Following on from my last post about bad housemates in a Japanese sharehouse in Tokyo, I spoke about my next door neighbor with no concept of tonality, privacy or modesty.
While listening to him shriek about how much he loves his girlfriend and the PTSD I still suffer from, I still found that having him as a neighbor was more funny and entertaining than anything else. The next neighbors however, were not.
Something isn’t right.
On the wall just as you enter my share house there is a notice board with the rules of the house. There is a whiteboard to write notes like “keep the kitchen clean” or “going out Friday if anyone wants to come”, and a segment where all the housemates put their picture up so that we can see who lives here. One day I get home from teaching English and there is a new couple that had just moved in upstairs. The picture wasn’t great just like everyone else’s but these two looked… “off”.
He was balding but with long hair. Think Paul Kaye in Game Of Thrones but maybe a bit thicker with a really thick long unkept beard. She had crazy wavy unkept hair, skin that looked a lot older than it should be and just had a general “I scream at pigeons in the park” kind of look. They both had the same sickly pale skin with huge bags under their eyes and both had the same intense yet expressionless stare. Like an “I’m going to get you later” look that you might shoot a friend for saying something embarrassing about you to a group of people, but a lot more sinister. Almost as if they hated the camera that was taking the picture of them.
Anyway, I get on with my day. I go back to my room, I spruce the place up, write a little, and eat some food. Later that day I go to the toilet and on my way, I catch a few people in the hall quietly and nervously talking amongst themselves looking very concerned. I ask them, what’s up? Well apparently there are two new people sitting in the kitchen and they’re “not right”. They are debating who should go and speak to them, almost daring each other. “Ahh no problem! I’ll go talk to them! Let’s have a chat shall we” and I storm in.
As I approached I heard her speak a language that I was completely unfamiliar with. It was very slow! And deep! Like a rough old Italian woman that smokes fifty cigarettes a day. When I say slow I mean heavy opiate user slow, like saying a word but taking 10 seconds to say it. Anyway, I walk in and I’m like hey! Hows it going!? Their little noise battle ends and they slowly turn to face me. Nothing was said, both of them just staring at me with completely blank faces.
Their eyes reminded me of a sharks eyes, just black with nothing behind them. They were looking in my direction but it didn’t feel like they were looking at me, more like through me. “Maybe they don’t understand English,” I think to myself. So I say, “English?” Still, no acknowledgment. It was like talking to two people that had just had a fix. So un-deterred I say, still with a smile on my face (a little more forced this time). “first time in Japan?” My eyes darting back and forth between them. Nothing, not a word. They just kept the same expression and the same blank stare. So I slowly backed away. “Well” “ok then” “enjoy your stay” “welcome to Japan”.
I rounded the corner and my already long stride quickened as I hurried past the guys waiting for me in the hallway giving them a “good luck” expression as I passed. Apparently, another housemate went to speak to them and described the exact same thing to me later on.
Over the next few days, I would accidentally encounter them in the bathroom, in the kitchen, outside on my way out, and each time they would turn to face me slowly but not acknowledge me. Like a gust of wind had just blown into the room and they were cautiously checking to see where it was coming from with a slight look of worry on their faces. Absolutely no acknowledgment of another human life though.
The one time I did get acknowledgment was when I was heading into the kitchen to heat up some rice for dinner. It was about 1AM and the lights were off. As I walked in, thinking no one was there I caught a glimpse of a silhouette at the table in the moonlight. Startled, I turned the light on and caught the guy slouched over a bowl of food. He was spooning it into his mouth like he hadn’t eaten in days with his right hand and covering his food with his left arm as if he was protecting it from predators or something.
I thought a homeless man had broken in because I didn’t recognize him straight away. If he was disheveled before, tonight he looked like he had just escaped a brutal interrogation from Guantanamo. Trying my best not to let on that he had just scared the absolute crap out of me I said, “hey! hows it going?” Putting my rice in the microwave. “Not bad” he managed in between spoonfuls. Then, nothing. I just cooked my rice quietly to the sound of him chewing and slurping. “Good talk,” I said as I grabbed my rice and left leaving him with the light on. Returning the same way to go the bathroom not thirty seconds after leaving the kitchen, saw that he had turned the light back off and was still slurping away.
A housemate tells me that she went out for a drink and a cigarette one night at about 3am. On the way back from the vending machine she caught the guy just standing in the middle of the street with something that looked like “a big phone”. Doing something that looked like, “scanning the street and bushes” with it. Apparently, she just stopped and stared for a good five minutes before he looked up from what he was doing, noticed she was just standing there watching him, slid the device into his pocket and walked inside. Something was telling me that I needed to keep my door and windows locked at all times.
One day, just like that, they were gone. Their picture was gone, all evidence that they were ever there was gone. nobody even heard them leave. Usually, when someone leaves, they leave stuff that they didn’t eat/use or at least leave rubbish, but no, absolutely nothing.
Needless to say, they were two people I’m glad I’ll never have to deal with again.