The London Magazine | February/March 2020
This ghost block is not so tall as some of its neighbours, but squat and wide, a mere five storeys. The cracks are showing though, and even on the walk from the regenerated Shibuya subway station, Kit has seen similar structures that are half rubble. Around the station itself and the hectic Scramble Crossing are newly restored ad-screens looming, leering, screaming. This is what you see on the news: Tokyo restored. But the shiny footage conceals as much; the place is half-wrecked still.
Sol sleeps on a futon unfurled on a tatami mat in the tiny second bedroom, no bigger than the futon itself; Kit sleeps on the floor – this is clearly to be his role in life – in the kitchen that is also the sitting room. ‘Sorry, buddy, no more mats,’ Jonny stated with evident enjoyment on the first evening, before directing Kit to a convenience store to feed himself; Jonny had only been expecting one guest, he explained for the seventh time, therefore he had only bought sufficient pot noodles for two.
It’s Saturday night and Jonny Quiss has taken them (Kit had to insist on coming too) to a nearby izakaya, a Japanese pub, a den dug into the ground. They have removed their shoes to enter the nook of dark wood, the air thick with fumes of smoke and sake, and are seated in a shadowy booth separated from the rest of the bar by columns of teak and ornate latticework. A wooden table top divides Kit from Sol and Jonny, the floor beneath it lowered, a pit for jeaned legs. He watches Sol curl up to sit cross-legged on the flat cushion next to Daddy. At some point Jonny’s arm creeps around Sol’s waist. Every so often Kit sees his fingers twitch up, or down, and he feels a little electric shock of outrage. Sol seems completely unperturbed, and if anything nestles into him a bit more.
At the heavy wooden bar, three suited salarymen loll forward, fast asleep and statue still, as if time has stopped; imprisoned and immortalised them.
Jonny resumes his campaign to get Sol pissed. ‘You were named after my favourite Mexican beer, darlin’ – it’d be a crime not to.’
Kit tries to catch her eye but she’s not biting. She seems to be enchanted by the city, high on the sheer noise outside the deathly silence of the residential block.
As he sits opposite Jonny’s expansive flesh, Kit reflects yet again on the obscene flattery of his Holograb. At Sol’s post-rehab halfway house, reunited at last with her virtual reality device, she had shown him an