Although many avaricious readers would like to claim that they have tackled the whale of a book that is Herman Melville’s 1851 novel, Moby-Dick, there are probably few who have survived it. The book is an in-depth account of the dreadful job of a sailor of a 19th century whaleboat. If you can get through the oft-quoted first few pages of the book, you’ll be in for a real snooze when you come across what seems to be endless chapters on waling.
—Cure for Insomnia: Top Ten Books that Put Us to Sleep by S. R. Stevensen (1989)
Kato entered the room. Tachibana was on his bunk as usual, reading his book. He looked up, greeted Kato, then returned to his book.
Kato picked up his book and sat down, trying to distract himself from thinking of Takahashi.
“Don’t forget, the swap tonight,” Tachibana spoke up.
“Okay.” Kato now wondered when he might swap with Takahashi. He would like to hear some music but what else would there to be to do? Maybe they could play cards. He was lost in thought for some minutes then remembered he had to read. Damn, this is one boring-ass book, Kato thought. He gave up and climbed on his bunk to nap.
Takahashi wasn’t present for dinner. Kato was a little disappointed. Even just knowing he was there would have been nice.
“Hey, wanna play some cards tonight?” Murata asked.
“Sure. Sounds good,” Kato replied. He needed to get his mind off things for one night anyways.
That ate in silence. Kato didn’t want to eat, but he did anyways. Oh, the days when food used to cheer me up, Kato internally lamented.
“Everything going alright with you and Takahashi-san?” Murata slowly inquired.
“I think so. Still having a hard time reading him.”
“Maybe you should invite him to play some cards instead of me.”
Kato mentally slapped himself. Why hadn’t he thought of that earlier? “Murata-san, I hate to ask this of you—”
Murata’s laugh cut him off. “I’ll ask him when I get back from dinner. I will go anyway and maybe drag Nakamura-san along too. He is not very good at cards, but unbeatable at chess.”
“Thank you,” was all that Kato could think to say. Kato felt the heaviness in his chest lighten a little as he got his hopes up to see Takahashi again today.
Kato rushed into the showers, made it super quick, rushed back to the room, got dressed, then headed to the game room. He wanted to be early, and he wasn’t even sure why. Nobody was in the game room yet. He scanned the games available and wondered what Takahashi would even like to play. It occurred to Kato that he only just learned how to play Cribbage. He didn’t know what else to play.
Kato hadn’t been waiting long before Murata came in, dragging Nakamura in behind. Kato’s heart sunk immediately as he assumed the worst.
“Kato-san!” Murata exclaimed. “It’s the semes versus the ukes tonight.”
“Eh?” Kato replied.
“You and me, against Nakamura-san and Takahashi-san.” Kato’s heart jumped and his eyes lit up.
“You know I’m not very good at this game,” Nakamura noted.
“Nonsense! You’ll do just fine. Kato-san doesn’t even know how to play,” Murata spoke encouragingly.
“What game?” Kato asked.
“Eh?” Kato inquired again. He knew the four suits in a card deck, one being hearts, but didn’t know what that meant.
“Here, let’s sit at this table.” Murata cleared a table and grabbed a deck of cards. “Kato-san, you sit opposite of me. Our goal is to not take hearts.”
Takahashi walked in with an armful of snacks and drinks. “Why couldn’t one of you have helped me?” he complained.
“Sorry, Takahashi-san,” Murata apologized.
Takahashi put the food on the next table and pulled it close, within reach, so all could have some. Murata started explaining the rules and they played a hand to teach Kato the basics. Then they started playing. The object of the game was to not win any “tricks” that contained hearts, and avoid at all costs the Queen of Spades, which counted as 13 hearts. The four boys played and every time someone got stuck with the “bitch” as they called it, everyone laughed. It was a dirty, cutthroat game, and Kato really liked it.
About five minutes to 8 o’clock, they cleaned up and said their goodbyes. Kato went back to the room somewhat happy to have spent a fun evening joking around and laughing.
He spent the next hour looking over his schoolwork for the next day. Pre-Calculus, Chemistry, World History. That should make for an easy day, he thought. Again, he forgot to look at the schedule to see what sport he would be playing tomorrow afternoon. It was probably too much to hope for that he would be on the same sport as Takahashi again.
“Okay, I’m out. See you in the morning,” Tachibana waved.
Kato looked at the clock at it was 9:00. “Bye,” Kato waved back as Tachibana left.
About 5 minutes later, a tall beefy boy walked into the room. He had a bit of a deep voice as he introduced himself. “My name is Shunsuke Watanabe.”
Kato got off his bunk and replied politely by introducing himself. He showed Watanabe where to put his stuff. He offered him some food or drink, but Watanabe politely declined. They made some small talk for a few minutes, about how the weather would be changing in the next couple of weeks.
Afterwards, Kato put everything away except that boring World Lit book. He figured that it could, quite possibly, be the long-lost cure for insomnia. He started reading it and fell fast asleep.