July 23, 2003

There Is Precious Little You Can Gain From a Pinball Machine

Pinball, 1973, an early, long out of print, Brautiganesque novel by the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami is available in its entirety here. Below is a short excerpt:


An uneasy feeling ...

This uneasiness comes over me from time to time, and I feel as if I’ve somehow been pieced together from two different puzzles. Whatever it is, at times like these I toss down a whiskey and hit the sack. And when I get up in the morning, things are even worse. More of the same, one more time around.

One time when I woke up, I found myself flanked by twin girls. Now things like this had happened to me many times before, but I had to admit a twin to each side was a first. The both of them sleeping away, noses nestled snugly into my shoulders. It was a bright, clear Sunday morning.

Finally, they both woke up–almost simultaneously–and proceeded to worm into the shirts and jeans they’d tossed under the bed. Without so much as a word, they went into the kitchen, made toast and coffee, got butter from the fridge, and laid it all out on the table. They knew what they were doing. Outside the window, birds, which I couldn’t identify either, perched on the chainlink fence of the golf course and chattered away rapid fire.

“Your names?” I asked them. I had a nasty hangover.

“They’re not much as names,” said the one seated on the right.

“Really, nothing special as names go,” said the one on the left. “You know how it is.”

“Yeah, I know,” I said.

So we sat facing each other across the table, munching toast and drinking coffee. The coffee was good.

“Does it bother you, us not having names?” one of them asked.

“Hmm ... what d’you think?”

The two of them gave it some thought.

“Well, if you simply must have names for us, choose something that seems to fit,” proposed the other.

“Call us whatever you like.”

The girls always took turns speaking. It was like an FM stereo check, and made my head even worse.

“For instance?” I asked.

“Left and Right,” said one.

“Vertical and Horizontal,” said the other.

“Up and Down.”

“Front and Back.”

“East and West.”

“Entrance and Exit,” I managed to get in, not to be outdone. The two of them looked at each other and laughed contentedly.


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