Vance Joy: “Mess Is Mine”
May 11, 1994
Mitch blamed himself for Elle’s situation. She had been coked-up the previous night; he could tell. He should have insisted they stay away from Samantha’s. Elle was in no condition to see Tak, especially as she was planning to break up with him.
But Mitch had wanted to see Kenji. Worse yet, he was so over Elle’s relationship with Tak, he had kind of encouraged her flirting with the incredibly tasty Brazilian soccer player. But his most egregious mistake had been leaving without even checking in on Elle or saying good-bye. Selfish prick. He had been so distracted by the fantasy of what he and Kenji were about to do, he hadn’t even thought about his best friend. Mitch was racked with guilt. He should have been there for Elle. He would make it up to her now.
Mitch was discouraged to find Elle wasn’t at their apartment, and there was no sign she had ever made it back there. She must have crashed in Tak’s office at Samantha’s.
Mitch headed to the station to take a subway into Roppongi. How could he best help? Maybe it won’t be that bad. Elle was incredibly charming. Perhaps she had already talked her way out of the situation.
It was hard for Mitch to concentrate; he couldn’t stop thinking about his mind-blowing night with Kenji. He couldn’t wait to see him again. Consumed with fantasies about the slender and pretty bartender, the subway ride went quickly.
Mitch exited out of Roppongi station and walked the two blocks to Samantha’s. At this time of day, the streets were quiet. Quite a change from the previous evening, when there had been a long line of young people clamoring to get into the club. The front door was propped open, so Mitch walked in. A cleaning staff was inside mopping the dance floor.
It was strange to see the inside of Samantha’s during the day. In the daylight, it was uninteresting, sterile almost, except for the lingering smell of alcohol. The club was so quiet and lonely now that it seemed unfathomable that it was regularly the scene of young men and women lustily grabbing, grinding, and fumbling with each other, all in search of some sort of connection.
Mitch waved to the cleaning staff and sauntered up the stairs to Tak’s office. He knocked lightly on the door.
Maybe they were still asleep? Mitch looked at his watch and considered the time—12:07. Fuck it. It’s past noon. I’ll go in.
Mitch opened the door and saw Tak sitting glumly at his desk with his head in his hands, a bottle of rum in front of him. It appeared Elle had already given him his walking papers and he was drowning his sorrows.
With rum? Really? What kind of guy goes on a bender with fucking rum?
Tak looked up as Mitch entered. “What you want?”
Mitch could tell by the redness in Tak’s cheeks that he was drunk. He was such a lightweight. Always had been, which is probably why he started in on the coke.
“I’m looking for Elle, is she here?”
Tak made a fist and hit it against his desk. “Why you look Elle?”
“Relax man, I just wanted to make sure she was okay. She was pretty fucked up last night.” Mitch was teed off by Tak’s attitude and behavior. He thinks he’s such a tough guy.
What a fucking dick. He hoped Elle had let him have it. Asshole.
“She go. She your apartment.”
Shit! Mitch must have just missed her. “Alright, thanks.” He couldn’t wait to get out of there. In fact, he hoped he never saw this prick again. What had Elle seen in him? At least it was over now. Good fucking riddance.
As Mitch turned to leave, Tak added, “She there with Johnny and Mike.”
At the mention of Johnny and Mike, a chill went down Mitch’s spine and the hairs on the back of his neck stood up. This wasn’t good. Those guys were Tak’s goons.
Mitch turned back to Tak. “Why are they with her?”
“You know what Elle do?” Tak tried to stand, but he was so drunk he wobbled.
Mitch paused before responding. He needed to be careful here. What did Tak know? Mitch wasn’t even sure himself how far it had gone with Elle and the Brazilian.
Tak didn’t give him time to answer. “She fuck another guy! Here, in my club!” He slammed his drink down on his desk, shattering the glass into pieces.
Fuuuuck. This was the worst-case scenario. Mitch was now very concerned about Elle. Tak was completely unhinged. Irrational. Who knew what he was capable of?
Mitch tried to stall, desperate to come up with a game plan. “Wait a sec, that’s not exactly right.” Shit, Mitch, think of something, anything.
Tak had grabbed the bottle of rum and was now drinking directly from it. “It true. I find rubber package in cloakroom where they are together.”
A rubber? Mitch was glad if Elle had gotten it on with the hot Brazilian, but this was bad.
Tak looked at him expectantly.
Mitch extended his forearm and opened the palm of his hand, hoping to appear conciliatory. “Here’s the thing. She didn’t have sex with him. They only kissed, and she realized it was a mistake . . .”
Tak shook his head. “No, I see empty wrapper.”
Mitch needed to come up with something better. He considered Tak. He would forgive Elle. The real issue here was his pride. Someone would have to take the fall so he could save face. Mitch would be that guy. “That’s mine. We were in the cloakroom together.”
Tak cocked his head to the side. Mitch had his attention. He needed to make this good. But how?
“You know it was my birthday, and I was pretty hammered. We went into the cloakroom, and, I don’t know, I thought I had a chance with her . . .” Tak wasn’t stopping him. This guy is so fucking stupid, this just might work. “I got the rubber out and she totally shot me down. Swear to God, nothing happened.” Here Mitch thought he should add something about how sorry he was, but Tak was such a dick, he couldn’t bring himself to do it.
“Why Elle no say this to me?”
“She was trying to protect me.”
Tak nodded slowly. “Ah so . . .”
He’s buying it. Mitch’s confidence grew.
“But Elle say, you like boy—you gay.”
So Elle had told him the truth. Good. Pleased with this news and his ability to spin such a successful tale, Mitch became a bit cocky. “Well, I could go either way, but you’ve seen Elle’s tits—they’re perfection.”
Tak hurled the bottle of rum directly at Mitch’s head. He felt a sharp sting and fell back, hitting his head along the corner of a file cabinet on his way down.
Mitch was groggy. He remembered feeling like this once before, when he was eight years old, playing in his first tackle football game. He had gotten the ball and started running, the way his dad had instructed, when he was hit by a much bigger kid. Hard. He had fallen to the ground, his head snapping against the grass. Mitch felt now as he had then: dizzy, confused, and not at all sure what had happened.
He could see the outline of Tak but couldn’t quite focus on him or what he was doing. His head hurt too much—was it bleeding?—and he was overwhelmed by the smell of rum. Mitch was nauseous and worried he might throw up.
Tak had his arms. What was he doing? Was he tying his arms to something? What was going on? Nothing made sense. Mitch couldn’t concentrate. Better for him to just close his eyes and rest a little.
Mitch smelled rum again. Then he heard voices. Men, speaking Japanese.
Then there was the pain. A sharp, stinging discomfort on his forehead accompanied by a dull and throbbing ache on the back of his head. Mitch vaguely remembered Tak throwing the bottle at him. That would explain the smell of rum and the soreness on his forehead. But why would the back of his head hurt?
Mitch tried to reach his hand up to check the sources of his pain, but he couldn’t. He tried again. His arm wouldn’t move. It took incredible effort to open his eyes, but Mitch was determined to figure out what was going on. Although they appeared blurry and out-of-focus, he could see Johnny and Mike hovering above him. Mitch tried to sit up, but they shoved him back down. He again tried to lift his arms, this time in protest, but he couldn’t. They were tied down.
What the fuck?
Mitch smelled rum again. Tak was leaning over him. What was he saying? It was in Japanese and Mitch couldn’t summon the concentration to translate the foreign words. He was too preoccupied with trying to figure out why his arms would be tied down. Had Tak said something about giving him a drug to make him relax? That didn’t make any sense.
Mitch struggled to focus on what Tak was trying to communicate. If only he weren’t speaking so quickly. Tak kept saying over and over what a bad man he was. Mitch was confused. Who was the bad man Tak was referring to? It was a lot to take in, and Mitch gave up trying to understand.
There was a prick in his arm. It made him twitch slightly, though it didn’t really hurt. Was it a needle? Mitch hated needles. He was terrified of getting shots.
Warmth—Mitch experienced a rush of warmth, like he had been wrapped in the softest, most wonderful blanket.
Then he was sick. Horribly sick. He threw up in his mouth.
Someone held him up. Was it Johnny? Mitch vomited violently, convulsing in agony.
Then he was warm again—floating, completely and utterly relaxed, in a state of contentment he couldn’t understand. The throbbing aches in his head disappeared.
Mitch was back in his childhood home in Iowa. He was in his twin bed, wearing his favorite pajamas. The one-piece zip-up ones made of fleece and decorated with Star Wars characters. He loved these pajamas. He saw the American flag needlepoint his mom had made in celebration of the Bicentennial hanging on the wall.
Everything in his room was the same way Mitch remembered; only now, he was no longer a confused and lonely little boy. He was calm and incredibly peaceful. David Gilmour was kneeling next to him in bed, rubbing his forehead softly and singing “Comfortably Numb” directly into his ear. His voice was divine. So very beautiful, every note exquisite in its clarity. Mitch was perfectly in sync with the song. He could feel each guitar chord coursing through his veins, a part of him.
Mitch soared, transcendent. He was music.
Mitch was experiencing such an unparalleled sense of the sublime he didn’t wonder why his pants were removed. Or his underwear.
Japanese voices again, this time telling him not to move. Then it was English. Broken English. “Mitch! Mitch!” Tak was shaking him.
“Just nod if you can hear me.”
It was Roger Waters. Or was that Tak? Mitch couldn’t be sure. He didn’t care. He didn’t want to leave his twin bed or this feeling of bliss.
“Very important, you stay relaxed. You no move. Understand?” Tak shook Mitch violently.
Mitch opened his eyes and nodded. Move? Why would I move? He was suspended in the air. He closed his eyes, grateful to return to the twin bed in his Bicentennial room. Nothing else mattered. Nothing but David Gilmour’s voice and the feeling of utter contentment, understanding and belonging. Then came the pain between his legs, so excruciating Mitch immediately lost consciousness.