By Steve Finbow
Children’s doodles of seagulls plunge and soar, tracing arabesques beneath my eyelids. Even though I cannot see it, the sky is already too blue and I know it will be a struggle to meet the morning light. Then there are tiny explosions, flashes of internal fireworks, the brain animating its own reasons not to function this morning. Hangovers come in many sizes, many shapes, multi-hued or monochrome. This is a nuclear disco ball with expressionist lighting.
I reach out my hand to feel for her body but there is nothing there. The sheets are cold, the pillow plumped. What the fuck is that? I explore down and find warm fur and my cat, Tori, stretched out between my thighs. The rockets and Catherine wheels begin to subside and I feel brave enough to open one eye. The blinds are still drawn. The light, diffused in a baby pink through the window, bands the bedroom like a candy-striped lollipop.
I open my other eye to a vomit-sketched relief map of Sado Island, sticky rice mountains, and salmon swimming pools, a coastline demarcated in soy sauce. The memory of a fishnet sock on the tatami, a furtive kiss in the elevator returning from the Lawson across the road, a tang of cigarettes, a coral darting tongue, a fumble of breasts and a haulage of penis and testicles. But I do not remember anything beyond the anti-John Lennon rant, the assertion that Japanese women are the most beautiful in the world, the stroking of the fishnet sock, my English girlfriend storming off, the cat scratching my arm, the guests leaving.
I lift the injured limb above the covers and see a dark red river with many tributaries running from my elbow to my wrist, it burns and itches and the cat that created this hemo-fluvial system purrs and snores next to my genitals. I lift my head and sniff, searching for signs of dual human habitation—tea, toast, coffee, miso. No. Nothing. I listen, no morning news, no bip and beep of the Wii. I reach down and stroke Tori’s head and he snuggles deeper. The vomit has hardened and looks as though, any minute, it will propagate its own ecosystem. I roll over, dynastically, empirically. The cat settles back, blinks and falls back to sleep.
I get up, walk along the corridor to the living room. My bladder bursting, my bowels screaming evacuation but there is a strange light in the living room that draws me on. The three glass doors that wrap the apartment are open and the cold air of the Hokkaido winter invades the room. Two crows perched on the balcony rail look into the room. Behind them, the mountainous background is smudged and I now see that there are books on the floor, books on the sofas, and a trail of them leading outside. I walk onto the balcony, naked, flecked with vomit, caked in blood and look over the rail as the crows hop sideways but do not fly away.
Six floors down, I see a pile of books in the thick snow, their spines broken, spatchcocked, tiny words like the streaks and chevrons of a hawk’s chest feathers, dark against the paler page. The crows caw and fly away, my cat, Tori, sits on the tatami watching me. I walk back in. There is a note from my girlfriend on the coffee table. I pick it up, read, “If you must, here’s Mayumi’s number.” I ball the Post-it in my palm, walk back out onto the balcony and pitch the yellow paper into the sky up and out towards the Chitose River, it unfurls, gives a sad flap, tumbles and I watch the two crows caw and sweep after it as if it were something edible.