This may be the most impressionistic and least plotted story I’ll publish in the Full Moon series. It started out with a lengthy outline that had to do more with the mystery of the owner of the estate than Takumi. For whatever reason I couldn’t bring myself to follow that outline. Instead I’d add a sentence or two to this piece once every month or so. That means it literally took years to write.
Before the outline it started with a vision of a late-middle age Japanese man sitting on a low crumbling concrete wall in a decayed urban core just before sunrise. When I saw him in my vision I knew a lot about him immediately. Maybe that’s why the story would never follow the extensive outline I built to go with it. This was always meant to be Takumi’s story and no one else’s.
It had been more than a week since Takumi’s last job. He was the first to arrive at the street corner, as he was most mornings. It was an hour before sunrise, but the street was well-lit. In addition to the street lights lining the street, the corner where the day laborers waited every morning held one giant halogen light shining down on the bare lot.
The corner where they waited once aspired to be a building of some sort, but the project had been abandoned decades ago. It was in an impoverished part of town, and so had remained there, neglected and half built. At some point it became the place for day laborers to wait for bosses to come hire them. Takumi sometimes wondered how this spot had been selected and not another. How long had it been here and how long would it last? There was no authority who singled out this place for the homeless, and nearly homeless to wait for work. It was largely self-regulated. Sometimes men fought and someone called the police, but mostly it was quiet and no one bothered them. Almost everyone was gone from the corner by 9 or 10am. If they had no job by then they knew no one was coming by mid-morning, and so they moved on to the rest of their day.
The young, strong, and uninjured were the first selected. Takumi was old and walked with a limp. A short concrete wall separated the lot from the sidewalk. The lot, the wall, and this part of the city was neglected. All except the lights. Takumi took his favorite spot at the end of the crumbling wall. He nodded to the regulars as they began to arrive, and poured himself a cup of tea from the thermos he carried. When the weather was nice this was his favorite time of day. It was still early enough to have hope for a good job. It was quiet. Soon the lot would fill with anxious men, hiding their anxiety and blustering through their hangovers with jokes and insults.
Takumi did not initiate conversation with the others. Nor did he avoid speaking to people when spoken to. Other than the desire to work he had little in common with the other laborers. He did not drink. He did not smoke either cigarettes or pot. He did not gamble. Or, at least he did not join the gambling games that broke out among the bored men as they waited for construction bosses to drive by in their pick-up trucks. And, he was often the only Japanese man waiting. Many years ago, when Takumi first started as a day laborer, he assumed all the men were from Mexico. He quickly learned there was more diversity among the Spanish-speaking men than he initially assumed. The men came from Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Chile, Texas, California, Argentina, Nicaragua, Cuba, and on and on. Many were Indians. Many were US citizens. Occasionally white men and black men joined them. They tended not to stay long. They either got hired into more permanent positions, or went to prison, or begged in the streets. Occasionally an Asian man might appear. Depending on the man he might approach Takumi or ignore him. Takumi did not care. He liked his solitude.
Late in the morning, after most of the men had been picked up, a well-maintained, but old model Cadillac, pulled up to the corner next to where Takumi stood.