Renji and his father sat on the roof of their townhouse eating mochi one evening as his mother lay inebriated in the dining room below. They sat in silence, broken only by slurping noises and the constant hum of late evening Tokyo traffic. Renji was recalling a dream he’d had. It was about the man on the moon.
Perhaps it was because his father, quite the Neil Young fan, had played “Harvest Moon” for the boy as a lullaby. Or maybe it was because the family would stop at the Ginkakuji Temple whenever they visited Renji’s paternal grandparents in Kyoto. Whatever the reason, Renji became preoccupied with the moon. But more importantly, Renji knew, he just knew there was a man up there. He’d heard it somewhere that the man on the moon was always watching, alone, and Renji felt bad for him. He thought he’d found someone as lonely as he was.
Though Renji loved his father very much, the man was too weak, emotionally and physically, to be of any use. A slave to his job, Mr. Tottori was at his office for so many hours it would be a month before he put in a full day’s work at home. His presence made little difference in the atmosphere of the home, though. The three members of the little family tiptoed around one another, each consumed in their own opiate. Mr. Tottori in his work and sculptures, Mrs. Tottori in her booze and Renji in his dreams.
The choking, humid quiet of the home was broken only by yelling. Always his mother. She had married Renji’s father extremely young; believed they’d live their entire lives partying the way they did when they first met. It was difficult to keep her from smoking and drinking during her pregnancy with Renji. Miraculously the boy was born healthy and had proven to be quite the little genius. She went back to parties while her husband tended to the boy the only way he knew how: financially.
Renji’s mother hadn’t noticed her son was a genius. People don’t usually see whats right in front of them. Especially when that something is in the way of their next drink. She treated her only son like a lap dog. Beckoning and dismissing him on whims, she took more notice in his clothes than she did the boy’s interests. It was this that spurred the boy into loneliness. It seemed the more she drank, the longer his father remained at work. Like the boy Mr. Tottori was a bit afraid of his wife so he’d find peace at work, leaving Renji to fend for himself on those nights she was incapable of distinguishing her son from a stranger on the street.
In his dreams Renji and the man on the moon would go everywhere together. He imagined the man to be just like Professor Manhatten from Watchmen, able to stop space and time, to change the universe to his liking. Or, if he did not like it any way, to destroy it.
As Tokyo bustled around them, the man and his son ate to comfort themselves. To feel the soft, cool cream ease the burning inside of them. Mr. Tottori wasn’t a man who knew how to communicate (and this would have made all the difference).
Renji saw it first, but he’d thought he was simply remembering his dream.
A dark figure paced the surface of the moon. Though it was millions of miles away, the silhouette of a man was clearly visible. The noise of the city died down. It was as if they had all noticed it at the same time. Even the wind slowed and fell still. Everyone, everything, was waiting to see what was coming next. As clouds passed the moon Renji strained his eyes, eager to not miss a thing.
As Renji’s father followed the pointed fingers to see what was causing all the commotion the figure on the moon leapt onto a nearby passing cloud. Renji stood up, dropping his dessert. His mouth, covered with ice cream and sweet rice, fell open. His eyes grew wide with excitement. Looking at the people below he delighted in their fear. He was beside himself with glee as the figure leapt from his current cloud to one much lower. Ignoring his father’s suggestions that they go inside, Renji knew that his father was too curious to make any move.
“Over here,” he called waving his arms jumping up and down.
The man from the moon leapt, finally from this second cloud onto a building miles from where Renji and his father sat. But the figure was nearly 20 feet high. And yes, he looked just like the boy had imagined; glowing, vacant eyes and a strong, sturdy body with not a stitch of clothes. He leapt from the building top onto the street below and began to make his way to where Renji sat, his father now so amazed he stood.
“KOKO! I’M HERE!” Renji screached.
The figure moved steadily towards them as people ran like insects in all directions, crawling over one another, rats looking for a way out. The glow set off by the giant’s porcelain skin illuminated Renji’s face and his father was, for an instant, frightened of the little boy. Within in minutes Renji and his father felt the ground below their home shake. Then he was just below them. Eye to eye with Renji he spoke in a voice that seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere.
“Hello Renji, are you ready to go?”
And with glee Renji, face still sodden with mochi, stepped off of the roof, leaving his father, and climbed onto the shoulders of the man from the moon.