Archive for February, 2013

baby_illustrations_2

Illustration by Max Currie

She whispered in his ear, “I found the video, Kent, the one of you and Monique in our bed.”

Kent knew the video, the one that had set his fall in motion; it had gone viral for months after someone—he’d always thought it was Ozman—sent it to the online celebrity rag Star-Gazer. Before he met Kumi, Kent might have seen the sex tape as a career milestone. It was a milestone, of course, and briefly lifted his career, but not one he welcomed.

“And I’m the one who sent it to Star-Gazer. I did that. How’s that for a fresh start?” she said.

Then she was gone.

And as if a wave of nausea swept over Tokyo soundstages, leaving him deaf and dumb behind his studio console, unable to understand what he was expected to do there, Kent could no longer perform. Where Tokyo had once been an open playground the city felt claustrophobic. He couldn’t escape his own celebrity, fame built on scandal. Wherever he went he walked in Ozman’s shadow. No script could revive his smiles, no icy concoction of methamphetamines could prop up his spirits or make him believe again in what he did for a living.

Now he wanted it all back.

Bullet

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Kent's Eyes Cropped

Illustration by Max Currie


“You won’t need money where you’re going,” Renzo said.

“Sounds like rehab,” Kent said, concerned it might be true. “Come on, you know I’m good for it. Before they kick me out of the Capsule Inn.”

“Let them.” Renzo pulled Kent close. “You’re leaving that salaryman shithole anyway.” He waved Harumi over for a top up on their whiskeys, though Kent never got the nuts he hoped for.

“Because I am not doing another stint in—”

“You’re going to like this.”

A place where Kent would no longer have to climb down a short ladder to take a piss in a public bathroom at three a.m. Where he wouldn’t wake up to the sound of salarymen hustling in the hallway each morning. Where he’d no longer knock his head on the ceiling when he forgot, which was daily, that he lived in a one-by-one-by-two-meter pod.

Bullet

BYARM_18

Illustration by Max Currie

 I am the earth, the sea, the sky—I am the universe. On the train to see Renzo, Kent recited the mantra that had helped him survive being big in Japan, being the hot, number-one RI-CHU-MAN-SAN! on the top-rated primetime game show The Strange Bonanza. Shaggy brown hair with blond highlights. Gucci shoes and Omega watch. Cristall Vodka and Filipino hash. Bali tan and Hong Kong massage. The candid nightspot photo in Tokyo Journal, a mention in The Daily Yomiuru, and a stock headshot on TV Tokyo. The paying but quietly welcomed VIP at The Plum Room, one of the many but finer hostess clubs in Ginza where he was not quite among politicians and yakuza chieftains but more likely a local construction boss and a writer popular with young people. The face of Lark cigarettes, PECKUP! Energy Drink, and Sankyou Instant Ramen. Some-time husband to part-time magazine model and full-time tweeker Kumiko Sato. The glimmering gaijin with a fluency in Japanese and the face of a young John Lennon. Before Monique, before Ozman.

Bullet