Takeshi’s Challenge, Part 3
My boss feigned surprise for all of two seconds before accepting my resignation.
And just like that, it was over. For my ten years of service to the company, I was given 500,000 yen — a pittance, really.
Luckily, I’d managed to funnel a nice 100,000-yen bonus my way after accidentally upping the interest rates on a few of our high-balance accounts some months back. I felt a little guilty about it at first, but considering that my severance pay was a goddamned disgrace, it was only fair.
You ever walk around town on a weekday afternoon with several hundred thousand yen in your pocket? It feels nice. It makes you want to explore the neighborhood and toss some money around.
I’d passed by this place every day on my way to work, but never went inside before today. These guys offered everything from foreign language instruction to guitar lessons to jazz dance practice. I didn’t have anything else to do with my afternoon, so I decided to sit in on a few classes.
I picked up a little bit of Hintabo while I was there. It’s sort of like Pig Latin, only more confusing.
Next up was a lesson on hang gliding. “Why not?” I reasoned. “Sure beats trying to sit through Yakuza vs. Yakuza.”
I jumped at the chance to learn a few shamisen chords. I always liked the way that thing sounded.
I also learned how to breakdance and picked up my pilot’s license. It was a productive day.
The sun was setting by the time the place closed, but I wanted to see what else had sprung up in the neighborhood since I’d last visited.
Ritsubundo didn’t have anything worthwhile, as usual. I don’t know who this “Takeshi” guy is, and like hell I’m paying 6,000 yen for his autograph.
I always thought that Nagahana’s was overrated, honestly. I could get better pastry at the gas station.
Grilled Mormons, despite the scandalous name, is just a Chili’s knockoff with a crappy beer selection.
Bar Gold turned out to be a snobby sort of place. I don’t think I’ll go back. They have great tequila, though.
Next door was Azemichi, the only place in the neighborhood where I could be considered a regular. I knew the bartender (sort of — I’ve never asked his name, but I think I once heard someone call him Chad), and the other customers were always focused on their drinks, so nobody ever tried to talk to me. It was perfect.
I gave Chad a brief recap of what had happened today. He gave me a sympathy grunt and refilled my glass.
It wasn’t long before I needed another. I switched to whiskey.
This was the longest sentence Chad had ever spoken to me, by a good seven words or so. I was touched. I couldn’t refuse another drink after that.
That turned out to be a mistake.
It wasn’t the first time this had happened. I came home late at least once a week, reeking of karaoke bars and depression. The routine was firmly established by now.
If I asked about dinner, my wife would direct me to the oven, if I was lucky. Most of the time, she’d laugh in my face and tell me to heat up a frozen burrito.
Other times, I’d just roll my eyes and head straight for the shower.
On the off chance I was feeling amorous, I could always count on her to shoot me down.
Sometimes, I’d stop listening to her entirely and start rambling about my lifelong dream of traveling to a faraway island. The wife usually stopped me before I got to the part about how we’d discover treasure there and set up a chain of family restaurants.
Tonight, though, emboldened by my recent unemployment, I blurted out something I’d wanted to say for years: “I want a divorce.”
It went over better than I expected it to.
Minutes later, I was out on the street.
At last, things were starting to look up.