Question. Isn’t it true that you only know what is happening when it is over and done? Then again, there’s no hidden force making us knit memories together in this or another way. Right? Next question. Which version of the past lives within you? Why do you choose this version over others? Does it align neatly? Excuse my bluntness. There’s things I’ve seen and done I can hardly talk about with anyone. Minute decisions can cause quite some storms in the long run.
But you’re here for a story, I suppose. Remember this is non-fiction.
14 October 2012.
We pass speechless little villages, all alike. Brand new and dull. The Japanese around me keep their eyes on the ground and grant me the freedom to stare. When we slide into the city we slide on top of the city. Frolicking schoolchildren hop on and off. And there they were, I had not expected them this soon. Two teen schoolgirls with the shortest skirts I had ever seen anyone their age wear – the propellant of the archipelago – made their entry. In front of me, another girl’s enormous babydoll wig hinders a businessman from finishing his videogame. He puts it away and stares at the floor. We float on, between boxes and outrageous manga in glaring neon. Massive adds with mesmerizing eyes catch my gaze over and again.
This ride is almost over, my senses tell me, and I feel reluctant to take control over my actions again. I am carrying two bags. One contains my writing material – laptop – my toothbrush and underwear. The other bag contains the endless companion mister saxophone. From the side pocket of the latter, I take out an origami pop-out map that the husband of my Japanese teacher had offered me as a token of friendship before leaving. It opens like a flower, beautifully slow and complex, but I soon realize – to my great consternation – that as a map, it’s completely useless. I can’t even locate the station on it. I mutter a curse and try to remember the directions. East exit. Follow the rail roads. North. Find Price Hotel. Entrance of the capsule hotel on the right. The capsule inn was the cheapest hotel I had been able to find, in the middle of Tokyo’s infamous mob-tainted red-light district. I like red-light districts because they’re always so close to the station.
The train stops. I stand up, whisper a small prayer and surrender my body to the wave. It picks me up and releases me downstairs. The clatter of millions muted by water. I study an impossible map of the station – there’s two hundred exits and I only need one. If you don’t believe me, look it up. But as if guided by magic, I saunter on, climb some steps and find the East exit in one effort. White and paper-thin light, trembling in a high register. Flooding the roofs of the station and high-rises, over the edges straight down the square, a depository of refracted light. Massive screens shoot sound and light at silent masses moving in any direction. Neon and souring sounds of children singing nasal tunes and dull melodies. A deep-eyes anime girl stares desperately at the square, through the overhead wires of the train tracks. I breath deeply, trembling with anticipation.
But before taking my first step – my first bet – I get awed into submission. Proud ticks of high-rise heels make me turn my head. She’s taller than me, steps firmly. I am not too fond of tattoos, far from it, but the spider’s web over her cleavage somehow does the trick. Trashy and sublime, the miniest of leather skirts and an iron-clad black corset. Polished and powdered cheeks jutting bones voracious eyes under a fan-shaped transparent mask. Little red nurse’s cross on the left breast. What? Dear god.
The goddess lifts her mask.
“Here you are then”, she says, more timid than I had expected her to be.
“Yes”, my voice breaks.
“Maybe you want to…”
“Drink something together?”, I am gaining confidence.
“Yes…maybe”, she says with a fruity smile.
“So why not have dinner?” I can’t believe myself.
“It is possible”, her upper lip curls up, “when no one is home.”
“As soon as possible, please.”
She closes her eyes and grabs my right hand, guides me across the square into a bustling shopping hall for electronic devices. “We would like to buy a new cell phone”, she tells the man behind the counter and it turns out to be the magic word. A secret door opens and we step into the elevator. We get out on the roof of the skyscraper and step into a helicopter, ready for take-off. We look out over a sea of blue-hued dark concrete as far as the eye can see with red lights flashing over the metropolis in curated waves. We have dinner on a jutting rock over the lava sea inside of Mount Fuji. The chef is an acquaintance of hers so he feels obliged to offer us a delicious glass of his best champagne and to talk about his latest hangover. We laugh. Hahaha. What a night. Then we fly over to her house in the woods.