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I say to Nori, no, I wasn’t drunk, the other guy was, I was just sitting on the platform waiting for the last train – you know how long there is between the last two trains – and there aren’t any benches or anything either.

But Nori says, not even a little, and winks and pincers his index finger and thumb to make a little bit drunk, and I say, well, maybe a little, but that wasn’t the thing that pissed him off.

No.

My feet were on the yellow line. That’s why he kicked me. He said I should obey the rules like everyone else, the yellow line’s there for a reason, foreign boy, for your safety, so you don’t go falling in front of a train, though why he cared about my safety after booting me in the leg, I don’t know.

I stood up and said, what are you doing, and pointed at some kids a little further up the platform, they had their feet over the line too, but he ignored me. It was me being disrespectful. To him, to the man who painted the lines, the man who invented the whole concept of yellow lines, to, why not, Japan and its entire culture.

When I told Ayumi, she said, yes, I can see why he said that, the whole sitting on the floor thing is, you know, looked down on. It’s dirty, like when you were walking down the corridor with a pen in your mouth and Morita-san told you not to. Same thing.

I said, but what about the other kids, and she said he probably thought they were copying you and you were a bad influence, they were just young, impressionable, you were a bad foreigner bringing bad foreign habits. I said, but he booted me. And she said, forget about that for a minute, see it from his perspective.

When I finish Nori says, she does have a point you know, which I don’t really want to hear, so I say, right, I’m phoning Tetsu about this, and I get on the phone and tell him what happened, and what Ayumi and Nori said. I tell him I’m the victim, not this guy.

When I’m done, Tetsu says, yeah, I see what you mean, but they’re probably right, you know. Anyway, the guy was doing you a favour. If he hadn’t booted you, you definitely would’ve been knocked down by a train.

I look at Nori and my phone and think of Ayumi and listen to Tetsu’s breathing. They must be taking the piss, they’ve got to be taking the piss, and I ask him and he laughs, and says, maybe, maybe not, and laughs again, and suddenly I laugh too, and Nori joins in, and we’re all friends again, though I don’t know what just happened or why I’m laughing –  they could be laughing at me or the situation or Tetsu’s response.

So I give up. It doesn’t matter, though maybe it does, I just don’t know anymore.

 

 

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