As I’ve mentioned previously, I work at 2 schools, alternating 2 weeks at each, so every other monday morning I arrive at a school after a two-week absence, walk into the office like I belong there, because I do, and, aside from the English teachers, the rest of the staff need a second to adjust to having a foreigner in their midst: you know…me. Even after three years I still inspire my co-workers to put their best feet forward. Most of them anyway.
Not Kawaguchi-sensei, though, thank god.
“Loco-sensei, you look like hell!” she said as a welcome. “Didn’t you sleep last night?”
I rarely sleep well. I average 4 or 5 hours. Sometimes I have dreams and wake up trying to commit them to the pad beside my bed (waking up to some illegible chicken scratch the following morning) or I’m up writing half the night, or my blood is so infused with caffeine from the five or six cups I put away per day that sleeping is totally out of the question.
“Of course not,” I replied with a grin and a wink. “It was him again.” I always blame my roommate. Sounds better than the truth: ‘I was up all night writing about my adventures living among you guys.’ And then I raised my eyebrows like I had some juicy tidbits to share with her later. My previous roommate, a German cat, used to have a harem of Japanese girls coming in and out of our house and he used to do them and do them well, with reckless abandon; the thin wall between our rooms was never even a consideration. So, occasionally I’ll give her one of those stories. Most Japanese I’ve found love to hear decadent stories that confirm their ideas about foreigners. One idea is that foreign guys come here and stay here because they believe Japanese girls are easy and un-burdened by so-called western morality, not aware that their Japanese conquests are usually outcasts (for one reason or another, sometimes by choice) from any semblance of Japanese respectable society. I remember when she’d told me that theory of hers. I just looked at her, and had to resist the urge to laugh and say: “And?”
The atmosphere in the office was different. It was kind of somber and tense, and smiles were scarce, so I just knew something was foul.
“What’s going on?” I asked Kawaguchi nodding at the room. She did her thing when she’s about to unload some office secret on me, where she looks around, leans in and speaks in hushed tones.
“One of the 1st year students brought a knife to school yesterday…”
I should have been more surprised but I wasn’t.
“Who? Matsui-kun? Satou-kun?”
“No, no, no…it was a girl!”
“Really?” Now that was surprising. There was only one girl in the entire school I could even imagine doing something like that. She was a first year student by the name of Mika. And if I had marginalized Matsui and Satou as future Yakuza, I had done the same to her that first week or so, too. Not as a future Yakuza, though. I imagine one of the prerequisites of becoming a Yakuza would be some semblance of mental stability and sanity…at least in the beginning. Mika has yet to display, at least to my satisfaction, that she knows the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, sometimes even teacher and student. She is OUT there. So, yeah, I wrote her off as a total whack-o.
“Don’t tell me Mika-chan…”
“Mochiron,” (of course.)
“Did she cut anybody?”
“No, no, no, no…”
“Did she pull it on a teacher or a student?”
“She showed it to a student…”
“Showed it? Okayyyyy…” I’m picturing her holding it to her classmate’s throat, laughing hysterically, the way she laughed when she kicked me in the ass that first week we met, establishing, at least for me, that she wasn’t wrapped so tight.
“What the HELL is your problem???”I had yelled at her, totally uncharacteristic of me. But she didn’t know that nor did she give a fuck about my characteristics. She made a sad face like a clown or a pantomime does and then suddenly burst into wild laughter, jumping around and pointing at me. Then she made like she was going to kick me in the balls, actually looking at them and pointing. And, what did I do? I tried to icy stare / dare her into submission. I threw on my coldest “I’ll kill you and your whole fucking family if you even think about lifting that foot!” glare. Yeah she bought it alright. Her foot missed my nuts by inches…it actually grazed my zipper. She didn’t even hesitate. If I hadn’t leapt back I would have needed hospitalization. “HA HA HA HA LOCO SENSEI BAKA!!!” She hollered. Other students from her home room were watching this. They had looks of pity and fear on their faces. Oh my god! What the fuck is this, I remember thinking that day. While Matsui and Satou have run of the other first year class. Mika runs her class, and she runs the home room teacher too: the very prissy chichi fufu: Okawa sensei.
Okawa-sensei was sitting across from me and looking very distressed indeed.
“Ohayou Gozaimasu” I whispered in her direction.
She waved and smiled the same smile she always has. The distress all but gone from her face.
That bitch, Takahashi-sensei, sitting across the room, was watching me now I noticed. Maybe she was wondering if I knew that she had given me some needs improvement marks on her review of my performance simply because I can’t control her kids. I smiled and waved at her…my usual. She waved back and bowed. Her usual. And I realized something about Takahashi-sensei: She not only has to teach Mika , and endure her assaults, but she also has to share her name.
Takahashi’s name is actually Mika, too.
I wonder which one of them has the bigger knife.