By Marston Hefner - Feb 12, 2018
I masturbated on Sherman Alexie’s Pulitzer-Prize Winning The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian because I wanted to know what it felt like to be intimate with something great. All of my lovers have been less than fantastic. Nothing ever happens. But Sherman Alexie’s book, once masturbated on, put a resonating tone in my heart. I have no pity for people. I’m just so boring. I don’t find anything interesting, not really, but I figured if I could be close to something that had been close to people, maybe something would change.
Perhaps it was the wine or the whisky or the two shots of tequila. Maybe the beers that never seem to leave my belly, no matter how many times I pee. My stomach grumbles. Maybe it was all of that, because when I finished and I looked at the book, well, I didn’t recognize its greatness. I turned my gaze away in disgust. I had wandering thoughts. How did I get here in Tokyo? Why is my apartment so much larger than others? Why do people say it’s expensive to live here? I felt completely alone in my wealth. I will never know what normal problems are. You know what’s sad? Is that I’m sad that I’m so lucky. I’m ashamed. I wanted to wipe the entire slate clean. To start over somewhere else as someone I didn’t hate so much.
I go next door, to the apartment next to mine, I don’t knock. I slide into the bed beside her. It’s easy this way. She doesn’t wake. I suppose she is sleeping or wants to be left alone. I like to be left alone and consoled at the same time. I like to cry in front of people I respect. She’s not good looking. She has a pug nose and big jaw. She doesn’t have a good body, but she bathes and takes care of herself. She is very conscious of her looks. This is a good thing. I bury my head in her shoulder blades, where her spine is, and try to forget. But the beer is sloshing and I have a stomach ache. I wonder why I drank so much, and I tell myself I just have to survive here for an hour, maybe less.
I wake up because she woke up and has to go to school.
“When did you get here?”
“I woke you up last night.”
“No, you didn’t.”
“Yes, you woke up. I saw your head look up at me for a second.”
“I must have been sleeping.”
“But I saw you see me.”
“I have to change,” she says.
I nod and walk out. My room is a bit messier than usual. The books from the bookshelf are scattered on the floor. The book. I go over to it and inspect the damage. A stain on the cover, dried and crusted. Not so bad. I wash it off with a towel. How long before I have to leave this room? I could try and stay in as long as possible. I could shut the curtains and hide in here until something must be done. The world always catches up with me though. There’s never a day of no obligation. I must eat or I must exercise or I must pee and it’s all very tiring because all I really want to do is nothing for a day or so. But I get away with as much as I can.
I get in bed and fall asleep. Nothing happens in Tokyo. People say things happen here. People lie. The clubs are always empty. No one knows what good music is. No one knows how to have a decent conversation. All the women want to be approached, but they’ll never go home with you. All the men are trying to listen to the music, check how others are listening to the music, dance the way they think is optimal. Dancing is always the worst.
But I can get away with it. A few hours. No one is counting when I show up. I can skip out on exercising. I’m just too tired. I got too drunk. I think of what my ex-girlfriend would have said. She would have broken up with me by now, again. She had no mercy for my weaknesses. I sleep. The world spins. The world gets hotter.
Tomorrow is never coming. I rest and relax my eyes. Tonight will though. The café will come into view. Its orange and brown colors—its plain and empty second floor. Maybe I will go to the café and people will be crying. They’ll have coffees in their hands and they’ll be calling their friends. “The world is changing,” they’ll say. “We didn’t think it was possible but things are changing.” And can you tell me why they are crying?
As I go under, I slip into a dream easily. There is the person I want for an agent. “It’s a fantastic book,” he’s saying. I’m so happy. “Yes, I’d like you to be my agent,” I say. “I want you to be my agent!” But he’s saying it’s too late. He’s changed and found a different book he likes even more. I’m certain if I keep repeating the same words over and over he’ll change his mind. “Yes, yes,” he’s saying, but it’s no good. “I’ve made up my mind.”
It’s 8pm but I stay in bed until I finally feel like I want to leave. I don’t get up if I have to. I just wait until I’m ready. That’s what all of this is. I try to be good. I try to improve myself. Sleeping is the last vice I have, and I will hold onto it for as long as possible. The days transform things little by little.
I want things now. Now now now like a child. Can I understand? How many people have come this way before me? How many billions have gotten this far? How far will I go? And how many will have reached that point as well?
The café is almost empty. I look around and see people talking and drinking. The subway passes outside the window. Christmas lights are up outside. People want to be seen. They want to be understood. People want the ones they respect to pat them on the head, say good job. You did good, really. I’m not joking. You’re just, you’re just fantastic and beautiful and never change.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ELSA BLEDA