Unlike Xiuying, when you first met Kei, she was still single, wasn’t she?

Yes. She was about six months away from getting married to her boyfriend of some seven years.

A nurse, she certainly lived up to the fantasies lascivious men have of women in that profession, didn’t she?

I’ve never gotten that.

Gotten what?

The nurse fetish. Whenever Ithink of nurses, my head is overwhelmed by images of bedpans, needles, Nurse Mildred Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. . .

But Kei was different.

Very much so. For starters, Kei was extraordinarily pretty . . . 

And nurses are ugly?

In my experience, nurses in Japan have all the charm of nightclub bouncers. Kei, however, was rather girlish. She had long light brown hair that was thick with curls. More than her looks, though, the thing that I really fell for was how cheerful and carefree she was, her upper lip curling up like a duck’s beak whenever she laughed.

Kei was full of life when you were feeling sapped of it.

Exactly. It still amazes me today that Kei could have had such a sunny disposition at the time when she was working in the ER, dealing on a daily basis with death—traffic accidents and messy suicide attempts, that sort of thing. Had I been in her line of work, I probably would have become suicidal myself.

You would end up having a relationship with Kei that would continue past her own wedding and right up to your divorce from Haruka. 

More or less. And, it all started one night when Kei and I happened to be alone. She had many questions, and doubts, about marriage.



“Have you ever been unfaithful?” she asks, a playfully devious look in her eyes.

“Excuse me?”

“Have you ever cheated on Haruka?”

“Me? Cheat? On Haruka? No, no, no, no . . . I’m a happily married man.”

“I don’t believe it.”

“Why do you ask?”

And then she confesses:Ever since the engagement, I’ve been terribly attracted to men.”


“Is that . . . normal?”



With an opening like that, how could you not let yourself in?

It’s funny, but I wasn’t all that captivated by Kei at first—I’ve never been into the cute, girlish type—but then she goes and tells me how horny she’s been lately, and Bingo!

Oh, it isn’t that odd, Peadar. One of the things males find most irresistible in females is something that is remarkably basic. 

What’s that?

Availability. As much as you boys like to think differently, you are the weaker sex. 

Oh, I know. Good God, how I know.


The first installment/chapter of A Woman's Hand can be found here.

A Woman's Hand and other works are available in e-book form and paperback at Amazon.


How was life now that Haruka was back?

To be honest, it was kind of a relief having her back.

A relief?

At first, yes. We still fought, of course. Bickered about trivial things day-in, day-out, but there was a comfortable predictability in all of it.

You really are a glutton for punishment, Peadar.

Perhaps, yes. But, in spite of my wife’s other faults, no one ever lavished souvenirs on me quite like Haruka would in those days. 


I’ll never forget the hundred-dollar bottle of Reserva de la Familia Cuervo she gave me that year. It became my new standard for tequila.

Something to numb you with then.

It helped.

But then the novelty of Haruka being around started to wear off, didn’t it?

A bottle of tequila only lasts so long.

And Xiuying called, asking if you’d like to have dinner.

I don’t know if it is a Chinese thing, or just Xiuying, but from then on whenever I approached her she would pull back, and whenever I retreated, she would strike. Anyways, Xiuying and I met in town and when I asked what she was hungry for, she said, “You!” So, we skipped dinner altogether and headed to the nearest “rabuho” where we screwed like cats for the next four hours.

Xiuying had gotten divorced by then, hadn’t she?

Yeah, and had gotten her permanent residence visa, too, which got me thinking: if a Chinese woman with a loser for a husband could get it, then, by gum, I so could I!

Boys, be ambitious!

Yes, well, speaking of ambition, Xiuying was working for what the Japanese call a “shōsha”,[1] a trading company, during the day to learn the business and build contacts, and in the evenings and on weekends she was building her own business. She had become increasingly independent and confident. Success was not a matter of if but how soon. As I lay next to her, I liked to think that I had something to do with . . . 

You? You think youhad a hand at Xiuying’s success, Peadar?

Well, I . . . 

You had nothing to do with it whatsoever, Peadar. Xiuying would succeed in spite ofyou, not thanks to you.

You’re probably right.


You are right.

And Xiuying would end up being as unreliable a lover to you as you had been to her.

She could be frustratingly unpredictable, but then I probably deserved it.


I deserved it.

Peadar, I think there’s hope for you, yet.

[1]A shōsha (商社) is a trading company. Many wholesalers in Japan will import goods through shōsha rather than import the products themselves to avoid all the hassles involved in bringing foreign products or commodities to Japan.

The first installment/chapter of A Woman's Hand can be found here.

A Woman's Hand and other works are available in e-book form and paperback at Amazon.


Tell me about Nahoko.

Nahoko was the friend of a friend of a friend, or something like that. A large group of my own friends and hers were out drinking at a gaijinbar when we met. She was only nineteen years old at the time, a college student, but was working part-time as the receptionist at an English conversation school in town. Diminutive, with a peaches and cream complexion, she reminded me somewhat of a purer, younger version of Akané and I couldn’t help being drawn to her. The two of us chatted, she laughed and touched my arm, I took her hand, we leaned into each other, and just as we were about to start kissing, her co-worker, a woman a little older than myself, came to the rescue, saying it was past Nahoko’s bedtime.

And that, was it?

No. Nahoko and I exchanged e-mail addresses and, after mailing each other a few times over the next few days, agreed to go out on a date the following weekend. The problem was, her co-worker insisted upon playing the role of chaperone. Who was I to protest? So, the three of us had dinner together and went to see the movie “Shakespeare in Love”. When the movie ended, I expected “Auntie” to tell me that it was time once again for Nahoko to be going home. To my surprise, however, she bid the two of us a hasty adieu, and split.

Not much of a chaperone, was she?

I suspect that Nahoko had initially requested her co-worker to join us, just to be on the safe side, but now that she was ready to be alone with me had signaled to her friend to make herself scarce.

And now that her friend was gone, you asked Nahoko if she wanted to come back to your place?

Of course, . . . At my apartment, I carried her petite body from the entrance of my apartment straight to the bedroom, lay her gently down on the futon, and in the warm light of a paper lantern undressed her, slowly removing each piece of clothing . . . I’ll never forget her skin—so soft and not a blemish on it. After we made love the first time, Nahoko asked me if she made me feel young. 




“Young?” I reply. “You make me feel reborn.”

And as we are lying side by side, I tell her I have to confess something. She places her hand on my lips and says: “I already know.”

“Who told you?”

“Your friend. He told my coworker, and she . . .”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be.”

“It was never my intention to deceive you.”

“It’s okay,” she replies and then says something that catches me off guard: “I know the Rules of Illicit Love.”



Awfully mature thing for a nineteen-year-old to say.

That’s what I thought. But before I could ask what those rules were, she climbed up on top of me and we started to go at it again, which had a way of pushing all the questions out of my head. By the time I fell asleep, I was convinced that Nahoko and I would be together for months, if not years, and I took much comfort in the idea that even if conjugal bliss eluded me, I would still be able to find affection outside of marriage.

But then you woke up.

Yes, and Nahoko was gone.

Were you surprised?

No. Japanese girls often sneak off once their boyfriends have gone to sleep; they have to hurry home before their parents wake up and realize how late they’ve been out. Akané used to do it all the time. That, at least, is what I had thought Nahoko had done. So, I got up and went to the kitchen to make myself some tea and there on the dining room table I found a letter: “Dear Peadar, I really, really, really like you, but . . . I can’t do this. I’m not strong enough . . .”

Tagged out at home plate.

The first installment/chapter of A Woman's Hand can be found here.

A Woman's Hand and other works are available in e-book form and paperback at Amazon.


Early the next morning while I was still asleep, the phone rang. It was Akané, of course.

She was sobbing into the receiver. After a moment, she asked if you were alone.

I said that I was.

At which point she really started to bawl. How did you feel then, Peadar?

I don’t know, it’s been so . . .

Like an arse?

Yeah, I felt like an arse.

So, what were you going to do about it?

I don’t know. Explain myself, I suppose.

Explain yourself?

I thought that if Akané understood that Haruka was the one I was cheating on, not the other way around, she . . .

But before you could “explain yourself”, she told you about how she had spent the night.


After calling you the night before, she went straight to a “gaijin bar”[1] where she hooked up with the first big black man she could find, a sailor up from Sasebo,[2] went back to his hotel and, well, you know what. All night long. And when she told you that, what did you do?

I hung up the phone.


I was angry. But, mostly sad. I was appalled, too, by what she did.

Appalled? How could you ever be appalled? Isn’t what Akané did the very same thing you had done?


When you suspected Haruka of seeing someone else, what did you do?

I . . . I . . .

You went to Akané’s boutique, asked her out, and . . .

That was different!

Was it now? As they say, what’s good for the goose is good for the . . .

Oh, fuck off!

Oh, how I sometimes wish I could, Peadar.

It broke my heart that Akané would do something like that.

And how do you think Akané felt?

Well, obviously, she was upset, but, man, why did she have to do that?

Would you have felt differently if she hadn’t slept with a black man? Is that what you’re saying?

I . . . no, no, no . . . it’s not . . . It’s just that . . . Oh, I don’t know. Hey, I’m no racist!

Why, some of your best friends are black.

I didn’t say that!

You were going to.

Oh, shuddup!

So, did you think it was over between the two of you?

That morning? Yes, I did. It was awfully depressing, to tell you the truth. I felt like I was back at square one. Tatami returned to Japan a few weeks later and we slept with each other a couple of times, which quickly grew old. I really had no interest in getting back together with her. None whatsoever. Tatami, by the way, had some adventures of her own while she was in England; even got knocked up by a married man. She had an abortion, of course.

Oh, but of course . . .

Anyways, Tatami and I were never right for each other and it seemed that while she was away she came to understand that.

Better late than never.

I thought about trying to meet someone new, but there really weren’t any attractive “bachelorettes” around me at the time. And the thought of going through dating hell all over again filled me with dread.[3]

Oh, the memories!

I often thought of Akané during this time, the fun we had, the laughs, the wild love we would make. And as the weeks passed I grew to forgive her . . .

You forgave her! Ha! How magnanimous we had become, Peadar!

Sorry, poor choice of words. I came to “understand” her, what she had done, what she was feeling. I wanted to give her, us, myself, another chance.


So, I went by her work, but she wasn’t there.

Actually, she was hiding in the back.

Was she? Well, I left her a small note, anyways: “Sorry for being selfish. I miss you. Call me.” That sort of thing.

Always the romantic.

It may not have been the most romantic thing, but it worked. A few days later, she did call, and was crying. I cried, too. I told her I wanted to see her and she came over right away. And that night, as we made love, she cried and cried and cried, salty tears streaming down her cheeks.

And the two of you lived happily ever after.

That may have been possible, I suppose, had I never gone back to Akané. She might have eventually found someone who really loved her, someone who would have asked for her hand in marriage, given her kids, and grown old with her.

Why couldn’t that person have been you?

Because, although I really cared about Akané, I no longer trusted her. I mean: was she going to resort to screwing the first gaijin she found every time I did something the least bit suspicious? And did I really want to marry someone who had been so easy to shag the first time?

Do you really think it was so easy?

Let’s see, I take her to the movies, ply her with a few drinks, and take her home. And, the next thing I know, we’re having sex on my sofa. Now, I’m not that good-looking. So, yes, I do think it, she, was easy.

What would you say if I told you that that hadn’t been your first time together?

Whaddaya getting at?

Peadar, do you remember asking me earlier to give you a hint?

Y-yes . . .

Well, here’s your hint: Nyao!

Nyao? What kind of hint is that?


Nyao . . . nyao . . . nyao . . . Meow! What the . . .? Nekko-chan? Akané was Nekko-chan??


Go away!

[1] “Gaijin bar” (外人バー) is a generic term for any bar in Japan that attracts a large number of foreign (non-Japanese) customers. Many of these bars are run or managed by foreigners.

[2] Sasebo (佐世保), a small city in Nagasaki prefecture, is home to the U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo Naval base.

[3] For more on this, read A Woman’s Nails by Aonghas Crowe.

[4] Nekko-chan is a minor character in the novel A Woman’s Nails.