“Fire After Fire” is a song by the Japanese band Seikimatsu, who are very non-subtly influenced by KISS. The guitarist of the band is Shin’s lifelong hero, and so he plays a certain CD by them pretty much every night, and that song always comes on.

Well, tonight I got home from work at the crack of 11 p.m, since my commute is currently an hour and a half one way. I made some dinner, did the laundry, and played the Saturn game Radiant Silvergun religiously while I was waiting for my clothes. It’s one of two games I’ve gotten so into that I’ve started hallucinating it in real life (the other was Grand Theft Auto 3). Once the laundry finished, l made my daily trip to Rosetta Stone. By this point it was around 1:30 a.m. I ran into Jason, the other gaijin who’s been going there lately, and an all-around decent guy. We started ordering rounds of red wine, which I’ve been trying to drink instead of beer lately, as I’ve been trying to think about my future a little more, and since it costs the same. There was a good group of people there tonight. A nice lineup of regulars, and one new face that turned out to belong to a really cool lady.

Somewhere around 3:30 a.m., I think, I saw Shin running into the kitchen to deal with a greasefire. “Is it okay?!” Katayama-san, the resident big brother asked. A moment later, he and Jason ran to the kitchen door and flung it open, just as the fire burst out of control, and my heart stopped as I caught a glimpse of Shin nearly being scarred for life. At this point the fire somehow managed to be suppressed, and the place filled with smoke, so we all began to evacuate. The power also went out. Yasuko-san had been passed out for around an hour, and when I tried to wake her, she was oblivious and uncooperative, so I ended up carrying her out of the bar.

We continued hanging out in front of the bar, until the fire department–by which I mean the entire fire department–showed up. I counted ten fire trucks, though there may have been more. And this was for a fire that had already gone out. Strangely enough, though, the fire had actually started to spread to behind the building, as the oil had seeped out the fryer vent into the grass. We managed to put that out on our own, but the fire department had a whole multi-tiered strategy worked out just to investigate the goddamn aftermath. They had portable tables set up and shit. It was the most needlessly elaborate spectacle I’ve witnessed since the last shopping mall Santa Claus.

As the firemen were doing their thing, the Rosetta Stone customers gradually trickled back into the pitch black, smoke-filled bar, and resumed drinking. That’s when I knew for sure–there isn’t a more laid-back bunch of people on this whole godforsaken island.

I joined them and Shin gave me a free beer after sleazy Yokoi-san drank the one I had previously been working on, and subsequently got into a chat with Sakata-san, a somehow Americanish, actually half-Korean guy who’s always in the same coolish mood.

“Too much listening to ‘Fire After Fire’,” I said.