The foreigner got on the express train in the windy seaside town of Izuro.
     He put the ticket in his coat pocket. The line ended in Shinagawa station
     in Tokyo. It was a long ride. Over the windows were colorful advertisements
     and a small television screen promoting cultural events.
     When he looked towards the front he saw the door leading into the next cab
     and the other doors leading farther up, like the deepening reflections
     within a mirror.
     He could see the cabs ahead shift left and right in little jerks he barely
     felt as the engine twisted on the tracks going up the Izu Peninsula.
     It was mid-afternoon.
     The cab was fairly crowded, yet there was an empty seat.
     Some people preferred to stand, reading newspapers or paperbacks.
     They swayed back and forth with the train, holding on to hanging loops.
     The foreigner, pressing his coat to his body, sat between an old woman and
     a boy wearing a leather jacket with a silver American Indian painted on its
     lapel. Looking out the window, the foreigner saw the fronts of wooden houses
     flash past and then a large white cloud. He felt tired.
     He was in Japan for two weeks.
     He had finished the business part of it and intended to use the days
     remaining just being a tourist. It was his first trip overseas.
     Max wanted to experience the countryside, and something of old Japan,
     but he had problems relaxing. There was too much to see and of course his
     time was limited.
     He heard a tiny singing voice. The boy beside him was rocking his head.
     A wire led from inside his jacket to a plug in his ear. The pocket radio
     must have been at full volume to be heard from inside the boy's head.
     The music sounded scratchy, like the buzzing of a kind of insect made of
     aluminum foil. It didn't specially bother Max. But he realized the boy
     would soon be deaf in a few years. He wanted to warn him, but Max knew only
     one language. And doing it with gestures could be too confusing.
     So, he simply scratched his head, smoothing down the gray with the black
     hairs. The seacoast was chilly. He had walked around, then drank a beer
     before boarding the train. He closed his eyes and soon fell into a doze.
     The sleep had no color.
     He was woken up by a pain below his throat. A funny sensation, like the
     result of a blow, numbed the left side of his face. When he tried to think,
     he realized that he didn't know where he was.
     Frightened, he tried to look around but discovered he couldn't move his head
     much. He stared out the window.
     The left side of his face and his left leg were numb.

     Max realized he had had a stroke, but he remembered nothing else.
     He could not talk. The back of his head was propped against the window
     glass behind him. An icy cube of fear tumbled behind his eyes, dropped
     into his throat, and spun against his cheeks. He felt his heart turn
     inside his chest. Slender apartment houses flashed past. On the roof of
     a building a gorilla advertising the pachinko parlor under it.
     Max wanted to think but found that at least for the moment he did not
     know how. He felt his will but did not know the symbols.
     He floated inside a wordless mentality that wrinkled with the throb of
     his pulse, inarticulate like the mind of an animal that was drowning or
  being pursued by a killer.
     Max struggled to move his lips and soon found that he could better and
     better. The numbness receded from his chin, from his cheek, and then there
     was only a spot of ice on the tip of his left ear next to his skull.
     In his left leg the numbness remained in a band around his ankle.
     And, to his relief, he didn't feel his heavy tongue anymore and he could
     He said, "Aaaah, aaaah,ooowwwwwwW."
     Beside him and across the aisle, people glanced at him curiously.
     He was okay again.
     He thanked....thanked.... But he could remember nothing.
     He told himself he was 'alive'.
     He didn't feel grateful.
     The word felt hollow, a sound, and he didn't understand what he meant by it.
     He stood up, took two steps, wondering where he was.
     He knew he had to be in some place, that he belonged somewhere.
     He happened to notice what a man standing beside him was reading.
     It was a magazine filled with cartoons.
     Max stared at the drawings of figures talking to each other, sleeping,
     kicking other drawings, and kissing in a place that looked like where
     he was, the figures with dots for eyes and black hair moving from one
     frame to the next like a trail of the past into the future but there on
     the page the past drawn in its frame didn't vanish, it remained next to
     the future. Each frame by itself meant nothing, a moment paralyzed like
     a masterpiece.
     Perplexed, he checked the world around him with that on the page,
     and the similarities conspired to unsettle him.
     He thought to himself, 'I am alive',
     but felt more sense for the 'life' in the comics than for the quiet people
     in the long room that rattled and zoomed past the ever changing pictures
     in the windows.
     Then Max was thrown back.
     The train screeched around a curve. He grabbed at one of the hanging loops
     for standing passengers, missed it, and found himself rocked back onto his
     People began to peer earnestly at him.
     He sat now very still. He struggled to deflect stabs of wild claustrophobia
     that almost brought pain to his eyes and with each attack a sensing of mad
     vision that was even more frightening. The cool expanse of mind of only
     moments ago was invaded by an amorphous struggling of contradictions.
     Who was he?
     What was he seeing? Where were they going?
     And what were the pictures in the windows, another kind of comics?
     To distract his mind, he studied the people.
     Some of them too seemed to be studying him.
     One face looked almost like the next.
     He was attracted to those faces whose lips were painted but those averted
     his eyes. Some others appeared to be sleeping. On the back page of a news-
     paper was the picture of a naked person with legs spread apart and who
     seemed to be in pain.
     The picture disturbed him as he stared at it.
     Its nakedness made him wonder about the others and about himself.
     He looked down at his body and slowly unbuttoned his shirt.
     He touched his flesh and hairs, then ran his hand inside but didn't feel
     the obvious chest bulge possessed by the person in the picture.
     He discovered his belly button.
     Yes, this was like in the picture.
     Max felt that he was clarifying some mysteries of his identity and
     he exclaimed, "Ah!,"
     with satisfaction.

     Then he felt the hard strap around his waist; so different from the texture
     of his hands or the other kind of skin that hid his flesh.
     Moving down, he touched a tiny handle, glanced at the naked picture
     and, holding his breath, pulled down the zipper.
     He stuck his hand inside his pants and pulled out his sexual organ.
     Out from a crown of stiff hairs, the sight of the thing, fairly light
     in coloration and somewhat firm at the end of which was a slit like a shut,
     lashless eye in a faceless pinkness, shocked him and he screamed.

     He was not the only one.
     When he looked up, away from the thing, he saw other persons screaming
     which frightened him even more and he screamed a pitch louder.
     Everybody was staring at him, some with open mouths, some with jaws
     dropped, others with twitching brows, and strangely, one or two with
     A person with painted lips hugged a very small person's head to cover
     its eyes. The one with the newspaper was laughing, but suddenly some
     persons got up, shaking their arms and making plenty of noise, started
     moving towards Max.
     He didn't understand a word of what they were shouting.
     A man in a cap, wearing a bluish uniform, started running down the long,
     shaking room towards him.
     Had the world gone mad?
     Max jumped up and himself careened away from them, swatting off the hands
     that sought to grab him. A dense clump of people, it seemed the whole room,
     was up and after him.
     Pages of newspapers were thrown about, and a thick comic book twirled
     sharply across his temple.

     He didn't know what to say, what to explain when everything to him
     was so new.
     How could he explain to them the mystery of his being when they were making
     such faces?
     He passed through a doorway into a next long room and here the persons were
     seated and calm, reading and dozing, but he couldn't suddenly stop running
     and he exploded past them, a moment before the hysterical gang after him
     two or three of whom stopped to explain the situation but also a few more
     bodies joined the chase.
     The next room looked full with standing persons that Max suddenly crashed
     into, eyeglasses and purses sent flying amid a commotion that grew more
     frightening, more irrational with the world shaking and groaning around
     him and the pictures in the windows transforming from colored frames to
     blackness and then bursting into buildings and trees again.
     It was terrible and Max wished he was....and Max screamed his first words,
     "What? What?"
     So perhaps he was getting better, the wound in his brain healing, letting
     a word drip onto his tongue.
     He pushed into the next room.
     "What? What? What?"
     He heard a shout he thought he understood -
     "Hey, man! What's happenin' ?!"
     "What? What? What?" Max answered.

     Suddenly, something changed.
     The world around him stopped going forward.
     He was thrown into a cluster of bodies that began to press into a side
     of the room that slid open. Max found himself in its midst being rolled
     out of the world. Shoved and spun around, but glad to discover he did not
     drop into a void.
     The cold wind surprised him, and the great room flooded with bodies,
     and a noise booming in a box up on a pole. He had never looked at so many
     persons standing up, moving - but going where?
     They didn't see each other when they passed, almost all of them clutching
     the little books or newspapers of obviously unimaginable importance.
     The bodies poured out of the holes in his world.
     He did not know why - he was being pushed on into what?
     He could not see, dragged in a crush of accelerations, what surface held
     him up.
     Instantly - like a dark insight - he imagined that nothing existed below him,
     a hollow like his mind.
     One huffing body carrying a red box changed his direction, forcing him
     against an interlacing mass that abruptly separated, thinned away, became
     only one person stepping out of the bright hole, and Max quickly jumped back
     in, zipping up his pants.

     He stood again on a hard surface.
     He heard the door shut behind him. As before persons were seated in two
     long opposing rows. Others were standing. Max felt a jerk sideways,
     the room started moving.
     It was a good feeling.
     The tension in his neck eased. He glanced into the other room.
     Everything appeared calm.
     There was another sharp pull as the room gained speed.
     Pictures flew across the window frames.
     He held off a floating sensation as the movement climbed over an angle
     of the track.
     Max felt so relieved to be in familiar surroundings that he almost forgot
     he didn't know who he was. Came the old sliding sound of steel on steel
     like a long bright snore. Max held his throat, just to touch his flesh,
     to be surprised by its warmth. The ticking on the side of his neck intrigued
     him; a flow inside that seemed to tickle into his brain.
     The persons around him appeared frozen, their lips compressed in a feature-
     less line.
     Max wondered if they felt what he was feeling?
     Why did they seem to him so distant, why.....alive..only when their faces
     were twisted in anger?
     He moved carefully through the room and passed a little person who was
     blowing into a paper propeller pinned to a stick. The propeller whirred
     as yellow streamers along the circumference wiggled out, changing the
     little face. Tiny white teeth showed and it made bright sounds that Max
     He was afraid to look down, but repeated in a low voice,
     "Heh, heh, heh, heh!"
     Quickening his steps, he walked into the next room.
     The man with a cap and bluish uniform was nowhere in sight.
     Something else drew his attention.
     Up on the side of the room was a small screen that showed a person
     standing on its toes. Also from the screen came a pleasant sound within
     which the person moved, slowly turning on its toes and lifting one leg
     high in the air; it bent and leaped in a manner that was so smooth and
     effortless that Max wondered what kind of world the screen represented.
     The figure moved with a rapid fluttering of its feet through a colored
     air against a background of shapes very different from what appeared
     in a blur across the windows of the room.

     Then the person suddenly grew large in the screen so that its face filled
     it entirely, for a moment; painted and beautiful with a smile that seemed
     so satisfied Max knew the world in the screen was where he wanted to be.

     Utterly captivated, he watched the figure put out its long slender arm
     to touch another dancer and just then the person with painted lips stand-
     ing beside him dropped her hand from the handle-loop.
     Keeping an eye on the screen, Max held her fingertips with his, threw his
     other arm up, and mirroring the grace he witnessed in the boxed world,
     sprung onto his toes.
     As the woman's face hardened into a density of distance, Max twirled on the
     blunt pivot of his shoes, hearing the music, feeling grace like a luminous
     beat in his heart.
     It was then that Max knew who he was.




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