Not Raw Enough
By Randall Bowling
On the business trip of a lifetime to Tokyo for the launch of his dynamic aquatic invention, Hatteras businessman Seth Tinsley is certain his new product will astonish and panic the wealthy power brokers in the international seafood industry. Seth never thought about his success attracting the attention of an wealthy faction willing to go to any means to preserve the integrity of their country's ancient cuisine.
Before his grand product display at the Tsukiji Market and the media blitz at the United States Embassy, Seth finds out he is wanted by the JNP for mass-murder and has become nothing more than an expendable pawn of the US Government. He finally comprehends that he is also the prey of a company unleashing a deadly gambit to control Japan's sixty-billion dollar seafood industry. Seth figures his only chance against the long odds of staying alive is to somehow escape Japan and lure his enemies back to Kill Devil Hills to sate their not raw enough obsession.
International travel is such a sensory overload experience that sometimes even the big things are not remembered. Seth had forgotten how truly nonplused he was with the vaunted Japanese efficiency at the Narita Airport arrival procedures and customs fiasco. Essentially, it sucked.
Like in the old days when he traveled on his gratis airline employee passes, too much of everything was just enough. He’d consumed mass quantities of mediocre champagnes and wines, not bad beers, and when they ran out of the good stuff - the little B&Bs, he did several more Drambuies, a couple of Jaegers and some Cognacs.
Andi had not been impressed by his inclination for the variety of Japanese delicacies and international treats which he packed away, or by his stamina in attempting to single-handedly deplete the liquor supply in the first-class cabin. She tried in vain to get him to keep it to a dull roar, but after hours of his excess, up and down the aisle chatting with every passenger, and a visible lack of conversation with her, Andi landed more than a little annoyed. All in all, the flight had been very pleasant for Seth, too whacked to contemplate his pending problems. He'd executed a complete and blissful escape.
Arrival however, quickly became a sobering exercise. Now on the front curb of the airport’s lower level to arrange transportation to their hotel, Seth suffered - badly hung-over and jet lagged. Not a festive combination.
He had taken the taxis before, but could not justify paying an additional hundred bucks plus verses taking the big bus. You'd only sit in the same traffic jams in the too-small-for-real-Americans Japanese taxis. On a grueling trip like this, first-class or not, experience was no aid.
The heavy air pollution at the curb from the buses and traffic started it. A Japanese woman brushed by Seth as she claimed her bags from the carousel, her recent excessive spritz of a potent, cheap French perfume doing its best to sucker punch Seth. He contemplated what to do when it all demanded release. Saliva flowed freely from under his tongue in amazing quantity, one of his sure signs of eminent regurgitation.
Andi curiously gazed around the congested arrival-area, ignoring Seth and his green-gills. The atmosphere of a place she'd never been before revived her. A short man, well dressed with chauffeurs cap proudly cocked, approached them and addressed Seth. "Mister Tinsley?"
Seth only nodded, afraid to open his mouth or try to talk.
"Welcome to Japan. I am Sakai from the Okura Hotel to pick you up. Your bags?" he asked, pointing to their collection of Seth's one and Andi's two. He hoisted all three in a practiced maneuver and said, "This way, please," and started up the curb with their bags.
They followed the man to where he sat the bags down behind a shiny, white Rolls Royce. He purposely aimed and popped the trunk with his remote-control key, gently loaded the bags and carefully closed it. He rushed around to the curb-side to open the back door for Andi and motioned them in with a “Please”.
A bus directly in front of the Rolls accelerated dumping a huge black cloud of sickening exhaust that floated and hung directly on them. Seth hesitated getting in the car knowing he had lost the battle with his stomach and tried to decide the most discreet way to do it. He knew he didn't have the time to get back inside the terminal building and find the toilets.
That option canceled as his stomach heaved and demanded relief from the first class abuse. With no time even to bend over, Seth uncontrollably vomited in one hard gush; covering the sidewalk, the shoes of the chauffeur and generously spattering the side of the gleaming white Rolls. The heavy sidewalk traffic of travelers backed out of the way shouting excited epithets while trying to avoid the dispersed mess.
Everything on his stomach had exited at once and he immediately felt better. Seth straightened his tie, dabbed at the corners of his mouth with a handkerchief and got in the car like nothing had happened. The driver watched in disbelief ignoring the chunks of sushi rice marring the shine on his black shoes. He gently closed the door behind Seth and hurried around the Rolls and jumped to his position behind the wheel drove away in silence as though things like this happened to him every day.
After a half-an-hour of deafening silence in the Rolls and stopped dead in the jammed traffic, without turning from her steady gaze out the window, in a condescending tone Andi asked "Feel better?"
"Finer than frog hair. Let's go for Sushi," Seth said too loud.
"Fine!" Andi yelled. "You're a real class act to travel with. Got drunk on the plane, ate and drank everything in sight, hit on every pretty flight attendant - right under my nose, and topped it off by puking on the car, the driver, and half of Japan."
"And you sound like a fucking wife." Seth shouted in a whisper. "I'm terribly sorry if my behavior doesn't merit the Government's stamp of approval. You invited yourself along on this little expedition; now cut me some goddamn slack."
He felt terrible. His head throbbed, although he wasn't sure if it was the pipe injury or the booze. His arm hurt. He was wasted from the long flight and customs delay and now fuming mad with Andi. The rest of the long drive, ride, stop, wait, ride and then stop again in the heavy, early evening Tokyo traffic continued in roaring silence.
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