[“Live by the sword, die by the sword.” Vin Scully, the mellifluent voice of the Dodgers, has dramatized many a baseball game with those words. No one cares Edward Bulwar Lytton was the first to utter the phrase. Few are aware it originated in the Gospel of Matthew. All that matters is Crossroads to Somewhere trying to figure out a fresh way to reintroduce the continuing saga of “O-bah-keh-san,” the elusive specter that has been haunting this writer for the past 15 months. Now that I have your attention, excuse the Scully skullduggery and let’s get on with the show.]
Impatient readers and inquisitors have continued to ask what has happened to ‘O,’ CR2S’s now famous intruder. Yes, it’s been a month since the last update, and yes, there have been interesting developments recently. The lack of mention is surely not because the mystery no longer intrigues; au contraire, it has heightened. While there may be some who prefer a wider range of column topics, a few also may now be Doubting Tamotsus; questioning the existence of the elusive phenomena. Maybe Wimpy-san is losing it. Could be. But for the legion of “O” followers, let’s go over the yellow ishi-bashi together, hand in hand.
A month has lapsed since the last review because I feared “O” had taken leave for good, that she was scheduling a final sayonara; planning a Dear John/Wimpy visitation to confirm the inevitable. To refresh your memory, let’s traipse backward, arm in arm.
“O-bah-keh-san” abruptly entered my life three months after I moved into a ground floor Keiro Retirement Home studio apartment in October of 2011; via a 3 a.m. “tap tap tap” on my door. I had forgotten the strange interlude when it happened again in mid-January. By the middle of March, the knocking had become a regular early morning cacophony. From June through September, there were sometimes two happenings in a single day.
Adding to the eerie ritual were single rings of the telephone followed by silence. After eliminating resident hijinks (physically impossible) and staff stealth (I checked all work schedules), a review of floor security tapes (as well as a private snoop camera) verified an empty hallway whenever the knocks were sounded. They varied in number, velocity and resonance; the latter point introducing the question of gender.
Whereas there were sometimes multiple visitations at the height of the incursions, the inexplicable episodes began to wane in November. By April the number had fallen to a mere half dozen. In May a like number, but four of which were only single telephone rings. The thought of an eventual departure, a final unwanted farewell, took seed.
Let’s take a look at last month, *June: The phone rang once at 4:21 a.m. on the 4th, a Tuesday and again at 3:31 on the 5th. But no door knocks. A very weak tapping occurred Wednesday, the 12th, followed by an unusually loud series the following Saturday at 1:59. The timing of some drop-bys have led me to believe “O” knows the content of these columns. She seems to make an appearance whenever there is a CR2S commentary or mention. [*I’ve kept a record of every episode, denoting date, time, knock or phone and other pertinent details since May 2012. Call me meticulous. Or bakatare.]
There was then an absence of 12 straight days. Is it any wonder I began to worry about a ghostly AWOL? Finally last Thursday, the 27th at 2:39 a.m., my troubled reverie was interrupted by the now familiar (and welcome) ring of the phone. I turn on the night light and jot down the time. A mere five minutes later, there is a soft “tap tap tap” on my door; for the first time when I’m wide awake from the earlier phone ring. A playful “O” taunting when she knows I might answer the door?
Even though it was a certainty (almost) she wouldn’t be there, I saunter to the door ready to greet a visitor. As per always, the hallway lights brighten when I peer outside looking at nothing; and return to a dimmed state when it is apparent no one (human) is there. I salute the security camera to record my due diligence.
I point out a puzzler regarding Thursday: The telephone ring preceded the tapping, first time ever; it’s always been a “tap tap tap” followed by a ringing phone. And the five-minute interval in between was the shortest ever. Surely knowing I’d be awake, wasn’t it a huge gamble to knock on the door? Wouldn’t it have been a hoot if I finally confronted “O”? What does a wraith look like and how to greet one? Shake hands? Embrace? How does one hug a phantasmagoria? How dumb it would look trying to kiss a specter!
Anyway, for readers who choose to continue traveling the unknown with CR2S, I don’t know whether to advise buckling up or buckling down. But if I am absent come some Wednesday, not to fret. I will probably be traipsing around with “O” in some supernatural paradigm of the light fantastic. On second thought, better send out a search party.
W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.