Like A Slow Bird (excerpt)
An attractive girl in a white, Victorian-style dress sat down next to John in an old coffee shop on the West side of Shinjuku. It was nearly dusk and the large yellow windows over the counter, the scuffed chairs and smoke-stained walls made everything appear worn and dirty. John was reading a book of stories called Men Without Women. He liked reading those stories very much and knew it was pretty unoriginal for an American male in his 20’s living overseas to like Hemingway and things that might be associated with him. It’s a good thing to be stale in that way, he thought. A productive cliché.
He wanted Tokyo to be like that. He wanted his days and friends to facilitate the same nuanced quality of ‘down but never defeated.’ This could be the new Paris if we really work at it. The new wherever. If I think it and convince the others. Just gotta convince the others. Different world, but possible. Completely overdone and you’re a moron.
John put the book down and thought about the previous night. He had played video games with Dan and Naoki at an apartment in Nakano. John remembered winning 7 of the 8 matches in a fierce session of Street Fighter. He was angry he did not win all 8. Losing a video game bothered him more than losing anything else. Forever the undefeated.
He wrote a short list on his pad of paper.
TEKKEN 4 STREET FIGHTER 4 SMASH BROS NINTENDO ICE HOCKEY PUNCHOUT SUPER DODGE-BALL
John decided he was only adequate at Dodgeball. He drew multiple lines through the titles STREET FIGHTER and TEKKEN. Japanese are too good at fighting games. There are a lot of 4s in that list. Need to stop caring about video games. Waste of time. Get up and work. Write the damn story. Train hard. Write hard.
John looked at the attractive girl next to him. She wore long gloves and a tiny hat that was pinned to the top of her long, black hair. John thought she looked silly and wanted to sleep with her. He did his best to see her without turning his head. The girl’s skin looked very white with small patterns of freckles across her cheeks. She sipped a green tea latte with whipped cream. She picked up a scoop of cream with her spoon and ate it slowly. Like a slow bird. She looks and moves like a thin bird with thin bird limbs. John tried to think of different birds that moved slowly. He could not think of one. I thought the phrase ‘slow bird’ because it sounds pretty but it doesn’t work. Birds don’t move like that. The girl returned her empty glass to the counter and left. John looked down at the list. Ice Hockey for Nintendo is a really good game. He closed his notepad and slid it under the book of stories. He stared at the figures on the paperback’s cover. A soldier. A detective. A boxer. Loser take nothing.