じゅうはち. One Night in Shibuya

会ひたくて 逢ひたくて踏む 薄氷
I want to see
And to meet you
Stepping on the thin ice
– Madoka Mayuzumi

Countdown

The countdown had begun; music span from the speakers, people jumping up and down shouting out each number, thirty-nine, thirty-eight, thirty-seven, music beating out seconds.

Alone in the corner of the club, slumped against the wall, thinking, trying to remember the year that was nearly over. How apt it was to be single, now, just as I had been when it had begun.

Several times I’d been by myself, standing on a bridge, not by intention but I would just happen to be there, or on the rooftop; and there was the urge to jump.

A mass of legs, eye level, grey pants or black stockings, plaid skirts, square heeled feet stamping, a blue laser carousel, speeding, faster, ten, nine, eight.

Not enough time to take in that year.

Where was the woman I’d come with? Her friends? I’d left her upstairs where the lights were brighter; a strobe had been set full on for five minutes and I had retreated to the room below to give my eyes a rest from its beat.

I sat close by the bar, watched people wild at the sound of the bell, pulling party streamers and kissing, leaping into lasers, they too were glad that the year was over. I hoped they considered the man alone by the bar on a New Year’s day, squatting in the shade away from the lights. It wasn’t going to be easy, starting the year in this way, all the friends I’d come with elsewhere, the woman I was staying with, and the others.

The music started up again, people dancing to a new song. They looked so young. I stood up, leant across the bar to attract the barman, and ordered whiskey on the rocks. You could also buy one of the bright red Daruma dolls that decorated the back counter, a beaming round papier-mâché buddha face; then you could colour in one eye and if your wish came true you got to colour in the other.

As I picked up the scotch, I felt a pair of hands on my back, grabbing; turning around I saw gay Greg, so I mimed smiles and laughter for him. I watched Greg spin on his toes, bounce to the tune with an exuberance and love of life, like I was watching a movie yet I could touch it, feel it hold me briefly; before his grasp slipped away I pulled Greg towards me. Then I kissed him on the lips.

“Happy New Year!” I announced.

“Oh yeah… Happy New Year”, Greg replied, he was caught off guard, he moved away, floundering movements now channelled into dance as he swung into the beat of the music. I didn’t join him. Shouting through the noise I asked where was JoJo. Greg, failing to make himself heard, shrugged, palms up to convey the message. Sitting back on my stool, I watched him dance, from afar, as if peering through a window. I revelled in the isolation, the solace that held me down on the seat, refusing to dance.

I had been sitting there some time, watching, until Greg had disappeared into the thick of the crowd, when I spotted Mungo come straight towards me.

“Wanna drink”, said Mungo, slapping me on the back. He made me jerk my drink. Always this guy did that, smacking you between the shoulder blades, as if afraid that he might not otherwise be noticed; purposely overdone, purposely violent.

When we were first introduced Mungo asked “What’s happening, man?” fingers fair crushed by the handshake.

We sat at the bar and I suggested the Jameson, but he opted for a Yamazaki single malt instead, and we were taste testing when a woman squeezed up next to us.


Madoka Mayuzumi’s official website.
Photo from a temple in Kyoto.

семнадцать. The Mule Another Japan
Posted in Feature Photo, Story and tagged , , .