Ink-Stained Scribe

New Short Story?

Working on a new short story.

I'm as shocked as anyone. The first words came to me in the car, and I started writing it down at lunch. I got about 500 words, and to prove that I'm not lying (because I know you don't believe me), here is the first page of my totally unedited short story, about monsters, music, and Shinto exorcisms.


I imagine Kamiki Ryunosuke would play Hiroki well.
I always said Hiroki Satou figured out whatever he laid his hands on, whether that was stringed instruments, the electronic locks on our high school's AV Room, or exorcism manuals; the day Aaron Nguyen appeared on the soccer field with his head smashed in, Hiroki used all three.

"Ghosts are bad enough," he said, talking around the cigarette he'd bought off the science teacher, careless of the ash falling on the lapel of his school blazer. "Asian ghosts are fucking terrifying."

And with murder as the sure reason for Aaron's death, a ghost was basically guaranteed.

I rolled my eyes. There were a few things he still didn't get about American English--prepositions, articles, idioms like "you can't have your cake and eat it too", which, if I thought too hard about it, didn't make any goddamn sense to me either--but I took personal pride in the fact that, by the end of sophomore year, he'd perfected the vast and varied usage of the word "fuck". Sure, he'd done all the memorizing and mistake-making, but I wiped a lot of spit off our desks just teaching him how to pronounce the "f", so I'm entitled to some credit.

Hiroki flipped the page in a book filled with low-res crime-scene photographs, all claiming to have been some paranormal connection. I waved away smoke, glancing across the brick courtyard separating us from the soccer field, which was now cordoned off with flimsy, taxi-yellow caution tape. The priest and half the nuns all clustered around it, clutching their rosaries and shaking their heads.

"Kay," I said. "So what's Aaron Nguyen's vengeful spirit going to do--strangle students with Mac cables? Program a continuous loop of Justin Beiber into the PA system?"

Hiroki smirked, glancing up at me through his lashes, eyes glittering in that deeply mischievous way that had first attracted me to him. I tried not to notice the 9am sunlight stealing through the filigree of leaves next to the chapel, catching the tawny skin and lighting his eyes to eerie amber. I'd given up on him years ago, right around the time I hit 5'10" and he stubbornly refused to get any taller than 5'7", but he was too goddamn pretty for his own good sometimes.

Like half the girls in our class, I'd been in love with Hiroki since sixth grade, when he'd transferred from his school in Arashiyama, Japan, to Millroad Academy--the only middle school in North Carolina with its own Starbucks. Probably the only middle school in the entire South with one. The fact that "the South" didn't include Florida was a matter of intense confusion for Hiroki, and was one of those cultural details he held as evidence that American education was inferior to Japanese, along with the fact that, at 12, we hadn't even started algebra, and we didn't know what the fuck a lesser panda was.

The day Hiroki transferred, he'd spoken enough English to answer a stat-sheet of questions almost correctly: favorite color--blue; favorite sport--soccer; favorite animal--the lesser panda. Even the teacher had to Google it, and it was so cute and new that the class had fallen in love and insisted it become the class mascot.

To me, Hiroki was cute and new. I'd stared at those dark, mischievous eyes, those long eyelashes and high cheekbones, that slim neck disappearing into our school's regulation green polo, and immediately decided to hurl myself in front of an SUV if he didn't like me. He must have been hot-shit in Japan, too, because he was an arrogant little fuckhead, even if he couldn't say "Carolina".

I'd heard Japanese people were supposed to be polite and shy, but Hiroki put his feet inside his desk and leaned back in his chair with a Nintendo DS, the Japanese version of a new Pokemon game, and a bad-boy grin that said "I am a Pokemon Master--please, let me rape you in the ass". His prowess with Pokemon earned him instant, reverent popularity. He also had a penchant for cussing in Japanese when he lost.

"K'SAGH!" is what it sounded like to me, and it means 'shit'. By the end of the year, everyone in class was saying it.

Fuck the lesser panda. Hiroki was our mascot.