Asahi Super Dry tastes like I imagine I look when I'm done drinking it: Spent and unpalatable yet somehow still managing to allure.
I remove the packet of cold tempura from the plastic 7-11 bag and shove it past my balled up gloves into my coat pocket. All that's left is the can and a sloshing, bubble-burning noxiousness.
The bag's for modesty. Opaque and green and white, it covers all but the metallic can top. Who are we fooling? Anyone bothering a glance would know I'm sitting on a low stone wall in an alley adjacent to the store; it doesn't hide anything.
They don't look; they never do. Eyes-to-shoes so polished you could lose a staring contest with yourself. Any that do happen a glance see through me, just another part of the alley, blending back into stained rock and leftover puddles from overnight rain.
I drink the Super Dry slowly, savoring each disgusting, tinny sip until only a few mouthfuls remain.
I can't remember what my goal was when I first got to Tokyo. Sure, I know what I tell people, about research and immersion and interviews that generate hours of materials I've failed to transcribe. But that was ages ago, back up a churning series of train transfers and cold nights where the rain seeps into the cracks and begins to dissolve anything it touches.
Across from my at the alley's mouth there's a tomato red post office box. People trickle up to it almost haphazardly with a look of bemusement on their faces. like depositing the paper in their hands is a confusing afterthought. One man approaches and dumps dozens of small envelopes in the box. He's as red as it is, and his fat face looks like it has invisible hands squeezing it from every conceivable direction.
Once fat face plods off, I finish my Super Dry and walk to the post box. I pull back the metal lid and shove it inside, bag and all, watching it disappear and hearing the satisfying clink as it settles on the heap of freshly-deposited letters.
I take one of my Seven Stars from my pocket and light it up as I return to my perch in the alley.