As I walked down Hamilton Street, the very same street the great man himself once trod, I began to hear muffled voices coming from my backpack. Pulling out my iPad, I discovered a live video feed on the screen, apparently another accidental FaceTime call from my brother in Japan, who appeared to be sitting in the front seat of a car, talking to the driver. Positioned directly behind them, I could see we were headed down a winding dirt road in the middle of a dense forest.
“Bob!” I said directly to my iPad as a young woman in a Tupac t-shirt passed by with a smirk on her otherwise pretty face.
“Mick!” he answered, with some surprise, turning around to get a better look at me. “How the hell are you?” I continued down the street, device in hand.
“Fine. What the hell is going on?”
“We’re on our way to a party, man!” At that moment the car swerved to make a sharp turn in the road, knocking us all off balance. From that moment on, the road became so bumpy we had to hang on tight to avoid being tossed around inside the tiny vehicle. We rode on in silence.
Before long we pulled into a fairly crowded and very muddy driveway, which I assumed was our destination until Bob turned to me and said, “You’ll be riding with Margo,” his head nodding in the direction of a ’67 Datsun the color of a cloudy day, parked right beside us. The misty form of a woman was barely visible in the fogged-up window. It was now winter.
Without hesitation, I climbed out of the back seat and made my way over to the Datsun. Just as we finished our introductions, before Margo even had a chance to turn the ignition key, the car began to slide backwards. I swiveled around to look out the back window and realized we were sliding down a huge, snow-covered hill, at the bottom of which was a small, kidney-shaped lake. Turning to her I said, “There are no headrests; we’d better scrunch down so we don’t break our necks.” The car continued down the hill, gathering speed as it went until, at long last, we hit bottom, bouncing high above an isthmus of frozen water and landing on the other side in a great cloud of powdery snow.
We climbed out of the mangled car and found ourselves looking out over a steep precipice where, far below, a small wooden boat was making its way toward a dock on the shore of the lake. An old man in a sea cap stepped from the cabin and yelled up to us, “Hurry! You’ll be late for the party!” We clambered down the snowy hillside and boarded the small craft, which then set out for the other side of the lake, where we were soon tying up alongside a wooden dock with stone steps leading to a Japanese farmhouse nestled among the trees. When we entered, the festivities were well underway.
Seated across the table from my brother and surrounded by a group of his ex-pat friends, I studied the rustic Japanese setting with great amazement and a growing sense of apprehension. Breaking through the party chatter, I asked loudly, “Bob, where are we?” Everyone stopped talking and looked at me as if I had two heads. “We’re in Japan, of course.”
“But how did I get here?”
“You must have flown. How else could you get here?”
“But it only took me a few seconds. Are we really in Japan?” The others began to laugh at my growing state of confusion.
“We are really in Japan, Mick.” At that moment my wife rolled over, waking me up. I blinked a few times and rubbed my eyes.
“Honey, where are we?”
“We’re in bed, silly.”
It was the double really that finally did it.