Kurosawa Ayumu Goes Fishing
The boat nods on the water, and the old man nods in turn.
“Fishing!” The younger says. “Why would anyone ever go fishing?”
“You tell me.” Says the older. “You are here on a fishing boat with me.”
“Shhh.” The old man responds. “It is better when it is very quiet.”
“Does… the noise scare the fish?”
The old man doesn’t say anything.
“Fishing!” The young man mutters under his breath. He waves the fishing rod despondently, and watches the surface of the water. Still and mirror black.
“Some say the gods allow an hour of life at the end of the road for every hour spent on the water, doing what we are doing. That doing what we are doing makes our lives a little longer.”
“HA! Maybe life just seems that much longer when you spend so much of it fishing!”
The old man grins, and looks out over the water himself.
A breeze tickles the water, carrying with it the gentle smell of smoke from some distant fire. Further up the bank, up past the tree-line, something unseen startles a small flock of birds. They take flight, only to descend again a moment later.
The young man looks up momentarily, and then turns back to the water.
A while later, the younger twitches at his fishing rod. He turns to the old man, who sits there, motionless, meditative. He hesitates, about to say something, then goes back to paying attention to the water on his side of the boat.
A while later again, it becomes too much for him.
“This is ridiculous!” He yells at the old man. “We have been here for… for a long time! We haven’t seen a single fish!”
“That is because there are no fish here. Look at the water. Look at how still it is. This is no place for fish.”
“NO FISH?” He yells again. “Why did you bring me here to fish, if there are NO FISH?” He throws the fishing rod into the water, and stands, legs apart for balance, in the middle of the boat, hands in fists.
“I didn’t bring you here.” The old man replies, still not looking up at him. “I come here for the peace.”
“Damn you, old man!” The younger man screams. “What is this?” He steps closer. “I will kill you where you sit!”
“Ha!” Finally, the elderly man turns and looks up at him, coldly amused. “Don’t you remember? You already did. I am the first man you ever killed!”
This is when Kurosawa Ayumu realises that he is dreaming. His first kill was no Chinaman. He was an American businessman, on a fact-finding trip to Japan, and the facts that he found were all hard and sharp and final.
Ayumu steps back. Loses his footing on the boat. Retains balance.
* * *
Kurosawa Ayumu wakes hard, into a burning room. He is on his feet in seconds, and assessing his situation.
His situation is not good. There are no immediately available exits, all doorways given to fire. There is a window, curtained in flame.
Ayumu looks out through the window, out into the night, and sees the dark shapes of men moving out there, keeping low, meaning no good.
His dream is burned into his memory by the violent method of his waking. He remembers the old man’s cold smile.
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