Important thing is getting Arisugawa Park out there, to the public in my own quirky way. Even counting the instant dismissal the term 'blog' engenders (hence the 'cloud novel' euphemism) so what?
This newly written section is a remembrance of a year living in Azabu, more than a few too many reckless evenings, wondering whether I had gone too far. Or, from a writer's perspective, not far enough.
Without further ado, the beginning of Hayao's dark night in the city.
Like some mythic Broadway nightlife district, flattened along a major street, Roppongi stretched eight formidable blocks, with the Crossing nailed to the center of its seamy heart. Its kanji formed a symbol of “three trees,” a former area of royal appointment that had been transformed into commercial hub by the presence of American HQ during the reconstruction years. There were still these formative influences felt––the neon-lit Gas Panic, now semi-displaced, its Kamikaze and B-52 shooters preserving memories of a time when destroyer-turned-rebuilder America had proffered the olive branch, engendered a profound effort to forget and unlearn. And ultimately outdo, under the government-backed impetus of a “national leader” program aimed at nice exchange rates. Shaken, not stirred––proximity to provisional leadership had also given Roppongi a seedy twist. To get lost in dark, anonymous dissipation, after hours spent in brightly-lit offices––whether Western or Japanese, that impulse had never gone away.
Hayao let the 30-second intervals of alternating pedestrian flow seep in, the flux of passers-by on their way home and to bar, club, restaurant, spa, and hot-yoga assignations. A few tourists, pleasantly mixed-up and not knowing quite where to go, stood out like barnacles on bare rock. There were also sea-level pieces of seaweed, floating, anchored into rocks with careless precision––one plainclothes policeman he half-recognized and a number of professionals, representing well defined territories.
Hayao lit a calming cigarette, long ago banished from his life anywhere but Roppongi. There were four massage women––of the usual Chinese origin, judging by the nearest one’s accent. She wore full length padded coat, sensible evening wear in nippy Roppongi––relying on the subtle pressure of a practiced touch to latch on. Taking the arms of passers-by, nudging with a word or two––this was the origin of the phrase ‘happy ending.’
Hayao turned his attention back to the barnacles––the hipster tourists from Canada who had traded dopey smiles and big backpacks (but not the Canada lapel pins) for a more edgy, yet not hard-edged, look. A group of office ladies discussing whether they had the desire to go out to Gonpachi, the Kill Bill restaurant, or––and he heard it distinctly, from under a flutter of admonishing giggles––the Kohai club. First timers, he thought––for women in their late 20s and beyond, host clubs were a surprisingly common pastime. If they were earning money, living with family, not having children, they could also have fun––never mind their harried colleagues. He shrugged––this group would have fun, whatever the ending.
Turning back to love hotel agenda, Hayao found himself dialed into the Roppongi pulse. Investigative work was not simply about prior knowledge, accumulated experience—it was also about letting the mind flow free, that essential blast of improvisation within a structured jam.
He sauntered out from the shadows to the street corner, joining the swelling ranks as they crossed the street. He turned left at a Pachinko parlor advertised by an albino leopard with green eyes. It was a familiar enough hangout for small-time players. He had spent hours here on assignment over the course of a month, tailing a suspect in the shabu business who came in to kill time before meetings. The steady drip of the IV gambler, caught in a pastime for which the only end was loss of funds and a need to sell more product. Hayao had felt a sense of dread, observing humanity’s unsettling capacity for addiction. He had worked to disassociate himself from interest in any outcome, balls falling in mind-numbing sheets, draining his bank account. Unlike mah jong, to which the patient punter could adhere and prosper… and here Hayao caught himself as he felt the primal urge stir within.