those defensive up.

  21. KalanStar says:

    Great story! I never run into such laowai characters in China.

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