It was the early morning in Kabukicho. The sun was only just up and everything was weird and tinted blue. The breeze pushed a piss smell from the gutters. There were cigarette butts in puddles along the curb. I was alone in front of a Family Mart. I didn’t know why I was alone. The morning light continued to open the corners.

A group of prostitutes talked and smoked near some drink machines. They wore long, padded puffer coats, mom jeans and white running shoes. They always dressed like that. Like Midwestern moms from the early nineties. I never figured out why, but it was consistent. We thought they were Chinese, but who’s to say.

Two of the girls looked at me and laughed.

I tried to smile back, but my smile was a failure.

What’s so funny, I thought.

I touched my chest and felt nothing but skin and hair. So I wasn’t wearing a shirt. I turned to the store window and saw my reflection. I was wearing a black motorcycle jacket, but I didn’t own a black motorcycle jacket. That and no t-shirt. Just the jacket over my hairy chest. Plus a black eye. I touched the swollen tissue. It was purple, but it didn’t hurt.

So black eye, no shirt, unexplained black motorcycle jacket.

I looked at my phone. 6:45am. I was holding a tall can of Coca-Cola.

I chugged the Coca-Cola and patted the mystery jacket for a cigarette. No cigarettes.

I approached one of the Chinese prostitutes. She walked the other way. Good for her. The long, puffer coat rocked like a bell.

A family of white tourists turned the corner. Mother, father, and two teenagers. One girl. One boy. I panicked and looked at the sky as if I’d noticed something new in the sky. They spotted me anyway. I caught the dad’s eye and nodded. He nodded. They all looked at the ground, turned the next corner and vanished.

Oh shit, I thought. A new low. Spotted by white tourists in the daylight hours. Hard to explain.

I looked up and saw a sign for an old soapland massage. A fading illustration of a woman in a bikini. She blinked. No. She winked at me. Beneath her was the phrase:

 

RAINBOW EYELASH

RAINBOW EYELASH

RAINBOW EYELASH

 

Blinking in different colors.

Had I seen this before? Was this deja vu?

I closed one eye and looked again. It was still there. Still blinking.

Winking.

Rainbow Eyelash. Just the same. Rainbow Eyelash. It was beautiful. Rainbow Eyelash, never let me go.

 


[image: The Red Disk, 1960, Joan Miro]

 

Kris Hartrum lives with his family in Asheville, North Carolina. He's the publisher of The Talking Book and you can find him on twitter @khartrum.

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