Dennis on a Sweltering Night in Imaike
Hiroichi Hase (Playwright/Theater director)
That night, I didn’t have my mobile phone with me. I only realized this at nearly 11:00 p.m., some 20 minutes after I had left a female designer’s office in Imaike. In those days, even “Galapagos phones,” which now give me a sense of nostalgia, did not exist, but more than 70% of Japanese people carried mobile phones with them. As usual, our meeting ended in 40 minutes, and I had two glasses of beer and left for home. I browsed at a used-book store for a bit, went down to an underground shopping mall, took the subway to the east, and got off the train in haste at the second station. I called the designer in her office from a public phone on the platform.
“Hello, this is Takasaka.” It was a man’s voice, which upset me. I had forgotten that she was married and that her office was in her home, even though these facts were well known to everyone. Her husband was also a designer in a different genre from hers. We knew of each other, but that was the first time for us to talk directly. It appeared that she was not nearby at that time. I said she was always helpful to me and some other friendly phrases, while I was thinking how I should explain my predicament. Then, he asked me if I was possibly searching for my mobile phone, before I had had the chance to say so myself. “Oh, my mobile phone! You’ve got it? Well, I accidentally…”
Interrupting me, he began to speak.
“Well, Mr. Tsukiyama, I’ve received a phone call from a man saying that he picked up your mobile phone. He made that call with your phone. He asked me if I could come and meet him in front of Mister Donut. Are you following me?”
In short, the man had checked my call history, found the designer’s office number, which I had called immediately before losing my mobile phone, and then called it. He had said to her husband that he could take the mobile phone to the police, but since he would be there for a while, it would be more convenient for both of them if Mr. Takasaka went there to pick up the phone. While Mr. Takasaka was considering what he was going to do about it, the man said that he would call again in five minutes and hung up the phone.
Well, isn’t that suspicious? I had certainly bought donuts from Mister Donut right before visiting her office, so it may well be possible that I had left my mobile phone there. But why is this man in front of Mister Donut for such a long time late at night? Isn’t he hanging around there with someone else? But it would be a nuisance to go to the police tomorrow or later. Also, if I didn’t go, it might increase the possibility of my mobile phone being misused. And I need to contact someone soon with my mobile phone. Above all, I don’t want to bother Mr. Takasaka any longer.
I said to Mr. Takasaka, “I’ll be there in 15 minutes. If you receive a call from the man, please tell him that. I’m wearing a black coat with a dark red bag over my shoulder, and a dark-green knit cap.” Somewhat worried about me, he said, “You can call me anytime if any trouble occurs,” and told me the name of the man waiting for me in front of Mister Donut.
“His name is Dennis. He speaks Japanese, but rather broken. Good luck!”
If only I could indicate to him that he should have told me about that at the beginning. It seems that when people are really upset, they try to pretend as if nothing special has happened. The telephone call ended a few seconds later. In those days, when I was crazy about NBA basketball, “Dennis” reminded me of nobody but Dennis Rodman, a large golden-haired man, covered in tattoos, at a height of 203 cm. He was a stereotypical bad boy.
“Should I call the police before going?” I wondered. I stopped many times on my way.
“Hey, are you Tsukiyama?”
Dennis quickly saw me approaching the store and questioned me in Japanese. Although he was almost as tall as me, he had bright tattoos covering his black arms. A few of his friends were teasing us in English behind his back, as he approached me waving my mobile phone in his hand. Determined to run away at full speed in the event of an emergency, I said “Dennis? Thank you,” while making an exaggerated gesture with bravado, and walked toward him.
When I was about to grasp the mobile phone that he held out in front of me, Dennis withdrew it from me and said, “Awatenai. Awatanai. Wei-ta-mi.” I understood that he was saying that there was no need to hurry and trying to tell me to “wait a minute.”
Then, Dennis began to operate my mobile phone as if he were in the habit of using it. I speculated how much I should give him, taking account of the sum of money in my wallet that I had checked before. Dennis called my attention to the display on the phone and indicated a number in the call history.
He said in broken Japanese that he had called my friend twice and showed what time he had done so.
At first, I couldn’t understand what he meant, but it seemed that he wanted to make clear that he had used my mobile phone only twice and had not misused it at all. After saying this, he quickly handed the mobile phone to me. He patted me on the shoulder and returned to his friends.
“Wait! You helped me a great deal. Thank you. Let me give you a reward,” I said in Japanese toward his back. Then he looked back and said:
“Tsugi, attara, beer, OK?” (“How about a beer next time we meet?”)
Of course. I had always bossily told my son and my students that prejudice narrows people’s perspectives. I felt so ashamed that I quickly walked away from the scene. I knew that the last subway of the day was just an excuse. I should have returned to the guys hanging around there, fully expressed my appreciation, and drunk together with them till the morning. Every time I go to Imaike today, I still regret the fate that I already knew at that timewe would never meet again.
うーん。これは怪しくはないのか？ 確かにオフィスを訪れる直前、差し入れをミスドで買った。そこで落としたリアリティは十分だ。でも、この夜更けに、ミスド前でなぜそんなに長時間？ それ、タムロって言うよなぁ。でも明日以降、また当該の警察暑に出向くのも面倒だし、余計に悪用される恐れもある。早々に携帯で連絡したい人もいるし、何よりこれ以上ご主人を関わらせるのも申し訳ない。じゃあ僕は１５分ぐらいで戻りますから、相手から掛かってきたらそう伝えてみて下さい、僕は黒いコートにエンジのショルダーバッグ、深緑のニット帽です、と伝えると、ご主人は、何かあったらいつでも掛けてね、と、心配してくれた後、そのミスドで待つ男性の名前を僕に告げた。