Thomas looked at his hands. They seemed suddenly white, translucent even. He could see his veins bulging through his skin, pulsing as his heart raced. He had been running for the train, but that’s not what made his heart pound. It was what he was running from that scared him to death.
He was a tall, lanky man – a boy really – of 25 with a series of tattoos that ran the length of his left arm and down one side of his back. His long brown hair was flat and shapeless, smushed under a baseball cap that proclaimed he was a Boston Red Sox fan – in reality he was nothing of the sort. He didn’t understand the game at all, he never even watched it.
Baseball bat. There – he said it to himself. He thought about his cap. The man who was chasing him had a baseball bat and he had intended to bash his brains out with it. Thud! Crack. A trickle of blood and a mush of brains dripping into his eyes. That’s what he was in for.
But he had made the train, just barely. The doors closing behind him just as the short, thick heavyset Japanese man banged against the train as it rolled away
When a bat hits your skull it makes a cracking sound. Just like in the game. But with a dull thud as it plows past your skull and into the mushy insides of your head. Thom was glad it hadn’t come to that. Oh he’d be dead for sure.
The man wanted him. Dead.
It was innocent enough. A few drinks. His moderately decent Japanese allowed him to convey his droll, somewhat dim view of the bar he had landed in with a woman he had met walking down the street.
Ah. But that’s when he should have sensed the danger. She was way out of his league. Sure Japanese women are supposed to dig foreign guys – if only for fun. But she was something special. They struck up a conversation and soon he was buying her drinks. This went on for a while, mostly Japanese whisky. He didn’t get drunk that easily but he was starting to loosen up. And the more acquainted he got to… what was her name… Saouri? Well the more he got to know her he started to see they both had a lot in common. Like baseball. She loved the Boston Red Sox so it turned out. The slight lag in his language ability allowed him to passably admit that – actually he was a big Red Sox fan himself. Wasn’t that strange that she liked them too?
The man behind the bar must have also liked baseball. He even had a bat that he kept close to the till. The man was heavy, but you could see that he was fit. Like a pro baseball player well past his prime. Maybe 50? He had yellow tobacco stained teeth and a crew cut.
As Thom started to pay the bill, Saori stepped into the ladies – they were going to his place – at least that’s how it looked. But as she passed the man on the way to the toilet she smiled like she knew him which struck Thom as odd. But then he remembered she had suggested the place. Maybe she was a regular.
With Saori in the ladies Thom waited to pay the bill, hoping in a shy kind of way that they might go halves. But she was taking forever and he sat there at the bar staring at an empty glass. He sucked on the ice.
5 minutes. No Saori.
So he ordered another whisky for himself. Might as well wait it out right? Who knows why women take so long in the restroom. There wasn’t a line or anything. The place was nearly empty.
“Whisky Kudasai” Thom said to the barman. “Straighto”.
The man stared at him. His eyes were feverish and his teeth stuck out from behind his lips like stained pieces of glass.
“Mo dame!” the man shouted. “Harae!”
Thom was shocked. Still no Saori. He only had a ¥5,000 so he hoped he’d have enough money to get the train home if it wasn’t too late.
“Eto… chotto matte kudasai.” He implored.
“Gaijin Harae! … Isoge!”
Wow thought Thom. This guy was really upset about something. What had he done?
“Eto… Kanajo made kaitekunakata kedo” said Thom, almost silently mouthing he words.
“Ore wa matenai! Baka!”
Ohkaaay said Thom to himself. Starting to get a bit freaked out.
“San man go sen en” screamed the man.
Still no Saori. Certainly she could hear what was happening. Thom thought about his wallet. He was freaked out. He thought about Saori. That ¥5,000 wasn’t going to be half even if she was willing to pay for her drinks.
He looked down at his feet. The bar was dark and narrow. He could see the door just a few feet away.
He looked at the man and his bloody eyes and his yellow teeth and inside he screamed a little to himself. It was a long wailing painful scream but he kept it inside. His hands trembled. He started to sweat. He looked at the door. He looked down at his feet and suddenly he saw his feet move.
They were running, running towards the door. His heart was pounding in his chest. The man started yelling but Thom just ran, through the door letting it bang shut in the man’s face. He ran down the street. The man followed. He was fast behind him. Thom could almost smell him. It was like an ashtray filled with whisky.
He could hear him too. Thud, thud, thud, as the man’s feet hit the pavement. Thom looked back again. He was carrying the baseball bat.
“Shit” Thom said out loud.
The man was close behind him but he had almost reached the station.
Crack! He heard the bat hit the pavement. Crack! The man yelled at him to pay. He felt the man touch his shoulder, grab his shirt but he tugged himself loose, his eyes turning white with fear as he bounded through the gate.
Thom heard the bat. He had hit someone. Maybe a passerby, maybe some poor soul waiting for the train. CRACK Thud. He heard it louder again as the doors closed behind him.
It was cold in the train, he sat on the green seat and looked around at the other passengers. They were staring at him.
He looked at his arms. They were white. He felt his heart was racing. He took off his Red Sox Cap and a trickle of blood flowed onto his face and into his eyes and down over the green seat.