The Kimochi Warui Diary
There was plenty to be happy about in that entire interaction, but all I could do was latch onto the failed outcome. I let contempt and indignation sour what could have been a good mood. That indignation simply made me feel like an emotional brat, upset that he didn’t get his way.
Outside the bar, Jotaro lit up a cigarette.
“How’d it go?”
“Not good, I guess.” I took a cigarette for myself.
He shrugged. “Shit’s a numbers game.”
On our way to the train station, Jotaro told me he tried to start a conversation with the bartender. The bartender had tattoos coming out from the sleeves of his shirt. Jotaro said they were awesome and asked where he got them.
The bartender replied in impeccable English:
“I appreciate your compliment, but do not ask me or anyone else about tattoos.”
“You think he was yakuza?” Jotaro asked.
We made it to the train station and took the escalator down to the platform. Before we could make it down, however, a big crowd of people were moving in our direction. Train attendants were waving the herd back up the escalators. Apparently, this was what closing time looked like on the subway.
Eri’s words suddenly returned to me:
“It is time for train… Do you need help getting back to your hotel?”
I was partially relieved—she was just looking out for us all long! So, wait, does that mean I wasn’t outright rejected?
“Where the hell are we staying tonight?”
Jotaro spared me the verbal abuse this time. Outside the station, we broke down our options:
· Stay out late until morning comes (but it would be extremely painful)
· Walk back to Akihabara looking for hotels along the way
· Spend money on a taxi, get back to Akihabara, and get into that net café
We already knew that only one of those options was reasonable. Fortunately, there were a few taxis out front of the train station’s entrance. We jumped in the nearest one and instructed him to take us to Akihabara.
Our driver was a skinny and balding, middle aged man with round glasses. Card Crusher? Is that you?
Aside from other taxis, the streets were devoid of traffic. Our driver would coast along gently through the empty streets before abruptly hitting the brakes at a red light. Then, when they turned blue, he’d wait a couple of seconds before pouncing on the accelerator.
Jotaro leaned forward a bit to see what was going on.
“This guy keeps falling asleep…”
It didn’t take long before Card Crusher had us dropped off in front of the net café.
Akihabara looked different at night. Without bright lights shining on them, the anime ads plastered on the buildings look tired and dull. The streets were empty aside from a few stragglers hanging around adult video stores or those stumbling home drunk.
We took the elevator up to the net café and approached the front desk. They gave us a laminated card, showcasing which rooms were available for rent.
The best rooms had reclining chairs, a TV, and plenty of space on the floor. I was ready to book them no matter the cost, but before we could say anything, the desk clerk took a dry-erase marker and crossed them out.
The subsequent rooms on the card declined in quality, getting smaller and smaller and featuring less amenities. He marked those off, too.
There was only one style of room left, and it was at the very end of the card.
“Only this,” he said. “One left.”
Jotaro said nothing.
“Okay… We’ll take it.”
We took the elevator all the way up to the very top floor.
When the elevator doors opened, we were immediately greeted with the stale smell of cigarette smoke. It was warm enough to make the air humid.
In front of the elevator, there was an ice cream machine and a soda fountain. Classical musical played softly through a radio on the counter—but for what purpose? Everyone was confined to their own “rooms.” And by rooms, I mean cubicles barely five feet tall. As we walked past them, we could easily see over them—young Japanese adult men playing video games, surfing Nico Nico Douga, or watching porn—both real and 2D.
Finally, we got to the cubicle marked with our number. Inserting the key felt useless, as either of us could have vaulted over the wall without effort.
We threw open the door and found exactly what the photograph on the laminated card suggested we would:
A six by six foot cubicle, lined with a vinyl cushion. One foot of that space was nearly robbed by a shelf holding a personal computer.
I sat down on the floor, rolled up my jacket, and stuffed it under the computer shelf. I stuck my head underneath the shelf and rested my head on the makeshift pillow. I looked up at Jotaro. He looked back without any expression.
“If I’m not back in an hour” he said. “Then I’ve found something else.”
Then he left.
I rolled around a bit more, trying to figure out how best to position myself. It was far too humid to leave on any clothes but my underwear. Yet, the humid air made my skin stick to the cushion. The sound of peeling flesh was audible every time I tried rolling to a better position.
About an hour later, just as I’d found my comfortable position, Jotaro came back.
Neither of us were happy to see the other.
Apparently, all the pod hotels in the area were full. He then watched a drunk man hassling some sober people. Before resigning himself to our fate, he smoked another cigarette.
Since Jotaro is taller than six feet, he had no choice but to lay in the diagonal of the cubicle. As for me, I was relegated to curling up on either side of him.
We tossed and turned, forced to hear the snapping sound of our skin unsticking from the cushion.
Just as we were getting settled, we would hear someone’s footsteps shuffling out of their cubicle and over to the soda machine.
If not that, then:
The ice cream machine struggling to churn out a pile of soft serve.
And throughout it all, the boombox in the corner continue to play classical music.
“There’s probably someone jacking off on the other side of our cubicle,” Jotaro said.
We must have slept a total of two hours.
At around 6:00 a.m., our bodies wouldn’t let us get back to sleep. We checked out early and went back to the streets of Akihabara.