The first good thing about these places is you can get pills with no hassle. Getting pills with no hassle in the US is its own hassle. I’m talking about walking up to the pharmacy, asking for 100 Viagra, and handing over two USD. They don’t even need you to convert. The dollar will be stronger. So you get your boner pills, your Ritalin, your NoDoz, Quaaludes back in these days, and whatever else is necessary to have a good time. Your mom talks about diet pills at Genesis shows. All that shit was speed. A Trick of the Tail isn’t that good. You used to have a real America. You spend maybe five dollars for fifteen people in these places. You’ll be back, but it was always only going to be the first purchase of the weekend. You’ll buy some for the road too. You don’t ever show an ID. You don’t even worry. There’s no FDA. It’s one of the only things these places get right. Looks like sometimes they bring democracy themselves.
Then you rent the whorehouse. That’s maybe 300 for the weekend. Nothing more. The whole place. All your buddies. 72 hours of pills and fucking. And every woman is mine.
So we leave Japan and get a massive commercial discount for military group travel. You leave Japan, because you don’t shit where you eat. You used to be able to go to Juarez. I don’t know a single sailor that’s taken his family on vacation to Mexico now. You used to be able to do a lot. I cover the expenses because I care about my brothers. That’s what they are. You scrunch up. My own brother could never know. Even if they never speak to me again, and some have since died silently, they know pieces of me that are still out there. Pieces of them. I know a guy who won’t swim now; he bought a house with a big pool. Just because he said I’m going to survive and have a big pool. All of this out of my pay is nothing, and they don’t understand that. The ensigns, you, everyone. So what I’m really doing here is teaching a man how to survive. It’s not just a weekend away. It pays dividends for those who watch. At this stage in my life everything is already cheap and almost every other expense is covered. Cheap then makes US cheap nothing.
The women are built to last and they can handle a few sailors. That doesn’t mean each one could. So you shift and rotate a few and everyone comes out of the establishment looking like a spring chicken three days later. This is all for under 500 dollars. It could be done for less. I was drinking a lot then.
How did I ask? Ask for what? I paid. These women know what you’re saying. That’s the point. When I first met your aunt she didn’t speak a word of English. She still doesn’t speak too much. That’s why my Japanese is perfect. I learned faster. She gave up so much to be with me. The least I can do is let her speak the language she thinks in.
Can you fathom what it’s like to move to a place where no one speaks your language? You say goodbye to your family knowing if you want to see them again you have to buy a plane ticket. Not bum a ride. Not go on a train. You must fly in a plane for almost a day to see your family one more time. Ever again. Have you left your family exposed to earthquakes and tsunamis with no way to know when you’ll see them? Have you shipped anything from Japan? Have you tried reading new characters in a new direction?
On an early date, when it was the hardest to communicate, we were in the car and I may not have even kissed her yet. She is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. To this day. I’m looking at her. I start to lean and she screams like I’m going to rape her. Me? I thought it was over.
I look around to see why she’s screaming and I’m right. Of course it isn’t me. In Japan the bugs are bigger. You’ve got mosquitoes the size of your head. There’s one on the windshield of the car. Its whole body is splayed across the glass, sucker fumbling at something that can’t be seen. I could see into its eyes. You’d never catch me screaming, but I can admit to the heebie-jeebies. I never thought I’d calm her down. I was worried about who was gonna call the cops and have me arrested for being there while she freaks out. We know what everyone would think.
— Gwen is a writer based out of Chicago. Her book Sent to the Silkworm House can be purchased from Expat Press. Her writing can be found at Expat Press, APOCALYPSE CONFIDENTIAL, Prism Thread, Witch Craft Mag, and Rejection Letters.