♣ Scroll 22
The wallpaper was even worse than I had expected, and the tea seemed to have been brewed with only menace in mind, but what really upset the day was that my mobile kept ringing from very early in the morning. I had no idea why, because I had already broken up with her and there was nothing left to say. I switched it off, and left the hotel, knowing that if I stayed put in the room, the sickly-patterned walls would start heaving and shaking uncontrollably.
I couldn't stand the eerie sound from the four corners of the room—like the wind, wailing across a vast plain—but I couldn't seem to find where it was coming from. I called the reception desk, but the line was dead. I went out of the room but there was not a human, nor even a shadow, in the corridor whose carpet had become even more Chinese than before—if that's possible. At the end of the corridor was a mirror hanging from the ceiling. I rubbed my eyes in disbelief, because I saw a tiger reflected in it and when I looked down I saw only fish.
Back and forth, back and forth—I kept looking but the tiger in the mirror and the fish on the floor never changed their forms and looked alive. As I advanced I realized to my great shock my own reflection in the mirror had disappeared and I was actually brushing aside banana palm leaves and twining vines, pushing my way through a steaming green jungle. Anything was better than the wallpaper, and the strong smell of tangled vegetation, yet I was oggedly searching for my image in the mirror. If only I had known where I was I would have been able to start the day over again.
Outside of the hotel it has been raining, night and day, like splinters of glass. I opened the window for the first time in weeks and jumped. The ground was not so far away, and when I landed I rolled to the side and bumped against a rhinoceros (I thought), but in fact it was a sandwich man in disguise. On the boards hung over his shoulders were written simply the word "Repent!" I thought about it for a moment, and then asked him, "Are you a churchman?" but he only snarled at me.
I fled from the "rhino "as fast as my limping legs would carry me through puddles, across tangled streets, past noodle shops & karaoke bars and finally into a Russian restaurant where they were just setting up for the evening. It seemed as good a place as any to start again, so I ordered borscht as properly as a czar might have done at the Kremlin. But nothing returned to normal except sound coming from far off as though it had followed me—the sound of wind across a vast open space. I ordered 3 glasses of vodka, and finally found myself wrapped up in my own heartbeats.
(Photo by Yoko Danno: Hakata, Japan)