The music throbbed, then pounded, then backfired into some sort of Indian Techno Disco hybrid. It was deceptively black inside the club. The walls, the ceiling, the bar, and most of the patrons were painted, or tanned in darkness. The deception was created by the lighting. Spinning light rainbows, white lightning flashes, and sparkling blue strobes puked out of the ceiling mounted special effects system and blended sickenly with the music. The net effect was a severe warping of ones senses and discretion.
This club in Nagoya, Japan was my semi-willing refuge for the evening. C. Hapsely Albright, my co-worker and co-pilot had cajoled me into coming here tonight. Hapsely had decided that tonight was the night for some heavy de-nerding. I’d been in Japan for three months and had managed to dig myself ever deeper into my sad little world of watching Anime, reading Manga, and playing Play Station II games.
“The birds are lively and cute,” Hapsely had said after work, “Maybe you’ll flip one if you’re lucky.”
Hapsely and I both taught English at Language Live Learning Center, or “Ol’ Triple L,” as Hapsely called it. If this were the 1920’s I’d probably describe Hapsely as, charismatically roguish, but being 2006 likeably shady and perpetually horny are probably more accurate descriptions Hapsely was the head teacher at Ol’ Triple L.
He’d been there for seven years and was originally from London or there abouts. He was forty-one, sported thinning brown hair with bleached streaks that he carefully tapered into a short ponytail. He was short and portly, but he attired himself in the most fashionable clothes his body shape would allow him to get away with. Foregoing glasses and his naturally brown eyes, he always wore deep blue colored contact lenses. From what I’d seen and heard at Ol’ Triple L Hapsely had apparently flipped most of the Japanese female staff as well as many of the students. His tastes seemed to range between twenty and forty-five years old, though I got the impression that a few under agers had found their way to his apartment behind the school as well.
So, in this dark and doomed place I found myself with the exuberant, but heavily tainted Hapsely. We waded through the crowd of people to the bar and ordered ourselves a couple of beers. I wanted a Corona, but Hapsely insisted we order the more in vogue Black River Ale, a costly import that tasted to me like a combination of silt and diesel fuel. After getting our beers Hapsely said,
“Let’s take a tour and you can bag your bird.”
We made our way around the outer edge of the dance floor pursing as we went. An odd pair of night club sharks we must have been, one long and gangly and the other short and blockish. Each time I’d zero in on what I thought was a promising species of fowl; Hapsely would wave me off, saying, “Not that one mate, not that one. Horrid, trust me.” On about our third circuit the beer, lights, or a combination began to work over my bladder and I made a trip to the toilet. Hapsely stepped out of the loop as well and stood near a dark little half table along the wall.
The men’s toilet was where the nightclub’s glamour, glitz, and mystique ended and the disgustingly real smells of piss, shit, and vomit began. I stood in line waiting for one of the urinals to open dancing from foot to foot. Five minutes later I grabbed a spot between a puking Brazilian and a Yakuza type giving me hard stares. Behind us the line had crowded almost up to our asses so had the pleasure of listening to their conversations while we pissed. My bladder dumped about a gallon of cloudy beer pee that quickly befriended the foul scents that already resided in the men’s toilet.
With a now empty bladder I returned to the fray hoping maybe urinating had made somehow more attractive to the opposite sex. Hapsely was nowhere to be found. He’d apparently struck out on his own. I thought about searching for him, but I felt like that might have been the tentative beginnings of a nasty temporary co-dependant relationship scenario. Taking the cowardly wall-flower way out, I occupied the tiny half table that Hapsely had been at. I fumbled with my hands not knowing if it was cooler to put them in my pockets and slouched James Dean style, or let them hang at my sides sort of militant and ready for action. I experimented with resting my elbow on the table and leaning back so that I could face the dance floor. My attempt at casualness though was thwarted by the height of the table. It was mounted on the wall too high and I imagined I looked like Mick Jaeger with his arms suddenly frozen in the upper arc of his famous rooster strut. Realizing how stupid I must look I returned to the arms at my sides board straight position.
As I stood at attention near the wall and in the dark I noticed every few minutes a bright light would cut into the blackness of the club. In that brief spotlight people would suddenly appear for a moment before disappearing as they made their way into the club. I realized that I must be standing against the wall that was next to the front entrance. The club owners had had the good sense to put the club’s entrance near the toilets so that club goers would immediately see, smell, and hear exactly what they were getting themselves into. I watched new faces appear, mostly lithe Japanese women and men with a few burlier foreigners mixed in. Then a pair of dazzling Japanese women materialized and nearly stopped my heart. One had hair that was long, straight, black and silky. The other one’s hair was shorter and dyed an attractive bronze color. Both of them had bodies that jolted my libido like an 8.8 earthquake. They were the most gorgeous creatures I’d ever had the pleasure of nearly popping a woody over. They hesitated in the light a moment and I prayed they’d head for the women’s toilet and make whatever adjustments they felt were necessary before hitting the dance floor. My heart tittered as they made a sexy synchronized turn on the long thin heels of their most certainly uncomfortable pumps and swayed towards the bathrooms.
“This is it,” I told myself. “Leave the trees and show the birds your mating dance.” As they made their way to the bathroom I stepped from the darkness directly in their path and stopped them dead. My brain fumbled for Japanese phrases switching frantically between konnichi wa and konban wa. I cursed myself thinking, “You studied this language for four years in college and have spent billions of hours watching Anime and now you can’t even retrieve the simplest greeting from your brain.” Finally my brain cleared enough for me to recite a passable, “konban wa.” Their hands fluttered to cover their cute little smiles and laughs. Then the long haired one turned to her friend and squeaked out a loud, “Kawaii,” meaning, “He’s cute,” in the kitten or puppy dog sense of the word.
It thundered. The Gods and Goddess alighted upon me. I, I was cute! My mind raced at the possibilities. I’d always seem myself as a sort of skinny version of Lurch from the Addams Family, awkward and geeky for sure, but never cute. But maybe I had misjudged my morbid look-a-like. Suddenly I thought if Lurch had bought a nice flashy suit, changed his hairstyle, and maybe hit the tanning beds he might have passed for cute and yes even sexy. If this were true for Lurch then why not me?
“Feeling confidence surge from my head down to my groin I was about to launch into a hardy, “Genki desu ka,” How are you? When I heard a familiar bellow. “Got ya pint mate.” The birds and I both turned at Hapsely’s shout. The birds scowled at him as he came into view and then turned back to me with the scowls locked in place. Hapsely had two beers in one hand and a beautiful doll of a woman hanging off his other pudgy arm. In that second the birds made small polite bows, wrote me off, and walked into the women’s toilet in a beautiful huff.
My ego deflated, departed like the head of an impolite Edo Era peasant. It was then that I realized what a watered down drink I truly was, a Tequila Sunrise without a Sol. I wanted to sink into the floor and disappear. Seeing my face Hapsely softly chuckled. “It’s not your fault mate,” he said clapping me on the back. “I flipped them both less than a month apart and their still a bit cheesed off about it.”
The over sexed rouge had raked me over the coals. I accepted my beer pitifully from him and began guzzling it intending to pass out before we left the club and force him to carry me home.
About the Creator
Steve Howard's self-published collection of short stories Satori in the Slip Stream, Something Gaijin This Way Comes, and others were released in 2018. His poetry collection Diet of a Piss Poor Poet was released in 2019.