stories

Standing Woman - Chapter 2 - page 5

"When you're a mantree," I said in parting, "I'll petition. I'll get them to transplant you to our garden."
"Can you do that?"
"I should be able to." I nodded liberally. "Yes, I should be be able to."
"I'd be happy if you could," my wife said without any kind of expression on her face.
"Well, see you later."
"It'd be better if you didn't come again," she said in a murmur, Looking down.
"I know. That's my intention," I said weakly. "I don't mean to ever come again. But I'll probably come anyway."
For a few minutes we were silent.
Then my wife spoke abruptly.
"Good bye."
"Umm."
I began walking.
When I looked back as I rounded the corner, Michiko was following me with her eyes, still smiling like a graven Buddha.
Embracing a heart that seemed ready to split apart, I walked. I noticed suddenly that I had come out in front of the station. Unconsciously, I had returned to my usual walking course.
Opposite the station is a small coffee shop I always go to called punch.
I went in and sat down in a corner booth. I ordered coffee, drinking it black. Until then I had always had it with sugar. The bitterness of sugarless, creamless coffee pierced my body, and I savored it masochistically. From now on I'll always drink it black. That was what I resolved.
There students in the next booth were talking about a liberal commentator who had just been arrested and made into a manpillar.
"I hear he was planted smack in the middle of the Ginza."
"He loved the country. He always lived in the country. That's why they set him up in a place like that."
"Seems they gave him a lobotomy."
"And the students who tried to break into the Diet, protesting his arrest --- they've all been arrested and will be made into manpillars, too."
"Weren't there almost thirty of them? Where'll they plant them all?"
"They say they'll be planted in front of their own university, Down both sides of a street called Students Road."
"They'll have to change the name now. Violence Grove, or something."
The three snickered.
"Hey, Let's not talk about it. We don't want someone to hear."
The three shut up.
When I left the coffee shop and headed home, I realized that I had begun to feel as if I was already a manpillar myself. Murmuring the words of a popular song, a parody of "Karesusuki" with just the lyrics changed, I walked on.

I am a wayside manpillar. You, too, are a wayside manpillar. What the hell, the two of us, in this world.