Bangkok Surprise

Author: Murakami Haruki (村上 春樹)
Japanese Title: バンコック・サプライズ (Bankokku sapuraizu)
Taken From: 夜のくもざる (Yoru no kumozaru, 1995)

“Hello, is this 5721-1251?” a woman’s voice asked me.

“Yes, this is 5721-1251.”

“I’m sorry for calling out of the blue. The truth is, I was calling 5721-1252.”

“Okay,” I said.

“I’ve been calling all day since this morning. I tried more than thirty times, but they didn’t pick up. Um, they’re probably on a trip, or something.”

“And?” I asked.

“And so I thought, well, I might as well try calling what I guess you could call their next door neighbor, 5721-1251.”

“Okay.”

She cleared her throat. “I just got in from Bangkok last night. This really awesome, amazing, incredible thing happened in Bangkok. It’s something you totally wouldn’t believe. It’s something just really, really incredible. I planned to stay there for a week, but I cut it short by three days and came back early. I wanted to talk about it, so I kept calling 1252. I won’t be able to sleep if I don’t talk about it with someone, but it’s not something I can just talk about with anybody. And so I thought maybe the person at 1251 would listen to me…”

“I see.”

“But, you know, I was really hoping a girl would answer the phone. It would be a lot easier to talk to a girl, you know?”

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“How old are you?”

“I turned 37 last month.”

“Uh, 37? I get the feeling that someone a little younger might be better. Sorry about that.”

“No, it’s fine.”

“Sorry,” she said. “I’m going to try calling 5721-1253. Bye.”

After all that fuss, I never did get to hear what happened in Bangkok.

The Monkey in the Night

Author: Murakami Haruki (村上 春樹)
Japanese Title: 夜のくもざる (Yoru no kumozaru)
Taken From: 夜のくもざる (Yoru no kumozaru, 1995)

I was sitting at my desk at 2:00 in the morning and writing. I pushed my window open and a spider monkey came in.

“Oh, hey, who are you?” I asked.

“Oh, hey, who are you,” the spider monkey said.

“Don’t copy me,” I said.

“Don’t copy me,” the monkey said.

Don’t copy me,” I copied him.

Don’t copy me,” he copied me in italics.

Man, this is really annoying, I thought. If I get caught up with this copycat-crazed night monkey, who knows when this will end. I’ll just have to trip him up somewhere. I had a job that I had to finish by morning, and I couldn’t very well keep doing this all night.

“Heppoku rakurashi manga totemuya, kurini kamasu tokimi wakoru, pacopaco,” I said quickly.

“Heppoku rakurashi manga totemuya, kurini kamasu tokimi wakoru, pacopaco,” the spider monkey said.

Since I had said something completely random, I couldn’t actually tell if the monkey had copied me correctly or not. Well, that was pointless.

“Leave me alone,” I said.

Leave me alone,” the monkey said.

“You got it wrong, I didn’t say it in italics that time.”

“You got it wrong, I didn’t say it in ītalics that time.”

“I didn’t put a macron over the i.”

“I didn’t put a macron over the eye.”

I sighed. No matter what I said, the spider monkey wouldn’t understand. I decided to not say anything and just keep doing my work. Still, when I pressed a key on my word processor, the monkey silently pressed the copy key. Click. Still, when I pressed a key on my word processor, the monkey silently pressed the copy key. Click. Leave me alone. Leave me alone.

Julio Iglesias

Author: Murakami Haruki (村上 春樹)
Japanese Title: フリオ・イグレシアス (Furio Igureshiasu)
Taken From: 夜のくもざる (Yoru no kumozaru, 1995)

After he stole our mosquito repellent incense, we no longer had any means to protect ourselves from the attacks of the sea turtle. We tried to send away for more incense from a mail-order company; but, just as we thought, the telephone lines had been cut, and our mail had stopped coming to us a few weeks ago. When you think about it, there’s no way that wily turtle would have allowed such a thing – up until now, we had been able to stave him off solely on account of the incense. Now, however, he must surely be napping contentedly tonight at the bottom of the blue-green sea in preparation for tonight’s assault.

“This is it for us, isn’t it,” she said. “When night comes, we’ll both be eaten.”

“We can’t lose hope,” I said. “We just need to come up with a plan.”

“But the sea turtle stole every last stick of our incense.”

“We’ve got to try to think about this logically. If the turtle hates mosquito repellent incense that much, then there’s got to be something else he hates just as much.”

“Like what?”

“Julio Iglesias,” I said.

“Why Julio Iglesias?” she asked.

“I don’t know, it just suddenly popped into my head. Like a hunch, or something.”

Following my intuition, I set the turntables of the stereo system to Julio Iglesias’s “Begin the Beguine” and waited for nightfall. When darkness came, the sea turtle would attack, and the final showdown would begin. Would we be eaten, or will the turtle go hungry?

When I heard wet, squishy footfalls close to the door a little after midnight, I lost no time in dropping the needle onto the record. As Julio Iglesias started to croon “Begin the Beguine” in his sugar-water voice, the footsteps came to a dead halt, and we heard the turtle moaning painfully. We had triumphed.

That night, Julio Iglesias sang “Begin the Beguine” one hundred and twenty-six times. I myself rather dislike Julio Iglesias, but fortunately not as much as the sea turtle.