Gas Panic

Gas Panic. 2002. Roppongi is Tokyo’s arsehole and this was before the Hills, but nobody wants to talk about that. I went to the Subway and there were Filipinos behind the counter. Where the fuck was I? I asked the girl behind the counter for a ham wallet but she just stared at me with eyes that said motherfucker. I walked out empty handed. Shochu ran through my veins and my mouth was out in front running off into the distance. Saying shit to strangers and sailors that my fists could not back up. I went down a side street that looked like an alley and I could almost see the grime on the streets and I wondered what it would feel like to travel this road in my bare feet. Like Jesus. Not here though. He never came here. Down the road I could see it. The local cemetery was also nearby. Party with the dead. JJ from Good Times manned the door and two seamen fought in the alleyway off to the side. There was rubbish in the gutters and women dressed like prostitutes were moving in and out from behind the door JJ was guarding. Music followed these whores into the street like they were dragging it with them, but when the door closed it was cut like an umbilical chord. They were on their own now. The dead shook their heads from their tombs.

Inside and it was standing room only. Fat chicks were grinding other fat chicks and they glistened like pigs in the disco lights. How many yen per pound? I wasn’t sure. I needed a serial killer. Some fag ushered me to the bar and ordered me to order a drink. You must have a drink at all times, he said through the cacophony of shit music. I could smell AIDS and gonorrhea in the air and held my breath to keep it out but I was drowning. I got my drink off the bartender and tried my luck through the dance floor and to the stairs on the other side. I wanted to get to the second floor because the stairs were steep and plentiful and far too difficult for these beasts to navigate. Where did they come from anyway? Walking the streets during the day I had rarely sighted the likes that this piggery had to offer. The question remained though: who was making the goddamn sausages? Half way across the floor I collided with something. It was a fat chick. My drink went from my cup to the floor. People stood on it and danced on it and nobody gave a shit. A guy put a torch in my face and got in my ear. You need to buy another drink, he said. Yelling like whispers. Eat a dick, I said, but he was gone. I dropped my glass on the dance floor to add some colour to heels of elephants and headed for the more welcoming embrace of the night air. It was winter and the sweat I had generated from the dancing slaughterhouse behind me grew cold like the hearts of cat mothers. JJ stared at me like it was the first time he’d ever seen me.

Stars fought to be seen with the lights of the city like the older woman thrown into a group of twenty-somethings. Drunken locals and expat vermin stumbled along the streets trying to find their way to a station, not knowing that it was too late for that. I saw a rat run along the gutter and into a garden. Salary men with neckties as headbands linked arms down the street, singing the anthems of retarded cubicle slaves. I went into an internet cafe. At the front counter was an elderly woman. She stared right through me as if she was scanning the recesses of her mind trying to locate me somewhere. An ex-boyfriend, husband, lover. Did I look like any of these unfortunate souls? Any excuse to tell me I could not use their services. Nothing. My record was clean. She handed me a plastic card with the number of the computer that I was to use embossed on it in black. There were people lounging around all over the place reading and using the internet. I sat down and the guy next to me looked my way. English? he said.
Nope, I said and he went back to his screen. The piercing burn of the old bitch behind the counter worked it’s way into the back of my head. I was branded. Maybe she had found a hit.

A pack of cigarettes later I was still there. I was six cups of green tea into this bullshit and I was wired enough to go back and fight JJ and punch a few pigs off the bar. People were still lounging around reading and the old girl behind the counter was still looking at me. There was a heavy haze of smoke in the place now. I stared back through it hoping she’d look away, but she was a stayer. I got up and went over to her. You’ve been staring at me all night, I said.
Have I?
You’re doing it now.
Really?
Have I done something wrong?
Have you? she said without blinking even once. I took the plastic card she had given me earlier and threw it at her face. It hit her on the forehead but she didn’t even flinch. You didn’t turn your computer off, she said.
You didn’t feel that?
No.
What?
I have nerve damage from a childhood accident.
So that’s why you’ve been staring at me for the last few hours?
Yes.
Well, that’s fucked, I said and left without paying. It was 4am and the first trains were almost ready to start for the day.

I tripped over a homeless guy on the way to the station and got up and kicked him. Down the station steps and all I could think was fuck this place.

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