60. Down the Rabbit Hole

It is not without some measure of discomfort with which I must report to the readers of this blog that it is only now I have become aware of the fact there have been no postings here for one and one half years. I am measurably discomforted not because I in any way endorse the nonsense posted here, or indeed the very stated purpose of this blog, and would probably have this Edward Trombone fellow horsewhipped if we were ever to find him. No, my vexation arises from the fact that 18 months ago I was persuaded by Mrs. Doyle here at the U.S. Consulate to create for her a new position whose sole duty was to be the upkeep of this damnable site. The devious woman furthermore succeeded in convincing me to provide her an office, through whose very door I stormed this afternoon after realizing that not only had the blog not been properly upkept, but furthermore I had not laid eyes on its upkeeper Mrs. Doyle since assigning her to this newly created position two summers ago. Not that I relish laying eyes on Mrs. Doyle, and would in actual fact rather lay my eyes just about anywhere else, but the woman is after all drawing a salary at the expense of the taxpayers of the United States of America, money that has already been earmarked for a Mexican wall, a Muslim ban, and a Chinese buffet at the next office Christmas party where no one will be allowed to say “Happy Holidays” or anything else that smacks of inclusivity, and employees will be prevented from using either bathroom just in case they identify with a gender I cannot readily detect and may not agree with.

Upon storming into Mrs. Doyle’s office, I found said employee in full repose, feet on the desk, fast asleep, and surrounded by great tumblings of pizza boxes, beer cans, and gossip magazines. I grabbed two pages out of a box on which was scrawled in black marker “Trombone: Down a Rabbit Hole” and turned to leave when Mrs. Doyle stirred halfway from her drunken slumber to mumble, “We’ve lost him. He’s too far gone.” I don’t know who this “him” is, and I don’t care, but I assume we have paid good money for space on the Interweb, so that space we shall damn well use, and I’m giving these two pizza-stained pages to Mr. Nakamura down by the x-ray machine at the entrance to the Consulate. Between screening visitors’ briefcases and backpacks, he can work on uploading this Trombone character’s rubbish from the laptop I have relieved, along with her duties, from Mrs. Doyle. It shouldn’t be a security risk, as the x-ray machine hasn’t really worked since 2013 (given the severity of Mr. Nakamura’s cataracts, we just cannot justify fixing the thing, and in fact, it might take him a while to type up these pages, the accuracy of which I obviously cannot guarantee).

For those unfamiliar with this Trombone fellow’s blathering nonsense and wondering what the hell this blog is all about, click on “About” up above. For those familiar with all of this, my condolences.

-Gerard K. Dirkins, U.S. Consulate in Osaka


“ . . . and then the first phonetician turns to the second one and says, ‘Now that’s what I call a dental fricative!’” one, two, then someone in the cheap seats drops a pin and everyone in the great hall turns back to see what the commotion’s all about, leaving the keynote speaker hanging at the end of a joke so bad and poorly told you could actually hear a pin drop.

“Would’ve been funnier with a bilabial.” I whisper to my date, if someone you bring to The Japanese Phonetics Association convention can truly be called a date, but there was a free drink at the end of this all, so . . . maybe. And then, incredibly, someone drops another pin and people gasp. The keynote speaker continues, shaky now, with a pun about plosives that nobody gets, and in the horrible silence that follows, leans forward, the spotlight catching and shining brightly off the thin film of flop sweat on his forehead, and mumbles “Anyone here from out of town?” too close to the mike so it sounds like, “I’ve made such a mess of my life.”

“Everything is,” she replies.


“Everything is funnier with a bilabial.”

“That’s nonsense.”

“No,” she says, “I read a study – ”

“The thing he said about nasals, I mean.” I rush in to cut off my quote-unquote date’s conversation-strangling recounting of yet another study she’s read and memorized to use as a tool like this, to bat away like bothersome gnats the unscripted dialogue of Life, to pop that particular balloon, to swing at with a dimestore butterfly net the gloriously unpredictable fluttering monarch of genuine joyful conversation, then kill, pickle and pin it to the pages of an encyclopedia of death, labeled and shelved in the deep recesses of petty minds, gathering there –

“No more syrup!”


“I didn’t say anything.”


It was the bartender.

The keynote speech had ended, and my date and I were at the bar, along with the entire audience and a few people who had been let in by friends through the emergency exit.

“More syrup!”

It seems they were out of syrup.

“Now!” the cartoonishly barrel-chested bartender bellowed to a skinny, Disney-animated-movie sidekick, who scurried into the distance, I assume to fetch another jug of syrup and I suppose along the way slip on a well-drawn banana peel and tumble into a talking teacup.

My date ordered a Tom Collins, a cocktail that relies heavily on syrup, or bar syrup, often called simple syrup, something that could only be simpler if it were simply water, but with the addition of sugar, or, in the case of the pre-made commercial stuff used at busy bars such as this one, corn syrup and a few carcinogenic preservatives, it magically transforms from water into a substance somewhere between runny and gloppy, the approximate viscosity of brain water, if such a thing exists, which we almost found out when the bartender, already distraught from lack of syrup, lost his temper entirely over the subsequent necessitating of this very ingredient by my date’s insensitive drink order, and swung a nearly full bottle of well gin at my head, which is precisely where I keep my brain and, if such a thing exists, brain water. I managed to avoid the attempted braining, having had bottles of gin, both well and name brands, swung at me before, and headed with my date toward the emergency exit, working our way through the rush of people coming the other way.


“There’s a special on syrup drinks,” I said to a sharp-elbowed, foul-smelling man who nearly knocked me down.

Safely outside, we walked along the narrow band of concrete that serves as sidewalk in Osaka, beneath the great gray gloaming that passes in that metropolis as daylight.

“You were saying?”


“Something about nasals?”

“Oh right!”

I gathered my thoughts into a surprisingly small pile, took an unnecessarily deep breath, and began.

“When considering the difference between English and Japanese nasals,” I spoke, “it is of the upmost importance to distinguish between syllable-initial nasals and – ”

There was a great whooshing to my right as a large black piano fell out of the sky, miraculously missing me by mere inches. My date, however, was not so lucky. She lay Wile E. Coyote flat beneath the shattered instrument.

“– those that come at the end,” I finished.

The text below this point and on the next three pages has been obliterated by what I first took to be blood and human tissue, but after I looked closer and gave it a lick turned out be tomato sauce, pepperoni and mayonnaise, which you just cannot stop Japanese people from putting on pizza no matter how much you scream and threaten. I’m working now on cleaning pizza from the pages but it certainly looks like Eddie Trombone’s life has devolved into a series of disjointed, hallucinatory dreamscapes. Covered in bad pizza.

– L. Doyle


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