“I got a headache.”
This was not covered in Super Power Interview: Dominating Others and Charging Blindly Toward Your Future, a book I had borrowed from a bookstore downtown with especially poor security and had studied in preparation for this interview.
“Sorry to hear that,” I improvised, then, recalling the chapter titled When Life Gives You Lemons, Smash Them Into Life’s Face, added, “I never get headaches.” Which was funny, since the suit I had bought from the Salvation Army thrift store that afternoon had been donated by the relatives of a deceased person who must have been at least 30 pounds lighter than me, and I had been holding my breath since changing into it in the men’s room of a nearby gyros joint, which in actual fact did cause me to have at that moment a very bad headache (in addition to a weird stain on my shirt-sleeve). I estimated I had another 20 minutes before I passed out, then another five minutes before there was permanent brain damage, then maybe another five minutes before this suit wound up back at that Salvation Army thrift store.
“No,” he persisted. “I gawa headache.”
“Sorry, I’m not . . .”
“Me. Egawa headache. I’m . . .”
“You got a . . . Hideki?”
“My name.” he said. “I’m Egawa Hideki.”
“I see,” I said, jamming my thumb very deep into his nose.
I had caught Mr. Egawa* mid-bow with a perfectly executed Domination Power Handshake™.
“Sorry,” I said, then, remembering the chapter Apologize for Nothing: People are Trash, “for nothing. I am very sorry for nothing.” But I couldn’t stop myself from offering him some gyros napkins to stanch the flow of blood from his nose. He flinched, then accepted the odd waxy sheets, and, kind of grossed out by how they felt in his hand, quickly slipped the complimentary paper products into his jacket pocket.
“Please,” he said, bringing a handkerchief to his nose and motioning me over to a sofa and some chairs there in the downtown hotel suite the school was using for their interviews.
I neatly blocked Mr. Egawa with my forearm and leapt over a small coffee table so that I might secure the perfect power seat, the one with a large, bright window behind it (Blind and Humiliate Your Opponent). I sat at its very front edge, hands on my knees, back ramrod straight “as if you are about to spear a rodent” (People are Vermin).
Mr. Egawa reluctantly took a seat across from me on the sofa. I waited two seconds. “So tell me about your school?” I shot into the yawning chasm of silence. (Silence is Your Enemy: Keep Them on Their Heels).
Mr. Egawa shrunk back a bit into the sofa, probably because my face was at that point about six inches from his, which apparently is considered an uncomfortably close distance in Japan. Or the United States too, I suppose, or most other places, come to think of it, with the possible exception of coal mines or mosh pits.
Mr. Egawa said some things about the school but I did not hear them, partly because by then there was very little oxygen reaching my brain as a result of the thin, dead stranger’s suit I was wearing, but also because, since reading the chapter What Other People Say is Not Important, I had been training myself to not listen to other people, and to be generally less sensitive to my surroundings.
When Mr. Egawa stopped to swallow, I charged forward with what my book described as being, in the short term, a Strategy for Super Success, and, in the broader sense, a war against thoughtful contemplation and self-reflection. I forget all of what I asked—it’s not important—questions about the weather in Japan, Mr. Egawa’s favorite color, how come you never see cashews in the shell, do dogs go to heaven. After about an hour and a half of this, Mr. Egawa began to cry a little bit. Well, strictly speaking, he started crying after about 15 minutes, but it wasn’t until an hour and a half went by that I noticed it.
It was when I was asking about the light bulbs in refrigerators that he let loose a high-pitched, inhuman shriek.
“I’m sure they switch off!” he screamed at me, which would have hurt my feelings if my book had not provided me with ways to eliminate them through a series of self-hypnosis exercises outlined in the chapter Feelings Shmeelings.
“I must ask you some questions now!” Mr. Egawa pleaded. “This is a job interview, and I am the employer!”
“By all means,” I replied, then shifted in my power seat a bit to let more of the sun hit Mr. Egawa in the face.
Blinking, he began, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?”
My clever opponent had apparently done his research.
Mr. Egawa nodded.
“Okay, you are hired.”
“You may begin in April.”
“Can’t convict you if they can’t catch you.”
“You will have to buy your own ticket to Japan.”
“You will report to our headquarters in Tokyo for a complimentary delousing and welcome party.”
“One step ahead of the bail bondsmen.”
“There will of course be a small charge for the tea and injections enjoyed at the welcome party.”
“It’s a small study we’re being paid to conduct by the Japanese government that measures the effects of heavy metals on the human nervous system.”
“Is it dangerous?”
“It is quite inexpensive. Just half the price of the tea.”
“That’s a pretty good deal.”
“And the tea?”
“Eight hundred yen per cup.”
“So about six dollars.”
“Well . . .”
“And that would make the injections about three dollars.”
“And they’re required?”
“It would really help us out.”
“But not required?”
“Oh no, they are required.”
*Astute readers will notice Egawa Hideki is referred to here as Mr. Egawa. This is because in Japan the last name comes first, and the first last. Or as they see it in Japan, the first name comes first, and the last last, which is the same in the West, but the other way around.