The Machida Trail, Part 3
By Grin and Barrett
Matt grabbed a Sushi plate off the revolving Sushi bar conveyor and sat it down with a clank in front of him, stuffing the tuna seared rice roll into his mouth before the wobbly plate settled, belching and then offering a hearty “Hell yeah!” as he grabbed another plate. Jacob sat next to him, sipping hot tea, frowning at the surroundings.
“Matt, dude, this place sucks.”
“Well Jake, I think ‘sucks’ is a pretty relative term. Sucks compared to what? Sitting in a TOC all day, playing powerpoint ranger? Now, that sucks. You haven’t even tried the Sushi yet bro! You don’t know what you’re missing.”
“Yeah I do. I’m missing tacky rice, stinky-ass ocean lettuce and half cooked fished slathered in mayonnaise. You can eat it, but I’m good….actually, I’m not good. What I’m really missing are the girls you promised. In fact, I think your exact words were, ‘Dude, Major Inoue told me about a place with hot girls and gambling’….no…scratch that, it was ‘smokin hot biscuit’ girls and brother, I don’t see no girls.” Jacob leaned back in his chair and looked around, “In fact, there are only four people in here right now, and we’re two of em.”
Matt grinned, it was a grin Jacob was beginning to understood meant Listen you dumb-ass simpleton, whilst I show you the way of the world. “While in Rome brother, while in Rome. How many times have you been to Japan?”
“This is my first.”
“Yeah, and you’re trashing the national cuisine as stinky-ass ocean lettuce. You know how jacked up that is?”
“Sorry dude, but this shit sucks.” Jacob picked up a plate from the conveyor belt and held it out in front of him. A small bed of rice with lone shrimp on it and a slice of carrot. “You know what this is Matt?” Matt grinned through a mouth full of rice and salmon eggs and shrugged his shoulders, “Yeah bro, it’s heaven.”
“No man, it’s not. Sushi is the culinary Kevin Smith.”
“If you mean that sushi is genius comedy and classic movies, then I don’t follow.”
“No, that’s just it. Everyone wants to come across as being ‘in the know.’ Nobody wants to say Kevin Smith sucks, just like nobody wants to say Sushi sucks. You know why?”
Matt crossed his fingers under his chin, stuck out his lips like a pouty teenage girl and mocked an inquisitive, serious pose. “No mister better-than-me, I don’t. Enlighten me.”
“Because nobody wants to stand out in the crowd, nobody wants to have their own opinion. If everyone says that Sushi rocks, then by-gawd it sure does! If everyone talks about how amazing Kevin Smith is, how awesome Clerks was, how genius Dogma is, then it must be so. Heaven forbid someone stands up and says, ‘Uh, actually, clerks was a bunch of 11 year old bullshit, and dogma was a pretentious piece of pseudo-intellectualism ass-hattery.’ No, nobody does that, because people don’t have the cojones to own their own thoughts, everyone’s always looking for someone else to tell them how to feel and what to think. If the world tells me that dog shit tastes like a fudge brownie, then I’m going to eat it with grin on my idiotic face and go to my grave praising the wonderful chocolatey goodness of dog shit. Why? Because the emperor’s invisible clothes are just beautiful! They’re the most beautiful garments I’ve ever seen! But you know what Matt? The emperor isn’t wearing any clothes! He’s a friggen’ idiot, and everyone who tells him how gorgeous his clothes are is a friggen idiot. And you know what else? Sushi tastes like shit!”
Matt gestured to the middle aged Japanese woman creating and replacing the sushi on the conveyor belt. She was eyeing Matt and Jacob with suspicion and a frown, “Don’t let her hear you say that.”
“What is she going to do? Refuse me service?” Jacob watched her as she wiped a finger across her nose and grabbed another ball of rice, “She actually may be doing me a favor.”
Matt laughed, “You’re an asshole Jake, and seriously misguided on both cuisine and cinema. Clerks rocked. As for the Sushi? Well, that’s all they have on the menu here bro, so eat up or go hungry.”
“I’d rather just jet man, this place is dead.”
Matt followed Jacob’s gaze around the poorly lit restaurant, grunting as wiped his mouth with the pink colored cloth napkin. “Yeah bro I know, but I’m meeting someone here first. I got a surprise for you.” He smiled as he tapped Jacob’s shoulder, pointing with his other hand to the restaurant’s entrance, “And here he is now.” Matt got up from the table, set some yen down where his stack of multi-colored sushi plates sat, and walked to the doorway. At the door, a young Japanese man with a thin mustache eyed Matt as he approached. The man was short and stout, thicker than most of the Japanese men Jacob had seen since he had arrived in country, but no taller than most. He greeted Matt with a terse handshake and slight bow, then spoke a few words before Matt nodded his head and gestured toward Jacob. As he spoke some more, the stout local smiled and clapped Matt on the shoulder as he walked out the door. Matt waved Jacob over and walked out the door as well. Jacob got up from his chair, left a few yen for the tea, and followed, “I guess we’re finally done here…”
Yoshi, as Jacob would learn was the stout one’s name, led Matt and Jacob down the street into a brightly lit establishment, bare chested young men outside on bullhorns yelling what sounded to Jacob like incoherent babble into the surrounding and constant street noise. Neon cartoon characters lined the walls of the building they walked into and the sound of slot machines and music blared and thrummed. Yoshi kept looking over his shoulder and beckoning the men on, even though they followed only a few feet behind him. Every time he turned around he smiled at Jacob, nodding his head giving him the “follow me, follow me” wave. Seriously dude, Jacob thought, what the hell do you think I’m doing? At the back of the slot machines, Yoshi stopped and crossed the room. On the other side, the lights stopped and another hallway receded farther back into the building. This hallway was dark, and split off into a T twenty feet down. At the head of the hallway, on a gray folding chair, another young Japanese man sat, this one wearing a black suit and dark sunglasses. This young man, however, was different from Yoshi, Jacob knew that right away. This one held an air of smug cockiness that Yoshi did not possess, an undisguised look of contempt on this one’s face left Jacob ill at ease and he stopped, grabbing Matt’s shoulder as he did so. “Hey brother, this doesn’t look like a situation I really want to place myself in.”
Matt slowed, looking back and forth from the young man in black in the folding chair to Jacob, now standing behind him. “Serious bro? Have you learned nothing? While in Rome brother!” Matt gestured back the way they had come, sweeping his arm across the entire room, “That’s not the Japan I want to see man! Tourist bullshit and old men and women playing slots. That’s for some other goofy rat bastards, not us brother. I told you I had a surprise, trust me, you’re going to have the greatest night of your life tonight.”
“I don’t know man.”
Matt shrugged his shoulders at Yoshi, who held his smile but also held a look of confused annoyance at this brief parlay.
“Listen Jake, if you want to go back to the sushi bar, eat some of that sushi that you claim to hate, and then go get a happy ending from some 50-year old grandmother masseuse, that’s fine with me. But I’m staying here. I’m gonna have a drunken, epic, oh-wasn’t-that-an-awesome-night-oh-I-forgot-you-weren’t-there-cause-you’re-a-big-pansy-douchebag night with or without you.
Jacob looked at the young tough, he was standing now, leaning back against the entrance to the hallway, a look of indifference on his face. But there was something else there, something that bothered Jacob. Almost as if he was feigning that indifference. He suddenly had the feeling that things were going to go south if he turned around, that the young man with the sunglasses would get aggressive real quick. His thoughts were broken by the sounds of women’s laughter coming from down the hallway, sweet female laughter that beckoned. Matt said something, and Jacob looked from the hallway to his friend, “What?”
Matt laughed, “I said ‘Let’s go!’ Do you not hear the muse singing to us from down the hall? Come on man, he who hesitates…masturbates!” Matt turned and walked toward the dark hallway while Yoshi continued to smile and beckon Jacob. Ah hell, Jacob thought as he followed Matt, while in Rome.