Is this your bike?

by Tony Pluma

Iím a New Man with old problems.

The dial-a-dip phonebox-flyers on Roppongi Dori shine with submarine gloss. Drowning in the stale-urine, gas-panic night, the airbrushed model whores toss New Man Tony the inflated rubber promise of a wet oasis. From little plastic holders on the smeared glass walls of the lonely phone box, they hike blue high school skirts and smile invitations. And across the gaijin-choked intrasection stands a big building full of coppers. Slap-bang in the middle of the sleaze of Roppongi, surrounded by prostitution, drugs, and illegal aliens, and all the pigs seem capable of doing is chasing gaijin to see if their bikes are stolen.

I hang up the phone, tear down a box of leaflets, mount my bike and pedal away. I hear a shout from a copper not ten yards away. I bolt. He follows. Around the corner and up Roppongi Dori, I glance over my shoulder. Now three men in blue on white policebikes, pumping legs driving their brains, chase me. Iím a sickly old bastard when Iím fucked with gin, but a champion of the night nonetheless.

"Ha ha ha!" I wail into the crooked streets and donít stop laughing, not even when the gear-shifter I command onto the nonexistent 22nd speed flings the chain of my bike off to scramble uselessly around the cuffs of my glorious, sweat-soaked trousers.

The street slows under my panting feet and pumping lungs. I dismount with pride, like Jacques Villeneuve forced off the F1 winnerís podium by a seized transmission box. Skin flies from my ankle as I kick the front derailleur into a mess of twisted metal. A sharp kiss of pain blesses the ribbon of blood trickling into my dirty brown Hush Puppies.

The three of them surround me, insist on speaking in badly broken Eigo.

"This you bicycle?" asks the fat one, adjusting his policemanís hat as he wipes sweat from his pasty brow.

By way of response, I throw up the better part of six gin tonics, four Coronas and two slices of pepperoni pizza. The mess feels good on my ballooning ankle. The pigs ignore the pool of vomit; only the young one shifts subtly upwind.

"This you...your bicycle?"


"Where is badge?"

-Eto, jitstu desu, shomeisho gai nai..

"Why all paint gone off here where badge was?"

-Kazuri no masatsu no sei de, chotto...

"Where buy...when buy it?"

- San nen mae, Chiba Parko no Muji ni katta.


-Hai, dozo...

"Oh, you a kisha..."

-EE, kisha jai ne-yo (they donít laugh). Hai, dozo (I pull out my meishi from the battered Muji meshi bako, they donít look at it, hand it back).

"This your lock?"

I resist saying atarimae and say mochiron instead.

"Show key, please."

I show the key, they check it in the lock

"Where you live?"

I tell them.

"Where light?"

Zannen nagara, nusumaretta. I tell them it was stolen, itís a lie and they donít believe me.

They turn the bike upside down, this bit is new, the bastards are making me pay for making them race down the street. With a smile and a glance at my suppurating ankle, they wave me off, letting me know that Iím a filthy gaijin bike stealer. Which I am anyway, but fuck you, prove it.

Thatíd been the 12th time this year. About a week later I am riding home, itís 1:00 AM and I hear a squeal and a crash, I look down Telebi Asahi St. and see that a taxi has knocked down a scooter rider, a little green-haired punk with a dandy pair of tartan trousers on a skinny pair of legs that donít look to be bent in a natural way, akimbo there on the uncaring asphalt. I rush back to the cop shop, tell the fat bastard with the big stick about it, he listens and does nothing, I piss off. On the other side of the road I pass Telebi Asahi Dori again and spot a cop-car parked in the bus stop. Thinking Iíll give it another try, I wave to them as I approach. They both get out and ignore what Iím telling them One of them flashes his torch on my bike.

"Is this your bike?"

Iím so angry that I canít figure out how to say "Look you dopey bastards, thereís been an accident 100 yards from here, someone is on the deck, could be seriously injured. Were you asleep, didnít you hear the horn and the crash, the bike isnít the issue," Instead I fling the bike upside down and shout at them about the accident. They understand immediately what Iím

trying to do. The torch is shone on the badge, they look skeptically at me, the bike, then me again. I tell them about the accident again.

Now I make another dumb move. Iím stupid enough to tell them the truth - that it isnít my bike, itís my girlfriendís. They ask me what my girlfriendís name is. They pretend they donít understand my Japanese. They make me write down her name. They get really pissed off when I write down the unusual kanji combination for her first name and when I tell them the pronunciation is Yuuko, not Momenko. They ask me if I have been drinking (I have), they ask me where my girlfriend lives, I tell them the address, they figure out that we live together before the shorter, nastier one of the two smiles and says,

"You like Japanese girl, yes."

Iím left speechless as they wave me on, I donít even bother to look back as I hear them get back into the car and not drive away. What kind of wanker do they take me for? Reflecting on their collective wisdom, it dawns on me that Roppongiís finest had probably installed the whore leaflet box I tore down, no doubt to stop the litter problem.

Tony Pluma is a 30-something London-born loser living in Aoyama
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