The late afternoon of 18 October, 2012, Kabuki-Cho, Tokyo:
Rain is dashing down the streets. It is shelling the roof. I lean back. The girl kneeling in front of me has clear albast skin, perky breasts and black-as-night pubic hair curling up under a transparent red nightgown. She’s confused. Sword in one hand, white dildo in the other, she doesn’t know what to choose. Will she please or pierce? My pants vibrate. I chuckle – what a coincidence – and pull out my cell. “You want to talk to me”, the message by an unknown sender reads. I slowly get up and skulk across six men, all clapping to the beat of abhorrent disco disco music. I squirm across three older strippers grading the ongoing spectacle.
Twilight has set in. I roll a cigarette and overlook the street from this balcony. Screens are emitting neon and clamour. On screens, pigtailed girls perform stupid dances to monotonous racket for stadiums of hysterically jumping men holding luminous sticks. Closer to this corner large spotlights pierce through the rain. Camera teams hiding under tarps observe an ongoing police raid. Through a small window on the top floor of the building on the other side of the road I can see them emptying file cabinets. Cameras start rolling as a man in a black business suit is ushered out and pushed into a black van.
I light a cigarette and the security guard hastes toward me with a portable ashtray. The telephone doesn’t even ring once. “You wanted to talk to me?”, a worrisome voice with a Brazilian accent says.
“Maria, how are you?”
“Thanks”, she cheeks, “now tell me.”
“When I came back yesterday night my bicycle was gone.”
“Oh my god no!” I shrivel. “Where did you put it?”
“At the subway station closest to your house.”
“I think it was the police.”
“Of course it was the police, who else? There’s a parking lot with a fence. I told you to park it down there” – I am sure she didn’t – “even if there’s a fee. If they find a bike outside of the parking lot they take it away.”
“Can I still get it back?”
“Yes, but it’ll cost you a lot of money and time.”
“What should we do?”
“We? I cannot do anything for you. Just let me think for a minute.”
I take a puff and look down. The showroom doors behind me open. Out comes an old smiling face with a baseball hat.
“When are you leaving Tokyo?”, she asks.
“Go back to the station as soon as possible. At the place you parked you’ll find a poster. It says where the bike is. Take a picture of that poster and send it to me. I’ll have one of my friends translate it tonight. I’ll send you the address and then you can go and pick it up.” I close my eyes and picture myself dot lines on the city map.
I hesitate. “Can I still come to your birthday party?”
“You’re invited, of course. We’re going to a Brazilian restaurant. Seven thousand a head.”
“Have to go! See you tomorrow.” Click. A second man in a black suit is being carried out of the building in front.
I walk back into the showroom – music’s out and the white neon lights are on. The stage is empty. I sit down. The entrance door opens and in comes the man with the blue baseball hat. He chooses a spot right in front of me. Without notice, red nightgown girl toddles on stage, stark naked, with a small green laundry-basket. She makes an announcement and men left and right from me get up from their seats. They bow, apologize and execute other kindly manners before succeeding in forming a line. With a straight back, the girls reaches for a digital pink camera in the basket. She hands the first man in line the camera, accepts money and starts striking pink glow poses. The man walks around on stage, with ease, handing out kind instructions, looking for the best angle. He gets five flashes and hops back to his seat. The second in line has slightly other requests. He kneels next to the girl and has his portrait taken with her – laying down on the floor, legs spread in different positions – as mountainous backdrop.
The man with the blue hat is still on his seat. From the corner of my eye I see him grinning. He opens a small plastic bag – he probably had just gone out to buy something – and takes out a measuring rod, still in its plastic wrapping. With an amount of care I have never seen he slides the ruler out, desirous. Baseball hat man – probably in his seventies – climbs the stage and expresses his wish. Holding the girl’s shoulder, he poses as a naughty schoolboy being punished by a severe and very naked school teacher. He walks back and slides the ruler back into its plastic.
The lights go out and the music starts pumping hard. Pole dancing, motorcycles and eighteenth century ball dresses – five girls and photo sessions follow. I decide to stay for a second round, I have nothing else planned and this is more than diverting.
It is dark when I eventually leave. The rain hasn’t stopped. It falls, tinged red, blue and green between blank walls. I join the Thursday night masses headed for Shinjuku station. This is my fourth night in Tokyo and to be honest, no place on earth has ever seemed this promising.