TV People



by MURAKAMI Haruki
Translated by Kiki

A man and a woman are walking along a street. The street is next to a cemetery. It is late on a foggy night. They didn’t choose to be walking here so late. However a number of things happened and they have been left with little choice. They are tightly holding each other’s hands. They are walking quickly. “I feel like I’m in a Michael Jackson video,” the woman said.

“Hey, that tombstone is moving,” the man says. They hear the creek of something heavy, as though it were being dragged. They stop walking and look at each other.The man laughs. “It’s ok. There’s nothing to be nervous about. It is just the rubbing of a branch. Probably just the wind or something.”

But the wind isn’t blowing. Holding her breath the woman looks around. She has a really bad feeling. She senses that something evil is going to happen. A premonition.


But there is nothing to see. There is no sign of corpses returning to life. They start to walk again. The man suddenly grimaces.

“Why do you walk like that? You have a really strange walk,” he said.

“Hmm.” She says, surprised. “Is my walk really so strange?”

“Yes it is. You look terrible,” he says.


“You’re practically bowlegged.”

The woman bites her lip. Maybe I do walk that way she thinks. It’s true that my heels don’t wear evenly. It can’t be that bad, can it? I just wish he weren’t so blunt.

But she doesn’t say anything. She loves the man. And he loves her. They are getting married next month. She doesn’t want to start a big fight. Maybe she is a bit bowlegged. What’s the big deal?

“I’ve never dated a bowlegged woman before.”

“Really?” the woman says, laughing. Have they been drinking? No, it appears that they haven’t had anything to drink today. 

“And what’s more, inside your ear you have three moles,” the man says.

“What?” the woman asks. “Which ear?”

“In the right ear. There are three moles, really nasty, gross ones.”

“You don’t like moles?”

“I hate such gross moles. Who in the world could like such gross things?”

She bites down hard on her lip.

“And sometimes you have b.o.,” he continues. “I noticed it from the beginning. If I had met you in the summer, I don’t think I would’ve gone out with you.”

The woman sighs and drops his hand. “Wait a minute. That’s a terrible thing to say. Why are you talking to me like this?”

“The collar of your blouse is dirty too. On that blouse that you are wearing today. Why are you so sloppy? Why can’t you do anything right?”

The woman says nothing. She is too angry to speak.

“I have a mountain of things I want to say to you. Bowlegged, b.o., dirty collar, moles in your ear. And I’m just getting started. Let’s see what else. Those earrings look shitty on you. They don’t fit you at all. They make you look like a cheap whore. They would look better on a hooker. If you want to wear such earrings, why don’t you wear them in your nose instead? They match your double chin. That reminds me of your mother. She’s really a pig. Oink oink. In twenty years that’s what you’ll look like. She really gobbles up her food. Like a sow. And your father, god is he strange! He can’t even write kanji. He sent my parents a letter the other day and they just laughed at it. Didn’t he even go to elementary school? What a shitty family! A cultural slum! Why don’t we just set fire to them? They might burn well because of all the fat.”

“If all of these things bother you so much, why are you going to marry me?”

He ignores her question.

“You’re a pig,” he says. “And about your cunt. It’s incredibly awful. It’s like some cheap rubber thing, all stretched out and useless. Why don’t you just die? If I were a woman I’d die from embarrassment. Any kind of death would be welcome. I wouldn’t care. Living under such circumstances would be damn embarrassing.”

Astonished, she stands up. “”How dare you!”

Suddenly the man grabs his head. In agony he leans forward and tilts his head. Crouching, he starts to tears at his face with his fingernails.

“Man, my head hurts,” he says. “It feels like it’s being ripped in half! I can’t stand it. The pain is unbearable.”

“Are you ok?” she asks.

“No, I’m not. I can’t stand it. My skin is burning up. It feels like I’m on fire.” She touches his head. It does feel like it’s on fire. She begins to rub his head, and a chunk of skin drops off. Loose slimy red flesh appears. The woman holds her breath and jumps back. The man stands up and laughs. With his own hand he starts tearing the skin from his face. His eyeballs hang out of their sockets. His nose now has two deep holes. His lips have disappeared. His teeth are protruding like fangs. These teeth are laughing.

“I’m with you because you are a pig. I’m here to eat your pig flesh. Could there be any other reason to be with you? You’re such so stupid. You are such a dumb bitch. Ha ha ha.!”

The slimy mass of flesh starts to chase her. She tries to escape, but she can’t get away from this hunk of flesh. At the edge of the cemetery its wet slimy hand grabs her by the collar. She screams.

The man is holding her close. The woman’s throat is dry. The man looks at her and smiles, “What’s wrong? Did you have a bad dream?”

Sitting up, the woman looks around. They are lying in bed in a hotel room by a lake. She shakes her head.

“Did I scream?”

“Yes, loud enough to wake the dead.” he says, laughing. “I’ll bet everybody in the hotel could hear you. They probably thought you were being murdered.”

“Sorry,” she mutters.

“Don’t worry about it,” he assures her. “A nightmare?”

“An unbelievably bad nightmare.”

“You want to talk about it?”

“No, not really,” she says.

“You might feel better if you talk about it. It might ease the shock.”

“That’s ok, thanks anyway. I don’t really want to talk about it.”

They remain quiet for a few minutes. She clings to his body. She can feel his heartbeat. In the distance she can hear the croak of a frog.

“Say, “she says quietly. “Can I ask you something?”

“Sure, what?”

“By any chance do I have a mole in my ear?”

“A mole?” he says. “Do you mean, by any chance, that gross, nasty mole in the middle of your right ear? ”

She closes her eyes and realizes that it has just begun.