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Dignity is the most precious type of deformity there is!
Midaq Alley, Naguib Mahfouz
I was sitting in a coffee shop located in a Hiroshima hospital killing time before I had to get the poisons. I was reading an article about how a friend of Prime Minister Abe stole lots of money and got land for almost nothing. This guy was trying to open another school that would teach kids to revere the Constitution. Not the current one, but the one from Meiji, which eventually led the country to the horrors of the slaughters in Asia and the war crimes of the fire bombings of Japan, and to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and to total destruction and to an endless occupation. He was also pushing the Rescript on Education of 1890, a document infused with the bullshit of the samurai, which the majority of the people did not embrace, and do not now embrace, but which is at the core of Abe’s and the extreme right-wing group Nippon Kaigi’s beliefs and their attempts to destroy the current Constitution, which, regardless of myth, was substantially put together by Japanese, especially Article 9, or the “Peace Article”. Swirling through my angry and depressed mind was this newspaper article, detailing how Abe’s wife cried as kids recited the Rescript of 1890 and later sang (literally; see YouTube!) the praises of Abe and his destruction of Article 9 and the passage of prewar-like State secrecy and police powers laws. Suddenly, a man two seats from me started saying,
“Koreans are bad. They hate Japanese. Chinese, too. They are bad,” said Yoshi-rin.
“I lived overseas and I know. Koreans are bad. I hate them.”
Could you leave me alone? I don’t want to hear it. I am reading my paper and eating my cinnamon roll and that is it, OK?
“But they are bad. Abe is right. We need to do something. We need to get rid of Koreans in Japan.”
At this I lost my mind. Depressed by how this place is going and by various encounters with the rising hate, worried about whether my son, who is Japanese, will eventually be hunted down and drafted and forced to be in the next foolish attempt to fight China, I lost it very quickly. While the guy kept on hurling insults (with his wife trying to shut him up), I grabbed my uneaten cinnamon roll and asked him if he didn’t maybe perhaps want me to shove either this roll or my fist in his mouth. I then made the choice for him and threw the roll at him and watched as it bounced off his face.
Now you might shut up, no?
“Call the police,” he weakly croaked to his wife and the store manager.
I gave him a few fricatives and the almost peace gesture and left for my chemo chemicals.
Several hours later as I made for the toilet to pee red poisons I noticed some cops milling about near the coffee shop. When I came out of the toilet there they were, surrounding me, all six of them. At first I gave them some shit and then I just gave up. They took me outside the hospital and questioned me at the front doors. I asked them if they were questioning the lunatic who started this madness and told them that I wanted him arrested under the new hate-speech law. They were indeed questioning him, they assured me as they hustled me into their aged detective car filled with smoke and some sort of rattle and drove me off to the dirty and old police station to be questioned some more and fingerprinted and forced to write my confession. They also took pictures of my chemo bald head, focusing on the back with its small bits of remaining hair that I had my son quickly shave off after I got home.
This I believe: to oppose
Is the only fine thing in life.
To oppose is to live.
To oppose is to get a grip on the very self.
Opposition, Kaneko Mitsuharu
Is his your first case involving a cinnamon roll? I inquired.
“Ha ha! Yes, yes it is,” the young detective admitted.
What do you want? Are you arresting me? Is this going to court? Do I need to ask for a lawyer? Are you doing the same thing with that nut?
“No! No! We aren’t arresting you and this will not go to court.”
Hmm. I want that guy arrested.
“They are talking to him now. He says you had a metal knife.”
Ha ha! Yes, I admit it. I had a metal knife and I was stabbing my cinnamon roll. Maybe you should arrest the coffee shop manager for providing the deadly weapon.
“OK, OK. Yes, we heard it was the shop’s metal knife for all customers.”
So he had one as well! Arrest him!
“Ha ha! Look, he isn’t going to press charges. He is just going to forget it. He understands your serious medical situation.”
But does he understand HIS serious situation?
“OK. If you can just write what happened and an apology we can drive you home.”
Ugh. Give me the paper.
And so I wrote my Nazi/Soviet-style forced confession and got a free ride home (instead of a bullet) from the police, who came with me to my door and had me unlock it to make sure I (and the alien card, too) wasn’t lying and that they could check in on me one day.
Somewhere someone is traveling furiously toward you. — John Ashbery
Killing time in the coffee shop and minding my business as always, suddenly a scary man started saying horribly racist things to me while holding a metal knife. Scared and feeling cornered I reached for my tasty cinnamon roll (uneaten) and, reluctantly, used it in an effort to protect myself from this crazy racist attack. I feel bad. About losing the tasty cinnamon roll. And about the racism. And about wasting all this time. And for the police, who must have many more important things to do for the people, like arresting thieves who steal money from taxpayers to try to build scary schools that promote hate speech, which is against the law now. I feel an apology is necessary. Many apologies. I, for one, promise to never go into the coffee shop again and to never ever throw a tasty cinnamon roll ever again at racist nuts.
I have to admit I broke my promise months later and went to have a tasty cinnamon roll in the coffee shop in the hospital. The manager welcomed me back warmly and said: “Long time, no see!” As happened 99.9% of the time, no racist nuts yammered at me. In fact, like 99.9% of the time, mercifully, no one yammered at me at all. And I thought to myself that that cinnamon roll was damn tasty, as I vigorously cut it up into pieces with my now plastic knife.
DM Zoutis is a writer and farmer in Shimane and Hiroshima Japan.
Fantastic story Marie – well written,spare and sharp, good pace and a bit scary! Look out Quatermass.
Quatermass? You mean Day of the Triffids! Good flash fiction.