So, what would you do if someone told you that you were the son of God All Mighty? How would you react to learn that you were the Second Coming, Jesus H Christ, no less?
Surely you wouldn’t, couldn’t believe them. You would have to dismiss it as the ravings of a lunatic?
But then, put yourself in my position: alone in a strange land, barely a friend of the world, jobless and seemingly worthless. If you were in such a frame of mind, do you think you would so happily dismiss the one good thing in your life? Do you not think that maybe, just maybe, you would be at a low enough ebb to think ‘do you know what? I deserve this’? For is it not that when we are at our lowest point that we reach out to a higher power? Is it not then, when we are so in need of saving, that we take the hand of a saviour?
Well, as a born cynic, I of course, dismissed it out of hand. Not for a moment did I, your humble narrator, ruminate upon the words of my Higashiayama herald. Not once did I reflect upon the many – coincidental or otherwise – correlations between myself and the biblical Christ. No, instead I laughed off the bizarre subway scene and, having seen my station sail from view, we now re-join my story. You find me, where else, but in the house of my forefathers: the British pub.
Many of you, my faithful readers, will know the torment of the soul that can accompany an evening in the British pubs of Japan. You are surrounded by so many, but despite gorging on spirits there is an emptiness of spirit – whether yours is holy or otherwise – that is amplified by the knowledge that those who surround you are nothing but gluttons, drunkards and sinners. Fortunately I am more than happy in this company and this night I was even happier than usual, because, you see, I was very, very drunk.
“Another three! It’s like I’ve hit the jackpot!” I laid the three glasses on the table before Jun who looked like he was teetering on the edge of an alcohol induced despair.
“But Josh-san, please I can not drink more. I just want water.”
“There’s nothing I can do Jun, every time I ask for a glass of wine and a glass of water, I get three wines.
“Perhaps you’re saying something wrong?”
“Or perhaps I’m saying something right! Come on, drink up and cheer up. It’s me who’s lost a job today, not you.”
The barman continued to serve me vino in triplicate on that fateful night, again and again, and as steadily as the wine flowed, the murkier the night became. But despite the heady haze, one thing that was unmistakable was the thronging mass that surrounded us. In those days, before it began, before we all knew what was happening, there were far fewer people, fewer hangers on. But that night, perhaps as a portent of the future, there was a swarm surrounding my new-found friend and I. Maybe those people could feel what was happening, maybe it was just the first gathering of many, or maybe it was the fact that it was Halloween and everyone was celebrating, dressed in their spookiest and sexiest outfits.
But, no matter the reason for our massed ranks, we reeled around that night, bibbing wine like it was going out of fashion. While the booze flowed, the women joined and we gambolled from bar to bar, Jun and I. All about us were spooks, demons, spirits and sexy zombie nurses, as if we were in the depths of hell itself, but with slightly more flesh on display, and much to his chagrin and everyone else’s amazement, I found that for as long as Jun continued to desire water my wine trick continued, until we shifted onto the cocktail towers which, as they are wont to do, took the debauchery to Babylonian proportions.
Unfortunately, despite having been born in a pub, I sometimes find that my powers of alcohol consumption fail me, and despite having found myself the centre of attention that evening, a shepherd, a pied piper of sorts, adored by all, I somehow became detached from the group. I stumbled around the Sakae streets, bleary of eye, light of pocket, but full of spirits, and after fourteen hours without eating, hoping to find nourishment of some kind. A kebab would have been ideal.
Somehow, in my meanderings, in search of sustenance I wound up in a part of Sakae in which I had previously never been, but I now know is called Ikeda Koen. But this is not like any park I had been to before. There were no picnic tables or children romping on bicycles. There were no ducks in ponds or little old ladies feeding them stale loaves of bread. Instead, packed with oppai bars, prostitutes and shady men in elaborate suits, it seemed to be the place where the dark, seedy underbelly of Nagoya congregated. It is also where I met Satan.