By Matsutani Miyoko
It’s puzzling. When I get on the train or walk around town, no matter where I am, everyone is talking away or pressing buttons on their cell phones, doing who knows what. Why there’s even a restaurant named after the things, I have no idea. A lot of young people seem to be attracted to that restaurant.
“Ah, I`m not sure I can go into a place like that.”
“That`s poppycock. Come on in.”
“So, do you own this restaurant?”
“I might not look young and hip, but yes, I opened this place.”
There are some tables and chairs near the entrance, and he tells me to have a seat, so I sit outside. I realize I’m thirsty. I ask about why he opened this restaurant while coffee and cold water is brought to our table. After I hear the whole story, I’m speechless. It`s really a tale. This is the owner’s story.
I didn’t have any children. My younger brother had the sweetest daughter, though. She’d say, “Uncle! Uncle!” and often come visit my house, sleep over, or we’d go skiing together.
When she was in 8th grade, she didn’t really listen to her parents and their home life began getting bumpy. Even though she was only in junior high, she started staying out late, hanging out or walking around at night. The owner paused. After that, I hoped her behavior would get better. Her parents would tell me how worried they were.
They started sending her to stay with me. One of those days when she was sent to stay with me, she didn’t show up, deciding to go somewhere else instead. She kept up that behavior until, one day, she ended up running away. Her parents couldn’t sleep at night or focus at work. After a few days, they contacted the police. “Send her back home, bring her back to us,” her parents prayed and cried in front of the household altar.
Of course, I was there for them. I desperately searched for my niece; I went to the places I thought she might have gone, met her friends, and went to talk to her teachers.
It was the 5th night after she ran away. The phone rang. I picked it up and heard my niece’s voice. “Uncle, I’ll be coming over now. I’m hungry. Can you take me to a restaurant?” It was a call from a cell phone. It was from my niece’s cell phone. It seemed someone was with her and I could hear the sound of a car. I was speechless, and the line went dead. Right after that, I informed her parents. They rushed over to my house.
“Even though she’s coming home, it wouldn’t be good to be angry at her. Anyway, she said she’s hungry, so let’s all go to a restaurant and get something to eat.” Her parents really cared about her. Her mother was already crying uncontrollably. “She’s been safe, right? She’s safe, right?”
Despite the call, their daughter didn’t show up. She disappeared and we never saw her again. Around that time, I quit my job and made plans to open a restaurant. I did it because of what happened.
“Cell Phone Restaurant” Maybe if she sees it, she’ll think: Huh, that’s a weird name for a restaurant and come in. That is, if she`s still somewhere in this world. If not, there`s still a chance that a voice might come from beyond saying, “Uncle, Uncle, can you take me to a restaurant?”
Well, go ahead, please come in.
I’d like to give a special thanks to my friend Chris, who served as my primary proofreader.