|Urgent and heavy, the amber stream strikes the water at the bottom of the toilet bowl, shattering the man's translucent face into a confusion of ripples. Sweat drops from his chin and nose to the hair of his curving belly. Like interference waves, this night’s memories return, coloring what now he sees: that crowded street in Tokyo’s Roppongi and the chance meeting with a former coworker, who invites him for drinks but spends hours complaining about money troubles after he lost his "lifetime" employment. The man, magnanimity personified, bought the drinks, pickling brains in shochu.
“It’s just business, honey,” he’d said, trying to ease his daughter’s hurt expression as she climbed into the taxi with her mother. “I’ll take you to Kubuki-cho another night.”
Hours later, hailing a taxi, he chanced to see a young woman struggling with a red vinyl umbrella. He offered her a ride home. Beautiful smile, delicious legs. Three dots tattooed in triangle on her shoulder: a target for his first, playful kiss, and one kiss teased out the next. Long-banked fires rose higher when she pretended not to understand his question of money. The elevator to her apartment was like an oven as she pushed him away—nervous the neighbors would see, apparently.
How pliant she’d been. How slight the exaggeration that had opened her: that he was a vice-president at an investment bank. “Rich man,” she’d purred, her English hesitant, hands growing bolder. An orange tabby jumped onto the cool, indigo sheets between them, yowling for attention. As she set the overweight feline on the floor, he asked again, and again she ignored the question.
Jet black hair clung to her sweaty face as, at first, she protested, then squealed, and then moaned in pleasure. He smiles at the memory he will keep.
He hears a man's voice. TV?
Naked at the toilet, he realizes she will expect something—not money, perhaps, but kindness, a promise, a name. Fear rising, he resolves to walk out the front door and buy his wife a nice gift before getting back to their hotel. He doesn’t feel guilty about cheating. More, he is startled to realize he doesn’t regret it at all.
The heavy thumping ricochets through the fetid air. His stomach heaves. Acid burns his throat and sinuses; he struggles to fight it down. Maybe it was that Viagra.
The pungent virility of his stream slackens, and then droops, and then sputters and spurts. A delicious shiver quivers through his drunken frame. The acrid stench of body-rotted alcohol the olfactory assails as, ocular, his face slowly returns, coalescing from the tips of wavelets that, losing their energy, lose distinction, join hands, become one, returning as if from visiting, perchance kissing, cousins at the white porcelain perimeter, now bearing bits, gifts: his features, omiyagi, those souvenirs surrendered from distant lands.
Strange: more muscle in that thumping than he would expect from a woman’s hand.