In the late 19th century, the postmen possessed handgun to protect themselves against registered mail robber. The postman in the present is always equipped with a fire extinguisher on his postal motorbike. As soon as he finds the fire he can put out it quickly. In narrow alleys in Tokyo, the old wooden houses are densely packed.
I followed a stray cat and found an old wooden house that is likely to collapse on marsh at the cul-de-sac. At dusk, I can see the silhouettes of pots and pans on the windows of the kitchen through the dim light, so someone probably lives in it. Every afternoon at a fixed time, the postman stops his motorbike at the entrance to the shopping street, takes out an envelope from his bag, and walks on a muddy backstreet. He puts a mail in the gap of the door at the old wooden shack.
After the postman went away avoiding the puddles, I pulled the mail out secretly from the door of the shack covered in moss. I saw the thin envelope through the sunlight. It was an empty white envelope. The sender was the political section reporter of a newspaper publishing company. The address was certainly correct, but there was no addressee name. I rang the bell out of curiosity pretending to be a delivery of express mail. Unexpectedly, a young woman appeared. “Strange. You are not supposed to be here today!”, said a lively voice of the woman wearing the yellow floral maxi dress. Putting on a cardigan she showed me into her house, saying “please come in”.
“Did you lose the way to the station?” The shack was a well itself surrounded with plywood house-shaped. “The Bible? Are you a salesman for life insurance? I will refuse them both. I do not believe in God and money”, she said so and laughed. “No … I was just walking near here… I am not a salesman” The woman sat on the bed while putting hair-slide in her hair, and recommended me a rattan chair. “Do you know Ashiwara Shogun?”, she talked suddenly. “He had been hospitalized for 50 years from the late 19th century with Grandiose Delusions. Ashiwara Shogun ― he named himself Shogun ― always told the truth. In Meiji era, newspaper reporters rushed to the hospital every day to write articles by amazing stories of Ashiwara Shogun”.
The old well was covered with a dining table cloth. I found a half‐eaten baguette and chilled consommé soup on the cloth. “Not poison”, the woman picked a jar of jam up from the headboard. Five or six small red Mock Strawberries are in a jar. “Lover” She said pointing at a bunch of envelopes which piled up beside the soup bowl. “Strictly speaking, a former lover. Stalker. He seals silence in an envelope and sends to me” The sound of water flow was faintly heard from the bottom of the well. “He was the man who are considering shocking cruel headlines anytime anywhere. I know. Underground explosion experiments are often conducted on the other side of the earth. Wireless communication in a foreign language can be heard from the bottom of the well, and the groundwater temperature will rise after explosion, and the room becomes a steaming bath.” She was excited. “Steaming bath? Steaming bath is you! The man said so and tried to touch me, so I kept him out!” The woman cleaned up the dishes, threw a bunch of empty envelopes on the floor, folded tablecloth and opened the well’s lid. The well had been filled to the brim with water.
“Underground water flows through the downtown and into Tokyo Bay. Eventually, the water will pour to the Pacific Ocean. How Romantic! Ashiwara Shogun had proposed reducing weapons because the cannons are useless if the planes are developed. Shogun was a teacher before he had an onset of Grandiose Delusions at twenty-four-year-old. When he was twenty-year-old, he told his wife that he will journey beyond space and time as the red star glittering brightly someday. Shogun was not Grandiose Delusions, but trickster” Mock Strawberries rolled with laughter in a jar.
A few days later, the shack burned down. The postman made a delivery of admonition notification for old wooden house to the inheritor from the local government and found it. Recently, this area has been hit by a string of suspicious fires. The landowner of the shack had died ten years ago. The old wooden house had been vacant for a long time. “I wonder why the well water could not prevent house from burning down…”, I murmur. “The well? There cannot be the well in the house! If you are talking about the little springs, water wells up here and there”, the postman says. He picks up a red Mock Strawberry swaying in the wind from yellow floral marsh.
hiromi suzuki is a poet, novelist and artist living in Tokyo, Japan. She is the author of Ms. cried, 77 poems by hiromi suzuki (Kisaragi Publishing, 2013), logbook (Hesterglock Press, 2018), INVISIBLE SCENERY (Low Frequency Press, 2018). Her works have been published internationally in poetry journals, literary journals and anthologies.
Web site: https://hiromisuzukimicrojournal.tumblr.com
Twitter : @HRMsuzuki
Note: Ashiwara Shogun, Kinjirō Ashiwara (1852 – 1937）
“In order to respond to the newspaper interview, Shogun monopolized a room of Tokyo Metropolitan Matsuzawa Hospital second ward with special treatment, and he proudly placed seven paper military flags, full‐dress uniform, bowler hat, top hat, military fan, sabre, hat with big feather for court dress. He was treated specially for reading newspapers and magazines. If let him talk about the disarmament issue, he had considerable knowledge about it.
If one of the statesmen in a full‐dress who contributed to the Meiji restoration playacted a Punch like Ashiwara Shogun at least once, and had been able to caricaturize himself in public powerfully, something may have been surely born. The absolute against the relative. In other words, The Culture.”
― ‘The labyrinth of Suehiro Tanemura’ (Seidosha, 1979) / Translation by hiromi suzuki