Local neurologist is accosted by breakfast while staying at his friend’s apartment.

Length: 841 words

Written by Sudo (Pseudinymous)

Sunlight poured through the slit of the curtains in Tatsu’s spare bedroom, running across the room and arcing over the futon upon which Oliver slept.

He stirred. Rolled over, let his arm hit the tatami floor with a heavy whap. He’d managed to drool across half the pillow and had now smeared it across a good portion of his left cheek, the discomfort of which finally woke him up proper.

His eyes felt heavy. Everything felt heavy. Like it had for the past three days. Even the world’s best-tailored suit becomes agonising when forced to wear it for days on end. His body was like the suit he could never take off, and as much as he was sure he had eliminated a majority of the cocaine, this effect remained.

“Ngggh,” he muttered, trying to wipe saliva off his face and not really doing much except making even more of a mess. Eventually he sat up, hair that was supposed to go forwards going sideways, and rubbed his eyes. Today was the day. Today was the day that he needed to go to the doctor.

“Ohayō, Oliver-san,” said Tatsu cheerfully, as Oliver stumbled out of his room. The cardiologist was already dressed and making breakfast for two despite not having to start work for several more hours. Oliver glanced at him as if he were insane, then sat down at the table.

“Ohayō,” said Oliver back, badly accented, and yawned. “You don’t need to dote after me Tatsu I’m fine.”

Tatsu did not stop what he was doing. “If I did not ‘dote’ after you, Oliver-san, would you be eating breakfast this morning?” he demanded, before putting down a bowl of rice, a plate of fish, and a small carton dish of one of the most terrifying foods Oliver had ever seen.

“Is this natto?” Oliver demanded, suspiciously. Tatsu looked rather too proud of himself.

“It is very good for you. It is thought that people in Japan might live for longer because they eat natto,” he proclaimed. Oliver stuck a chopstick into it and watched as the slimy fermented soy goop lifted up like a sticky mess of hot mozzarella cheese and curdled nasal extract, and retched.

“I’d literally rather eat necrotic flesh.”

Tatsu was unperturbed. “It is an acquired taste,” he replied, with his too subtle smile.

It was a taste Oliver had no desire in acquiring. The stench of cheesy old feet didn’t much help his appetite either, despite various objections from his empty stomach. He started on the fish and supplemented it with rice, giving no attention to the “food” that was placed to the side. Tatsu watched carefully as he added a glass of water to Oliver’s meal.

“One must eat natto with disdain before one can eat it with relish,” Tatsu explained, as if this made things any better. “If you did not do so many unhealthy things to your body, I would not be so driven to supplement your diet of sugar and substances with something so good for you.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me.” Oliver gave Tatsu a withered look halfway through a mouthful of fish, before using his fingers to pick out a bone. “Are you using this as a punishment for the OD?”

“Good health is not a punishment, Oliver-san,” said Tatsu astutely, and Oliver got the sudden feeling that he would not be allowed to leave until he had finished it.

It is not something he enjoys doing. As he sticks his chopsticks into the grotesque soybean mass, it pulls up and half separates slimily, throwing more of that fantastic pungent foot smell in his direction. He tries to breathe only through his mouth to stem some of the odour, but even getting it in there is hard when every part of your brain is insisting that you stop right this bloody instant.

It is cheesy.

It is not good cheesy.

The aroma wafts around his mouth to invent an aftertaste that sticks. He doesn’t know if he can swallow another one, but Tatsu is there, staring him down, smiling lightly, waiting.

He takes another chopstick-full and shudders.

“Thank you for trying it, Oliver-san,” said Tatsu, genuinely.

“Does that mean I can stop now?” Oliver begged.


Resigned to his fate, Oliver finished the rice, and the fish, and the natto, in that order, then drank all of his water and brushed his teeth furiously to try to get the taste out of his mouth. This at least rid him of most of it, and he came out of the bathroom grimacing and unhappy about this most unwelcome start to his day.

“Now you will have plenty of energy for your appointment,” said Tatsu, brightly, clearing up the dishes that Oliver had left and then sitting for his own breakfast of fish, rice, and… miso soup?

“Where’s your natto?” Oliver shot back, and Tatsu gave him a very pleasant smile.

“I do not like it, Oliver-san. Please enjoy your day.”

Oliver left Tatsu’s apartment ready to explode.

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