Dé Dale sent me a message shortly after he had returned from the trade show in Tōkyō:
“Santa made a list, checked it twice, and I am happy to inform you, my friend, that you have been a very, very good boy . . . Expect a nice rock for your stocking, and it won’t be coal! Busy?”
I was, but I could make the time. I always could for dé Dale.
How many times had a fellow gaijin come to me and bragged that he had scored some “killer bud”? More times than I could remember, and I had never once been impressed. They thought of themselves as players, but compared to dé Dale, they were hopeless dilettantes. Weed was more common than perverts on commuter trains, but cocaine? Now that was a different story.
“I don’t know if I should even give this to you,” dé Dale said when I hopped into his car a few hours later. “It’s too damn good.”
He pulled two plastic Ziploc bags out of the thigh pocket of his cargo pants and handed me one.
He wasn’t kidding: it contained a rock, tightly compressed and pearly white. My mouth watered, my heart sprinted out of the blocks.
The two of us looked at each other, grinned broadly, and broke out in maniacal laughter.
“Let’s head back to my place,” dé Dale said, hanging a right at the traffic light. “You have time?”
“For this? I can make the time.”
Turning up the car stereo, dé Dale asked if I’d heard of U.F.O.
“Unidentified Flying Objects?”
“No, man! The DJs. United Future Organization.”
“Ah, right. Yeah, I have heard of them, but never heard them.”
“Well you have now,” he said, extending an open palm towards the stereo.
Dé Dale in his untiring capacity as mentor and teacher would explain that U.F.O. was a trio of DJs, two Japanese and one Frenchman, originally based in Fukuoka that was on the forefront of the acid jazz/nu-jazz movement ripping through the hippest clubs in Japan.
“U.F.O.’s in town playing at O/D tonight.”
“Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of O/D!” he said, banging his hand against the steering wheel. “Man, I shudder to imagine what kind of life were you living before you met me.”
I confessed it hadn’t been one to brag about.
Dé Dale pulls his car up to an über-modern apartment building, exposed concrete with odd flourishes of steel painted in primary colors on the outside. Bauhaus founder Gropius meets Le Corbusier at a cocktail party and bumps into Terence Conran who sells him a garden shovel for two hundred bucks. To be honest, it was a little over the top for my taste, but impressive all the same.
“If the car hasn’t got their pussies wet,” dé Dale said, turning the motor off, “by the time they’re in my apartment, they’re tearing their panties off.”
Once in the apartment—I kept my boxers on, hiked up to my nipples like a pensioner, thank you—dé Dale locked and chained the door, then showed me to his dining room. Not the largest dining room, but what it lacked in spaciousness, it more than compensated with good sense. In the center was a vintage white Arne Jacobsen table, surrounded by six Eames shell chairs, originals from the 70s, covered in lemon yellow vinyl leather.
“And I thought I had a nice place,” I said, sincerely impressed.
“And how! Need a roommate?”
Dé Dale laughed. “C’mon, take a load off.”
I sat down, the shell chair fitting the contours of my body perfectly.
“Now thisis a chair,” I said. “Where did you find it?”
“A friend of mine owns an antique furniture shop,” he replied, closing the window blinds. “I’ll introduce you to him, if you like.”
“I would. Thanks.”
When the blinds were closed, I took the Ziploc bag out of my pocket, opened it, and dabbed my finger into the powdery bit. Tasting it, my whole mouth became instantly numb.
How long had it been since I’d had good blow? How long since I’d had blow period? Too, too long.
“C’mon, you gonna be cheap or you gonna make some lines for me, too?”
Without answering my friend, I sprinkled some of the cocaine onto his dining room table. Then, I dug into my back pocket for my wallet and fished out a one-thousand-yen note and a credit card. Chopping up a small lump of the coke, I divided the powder into separate piles, splitting one up into four generous lines, each an inch long.
“What the hell are you doing?” dé Dale protested. “You’re just asking for it.”
He took the credit card from me, cut the lines up into thirds then, with his own ten-thousand yen note rolled tightly, meticulously, almost beautifully, inhaled the first of his smaller lines, then a second, before moving out of the way.
“You’d better enjoy this, my friend, because we won’t be getting anything like this for a long, long time.”
Bending over the table, and placing my best nostril forward, I took in the whole of my line.
“You’re a junky, man!”
I smiled back at my friend before going after the second line. And then it hit me. “Wow.”
“My Colombian friends told me it was from their own stash. They don’t waste their time with anything else.”
The first posting/chapter in this series can be found here.
Rokuban: Too Close to the Sun and other works are available in e-book form and paperback at Amazon.