It was about 10:00 p.m. on a Friday night. Gerardo and I decided to foray into a strip club the very last time before I left Mexico for the new chapter of my life. My sweet heart Elaine informed me sad news about two weeks ago: Excess was closed. And also she told me that she was working for Don John’s temporary and asked me to visit her there. It was a gigantic shock for Gerardo as if a boulder smashed on his head. He received the doleful news with sorrowful tears in his eyes, as though he extended condolences to a bereaved. Ergo, he was racking his brain to figure out where we should crash tonight and whined in distress, “Why, man? Why, my friend? Why in the name of God was Excess shut down? How could they possibly take Excess away from the poor Mexican orphan? Excess was my refuge and my life. Excess was not expensive, provided wonderful services, and had a number of beautiful vaginas. Sometimes I really don’t comprehend why such a holy citadel is demolished. Due to this tragedy, right now I really don’t know where we should foray into. I always went to Excess, so I don’t know of any good strip clubs except goddamn expensive one. Don John’s is unreasonably expensive and has second rate vaginas. I’ll refuse to spend my money on awful vaginas; I’m not a philanthropist, you know…. Anyway, do you remember Fernando, who is my business associate? He’ll join our force tonight and told me that he knows about a place where we might be able to have fun. I’m not sure if I can trust that prick, but we have no choice; just follow his lead. I hope to Christ that he won’t disappoint us!”
He snatched a bottle of water from the commode and drained it voraciously, like Paris is about to set off for Sparta to capture Helen. After a brief pause, he carried on emotionally, “Shogo, I have to tell you something that perhaps you won’t like to heart it. So please don’t be offended and don’t take it in a wrong way. I just want to help you and want to give you some advice for the anticipation of your brand new career. I know that you’re a downright artist, but I must do this, for you don’t know anything about business. First of all, you’d better know that you’re being in a book business right now whether you like it or not. I know that you just want to write and don’t care about money, but you need to sell your book for living. Just hear me out, my friend; I can make you prepare for what you’ll be against in the future. Secondly, it’s extremely great that your book will be published; however, don’t dwell on your first achievement longer than necessary, for this is nothing by comparing to what you’re going to become. What you should know the most is that it’ll take a time for you to be recognized as a writer; it’ll actually take longer than you think. It’ll take a time, because you’re a novice writer, and nobody has known of your book yet. Of course, I expect that your book will be shining distinguishably like a distant star eventually, and you’ll be definitely recognized one of great artists in our contemporary time someday. But it’ll take a time, as I told you. Consequently, you’ll have to be patient and stop thinking of being recognized at once, for your mind has to be focused on only one thing: writing. You must keep on writing books and improving yourself. In addition, if you want to make a living by writing, you have to listen to me. You should be aware of the competition, which you’ve just stepped in, is incredibly huge. Just imagine how many authors have published books and how many books are in the market? Do you know how many authors are famous? I’m asking you these imperative questions, so that you can visualize how huge your battle field is and what you’ve just stepped in. I want you to realize that people prefer to read famous authors instead of reading a new author. I’ve been working for companies and running my model agency for several years. And what I’ve learned from these vital experiences is that clients are always right – I need to listen to them. I know that you don’t like thinking of a mass and want to write for specific people, but you can’t focus on only selective readers. Here is my advice to you: every person is a potential reader, so you have to think of them as well. And one more thing, you have to put your feet on the floor all the time even if your book becomes a bestseller. I’m telling you this, since I’ve known of you for ten years. Believe me, Shogo, I know about you more than anybody else; I can read you like a book, ha-ha-ha…. At any rate, I know that you’ll knock down a number of books, and one of them will be a best seller someday – that’s why I’m warning you. If you lose your feet from the floor in the future, I’ll kick your Japanese flat ass in order to make you come back to the reality and put your feet on the floor again. This is my ultimate duty as a friend. Shogo, please don’t take this as a reproach; on the contrary, I just want to help you. If I, Gerardo Veloz as your friend, tell you about sharp opinions and very straight stuff, which you might be hard to swallow, in order to open your eyes more easily in the future, don’t be offended and please indulge yourself in hearing me out. Just because I’m always regard about your welfare and sincerely wish you all the best.”
“For the love of God, are you done?” I uttered with beseeching eyes.
“Yap. I believe that I just gave you my best shot,” he nodded complacently.
I lit a cigarette afresh and exclaimed, “By Jove! You, son of bitch, just gave me a mouthful speech at such an ungodly hour! It’s almost 2:00 a.m., man! Couldn’t you simply wait and save it till tomorrow? Didn’t it cross your fragile mind that I might be dog-tired of listening to such a buzz speech right now?”
“Shut your trap up, man! I’ve let you stay at my castle and nourished you. And to cap it all, I’ve just given you the greatest advice on the face of earth for your brand new career! I expected that you would thank me with grateful tears in your eyes, but not like this! Son of bitch, you’re decidedly incogitable, ha-ha-ha….”
After a considerable time had elapsed, he abruptly came back to the reality, like a bear just coming back to the world from hibernation, and he started his monologue, as if he had been a recluse and had not talked to human beings for decades, “Shogo, I don’t know where I should begin, but I’ll give you my best shot, so don’t interrupt my speech and pay attention. Let me spill the beans once for a while. I was just thinking about your life before you barged into the room, ha-ha-ha…. You know, six months ago you hadn’t written anything, even a single line – you had no idea how to begin. But look at you now; you’ve already finished writing your very first book, that will be published. Can you believe it? Of course, I believe in you, but I mean, can you believe that one is able to change his life dramatically within such a short span? I consider about your first achievement as a miracle, and I’m feeling that I’ve been witnessing a rare case, which only a few people are lucky enough to observe. All in all, I’m grateful that I’ve been in the middle of it. I’ve known of you and seen your indefatigable efforts for ten years, and on top of it all, I’ve witnessed how you’ve blindly believed in yourself along the way. Shogo, you’ve proved me one very important thing that when one believes in his own power ultimately, no matter what, even if nobody believes in him except himself, but one never stops believing in himself, miracles will surely occur to him. Thanks, my friend, I’ve learned something essential for my future life. Furthermore, I’m thinking that you’ve always been against your own country, your own countrymen, society, education, employment, government, politics, civilization, power, and so on and so forth. To be frank with you, it seems to me that you’ve been against pretty much everything about current practices under the firmament since I met you the first time. You’ve eternally tried to introspect yourself and forever tried to understand true yourself. Wait, Shogo, just listen to me, I know what you’re thinking. Don’t be misjudging me, idiot, I’m not contradicting you; on the contrary, I’m awed and inspired. I very much respect for being who you are. Just take a look at the history closely, I can name endlessly – every great man, who has given a deep impact on the world, is always against society systems: they can clearly see what is wrong with the world, indefatigably strive to change the world for the better, have sacrosanct courage to fight for what they believe in, and relentlessly walk on their own unique destiny, which God bestows upon them. I have no doubt that you’ll be a noteworthy man eventually, my friend. But I earnestly believe that you’re the most obstinate son of bitch walking on two legs under the sun, ha-ha-ha….”
He lit a cigarette and puffed in the air thoughtfully. And then he offered me a cigarette, lit it for me, and went on, “Perhaps you don’t know, Shogo, I always believe in you; that’s why I let you stay at my apartment for gratis. Of course, I’m your friend, so it’s my duty to help you; however, I want you to know that I truly think you have a rare talent that I’ve not seen in any other writers, even though I’ve read a few books in my life. And also I think that you have an admirable determination to be as an artist. You’re equipped with all necessary tools to be recognized: talent, resolution, faith, discipline, intensity, devotion, desire, passion, enthusiasm, love, sincerity, courage, and patience. What I’m trying to say here is that you’re unspoiled. You have an infinite possibility, you know….”
Here he fell to pondering deeply, with a mindful of his own thoughts, as if he had been trying to articulate what he was going to say and preparing for his historic speech. I was greatly surprised by his passionate acknowledgement and wondering to where it was going to take me. Thereupon, I lapsed into silence, so that I could see what his next move would be.
It had been already past 10:00 p.m. when I arrived at Toluca Airport. It was a very beautiful night with a starry sky and cool May breeze. I have a special affection toward Toluca Airport, since only God knows how many times I have arrived at and departed from here. One thing is as sure as tomorrow follows today: I feel at home in Toluca Airport than Tokyo Narita Airport. I was impatient to represent brand-new myself to Gerardo and eager to see his reaction, for I am a totally different man from three weeks ago; I am officially a writer now. Or I should say that I burned myself in my own flame, became ashes, and was reborn with a new heart.
It had been past midnight when I strutted into the apartment. As I entered the bedroom with a keen expectation, Gerardo was stretching out on the bed and watching Rocky Balboa vicariously. I was happy to see him again and hailed amicably, “How have you been, my friend?”
“Thank God, you finally came. I was waiting for you on pins and needles. I expected you would turn up earlier, man!”
With that, he sprung into the air and offered me a handshake.
I took a load off and started organizing my stuff, then I broke the news modestly, “Gerardo, as you’ve already known, my book is going to be published.”
“Congratulations, my friend! I’m truly happy for you and can’t wait to read your book. I’m so curious what you wrote about me, ha-ha-ha….”