Here are 2 excerpts from Mysteriyaki, a full-length monologue I wrote for actor Asako Izawa. Mysteriyaki was first produced by Much Ado for Sydney’s Belvoir Street Theatre and Carnivalé in 2000. Selected extracts were broadcast on ABC Radio National in 2005.
Life is not going smoothly for Teruko. Her boyfriend has turned into Cardigan Man. She’s lost her job managing the laundromat. Her dream of becoming a private detective seems increasingly remote. And the bills are piling up. So Teruko becomes Mysteriyaki: a telephone fortune-teller with an organisation called Dial-a-Clairvoyant.
Meanwhile, across the hall, tragedy strikes. Brigitte Bardot has disappeared. Could this be Teruko’s lucky break? Soon she’s got a clue—several, in fact—but instead of them leading her to BB, Teruko finds herself caught in a tangle of friends and lovers, questions of faith, suspect financial dealings and a disappearing lawn.
He’s Yatz Antanas Fernandez. He’s a frequent flyer, my soul’s undersong, Raymond Chandler with a Hispanic twist. A man who believes every story has 3 sides.
I put down Alumni News. And the reply I’ve composed in my head. Dear Alumni News. I’m pleased to hear the horticulture class is in full bloom and the debating team came second in their regional heat. As for your questionnaire: Where Are You Now? and request for a donation towards the new gymnasium there’s an ancient Oriental proverb: If wishes were cars, beggars would drive. No, I don’t understand what it means either.
Hang on. I’m getting sidetracked.
We finish our meal with a wedge of watermelon. And Yatz tells me his line of work. I’m surprised. Because I can usually identify psychologists by their odd socks.
Ego is the mask that has to come off to show pure being. For tonight though, I’m happy to settle for just our clothes coming off.
Up with the Venetians.
Across the water, the sails of the Opera House. Farm Cove erupting in a shower of sparks and gunpowder. In the distance the spires of St Mary’s. A hail of psalms and God’s eye glittering through the nebulous hemisphere.
Who wouldn’t want to sing like a cherub, a prima donna, a soprano deliciosa?
Teruko begins to sing the Mozart aria ‘Voi, che sapete che cosa amor’.
We’re daydream believers, spellbound and brilliant. Explorers adrift in the empire of the senses, inventing our own game-plan as we go. That’s right. I’m Saint Teruko of the ecstatic moment and my calligraphy is sublime.
In the window of a Shinjuku boutique, Father Christmas is nailed to a cross.
In Paddington they’re selling doona covers decorated with Japanese writing. I guess no one’s told them it says: Don’t sleep with me, I’m a lousy fuck.
And so it goes.
Our legends shattered and born-again; mixed-up and lost on the highway at night. Fox spirits and dot-com cowboys. Caught in the beam of headlights, 15 seconds of glory-dazzle, before they join the great compost heap of information that keeps the planet spinning. And Lorraine from Newcastle phoning me to find out whether a nose job might help her sniff out a soulmate.
And so it goes.
The teacher tells the legal secretary and she tells whatever it is to the salesman, and he mentions it to the trainee shopping around for a consumer-friendly faith.
Teruko sings a verse of a hymn in Japanese.
And now here we are in Newtown. Me and Yatz. On a traffic-clogged squeeze of healers and dealers. Hey, what-d’you know? Religion’s not dead, it just smells funny. Sandalwood for anxiety; lavender to sooth; Eternity from Calvin Klein. And my own contribution: Melancholy. (Mimicking a sales assistant.) Have you tried Melancholy, madam? The essence of loneliness with a base note of despair.
We’re dodging desperados and tone-deaf Hare Krishnas as daylight shrinks behind the silhouettes of buildings. We go into a bar. And while Yatz is getting our drinks, this superannuated flower-child tries to feel up my social conscience. Pushing some combination of environmental Armageddon and self-improvement through Weet-Bix.
I’m not interested. Piss off.
And does she? No. She edges her filthy rags closer and continues.
That’s it! I’ve had enough. I do what any self-respecting PI would do. I get out a deodorant spray and give her a good going over.
Listen lady, that’s Japanese for get lost. OK?
The barman rushes up, asks me what kind of stunt I’m trying to pull. Nothing, I say, and pull on my gloves.
© Noëlle Janaczewska