Akio's Journal — April 4th

A headless extra by tristram lowe


Everyone thinks I’m stupid.

Maybe I am.

I try to cover it up with wisecracks and goofing around. But that just makes it worse.

Maybe if I was deadly serious all the time. Like Masami.

Maybe if I could just focus on my work and tune everyone else out like she does. Then people might respect me. Maybe I’d get better assignments. Maybe I’d get a raise.

I’m tired of having to shoot grade school plays and gardens. I want something bigger. I want something that means something. Something that might affect the world.

I want people to see my name at the bottom of a perfectly captured moment at a political protest or a school stabbing. I want people to say, “Wow, that Akio Tsukino really has the magic touch.”

But no, “Little Mariko shines in her portrayal of The Moon Princess!” Ugh.

I’m not sure I’d have the stomach to shoot a school stabbing actually. But I’d do it. I mean, I wouldn’t have to shoot the actual stabbing. Just the aftermath, the people crying, the confusion and anger. The loss.

Why is it that the most newsworthy events are always so tragic?

Maybe I’m fortunate to be shooting good news events. But they’re boring. And don’t pay very much.

Sad truth of the world.

Powell always gets the good jobs. Damn American. Why is he even here? Did they run out of photography jobs in America? Who does he think he is coming all the way from Nebraska or wherever to take jobs from a real Japanese photographer? How can he understand Japanese culture and choose the right moments to shoot?

But somehow he does. His photography is amazing. Dammit.

I wish our boss wasn’t so open-minded sometimes. He treats everyone equally. Men, women, stupid foreigners. Ugh.

But again, I’m the stupid one. Everyone likes Powell.

Even Masami does. I think. It’s so hard to tell what’s going on in that robot head of hers. But she usually works with him on assignments. The boss seems to put them together anyway. And she doesn’t complain.

Masami doesn’t complain in the usual way though. She rarely says anything. Sometimes, she tells me to get lost. But mostly, it’s just like a slight change in the energy coming from her. Her face is still flat, expressionless, but there’s like a heat coming off her, like she’s about to shoot lasers from her eyes. It’s intense.

And kind of scary.

I’ve gotten that look from her too many times. Just doesn’t like my jokes, I guess.

I wish I could figure her out.

She’d be hot, if she wasn’t such a mean robot queen.

Dammit, she can write some good articles, though. And fast. Her fingers are a blur and I don’t even think she edits. And what do you know? Front page, again.

I’m never gonna amount to anything.

Just an annoying dude who works at the Dainichi Daily who takes boring photos. I’ll probably die there.

No, actually, before I’m an old man, I’ll be replaced by someone younger, better looking and more talented. And probably American or something.

But let me be clear! Powell is not better looking than me. That guy is weird-looking. Shaggy red hair, big long nose with freckles on it, huge head. No, I’m a freaking model next to him.

But he gets the respect. He gets the paycheck.

Ooh, and what’s my next assignment?

The wisteria festival at a shrine in Koto.



Akio is a main character in Headless, the debut novel by Tristram Lowe.

Tristram Lowe

Tristram Lowe, Los Angeles, CA