by Kris Hartrum
The Skinny Girl with Big Tits, Shonan and You can Take New York
John woke thinking he was the captain of a starship at 12:00 pm on a Sunday with one damp arm sweating against his face. He had switched off the air before sleeping and the morning heat had cooked his small room to an uncomfortable temperature. I’m dying, he thought. He lifted himself from his bed to the kitchen where he drank intensely from the faucet. Water isn’t cold. Get cold. He opened the fridge and drank yogurt from the container. He wiped his chin and went to the main room to switch on the air conditioner and stood beneath the slow building wave of cool air. Tall, silver aliens with flowers coming from starless parts of space. Good dream. He stared up at the plastic, purring mouth of the AC and was hungry as hell.
Ping! His phone sounded from a bag on the floor.
SAM: You alive? JOHN: No. SAM: You were in rare form last night. JOHN: I doubt that. SAM: You were all over the place. JOHN: Don’t remind me. I don’t want to know. SAM: We’ll meet at Shinjuku station at 1:15. JOHN: I just woke up. SAM: Get going. JOHN: Will do, friend. SAM: The rapid leaves at 1:29. JOHN: Meet you guys on the platform? SAM: yes.
It was already 12:55 and John walked quickly along the narrow path towards the station. The oscillating songs of the cicada played through the trees and covered him in the white noise of Summer. He had just showered, but it was humid and he felt sweat running down the small of his back. He thought about his hangover and wanted a hamburger. I have time for a burger. Rapid doesn’t leave for thirty-five minutes, he thought, knowing he would not make the train. He tried to imagine the girls on the beach as he ran towards Mcdonalds. Shimmering mirage of Enoshima. Sun-warmed extremities. Well-lit waves of green sea and cold, white foam crashing over the rocks.
It was now past two and John sat alone on the express train from Shinjuku to Kugenuma Kaigan. He had missed the 1:29 rapid because of the burger, fries and a coke. 790 yen.
The car shook and the summer sun filled through the large windows. John watched a mother holding her infant on the bench across the aisle. The child sat facing his mother on her lap. Laughing, the boy frantically licked her on the face as she squirmed.
“Yamenasai,” she said, smiling. The child laughed and continued to lick his mother. She turned her head to avoid him. She placed the child on the floor. The boy held her knees and bounced happily, drool running from his smile and dripping onto his shirt. John watched them and and felt alright about the day. Babies are crazy. Tiny, adorable psychopaths. The mother spoke to the boy pleasantly and wiped glistening spit from her face.
John passed through the mouth of the tunnel that opened a few meters from the large, cement restroom which housed the lockers, toilets and showers for the public beach at Kugenuma. There was a large fountain between him and the structure where children played in the shallow water. The young mothers and fathers watched from the wide steps.
John walked past the beige, stone fountain. He held a bag filled with cold beers and a few tuna fish rice balls. It was very hot. The beers were sweating through the bag and he felt the wetness of it brush against his knee. He crossed the fountain, walking towards the sea. A girl and her brother ran past him, clumsily drinking cans of lemon soda. The younger boy held a broad raft in the shape of a white beluga whale.
“Hayaku!” the girl yelled. “Osoi!”
Struggling, the boy trotted behind with his half-deflated beluga thrashing above him.
Standing before the green, copper statue of the muscular man holding an eagle with outspread wings, John looked out over the bay. The statue faced the water. They had always walked left of it to find a good place on the beach. It’s a hell of a statue. Body builder who claimed the sea? Solid copper for an ass, illustrating strength and control. He doesn’t look Japanese.
It was the last Sunday of August, well into the late afternoon and the sun was very strong. John watched the seaside and the barely-clothed bodies scattered along the coast of Sagami bay. A group of Americans were playing volleyball with girls near the lifeguard towers. The girls cheered. One of the Americans yelled at his team to “work for it” and “hustle” as he picked up the ball, striking it with ferocity. Definitely Americans. Probably military. I wonder if we come off like that. Wild Sam and the rest of us carrying on like nut jobs.
The sand was dark grey, nearly black. John wondered if the color had something to do with volcanoes He removed his sandals and walked into the sand. It was too hot and he hurried on the balls of his feet saying fuck under his breath until reaching the water. Hot, volcanic sand. He stood before the tide and saw the island of Enoshima. It was a small, rocky island 600 meters from the mainland. Never been over there. Heard it’s always crowded and no decent beach.
ZIMA ZIMA ZIMA
John walked West in the shallow surf. He opened a can of beer and drank. It was no longer cold. He stopped in front of a building adorned with banners, advertising Zima. Men and women stood around the tall tables drinking clear bottles of Zima and beer. Never did try Zima. Imagine it tastes like very sweet tonic water. He scanned the bar for Sam and the others. A man who looked drunk was squirting people with a large water pistol from the top deck of the bar. His belly was large and sweating or wet from the water pistol. He shot John and laughed, waving. Asshole. Just smile and wave. John smiled and waved.
John laid his blue dolphin towel across the warm sand and removed his shirt. He sat and drank. The sun felt good on his shoulders and back. He did not have a book. Watching the water, he noticed a very skinny girl with large breasts crouching low in the wet sand near the tide. She was tan. Her breasts were tan and looked heavy on her tiny frame. John imagined she was hunting for shark teeth. Admiring her, he removed his sunglasses to see the colors of her skin and hair. The sun reflected off the water and he could not see her. He said fuck and shielded his eyes.
Ping! His phone sounded from his bag in the sand.
SAM: Where are you? JOHN: Left of the statue. Sitting in front of a bar with a bunch of Zima posters. SAM: We’re near the surf boundary. JOHN: I’ll be along in a few minutes. I’m creepily watching a girl from a safe distance. SAM: Do it.
He lay there and observed the girl digging through the sand. Her hair was long and wet. She wore a black bathing suit top that looked too small and cut-off jean shorts which gripped her narrow thighs, the ragged white denim hanging low and wet. The girl leaned forward and plucked an object from the ground and held it close to her face. John thought her face was very long, but not too long. She tossed the object into the sea. She must realize she’s a spectacle. Why’s a skinny girl with such large tits never have an ass. Always seems to work that way. I wonder if she speaks English. Probably not. Maybe. The girl wet her hands in the sea and walked up the beach, passing John on his left. Gravely, she looked at him without stopping. He liked the severe look she gave him. Covertly, he watched her as far as the top of the stairs to the Zima bar, losing her in the shade. John decided she was lovely. I would marry her.
“Fuck,” he said.
Sam and Sam’s girlfriend, Rebecca were seated on towels near the fence that separated the swimmers from the designated surfing beach. John saluted them as he approached.
“Nice one missing the train,” Sam said.
“Yeah. Had to grab a burger. I died last night.”
“You and Sam both,” Rebecca said.
“Where’s everyone else?”
“They died too, I guess,” Sam said. “What did you get?”
“Big Mac set.”
“Good man. Need a beer?”
“Got a few right here.”
Lying on her belly with fair, pointed toes in the air, Rebecca flipped through a thick paperback.
“Are you able to read that right now? John asked.
“I don’t know,” she replied slowly. Her hair was pinned beneath a wide-brimmed hat. “Just kind of mindlessly staring at the words. My head is killing me.”
“Yeah. We overdid it,” John said.
“Well, I sure as hell gotta give it a rest for a while,” Sam said.
“Nah. You were fine.”
“At least I didn’t yell at everyone about Captain America.”
“Did I do that?”
John unrolled his towel and fell into it. He unwrapped a rice ball and ate it quickly while looking at the sea. He ate the sticky rice off his fingers. There was a breeze. John opened another beer and passed one to Sam. Sam drank. His thick mustache was wet from it.
“You ever been over to the island?” Sam asked, pointing to Enoshima on their left.
“Nope. Never did cross the bridge.”
“It’s alright. Too damn crowded in the summer. Not much of a beach to speak of.” Sam drank the beer, crushed the can and dropped it into the sand.
“Looks pretty from here,” John said.
“It was just alright,” Rebecca said. “Kind of boring. Does anyone want some wine?”
“Is it red?” John asked.
“Maybe in a bit.”
“It’s not very cold anymore,” she said, holding it against her face.
“Saw a hell of a woman over by that Zima bar,” John said.
“Ridiculous that’s so popular here,” Rebecca said.
Sam stood up and stretched his arms into the air, yawning.
“Think I’ll go for a swim,” he said.
John followed Sam into the bay. He plodded behind his friend and felt the cool water rise around his arms, stomach and chest. There were few people swimming near the fence that ran a few meters into the water. A short wave rolled towards them. They dove into it. John remained under the surface. Feels good and clean. He blew bubbles and felt them on his face. Just stay under here. He came up, hearing the sound of his breath, ears popping.
“Hell yes!” John yelled, exhaling.
“Nothing like a swim to kick that hangover in the ass,” Sam said.
“I was freaking out until now.”
“Yeah? You and me both, bud. God damn heebie-jeebies.”
“You’re gonna miss this when you go back,” John said. “New York’s got beach, but it’s not quite as nice. It’s not the Pacific.”
Sam looked at John and wrinkled his brow. He sighed and leaned into the water, floating on his back.
“Sure. That’s life,” Sam said.
“Don’t do it, Sam I am. Tokyo needs a good man like you.”
“Gotta go back sometime.”
“Some time, sure.”
“When’s that?” Sam asked. He took in a mouthful of water and spit into the air.
“I gotta go back and you know it,” Sam said. He looked at the beach and at Rebecca. Her long white body shone brightly on the dark sand.
John was quiet and turned to find the mountain in the distance. He could not see it because of the fog, or clouds.
“What did we argue about last night?” John asked.
“I’m not sure. You called me tiresome.”
“I think you were going on about riding bikes through Brooklyn.”
“I just didn’t want to hear about New York is all.”
“That old chestnut,” Sam laughed. “I was pretty pissed off.”
“Guess I should suck it up. You gotta do what you gotta do,” John said.
“Yep. Take it like a friend.”
“You’re a stubborn son of a bitch,” John said.
“Can’t see Fuji today,” John said.
“Comes and goes.” Sam fell into a slow moving wave and tumbled into a handstand. He came up again and pushed the wet hair out of his eyes. He rubbed his shoulder, wincing.
“God damn shoulder. Still gives me hell.”
“Just make sure you have a real plan,” John said.
“The beaches back home ain’t so bad. You gotta go and live over there again.”
“Might do that.”
“How about California?” Sam asked.
“California’s the worst.”
“There was this girl earlier. She was something else,” John said.
“I’ve been seeing ‘em all day.”
“She was great. She was tiny and she had really big tits.”
“They never stop,” Sam said. “Bless their hearts.”
“I mean, what the hell am I supposed to do about it?”
“Time will tell, Johnny boy.” Sam waved to Rebecca. She waved to them and held up the wine.
“Let’s go back,” Sam said.
They walked silently through the water towards the beach and Rebecca.
“Ya’ll have a nice swim?”
“Oh yeah. Feels great,” Sam said.
“How about some of that wine,” John asked.
Sam opened the wine with John’s pocket-knife and took a sip.
“Sorry, no cups.” he handed John the bottle. He took a long drink.
“It’s pretty good,” John said. He gave it to Sam.
“I’m Surprised its not getting dark yet,” Rebecca said. “It feels late.”
“If only we had a starship,” John said. “We could go back and forth whenever it pleased us.”
Sam laughed and said he wanted to eat pizza on the way home.
They sat on the towels and drank the bottle and argued about science fiction and pizza until Sam stood and pointed out the top of the mountain breaking through the clouds.
“There ya go,” he said. “We saw it.”