Stories

Jidohanbaiki Nightmare – Dale Brett

Jidohanbaiki Nightmare

In Japan, deference to hierarchical gods has beget a vending machine culture. The vending machine is a giver of life amongst the bastions of consumer nostalgia. The pollen of urban ennui. A society where vessels of chilled liquor can safely be confined to cubic zones of automation. Obedience allowing the passing flaneur to imbibe on the revenant holy juice when such desire arrives. 

In Western democratic nations, a deep distrust of authority & an unforgivable freedom fetish would never allow liquor vending machines to be enjoyed throughout the wary neoliberal metropolises. The automated temperature-controlled joy-machines would be obliterated & desecrated all in the name of history’s forgotten governmental ghosts.

News anchors would stand & watch as free liquor was forcefully leached from the broken wombs of instantaneous capitalist whims. The contents of graffiti-ridden cold-pressed gaseous boxes gutted by the few rogue fash warriors would be luxuriated in, but only by those bold enough to make a move, before the lore of the liquor vending machine would be expelled from the bleeding aorta of the Western world. 

I always found solace in the pools of her illuminated eyes. The machine refracting symbiosis & hope off the surface of her placid globes. Like the products on display somehow embedded them with life-affirming hydra, self-sustaining amoeba. The prokaryotes & eukaryotes dancing in the fawn of a lonely iris. Come get shrunken, it’s time to go swimming in me, they would passively beckon.

She would tend to gently caress the button for Bikkle or Otsuka Oronamin C, whilst my index finger would curiously yield to the allures of Pocari Sweat (if hungover) or Kirin Fire (also, if hungover.) It was all enough to make your heart do a little dance.

Once, on a trip to Amanohashidate, at the train station, I recall she surprised me by stepping out of her usual line of habitual purchasing. Gazing at the idle row of earnest machines, she set her usual consumer allegiances aside & opted for the Ribbon Futte Futte Jelly Grape.

The twinkle in the resident Jidohanbaiki sigils stunted me as the chromatic purple vessel appeared in her hand. She said she only drank/ate this pudding type of beverage when she felt wearily hot & sad.

  • Shake it once, shame on you, she said.

  • Shake it twenty or more times, shame on me, the tender hum of the machines would say in mock support.

I remember thinking I was totally out of my comfort zone. So far from home, so thoroughly eclipsed by a beverage that was not liquid but viscous. I decided I would match her newfound flair for danger & punched in the direction of an eccentric choice more fate’s than my own.

Mitsuya Cider >> Zeitaku Melon >> Calpis Soda >> The joys of economic novelty were staring me directly in the face & it was apparent they had been for so very long. When the face recognises an object, but it appears in a different shade of light, the mind feeds it a message that it’s no longer the object you knew, but a different idea, a separate entity, one that on occasion can invoke tears. This is what I thought, what I utterly felt as the mystery selection rolled out of the port of the machine. Like a forgotten child found in the repository of the retrograde mind.

As I turned the beverage in my hand, the familiar sign licking freshly exposed wounds, I knew it was the moment I had been waiting for to disappear. When things get hard, there is no use facing them in my world. Just like turning a foreign Coca-Cola in the flacid palm of my soon to be empty hand, the thin sliver of the aluminium bottle rolling perpetually down the ceaseless escalator stairs.

Shogeki

In her apartment, when I woke up, I thought what I most wanted to be in this world was an Akihabara can of oden. To be a quail egg submerged in umami infused dashi, expiration endless, muted & encased in a truncated gloop of brown liquid, waiting for that moment when a hungry otaku would crack the seal, imbibing on the hearty contents I was violently a part of. I knew that everything would feel so important, so viscerally real. Until the point of my being was hoovered down the lonely urban inhabitant’s oesophagus & absorbed into the intestinal tract. Forcefully ejected out into the putrid world again. To be transformed into different matter, not a part of something anymore, just barren & unborn.

I guess when I say “disappear” what I really mean is to still be here, but emotionally not. That is why I enrolled in the induction for a tutorage in NEET hiding. There had to be more to it than merely binge-watching Welcome to the N.H.K. No, I would have to live the part. To play the game. My life would become a vending machine with me & my meagre possessions aping the products. Simultaneously a dream & a prosaic nightmare. Like sucking a rigid member, busy cumming while you’re choking.

To officially be unengaged. To become untethered from the infrangible carbon nanotube of commitment. This is when it all commenced. My life transformed into the quivering wavelets of a Tsubu Kanshoku Koku Toro Corn Potage. All of my kernels nestled in the cosy confines of the can. This is what it meant to me to regenerate from society’s intrepid spawn. To be alone & prepared for the arrival of a demiurge. Variety shows at the touch of a button, ready to be gorged on repeat.

I hear that Japan are doing well in “beating” the viral contagion currently indoctrinating this docile planetary orb. Mask on // mask off, stay at home, listen to authority, be alone in this frozen fucking nightstick pummelled world. Curves are being flattened. Rules are being adhered to. Glorious Nippon will survive. After all, they invented respectful vending machine culture. They know about hierarchy. Never forget: Hikikomori is a Japanese word. 

Over here & over there, well, you & me? Think of those visions of split open job-taking machines, chilled refreshments strewn over blood red disposable gloves & soiled surgical masks. The victors bathing in the spoils of the street. Conjure thoughts of the humble liquor vending machine & the fate it would be destined to in what has become of our once (or never) profound nation(s). Order was never our strong point. Chaos always more suited to the ideology buried in the Western deep brain’s conceit. The liquor & the contagion will both continue to run, until society has submitted, like a crushed can under the weight of a leaden skull.