The meta-evil Doktor Fluxus had opened an Intrastellar Portal into the Double-negative Zone, causing a worldwide communications breakdown. With humanity on the brink of war and insanity, it was up to Nooncreeper and Lady Opaque to save the day. Due to secrets buried deep in their pasts, the two most enigmatic members of that most enigmatic band of superpowered misfits known as The Armageddon Rejects were the only quasi-humans immune to the devastating effects of Herr Doktor’s fiendish scheme, the only hope for humankind to survive. If only they could forget long enough how they hated each other’s guts.
Franz thought hard about how to translate the creative jargon of the TV show he was captioning into proper Japanese. He went through several highly specialized dictionaries, only to finally give up and just put the English words into katakana, hating himself for it, feeling like a part of the problem rather than a part of the solution.
In any case, there were more pressing matters at hand: The imminent move away from his home on Happy Road Oyamadai that his wife, Hina, was orchestrating. He loved Hina, but he also loved Happy Road. Why on Earth couldn’t he have both?
The doorbell rang. It was O.G., his American neighbor. His appearance was all California sunshine, which wasn’t necessarily reflected in his attitude and conduct. The initials he went by were not those of his actual name. They stood for “Original Gaijin,” the title of his insanely popular and habitually controversial blog about the gaijin (foreigner) experience in Japan. He often came by Franz’s place because he knew his neighbor had early access to several shows he was obsessed with. Reading the air, he inquired what was bothering Franz today. He told him.
“No problem at all,” said O.G. “All you have to do is find a better place around here and present that to your wife.”
“As a foreign freelancer, I don’t have much game with Japanese realtors, I’m afraid,” Franz said. “Their foot soldiers won’t even offer me a complimentary pack of tissues on the street.”
“Did you know I wrote about that? The Denied Pack of Tissues. It got a ton of clicks. I tell you what: I want that pack of tissues, and I won’t stop before I get it. And I will get one for you, too.”
Franz’s mind trailed off to the issue of tissues. It always seemed the Japanese kind was not really prepared to do the job, tearing to shreds if you just gave them so much as a determined look. Whenever his mother in Germany asked if he needed anything from his old home country, he vehemently refused to let her buy underwear and socks for him. He was her son but he was approaching his third decade of adulthood. However, he always made sure to ask for real, grown-up paper tissues.
Franz’s attention returned to O.G., “Thanks. … We are talking about a house, though, right?”
Later in bed, he told Hina, “I met O.G. today.”
“No wonder you have been so negative all evening,” she replied.
“He often has a point in his negativity, you know.”
“That’s his problem, that he only has one point. And he is pretty full of himself.”
“With that I agree. Have you ever seen his blog? He posts a picture of himself with everything he writes. I mean … what is he? A writer or a model?”
“Well, in his defense, these days you have to be a bit of both. As a writer, you have to market yourself. Everybody does it.”
“Thomas Pynchon doesn’t.”
“I don’t know who that is. See?”
Franz laughed. “If O.G. knew we were talking about him in bed he would get a kick out of it.”
“Yes. He would write about the ignorant Japanese wife and her meek Western husband who couldn’t get a girl in his own country, and who lives in a J-pop dreamworld, refusing to acknowledge what a hellish chore it really is to live here. … And then add a random picture of himself to it, fingers on his chin.”
“You gave that a lot of thought.”
“No, I just read that article already. It’s the only article he ever writes, over and over. Isn’t he married to a Japanese himself?”
“Oh, I see.”
Franz’s phone hummed. “O.G.!” he exclaimed, answering the call. “Hina and I were just talking about you. That picture you posted the other day … it really captured … you.”
“Thanks, it got a ton of clicks,” O.G. said on his end. “Listen, I found it. I found a way for you to stay on Happy Road.”
Andreas Neuenkirchen is a German novelist and essayist based in Tokyo. “Leaving Happy Road” is a work of fiction. Some of the names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.