Once Upon A Time In Japan

Time again for a word-prompt exercise. Sunday is the day for it. What with The Sunday Whirl, Sunday’s Whirligig, Sunday Scribblings 2, and the good old WordPress Daily Prompt, there are plenty of words to work with…

The Daily Prompt: jiggle

Sunday Scribblings 2: broken

Sunday’s Whirligig: ambled, alabaster, noon, bathed, bloated, bellies, moon, poems, lockets, leaned, kicked, stuffed

Sunday Whirl: feathered, jinx, plane, shallow, us, follow, sigh, decide, cult, bleed, spin, news, friends, cat, laugh, fiction, deep, sit, earth, yakult, lead, clot, choose, them

While living in Asia, on one of my solo trips to Japan to renew my Korean E-2 work visa, I went to the movies. A matinee at noon. The picture I chose featured Robin Williams as a robot. Little did I expect the opening sequence of previews to include “Pearl Harbor”.

Jinx! Suddenly I was the enemy: the only American in the crowded theater, and there on the big screen, World War II. The people all around me looked like the kamikaze pilots in the planes, and I was one of the guys on the ships.

What was I to do? Walk out? Laugh? Sigh? I could not decide. Shakily, I sipped from the tiny plastic container of supersweet Yakult I’d bought on the way in. Seemed like the longest preview ever made. Lasted. Forever.

Then finally we were past the old news and on to the futuristic fiction.

After the flick, I ambled slowly out into the lobby, musing over the fact that everybody around me was doing the same dazed cow-walk that everybody does in the states as well.  There were less bloated bellies in the crowd, and the average height and skin tone differed, but other than that, pretty much same as home.

As I passed through the doors out into the street, I felt a tug on my sleeve. Executing a quick spin, I saw a group of six or eight people all dressed alike in blue jumpsuits, one of whom now had hold of my coat.

“Hello?” I said, sort of like I was answering the phone.

“Hello!” said the older cat attached to my coat. He then proceeded to jiggle the hand he had me by, as if shaking my hand. I walked backwards out of the building, and the group followed. Before I knew what was happening, the whole blue jumpsuit posse had me surrounded on the sidewalk.

Follow us!” said the sleeve-grabber, and leaned on my arm. I found myself swept down the street by the little clot of people.

I’m being abducted by a cult, I thought. This will be in the news. American Held Hostage by Japanese Terrorists. I imagined myself being stuffed into a sack and kicked and beaten until all my bones were broken.

Ridiculous. Who ever heard of a Japanese terrorist? Not me, anyway.

My new friends all smiled reassuringly. Each of them, I noticed, wore a silver locket on a neckchain.

I’ll cut the play-by-play now and tell you what I learned in the hours that followed.

Inside the lockets was the likeness of a small man in a huge, feathered headdress, and this man was their guru. He would lead his followers through sessions wherein they all bathed together in a large, shallowalabaster pool, then would dress alike, sit on the earth and compose deep poems about the moon.

When the time came for me to choose whether or not to join in that evening’s session, I politely declined the invitation and vamoosed. Why? Well, I figured I would like it too much and that the guru would bleed me dry of money in the long run.

Besides, blue is not my best color.


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