By: Lance Oliver Keeble
Jodi Sakarui considered herself a bit of a rebel. Her family were conformists, at least that’s how Jodi saw it. Compared to her family and their traditions, she was a black sheep. Even though there were better, more positive words in Japanese for rebel, she often heard the word “Gaijin” (foreigner). It was a terrible name to call a Japanese person. That, among other words she preferred not to think of, only inspired her to rebel that much more. Her family lived in a two story Victorian in La Mort Douce. The exterior looked like a traditional home from those stupid black and white movies she had seen on TNT. The moment you walk in, the looks and smells were that of any from the Homeland. Which homeland? Japan? As far as Jodi was concerned, Japan was not her home.
“Why should I follow tradition?” Jodi mulled, “For fuck sakes we have been in America for four generations. Grand-Dad was put in the American camps, what? Like a million years ago? Back in 1942 or some shit like that, right? For all intents and purposes, I am an American now. Shit! Who am I kidding, who looks at my round face, yellow tinged skin and almond shaped eyes and thinks American? I am no more a Japanese than I am American. How many Asian women have been crowned Ms. America? Two?” Jodi thought sarcastically.
At 16, Jodi looked 13 and often dressed a lot younger. Imagine a gothic catholic schoolgirl. She often wore pigtails captured in red bows, black pleated skirts, patent leather boots, leggings, her arms covered in torn lace and uniform shirts in whatever color fit her mood. Jodi smoked cigarettes and marijuana, drank beer, cut up in school, and fought regularly. All in rebellion against her buttoned down upbringing. Her mother refused to give her a car like the rest of her friend’s parents, so she rode her skateboard wherever she was inclined to go. She found it funny to show up at family functions, dressed like a punk rocker or a Goth-Girl. In fact, she had even considered being a Suicide Girl, but even that seemed conformist at present, beside, it wasn’t as if she would make the Showtime special.
She scoured the web site and became elated by what she read. She saw every color, every hue and every size girl you could imagine. When the two TV specials came out, she freaked. She was beyond excited, she TiVo’d both of them, waited until her mother was asleep and watched them back-to-back. What a fucking surprise; they were all white and skinny on the show! ‘Oh God! Jodi’s thinking was excessively negative, and her thoughts were making her want to throw up.
“Fuck this!” she thought, “It’s time to get out”. Night skating wasn’t new to Jodi. She did it all the time. In fact, the night she got attacked was a night she had climbed out the window and headed to the skate park. That didn’t stop her though. The weather was just beginning to warm up, spring was approaching and the moon lit up everything like the overhead lights at the basketball court opposite where she skated. It certainly was easier than trying to skate during the day and having to fight with the other kids who asked her questions like, why she was there or if she was waiting for her boyfriend. When they found out she was a Bowl Rider, she was cool until, they realized she could out skate them. Then they wanted to kick her ass or told her to, Fuck Off! Mostly they just assumed she played for the “other team” and shunned her completely and called her a dyke.
Jodi didn’t like being discriminated against. Especially by people who had no more claim to the sport of skating and surfing than she did. Jodi remembered once being told that California skaters were inspired by surfing and surfing is Hawaiian. Jodi didn’t even know if that was true, but it fueled her indignation. She told herself to, “Snap out of it! Concentrate, open the window and bail quietly.” All this thinking was a distraction, it caused her to feel worse. Jodi resolved to revel in being an outsider. Jodi collected herself, grabbed her board and her backpack and climbed out of her window into a night lit by a perfectly round moon.
All the dogs in the neighborhood were howling as she made her escape. She closed the window quickly so the sounds wouldn’t carry through the house. Jodi never considered that the howling could have been a warning of danger or anything else; she was intent on her mission tonight. She had been on her computer all day waiting to see if any sexual deviants would hit her up. Finally, some old pervert did. She was going to exact justice like that TV show, but she would do it better than Chris Hansen and with no budget or studio backing.
Jodi recalled the night of her accident. She remembered skating through the tunnel, on her way home from the park, when she’d seen this rad looking guy smoking a joint. The hairs on the back of her neck had tingled a bit, but Jodi ignored the feeling because the guy seemed so cool. He’d worn a long, dark coat, like those guys in old black and white movies or those vampires in movies where the super-hero guy with a sword hunts them. He was sexy, dangerous looking and strangely inviting with the aura of a man who could sweep a girl off her feet. She had wanted to see more of this man’s face. So she thought, “What the hell”. Jodi slowed down, picked up her board, and walked over to him; swaying her hips in an oft practiced sexy walk. She quietly cleared her throat and in her most seductive voice, asked him if he had any matches.
Instead of reaching in his pocket for a light, the mystery man had grabbed her with a smooth swiftness that completely startled her. Initially Jodi had frozen, but then her survival instincts kicked in. She’d hit him with her board, elbowed his throat, and given him every move that had saved her before with guys who’d gotten out of line. “Shit!” He was the strongest person she had ever encountered. When she finally saw his face, all she could focus on was his eyes. They were dark, cold and deadly staring back at her. The veins in the whites of his eyes had appeared to grow with every pulse of her heart. With no effort at all, he’d lifted her, embraced her like a child and moved to lay her down. Jodi had thought then that it was all over. She’d be raped then killed and her body left in that tunnel. Fear consumed her. She thought about all the stupid things she had done; defying her parents, skating through that tunnel, talking to the gorgeous killer. She’d wiggled and squirmed, but nothing had freed her from his grasp.
Her heart had raced, adrenaline had made her temples ache and she’d squeezed her eyes shut; tight enough to add to the throbbing pain in her skull. She had known her life was over but she could neither face her killer nor certain demise. She had realized pretty quickly that she was his prey and he would never let her go. Jodi’s heart had beat double-time as his cold, stale breath moved closer. Directly over her, she had heard the most guttural, unholy growl she’d ever heard in her short life. Her attacker had looked up, snarled and hissed in response. She’d dared to open her eyes when his grip loosened. In an instant, things had changed. Suddenly, Jodi’s attacker had become the prey.
The impact of what hit them had tossed her into a wall. Jodi had lain there with cuts and bruises from head to toe; bleeding through her clothes onto the cold concrete. Her pain had somehow overcome her delirium and kept her awake long enough to smell the oddest scent she had ever inhaled. Not simply animal yet not simply man, but a raw, metallic mixture of both. The tunnels fluorescent lighting had been poor, so she had only seen shadowy forms dancing in a deadly whirl of snarls and violence. The battling figures had resembled a scene from Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah. “Stupid movie, why in the hell would that come to mind?” Jodi wondered just before she blacked out.
The rest of that experience remained foggy. When had the ambulance come? Who’d called them? Why wasn’t she dead? While the rape kit hadn’t shown signs of sexual assault, Jodi had still felt violated. She never understood why the doctors and nurses repeatedly said she only had bumps and bruises, “How the hell did I heal so fast?” she wondered, “I was shredded”. She remembered looking up inside the ambulance when she’d heard the sirens; she had been bleeding from cuts, bites and scratches over her entire body. Jodi still felt the scars, even after the physical evidence had disappeared.
Jodi was already harboring anger and the attack served only to fuel her fire. She continued to channel her anger by combing the Internet looking for him and predators like him. Jodi overwelhmingly felt the need to get even.
The cold night air shook her from her memories and puckered her skin. Parts of her that weren’t covered with clothing seemed more sensitive to the frosty air. The click clack of the wheels from her board bounced off the concrete. Night was so much more still than day to her. Jodi could tell Indian Summer was almost over; the air felt crisper, cooler. Jodi felt alive at night, even more so after the attack. She seemed more sensitive to everything. She found herself picking up a cacophony of sounds from traffic, sirens, street voices, wind, rustling leaves and so much more. All of them seemed to assault her hearing.
All those sounds together resembled the hushed murmur often heard during a school play. It had been a little less than a year since that frightful night. While Jodi had survived the experience, she was worse off for it, as she had become even angrier. She thrived in the night and enjoyed the potential danger. In fact, Jodi welcomed it.
Jodi turned in at the park, headed over towards the swings, and carelessly kicked the dew dampened sand around, keeping her eyes out for needles and doggie bombs left by the local addicts and yuppy puppies. She settled onto a damp plastic swing in her punk skirt and kicked herself back and forth for a while. Eventually she stopped her momentum with her feet, reached in her jacket pocket and pulled out some envelopes wrapped in old rubber bands. Out fell a carefully torn advertisement she’d found in the back of the free newspaper. It read, “Globes Disease, do you have it? Do you black out? Do you wake up in strange places? Do you have unexplained fits of rage? Do you heal faster than normal? If you answered yes to these questions, you may have Globes Disease. Call us, direct or collect, at 1-518-555-9653 or visit our website at WWW.GlobesDisease.com.”
Jodi picked up the crumpled ad and put it back in her pocket. She unbound and examined the letters. All had return addresses from Japan. Most of the letters were in Kanji, except the envelopes themselves. Some pages were in English and those were for her. They were all from Jon Ichiban Sakarui. Jodi was annoyed. Her mother neither said anything positive about her father nor let on that he even cared enough to make contact. She realized he wasn’t perfect or as buttoned down as her mother’s family. He was like her, Next-Gen Japanese. For the first time in her life, Jodi didn’t feel as different after reading the letters. She was not in search of validation through older men. She had a father; she did not need a perv to be her daddy figure. Jodi felt anger and resentment for her mother gaining ground inside her.
When Jodi found the letters earlier that day and confronted her mother about them, it did not go well. Her mother threw out words like Haji, which means shame, claiming she was trying to save her from the influence by the new ways of western culture. “That is such bullshit! Isn’t pinning all your unrealized hopes and dreams on your children some kind of child abuse?” Jodi was furious and didn’t want anything to do with her family. She hated them almost as much as she hated the crusty old fucks that derived pleasure from feeling up young girls. “HAH! My mother wants to protect me from the new ways, but the old ways are fucking me up more than western culture ever could.” Jodi’s thoughts drifted again. She told herself, “They will all pay.” She was gonna take out this one last pervert, then her family and when she was done she would call and find out about this Globes Disease thing.
With luck, being a minor would keep her from the electric chair. Telling the authorities about her affliction might get her labeled crazy and earn her a stay in the loony bin for a while. Nevertheless, at 18, she could claim she’d been cured of her psychoses and be released with her records sealed. When all this was over, she would go to Japan, seek out her father, start a new life and finally be happy. She understood many Japanese left Japan for smaller towns and rural areas, because the big cities in Japan had caught up with the western world and their modern ways. Many of those cities had become so modern, there was no way the residents could live life in the old way. Cities like Osaka, which is where she would go.
A sedan pulled up and ended her daydreaming. A businessman exited the vehicle, approached her quietly and sat on the swing adjacent to her. Jodi’s rage began to build, bubbling like an ancient volcano. She would use her entire teenage lifetime and focus it on this moment. She held herself in check for this purpose. She needed to maintain control. Jodi felt his excitement grow as she acknowledged him with a nod. The night air was thick with tension. Jodi’s skin heated, causing steam to rise from her skin. She held back just a bit longer, like a child who desperately had to pee, but had to finish the next level of a video game before going. She needed that ache, that urging pain before she could issue her brand of judgment. The man leaned closer; a buttoned-up wolf in sheep’s clothing. He would soon discover who the real wolf was. She reminded herself to lock into her mind that while she was in her mindless rage to be sure to visit her mother. The time had arrived and this creep was the catalyst Jodi required. Jodi was ready to rid herself of all the adults who would do her harm. As she readied her mind and stoked her rage, Jodi could hear the thump of her own heartbeat. The last thing Jodi remembered feeling was the stranger touching her leg; the last thing Jodi heard was this perverted stranger’s scream…
When Terry Andersen was first told of his disease he didn’t know what to do. How could this happen to him? How could this type of thing even exist? La Mort Douce had a sordid past for sure, but damn, who names a place “The Sweet Death” anyway? Located between Quebec and the States, hardly anyone knew where it was for a few hundred years, allowing countless atrocities to go unnoticed. However, since the 70s, all manner of people had begun to move here. As long as they could afford to. Some Native Americans and Native Canadians returned, most from “The Seven Nations” tribes, including the Iroquois and the Mohawk. “Don’t let that melting pot ideal fool you.” Terry had a professor who once said, “We should stop saying melting pot, because melting pot implies we all ceased being who we were and all became the same; a collective.” She thought we resembled a salad. Well, if this town was a salad, the lettuce ran the show and the rest of us have to be croutons.
Well, now the dark crouton had something he hadn’t even known existed. Something he once thought couldn’t be real, and yet it was. He had IT now. Terry looked into his bathroom mirror. Staring back at him was the early morning malaise that normally overcame him before heading off to work. This morning was different. Terry’s reflection, a dark man in his 40’s with deep dimples, strong cheek bones and what he thought was a friendly face, seemed extremely tense. A woman he dated once told him she thought him to be clean cut and intensely appealing. His eyes however, she said, “Were severely serious.” “Interesting description,” he thought. He wasn’t sure if it was his color or height that caused many at work to call him “Intimidating.” The description felt suspect all the same.
Terry’s thoughts often wandered in strange directions, generally away from what bothered him most, yet his mind eventually came back to it, without fail. He sighed, a single encounter, one bullshit incident and he now had IT; his destiny had been redirected. Terry figured there would be legitimate literature on this, but dammit-to-hell, no medical book he’d picked up covered the combination of symptoms he had: Unexplained lapses in time, increased hunger and metabolism, irritability, high sex drive, unexplained bruises and wounds that healed more quickly than normal. Terry also struggled with being exhausted during the day from bouts of insomnia.
All of these were symptoms recognized by the doctor he’d called on the card that strange visitor gave to him in the hospital. He realized later on that the same number was in newspaper ads he’d seen as well. What was it called again? Globes Disease? Apparently, it was a fluid borne illness passed from carrier to carrier. Shoot, he had tried looking it up with no success. Maybe it was covered under some other subject. Maybe it was biblical, myth or folklore. What little he did know, didn’t make any sense to him.