By Warren Decker
The Higashiyama University Everyone English Fun Center (A) shall employ Gregory Stokes (B) and Melanie Stafford (C) for one year starting on August 1, 2019.
A shall be a carpeted room with sky-blue couches, red beanbag chairs, low oval tables, and glass walls. A shall be equipped with computers, English magazines and books, as well as other diversions such as Jenga, B, and C.
During operating hours, A shall be remotely monitored by video camera by the staff of the Office of Educational Affairs.
B and C shall:
- be, or pretend to be, happy.
- be attractive and non-Asian. (Note: B shall be from San Jose, and have a dark complexion and short curly black hair. C shall be from Dallas and have freckles and long reddish-blonde hair.)
- not exceed 30 years of age.
- not, or pretend to not, understand Japanese.
- stay in A from 9:00-17:45 every weekday.
- enthusiastically interact with everyone in A, including Yoshi Tanaka (D), a local student from Higashi Osaka with pale oily skin, who shall come to A every day to request “English Jenga Practice” and stare at C’s breasts.
- not fall in love with anyone in A, including each other and Suzuho Suzuki (E), a 23-year-old graduate student, who shall initially come to A on October 18, 2019 for help with her master’s dissertation, which shall be written in English and titled Revolutionary Feminism in Tokyo’s Punk-Rock Subculture. (Note: After this initial visit E shall come to A every subsequent Friday. E shall have streaks of bright purple in her shoulder-length hair and a small silver ring in her lower lip.)
B and C shall have a 45-minute lunchbreak from 12:00-12:45, during which time they shall climb over the railing of an outdoor stairwell, up an emergency ladder, and on to the roof of Building 4. This shall be the only place where they shall not be in direct view of Higashiyama University students. They shall sit on a concrete ledge five stories above a maintenance vehicle parking lot, and smoke Seven Stars cigarettes, (which shall be provided by B).
Specific Duties from August 1-December 23
For five days a week, 8 hours a day, B and C shall be physically present in A. D shall also be present every day. D shall request “English Jenga Practice” with C, (as stated above), then stare past the Jenga blocks at C’s breasts which (as a general rule) shall be concealed behind loose fitting and bulky sweaters. D shall not ever speak English with the exception of the phrase “English Jenga Practice.”
Each day an unspecified number of students (more than 10 but not to exceed 250), shall come to talk with B and C. Although B and C, in the interest of promoting English education, are contractually obligated to “not, or pretend to not, understand Japanese,” (see above), students shall talk with them primarily in Japanese, only occasionally using English. With the exception of E, and an unspecified number of students (more than 2 but not to exceed 20), students in A shall ask:
- where B is from.
- which NFL or NBA team B likes (Note: B shall not be interested in sports.)
- which American movie or music B likes (Note: B shall not be interested in American movies or music [with the exception of punk-rock].)
- why B came to Japan.
- if B has a girlfriend.
- if B can eat fermented soybeans and/or umeboshi.
E (as stated above) shall come to A every Friday to talk with B. During this time, B and E shall sit in adjacent red beanbag chairs. E shall move her lip-ring back and forth with the tip of her tongue and twirl her finger in her purple streaked hair. E shall speak with B in English and Japanese about a range of subjects including but not limited to:
- the Sex Pistols
- Japanese punk-rock music
- post-modern deconstructions of gender
In early November, B shall tell E that he thinks he is “actually becoming mentally ill” from spending so many hours in A. Thereafter, E shall say “Fuck you,” and tell B that he “is getting paid to sit in beanbags and flirt with 18-year-old girls.” Then E shall stick her tongue out at B and laugh.
In late November, while smoking Seven Stars cigarettes on the roof, C shall tuck her long reddish blonde hair behind her freckled ear, and turn to look into B’s dark brown eyes. C shall note that B is frowning and unable to sustain eye-contact, at which point C shall reach over and rub his back through his puffy blue jacket and say, “It’s OK. It’s OK. I’m here too.”
At the beginning of December, after a referral from the Higashiyama University Health Services (F), B shall go to the Central Osaka Mental Health Clinic (G), where he shall speak to Dr. Taniguchi (H), a tiny man with white stubble on the sides of a small bald head who shall speak heavily accented but otherwise fluent English. B shall tell H “I can’t smile anymore. I just can’t.” Thereafter, H shall give B a silver foil package containing eight small yellow pills. B shall stuff these pills into the deep pocket of his puffy blue jacket, but shall not ingest them. B shall not return to either F or G.
(Note: B shall in fact still be able to physically force his face into a facsimile of a smile, and B shall still genuinely smile every Friday when E comes to A to sit next to him in a beanbag chair and flick her lip-ring back and forth with the tip of her tongue while they talk.)
Amid snow flurries, E shall turn in her master’s thesis, (submitted early because E shall be planning to leave Japan in January to pursue a PhD at Columbia University). Then E shall walk to A, where she shall meet B. At 17:45, B and E shall leave A and walk to a small Italian restaurant where they shall drink two bottles of red wine and share squid-ink pasta and a pizza with shrimp and basil. Thereafter, at E’s apartment, after talking about E’s dissertation and her impending move to New York City, B shall ask E about how it feels to have a lip ring. At this point E shall encourage B to touch her lip ring with the tip of his tongue. Shortly thereafter B and E shall engage in sexual intercourse. At the conclusion thereof, lying naked in E’s futon, looking up at the artificial woodgrain in the ceiling panels, B shall tell E “I love you.” E shall reach over and rub B’s head softly, and say nothing. Fifteen minutes later E shall put on her jeans and her black hooded sweatshirt and shall suggest that B get dressed and leave.
Three giggling students shall ask B to play Jenga. B shall walk out of A. C shall find B on the roof in his puffy blue jacket smoking a Seven Stars cigarette. C shall put her arm around B, rub his shoulder, and ask, “Jenga overdose?” B shall turn towards C and embrace her with both arms, and he shall rest his head on her shoulder, pushing his forehead and nose into her warm freckled neck. Thereafter, C shall lean back and gently raise B’s head with her fingertips on his unshaven chin. She shall then turn towards B, close her eyes, and part her lips. (Note: C shall have been imagining kissing B since an unspecified date in mid-September.) At this point B shall put his head back on C’s shoulder, begin to cry, and then he shall tell her that he has fallen in love with E.
B and C shall share a cigarette on the roof in a cold wind. C shall tell B, “Just hold on till New Year’s break.”
7:23- Freezing rain shall begin to fall.
8:50- C shall arrive at A.
9:13- B shall arrive at A.
9:15- D shall arrive at A and stare at C’s breasts and ask for “English Jenga Practice.” C shall smile and tell him to get ready.
9:26- After D has prepared the Jenga tower, B shall knock it over by striking it with his right hand. Most of the wooden blocks shall be scattered over the oval table, red beanbags, and carpeted floor, though an unspecified number of blocks shall fly across the room and crash against the glass wall. B shall tell D, “Fuck off! Fuck off! Fuck off! Fuck off! Fuck off!” and then stand trembling with clenched fists until D stands up and walks out of A. Thereafter B shall begin sobbing and sit down heavily amid the scattered blocks. C shall lean over and rub B’s shoulder.
B’s contract shall be terminated on December 28, 2019.
C’s contract shall be renewed three times.
B shall send E an email every Christmas for the next four years. E shall never respond.
Twenty years later, as an associate professor at Higashiyama University, C shall continue to look for B on the Midosuji Subway Line when she commutes to work.
No one shall know what happens to D.
Kenji Suzuki – President