Around that time I was still in Wakayama.
To help get rid of some pent up anger that had built up while doing hard work, I took the company’s car without permission and three of us went to Kataonami. I wanted to see the ocean. I was sick of Osaka, and I felt so refreshed by the wide open spaces and lonely landscapes that on the way back home, I rented a place in Sonobe that I just happened to pass by. At that time, Ai liked the place, too. The rent was only 35,000 yen for three rooms with a kitchen. When we were trying to choose which apartment would be best, I asked a scrawny old lady who came out to see us whether it was a good place to live or not. “It’s on high ground so the breezes are good, and in the summer you can see fireworks from here. But stay away from building C. There’s a crazy person living there.” On the way out I noticed that the stairs and landings were really wet. “Somebody died in the apartment across the landing, so I’m always pouring water there.” When I got home and checked, I found out that the place was the spot of the famous poisoned curry case.
Every day I drove two hours each way to work in Osaka (I didn’t have enough money for the expressway most days). I got home late all the time, but the feeling of crossing the mountains out of Osaka and the smell of the fresh mountain air rushing into my nose when I got out of the car at home was really great. On my days off, we all went to the shore. Kudo-san and Ai and I were all still using flip phones. One time Ai told me, “Tori-san sends me a bunch of melodies to my voice mail, so I record them here with Mari (who was about one year old at the time) and send them back.”
She let me hear them, but at the time I only thought they were just fooling around.
My work was getting harder day by day and Ai was stuck in that lonely place where she didn’t have any friends or relatives, doing nothing but taking care of the kid and shopping all by herself, bored and upset by the inconvenience, and we started to argue more. One day she said, “I want to go back to Osaka. There’s nobody here to help me. You’re hardly ever here. Did you want to shut me up in the countryside?” That wasn’t my intention, and I was startled by her vehemence. And then, after a little while, I had a kind of seizure at work. Luckily someone was right there and miraculously I got better with no after effects and didn’t die. A-chan from Ebon teahouse and Kaoruko, Kudo-san all came to see me while I was recovering. We had to go back to live in Osaka, and my son was born. After about half a year I went back to work, but I punched the boss and got fired.
A few years passed. Ai, Kudo Tori and I had all said, “We want to be the last ones still using flip phones,” but we all switched to smartphones. Mari was crazy about Purikyua/Glitter Force. Ai cut her hair. I lost mine.
This work is based on a small inspiration by Kudo Tori, with additional material added from the voicemail recordings made by Hashizaka Ai (and her family) and from a Maher Shalal Hash Baz 30th anniversary show in Shinjuku, to make up three levels of sound.
Hashizaka’s sounds are full of the highly entropic sadness of northern Wakayama and Maher at Shinjuku sounds like they were a little angry.
Kudo-san says that he picked up a sense of blankness and kindness from these fragments. Something like the feeling you get at an out of the way bookstore that has a nice collection of books, or at a small cheap bar that features fried organ meat, or a bakery, or taking a long trip, or when you’re extremely busy with cooking, cleaning, housework and child care, or other real experiences that make life worth living.
Notes by Geshi Nodoka translated by Kato David Hopkins