As the restaurant owner had stepped outside calling terrace tables by their numbers, a dissatisfied expression lingering in the air where his face had been a second ago, the single guest imagined how he’d rape the girl who tried to make it through the job interview. He’d force her to take it from behind in the super tiny, windowless staff toilet, just like he’d done it with the girl last week and the girl before last week. They barely even needed their two waitresses (engaged in idle chatter next to the cake display), but girls kept replying to an ad renewed every month for as long as both the username and password for that page remained buried deep down in the muddy nethers of a bossy memory.
You catch yourself thinking, “Not EVERY time,” as your ribs are being pressed hard against the handrails to the left, a fat lady trying to get past you, sweating and panting, panicking, and him shamelessly taking advantage of the situation. Before you regain balance his hands are there, placed in firm grip around your waist, his foul breath brushing your neck again in tender waves that seem to mock, not merely you but the very planet whose troubled crust has brought the two of you together at this unlikely place.
“No, honey, we’re not going UP,” is what you feel him whisper in your ear, the tip of his tongue slipping inside for a split second, then sliding along your helix, all wet and slimy, while a specially heavy shockwave pulls the floor from under your feet like your father once did with the bath mat, when you were small. “You’re not at the bottom. You ARE the bottom.”
And his joke sends you down. His laughter. He’s right, you realize. Just as before. Right. The steps are not going up. They’re going down. Which your body failed to understand. And now you are falling.
The second you are finally ready to face him, you find yourself at the bottom end of the escalators. You need to pay attention to the stairs, the feet, the legs, the heads that bubble upwards as though in an inversion of the most popular phone game now where an endless stream of objects comes rattling down the screen and whenever there is a match in shape, you have to connect them through a line you draw with your finger. Once they’re connected, they will flash in unison, then vanish, saved from gravity, adding points to your score. You wish you could do that with heads now.
At first, you dare not turn your head. For one, you need your eyes elsewhere, above (you’ve learned in drills that people who die in earthquakes die because of things from above) and in front of you where people get up after falling, bodies funneling into the narrow corridor of defunct escalators, since the stairs are blocked by debris.
And then, it’s too improbable. I must have misinterpreted, you tell yourself. He surely said something like…
“I’ll rape your ass and get you pregnant, you little slut.”
Your mind’s playing tricks to the point of making you feel a hard thing rubbing against that part which your stressed-out imagination just carved from a word sounding vaguely similar, likely meaning something along the lines of…
“My cock will rip up your ass cunt and make it bleed, before I give you my load, Benny. That’s what you want, Benny.”
He isn’t speaking to you in Japanese. And that name is your real name. It’s how your friends at home call you. It’s how you’ve been called for as long as you know. Except Yoko hates the -ny ending, she calls you Ben or Ben-chan in loving mocking, or Benjamin when she’s angry.
“That’s what you’ve been fantasizing about every time in that room, Benny. Don’t pretend. You want this.”
The deeper I sleep the sicker I feel waking up, you once typed into Google. You feel like finally waking up on this day. People from behind are pushing harder. The number 142 comes to your mind, which is the number of a bus running every twenty minutes and even less often in the evening, near the street where you live alone — but it stands in now for the number of the bus that departs every twenty minutes, and probably less often in the evening, from the station next to where Yoko and you are living together when you do. Because you do not know that number.
You always wanted to take that bus instead of the train. Just to see where it would pass by carrying you slowly to the station about half the distance into the city, where you would have to board the train for the remaining half. A stop not far from Noborito. In terms of getting into the city, the bus made little sense, therefore you always postponed that slow, winded ride. But how you’d love to be stranded with the 142 now.
Around you, people keep pushing harder and harder. The voice from the speakers clearly said “West exit” again a second ago. There’s wrangling. An elbow misses your breast by a hair’s breadth. The breaks of a wheelchair are screeching near as one heavier aftershock sends everyone to the left. A light seems about to come down, swaying. You can smell bad breath in your neck.
“I will make you a baby,” the man behind you just said.
There it starts. Or there. Before you can be sure if any alteration in the statement is the reason, or if this happens by mere coincidence, a rush towards the West exit forces your feet forward, away from one (you surprise yourself thinking, my) pair of speakers and into that middle where the sound waves of two speaker pairs intersperse to the point of making everything incomprehensible. This does not feel right, does not feel wrong.
Immediately, you feel hungry and thirsty. A hole down there. Dizziness, images. Hands near trembling. You see the fear of your body becoming unmanageable stand next to you, like a twin. You hear your mother’s voice telling all the kids how a Gemini boy can fall as often as he wishes, he will always be caught and kept from hitting the ground hard by his second self. It’s your birthday party. You’ve just turned twelve (born at half past five in the afternoon and as your mother told all the kids earlier over blowing the candles, you were never one for mornings). You just fell. Because someone pushed you. In a game, but the game was a pretext. They did not hit or push you often. Only sometimes, yet they’d do it when you least expected it and your lack of attention made it easy for them to catch you off-guard.
Off-guard, you are thinking. That’s what I am.
Was that a new message, over the loudspeakers? Is this a different voice now?