Exterior-Outside of Bar-Late Evening
Setting-A small section of Tokyo
"What do you mean, 'My breasts look like fresh papayas?' Are you crazy?" The woman threw a glass of beer in Akira's face and stalked out of the bar. Akira sat perfectly still, beer dripping off his hair and face. People sitting at nearby tables quietly laughed into their drinks. He got up, calmly wiping himself off with a handkerchief. He paid the bill and walked out of bar, seemingly indifferent to the snickers following him. He stepped out into the cool night air and started off home. Why did she get so angry? he thought. I was just paying her a compliment, just like that guy in the French movie. He came to a small park and sat on a bench in front of a small pond. Some carp swam up toward him, expecting a midnight snack. Their scales glistened like colorful fans in the moonlight. The park was quiet and empty, except for a young couple holding hands on a nearby bench. He glanced up at them, then looked quickly away. He didn't want to see their happiness. He stared up at the sky. Stars twinkled down at him, ignorant of his woes. "Rejected again? Second time this month, isn't it?" they seemed to say. He stood up and brushed the seat of his pants off, and set off home, kicking a rock the whole way.
He flicked the light on in his room, throwing his leather jacket on the bed. He sat on the bed and turned on the TV. The same film was in the VCR. The main character was a suave Frenchman, constantly on the prowl for women. In the first scene he was sitting at a cafe, flirting with the waitress. As she bent over to serve him espresso, he crooned, "Your breasts are like fresh papayas and your nipples like the sweetest grapes." She giggled and flushed with pleasure. Akira fast forwarded to another scene where he was sitting in front of a fountain, watching the girls walk by. As a girl stopped to throw in a few coins he remarked, "Your face looks so familiar. Haven't we met somewhere before?"
Akira turned off the TV and lay down on the bed. He looked up at the ceiling. A cheese moon smiled back, its eyes and tongue laughing down at him. It was black and white movie still from "A Trip to the Moon," one of the first films ever made. "You'll be thirty years old in a few weeks," it seemed to cackle. He turned over on his side and stared at the movie poster for "A Clockwork Orange." Malcolm Mc Dowell's face leered out from behind a knife. "Time is running out," he seemed to whisper. Akira closed his eyes. I've still got a few more weeks he thought, and drifted off to sleep, remembering he had to work the afternoon shift tomorrow at the theater. They were having a special showing of "The Misfits," as part of the Marilyn Monroe film festival.
He walked out of the theater, locking the door behind him. He strolled down the street with his hands in his pockets, glancing at the different shops and restaurants lining both sides. The smell of sandalwood incense wafted out from a butsudan shop. Small bronze Buddhas sat in the lotus position behind smoked glass. As he walked up the street, his steps were punctuated by the rhythmic pounding of the taiko drums from the drum shop. As he passed by he could see an old man tightening the drumhead for an O-tsuzumi drum. The beating slowly faded into the distance as he approached the park he had sat in last night. A young woman was sitting on the bench, reading a book. She was a foreigner, judging from her features maybe American. She had very delicate features and wore no make-up, just a trace of red lipstick. She was wearing a gray turtleneck sweater and blue jeans. He glanced at her book. "An Introduction to Psychology."
He strolled up and sat on the bench across from her, occasionally stealing glances at her.
She looked up from her book and caught him staring at her. "Is something wrong? You keep staring at me." She had brilliant green eyes, which contrasted sharply with her gray demeanor.
Akira blushed, taken aback. "Oh, I'm sorry." He paused. "It's just that you look so familiar. Haven't we met before?"
"I don't think so." She returned to her book.
Akira said nothing, staring at her. There was an air of mystery about her. "Where are you from?"he asked brightly.
She glanced up. "From the United States." She returned to her book.
"Oh really." He took a deep breath. "That looks like an interesting book. Are you interested in psychology?"
"Yes." She didn't even bother to look up.
He took another deep breath. "What kind of psychology do you like?"
She chuckled and put a bookmark in the page. "My, you are persistent. Yes, I guess I am interested in psychology." She stared at his theater uniform. "You must work at that theater up the block."
Akira looked down at his uniform. "Yes I do."
"I like your tie. That's a nice shade of green."
Akira looked down and fingered his tie. "Oh this? I bought this in Roppongi. It was really expensive, about 30,000 yen."
"Really? Well, that's outrageous. But not for Japan." She paused and reached into her bag and brought out a cigarette. "Right now you're having a Marilyn Monroe Film Festival, aren't you?" she asked. "I saw Bus Stop." She lit the cigarette with cool fingers.
Akira watched her, fascinated. She possessed a kind of cat-like intensity that was slowly attracting him. "Oh, yes that was good. She played a kind of nightclub singer prostitute." He didn't even her the words he was saying, in that he was now in a kind of trance.
She took a drag on her cigarette, and blew out the smoke. It curled lazily up in to the air, past the late afternoon sunshine and the dappled sparkle of the trees. "Why did you think Marilyn Monroe's character was a prostitute?" she asked quietly.
"Well"…..his voice trailed off. "I don't know. I guess because she would sing a few songs, squeeze a few drinks out of the men, and then go out with them, you know."
She smiled. "I see. And just because she accepts free drinks from men she's a whore?"
Akira blushed. "Well, I don't know…I just.. I just got that impression." He was stumbling over his words now. He was totally unaccustomed to having such a frank conversation with a total stranger. Yet, he felt a kind of kinship with her that he couldn't define. He decided to change the subject to a brighter tone.
"So, What do you do?, if you don't mind me asking."
She looked down at the ground. "Um, I work for a kind of hotel."
"Oh." He paused. "Which one?"
"Oh you probably wouldn't it know it. It's pretty old." She glanced at her watch. "Oh my gosh, look at the time, I've got to run." She stood up. "Well, it was nice meeting you-I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name."
"Akira Yamada. Nice to meet you." He bowed slightly.
"I'm Greta. Nice to meet you." She smiled, displaying the most charming set of dimples.
Akira felt his heart pounding. This wasn't good bye, was it? He twisted his hands nervously. "So, do you come to this park very often?" He felt his palms sweating.
She smiled and looked down at the ground, pushing with the earth with the toe of her shoe. "No, not really, I just stopped by today after the movie." She looked at the carp in the pond. "Those carp are really beautiful．I heard they live for a long time.”
“Yes, I’ve heard that too.” He stared at the fish swimming in the pond, their scales glistening in the sunlight. “Are you coming to the next film?”
“Yes, I have tickets for the whole festival.”
“Oh good. Well, maybe we could meet here in the park after the movie I think it’s next Wednesday, It’ll be really crowded in the theater so I might miss you.” In his excitement his words blurred into one.
Her lips curled into a smile. “Allright, I’ll come to the park after the movie.” She stood up.
He watched her, his heart pounding.
He watched her walking away until she disappeared into the shadows of afternoon.
The following Wednesday he walked to the park and sat down on the bench, his heart beating furiously. He glanced at his watch. She probably won’t come.
“Am I late?”
He looked up. Greta stood, smiling down at him, wearing dark sunglasses.”
She sat down next to him and took off her sunglasses.
Akira’s heart pounded, so close to her. Her eyes were like green glass,the lashes full and black.
She put her sunglasses in her bag, rummaging around. “I brought something for you.”
He put his finger on his nose. “For me??”
She brought out a red silk necktie. “The last time I was in the states I bought a bunch of these.” She looked up at him.
He stared into her eyes and was unable to speak for a moment.
She laughed. “It ‘s a Pierre Cardin; I know how expensive designer items are in Japan.” “I see. Well everyone has their own idea of what a whore is, don’t they? They don’t even bother with trying to see it from her point of view.” She glanced at her watch. “I’ve got to get going.” She stood up.
“So soon? Well, are you going to see the last movie, Niagara?”
“I said I had tickets for the entire festival right?”
He blushed. “Yes, you did…Will you be coming to the park afterwards?”
“Sure we could meet again. See you then.” She walked off.
Akira stared at his calendar; It was an Alfred Hitchcock calendar; This month was “Psycho.”Anthony Perkins stared at him with glazed eyes. “Time is running out,” he seemed to say.
“Yes but I don’t want just anyone….”Akira said out loud. He sat down on his bed and turned on the TV; The French movie was still in the video. Now the man was leaning against a building, smoking a cigarette. A prostitute had his back to him, feigning ignorance; The man walked up behind her. “It’s too nice a day for such a lovely woman to be alone…you must be lonely , with your hair blowing in the wind…” He took some bills out of his pocket and put them in her cleavage. Taking her by the arm, they strode off into the night.
Akira turned off the TV and lay down on the bed, staring at the ceiling. She must like me…why would she give me a necktie??
The following Wednesday he walked to the park and sat down; He looked at his watch, then glanced up; a woman with blonde hair wearing dark sunglasses approached the bench.
“How do you like it?” she asked, patting her hair.
It was Greta. She sat down on the bench next to him; Her perfume assailed his nostrils, it smelled expensive.
He found himself unable to speak.
“I loved Niagra, Great scenery. And I loved Marilyn’s performance…It was…serpentine!” She giggled, rummaging her in her bag for a cigarette.
Akira watched her, transfixed as she brought the cigarette and placed it between her red lips, then lit it and inhaled deeply. This action pushed him over the edge.
“Nice day isn’t it?”
“I love it when the clouds cover the sun.”
“It’s too nice a day to be alone…”Akira fingered the bills in his pocket.
She took a drag on her cigarette. “I’m sorry, I can’t stay long today, I’ve got another appointment this afternoon.” As she leaned down to flick the ashes on the ground, her shoulder pressed into his.
Her touch felt like an electric current running through his body. He fingered the envelope in his pocket, then brought it out. “You know you said the other day you were lonely..” he said casually although his heart was pounding.
She looked at the envelope. “What’s that?”
He pulled out a few 10,000 yen notes so that their edges barely showed. “It’s too nice a day for such a lovely woman to be alone…”
She was silent for a moment; he could sense her struggling with what to do. She vacillated between pity and anger at him. The anger won.
“What do you think I am, a whore or something?” She stood up and walked away.
Akira sat on the bench, staring at the money, unable to move.
He thought about Greta; He would probably never see her again and that made him sad. The film festival was over. Then he remembered the tickets. The theater always took the name and address of people who received complimentary tickets. He walked out of the apartment and ran all the way to the theater.
He arrived out of breath. The night manager was sitting behind the glass, his eyeｓon the TV set.
[endif]–>Excuse me, Can I see the complimentary ticket list? I think I may have forgotten to write down a name?”
The night manager shuffled through some papers on his desk, his eye still on the TV; The camera was direct on the full breasts of a woman in a yellow bikini;
Here it is,” He handed the paper to Akira, his eyes still on the TV.
Akira ran down the list until he found the name. Greta Gabon. He quickly wrote it down and thanked the manager, running out of the theater again.
It was getting dark now. Neon lights screamed at him from both sides of the street.
He glanced at the signs. Pornoland, Round Trip Ticket, 20,000 yen. The outside resembled Disneyland Castle. He spotted another sign-“Soaprando-Clean-15-20,000 yen. Superclean-30,000 yen and up.” A neon naked man and woman flashed on and off, scrubbing each other’s backs.
Interior-Inside of Theater-Late Evening
He looked at the address. It should be right in this area. He walked to the end of the street and saw a movie theater. As he got closer he could make out the words on the marquee. Hollywood Nights. He looked at the address on his hand and the one on the building. They matched. He walked up to the ticket booth; A man sat behind the glass, dressed in a black tuxedo.
“Welcome. Here’s our menu.” The man in the booth pushed a laminated sheet towards Akira.
Akira noticed one of his fingers had been severed. He glanced at the menu. There were color photos of different female movie stars. Underneath each photo was an explanation of charges. Pleasure Course, 20-35,000 yen. Great Pleasure Course, 35-50,000 yen. Super Pleasure Course, 60,000 yen and up.
The man grinned, flashing a gold tooth at him. “Who would you like?We have Marilyn Monroe, Vivian Leigh, Bridgette Bardot, Sophia Loren-Oh sorry, Sophia’s retired.”
“Well actually I am looking for a friend. Her name is Greta.”
The man’s smile turned to a frown. “I don’t know anyone named Greta. Now would you please choose?I don’t have all night.”
Akira thought for a moment, then in a flash of intuition said, “I’ll take Marilyn Monroe, Super Pleasure Course.” He took out the envelope with the money.
“Ok that will be 70,000 yen to start; afterwards it’s up to you and the girl.” He gave Akira a ticket. “Just take the elevator to the second floor. Turn left and walk all the way down the hallway. Marilyn’s dressing room is the last one on the left, next to Bridgette Bardot.” He pushed a button and two glass doors opened. Akira walked in.
It looked just like a theater. There was wall to wall plush red carpeting. Crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling. He walked over to the glass display. Inside were sex toys-vibrators, dildos, colored condoms. His eyes widened; he had never seen such things. He tore his eyes away and stepped into the elevator.
Tacked to the walls of the elevator were old clippings from movie magazines and newspapers; he felt his heart pounding as it shuddered once then stopped at the second floor. He stepped out and turned left, walking down the corridor. He saw the room with Bridget Bardot; soft laughter and the clinking of glasses could be heard inside. The next door said Marilyn Monroe, written in black letters, with a gold star underneath. Taking a deep breath he softly knocked. No answer. He knocked again.
“Come in,” a voice called out. He hesitated, then opened the door and entered the room. Greta was sitting at the dressing table, lit up with gold lights. Their eyes met in the mirror. She was wearing the blonde wig and layers of make up. Her green eyes were vivid, contrasting with her pale complexion. She looks beautiful.
They were silent for a moment. The air was heavy with her perfume.
“How did you find me?”
“I knew that you had complimentary tickets so I…..” His words trailed off. She was dressed in a red silk robe, lined with white fur. Her neckline plunged dangerously, enticing him to hidden mysteries. His face burned crimson. He bowed. “I came here to apologize.”
“Ah is that all you came here for?” She laughed and walked behind a screen.
He hesitated for a moment,then followed her. There was a huge white bed shaped like a star. Movie set lights surrounded it, basking it in a brilliant light. A silver tub of champagne sat on a marble table. Greta stretched out on the bed, her robe slightly open. “Here I am Akira san, Marilyn Monroe, ready to dazzle and sparkle you to heavenly heights.”
Akira stared at her, speechless. He opened his mouth but no words came out. He closed it again.
She laughed, kicking off her silver shoes. “You look like a fish out of water.” She stretched out on the bed, watching him.“So, where is your ticket to paradise?”
Akira looked around the room. “You work here?”
“Yes I certainly do. This is my cinema fantastique; Here I can be Marilyn, Queen of the Silver Screen.” Her voice lowered. “Why don’t you come over here and let me give you a preview of tonight’s ‘Coming Attractions’? She slithered off the bed and walked up to him and began undoing the buttons on his shirt.
He pushes her hands away and walked over to the window.
She pouted her lips. “What’s wrong Akira, don’t you like my technique?” She picked up a glass and poured him some champagne. “Here, you need to relax, have a drink.”
Akira continued to stare out the window.
“You’re wondering why I didn’t take the money aren’t you? You’re thinking, why didn’t she take the money from me then? Your all powerful ego has been hurt, tsk tsk what a shame.” She drained the glass and reclined on the bed. “I’ll tell you why I didn’t take that money. There’s a little something I have called pride. Every night from 8pm to the morning I have to be Marylin or Sophia or whatever, but then I can go home and become me, Greta.” She poured another glass of champagne. “My father named me after Greta Garbo,” she said proudly.
Akira looked at the ground. “Well I’m sorry I offered you the money. I didn’t mean to insult you.”
She laughed. “I know you didn’t. It was the only way you could relate to me, through money. You’re scared and intimidated by me.” She paused. “And you have an inferiority complex. Towards western women.”
Akira felt his face redden.“You’re pretty smart aren’t you?”
She laughed. “In this business you get to know people pretty well. You learn the most about them when you’re at their feet, below them, beneath them.” She laughed and lit another cigarette. “Don’t take the last part literally.”
Akira stared at her, fascinated.
“Anyway it doesn’t matter. The night is young, you’re all paid up and ready to go.” She walked over to the bed again and sat down on it. She smiled up at him, patting the space next to her.”
Akira looked at the ground, not saying anything.
Greta stared at him. “What’s the problem?”
Akira played with the end of his shirt.
Greta slowly smiled. “Oh…..” She swallowed. “You’re not a…are you?”
Akira walked over to the window again, keeping his back to her.
The room was still for a moment, still with their silence.
Greta sighed. “Hey, Akira, you could be called worse things in life than a…virgin. You could be called a thief or a liar or a. rapist. A coward."
He continued to stare out the window.
“So how old are you anyway?”
“Twenty nine. But I’ll be 30 at midnight.” He turned around, blushing.
“Oh I get it; you had a deadline.”
Akira laughed, looking relieved. He blushed again.
“Oh look at you, blushing like a schoolboy…”
“When you gave me the tie I thought it meant you liked me. Here in Japan when a woman gives a man a necktie it means she wants to wrap herself around him.”
Greta giggled. “Wow, talk about cultural misunderstanding.” She glanced up at the heart shaped clock on the wall. “Ten to twelve. The witching hour.” She patted the bed next to her. This time he came over to sit with her.
She didn’t touch him. Instead she lit another cigarette and began to talk of her childhood and how she would go to the movie theater every Saturday and watch movies and how that had been her greatest pleasure. She talked and he listened attentively; when she had stopped, he began to talk of his love for movies and how it was his greatest pleasure to sit in a theater and watch movies; after a while the walls that had been up between them slowly began to crumble down and then came intimacy….soon there was nothing but their presence in the room and the sounds of voices and traffic outside.
Copyright 1996 Avia Belle Moon