Kafka on the Shore
The Boy Named Crow
“So you’re all set for money, then?” the boy named Crow asks in his typical sluggish voice. The kind of voice like when you’ve just woken up and your mouth still feels heavy and dull. But he’s just pretending. He’s totally awake. As always.
I review the numbers in my head. “Close to thirty-five hundred in cash, plus some money I can get from an ATM. I know it’s not a lot, but it should be enough. For the time being.”
“Not bad,” the boy named Crow says. “For the time being.”
I give him another nod.
“I’m guessing this isn’t Christmas money from Santa Claus.”
“Yeah, you’re right,” I reply.
Crow smirks and looks around. “I imagine you’ve started by rifling drawers, am I right?”
I don’t say anything. He knows whose money we’re talking about, so there’s no need for any long-winded interrogations. He’s just giving me a hard time.
“No matter,” Crow says. “You really need this money and you’re going to get it-beg, borrow, or steal. It’s your father’s money, so who cares, right? Get your hands on that much and you should be able to make it. For the time being. But what’s the plan after it’s all gone? Money isn’t like mushrooms in a forest-it doesn’t just pop up on its own, you know. You’ll need to eat, a place to sleep. One day you’re going to run out.”
“I’ll think about that when the time comes,” I say.
“When the time comes,” Crow repeats, as if weighing these words in his hand.
“Like by getting a job or something?”
“Maybe,” I say.
Crow shakes his head. “You know, you’ve got a lot to learn about
the world. Listen-what kind of job could a fifteen-year-old kid get in some far-off place he’s never been to before? You haven’t even finished junior high. Who do you think’s going to hire you?”
I blush a little. It doesn’t take much to make me blush.
“Forget it,” he says. “You’re just getting started and I shouldn’t lay all this depressing stuff on you. You’ve already decided what you’re going to do, and all that’s left is to set the wheels in motion. I mean, it’s your life. Basically you gotta go with what you think is right.”
That’s right. When all is said and done, it is my life.
“I’ll tell you one thing, though. You’re going to have to get a lot tougher if you want to make it.”
“I’m trying my best,” I say.
“I’m sure you are,” Crow says. “These last few years you’ve gotten a whole lot stronger. I’ve got to hand it to you.”
I nod again.
“But let’s face it-you’re only fifteen,” Crow goes on. “Your life’s just begun and there’s a ton of things out in the world you’ve never laid eyes on. Things you never could imagine.”
As always, we’re sitting beside each other on the old sofa in my father’s study. Crow loves the study and all the little objects scattered around there. Now he’s toying with a bee-shaped glass paperweight. If my father was at home, you can bet Crow would never go anywhere near it.
“But I have to get out of here,” I tell him. “No two ways around it.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right.” He places the paperweight back on the table and links his hands behind his head. “Not that running away’s going to solve everything. I don’t want to rain on your parade or anything, but I wouldn’t count on escaping this place if I were you. No matter how far you run. Distance might not solve anything.”
The boy named Crow lets out a sigh, then rests a fingertip on each of his closed eyelids and speaks to me from the darkness within.
“How about we play our game?” he says.
“All right,” I say.