stories

The Rumors About Me - Chapter 5 - page 3

The assistant editor had been watching my face absently. But at last he sadly shook his head.
"So in other words, you think that kind of material is big news."
I was stunned.
"It's not?"
He waved his hand irritably.
"No,no. Of course those things could be big news, too. Isn't that why we always report them? Yet at the same time, we're also writing stories about an ordinary office worker. Therefore, as long as the mass media reports on it, anything can be big news." He nodded. "Once the reporting has been done, any amount of news value will emerge. But the point is, by coming here today, you've destroyed that news value yourself."
"But it dosen't bother me."
"I see!" The assistant editor slapped his knees. "Now you say it, it doesn't bother us. either!"

I quickly returned to the company. The moment I arrived, I called the typists' room from my desk.
"Akiko," I said loudly. "Will you go to a hotel with me tonight?"
At the other end of the line Akiko gasped.
For a moment, the whole room fell perfectly silent. My co-workers and section chief stared at me round-eyed.
Finally Akiko answered on the verge of tears.
"Yes, I'll go with you."
And so that night I stayed at a hotel with Akiko. It was of the Lowest class in a hotel district awash with garish neon light.
As I had expected, nothing about it appeared in the newspapers. It was not broadcast on TV. From that day on, news about me vanished from the mass media. From that day on, a middle-aged office worked of a type you might see anywhere appeared. He was thin, short, had two children, and lived in a suburban high-rise. He was chief clerk for general affairs at a shipbuilding company.
I became, once again, truly nameless.

I tried asking Akiko out just once after that to see what would happen. I asked if she would meet me after work at a coffee shop. But Akiko refused. Since I know what kind of woman she was. I felt quite satisfied.
After a month, there was no one left who remembered my face apart from my own acquaintances. Yet even so, there were sometimes people who would look startled on seeing my face.
One day, in the train on my way back to my apartment, one of two girls sitting on the seat in front of me had that kind of expression on her face.
"Gosh. I've seen that man before somewhere," she whispered, nudging the girl beside her with her elbow. Look. This guy. What does he do, I wonder?"
The other girl gave me an annoyed glance. Finally she replied uninterestedy, "That guy? Oh, he's just a nobody."