Casts and Pimples: AUGURS OF THE DAMNED


Hot, humid days in Japan, the soupy air thick with mosquitoes and the ground trembling.

I had a strange experience yesterday. With ugly prophetic implications.

In the past 18 years of living in Japan, I think I’ve seen perhaps one person with a broken bone, by which I mean to say I’ve seen maybe one person wearing a cast. By comparison to Americans (in my experience), this is a quite small number.

Hypothetical reasons for my not seeing Japanese people in casts include:

1. I don’t hang out with people who are inclined to fracture their limbs.
2. The safety-conscious Japanese don’t break arms and legs as much.
3. The Japanese break their limbs a lot but don’t use casts, preferring to tough it out.
4. Japanese people, when limbs are hindered by casts, are more inclined to stay indoors, so are less visible.
5. High-tech Japanese casts are invisible.
6. I’ve actually been surrounded by casted broken limbs but am so navel-gazing and oblivious that I haven’t noticed.

Other reasons?

Here’s where it gets weird. Yesterday, at unconnected moments, I saw three people wearing casts. All three casts were mending broken arms. Two of the people were young men of university age, and one was a junior-high school aged girl. On top of that, this morning, I saw a fourth person, another university-aged guy (in fact, he was at a student at my university), wearing an arm cast. I’m not superstitious, but it seems obvious all these cast sightings are a sign something terrible is going to happen to me. Involving casts.

Interesting trivia: Japanese people don’t write on casts.

A second unsettling thing occurred yesterday. I witnessed, at two separate times during my lengthy train commute, an old man (what I mean is, two old men, one old man at two different times) running his finger idly along the side of his face, his eyes shut tight in a kind of ecstasy, and locating some tiny protuberance and squeezing it to produce some grey-yellow oleaginous discharge. Whereupon each old man conveyed said discharge with his finger into his mouth.

But this is something I’ve seen literally hundreds of times, so I’m kind of used to it.


You can win a free copy of The Language of Bears by entering the Goodreads Giveaway Sweepstakes for it, starting tomorrow (July 4) and running for two exuberant, cast-free weeks.

“Eidswick has a gift for character, and it is interesting to notice how he builds them through well-crafted and engaging dialogues and his powerful descriptions. This well-paced story is gripping, and it will surprise readers in many different ways–one of those stories that stand out in their originality, the plot points, and tone.”
-San Francisco Book Reviews

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