Nagoya Writes

January 31, 2008

Le Danchi L7 by Roy Hernandez

Filed under: Hernandez,Issue: 2000,Prose — usbengoshi @ 5:31 am

The cell was dark when it was opened by a sturdy, muscular, male enforcement nurse. A thin frail figure lay upon the Dani-infested, mold-soaked tatami mat glued upon and onto the cold, black concrete floor. A Japanese-style squat toilet was in the corner next to the iron bars, flanked by wood and concrete walls infested with greenish-yellowish bacteria-mold-fungus, and again flanked by cobweb and filthy, dusty iron bars to the back and front. In front of the iron bars to the left of the toilet was an iron door with a slit at the bottom for sliding the patient’s rationed bowl of rice along with water inside of a used, filthy, Styrofoam, convenience store, emptied, ramen bowl; last the tiny slit at the top of the iron door to let the male enforcement nurse peek at the incarcerated drunk.

As a usual nightly routine the sturdy, muscular male nurse walked into the dark, dimly lit cell with a hypodermic injection to dispense to the cell’s occupant to keep the patients in these isolation cells from screaming, howling like wild dogs, yelling and banging their feet against the iron doors for water during the sweltering summer months; they were forbidden to take oral medications because they were indeed madmen who still had sense enough to regurgitate the sleeping powders. They knew day from night by a small stray beam of sun piercing through the dingy upper cell window that allowed fresh air to flow inside and circulate. Night time was considered the most precious time, Time to chat with other cell mates about the snacks they liked, sex and what they were going to do when they got out of that dungeon. Sometimes there were disagreements, and fights almost endlessly broke out, not that they could physically fight one another, it was all verbal among the strongest in these zoo-like cages. Fights would usually break out when a new inmate was isolated for a week or so, a system used mainly to dry out drunks, and it was usually about water, and someone would just yell out, “Hey! Just drink the water from the toilet!” And the drunk would yell back, “You bakayaro, are you wacky or something?” And a reply would echo back softly yet hauntingly…”Yeah…;” manic laughter. Most of the patients were locked up because of mental dysfunction and for most of them, after being locked up for so long-years in these dim cells-they didn’t even bother to bang the heels of their feet against the iron doors, they just flushed the toilet and in the madness of their minds drank water straight from the toilet disgustingly as if it were a water fountain, but in fact these madmen were only reacting as Darwinism says they will… survival of the fittest

One young man recycled his own urine by drinking every last drop he urinated out into his secretly-hidden, blue plastic cup. This lad’s skin glowed like an Angel’s skin; despite his rotten teeth, he was in perfect health. Chieko Matsumura was the only female incarcerated in the same cell for at least forty-four years. She rarely saw daylight and kept quiet in her cell during the day, sleeping, but she was chatty during the night with the boys who just loved Chieko like an older sister. She would chat about the assortment of goodies that she had to eat and drink inside of her cell; against the rules but because she had been raped in her cell by an unknown male nurse, and in the dim darkness of that same cell had given birth to a child which was immediately put up for adoption, she was put on birth control pills and given special treatment. She was separated from the women’s dorms in the East Wing of the Mental Prison Hospital indefinitely as was strictly ordered by the Hitleristic-Tyrant, Chief Psychiatrist Dr. Rongo Ito.

(Now I will not go into any more extravagant details about these misfits and loonies in lock up for good here in this dungeon of zoo cages, but I will continue on about the mystery of Mr. Yoshida Fuda who had been incarcerated for 2 years by Dr. Rongo Ito as a disciplinary action during his third institutionalization as a mere suffering alchoholic. Mr. Yoshida Fuda personally told me how he escaped that tyrant, Dr. Rongo Ito, by neans of a secret magical formula of hidden powers that he had just happened to find written on the mold-infested, dusty cob-webb wall, and there upon, having nothing to do, Mr Yoshida Fuda rectied the magical chant about a million times (according to his calculations) in his two years of incarceration.

“Mr. Yoshida Fuda?”

“Yes!”

“It’s time for your injection.”

“Oh Hell… why always these injections. Someday I’m going to escape from Dr. Rongo Ito’s hand”

“Let me give you the injection first. It’ll relax you and then we can talk.”

“Oh! Gosh…I hate those hypodermic needles. Doesn’t Dr. Rongo Ito know that they burn like hell?”

“Yes, I know…but he’s a son of a bitch, between you and I. I’d like to tell more about this place, but first…,” the male nurse said, injecting the arm.

“Ouch! Damn that hurts!” Mr. Yoshida Fuda cried out.

“Yeah well, that’s the rules of this… Oh! hell it don’t do any good to cursse it out anymore. It just makes you more angry inside. You know what I mean. I hate Dr. Rongo Ito just as much, or perhaps even more than you, and this damn falling to piece by piece, crumbling mental prison-palace of his and all his misfits and loonies…I twll you that for sure. There are some wierd stories I could tell you of this place of damnation…Twenty years of it.”

Then why don’t you just quit and find another job at a decent hospital…eh?”

“I can’t,” exclaimed the male nurse sadly.

“Why not?”

“Oh! It’s a long story you wouldn’t want to know. Though… I can tellyou one thing. This cell is the most haunting and mysterious of all these damn…Shhh…Did you hear something?…What was that?” the male nurse said quietly.”

Nothing! Nothing at all…Why?…What’s going on…I mean, wrong?”

“This is the cell a child was born…Here! This is the cell a looney youth hung himself…with piano wire…where the hell he got that piano wire, well, know one knows, and this is the cell where another bastard put rags into the toilet and securely sealed off all the slits in the iron door, flushed the toilet with duct tape and filled this whole damn cell with a torrent of water all night long and drowned himself. A golfer, early in the morning, saw the gush of water spewing out of the top window, splashing three floors down, and again no one has the slightest clue where the son of a bitch got his material from. Then of course there’s the old timer that committed sepuku with a small Samurai sword fully dressed in white-clad Ceremonial Kimono…joss stick incense and all… yet again, …the wind only knows…Rape has been committed here. It all began after this gaijin was committed to the same cell for being a drunk. He was a magician of some kind, I forgot, and he wrote all over these walls with a one yen coin all these magical secret symbols that only warlocks are supposed to know, and he promised revenge on the very life of Dr. Rongo Ito. Dr. Rongo Ito released him after a choking spell and slight heart seizure. Then, there are those that just disappear frome this cell…like magic…we don’t know where they go…missing…you know, mysteriously. Dr. Rongo Ito had this cell hosed down with a hydrant of water and repainted, but to no avail. The magic symbols bleed out through the walls every now and then. I’m the only nurse that can really withstand to enter this cell of damnation. Well…I don’t mean to frighten you…Oh…I shouldn’t talk, my mouth like diarrhea. Well, all the misfits and loonies are snoring away. Would you like to smoke a few cigarettes and have a cup of coffee, Mr. Fuda?”

“Yeah. By the way, jsut call me Yoshi. It’s more simple, except…” Mr. Fuda hung his head down.

“Except for what?” the male nurse replied.

“Well, you know…those periodical drinking binges.”

“Let me go get the coffe and some smokes. Wait a moment. I’ll be back.”

The sturdy, muscular male nurse opened the iron door, walked out and shut and locked the iron door again. Mr. Yoshida Fuda sat cross-legged in a Lotus position and waited patiently for the male nurse to return again with the smokes, during which time he was dying for a drag of nicotine-fir smoke and caffeine rich coffee.

Suddenly there appeared a brightly flaming, illuminating flourescent glow of a celestial figure. Mr. Fuda sttod up and began to shiver; a cold fear overcame his very soul at the awesome presence of the Celestial Being. “What?” Mr. Fuda wondered did the strange figure want. For it stood still and didn’t speak, but then the Celestial Being lifted its rod and pointed it toward Mr. Fuda, touching his very soul. Then, all of a sudden, Mr. Fuda began to melt like ice on a hot day through the tatami mat; passing through the third floor concrete, free falling like an oozing gelatin liquid onto the second floor concrete, sinking through that layer, and then through the first floor concrete, and into and through the foundation of concrete into the earth: he melted through seeing every bit of the insects, parasites and elements of concrete and dirt, and all its micro-organisms,and he had fear raging in his very soul crying out, and in a scream crying out, but no one could hear him. Then his gelatin transformation fell and touched the roots of the undergrowth of a tree and there his liquid form slimmed and dripped slowly into the earth of an underground tunnel, and slowly his body returned to its original former self.

Mr. Fuda exhaled a relief-sounding…”hew”…touching his body and limbs to assure that he was indeed himself again. Then Mr. Fuda looked around the long, narrow winding tunnel. Mr. Fuda was indeed scared out of his wits as he walked the dark, dimly-lit tunnel with tree roots twisting in every direction, sometimes his face would be scratched by a sharp end of a root, or he would have to stoop to pass through in order to continue his long walk through the tunnel. By theis time his fear and anxiety had subsided and Mr. Fuda felt a sense of freedom from that dark dim zoo cell in that dungeon where he had spent almost two years incarcerated for being a drunk.

Suddenly he saw a figure that looked like the Court Jester in ragged clothes who seemed to be being attacked by a dog that was tearing at his leg. The Court Jester kept marching on with a stick that had an inflated pig’s bladder on one end. Before the Court Jester was a rainbow colored butterfly flapping its wings. Then it snapped to Mr. Fuda to call out to this Court Jester for help.

“Hey you, wait a minute!” cried out Mr. Fuda.

“What is it that you want?” yelled the Fool still marching along.

“Wait, wait, wait…!” Mr. Fuda was almost breathless running to reach him.

“It is a good day, is it not?” said the Fool

“Good day? What are you talking about…”

“No, no, no, no…. You must be cheerful, mate. Life is a carefree journey of joy,” laughed the Fool.

“Where is this place, and where are you going to?” Mr. Fuda said hastily.

“Ah! To the Mardi Gras of course!” the Fool said cheerfully.

“To the Mardi Gras? Are you crazy or something?”

“Nope! I’m going to the Mardi Gras, and you’re the one that’s crazy. Now tell me, mate, who’s the one that has just been released…and without any permission,,, out of the loony bin…em?”

“But I don’t know where I’m at! I was in my cell chanting these magical symbols and then a bright light…”

“Save your breath, Wino! Now I’ll tell you, but you got to follow all the rules of…The Magical Land of Tarots. is that agreed?”

“The Magical Land of Tarots? That’s what this rat tunnel is called?”

“That’s right, mate. And I’m Zero or Nuetral, it can be said of the Major Arcana, or you can say that I’m the Alpha and Omega…that means the beginning and the end, and you must come to understand all the suits of the Major Trumps form one to twenty-one, to come to understand the inner-self, or why you’re a drunk, to find liberation,” replied the Fool.

“But I don’t want to understand any of the Tarot Trumps. All I want to do is get the hell out of this rat tunnel to above… Do you know what’s above?” cried out Mr. Fuda.

“Ah…Heaven?…God? Oh…I don’t know and I don’t really care. I give up and don’t bother explaining. I’m sure it’s awful up there. If it were not you wouldn’t be down here, am I right, mate?”

“I wouldn’t know! I’m just following you to a Ball.” Mr. Fuda said sadly.

“It’s a carnival!” remarked the Fool.

“Yeah…whatever. Seems to me ther’s no difference…om!” Mr. Fuda hissed.

“Ahh…come on mate, cheer up. You’ll love the Mardi Gras. Plenty of booze to drink, the French Quarter harlots and sluts, closet transvestites, Jazz music, Blues music, it’s a party that don’t know when to end.”

“I don’t want any booze to drink, creatures of diseases or Rag-time music. I want to see the sunshine again and…What’s in that bag you’re carrying?”

“Oh! Those…Well, these are my elusive memories of what I’m just leaving behind. Yes, memories that will urge me to move onwards in my search to recover what I’m about to lose. It’s actually my soul, that fragment of divinity that will help me to bear all the trials ahead of me.”

“Look at reality, Fool. The Mardi Gras is in New Orleans and precisely we are in Japan…”

Oh! Are you from Japan? I couldn’t have noticed in a million guesses. There are Japanese, I believe, in New Orleans and abouts.”

“You’re not related to that gaijin who lives in Handa City, Japan? Says so, that American Fool…You comprender? Thinks he’s in love with the Princess Norinomiya Sayako…How ridiculous! And you’re both….OH!”

“Chill out, Bubba! You’re pissing me off intellectually, but I’m about to venture with an expedient fo the radical sign…say the fool is genius and the genius is the fool…so just let it be.”

“What?”

“The Waltz of a Poet and the Ornithologist. Romeo and Juliet at their real zenith. The marriage of America with Japan, at last the Zeitgeist that blooms into an era of zealot offspring of Peace and Prosperity…U.F.Os and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! Fly me to the Moon, ricocheted onto the planet Mars will be the rhapsody rhetoric of the day.”

“I don’t understand you. You must indeed be wacko, an irrational nut case!”

“Oh? Perhaps more than that, mate, but for now, we both have a challenge to transform the situation in our favor…but din’t mind me. I’m not the Wino in solitary confinement.”

“Look Fool…”

“Yes Sir, that’s me.”

I’m not in lock-up anymore, and don’t worry about my drinking!”

“Oh! You are certainly an alcoholic for sure and you are still in lock up, that’s for absolute sure.”

“That’s why they call you the Fool, because you’re a senseless, egotistic eccentric…Oh!”

“Oh! don’t mind me much, mate, we’re almost there.”

“Where?”

“I told you before, The Mardi Gras!”

“Oh Heck…I give up. You’re mad…yes, indeed you’re a madman, both of us lost as two idiots inside this rat tunnel beneath a humongous tree….em.”

“Em…What?” exclaimed the Fool loudly.

“I suppose, according to all the roots, that there is a big bitch of a tree over, above our heads…Mr. Fool…that calls for em…em…Emmmm!”

Roy Hernandez is a local writer and has been a member of the Nagoya Writer’s Group for a long time. “Le Danchi L7” as printed here is an extract of a much longer story that I truly wish I had space to run in it’s entirety. The play between the Carrollian dialogue and the grim picture of institutionalized life is stunningly sharp in both the extract and the full length story. Editor’s note.

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