The Cracked Expats

Craig Hoffman
5 min readDec 19, 2021
Courtesy of Unsplash

“You are going to talk to Karen again at some point. Right?”

“Hadn’t planned on it. No.”

Campbell swirled the whiskey in his cracked, dirty glass. He gulped what remained and stared at the Japanese baseball game playing on the small TV behind the bar.

“If you are going to treat my girlfriend like that. You can do the same to me, dude.”

“No problem. We’re done, dude.”

There was a distinct change in Campbell’s demeanor. Matt shook his chipped, empty glass as he saw how this was going to end. Campbell, too, chomped hard on a piece of ice.

“Done drinking?”

“No. We’re done.”

Campbell once more swirled the whiskey remaining in his glass and chugged it. He stood up and motioned with a wave of his hand for his bill.

“Seriously? Over a little mistake?”

“No. Over a big lie. You might screw her at night. But Karen sure ain’t going to lie to me during the day. She turned me into a laughingstock in this town. F that!”

“Perhaps, you did that to yourself. Don’t you think?”

Campbell clenched his fist, but Sari, the regular, young waitress, slid between the pair.

“That’s 1630 yen.”

“Here, it’s exact. Thanks.”

Um, thank you. Asshole.”

“What was that?”

Nothing. See you tomorrow.”

Campbell threw on his tattered, lime green backpack, and he made his way to the exit. Matt saw Campbell’s open pack of smokes still on the bar.

“Hey, you forgot your cigs, dude.”

“Keep ’em. I’m done with them, too. Du — de.

The poster-covered, wooden door slammed behind Campbell as he left. Matthew paid his bill several minutes later. He stumbled to his apartment. Karen eagerly awaited his return.

“So what happened?”

Matt threw his ratty, old leather satchel on the floor and took off his mold-covered tennis shoes. Karen got a big, grey can of Japanese beer from the fridge. And pulled another bottle of wine for herself.

“Here. You look like you need it.”


“So it went that well. Huh?”

“Thanks. Uh no, worse.”

Matt took a swig as Karen poured herself a glass of cheap, red wine. Karen sniffed it like she was the queen of the world, and she took a long sip.

Alcohol dripped from her mauve-colored lips and on her unwashed, white shirt as she filled her stem glass to the brim. Matt caught her in his lap as she stumbled.

“Hey now! How many glasses have you had, you alkie-bum?”


“Really? Come on now.”

“Okay, three.”

“Hmm… Is that new math?”

“Fine, four. But don’t you dare judge me you lumpy, love-handled lush. You’re no Puritan. Now, back to Campbell. Spill it. Are we good?”

“I’d leave Campbell be. That’s for sure. Let’s just forget about him. ‘Cus daddy’s home, lover.”

Matt leaned in to cop a feel of his inebriated woman’s ample breasts. Karen pushed Matt’s fumbling junior high school-like hands away from her, and Karen jumped from his lap.

“You behave yourself. Anyway, I should go talk to him. This is just silly. We’re all adults after all.”

“Sorry. But you can’t blame a guy for trying. Right? As for Campbell, he’s pissed. Royally enough to make William and Harry jealous.”

“Come on, it’s Campbell. He’s an expat legend around here. He’ll get over it.”

“No. I’m telling you. It’s not a good idea.”

“It’ll be okay. You’ll see.”

“Fine. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. At least, promise me you’ll wait until he’s sober.”

“I guess. If it will make you happy.”

“It will. And so will

Yeah, yeah. I know the drill. But be sure to grab a new rubber from the box.”

“Way ahead of you! We would not want a repeat of last month.”

“No, we wouldn’t. I was never so happy to see blood in my whole life.”

Ew, TMI.”

The next day Karen left the apartment after she finished making a tempura soba noodle lunch for Matt. It was only a five-minute walk to Campbell’s apartment.

Rice-paper thin plaster walls shook every time the local commuter train passed by on the tracks. The school paid his rent, so Campbell was in no hurry to complain about anything.

“Who’s it?”

“It’s Karen. Can I come in?”

“Hell no!”

Karen knocked on the rusted-out steel door, eventually beating on it until her hand throbbed.

“Please, Campbell. Give me just five minutes. G-D it! Don’t be a dick for Christ’s sake!”

“You have three. Tick, tick…tock!”

Karen again heard the click of the lock. She leaned back to avoid the metal door flying open in her face.”

“What do you want?”

“I’m really sorry.”

“You’re ‘sorry.’ Awesome! Thanks for stopping by. You have a nice day now.”

Campbell closed the door as Karen’s foot and right hand stopped it. Karen pulled the handle of the door. It flung back open.

“Ouch! And you said ‘five minutes.’”

“I said ‘three.’ A pretty, pretty little liar to the very end. Aren’t you?”

“I am not a liar! I said I misspoke.”

Karen was not one to take any man’s crap. She got that from her iron-fisted half-Chinese mother.

“’Misspoke.’ Is that what you young people from America call lying in the 21st century? My bad!”

“Hey! I was drunk. We were all hammered at karaoke Even you, Campbell.”

“But only one of us ‘misspoke.’ Is that normal behavior for Arizona-born trailer trash?”

“Fine. I read your blog. Is that what you want to hear?”


Karen got quiet. She bit her lip hard. Campbell didn’t miss a beat.

“You cracked the password to my blog.”


“And shared it with everyone in the town.”

“True. But

“That’s illegal, you know?”

“A mistake!”

“A crime! I bet they’d just eat you up in a Japanese prison. Yummy pork chop you are!”

“You wouldn’t!”

“Never know.”

“Screw you.”

“I don’t think they make a nearly thick enough condom for that.”

“You know I didn’t mean it like that. We’re just friends. You know that.”

“Yeah, friends. Sure. By the way, how’s that herpes sore healing on your lip?”

“You’re a bastard.”

“Maybe. My mother never got a DNA test. But, at least, I’m an STD-free one.”

Karen threw her hands up as she kicked the door. She stomped to her apartment while covering her upper lip with her aching hand as a hard rain fell. This time it was Matt who was waiting.

“Jesus, you’re a mess. Let me get you some towels.”

“I’m fine. We are out of clean ones anyway. You were supposed to do the laundry. Remember?”

“Oh, um, yeah, I’m on it. But what about you and Campbell?”

“Not good. F him.”

“See, I told you.”

“Don’t worry. I am sure Campbell will forget about it. He can’t stay angry forever. I mean it’s a fishbowl life for foreigners in this town. We’ve got nowhere else to go. He’ll come around.”

“I hope so. All the same, best we steer clear of him for the time being.”




Craig Hoffman

Craig is a #writer, #editor, #betareader & #blogger. 2000+ #blog posts & seven #ebooks including #shortstories “The Tempo of Tempura” and “Carl Crapper.”