I first met Shintaro Sakamoto when I was eating a packet of cheese and onion McCoys and walking near Mainz, Germany around June of 1450 after watching a demonstration by Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg(1400-1468) of his revolutionary printing technique using movable type.
My mind was blown and I needed some air so I had decided to take a short walk along the Rhine. I was watching two female Mallards fighting over a piece of red string when I heard a polite cough behind me. I turned to find a Japanese gentleman in a white suit trying to light an unfiltered Gitanes Brunes with a Zippo. He was flicking the wheel, producing sparks but no flame. I asked, Do you need a light?
Yes, he replied.
I said, I have a fireboard, a stick and a small amount of dry kindling, if we hunker down on this path and you stand there to create a shield for the wind then I can get a small fire going and you can smoke your cigarette.
Thank you, said Shintaro.
No problem, I said. I was actually very pleased to have been asked. I like lighting fires. I piled the dry kindling on the fireboard and began twirling my stick using the hand drill technique. As I was doing this Shintaro was humming a tune to pass the time.
That’s a nice tune, I said. What is it?
It’s one of my latest compositions, he said.
I’d like to hear it properly.
Sure, said Shintaro, and he pulled a lap steel guitar out from his hair and began to play Purging the Demons from his album Love if Possible(2016). By the time he had finished the fire was lit and Shintaro was able to smoke. We sat watching the flames consume the kindling in silence.
Hey, I said, you see those two ducks fighting over that piece of string?
Yes, said Shintaro, I think they both want it for a nest.
Makes sense, I said.
We placed bets on which would win. We each cheered for our chosen duck until the fight was over. Shintaro’s duck was the victor, waddling off with the string dangling from its beak, head held high. I congratulated Shintaro on his keen eye and we have been friends ever since.