Land of the Rising Sushi
Sake. Ahi. Toro. Ebi. Ika. Hotate.
They didn’t know what any of the transliterated words meant, and this menu lacked the bright pictures they’d seen at other establishments. So they asked for the omakase, because that’s what their guidebook advised. The balding husband sneezed thrice and wiped his sweaty face with the hot towel set at his plate. The overtanned wife pulled out her compact and reapplied a cruddy powder that occluded the air about them, settling thickly on her neighbor’s miso soup. Soon the sushi chef placed before the two gaijin a precise and beautiful platter of colorful raw sea creatures over rice. Pink, white, ecru, grey-purple, bluish, neon-orange roe: a delectable rainbow to be shortly bereft of any epicurean appreciation.
“Are they all uncooked? I get nervous with the uncooked stuff,” Helen said to her husband, skeptically bobbing her hiding-grey blond curls.
“These folks eat ‘em, seems like,” Jerry replied with a shrug, gesturing to the Japanese patrons who filled the cozy room. “Should be fine.” He snorted. “Just gotta get over the ick factor.”
Their skills in manipulating chopsticks were nonexistent. Jerry speared his side bowl of rice with the wooden utensils, a vertical call to death, and poured himself a cup of sake. His wife did the same. Finally they selected pieces of sushi with their fingers.
“Wait, I think we’re supposed to use this too,” Jerry said, lumping some ginger atop the fish. Nearby diners eyed them surreptitiously, shaking their heads gently, knowing what was to come.
“Here goes nothin’,” Jerry said, and popped the piece into his mouth. Helen reluctantly placed her orangey-pink lump tongue-side. She chewed several times, disgust tangling the wrinkles around her eyes, and swallowed.
They both paused. Helen spoke.
“That was nasty. Revolting. I couldn’t possibly eat another bite.”
“Yup,” Jerry agreed, picking his front teeth with a nail. “Not my favorite. Not by a long shot.”
Helen looked with dismay at the platter. A rose-colored blob and its rice underbelly began to wiggle.
“Oh my good goddamn, it’s still alive!” Helen yipped.
Jerry’s bottom lip retracted into his chin as he saw several of the finely prepared and plated ocean delicacies dancing to and fro, hitting each other in irked fashion.
“Holy gads! Get it away from here,” and Jerry shoved the dish along the bar, into a cup of sencha recently cradled by the old man sitting next to him.
It was too late though – things had been set in motion. Scallop and tuna nigiri were writhing so violently that they rose into the air; salmon, squid, and shrimp followed suit. Within seconds, every morsel from the sushi arrangement was buzzing and dipping around the ill-fated couple’s heads. Helen squealed and yelped and wailed while her spouse made uncoordinated, unfruitful attempts to smack their flying foe with his big clammy hands, yelling “Do something, you fucking freaks!”
No one made a move to help them. Customers looked on with amused interest, but without surprise.
Then the real attack commenced. Diving straight to Jerry’s face, the scallop bit off a chunk of pulpy nose flesh. The salmon went for Helen’s right ear, tearing off its lobe. Among screams, curses, dodging, and slapping, the creatures made quick, vicious work of the tourists’ craniums. Within five minutes, all that remained were two bloody lumps on bodies standing motionless, still upright, at the end of the sushi bar.
The clientele went back to their dishes and conversations. A server came by with two large plastic bags, wrapped them efficiently over the demolished head-stumps, laid the bodies down, and dragged them by their feet carefully out the back door of the restaurant.