just in tokyo - a city guide book

march 30, 1993
Boaz began to wonder what the case was. There was a young woman on the television, crying her eyes out over something terrible that had evidently happened to her, but that was all he could glean from the picture. He turned on the volume. "... and that's when he grabbed me and threw me down..." Boaz turned off the tv set.
He sat down on the bed and looked at himself in the mirror. Dark circles had been recently forming themselves under his eyes, and that combined with his pale skin left him looking sick and tired, which he was. Some flecks of black food remained at the corner of his lips, and he flicked them off. Pulling his t-shirt over his head, he fingered his stiff nipple. It was too damn cold in here. He leaned in for a better look to see himself in greater detail. His eyes were cris-crossed by thin red lines, and they looked yellow from this distance. Bits of sleep still clung to his eyelashes from his nap.
He rolled over to the other side of the bed and set his alarm clock for three thirty. He need a few hours of sleep before he got to work. Walking to the door, he switched off the light and pulled down the covers. Sliding between the smooth sheets, he felt his frigid toes ache as they met the metal frame. Rolling on to his side, he pulled his knees up to his chest and pulled the blanket in tight around his shoulders.
He was staring directly at the wall, where he had pasted greeting cards from all his old girlfriends, so he could look at their cute little hearts next to their names as he went to bed. Unfortunately, the street lamp outside of his window had burnt out a few weeks back, so he had to strain to read the print.
He sighed and watched his breath fade into the pale light from the street below. Getting up, he padded across the room in his boxer shorts to close the window. He watched a hooker try to catch a cab; the same hooker he had seen outside every thursday for the last three weeks.
Walking over to his bookshelf, he picked up a copy of the I Ching and the three pennies laying next to it. Walking back to his bed, he turned on the lamp and flung the pennies down on the desk six times like his friend had told him. The first line was an eight, the second a seven, and the third a nine. That made the first trigram Tui, or the Joyous. That didn't make much sense. Line four, a nine, line five a six, and finally the last line a seven. That made the second trigram Ch'ien, or the Creative. Together they were Kuai, or Breakthrough/Resoluteness. He frowned. Breakthrough what? He closed the book and laid it down on the table. Turning off the lamp, he hefted himself into the bed for the second time tonight.
Lying prone, staring up at the ceiling, he rubbed the smooth skin of his stomach and caressed the small hairs coming up from his groin. Resoluteness about what? He stared over at the greeting cards. Long lost women. Hopes of long ago. Very depressing in the here and now. He turned on the lamp again and began to take them down. The cellophane tape securing them to the wall had grown old and sticky, and in frustration Boaz leaned his copy of the I Ching against them. He turned off the lamp and leaned back to see if they could still be read. Seeing that they could, he went to the window and tried to lower the shade. Due to the fact that it had been months since he had last lowered the shade, it took quite a bit of effort.
While struggling, he noticed the hooker standing below, still waiting for her cab. He paused in his fight to watch her. She was a diminutive woman, both short and thin. Her black hair lay limply against her skull, and her shoulders were pulled in tightly towards the center of her chest. Suddenly she looked up at him and Boaz found himself unable to break eye contact. Her dark eyes woke him up and he could not erase the sight from his mind until he finally fell asleep.

He was laying in bed, exactly as he had gone to sleep, staring up at the ceiling when the alarm went off. Reaching over with his left hand, he slammed the off button and silenced it for the night. Sitting up, he rubbed his eyes and opened them up full wide in a vain attempt to wake himself. He walked to the bathroom and splashed cold water on his face. Walking back into the bedroom, he sat before the typewriter and turned it on. Yawning, he turned on the desk lamp and fed a sheet of typing paper into the machine. Like a demon, Boaz began furiously typing out a letter to the girl who had composed the oldest of the greeting cards. For two hours he wrote, about his life now, about his life then, about their relationship then, about his new friends, until he finally sat back and stared in amazement at the stack of used paper lying next the typewriter. Without even bothering to look at it or sign his name, he opened up his desk drawer and pushed the stack in on top of the other stacks of papers laying in his desk. Reaching into his boxer shorts, he cradled his balls thoughtfully as he stared at the dim lights behind the window shade.
- Justin Hall (3/30/93)

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