Noda, Ray and David arranged an Obon holiday season game of mahjong but neglected to inform Mama-san at Kodama, who shut up shop in order to go and pray at her ancestors’ ancient monument as is the custom of the inhabitants of these islands so to do.
Noda had spent the sweltering day tending his vinyard, or at least his vine, and had brought with him a bag full of grapes, a small sample of which if offered to Ray the David as they strolled off in search of a mahjong parlour that was open for business.
We ended up in a small place that we’d never been to before in the Tatemachi area, a second floor establishment of the second order. Ray and David were apparently the first foreigners to cross the threshold of the joint and in such circumstances it is always good policy to let Noda take the lead.
Noda softened up the floor manager by offering him a large bunch of grapes.
Ray muttered something about the next joint down the street which is a larger, jollier sort of place with rather sporting bunny girls on call to serve drinks and snacks and offer other services such as sitting in on a game or two.
The only sign of female company our hosts could offer us was a dwarfish specimen of uncertain years who would emerge from one of the private rooms when it was her turn away from the table. It is presumed that she was involved in a game of 3-player mj , and from time to time she would come barrelling out of her hole faster than a cuckoo pops out of his clock, and plonk herself down in front of the television to commentate on the progress of the Japanese team in the Olympic Games.
David won the first two games in spiffing form, clobbering Ray once again with a mighty Suuanko.
Noda seemed to be suffering from a mixture of booze and sunstroke and had turned into jelly. He treated us to the unprecedented site of committing a Chombo by gathering an impressive collection of 15 tiles, something which he protested that he had never achieved in his life heretofore.
That was the low point of Noda’s evening, and possibly of his life. Sadly, nobody thought to photograph the epochal event.
As I say, though, it was the low point of Noda’s evening.
We had changed seats after the second game, with David on +118 and Ray on -91, but Ray took over the seat that David had been winning in and immediately began to claw back his losses. By the time of Noda’s Chombo Ray had got himself back to -14 and Noda’s bottom was firmly on the bottom, his feet were treading the winepress alone, and that is where we should have left it.
Sadly, we played the last game!
Oh, if only we could stop before the last game!
Noda won it, of course, and recovered all but five of his lost points and so the final scores were quite modest.
Ray strolled off to his hotel and Noda and David hopped into a taxi, and as it zoomed off Noda suddenly leapt off his seat as if he had been lolling in the electric chair at Sing-Sing and some practical joker had suddenly turned on the juice.
However, it was nothing serious: “I left the grapes at the mahjong parlour,” he said.
Well, I trust they did not set the parlour manager’s teeth on edge.
David +73, +45, -19, 0, -29, -31 = +39
Noda -12, -15, +2, -20, -11,** +51 = -5
Ray -61, -30, +17, +20, +40, -20 = -34