Magical Evening with Haruki Murakami

Submitted into Contest #30 in response to: Write a story in which the lines between awake and dreaming are blurred.... view prompt



I’m never sure which book by Haruki Murakami is my favorite, Wind Up Bird Chronicles or Kafka on the Shore when it starts to rain slugs. Both books have an appeal for me since I like fiction that contains a magical component to it.  Like Stephen King, I read every Murakami book I can get my hands on. The Japanese literary tradition is filled with magical and mythological images that are vibrant and memorable when God communed with man and beasts, giving each of them a distinct identity and character.  While Occidental thought tries to separate human nature from animal personification, the Oriental tradition reminds us that humans are part of Nature and therefore subject to the rules and laws that govern this Kingdom. In other words, we are never too far from the beasts we were made to be.  Even as our technology advances along with our knowledge of the world we live in, we must acknowledge a certain bondage with the other creatures we share this earth with.

“Hi, my name is Chad and I’m an alcoholic.” My name is Chad Bartlett, I’m twenty seven years old, I think, and I am a computer programmer.  Recently my boss, Mr. Dickhead, as I call him, warned me that I’d better get myself straight. So I decided to try AA. It’s crock like the rest of the programs and I’ve been in a few, but I wanted to get a sponsor and show Mr. Dickhead that I’m at least trying.  

“Bartlett, you have been drinking again.” Not a question, a statement.  

No shit, Sherlock. I’ve spent more days drunk than I have sober.  Life is too unbearable at times to face it sober and so I don’t.

“Hi Chad!” The other twelve members say in unison, each looking as enthusiastic as I am to be here.  One of them looks like he’s shitfaced already. Yeah, I got my twenty minute chip right here.  

“I’m Mr. Troll and I’m this chapter’s sponsor.” A thin man wearing Levi’s and a pullover shirt stands up.  Troll? Are kidding me. You can’t make that up. He’s very clipped in his tone and his words seem to come from another place as Micky falls out of his chair. “One of the first rules is you never show up at a meeting unless you are sober.” 

Mickey blinks in surprise finding himself physically on the cold tile floor.  During the day, before we alcoholics drift in they sell floor and wall tiling that looks like it came out of the 60’s.  You can smell the adhesive and other chemicals used in affixing the tile to wherever it is being put.  

“‘Scuse me.” Mickey’s words are slurred.

“Mr. Farraught, please see yourself out.” Mr. Troll points to the glass door we all marched through fifteen minutes ago.  With shoulders slumped, Mickey walks out with his lip stuck out and his hands jammed in his parachute pants pockets. “You must be sober to attend these meetings.”

“Hey Troll, what’s so great about being sober?” One of the guys asks leaning back in the uncomfortable fold out chairs we are sitting in.

“Because the alternative is unthinkable.” He answers without changing his somber expression.  Troll is one of those guys who bought into this shit, lock, stock and barrel.  

“Un-what?” He shakes his head as if he cannot believe what he has just been told.

“I was crashed out in a bus station in San Francisco when I was nearly beaten to death by a couple of hoods.” His face reddens as he speaks.  I can see this memory is still very close to the surface. “If you continue to drink, you will die.”

“Hey Troll, if I continue to breath the same thing is gonna happen.” He snorts, but Troll just stands there and without warning kicks out the two legs of the chair still on the floor.  The dude nearly flips and his head strikes the hard tile floor very hard. Rubbing his head, the dude sits up and scowls, “Hey Troll, that was so uncool. Whadda do that for?”

“To wake you up, my friend.” He answered with his arms crossed over his chest in a very defensive position.  I thought the dude would come up swinging. I know I would have. “Now do yourself a favor and sit back down.  If you want to continue drinking then gp do so and come back after you hit rock bottom.” 

There was something about this Troll guy that was getting under my skin.  It was like he didn’t give a shit one way or the other about what was going on in your life.  Most of the meetings I had attended were all about warm fuzzies and trying to be best buddies with alcoholics.  Yeah, alcoholics don’t care to be best buddies, but these sponsors think the only way to get somebody to quit drinking is to buddy up with them.  The last person I buddied up with took my watch and my wallet and left me to wander the highway in Idaho. You ever been to Idaho? You’re not missing much.  It’s pretty empty in most places.

The rest of the meeting was a snoozer as far as I was concerned.  One of the guys wearing nerd glasses went right up to Mr. Troll and spilled his guts about all of his hardships like Troll was some kind of priest or something.  I listened as I poured myself another cup of sludge from the coffee urn. The one thing all AA meetings has is a coffee urn so you can trade one addiction for another.  Most of them smoke, but now you have to go outside if you want to light up.

As I guzzle the coffee, I throw the styrofoam cup in the can and start to go out the door since there are only a couple of folks left in the saleroom.  Just as I open the door, I hear him say, “Chad.”

“What?” I turn and he is staring at me.  His eyes seem to have the power to reach inside my chest and take hold of my beating heart.

“Are you ready?” He squints at me.  

Ready?  What the heck kind of question is that?

“Ready for what.” I raise my eyebrows.

“I would like to share something with you.” He nods.  His large square shaped head seems misplaced atop his skinny ineffectual neck.

“What Mr. Troll?” I try to hide my amusement.

“It is a cure.” He sighs as the the rest of the members escape through the door I was at just a minute ago.  We are now alone.  

“A cure?  A cure for what?” I sniff in derision.  

“How would you like to never have another drink as long as you live?” His eyes are doing their magical thing again and I can’t seem to pull away.

“I dunno.” I shrug hoping he will let me off his hook.

“I have a way.” He says,

“Yeah, how?” I am very dubious.  

“It is in this book.” He hands a small bound book to me entitled How Meditation Cured Me of My Addictions by Chester Troll.  The pages were brown with and worn as I flipped through the book. “I developed this regiment of meditation to overcome my addiction.  When I was your age, I was in the iron grip of my alcoholism. My sponsor told me that there was no cure and that I would have to fight it for the rest of my life. To me it was a very bleak prognosis. I felt there was a better alternative. Try it.”

He nodded and when I looked up from the pages of the book, he was gone, vanished into thin air.

Sit naked in a pit where you cannot see the sun, only the shadows cast by it.  Put your head back and utter these words, “I am a child of the world. I live as a mortal creature who will one day perish from this earth.  When I step into the next stage, I will come as I was born, naked and free from sin which chained me to this earth. Accept me as a subject in this new realm so that I may pass free from my chains.”  Repeat this three times. Write down what you see as you sit there in the pit, uttering these words with your eyes closed.

My natural instinct was to shake it off as some voodoo bullshit, but he did not ask me for money like most of those schemes did, so I figured I’d give it a go.  There was some land out in the sonora landscape where some miners looking for gold had dug a mine. It was the perfect pit according to the text I had read. Mr. Dickhead had put me on suspension, so I had a week to myself to try this new treatment.  After I gave it a shot, I would have Mr. Chester Troll sign off that I was cured and Mr. Dickhead would be happy and let me do my job.  

I closed my eyes and uttered the word.  Something flashed in my mind and it made me jump.  The sun was still in the east as if too shy to come out fully so the shadows in that pit were dark.  It was some kind of creature walking on two legs with these crazy horns coming out of his head. I closed my eyes again and this time he was closer.  I could see its face and it was not at all human. The jaws protruded like a wolf and they eyes were red as if they were on fire while the horns were pointed and sharp so that if he charged, he could impale me in his horns.

“Chad!  This is who I am!  I am part of you!” He howled like a wounded animal. “I am the beast you have become!” 

Horrible noise sounded from deep within him.

“Who are you!” I heard my inner voice call out.

“I am you!” 

“No! No you are not!”

After climbing out of the pit, I put my duds on and wandered back to my flat, a one room dwelling with only a swamp cooler during the hot days of summer. Once the temperature rose over ninety degrees, the swamp cooler was only good for making a lot of noise and the summer was coming when the temperature out here in the desert would reach ninety by ten o’clock in the morning.   When I sat there, sweat was pouring down my face, my heart was pounding like a jackhammer. 

“What did you see?” Mr. Troll asked me at the next meeting.  I swallowed hard and took another gulp of coffee.

“I saw a creature.” I rasped.

“What did he look like?” Mr. Troll asked not at all surprised.

“It was...not human...had horns on his head and spoke to me.” I managed to tell him and a quick smile drove across his face.

“Very good.  There is hope for you.” He patted me on the back and started the meeting.  There were a couple of drifters on Harleys that had come just for the coffee as one of them had a hip flask that he took outside with him when he went to have a cigarette. I could hear him laughing as he pulled out his flask while he smoked.

It was when he screamed that I finally paid attention to his antics.  There were eight members who ran outside and found him, blood was everywhere, God I’d never seen so much blood, but his throat was also missing.  Some wild animal had ripped it out of him while he was standing there with his flask of Jack Daniels and his cigarette. His partner was beside himself, doubled over in grief for his deceased friend, but eyeing the flask, now empty as all of the alcohol had run into the sand as the cap had been removed.  The police arrived and questioned all of us, but it shook me to the core. The cops were professional in their duties, but I could not get that horrible scream out of my head.

“So you saw what I did!” He howled squatting on his haunches.  There were blood stains on his chest which I could not tell was skin or some loose fitting shirt.

“Why?” I dared to ask.

“Because drinking will kill you.” He kicked the dirt with his foot.  His foot was elongated, what one would call toes were really nothing more than claws. “Utter those words in front of you.  Utter them, Chad or you may become my next victim.”

Scared to my wits end, I chanted the words on the page as the creature danced and disappeared into one of the deep shadows.  

As strange as it might sound, I did or I was cured of my addiction.  Mr. Hanley was pleased at my progress at work as we completed a project ahead of time for a very important client.  It was Japanese firm working with artificial intelligence and some of their research was quite remarkable. Mr. Hanley (former Mr. Dickhead) decided to send me to Yokohama for a conference.  While I was there, I heard about this small book store that was featuring a book signing from Huraki Murakama and his new book. Reviews were favorable and while I had never heard of him, I thought it would kill some time.  Japan is a very crowded country with no personal space available, but still there is plenty to do and see while I was there.

“I’ve read a lot of his writing.” Muriel, our senior adviser who had accompanied me on this trip told me.  Muriel was one of the young hot executives that I thought I wouldn’t mind getting to know. So we went to this bookstore.  There he was, a real live celebrity holding his latest book as he spoke about the main idea of the beast within. He spoke about Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as being the inspiration for his new book.  People applauded. I had to wait for the translation and as I heard it, a chill ran down my spine. Muriel asked me if I was okay. I shook my head that I was, but suddenly my vision got cloudy. The man speaking about his book in the front of the store had faded under a cloud that wasn’t even there, only I was witnessing it.  Haruki Murakami had disappeared, so did Muriel who was standing next to me.

“Remmmmeeemmmbbberrrr me Chad?” His voice was instantly recognizable to me.  I began to feel weak in the knees at that instant. His macabre shadow fell upon me.  Steam rose up from his feet.  

“Yes, yes I remember.” I could barely speak.

“This is where I come from.” He laughed like banshee during the night.  “To remind you of the power that I have over you.” 

“No longer.” I was nearly in tears.

“You may think what you wish, but the truth is I will be part of your shadow as long as you have a shadow.” His laugh was devilish and satanic, a shriek from the bowels of hell would have been a more acceptable sound at that moment.  “Part of your shadow, Chad.” 

He was gone.  The room no longer clouded.  Mr. Murakami was accepting applause from the crowd as he sat at a table and began to autograph a stack of his latest novel.  He was smiling at the people who paraded by accepting a signed copy of his book Monster Within.  I looked at my shadow.  In the artificial lights of the store, I saw distortion that was unsettling to me, but I did not say anything to Muriel who was thanking Mr. Murakami as he handed her a book.  When I stood in front of him at that moment, his eyes widened and he said something in Japanese that I did not understand, but the store clerk did and he seized my arm.

“You must go now.” He insisted his English was pretty fluid.

“Why?” I asked as I stood at the door.

“He said you were the one who visited him in his dream a few weeks ago, you and the Danti Monster he wrote about in his new book.” I looked down at the book in my hand.  His picture was on the back cover smiling like he had during his talk, but then when I turned over the book, on the front cover was the creature I had seen in my visions in the pit, his face cracked in a crazed smile, his red eyes on fire and that antlers protruding from his squarish head.  It was him. It was him!

February 23, 2020 01:34

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Sue Monkress
23:25 Mar 04, 2020

Intriguing!! Really liked your story. Best wishes!


03:19 Mar 10, 2020

Thank you. I am a fan of his before I got the prompt.


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