Tsuyoshi the cruel – 2
Tsuyoshi the cruel, who once flaunted a girl’s sanitary pad around the classroom, had eagle eyes as to one’s vulnerability. He would then use that to pull attention on himself. I feared his unpredictability and constant need for attention. If he didn’t get it by noise, he’d get it by physical force.
Tsuyoshi was into a manga, Be-Bop High School, that was also adapted into a movie. It was about two delinquent high-school boys who fought other delinquent kids of different schools for fame and honor. They wore shortened Gakuran, a school uniform jacket, and a baggie pair of trousers tapered at the ankles. They shaved in the corners of the forehead and either permed the short hair really strong or created an immaculate string of fringe with pomade. This type of school kids was called Yankee, entirely irrelevant to the Yankees in the U.S. They’d ride a motorcycle, smoked cigarettes, sniffed glue, and sprayed graffiti of phonetic equivalent in kanji – example: Yoroshiku (nice to meet you) -> 夜露死苦. The kanji is incorrect but is a combination of night, dew, death, pain.
Tsuyoshi didn’t do any of that when he was nine or ten, but he looked up to the characters in the show, and his behavior was inspired by them.
When we were in the 3rd grade, Tsuyoshi sent me a New Year’s Card. On it, he elaborately copied one of the Be-Bop High School characters. Next to his head was a speech bubble, in which he wrote, “Sweetfish, I like you.” I was sorting out a pile of New Year’s Cards that arrived on January 1st to each family member. I quickly hid the card, and later tore it into the tiniest pieces possible and tossed them in a bin.
I was repulsed that he projected himself as a character of a high school boy he aspired to become, but I didn’t care for, to declare fondness to a girl, to whom he had never been kind. It was not just a one-sided communication but also intrusive.
The school started, and I ignored Tsuyoshi. He was the same as always, a loud and rude bully. One afternoon, some of us were carrying long tables from one room to another. I paired up with Masa and was holding the opposite side from him. Tsuyoshi came from behind and pushed the table with his hand over mine. I quickly retracted my hand. He glanced at me with a serious expression and walked away.
He didn’t change as long as I had known him until we went separate ways after junior high school. If anything, he grew even cruder once puberty hit him. He once shouted in the classroom full of students, that if the world were to come to an end tomorrow, he’d rape any woman he could find in the street. No one condemned him, not even the teacher. They took it as one of Tsuyoshi’s bad jokes.
I wouldn’t have believed Tsuyoshi would actually rape a woman in the street. Perhaps his persona would, in the make-believe, two-dimensional world, like the time he told me he liked me via a character. But at the same time, I believed he could have, if not publicly, stealthily, like when he touched my hand.