By Yoshiro Takayasu (translated by Toshiya Kamei)
Often used as a site for events such as children’s small parties, a bus was stationed in the parking lot of a burger joint. That night Nana and Aya, two girls who had just turned seventeen, climbed into the bus for their birthday party, joined by their usual group of three other playmates.
“A waiter said alcohol isn’t allowed here,” said Nana.
“Who gives a shit?” Aya took out a bottle of wine and a few cans of beer. “There’s not even a fucking astray here, so use an empty can instead.” The girls, who cussed like boys, celebrated their birthdays with cigarettes, liquor, and hamburgers.
A few hours later, the three friends went home, leaving Nana and Aya alone.
“Pretty damn boring tonight, huh?” said Nana.
“Nana, are you going to school tomorrow?” asked Aya.
“Hell no,” Nana answered, then lay her face down on the table, and began to doze off.
“Fucking A. But we’ll be in deep shit if we don’t graduate. I wish I could mooch off somebody for the rest of my life. Damn, it sucks to work for peanuts while trying not to step on anybody’s toes. I wanna be surrounded by a lot of sizzling-hot hunks, and boss them around like a queen!” Aya kept on blabbing as Nana began to snore. It was precisely at that moment that the bus shook and began to roll.
“Oh shit! Where the hell are we going?” Aya glanced toward the driver’s seat, surprised. “Who the fuck is this? Cut it out! Stop right now!” she screamed. But the bus kept rolling forward in silence, eventually leaving the lights of the parking lot behind them.
“Gimme a fucking break!” Aya walked toward the front of the bus and saw a black hooded man behind the wheel.
“I’m taking you girls to a wonderful place – it’s a birthday gift,” he spoke in a low voice.
“What the hell do you mean by a wonderful place, dude? What gift? Is it included in your service? Oh God, what a fucking surprise!” Aya eyed the man with curiosity.
“Hey, old man, where are we going?” Her voice suddenly turned friendly.
“Swift’s inner garden.”
“Well, damn, never heard of it,” she said.
“It’s a paradise for girls like you – no work, all play. You’ll see.” The man’s lips formed a faint smile.
Then the bus slowed down when it reached the gate of a large house. A sign over the gate read, “Swift’s Inner Garden,” explaining that he was “the author of Gulliver’s Travels.” The bus passed through thick thickets and came to a halt in front of the garden.
“Take a look.” The man pointed toward women in brightly colored dresses, who were nibbling treats, chatting away, and smiling at tables scattered around the garden. Young, tuxedoed waiters circulated with trays of wine and finger food, tending to the women.
“It’s a paradise, alright. But there are quite a lot of knocked-up chicks!” Some of the women were well into the last month of their pregnancy.
“You don’t have to work for the rest of your life. Instead, you can drink to your heart’s content and attend concerts every day. After giving birth, you can leave your baby to a caregiver. You just have to breastfeed for the first six months.” Nana nodded as the man talked, as if she were listening to a fairy tale.
“Are they all married?” she asked, fascinated.
“You don’t have to stay with the same man all your life,” he answered. “Here, infidelity is the name of the game.”
“I dunno if it’s good or bad. After six months, what happens to the baby? No way I can take care of him. I can’t even help him with his homework,” Aya mumbled, as if talking to herself.
“No worries there. You won’t have to see him ever again. Your baby will end up on the tables of rich gourmets. An innocent baby’s brain is considered a delicacy and makes you a lot of money. You girls just need to keep making more babies.”
At first, his words made no sense to Aya. “Wake up, Nana!” she cried at last, turning pale. “What a fucked-up place! People are being like animals here. They may not even be humans themselves!”
“Shit! Hey, let’s the fuck outta here!” Aya helped Nana to her feet and dragged her toward the front entrance of the bus. When Aya lost her footing, they collapsed into a heap.
“I told you drinking isn’t allowed here,” a young male voice complained. When the girls managed to look up, they saw the waiter who came to clean up the mess.
Yoshiro Takayasu lives in Togane, Chiba, where he edits Village Tsushin. He is the author of several poetry collections, including Mukashi mukashi (1982) and Jigenkyo (1987). In the US, Toshiya Kamei has published English translations of his fiction and poetry in The Broken Plate, The Dirty Goat, Gargoyle Magazine, Metamorphoses, Nebo, and Visions International, among others.