Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon

New Fiction: “In My Room (Ganz Allein)”

Posted in Fiction,Putting One Foot in Front of the Other by bourdaghs on the September 20th, 2013

My novelette (longer than a short story, shorter than a novella) “In My Room (Ganz Allein)” has just been published by Eunoia Review. It’s an online literary journal based in Singapore that presents a new piece of creative writing every day.

The title is a Beach Boys’ allusion made in two different languages. You’ll see why if you read on. Enjoy!

      “In My Room (Ganz Allein)”
          For Wilfred

You need the softest touch to open the door to Ken’s apartment. If you don’t hold the key just right it jams in the lock—and then you’re screwed. This afternoon Tokyo is one colossal steam bath. Ken’s hands are greased over with sweat, and the plastic keychain, a souvenir from Thailand, keeps slipping in his fingers. After a wearied day teaching English conversation, he just wants inside. He starts to panic, like a refugee halted at a border crossing. But this little story delivers a happy ending: at last, he gets the key exactly right. He rotates it ever so gently, feels the tumblers click into place and the lock spring open. Ken should call his landlord about getting the lock fixed, but the thought of explaining it all in Japanese is more than he can handle.

He slips off his black dress shoes in the entryway. A large cockroach buzzes past his nose; in Japan they have wings, kamikaze roaches. But Ken is beyond caring. He disregards the insect. From outside his balcony window, he can hear the cicadas chant their horny mating call: meen meen meen. Carry on, ye wingèd vermin of the East.

He clicks on the air conditioner and flops down at his little kitchen table. Leaning forward so his sweaty shirt won’t stick to the chair, he glances at the morning’s Japan Times, wilted across the tabletop. A photo of Ronald Reagan holds down the front page. Behind the wrinkly president stand Senator Daniel Inouye and a dozen other aging Japanese-Americans. Reagan is smiling as if he were actually pleased to sign the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, the official apology for the wartime internment camps.

(Read the rest here on Eunoia Review’s website)

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