no sex love hotel

Illustration by Max Currie

The last time he’d been in a love hotel he shared a bed with Monique. The day ended with a surgeon trying to piece together the puzzle that had become her face.

Comment ça va, Monique?

Kent first met the Quebecois expat at a club opening in Shibuya. He smiled at his good fortune. He’d never cheated on Kumi, but flirting with beautiful women was part of his job. And at 5’11”, with blond hair to the middle of her back, the woman from Montreal glowed a ghostly white in the club’s darkness. She seemed to believe that Kent might serve as a springboard for a career in television and the movies. He let her believe it, though he couldn’t do much for her. He worried enough about his own career. His role on The Strange Bonanza kept his bank account healthy, but he was being offered fewer and fewer roles beyond his regular gig. His renditions of

“Yesterday” and “Imagine” were included in the script less and less. Negotiations for the nighttime drama he hoped for had stalled, and Lark had not renewed his endorsement contract. That went to Ozman, smoke streaming from his ears in the train station advertisements. Kent sold the cigarettes with class, at least in the beginning, before they asked him to wear chaps and a cowboy hat on a horse in a fake desert. In the beginning, he wore a gleaming blue suit as he swaggered down Tokyo streets. Kent looked a giant, his walk of success photographed at street level, an angle that reminded Kent of John Travolta’s opening scene in Saturday Night Fever. His gait was like an alien’s who had conquered the city as pedestrians, frozen in the still shot, stepped aside and pointed in recognition and awe. That’s RI-CHU-MAN-SAN! and he smokes Lark! He knew the whole scenario meant little, but believed the approach did the trick. The next time smokers, particularly men, went for a pack at a vending machine, they would hear that groovy song and recall Kent Richman striding down the sidewalk. They’d press the button under Lark and, for a moment, believe they were that cool.

Ozman, on the other hand, looked ridiculous, a cartoon, a clown with smoke shooting from his ears. Who wanted to see that? Who wanted to be that guy? By sleeping with Monique, Kent had returned Ozman’s many insults and cautioned him that the RI-CHU-MANSAN! brand still held some sway in Tokyo. Two months later, Kent and Monique were still seeing each other, still cheating on their spouses.


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