When you wake up piss drunk at 3:30 in the afternoon it’s safe to say that you don’t remember how it happened. After climbing out of bed and sifting through the trash covering my computer I found my lighter and lit a smoke. I picked up one of a few dozen water bottles lying on the ground and swigged it ravenously. With a flick of my hand across the mouse pad my computer flashed to the last social ties that connected me to that hell whole country I thought I finally escaped. The usual symptoms of debauchery were present in that abused apartment I called home. All the suspects of wretched drunkenness were hanging out in their usual beats. A dozen or so empty black boss coffees sat next to my computer. The Japanese textbook strewn upon the desk was overwhelmed by flyers for bars I’ve never heard of and may have been to. Loose change interspersed on the floor and the blood on my knuckles indicated that I may have had words with the vending machine out front. Tacked to the wall were strange names and phone numbers belonging to nearly half of the women in Tokyo. If someone were to stumble upon this room I’d surely be blamed for a string of serial killing bathtub murders. Although I couldn’t remember the last time I digested anything that wasn’t liquid, eating could wait. I needed to know what day of the week this was that my consciousness decided to reappear. The computer screen read Sunday but I thought that hunk of shit had been lying to me since the day I arrived in Japan. Too hell with it, I had realized some time ago that it was better to be wrong and believe your right, then to accept that your life is complete shit. Sunday it was.
Cruising on my bike through the station roundabout in the cool evening air I had a strange hope that I would find my wallet. As I dodged a taxi and rode past the angel statue with its outstretched wings I half assed a prayer and checked the time on my cell phone. 5:30, it was getting late. The police officers and station workers had been no help the previous day, but perhaps I would have better luck with a new group. Sober perhaps for the first time in weeks, I thought I should stay sharp in order to speak my best Japanese. Also, my booze money was floating somewhere around Tokyo probably being used to buy Bukaki Manga porn at this very moment.
Gliding under the train overpass I crammed my bike between four dozen identical machines. As I walked away I thought to lock the battered hunk of metal my bike had become, but realized I had already lost it in a sea of handle bars and baskets. I knew that no one would steal it, but I didn’t trust my life anymore. I hurried through the automatic doors and went to the counter prepared for the worst. Instead, I was greeted by a young Japanese woman whose uniform may or may not have been taken from the set of a 1950’s public access program. I suddenly found myself less concerned with my wallet and more concerned with what she looked like under her strangely erotic starched blue uniform. Like a robot she fired off the typical Japanese greetings. I jumped right into it and said in English, “Did you find a wallet?” She didn’t say a word but her eyebrows told me that wasn’t going to work. With my index fingers and thumbs I made the shape of a box and said, “Saifu.” Again I said, “Did you find a saifu.” For some reason I believed that if at least one word in a sentence was Japanese the entire thing was Japanese. I tried variations using different dynamics and inflections but I wasn’t sure if I was making progress. Perhaps louder and slower would do the trick, “SA..I..FU.” With a blank stare she said, “Chotto mattekudasai” and walked into a back office. I assumed she was getting help or retrieving my wallet from a drawer marked drunken-foreigners-lost-crap. However, as I waited it dawned on me that I may have been accidentally pronouncing the most horrific of Japanese vulgarities. That poor sweet blueberry of a girl, what had I been asking her to find. I almost made a run for it when she came back with a similarly dressed man who said, in Hollywood English, “What color was your wallet?”
After being told my wallet was at Yokohama Station I was given a ticket to ride and sent on my way. I couldn’t believe it, they found it. Yokohama, it was in Yokohama all this time. “Where the fucks Yokohama” I thought.
Following the directions of the signs like an obedient mule I boarded a train southbound in the direction of Yokohama station. I watched through the window as the sun set over an endless sea of rooftops and nameless streets. The stations came and went one by one as the prerecorded voice announced my location on the earth. She could have said, next stop Uranus, grand butt plug central, and I wouldn’t have known the difference. Before long neon and asphalt were replaced by starry skies and fields of rice. I thought about asking someone how much farther but it seemed fruitless. Slumped over in exhaustion, the drunken salary men riding the train wouldn’t have been much help as far as directions went. They were as lost as I was. Most of them just rode the train as a passive reflex, like breathing, or in their case vomiting. They lived lives in which it was never quit clear whether they were going to or from work. They found out when they stepped off the train. There wasn’t a single female ass to help pass the time. Most people were amazed by the Japanese train systems efficiency, but I was an ass man. All I had was the recordings sweet voice, so I thought about what kind of ass she had. I knew it had to be nice. It was probably the only requirement for the job. Could have sounded like a crow as long as she had the ass of a swan. Shaken from my assy pondering by a lack of salary man snoring, I realized I had reached the end of the line. I was in Yokohama, I hoped.
I leaned against the station counter watching the matrix of strangers drift through the white sterile halls, waiting, hoping. When I heard a strangely familiar voice say “sumimasen,” I turned around before taking a step back in awe. Standing behind the desk was an identical replica of the women I had spoken to 35 minutes and countless miles before. What the hell was going on I thought. I looked around wildly to make sure I hadn’t dreamed the last hour of my life. Could I have made a mistake, did I go in a circle; surely I must have traveled through some sweet voiced-swan ass- wormhole. Perhaps the hallucinations of sobriety had finally taken over my mind. But the signs on the wall said Yokohama, I was sure of it. My god I thought, the Japanese must have finally made robots so lifelike that a man’s pecker couldn’t tell the difference. I had my suspicions all along. I knew there was no way humans could be responsible for the kind of efficiency with which the trains ran. Her starched blue uniform, her jet black hair, her sweet voice, they were exactly the same. The letter I had been given explaining my predicament fell from my quivering hand onto the counter. With human like movements the sexy robot read the note, processed the data, and shot me a preprogrammed smile. Vacuum packed and sealed, like everything in that country, my wallet was placed before me with the delicacy with which one handles uranium, or a rose. I was elated, ecstatic, exuberant, but mostly I was horny. With the heart palpitating curiosity of a teenager undoing his first bra, I removed the wallet from its plastic sanctuary. It was smooth, supple, and warm in my hands. As I rifled through its contents there seemed to be more cash than I remembered. Pulling out the wad of bills I noticed a small piece of paper that fluttered to the ground. Assuming it was a withdrawal statement from the last time I used my card, I turned to leave. But I couldn’t. The habitual cleanliness of the country compelled me to reach down and pick up the insignificant square of trash. Within the two by three inch perimeter of the wallet sized scrap of paper, were the two most beautiful eyes I had ever seen. I was in love.
Racing home on my bike I thought about how I knew the wallet sized girl with the comic book eyes. When did I meet her? Where did I meet her? Did I fuck her? God I hoped so. I couldn’t figure it out. In my mess of a life the girls came like angels, in and out of my dreams. Tossing my bike on the ground I ran into my apartment to consult my wall of women. Like a homicide detective piecing together a murder, I searched furiously through jumbled texts that were half Japanese, half English, and 100% drunken dribble. No number, no name, how the hell did she expect me to find her. I was compelled, there was no choice, my dick had spoken and my brain complied. Tearing a handful of names and numbers from my wall I ran out the door in search of my long lost lust.
The Clann, a neighborhood Irish bar good for a nightcap, seemed like a logical place to start my decent into the Tokyo underground. Stepping from the elevator I entered the crowd of degenerate millionaire foreigners that called the place home. They wore expensive suits, fake smiles, and a smugness of character that was masked by the culture in which they hid. On most nights they lapped at overpriced drinks while I scrounged for change. But I had what they could never buy, a dream. The Bankers, the IT nerds, the salesmen, they all had an angle, a gimmick, and a story. Aussies, Yanks, Canucks, Brits, there wasn’t a single country that hadn’t shipped at least one jerk off to that place. After crawling through the safari of cultures I was able to make my way to the bar. Yuki the owner was standing in the corner wearing the same hat and sweats he wore every day of his life. Although he was a man of few words, I knew if any one would know this girl it would be him. Grabbing a pint, the first in days, I asked him if he had seen the girl in the photo. He knew every customer he ever had, so when he shook his head no, I knew that was that. While trying to finish my beer I was approached by a whore faced woman who had an obsession with hats. She was every man’s drunken mistake, but it was no fault of her own. If it was any other night I would have played her game, but I was on a mission. I slammed my beer and made a move.
Continuing my search one beer and one bar closer to my love, I headed to a British joint called HUB. Running through Shibuya station I made my way through the crowds that swarmed beneath the allure of lights and sounds. The most congested intersection in the world became less of a wonder and more of a burden once my blood hound cock was leading the way. I had been in the country for three months and still had no clue where I was going. Using memories of convenience store beer purchases and neon signs as markers, I wandered through the streets hoping fate was on my side. The silhouetted sign of a pinup girl that read “Open Your Fantasy Door” told me I was getting close. Of the 25 HUBS that were located in the greater Tokyo region I had been to 15 of them in a one month stint I defended as culture shock. I chose that particular HUB because its happy hours had become entrenched in my daily routine, like Old Spice and Crest. On a dark quite street the entrance sat between two high rise apartments like a brick doghouse. Gliding down the stairs I entered the underground world that buzzed beneath the techno-pop-opolis of Tokyo. Soft lights and a Zeppelin play list made the place a barrel of fish, being foreign was like having an Uzi. Chances were I had met her there. The manager Keichi, dressed in his usual shirt and tie, mixed me a gin and tonic as I pulled the picture from my pocket. Looking it over, he consulted the other bartenders and gave me a run around answer that was typical of the Japanese avoiding the burden of saying no. It was a setback, an annoyance, a reason to drink. The HUB was my ace in the whole, the answer to a desperate mans question. Slugging glasses of gin like Poland Spring, I crawled, disheveled, back to the surface of what I now believed to be hell.
Battered and angered by the Tokyo bar keeps disregard for the importance of pussy, I racked my brain for memories that had been erased by barley and hops. Standing under a street light I studied the picture like a road map. If I was her what would I drink, where would I go, I thought. Holding the picture an arms length away I tried to imagine what she would be wearing had it continued below her neck. My fantasy of a hypothesis told me she only wore black. With that in mind I headed to a little-known place on the outskirts of Shibuya.
Away from the karaoke joints and noise of the town, the bar sat hidden on the fourth floor of an inconspicuous flat. Rock Bar, as I called it, existed in another time and possibly a different dimension. It was a universe where KISS was king and Axel Rose was the second coming of the Messiah. As I climbed the steps the pistol wielding monkeys painted on the walls watched my every move. Charlton Hesston would have a fucking conniption, I thought. The place certainly felt like a planet of apes. Dressed like 80’s hair band rockers, the owner and his motley crew of roadie employees were an odd sort. It wasn’t unusual to walk into the place on a Monday night to find half the bar shirtless for no rhyme or reason. WWAD, What Would Axel Do, I suppose. To be honest, I probably started the naked trend but couldn’t remember a dam thing of it. When I opened the door I was assaulted by the six string electric decibels of G&R’s Welcome to the Jungle. Instantaneously I shifted to rock auto pilot as my hands began to air guitar without my minds consent. Sliding across the floor I wailed on the invisible strings of my Fender Strat. I was waging the centuries old war of rock vs. love. Thankfully the owner spoke my dialect of air guitar and poured me a line of beers. Finishing off my third in a row I pushed the picture of the girl to his side of the bar and waited for a response. He motioned to a dark corner and gave me back my Pandora’s Box of a photo. With rock in my veins and love in my heart I Chuck Berry-shuffled across the bar in the direction of my dream. Searching through the darkness I found nothing but more leopard print spandex wearing weirdoes. When I showed them the picture they pointed to a collage of half naked women pasted to the wall. That son of a bitch-acid jean wearing-bartender thought I wanted to add something to his wall of smut. I was duped. In need of a drink but determined not to give the thieves of the city another yen I reached into my pocket for my emergency stash. Leaning against the bathroom wall I guzzled my convenience store bottle of Black Nikka whiskey before heading on my way.
Drunken and enraged the city lights slurred across my eyes like the words from my mouth. Shaking strangers by there collars I demanded information about the wallet sized girl. I was a menace, a petty thug of love, a hopeless stranger looking for a stranger. Cigarette hanging from my mouth, I staggered from bar to bar desperately searching for what I knew I’d never find. Coins Bar, Xaru, Ruby Room, Gas Panic, I even tried the McDonalds’ that I habitually used as my dollar menu barf bag. It was useless, she was gone and so was I. There were too many bars, too many drinks, too many conversations and forgotten nights.
As the sun slid above the buildings and the shadows crept across the earth I collapsed on the cement wall by the statue of the dog. The dog, named Hachiko, represented faithfulness and commitment. He was said to have waited in the same spot every day for his master to return home from work. I did my best to be faithful and find the girl I had forgotten, but it was over. Bent over with my face in my hands I rubbed my weary eyes. What a fool I was to have believed in love. Spitting between my legs, I watched as ripples spread across the puddles surface. When the water regained its mirror like shine I realized I had finally lost my mind. Staring at me from the filth of the puddle was the girl I so desperately sought. Quickly I closed my eyes to hide from her disappointed gaze and the nightmare of my life. But when I looked again she was still there, lifeless yet real. Pulling the photo from my pocket I held it next to the puddle to compare the eyes. Quivering, my hands realized before my brain that she was standing behind me. I sat motionless before turning to meet my fate.
20 feet tall and 100 feet in the air, my long lost dream girl stood plastered on a Playboy billboard for all to see. The wallet sized photo, that scrap of paper in my wallet, it was nothing more than a crummy advertisement. I had to laugh, she was a Playmate and I thought she was interested in my dumb ass. It was ironic I suppose. I had all those women on my wall and the only one I wanted I couldn’t have. I spent my life chasing girls; the Japanese called it being a Playboy, boy was I ever played. A sleepless night of bar-hopping and my dick was still as dry as the dog bone I was never thrown. Swigging my back pocket whiskey I headed for a train to take me to Kabukicho, the sex district a few stops away. There was a place were the girls stood out front dressed like nurses. I had a broken heart and a dry dick that needed fixing.