Occupied City

IN THE OCCUPIED CITY, you are a writer and you are running –

In the wintertime, papers in your arms, through this January night, down these Tokyo streets, you are running from the scene of the crime; from the snow and from the mud, from the bank and from the bodies; running from the scene of the crime and from the words of the book; words that first enticed and entranced you, then deceived and defeated you, and now have left you in-snared and in-prisoned –

Beneath a sky that threatens more than night, more than snow, now you huff and breath-puff, puff and breath-pant, pant and gasp –

For in your ears, you hear them coming, step by step, whispering and muttering. In your ears, you hear them gaining, step by step-step, drooling and growling, step by step-step by step –

A Night Parade of One Hundred Demons …

In the night-stagger, your spectacles fall from your nose. In the snow-stumble, your papers fall from your hand. In the night and in the snow, you scramble for your spectacles and for your papers, you search for your sight and for your work. But the ghost-laden wind is here now, again the be-specter-ed air is upon you. It steals your papers and it shatters your spectacles, it makes a sheaf-blizzard of the loose-leafs, a shard-storm of the slivered-lenses, as you claw through the laden wind, as you thrash through the haunted air –

But then the wind is dead and now the air is gone, the sheaves fall and the shards drop. You grab your spectacles, you grasp your papers, your manuscript; your manuscript of

the book-to-come;

this book that

will not

come–

This unfinished book of unsolved crime. This book of Winter, this book of Murder, book of Plague.

The blank sheets in your hands, the empty frames on your nose, now you see the Black Gate up ahead, and so you start to run again, through the January night, huffing and breath-puffing, down the Tokyo streets, puffing and breath –

Now you stop running.

Beneath the Black Gate, you seek shelter. In its damp shadows, you squat now. Under the eaves of the gate, here there is no one else, only the finger-night-tips, the foot-snow-steps. This gate once a treasure, this gate now a ruin, almost; but this gate still remains, this gate now a sanctuary, perhaps. No crows, no foxes, no thugs, no prostitutes tonight. Only night and only snow, their finger-cold-tips and their foot-dirty-steps. You breathe hard, your soaked-coat-through, you spit blood, your stained-papers-red. Your breath is bad and belly bloated, your eyes bloodshot and face swollen –

But here, under this Black Gate, in these damp shadows, here you will hide. Here inside, inside here –

Here you will hide –

Hide! Hide!

From this city, out of breath, from this city, out of time. This cursed city; city of riot and city of earthquake, city of assassination and city of coups, city of bombs and city of fire, city of disease and city of hunger, this city of defeat, defeat and surrender –

This damned city; city of robbery and

city of rape, city of murder,

of murder and plague –

These things you have witnessed, these things you have documented, in the ink you have spilt, on the papers you have spoiled. Inside here, here

inside –

‘… a ghost-story-telling game popularized during the Edo period. By the mid-seventeenth century its form was established among samurai as a playful test of courage, but by the early nineteenth century it had become a widespread entertainment for commoners. The game begins with a group of people gathering at twilight in the pale-blue light of one hundred lit candles, each covered