Men without Women – An Excerpt

Kino couldn’t remember now what had led him to sleep with the woman that night. Kino had felt, from the first, that there was something out of the ordinary about her.

Something had triggered an instinctive response, warning him not to get involved. And now these cigarette burns on her back. He was basically a cautious person. If he really needed to sleep with a woman, he could always make do with a professional, he felt. Just take care of things by paying for it. And it wasn’t as if he were even attracted to this woman.

But that night she desperately wanted a man to make love to her—and it seemed that he was the man. Her eyes were depthless, the pupils strangely dilated, but there was a decisive glitter in them that would brook no retreat. Kino didn’t have the power to resist.

He locked up the bar, and the two of them went upstairs. In the light of the bedroom, the woman quickly took off her dress, peeled off her underwear, and showed him the places that were a little hard to show. Kino couldn’t help averting his eyes at first, but then was drawn back to look. He couldn’t understand, nor did he want to understand, the mind of a man who would do something so cruel, or of a woman who would willingly endure it. It was a savage scene from a barren planet, light-years away from where Kino lived.

Page 269

Kino, Men Without Women: Short Stories, Haruki Murakami