Nagoya Writes

February 14, 2008

Walking to the Wink by Sarah Winslow

Filed under: Issue: 2004,Prose,Winslow — usbengoshi @ 4:13 pm

“We have to follow them,” insisted the boy.

“Hang on, wait a second,” his mother said. “We’re going to a concert. Not playing detective.”

“Well, let’s just see where they’re going.”

In fact playing detective was just what he wanted. A concert was a real treat but hardly exciting…. All week he ‘d been in detective mode, just waiting for such an opportunity. He’d even worn his trench-coat tonight, specially.

It had all happened right in front of them. As they were crossing the street at the large intersection, they’d noticed the schoolgirl on the opposite side in her extra-short pleated skirt. Loose socks. Armfuls of books. As they reached the sidewalk, a taxi had pulled up next to her, a salaryman had got out and begun speaking in a low voice, but by that time the boy and his mother had been close enough and were able to hear him growl, “Ikimashouka.”

“Did you realize what that was?” his mother had asked, as the salaryman and the schoolgirl walked away.

“Well, I think so,” the boy had hesitated. “Maybe.” He finally capitulated. “What was it?”

“That was a pick-up.”

“Oh, yes, I thought so,” he enthused.

And now he was intent on following the odd couple. They had set off down the street, also in the direction of the concert hall, although not walking exactly together. The schoolgirl was not too close to the man, and slightly behind him. The boy could see that she was substantially taller than the man.

“He’s too short for her,” he remarked. Although he was fourteen, his teen growth spurt, which would eventually take him up past six feet, hadn’t started yet. For two years he’d been the shortest boy in his class, as well as the only foreigner in his junior high school.

The adult-part of the boy knew this wasn’t real detective work, but the boy-part was still very curious.

The salaryman and the schoolgirl had reached the second corner and were turning right down a side-street.

“We have to follow them”. The boy was eager as a dog after a squirrel.

“No. Definitely not,” his mother put her hand on his arm to hold him back. “ But wait a minute. Look where they’re going down there.” And at the end of the street the boy could see a large building with, not an ordinary door, but a strange entrance with black strips of plastic hanging down in front. “Look up”, said his mother. “What does the sign say?” Her Japanese katakana-reading ability was as bad as her eyesight.

“Wink Hotel.” The boy read the neon sign slowly.

“Love hotel,” she explained.

“Oh. But…” he couldn’t find the right words. “He’s too short for her”.

“Not a problem in bed,” his mother said shortly, laughing.

“Oh,” he thought for a moment. “Is that what they’re going to do?


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