Friday, July 19, 2013

By Robin: The Gaijin and the Gorilla Lizard (Introduction & Part One)

After Sean and I left Pacific Rim, last week, we started talking about all the different things it reminded us of, or, in some cases, the many things it was "inspired by." As we were sitting outside our favorite wine shop enjoying a good bottle of French Tannat, Sean turned to me and mentioned how the scene in the shelter reminded him of my old story. I have to admit, I though that too. As we watched the people rush off of the street, guided by police down into underground shelters, I thought of a story I write 14 years ago. 

As we sat and talked, Sean mentioned that I should post the story, get it out there. Honestly, I thought it was a good idea too. In the span of 14 years, I started a revision once -- about 5 years ago -- but never finished. So I took up his challenge to post the story online, and have decided to get back to that revision. So, for the next few weeks, I will be posting parts of my Kaiju story: The Gaijin and the Gorilla Lizard.


Part One: Welcome to Tokyo



 An incessant buzz rings through the crowded hallway.  It reverberates off the walls, whines in my ears, “...move towards the shelters and take cover.”
            I stumble about, looking around in a mass of people. There isn’t anyone I know, not a recognizable face in the group.
            “This is an emergency. Please move towards the nearest shelter.  I repeat …”
            The buzzing steadily increases.  A long screech, drilling into my head, is all I can hear.  I can’t think.  What’s going on?  What were the directions? 
            Looking left and right, I find myself alone.  It’s just me and the buzzing.  I slump to the floor. What were those damn directions about?
            The buzzing keeps going, echoing in the empty spaces.  There is something else underlining the buzzing, like a door or wall rattling.  There’s a loud bang followed by a thud.  Is this an earthquake?  a tsunami?  The sound grows louder. 
            It’s an erratic thumping.  “Warren!  Warren you ass!  Turn off your damn alarm!”
            I look towards the far end of the hall.  Did I hear a voice?  “Hello?”
            “Get up you and turn that fucking thing off!”
            I sit-up.  My blanket is a mess, tangled about my feet, and my alarm clock is rattling on the floor.  The neighboring wall is shaking from a now steady pounding.
            “You gonna turn that alarm off any time soon?”      
            I reach for the alarm, “Uh, sorry.  Sorry.”
            The pounding stops as soon as the alarm is quiet.  I place the clock back next to my bed.  It’s already past seven.  Last time I remember looking at the clock it was nearly four thirty and I was flipping through my guide book and watching lights flicker across the skyline.  Now sunlight filters through my blinds.    

***

            With my first real day off since arriving in Japan before me, I start to get ready.  I peer through my drawers looking for underwear and only find socks.  I search through the pile of clothes in the room’s corner.  There are a few pairs there, but none I really even want to touch.  I open the room’s one small closet and rummage through my nearly unpacked suitcase.  Hidden in a pocket is a clean pair, if only a bit wrinkled. 
            I turn about no searching for my missing guide book.  It’s not on the table by the bed, but there wasn’t anything there now but my alarm clock.  I search through notebooks and magazines lying lopsided on the floor.  Again, no guide book.  Same goes for under the bed.  So I look in my bag, my desk, even under my dirty clothes.  Nothing.  I open and empty every drawer and clear off every shelf looking for the illusive book, but it isn’t anywhere.  As I pick up the tossed contents, my phone rings. 
            “Hey, you ready?”
            “Huh, what?  Jun.  Oh yeah, sure.  I just need a minute.”
            “Good.  I have to get out of here.”
            I sit down on the edge of my bed.  “Yeah, no, I understand.”
            “So I’ll meet you outside.”
            “On my way.”  A sharp edge sticks into the back of my thigh.  I jump, throwing the phone across the room.  Pulling apart the twisted mess of my blanket, I unravel a few folds and find the guide book.        
            I finish pulling on clothes and grab a bag. I’m stuffing last minute items into my bag and fumbling with my jacket as I walk down to the lobby. As I try to stash the last minute items away, Jun comes up behind me: “Took you long enough.”
            “Sorry.”
            “What didya do now,  lose your wallet or something?”
            I search my pockets for my wallet.  I sigh when I feel come across the bump in my back pocket. “Yeah, or something.”
            “Now that you’re all together, can we finally get out of here?”
            “Yeah, sure.  I’m ready to see Japan.”
            Jun leans in and eyes me closely.  She smells like a fresh rain.  “No, that’s not it at all.”
            I pull back, “What do you mean?”
            She smiles and begins walking towards the gate, “You came here to pick up Japanese women.  We all know that they love tall blonde-haired American boys.”
            “No.  No way, that’s not it.”
            She swirls around on the backs’ of her feet.  “No?  Than maybe?  Ah, I know!  You came over an entire ocean just to see that stupid monster.”
            “It would be a once in a lifetime experience if I did get to see the gorilla lizard. And besides, it is said to be over 1000 feet tall.”  I try to stand-up straight but find myself slumping forward and covering my head with my hand.  I grow quiet as Jun stares at me, “It’s unusual, you know.  Interesting.”
            “Yeah, yeah, whatever you say Mr. Carver. Interesting.”
            And so we walk away from our apartment building to the nearest subway station. Jun is quiet as we walk. I’m not sure what to say, so I walk quietly beside her.
A cool breeze comes at us as we turn a corner. My mess of hair is rumpled further by the breeze. Jun pulls her silver jacket tight against her. Suddenly I see a hint of pink glisten at her cheeks.
“You know the lizard is really 1200 feet. It’s just a bit bigger than Tokyo Tower, so I guess it is a bit impressive.”
I nod and smile. We walk a bit farther, away from the apartment and the office building we have been working at. We’ve been in Japan for just about three weeks and never got more than a few miles from where we have been staying. Instead, we’ve been stuck in training classes with no opportunity to leave the grounds.
            “Any ideas?”
            “Huh?”  I look up from my guide book.
            “What do you want to do?”
            I look back to my guide book.  I have it turned to the gorilla lizard emergency instructions.  “Well, I thought maybe going to Asakusa.”
            “You’re joking, right? Asakusa?  You know its pretty far inland with really no chance of getting a view of the gorilla lizard.  That is, if it comes onshore.”
            I close my guide book and put it back in my bag.  “Maybe I want to see a real geisha, or go to Senso-ji.”
            “Sure, sure, suddenly you’re on a pilgrimage.”
            “I’d like see the traditional side of Japan while I’m here.”
            “Okay, so let’s start with typical and work towards traditional.”
            “And you are suggesting what?”
            “Shibuya.”
            “Shibuya?”
            “Yeah, Shibuya.”
            “I should have known, you just want to shop.”
            “There’s nothing wrong with shopping.  You can see real life ko-gals in Shibuya.”
            My response is cut off by the arriving train.  A mass of people sweep us onto the train.  Squished between salarymen in their neatly pressed business suits, Jun and I stand next to one another quietly.  In the pushing and shoving, she somehow ends up with her head in my armpit.
            “Sorry.”
            “Just don’t try anything.  I know where you live,” she smiles.  

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