Georgia — "Sae Kohii"

by Sera Bright

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Review a can of Japanese coffee? Sure. But first, can I tell you a little story, which may or may not contain little fibs? OK, so there's this guy, and he's an aggressive, salesy, type-A type fellow. A real, what's the word, jackass. A jack of all asses. This guy, he makes everyone nervous, not least of all because of his face issues. Turns out "he ain't got no frickin' eyebrows," as the haggard, smoker's laugh woman who works at the gas station put it, which, combined with his bossiness, puts people on their heels to say the least.


When he greets someone for the first time, as in a formal shake hands nice to meet you greeting, he gives them a thousand dollars. Every time. Just like that. Really. It's just what he does. So despite his having no eyebrows and jacked-up demeanor — I mean spittle, shouting, inexplicable little dances, retching-while-smiling-at-you — people sort of like him.


Maybe not like, but respect in a slightly frightened way. No, not even that. Probably, it's more that people are just extremely grateful to get a thousand dollars, cold and hard, for nothing.

The coffee. This coffee is agreeably akin to toffee, though it sits on the tongue like an unwanted sheet on an airless summer night. I'm not so sure I enjoy the sensation. But it is a marvel of technology when you think about it. Canned. From Japan. Preserved like nobody's business. I am now thinking that I like this coffee. It has earned my respect, and quickly, this coffee has. So my final verdict is that while it tastes nothing like my vaccuum-brewed ambrosia — what does? — it does its own thing quite neatly. So, yeah, thumbs up.


Please, I understand if you find me an untrustworthy narrator. But there's something else I must tell you about the aggressive man with no eyebrows. The truth is, he wants to lay his soft hands on people's elbows and tell them, sincerely, that they look very nice today, in that outfit. He aches to calmly, with a lip smile, say to the gas station attendant, "Thank you very much," instead of booming, "Thanks, there, Ace."


You wouldn't know it, but he practices yoga and cries when he reads about children being broken by bombs in beige towns. He meditates every morning. This man, apparently on constant overdrive, is not who he seems.


Because in the middle of a bowl of cinnamon and brown sugar oatmeal one morning in the slanting canary sunlight, he was told this: "Today, you will shave off your eyebrows and in the company of others act the opposite of who you truly are. Also, you will henceforth give everyone you meet for the first time one thousand dollars in cash. I shall ensure that your bank account is never wanting of money. If you do not do as you are told, people close to you will die, starting with your cat."

At first, he was too shocked to accept the reality of his morning encounter with, yes, the devil. So he ignored the directive and found his cat, Asha, impaled to the bedroom ceiling with a fire poker when he returned from the mall later that day.

Well, he needed no convincing after that and began his transformation. He soon found shaving his eyebrows to be painful and a bother, so he had them permanently depillated with laser technology. While being lased, he winked at the attractive technician and said, "Yeah, I was getting tired of the damn things and thought, 'You know what? Fuck it, I'm losing them once and for all.' Know what I'm saying?" The technician kind of laughed and said something that sounded like a cross between uh and ah, because she really didn't know what he was saying.

The man, at war with himself, eventually pleaded for the devil to "show his scraggly ass" because there was something he wanted to tell him. The devil appeared, irritated, and was told by the man to stick his power trip where the sun don't shine because the man with no eyebrows was sick of having no eyebrows and acting like a jerk to everyone. Our man said he would rather die than be forced to be someone he's not. The devil rolled his eyes and with the slightest twitch of his very long red index finger turned the man into a pile of ashes.

So long, sucker, he said.

Sera Bright studies horticulture in Japan, where she specializes in growing strawberries the size of babies' fists. She writes haiku about cheeky polyglots who gather at the local izakaya.

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