51. Redemption (cont.)

Popular Japanese fast food chain Mos (pronounced like the English word "moss") Burger. Moss is currently not an ingredient in any of their burgers, but most other things are.

Popular Japanese fast food chain Mos (pronounced like the English word “moss”) Burger. Moss is currently not an ingredient in any of their burgers, but most other things are.

whooot      whooot            whooot

“What?”

She couldn’t hear me.

“Turn left at the Mos Burger!”

It was no use. She just kept pumping away.

whooot      whooot            whooot

She was a stout and sturdy woman, with thighs like a speed skater who had taken a year off to eat Cool Ranch Doritos and watch every Tora-san movie ever made, which, at last count, couldn’t be counted.

whooot      whooot            whooottorasan-specs2

There are a lot of Tora-san movies.

whooot      whooot            whooot

And Cool Ranch Doritos are not slimming.

whooot      whooot            whooot

And as fate would have it, on this particular day, the day on which this kind, English-capable sister of my neighbor Nishihara-san agreed to take me to Sumihara Coffee Shop to help negotiate the redemption of my point card for benefits and/or prizes described in very small print and in exceptionally ambiguous language in a language already known for its exceptional ambiguity, on this particular day Hiroko Nishihara, for she was unmarried and this had always been her name (and, she felt in her darker moments, always would be), had that morning plucked a pair of dark blue corduroys from a wheeled and thus portable clothes rack that, just as a futon turns any Japanese room into a bedroom, has the tragically magical property of turning any Japanese room into a closet, and, having thus plucked said corduroys, unmarried Hiroko proceeded to shove, twist and otherwise cajole her powerful legs through the creaking fabric until finally managing to glimpse one happy, wiggling toe, whereupon, like a sun-stroked and thirsty sailor spotting land, she began to weep with joy and paddle towards shore, a fanciful image all the more fanciful in Hiroko’s case since the woman, believe it or not, had never been to the vast ocean waters that surrounded her small island nation, and, if you were to drag her there, because you would have to drag her, she almost certainly would not go into the water due to her intense, perhaps not entirely irrational fear of being pulled under the waves by the weight of her massive thighs.

whooot      whooot            whooot

Half an hour later, all nine of her toes* safely through the corduroys and lashed to platform sandals that she believed by elevating her legs in some way substantially altered their form, Hiroko mounted her mamachari and pedaled over to my apartment, her mighty thighs, now ribbed in blue corduroy, whispering a pleasing whit whit whit to the shops and pedestrians that floated effortlessly by, a pleasing whit whit whit that shifted to a muddy whut whut whut once I was seated on the uncomfortable metal carrier rack directly behind Hiroko’s hunched and slowly bobbing form, this muddy whut whut whut then at the first steep incline slowing and dropping two octaves to a throaty

whooot      whooot            whooot

A "mamachari," or "mama's bike.

A “mamachari,” or “mama’s bike.

Hiroko dug into the pedals. A thin, delicate stream of blue corduroy smoke rose from her thighs and snaked unbroken and unhurried through air made still by our near non-movement towards the flushed, stubbornly smiling, still unmarried face of my kind chauffeur.

whoot

whoot

whoot

A large turtle crawled out of a nearby canal and turned to look back over his shell as he overtook us.

whoot

whoot

whoot

I woman dropped a large jar of molasses, and the black goo charged ahead of our wobbling velocipede, fast for molasses, I thought, and uphill to boot.

whoot

whoot

whoot

A brown-throated three-toed sloth passed us on the left, which was odd since such animals are not native to Japan.

whoot

whoot

whoot

And also he was wearing white shoes nearly two weeks after Labor Day**.

whoot

whoot

whoot

Probably self-conscious, Hiroko thought.

whoot

whoot

whoot

Because of his toes, she supposed, and looked down at her own non-traditional number of same, instantly regretting her choice of sandals, and then, seeing now that her thighs had actually caught fire, corduroys as well.

A Mos Burger mackerel rice burger.

Mos Burger’s mackerel rice burger.

And with one final whoot and a ferocious wobble, Hiroko, me and the mamachari tipped over into two high school boys just coming out of the same Moss Burger we had been approaching for the past ten minutes, tearing open their paper sacks and spilling, fortuitously, a large cup of iced oolong tea onto Hiroko’s flaming thighs, and, less fortuitously, a piping hot mackerel rice burger onto my thighs which had not, previous to then, been flaming.

“Turn left!” I shouted into the stunned silence.

The traditional Japanese seiza style of sitting.

The traditional Japanese seiza style of sitting.

* Hiroko lost two of the eleven toes she was born with when she was required to sit for two hours in formal Japanese seiza style at a funeral service for a co-worker who passed away unexpectedly at the age of 127. If only she had lost just one toe, Hiroko often mused. But then, she would remind herself, that would have left her with either three toes on one foot or six on the other. –Eddie Trombone

 ** Here addled author E. Trombone is likely referring to the U.S. Labor Day, which takes place the first Monday in September rather than the more internationally recognized Labor Day date of May 1. This is done to prevent a Bolshevik takeover of the U.S. government and discourage an increase in the minimum wage. This date has also been chosen to provide an easy-to-remember cut-off for citizens in our southern states to stop wearing white shoes and gathering for barbecues. You really have to make it clear to these people, otherwise Christmas ends up looking like just another pig pickin’. –G. K. Dirkins, U.S. Consular Officer

– – –

(I am told by the two Consulate staff members in charge of reconstructing this manuscript that preliminary work on the next section suggests the author, missing American Eddie Trombone, and this Hiroko character do eventually get to their destination, but it is yet unclear what exactly transpires at Sumihara Coffee Shop. They promise to try to get the next installment posted in a more timely manner, but add that the remaining pages are in extremely bad condition and will take some time to sort out. I reminded them that their primary responsibility as U.S. Consular officers is to issue visas and help process passport renewals, and that I personally am satisfied we have already made sufficient effort to find Mr. Trombone. We are publishing a manuscript recovered near his last known address and believed to be some sort of memoir in the hope that readers might come forward with clues to his whereabouts, we have filed a missing persons report with the Osaka Prefectural Police, and we have posted in the Consulate’s 4th floor break room a sketch made by Consular staff member Mrs. Doyle’s psychic sister-in-law. G. K. Dirkins, U.S. Consular Officer)

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