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THE PITCH of the staircase was steep and the treads narrow. There were three stories above the ground floor, and she took him all the way to the top. It got darker and spookier as they climbed. The walls on either side of the stairs were hung with hundreds of framed portraits of her father, carefully fit together like tiles to cover every inch of available space. In each of them, as far as Joe could tell from a hasty inspection, the subject wore the same goofy suppressing-a-fart expression, and if there was any significant difference among them, apart from the fact that some people were evidently more adept at telepathically focusing a lens than others, it was lost on Joe. As they made their way up through the increasing gloom, Joe seemed to steer only according to the light shed by the action of her palm against his wrist, by the low steady flow of voltage through the conducting medium of their sweat. He stumbled like a drunken man and laughed as she hurried him along. He was vaguely aware of the ache in his hand, but he ignored it. As they turned the landing to the top floor, a strand of her hair caught in the corner of his mouth, and for an instant he crunched it between his teeth.

She took him into a small room in the middle of the house, which curved queerly where it backed up against the central tower. In addition to her tiny, girlish white iron bed, a small dresser, and a nightstand, she had crowded in an easel, a photo enlarger, two bookcases, a drawing table, and a thousand and one other items piled atop one another, strewn about, and jammed together with remarkable industry and abandon.

'This is your studio?' Joe said.Collapse )


The only reliable boy who got to know Lux during that time was Trip Fontaine, but his sense of honor kept us in the dark for years. Only eighteen months before the suicides, Trip Fontaine had emerged from baby fat to the delight of girls and women alike. Because we had known him as a pudgy boy whose teeth slanted out of his open, trolling mouth like those of a deep-sea fish, we had been slow to recognize his transformation. In addition, our fathers and older brothers, our decrepit uncles, had assured us that looks didn't matter if you were a boy. We weren't on the lookout for handsomeness appearing in our midst, and believed it counted for little until the girls we knew, along with their mothers, fell in love with Trip Fontaine. Their desire was silent yet magnificent, like a thousand daisies attuning their faces toward the path of the sun. At first we hardly noticed the wadded notes dropped through the grating of Trip's locker, nor the equatorial breezes pursuing him down the hall from so much heated blood; but finally, confronted with clusters of clever girls blushing at Trip's approach, or yanking their braids to keep from smiling too much, we realized that our fathers, brothers and uncles had been lying, and that no one was ever going to love us because of our good grades. Years later, from the onehorse detoxification ranch where Trip Fontaine had gone to dry out on the last of his ex-wife's savings, he recalled the red-hot passions that had erupted at a time when he was growing his first chest hair. It began during a trip to Acapulco, when his father and his father's boyfriend went for a stroll on the beach, leaving Trip to fend for himself on the hotel grounds. (Exhibit #7, a snapshot taken during that trip, shows a bronzed Mr. Fontaine posing with Donald, the two of them squeezed thigh-to-thigh within the palmy Montezuma throne of a hotel patio chair.) At the nodrinking-age bar, Trip met Gina Desander, recently divorced, who ordered him his first pifia colada. Always a gentleman, Trip Fontaine imparted to us upon his return only the most proper details of Gina Desander's life, that she was a dealer in Las Vegas and taught him to win at blackjack, that she wrote poetry and ate raw coconut with a Swiss Army knife. Only years later, looking over the desert with ruined eyes, his chivalry no longer able to protect a woman by that time in her fifties, did Trip confess that Gina Desander had been "my first lay."

It explained a lot.Collapse )

24 June 2007 @ 10:19 am

Translated by Philip Gabriel.

The "I" here, you should know, means me, Haruki Murakami, the author of this story. Mostly this is a third-person narrative, but here at the beginning the narrator does make an appearance. Just like in an old-fashioned play where the narrator stands before the curtain, delivers a prologue, then bows out. I appreciate your patience, and promise I won't keep you long.

The reason I've turned up here is...Collapse )