kim cancer
16 min readJun 1, 2022


“Godzilla versus a trojan horse hiding ten thousand sumo wrestlers. Who ya got?” Our Regional Coordinator blurted out at the team. Whether his words were lost to jetlag or just plain disinterest, his mythical matchup went unexamined as the team yawned, unclicked seatbelts, and mechanically collected belongings from our seatbacks and overhead compartments.

This was my first visit to Japan. And I was beginning to feel overcome. Drunk on jetlag, and with the effects of the 500mg THC edible wearing off, everything was seeming so surreal. I suddenly started to experience a certain sensation, a feeling… Something like I was in a sci-fi movie. Or as if I’d traveled forward in time…

Everything around me, everything in the airport, the city, the taxi, the hotel, et cetera… everything… looked so futuristic. Everything was so clean and sparkly and high-tech and automated. And everything spoke. Inanimate objects burst into cute, computerized coos. Doors spoke. Escalators and elevators spoke. Even the Tokyo toilets were automated and spoke. And, incredibly, the Tokyo toilets could even wash and dry genitals at the push of a button.

But rather than grim or dystopian, as the technology of the future is often portrayed, I found the automation and its futurism warming, comical in a sense. Think Jetsons rather than 1984


While checking in to the hotel, Our Regional Coordinator, a real road warrior, expertly gauged the mood of the team. He saw the low energy. The lack of pep. He knew that following our red-eye, trans-pacific flight, the team required rejuvenation before the gauntlet of conferences kicked off. He knew that once the bugle sounded, and the events began, we’d be off running like a pack of greyhounds chasing a rabbit.

And so Our Regional Coordinator clapped his hands, like a football coach on the sidelines, and rah-rahed, fired up the team. Then he suggested we book (fully expensed to Corporate, of course) a day-pass to our Hyatt’s Onsen Spa.

Perfunctorily we agreed. But, later, I was quite pleased that we followed his suggestion, as the spa far exceeded any of my expectations…


The spa was simply the epitome of luxury. Located on the Hyatt’s 102nd floor, the spa’s lobby featured sweeping views of the Tokyo megalopolis. Walking in, I felt at ease as I drew in a deep breath, becoming delightfully awash in a rich potpourri of sandalwood fragrances.

Flicking my gaze at a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows, I saw out to infinite rows of Tokyo’s skyscrapers, superstructures. To me, even Tokyo’s buildings appeared futuristic, with skyscrapers that looked like robots. Superstructures that looked like spaceships. I really was starting to feel as if I’d stepped into a sci-fi film, or that our airplane actually was a time machine…

Our Regional Coordinator mentioned something in passing about how the spa has hot spring pools and that hot springs and the sauna are both “tremendous for the circulation.” Then he went on about how in Japan there’s a vending machine for everything, that you can buy beer from a vending machine and how much he appreciated that…

I was finding that the spa had very particular rules about shoes, slippers, and feet. Upon checking in, we had to stick our shoes inside a shoebox-sized shoe locker in the lobby. Then we were given slippers that we were to wear in most areas but were forbidden to wear in other areas. The shoe etiquette, shoe rules seemed confusing, at first, but I began to quickly appreciate the cleanliness, the ritual of it…

Our team proceeded past the shoe lockers and marched single file toward the spa’s men’s locker room. On the way, we passed a pair of spa attendants. Two CoverGirl beautiful, heavily made-up Japanese women in kimonos. The attendants robotically smiling and bowing.

Then I briefly considered that there could be robots everywhere. Those skyscrapers, buildings could truly be Transformers or UFOs… And all the spa’s attendants could really be robots, androids, or cyborgs, or something similarly scary. And while these revelations made me uncomfortable in a way, I determined that even if the spa attendants were robots, even surreptitiously robots, I would respect that.

Our Regional Coordinator, the type to turn any steering wheel or table into a drum set, turned his big red tomato of a head, split into a smile and suggested:

“We oughta take in a baseball game while we’re here. Japanese baseball, I’m telling you, the atmosphere, you never seen anything like it…”

“The sushi, too…”

“You eat the sushi here in Japan, though, believe me, and you’ll have a tough time eating sushi anywhere else. There’s no going back.”


Throughout the spa’s various chambers were starry night ceilings, blond-wood walls, marble flooring, and a series of hot and cool pools.

Each of the pools was a rectangle about as tall as a sedan, about as long as a limo, and each pool was about four feet deep with water said to be directly sourced from thermal springs. Digital monitors carefully displayed each pool’s water temperature. The monitors’ numbers occasionally shifting up or down a few pips, like a stock ticker on a slow day.

Aluminum signs were affixed by each pool too. The signs stating, in multiple languages, the water’s mineral content, as well as explaining how the waters help detoxify, heal, and relax the body.


Entering some strange place between somnolent and invigorated, I padded forward, swinging my gaze side-to-side like a real sightseer. I made mental notes, impressed at the spa’s array of other amenities, including Himalayan hot stone-bed baths, Akasuri Body Scrubs, mud wraps, facials, massages, cool-down rooms, as well as an organic smoothie and snack bar… I was even tempted to check out of my upscale yet closet-sized hotel room and simply stay in the spa. It was that nice…


The spa was well-staffed with a small army of robotic attendants berobed in traditional Japanese clothing.

To a person, the staff parted, stopped and bowed wherever, whenever we passed. They all looked young, too, the staff. Maybe early 20ish. When seeing us, the clientele, they’d bow and instantly screw their faces into ear-to-ear smiles. Lottery-winner smiles. Smiles that’d make a dentist proud.

The smiling, the bowing was a pleasant change from the normal NYC idea of customer service. Those surly shop assistants, cashiers who either have a thousand-yard stare or appear as if they might physically assault you at any given moment…

However, the spa staff’s smiles, in a way, looked abrading and painful. As if the smiles had a life and mind of their own. As if the smiles might eventually turn, attack and eat the attendants’ faces, like an enraged pet.

Otherwise, the staff generally had a certain glazed look to them, an expression between nonplussed and indifferent. Stoic yet icy. Almost as if preparing for a driver’s license photo. That sort of absently present expression. There but not there.


The team disrobed. Stuck our stuff in our lockers. Then we showered. Washed off the sticky grime of the 14-hour flight. I found that there was nothing to cleanse the soul like a piping hot shower after a long flight. And the moans of pleasure uttered by my teammates in adjacent shower stalls seemed to constitute a certain consensus.

Then the team toweled off, tread forward, to the pools. We rinsed ourselves off via wooden ladle, from a wooden basin, with what was purportedly pure mountain water. The water was cool to the touch and tingly, giving me goosebumps as it splashed and cascaded over my travel-weary body.

Then we sat and soaked in the “soda bath” pool. The soda bath’s waters were refreshing. And hot. 41.2C according to the digital monitor. Aptly named as well, the soda bath’s waters were blurry as vanilla cream soda, nearly the color of skim milk. The unique coloration lending me a feeling more like I was climbing into a bowl of hot plain yogurt rather than a pool…

Our Regional Coordinator, with tendrils of the soda bath’s steam framing his fat red face, suddenly pulled his piehole into a frown, and started shaking his head, recounting a recent ordeal:

“It was earlier in Q2. When we had several branches’ computers increasingly monitored by Corporate. You know, cutting back on assholes wasting worktime on social media. Jerkoffs going on Reddit or Twitter. Playing Angry Birds, that type of shit…”

“And, like, Jesus, the shit this one guy was looking at. It got flagged, instantly. And understandably. It was… beyond gruesome… Like, snuff films… Bestiality, dogs… Necrophilia…”

As he spoke, Our Regional Coordinator’s ketchup-colored helmet of hair seemed to be thinning. The skin on his neck starting to sag like a turkey’s. Heavy shadows hung under his eyes and his face reddened. His head, seemingly, started growing larger too, as he spoke, like a balloon filling with air. Like many Irish, Irish Americans, the man’s face had been appearing redder, his head getting bigger as he aged anyway. But this sudden burst of rage definitely did appear to be hastening the process.

Our Regional Coordinator paused and stared blankly as if in a brief trance. Then he mumbled something unintelligible and went on:

“Nah, there wasn’t kiddie porn or anything. But the stuff he was looking at… I saw the screenshots. I even watched him scrolling it. Live. I was watching him on his computer, watching his monitor, like I was God above. Ah, it was insane. This freak streaming videos, looking at photos, of… the most heinous, most traumatic shit…”

“… Imagine being a Facebook Content Moderator. Imagine having to do that for a living. Looking at those videos, those images all day. Seeing animal cruelty, sexual attacks… Like that’s all you do. You look at that. 5, 6 days a week, 8 hours a day. Watching the worst of humanity… Having to see that content, every single day. That is so brutal.”

“Bro, no one doing that job is walking away with all their marbles…”

“Bad enough sitting for 8 hours, watching the stuff that does get past the censors.”

“I can see why Reddit dumps those duties on volunteer mods.”

“Was Bestiality Bro on Reddit?”

Our Regional Coordinator didn’t reply to that. Instead, he snorted, then cupped and splashed hot soda bath water on his face. Then he lightly palm-slapped his right cheek with his right hand, then lightly palm-slapped his left cheek with his left hand. Then he went on, words falling from his lips:

“So, of course, I brought ‘Bestiality Bro’ up to Corporate…”

“Yeah, and, like, get this. They told me his office wasn’t profitable anyway, had been shitting the bed for the last five fiscal quarters.”

“Amber Alert.”

“I heard that.”

“Oh, oh no, I used to think of her when I…”

Our Regional Coordinator appeared neither amused nor annoyed at the team’s puns and idiocy. Then he continued:

“So Corporate claims they were planning to liquidate the whole division. I was to be notified in the next couple of weeks, blah blah blah. Corporate even said the sick crap this freak was looking at… that, like, since it isn’t technically illegal, at least not in New York, it itself is not grounds for termination. Only a warning. A fucking warning…”

“I mean, like, what if a client or an investor visits the branch? And they walk by this freak’s cubicle and see him laughing and spanking it to a necrophilia video? The fuck happens then? Another ‘warning?’ The fuck outta here…”

Our Regional Coordinator squinted and unloosed a low-key belch.

“I’d be concerned about any investor who wasn’t concerned…”


A particularly grim-faced spa attendant walked by, pushing a mop that looked like a giant squeegee. His seemed like one of the lowliest duties a spa attendant might have. Only a leg up, on the spa attendant hierarchy, from scrubbing the robot toilets. And going by the attendant’s dour countenance, he appeared acutely aware of this.


Soaking in the scenery, through a wedge in the steamy miasma, I spotted a large warning sign, and it commanded my attention.

Not that a warning sign in Japan was unusual. I’d come to discover that Japan has a myriad of warning signs. In practically every place imaginable. The signs usually featuring cute cartoon characters. I pondered that perhaps such ubiquitous signage was preemptive. A way for the Japanese to seize back control over their inhospitable, volcanic land. Being in the Ring of Fire, having earthquakes, volcanos, and tsunamis… Godzilla attacks… Such a precarious geographical position must pester the psyche, make one wish to slap warning signs everywhere… I can understand…

But the warning sign commanding my attention contained no cartoon characters. It was rectangular and matter of fact. In several languages, in bold, red and black font, it stated that “Inappropriate behavior will not be permitted and is grounds for permanent banishment from the premises.”

Our Regional Coordinator stopped speaking until the grim-faced attendant passed us and was out of earshot. And this was understandable, considering the topic of conversation. Our openly talking about bestiality, necrophilia, Amber Heard and snuff videos could be considered inappropriate behavior, possibly.


Our Regional Coordinator popped his neck, tilting it to each side. Then he cracked his knuckles so loudly that I thought he might have broken his fingers. Then his eyes caught fire and he went on:

“But it gets worse. Corporate orders me to drive up there. Fucking 400 miles. Six and a half fucking hours. Had my ass trucking it all the way up to fucking downtown Buffalo.”

“Fucking Buffalo…”

“Then Corporate, saving costs, stuck me in the shittiest hotel. I mean, it had a decent exterior but paper-thin walls. I swear, I could hear a couple in the next room doing the nasty for like almost an hour. The lady just wailing… Uh… It was horrific… I’m telling you…”

“Like, I had headphones, but still. It’s the principle.”

“I don’t think there’s any worse sound. No worse sound than listening to total strangers fuck in the next room…”

“Anyways, I had to go, in person, and talk to this sick fuck, sit with him face to face. Corporate saying how the ‘notice of the division’s closure needs to be delivered in person, by upper management,’ blah blah blah, and ‘that I must conduct their exit interviews, file paperwork…’”

Our Regional Coordinator had begun doing air quotes to emphasize his displeasure.

“Don’t bullshit me. Okay. For fuck’s sake, I know it’s to avoid these bastards bitching and moaning on the internet, or a scumbag lawyer, an ambulance-chasing shit-stain, some asshole with a ponytail, coming after us, fucking suing us…”

“I’m thinking it probably won’t be the necrophilia dog dude taking any legal actions. That would be an easy lawsuit to quash…”

“Yo, Bestiality Bro should work for Datadog or SurveyMonkey next.”

“But definitely not, if that still exists.”

“Okay. I’m gonna say it right now. I blame Bestiality Bro for the recurrence of the monkeypox virus.”

Our Regional Coordinator’s grimace remained intact, his head starting to look bigger than a basketball.

“Look, it’s part of the job. I know. Yeah, yeah. Wah wah, crybaby, yeah, yeah, fuck you…”

“But it was one of the creepiest experiences… Sitting in a glass-walled conference room, one to one, with this freak. This fucking potential mass killer. This animal who’s into the most repulsive shit. I’m telling you. I’d basically been looking inside his head. I had visited the darkest corners of this asshole’s mind…”

“And not that I care about others’ porn preferences, what they watch. But… Er… I’d rather not know, right… And not that I’m trying to be a sanctimonious, moralistic prick, or whatever, but it’s just… I’d seen into this freak’s psyche… I’d seen his worst… His worst, most deviant impulses. I mean, who the fuck… Who the fuck wants to watch, like every day, videos, even real videos… Of horses… One video even had three Burmese dickheads taking on a monitor lizard… A fucking lizard… A lizard almost the size of a alligator… I’m telling you…”

“I didn’t know it was possible to… with… a lizard…”

“It’s cold-blooded too, a lizard, right? It must be freezing up in that…”

“But was the monitor lizard a member of the Illuminati, or the British Royal Family?”

“ … “

“Did we ever see him? Was Bestiality Bro ever at any of the upstate conferences?”

“Nope, his department never attended. You never saw him, I don’t think…”

“I can’t believe he wasn’t instantly canned.”

“Corporate should have lashed his ass like they do in Malaysia and Singapore…. Trafficking those websites, and on company time? What a fucking piece of shit.”

“Yo, for real, Malaysians definitely don’t play that shit.”

“It’s about principles.”


“… Corporate could turn on his webcam or anyone’s in that office, too. Corporate has a whole surveillance center. A bunker built. It’s like the NSA in there.”

“They must have our offices’ desktops on that, too, right?”

“Looks like someone might be receiving a ‘warning’…”

Our Regional Coordinator sat silent for a beat and didn’t confirm or deny that Corporate was watching us or flipping on our webcams. Then the big red mass of anxiety grunted and continued:

“But yeah. This sick fuck looked nerdy as shit in his company picture. And he was in real life too.”

“He was a smarmy son-of-a-bitch. The pencil-neck, beta-male type. Scrawny too. Arms like garden hoses. The schmo probably never lifted weights in his life. And he was short, quite short, like 5’5. Probably wasn’t more than 120 pounds. And he was wearing these huge eyeglasses, like the size’a coffee mugs, these things. And his pants were kinda tight and riding up and there’s… ankles, shins showing…”

“Shins showing?”

“Shins. And Ankles… Both…”

“An Urkel. If Urkel was a sick and depraved fuck…”

“A what?”

“Forget about it. You’re too young for Urkel. And that’s probably for the best.”


A middle-aged Asian man with a wet combover strode by the soda bath. He was completely nude, as were all the patrons in the pool, sauna areas. The attendants, however, were clothed and stood out, conspicuous in their blue and black robes…

In the pool areas, saunas, nudity was mandatory. No bath towels were allowed in either. Only a small white towel was allowed with you. The towel only slightly larger than a washcloth…

Red-Eye Randy, a real meathead, threw out a non-sequitur:

“Why are there easy breast implants, but nothing similar, no easy penis enlargement operations?”

“I bet the Illuminati, lizard people already have that. Special dick operations. But they don’t want the commoners to have them. They know dumbasses would go crazy. Idiots walking around with a third leg, literally. There’d be motherfuckers with dicks the size of NBA basketball players’ legs and shit. Fire hose length dicks…”

“It’s only a matter of time. Wait ’til you see the penises of the future…”

“They’ll be cyborg penises. Retractable, detachable penises with smart functions.”

“The ‘Internet of Things.’”

“I betcha they already have smart penises in Japan.”

“No way, bro. I’m not getting a smart penis. Imagine hackers getting their hands on that…”

Nude male bodies, Japanese, save for an occasional honkey, went roaming the pools’ premises. The bodies moving languorously, as soft mood music chimed, waters gushed, and an adjacent whirlpool burbled and bubbled like a boiling pot on the stove.

A waft of eucalyptus oil then simmered over from a sauna nearby, and I sniffed in the fragrance, reinvigorated by it, briefly feeling as if I’d snorted a thick line of cocaine. Then a cool rush of calm overtook me. I was finding a certain serenity to the place. A natural, mothering warmth that I was beginning to appreciate.


Our Regional Coordinator’s ears perked up as he caught wind of the eucalyptus oil. Then he snorted several times in a row, his big red Irish head becoming almost as big as a beachball. Then he continued:

“So I’m sitting across from this freak. I’m across this long mahogany table. And I’m having to ask all these standard exit interview questions. And I’m pretending to care. But all I can think about was the shit he was looking at. Why he’d even want to see that… I’m telling you… It’s the only thing I wanted to ask him about…”

“And I’m wondering just who the fuck this guy really is… Like maybe he’s got an apartment like Jeffrey Dahmer, with cut-up bodies in the fridge.”

“Eh, some people just like the macabre. Not everyone watching horror flicks is a chainsaw-wielding maniac. Not everyone watching action movies shoots people.”

“And not everyone watching porn goes running outside with a rock-hard cock, mounting randos like a wild baboon.”

“Yo, I’d do that if I could. I’d go run outside, go running the streets, rock-hard cock in hand. For real. I’d go run up on and fuck a perfect stranger. As long as they were cool with it, of course. And attractive enough. And of legal age.”

“That’d be an interesting situation to get carded, asked for ID…”

“Bro, real talk, I just hope my mortician isn’t into necrophilia videos. That’s all I ask…”

Our Regional Coordinator didn’t say any more. He shook his head, grimaced again and rose from the soda bath.

“Let’s hit the sauna. It’s allegedly got Himalayan Sea salts. Supposed to improve circulation. Or some shit.”

“The Himalayas have a sea?”

“I think it’s underground, that sea.”

“The Himalayas, isn’t that where the Loch Ness Monster lives?”

“I’m not sure.”

“The Himalayan salts are supposed to be legit excellent at improving circulation. I read that on a blog, I think, somewhere…”

“What exactly is circulation?”

“Circulation is circulation.”

“Well. That’s that settled.”

“Himalayan Sea salts are why the Loch Ness Monster has lived so long. The Loch Ness Monster eats Himalayan Sea salts. Every fucking day.”

“The Loch Ness Monster must have phenomenal circulation.”

“Nah, bro. Fuck that. The Loch Ness Monster watches necrophilia videos at work.”

“And Godzilla watches bestiality videos.”

“Nah, but wait. Is it actually bestiality to Godzilla, since Godzilla is an animal too? I’d assert that Godzilla has a right.”

“That prospect of Godzilla, or the Loch Ness Monster, bro. It makes me glad the dinosaurs are dead. Yo, fuck those prehistoric motherfuckers. Like lizards the size of a building. Fuck that. Think about a brontosaurus stomping through your city. We’re way better off without that threat.”

We then rose, in unison, followed Our Regional Coordinator’s lead.

We kept our heads down, our eyes tracking the floor. Not a peel of eye contact as we stepped from the soda bath. Padding our way to the sauna, we passed several nude Japanese men in various states of silent soaking and bathing. To a man, the Japanese looked so stoic. So unshakable. Unlike us, meatheads, Yankees… anxiety-ridden, red-faced, honkey business fucks…

“I’m telling you. This is why the Japanese live so long. They eat sushi, and they do the sauna…”

“It’s the circulation… That’s the key… It’s the circulation…”