Kozo Watanabe tossed the Love Doll’s see-through kimono onto the unmade bed. “Time for a shower, daughter,” he announced. It was early, not yet six in the morning, but Watanabe had already been awake for hours, having spent most of the night holed up in a crowded air raid shelter in the Tokyo Metro. His nerves were still on edge. The giant, atomic mutants were all anybody ever talked about lately. Ludicrous bat-winged dinosaurs with heads shaped like boiling mushroom clouds. Clairvoyant worms half a league long. For reasons not entirely understood, the early American A-bomb tests had drawn the monsters irresistibly to the Japanese mainland. But for now, at least, the immediate danger appeared to have passed.
“This soap has a very pleasant, flowery odor, don’t you think?” Watanabe asked as he stood under the drizzling shower head and scrubbed the Doll’s glistening abdomen with a cheap washcloth. “So sweet and pure, like the blossoms of violets.” The Doll’s artificial skin, made of silicone rubber, felt amazingly life-like. He tilted her body awkwardly against the shower wall to allow the soap to run off her firm breasts. “Now it’s my turn,” he said and began to lather up his own skeletally thin body. On one level, of course, Watanabe understood that there were hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of Sex Dolls identical in every respect to the one he had fallen in love with. And yet, he could not help believing there was something in her beautiful face meant for him alone.
Around noon, Watanabe’s nephew Gorou phoned. Watanabe picked the call up in the kitchenette where he was chopping vegetables for lunch. “Forgive me, uncle,” Gorou said. “I meant to call earlier. However, I trust you made it through last night’s ordeal unscathed.”
“Yes, we’re fine,” Watanabe answered coolly, placing his chopping knife down on the cutting board.
“I was a nervous wreck myself,” Gorou confessed. His voice sounded tense and falsely chipper. “I don’t think I’ve had a moment’s sleep in nearly a week. But last night was the worst. Is Yumi with you?”
“Of course,” Watanabe said, feeling a little encroached upon. “Where else would she be?” He switched the receiver to his left ear and gazed out the window of his apartment at the wet mishmash of roofs and power lines seven flights below. The neighborhood looked shabby and filthy, despite having been erected no further back than half a decade ago in the aftermath of the last monster attack.
“Everybody is saying that the giant sea monster has been destroyed,” Gorou said. “I can scarcely believe it. Perhaps our lives will finally return to normal.”
“Yes, perhaps they will,” Watanabe said.
“In any case, uncle, I’m relieved to hear that you are well. But are you certain that you’re feeling up to a visit tonight?” It was the last Friday of the month, a day they habitually arranged to meet for dinner. “I don’t want you to go to any special trouble on my account.”
“You are always welcome,” Watanabe assured him.
“Good. I will see you after work then,” his nephew said before hanging up. “Tell Yumi hello.”
When Gorou showed up at his uncle’s apartment that evening, it had been storming for hours and the air was heavy with humidity.
“Good evening, uncle,” Gorou said, bowing slightly. His white, short sleeve shirt and the neatly creased, black trousers dictated by his company’s strict dress code, were spattered with long rain drops. He slipped off his dirty work shoes in the entryway. There was a hole in his sock. “I took the liberty of bringing desert,” he said, coughing nervously, and handed his uncle a white plastic bag.
“There was a special on chocolate bread today,” Gorou said. His thin lips barely moved as he spoke. “Unfortunately, several cans were dented during delivery. As you know, it is store policy to immediately discard damaged consumer items. However, just this once I thought we would defy company rules.”
“Thank you. Daughter will be very pleased.”
“It seemed a shame, in any case, to let perfectly good food go to waste,” Gorou continued, and then followed his uncle into the apartment, casting a glance at the dinette table where the rubber Love Doll was perched in a wheelchair clutching a slick fashion magazine in her hands. Her head was tilted a bit to the side as if she were trying to look coy. She could have been posing for a photograph. “Hello Yumi,” Gorou said. “Has uncle been taking good care of you?”
“She is very easy to manage,” Watanabe replied.
“Perhaps. Still, not every girl has such a generous guardian.”
Before he’d gotten to know her well, Gorou had been seriously puzzled by his uncle’s relationship with Yumi. Until then he would never have suspected him of having even the most tenuous awareness of erotic novelties of this type. Gorou had barely known about such things himself. But when he finally mustered the courage to confront his uncle with his misgivings, Watanabe, ordinarily so reticent about his private affairs, had not betrayed the slightest embarrassment.
“It must be difficult for a normal person to understand,” he had calmly explained to his nephew. “Of course, these young girls give men great physical pleasure. You can see for yourself how lovely she is. But when you find yourself living so intimately with a girl, even a supposedly lifeless one, you cannot help becoming deeply attached.”
“Yes, I suppose it is only natural,” Gorou acknowledged. After this, he and Watanabe had said nothing more about the matter.
Outside, the storm had intensified and the sound of thunder rumbled loudly, shaking the window glass. Gorou removed the satin clip-on tie he’d been wearing and stuffed it into his pants pocket. “It’s very hot in here, uncle,” he said. “It can’t be healthy.
Watanabe shrugged. “Young people like you and Yumi are more sensitive to extremes in temperature.”
“That may be true, uncle. Nevertheless, this heat wave is wreaking havoc at the store. The sale of steamed pork buns is usually quite brisk at this time of year. However, since the Sports Day festival, purchases have remained stubbornly flat.” He frowned. “It’s entirely unprecedented.” A company man at heart, Goro was not above cleaning the employee bathroom in a pinch or hauling smelly bags of garbage out to the curb. “Fortunately, our cold beverages have been selling very robustly.”
“Yes, nothing’s like it used to be,” Watanabe said. “The entire nation has gone to the dogs. I don’t understand why you stay.”
“Here. In Tokyo, naturally.”
“I see,” Gorou answered, narrowing his eyes a bit behind his glasses as if Watanabe’s question had been weighing on his mind. “Of course,” he began quietly, searching for the right words, “it depresses me to see the city in such a precarious state. But this is my home. Where else would I go? Besides, I would feel like a traitor if I left.” He looked earnestly into Watanabe’s face. “I suppose I’m not completely without hope for the future. Indeed, it seems likely the air force’s new missiles may prove to be more than a match for the atomic monsters.”
Watanabe made a sort of harrumphing sound. “Don’t let yourself get taken in by official reports,” he snapped. “The government always suppresses unpleasant facts. The truth, I am convinced, is far more alarming than they let on.” He turned away and busied himself with dinner. “There’s cold beer in the refrigerator,” he said over his shoulder. He turned up the flame under a big, aluminum pot and stirred the contents.
“Whatever your cooking smells wonderful,” Gorou said.
“I hope you don’t mind cuttlefish soup.”
“Of course not.” Gorou poured himself a glass of beer.
“It’s just a simple meal. Nothing elaborate.”
They said nothing else until the soup was ready. Then Gorou took a seat at his usual place at the table. As always, Yumi was on his right. Close up, she smelled like a new pair of leather shoes.
“Help yourself,” Watanabe instructed his nephew, and raised the lid from the pot. A cloud of steam rose up from the soup and curled toward the ceiling.
“You eat like a bird,” Watanabe said as his nephew ladled a few meager spoonfuls of soup into his bowl said.
“I just want to be sure that you and Yumi to have enough, uncle.”
“There’s more than enough for everybody,” Watanabe chided. He waited for Gorou to finish, then, using the tips of his chopsticks, lifted a long strip of cuttlefish out of the pot. “Try this, daughter,” he said, smiling kindly. He lifted the cuttlefish to her mouth. “Not too quickly,” he cautioned. “It’s still very hot.” He held the cuttlefish, for a brief moment, close to the Doll’s provocatively full lips, then took it away and ate it himself.
“Dinner is delicious, uncle,” Gorou said. He wiped his mouth with a napkin, then poured himself a second glass of beer. The foam rose quickly in his glass, spilling a little over the lip. “Left to myself I only eat prepackaged foods from the convenience store.” His homely, long-jawed face had a sweaty Vaseline kind of sheen. “It’s easier to microwave everything. I never have the time to prepare proper meals, it seems.”
“I’m glad you enjoy it.” Watanabe picked up another strip of cuttlefish. “Yumi is very hungry tonight, don’t you think, nephew?” The Doll stared straight ahead at the wall. Her lips were slightly parted, revealing the unnaturally bright red tip of her detachable tongue. “Tomorrow I may have to put her on a diet.”
“I’m quite certain that Yumi doesn’t need to lose an ounce of weight. She already has such a pleasing physique.” Gorou smiled broadly. His face was flushed. “By the way uncle, the outfit you chose for her this evening is very becoming. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen her in that blouse before.”
“Powder blue is a flattering color for her skin tone.”
“Yes, she has such smooth, white skin, like a pearl. Listen Yumi, when you’ve finally had your fill of this old geezer,” he said, pointing his chopsticks at his uncle, “you can always come and live with me.”
“What a dirty mind you have,” Watanabe grumbled.
After dinner Watanabe half lifted half dragged the Doll to the green, velvet sofa in front of the TV, an old, B&W model with a coat hanger stuck in the back. Gorou joined them a moment later after digging around in the refrigerator for another beer.
“I’m afraid there’s nothing to watch on television tonight, except for more scuttlebutt about the atomic mutant,” Watanabe said, switching impatiently through the channels.
Gorou made an exaggerated grimace from the club chair into which he had just settled himself. “How can you be so indifferent to the recent news?” he asked, breaking into a quick laugh. “I’ve been at work all day, uncle. Not lazing about like you and Yumi. The triumph over the monster is a great victory for Tokyo. I’m anxious to learn more about it.”
“Whatever you wish,” Watanabe said in a flat tone.
Evidently the beer Gorou had consumed had loosened his tongue. He took another sip. As he drank his big Adam’s apple bobbed up and down in his throat.
Onscreen an attractive female news anchor was solemnly narrating a video of the combat in the Uraga Channel. The grainy footage, captured by onboard cameras installed in the cockpits of the attacking jet fighters, showed wave after wave of aircraft bombarding the colossal creature with missile and heavy weapons salvos until Tokyo Bay itself caught fire. Against a background of flame, the monster could be seen in silhouette beating its chest like a gorilla as it waded across the shallow Channel.
Gorou put his hand over his mouth. “What a terrifying creature.” He looked dumbstruck. “Just think of the devastation this monster might have wreaked on the city,” he said, pointing to the screen.
“It’s not the monsters, it’s our American overlords, who are the real problem,” Watanabe replied.
“Are you serious, uncle?” Gorou asked incredulously. “The American nuclear deterrent is indispensable to Japan. Or have you secretly been learning to speak Russian?” Reaching for his beer, he gulped down the last of it and put the empty glass on the floor between his feet. “I don’t know what got us on politics. But all the same, I cannot bring myself to believe that you give any credence to the malicious rumors spread by Japan’s enemies.”
Watanabe waved his hand dismissively, but said nothing. This was not the first time the military junta had trumpeted total victory over the nation’s airwaves, only to have some new monster explode out of the ocean depths and galumph stiffly around the city like a stuntman in a baggy dinosaur costume. “Your version of the world is completely naive,” Watanabe told his nephew. “But for now, let’s agree to disagree.”
When Gorou had at last had his fill of the latest news, he took himself off to the pink-tiled bathroom at the end of the hall where he scrubbed his hands and face before removing his clothes. Watanabe, meanwhile, set about tidying up the dirty plates and glasses from dinner. When he was done, he checked his hair and teeth in a mirror, then dimmed the ceiling lights and lit one of the tall taper candles on the dinette table.
Returning to the sitting room in the buff, Gorou observed his uncle pulling off the Doll’s slim white jeans. He slipped off the Doll’s pink panties next, then removed her tight-fitting, sheer blouse and the black, push-up bra underneath. “I thought you had drowned yourself somehow in the bathroom,” he told his nephew and began stripping down himself. “What took you so long?” With his pale, wrinkled member dangling beneath his paunch like a raw prawn, he went to retrieve his nephew’s chocolate bread.
“It has been another wonderful evening,” Gorou said. He broke into a big smile. Unlike his uncle, he was surprisingly well-endowed.
Watanabe laid the Doll flat on the dinette table. “Desert, nephew?” He put a piece of chocolate bread on top of each of her nipples and over her genitals.
“Yes, of course.”
“Does it tickle, daughter?” Watanabe asked. His bright white chest hair glowed in the dark room. “Nevertheless, you mustn’t move a muscle.” He lifted a thin slice of bread to reveal the artificial stubble on her pubic mound. Then Gorou took a slice off her right breast. Against the candlelight her long nipple was nearly transparent.
“What a good girl you are,” Watanabe said dreamily as he placed another half dozen slices of chocolate bread on top of the Doll’s body. A huge bandage-colored vibrator buzzed in his free hand.
“Yes, uncle,” Gorou agreed and licked the smears of melted chocolate off his fat, udderlike fingers. “Always so obedient and kind.”