Hayashi Nagaaki: The Yakiniku Incident (林長明 焼肉事件)
By Shūtoku Mukai
From the book 厚岸のおかず (Akkeshi no Okazu, Akkeshi Side Dishes)
Translated by Seiteki Shoudo
Hayashi Nagaaki was a font designer.
One night, he was working on hiragana designs for a new, national product line of the Kid Button laptop computers, beginning on the font for “ri”, making progress on it, taking a break, and going out to the veranda.
It was around 2 o’clock at night, and chilly outside.
Hayashi Nagaaki smoked a cigarette while absentmindedly gazing at the front of the building.
Far off in the distance, he noticed a room on the 8th floor of a 10 floor apartment building with the curtains open and the light on. There, he saw the silhouette of a person.
Hayashi had a history of nyctalopia¹ in his eyes, but he could clearly see into the room.
A woman in her thirties, seeing him there, mouthed the word “help?” to him.
Her face was smiling.
Brimming with curiosity, Hayashi confirmed the location of the room, put on his jacket, and headed to the apartment with the woman in it.
He rung the intercom at the first floor entrance, and the woman undid the auto-lock, saying “Come on up.”
He entered the room. There were many huge canvases, with paints and brushes scattered around. The woman seemed to be a painter. The woman asked Hayashi if he wanted to be a nude model.
“Eh?” Hayashi hesitated, trying to determine if that was an invitation, or a strange expectation. “I don’t mind,” he said, and took off his clothes.
Hayashi Nagaaki’s freshly naked penis was at a 70 percent erection.
The woman began to paint in silence.
Posing in the same way for about 30 minutes, Hayashi’s body grew tired, but his penis maintained its 70 percent erection.
The intercom rang. “Home delivery,” a voice said.
“Don’t move,” the woman said, as she went to the door.
“At a time like this?” Hayashi thought as he held his stance. He thought about raising the fingers on his right hand to form a sort of fox pose, but it was too difficult.
His penis had fallen to a 30 percent erection.
The woman came back with a cardboard box under her arm.
Hayashi watched with a sidelong glance as she tore off the packing tape and opened the box in the other room.
She didn’t have scissors so she opened it with a kitchen knife.
By chance, he could see the contents of the box.
Tightly packed in the box were what looked like magazines.
The woman was removing them and quickly flipping through the pages.
Perhaps she was looking for some reference pictures or something.
Suddenly, the woman threw a magazine in front of Hayashi, who was still holding his pose. “They still haven’t printed my manga,” the woman said with displeasure.
On the magazine’s cover, “Young Woman’s Monthly: Margaret. Showa 51², May” was written, looking nothing if not secondhand.
The woman was pulling the magazines out of the box one by one and flipping through the pages with amazing speed.
“Nowhere! They’re nowhere!” screamed the woman.
In spite of this, the magazines were old and dirty, with girl’s manga magazine names like “Friend”, “Besties”, etc.
Hayashi thought these things were just unpleasant.
His erection was now at a perfect 0 percent.
“You wanna go eat some yakiniku³?” the woman said.
“There’s a place that’s open until morning called Dragon Dragon that has really good ‘misuji⁴ ‘.”
“… ‘misuji’? What part does that come from?” Hayashi asked as gently as possible.
“The shoulder! The shoulder!”
The woman said, lying beside the kitchen knife.
Hayashi Nagaaki put his clothes on, and walked with the woman toward Dragon Dragon.
It was dark, and they went cutting through a park.
A stray cat was eating something in a corner.
“This city’s stray cats are pretty tough, huh? … I’d never be able to do something like that.” the woman said.
“Which region are you from?” Hayashi asked.
Where was that? He had absolutely no idea.
“I came here when I was bought as a 9 year old.”
No way, Hayashi thought.
They arrived at “Dragon Dragon”, and to start, the woman ordered meatballs.
“Why aren’t you eating misuji?” Hayashi asked.
“Oh, if I eat it too suddenly, I’ll throw up,” she said, adding “you idiot” while sipping on a tasty looking drink of some mixed Korean rice wine.
Hayashi wanted to try to ask about the manga thing but thought twice about it. “So how long have you been drawing?” he asked.
“… since I was 28. My slavery ended at 28.”
No way, he thought.
“Hey you, do you know the manga ‘Rakko-chan⁶’?”
“Nope, don’t know it.”
“It was my debut work. It also became an anime.”
“I was even hugged by the sponsor company’s president.”
In all likelihood, it wasn’t really a manga, and this woman’s story was entirely made up, he thought, but Hayashi listened quietly.
“Ah! Let’s have some misuji.”
“‘Scuse me! We’re all done over here!”
The server apologized, and the woman, expressionless, ordered green tea.
After talking for a while about a pilgrimage she went on with a man, the woman stood from her seat and went to the bathroom.
15 minutes passed and the woman still hadn’t come back.
Hayashi drained the rest of his half full mug of beer, paid the bill, and left the restaurant.
It was already morning.
Riding a bicycle, a young newspaper delivery boy passed by.
“Terence Trent D’arby⁷” was written on his T-shirt.
Coming back to his room, Hayashi turned on the television. An anime was on.
It was a scene where a sea otter character was transforming, spinning while being deformed. It looked like a really old anime.
Hayashi looked up “Rakko-chan” on the internet, and only a brand name detergent with no additives came up. No manga or anime to be found.
One day, Hayashi wet his bed.
He got up and went to dry his futon on the veranda, when he saw a woman standing in a room in the apartment building in the distance.
Recognizing Hayashi, the woman waved her hand.
Hayashi, after curling his fingers into a fox shape and striking a model’s pose, waved his arms high above his head, and shouted in a loud voice: “You liar!”
The woman probably didn’t hear him.
¹Nyctalopia is a disease making it near impossible to see at night. Another name for it is “night blindness”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nyctalopia
²Showa as in Showa era 51, which is 1976
⁴ misuji is the cow’s shoulder, not commonly eaten, as it’s rare and expensive.
⁵ Akkeshi is a small town in Kushiro Prefecture in Hokkaido, northern Japan. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akkeshi,_Hokkaid%C5%8D
⁶A rakko is a sea otter. It’s likely this title doesn’t refer to anything and is just meant to be made up as well.
⁷Terrence Trent D’Arby is an American musician. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terence_Trent_D%27Arby