Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Gaijin and the Gorilla Lizard (Part Three)



The warm aroma of food entices me to the table. I sit there, looking at the varied items placed before me. My chopsticks hover over one, than another; steam rises from most of the plates, wafting in the light, consistent breeze. I don’t know which one to choose. I look up for a moment at the two cousins and wonder which one is more attractive.
Jun picks at the food she has put on her own plate. She grabs one of the fishcakes and dangles it out at arm’s reach. She sticks out her tongue and uses her free hand to close her nose, “This is gross! Why do you serve this stuff?”
“Because this place does better with more iconic Japanese things. You know, like the anime characters, the theme music, and the kaiju.”
I nibble at the okonomiyaki I decided on; the soy sauce warms my mouth. “This isn’t so bad; have some of it,” I push the rest of the food Jun’s direction.
“Yeah, this will work,” Jun says as she stabs at a mushroom. She turns to Yoshiko, “I still think this is a bit much.”
“Jun you are so spoiled,” Yoshiko pauses and winks at me, “and so American. Do you just eat cheeseburgers and pizza at home?”
Jun rolls her eyes, “I get enough of the traditional stuff at home. I just hoped there would be something a bit less Japanese. You know there is interest in other things, like French food.”
I look up, “And French wine, like that manga,” I pause.
“Drops of God,” Yoshiko finishes. “If you want something like that, you should have said so.”
I continue to dig into the food. Japanese food never tastes this good back home, “Honestly, I’m fine with the local stuff.”
Jun stretches back in her chair, pushing away from the table. She looks out at the water and then back at me, “You can’t get enough of the local stuff. Like the monster.”
“It’s all good. Back home most of the Japanese food is sushi or pre-packaged crap. And of course, there are no kaiju, except for the stupid jacked-up trucks being driven by drunk guys.” I look out at the water and notice the ships coming and going, “It is all a part of what Tokyo is.”
A strong wind picks up and sets the food on the table shaking. Jun’s chair sways precariously; I grab the arm just before she and the chair topple over. I right Jun just as the soy sauce rolls of the table and the fresh wasabi tumbles after it. I try to grab the small dish only to have the green paste coat my hand.
Yoshiko grabs a glass of water and washes the wasabi off, “You didn’t need to do that. We can get more. And besides, it has to sting.”
I wince a bit, “It’s fine. It’s just that real, fresh wasabi is hard to find back home.”
As I wipe the watered down paste from my hand, a second gust of wind rears up and barrels along the balcony. We each grab at the food to help it stay on the table. The wind is abrasive, leaving behind a bit of salt on my face. We all look out into the bay. Some of the larger ships rock now, while the smaller ones are bobbing furiously on the now choppy waves.
            “So, are most of your cold fronts from the Pacific?” Jun asks. “I always figured they came more from the north or northwest.”
            “You never know. These days the Pacific is a mess.” Yoshiko responds as she calls over someone to start clearing our plates and cleaning up, “We probably should go inside.”
            I can’t help myself; I move towards the railing and look out, “Is it the Gorilla Lizard?”
            “Don’t sound so happy,” Jun remarks as she stands. “It’s probably just the weather.”
            Yoshiko smiles at the girl that is clearing our table, “The monster has only come ashore twice since I opened the place and both times it came out further along the bay. I have never seen it from here. You can hope Warren, but I doubt it.”
I lean over the rail a bit farther, squint, and try to see beyond the bay. The wind settles down and the waves soften, “You’re right, probably just the weather.”
I’m downcast as we start to head in. Then the concrete platform beneath me shakes a bit. Yoshiko turns to the bay, and we follow her eyes. A sudden ripple appears, growing wider and wider. The edges turn into swells. Yoshiko looks around the balcony, “I guess we may need to head to a shelter.”
Yoshiko starts to move the other visitors into the bar and starts whispering orders to the staff. Jun looks around, a bit puzzled, “C’mon, why are you so worried?”
I didn’t realize that I had been heading back out and to the rail, “Look! See! It is the Gorilla Lizard!”
Yoshiko grabs Jun’s arm, “You really need to head to a shelter now.”
“Why? Is it really that bad?” Jun asks, looking out at a mat of hair, or fur, slowly lurching from the ripple.
A chime goes off three times followed by a soft, female voice providing clear instructions. I know we are supposed to go the shelters; Jun looks at me, saying something I just don’t hear. I turn back to the water, a bubbling feeling of excitement growing in me that squashes the nagging sense that we should leave.
“Warren let’s go! You can’t just watch,” Jun urges me as she reaches for my arm.

***

            My eyes are fixed on figure rising in the distance. Beneath the fur I can see a scattering of scales about the forehead. The fur sticks out between the scales like weeds between each piece of sidewalk. The Gorilla Lizard seems to slowly breach the water, as if in slow motion.
            Jun tugs at my shirt, “We have to go! Everyone is going!”
            I haphazardly push away her hand, “A few more minutes; I just want to see it first.”
            The ships in the bay are quickly shuffling and heading out into the deeper water. The bay is quickly emptying out so the kaiju can have all the space it needs. Now a pair of kelp green eyes break the surface and stare at the empty shoreline. From off into the city, a whistling sound comes racing out over the bay. There is a thud and large splash in the water just to the right of the monster. An even larger splash, like a geyser, shoots up.
            Jun is now pulling at my arm, “This isn’t a movie Warren. That was a missile. We have to go!”
            I can only imagine my eyes growing wider and a smile spreading across my face, “Do you see this? This is incredible!”
            I can’t hear Jun’s response over the screech that fills the air. The monster opens its mouth up just as it rises above the water. Jagged teeth, some sharp and others more flattened, are clear in the bright sunshine. I think Jun yells again, but all I can hear is a long, wretched howl.
            “It’s the kaiju! It’s the Gorilla Lizard!” I turn to see Jun, her hands covering her ears and head as she hurries inside and away from the scene.
            The ground begins to shake more as more of the kaiju comes out from the water. I grasp the railing tighter just as an aftershock quakes through the ground beneath me. I push down with all my weight and grip tighter, but the ground just keeps quaking; my fingers slip loose of the rail.
            The Gorilla Lizard takes it first full step out of the water, sending a tidal wave of seismic energy through Odaiba. I lose my balance as the rail and part of the wall break before me.
I fall over the broken ledge.

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