Thursday, October 09, 2003

Whisper Alley (another Okinawa story)

A couple of blocks over from BC Street is a dark alley with one-story traditonal style structures. The walls were concrete, the doors were of cheap wood and the roofs were made of the ubiquitous red tile. The structures housed prostitutes that were either too old or not attractive enough to be displayed openly in the "hotels" in the alleys off of BC Street.

I had heard of Whisper Alley and I thought it was a legend. My friend, Mike, who was my partner in crime for about a year claimed that it was real. He said that he had even been there and he wanted me to come with him because he had his camera with him that night.

Whisper Alley is about as close as I've come to actually living inside a Tom Waits' song. There were no street lights. Either that or they were burnt out and no one bothered to fix them. There was also no vehicular traffic. Only a few small groups of GI's walking close together, their usual robust drunkenidity dampened by the blackness of alley.

As we walked down the middle of the narrow street I noticed that there was some light. The doors, sitting loose in their frames, allowed a soft pink light to escape. Upon passing each door a woman would give you a soft "psst" followed by an offer not unlike the prostitute's offer in "Full Metal Jacket." If you looked at the door you would see a vaguely feminine head sillouetted by red light in a rectangular sliding opening. If you didn't respond the opening closed quickly. Occasionally you would see a pink beacon as a door opened to a horny but judgementally challenged GI.

After a few doors had passed us Mike decided to act. He had the flash ready to go on his 35mm camera. At the next "psst" he walked up, held his camera to the opening in the door and popped off his flash. The woman at the door would hiss or yell and slam the opening shut. Mike and I would fall against each other laughing.

Since the women in the other brothels couldn't see what was happening on the street, Mike was able to do this about seven or eight times. We then considered the expedition a success and went to a bar so we could get drunker.

Mike had the film developed and the pictures came out black. He had left the lense cap on. We were crushed. We didn't go back though. It was one of the missions that you only get one shot at.

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