Read Here First:
At 9am I was ushered into the room with all the windows and left there alone for a while. It looked different during the day. I looked out at the Kurokawa Exit ramp. It was a marvel of engineering I thought. The ramp itself looks more like a toy car set you would buy a 4 year old. Some how you have to get from thirty-five thousand feet to ground level in the space of an office parking lot. So the exit ramp curls and twists around existing buildings until you are finally at sea level.
Special Agent Nakayama looked exactly how I imagined he would look. He had a Trench coat, tweed jacket, and cigarette hanging out of his mouth. He fit right in with all the other characters in this animated police comedy I am living out.
I sat across form Sgt. Tanaka and the rest of the cast of characters were in and out of the room. As Nakayama asked me questions, he would smoke cigarettes and ash them into his own mobile ash tray that he would pull out of his jacket.
“Where did you get the bike?” he asked.
“From my manager.” I said again.
“Where did she get it?”
“I don’t know?”
“Where is she now?”
“I don’t know.” I said again in a frustrated voice.
Nakayama gave out a heavy sigh. He slowly leaned forward in his chair and gave me the most confusing advice I have ever gotten in my life:
“I don’t know how is America, but in Japan… We give answers!”
He leaned back into his chair and lit a cigarette, confident that this Zen-like advice will open a new line of communications between us.
I have become much more knowledgeable of the Japanese language since then, and can now look back on his advice and say, I still don’t know what the hell he was talking about. Now I offer this advice to everyone on the Internet, and around the world, so that they too can be as confused as I was.
Nakayama’s mannerisms and strange English led me to believe that he had learned his English form watching American TV shows. In particular, police dramas.
He has also picked up a few mannerisms from a famous Japanese TV show called Furuhata Ninzaburo (古畑 任三郎). Or maybe the TV show got their ideas from seeing him. I’m still trying to work that one out.
My classes started early that day and they were very accommodating with my schedule. I promised that I would return tomorrow at oh-nine-hundred, like they had asked.
Later that night Amanda returned my call and gave me some great news. She told me that she picked the bicycle out of a gomi (Garbage) pile next to her apartment. She is away on a teaching assignment and will return tomorrow.
I returned the next morning and with a little more confidence. I gave them this new information in hopes of wrapping this thing up and going home. But I was again ushered into the room to answer a few more questions.
Special Agent Nakayama paced the room. When he reached the far window he stopped and looked out at the twisting Kurokawa exit ramp.
“After your ‘friend’ got the bike from the gomi pile… was there anything wrong with it?”
“Huh?” I said.
“Did you make any repairs?” He asked.
“Yes, it had a flat tire.”
Did you take it to a bike shop?
I bought a new inner tube and replaced it myself.
“So you did it yourself.” He said as he turned and nodded in approval.
“The basket was broke.” I said.
“Did you buy a new one?”
“No.” I explained, “I bent the arm back in place, and attached it with a new screw.”
He nodded in approval again, but this time he looked at Sgt. Tanaka and they both pretended to be impressed by my mechanical abilities.
“I also oiled the lock so it would snap better.”
Nakayama walked behind me and back to his chair at the other end of the table.
“So how much did you pay for all these repairs?” he asked as he took out a cigarette.
“I did not keep the receipt for the tube, and I found the screw in my apartment.”
I said in a quick worried voice, knowing how much the Japanese love to have paperwork.
“Just give me a rough estimate?” he said to calm me down.
I tried to remember the exact price of the inner tube, and then answered,
“About 1200 Yen.” ($12)
Sgt. Tanaka began writing in his notebook.
“So about 1200 Yen.” He repeated for clarification.
I nodded back.
“Um hummm… I see.” Nakayama said to himself.
He lit the cigarette and sat back in his chair.
I let out a heavy sigh, which led to a long yawn. I have been getting up very early for all this I thought.
There was a calm silence as everyone took in all the information.
Nakayama slammed his fist down on the table scaring the shit out of everyone in the room.
“DO YOU MEAN TO TELL ME…” Nakayama yelled.
“That somebody THREW OUT a bicycle with only 12yen in damage?”
I was shocked and frozen. Officer Tall-skinny-guy was shocked and frozen. Sgt. Tanaka just looked at me waiting for my reply.
“A bicycle is a very important and expensive thing to Japanese people… They don’t just throw them away”
Special Agent Nakayama had most certainly been watching too many Police dramas. But the bottom line was that I had no response to this. When Amanda told me that she found the bike in the garbage, I felt relived that this whole thing would be over. Now it seems like we are both in more trouble than I thought.
Nakayama’s cigarette turned bright orange as he inhaled. On the exhale he said,
“When your friend returns… she is to come here with you at 9am.”