They held their mutual regard for each other for a few moments, not saying a word. There was only the sound of music playing over the speakers. Then everyone's attention was captured by a sound, quiet enough at first that no one was quite sure if it was there. They looked around in different places, then, collectively, upward to the ceiling, as if to see through it to where the sound must be coming from. The bartender stepped behind the bar counter to reach the sound system on some shelves below the cash register. He pressed a few buttons as he worked out which ones were the ones he wanted, and then the music abruptly turned off.
A siren, slightly hollow and distant, but persistent, seeped in through the ceiling, the walls, and the door.
津波警報か…? "That's the tsunami alarm, isn't it...?" The bartender asked, looking upward instead of directing his question at anyone in particular.
たぶん、でも、違うかも知れない…"Maybe, but, could be something different..." Mari's companion said.
The bartender came out from behind the counter, holding the television remote, and began switching through channels to find something with concrete information. Mari and her tattooed companion went to sit on some stools at a high circular table close to the bar. The three women clustered together, comparing information on their phones intensely. The couple at the back sat in darkness. Although unusual things were happening, there was still a sense that maybe it would pass in a half hour, or an hour, a short enough time that there was no call yet for stepping outside of normal social boundaries.
ちなみに、佑介です"By the way... I'm Yuusuke." Mari's companion smiled with his introduction. He wore mostly black, including a black leather jacket, black pants, and black leather boots. His V-neck shirt was a drab army green with some faded gold patterns here and there. Aside from the one tattoo that was an abstraction of Maori stylings that went from under the collar of his shirt up his neck to just under his right ear, there were hints of other tattoos on his chest, and on his wrists, obscured by his clothes. He wasn't Mari's type, as his bad boy image seemed a little too cultivated, but his smile seemed genuine and charmed her a little. His smile highlighted just enough lines on his face to indicate he was probably in his early thirties, and probably like to laugh a lot.
マリです"I'm Mari." Mari looked down and away, knowing that he would be taking a moment to look at her as she had just done with him. She felt like a wreck, assuming that the last few minutes of her life had undone all the efforts she had put into getting ready for the night. Her mascara was almost certainly smudged from the tears of tension, and her hair was probably all over the place. She ran her hands through her hair in long strokes to straighten it out.
The two of them shared awkward smiles of having nothing to say to each other. With some shelter from the danger, they were now once again two people who had no connection. He had initially come up to her at the crossing because he thought she was cute, and that attraction was still there. She could feel it in his eyes in spite of him being the type of guy who wouldn't make it obvious.
東京出身…？"You're from Tokyo...?" Yuusuke asked.
与那国。佑介さんは…？"Yonaguni," Mari said. Yuusuke's eyebrows went up just a little. It was a tiny and remote island, Japan's most remote island, which made it rare to meet someone from there. "And you...?"
東京の品川。今、三軒茶屋に住んでいる"I was born in Shinagawa, now I live in Sangenjaya."
あっ、ごめん、ちょっと友達が…"Oh, sorry, my friend..." Yuusuke pulled out his phone from an inside jacket pocket and the way he held it finished his sentence by conveying that his phone had vibrated and indicated a friend had sent a message. Yuusuke typed a response onto the screen, and then moved on to other messages and apps while Mari watched. After a bit, he looked up and was a little surprised to see that Mari was clearly waiting for him to finish.
あの…ごめん、ちょっと、電話貸してもらえないかな？あたし、電話なくしちゃったから…"Uh... sorry, could I maybe borrow your phone for a bit? I dropped mine somewhere," Mari said. The understatement of having merely "dropped" her phone was not lost on Yuusuke.
もちろん、もちろん"Of course, of course," Yuusuke said. He tapped on his phone's screen to close some apps and then passed it over. Mari took it with both hands, bowing a little, much like how one receives a business card, making her gratitude clear. Giving her a connection to the outside world felt as big as having helped her find shelter. She held it in her left hand, and her right hand hovered over the screen, paused, almost like someone who didn't know how to use a phone.
友達の番号分かんない…ラインを使ってもいい？"I don't know my friend's phone numbers..." Mari said, to herself as much as to Yuusuke. Calling was not an option. She handed the phone back to Yuusuke. "Is it okay if I use Line?"
うーん、ラインのロぐイン変えるのちょっと面倒だな、フェイスブックやツイッターは？"Switching log ins on Line is kind of a hassle, how about Facebook or Twitter?" Yuusuke asked as he made another check on his phone in case any more messages came through.
じゃ、フェイスブックかな…？"I guess, Facebook then...?" Mari asked. Yuusuke tapped and swiped at the screen a little more then handed it back to Mari with the Facebook login screen open in a browser. She took it and logged in. The connection was a little weak so it took a while to load, and as it did, Mari and Yuusuke exchanged glances, both of them anxious to be getting news and just underneath that, sympathetic to each other that they both wished they had more than one phone and a slow connection to the internet.
Finally posts in Mari's feed started to pop into view on the small screen.
ニュースは紛らわしくて分からない。渋谷に何が起こっているの？？"The news is confusing - what's going on in Shibuya?"
みんな、今すぐ渋谷から出て！！！今すぐ！！！"Everybody, get out of Shibuya! Now!"
渋谷にテロ攻撃！？"Is there a terrorist attack in Shibuya!?"
Icons at the top of the screen indicated messages, and Mari clicked to reveal a drop down menu that took an anxiously long time to load. There were messages from various friends, the first line being general expressions of concern, like "are you okay" and "I hope you're not in Shibuya," but Mari wasn't sure if any of them were worth focusing on. She felt she shouldn't keep Yuusuke's phone forever, so there was a little time pressure, a need to prioritize who she gets in touch with and why.
マリ、もうすぐ来る？駅で何か起きたみたい、人身事故かも…マリの電車止まってる？"Are you coming soon? Looks like there's a problem at the station, maybe some kind of accident. Is your train stopped?" There were no other messages from the friends she was supposed to meet that she could find that revealed whether they had been caught up in the attack or got away in time. Mari typed a post in her timeline, saying she was okay and everyone should stay away from Shibuya, but when she pressed to send, the progress indicator cycled around and around.
ちょっと、いい…?"Can I...?" Yuusuke asked, his hand extended just a little, hoping to get his phone back. Realizing he was just as anxious to check in with people as she was, Mari handed the phone back in spite of the fact that she would like to be sure if her post got through. As the phone went from her hand to his, they were both interrupted mid motion by the bartender's voice.
すげっ!"Oh, shit...!" he said, an unconscious, breathy utterance not intended for anyone in particular. Mari and Yuusuke followed his gaze up toward the television. He had found the NHK cable news channel, and they were showing an aerial shot from a helicopter, scanning over Shibuya. Although the distance from the camera made the people tiny, the high definition resolution of the image made it easy to see what was happening. There were people running everywhere, either attacking or running away, and many people caught in violent fights. There were bodies strewn all over, with pools and spatters of blood everywhere. The helicopter passed through some black smoke from an unknown source, obscuring the view for a few moments, and then as the smoke passed, the chaos returned to view.
109じゃない？"Isn't that 109?" asked one of the three women, all of whom had gathered just behind the bartender. The area in the frame of the camera was clearly the intersection just in front of the 109 department store, her statement was more of surprise than confirmation, and to share her fears, because 109 was only a hundred or so metres from where they were. The helicopter turned to follow the street that went up the other side of 109, meaning they weren't going to be able to see the situation on the street just up the stairs from their door. There was no doubt for any of them, though, that the situation nearer to them was exactly the same as the situation they could see on the television. They exchanged glances with each other and toward the door, everyone considering whether the door would hold or if it needed more reinforcement.
The scene on the television abruptly cut to a news desk in a calm studio, with an older man with perfectly groomed greying hair at the desk on one side of the screen, and an attractive young woman in a conservative pastel coloured jacket on the other. Both maintained a professional level of calm, but with the help of the high definition screen, one could see the tension in their eyes.
…渋谷上空からの中継でした。"... that feed coming live from the middle of Shibuya right now," The female anchor said. Both her and her co-host glanced suddenly to the side, something distracting them enough that they considered possibly breaking from the protocols of their job, but then they recovered and resumed the veneer of detached professionals.
繰り返しお伝えします。東京、渋谷駅周辺では、大規模な暴動が起きています。状況は非常に混濁しており、原因は不明です。警視庁も状況を把握していない模様です。暴動が渋谷のNHK放送センターの近くに達しました。放送センターの…入り口前の状況を中継でお伝えします…"To repeat," the male anchor said, "a riot of unknown cause is happening in the area surrounding Tokyo's Shibuya station. So far there has been no coordinated response from any authority that we know of. The riot has spread to outside of our broadcast centre here in Shibuya... we have a feed from... from above the parking lot just by our main entrance..."
The image changed an image taken by someone's hand held camera, dark and shaky, held out from a window and looking down into an area that wasn't well lit, making it hard to distinguish exactly what was being shown. As the camera panned from side to side, following something that was only clear to the cameraman, the only thing that was distinct enough in the image was the far edge of a parking lot, with trees separating it from Inokashira street, which ran in front of the NHK broadcasting centre in Shibuya. The main entrance to the building, a short distance from the gate on the street, came into view and was easier to make out because it was well lit from the inside. There were people running into the building. The camera held there for a moment, and then the voice of the camera man, or someone near him, yelled out in surprise and fear.
The feed cut out, suddenly returning to the two anchors, no longer hiding their alarm, both sitting up straighter as if about to stand, their palms on the table like they might need the extra push to move as fast as possible.
ここのスタジオも安全ではありません。どこまでお伝えできるか分かりませんが..."This studio is no longer safe. I don't know how long we can keep broadcasting..." The male anchor was saying, only partially addressing the camera. He was looking off to one side, as if expecting a cue from someone. Suddenly the female anchor, screamed with surprise at something in the opposite direction of where the male anchor was looking. She pushed back from her news desk, scrambling out of frame. The male anchor turned to look, and just as he did, someone ran in front of the camera, obscuring what was happening. There was a crashing sound, screams, and then the camera was knocked to the floor, landing on its side, revealing just for a moment the lights and studio environment around the news set. There wasn't enough time to perceive anything except chaotic motion before the screen went black.
Everyone in the bar stared at the screen. The lack of signal was harder to deal with than the news, as it made their world smaller, extending only as far as what they could hear outside a door they didn't want to open. They could all feel a rising sense of panic, the need to react to a situation they didn't know how to react to. Everyone wondered who might speak first. They looked around, gauging in each other's eyes a sense of who might have a sense of what to do and who might devolve into unhelpful panic. The couple from the back of the room had now moved to be within a few steps of everyone else, to come see what everyone else was watching, so they too were now a part of the group that was coming together to face the outside threat.
Just before any of them could speak, sound and images returned to the screen, revealing another news desk, with another pair of anchors, another man and woman. Again, he was older and stately, she was young and pretty, following the standard template.
神奈川のNHK放送センターです。渋谷からの送信が途切れました。"This is the NHK broadcast centre in Kanagawa," the woman said, her voice a little hollow as she began, and slowly gaining composure. "The signal from Shibuya has been lost." From there, the anchors started to review what was known up to this point, but it wasn't anything that the people in the bar didn't already know, and so they started to break their attention from the screen. The bartender turned down the volume on the news.
多分、静かにしたほうがいい…"Maybe it's better to be quiet..." he said. Some of the group nodded assent. The man from the couple in the back, wearing a suit and with hair a little too black, walked over to a table and picked it up, carrying it to the door.
なんか、もうちょっと準備しようか"Maybe we should prepare a little more...?" he said, and Yuusuke joined him at the door to start arranging the tables into a more effective position. The rest of the women started moving chairs and tables from the back of the bar to closer to the door so they could be added to the fortification.
No one was really sure that bracing the door was the best idea, as it meant being trapped just as much as it meant keeping others out. It felt right to have something to do, though, and for now, that was what they needed most.
Who his daughter dates
Based on a real and random conversation with a guy about his daughter and age and dating and stuff.
The Charisma Man Reality
A little comic strip companion to the previous posting. The reality of guys who come to Japan expecting to capitalize on the gaijin fetish.
The Charisma Man Myth
The reality, racism, and human failings that are built into the notion that Japanese women go for gaijin guys.
Transmission to an ex
Stuff I'd say to an ex girlfriend if I were going to say them. You'd probably only want to read this if you like reading random things out of other people's diaries. Which I do, but it's not for everyone.