…poor Hama-chan, almost as bad as Yama-chan and the 24hr tag
The studio was busy with people hustling around making last minute preparations for the show. Stagehands helped the guests check their microphones, the assistant directors organized the cue cards and viewer letters, cameramen cleaned their lenses and moved into position. All the activity was just another day on the set of Downtown DX. The week’s guests were making their rounds, greeting Downtown’s Matsumoto Hitoshi at his dressing room, the staff and crew, and made their way to the green room to greet the other half of Downtown, Hamada Masatoshi.
The week’s guest consisted the likes of Shimura Ken, Shoufukutei Shouhei, Rola, Cowcow, AKB48 members, and several others. Hamada and the guests sat at the tables provided in a corner, making small talk while they waited for the staff to finish up. Hamada always made it a point to interact with the guest before filming started. He liked to get a feel for the ones he didn’t know well, and to help put others at ease. Not like his partner, who waited until the last moment to show up, except for Gaki, he was always early for that program. Matsumoto preferred his interactions to be completely improvised. It always worked out so Hamada never questioned it.
After a few moments the producer called for everyone to get in place. All the guests rose and walked out onto the set, to the delight of the audience. Everyone took a seat on the red cylinders lining the set. Hamada watched from the side, as Downtown would come out a bit later. He didn’t even flinch when Matsumoto suddenly appeared next to his side, having become so used to his partner ways over the years. The two never talked or looked at each other before filming. They didn’t need to. After 30 plus years together, they could easily predict what the other would do. Best to save their interactions for the cameras. They were no longer the amateurs they were when they first debuted. Joking around and goofing off before filming had stopped long ago. Downtown was at the point were performing had strictly become business. Every once in a while, Hamada wished it was like the old days, when they were Hama-chan and Mat-chan.
The taping for Deluxe went on as usual with Downtown discussing the day’s theme of “favorite books”, and reading the questions viewers sent in for the guests. Matsumoto played his part making snarky or airheaded remarks about the guests responses and Hamada, playing his part, performed tsukkomi on him.
Halfway through the taping, Tada Kenji of Cowcow timidly raised his hand. Hamada nodded towards him. He knew Cowcow was still trying to find their place in the Owarai world. As their sempai he wanted to help them out. “Tada?” “Hai, I have a question for Matsumoto-san.” Matsumoto straightened up from leaning on the podium. “What is it?” “As you already know, your first book “Iisho” is my favorite, but there was something you said in it that I’ve been wondering about.” “From Iisho?” Matsumoto muttered, slightly shifting his posture. His first book was probably his most truthful and controversial work. He wondered if he should stop the younger geinin. The chance of him ending up in a uncomfortable position was high. “Mmm, go ahead.” Matsumoto urged, hoping he hadn’t just made a mistake.
Tada’s face lit up. “Hai!” he responded enthusiastically. “There was a part in your book where it seemed like you were implying you had saved Hamada-san’s life. Is that true?” Matsumoto froze. He had made a mistake , he should have listened to his instincts and stopped Tada. The other guests and the audience began murmuring.
“Is that true?”
“I never heard of such.”
“I read his book too, was that in there?”
Hamada who had been silent the whole time, kept a watchful eye on his partner. He hadn’t missed Matsumoto’s change in demeanor, when Tada asked his question. He wondered if he should interject, even though he had given the younger geinin permission. It should have been fine, but as the seconds ticked by, he became anxious and decided to help out. He wasn’t sure why Matsumoto seemed so agitated.
“Tada, it’s true. He did save my life.” “Ehhh? Really?” “Hamada-san, can you tell us what happened?” Rola asked with a chipperness only she possessed. Hamada glanced at his partner, who seemed to have found the podium extremely interesting. Hamada mentally shrugged, he was sure Matsumoto would stop him if he started to say something he shouldn’t. What that could be he had no idea.
“It was back when we were around, I think 25. Gaki had been on the air for a few months.” Hamada looked up in thought. “Sorry, I don’t remember much, since it was so long ago, and I was mostly unconscious at the time.” “Eh? You were unconscious?” Cowcow’s Yamada Yoshi asked with shock. “Un, we were doing a fishing competition, and we went out to sea a bit further than usual. I remember the weather suddenly getting really bad and we decided to cancel filming and head back.”
Hamada paused, and scratched his head. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Matsumoto’s hands clenching and unclenching. Just what was wrong with him? He wanted to ask, but didn’t want to draw attention to his partner’s odd behavior. “I think we ended up hitting a large wave or something. I remember losing my balance and falling off the boat.” Several members of the audience gasped, covering their mouths. Hamada just nodded. “Yeah, I couldn’t keep my head up above all the waves, even though I had a life jacket on. I don’t remember anything after that.”
Hamada looked over to Matsumoto, wondering it he wanted to take over, since he was there too. His eyes widened at the sight before him. His partner’s hands were clenched into fists, his face scrunched up and beads of sweat were appearing all over his shaved head. He looked to be on the edge of a panic attack. Hamada had no idea what was wrong with the taller geinin, but knew he had to keep the attention off of him until he recovered. Hamada quickly turned back towards the audience and continued on.
“The next moment I remember was waking up in the hospital.” He quickly said, successfully drawing everyone’s attention back to him. “The crew told me that after I fell overboard, Matsumoto jumped in after me, managed to grab me before I sunk too far, and I was told he was the one who performed CPR on me.”
“Ohhhhh!!!” The audience exclaimed, erupting into applause.
“As expected of such a person.”
“Why hasn’t he mentioned this before?”
“Matsumoto-san is wonderful.”
Matsumoto, ignoring all the comments, reached into his pocket, pulling out his handkerchief and wiping his forehead. He was finally recovered from his initial shock. He looked up at everyone clapping and seeing the smiles on their faces. He glanced at Hamada. His partner’s expression was carefully neutral, but he could still see the worry in his eyes. Of course he knew his behavior was out of the ordinary, but he never thought this incident would ever come up again. He thought it was forever behind him.
“Matsumoto?” Shimura Ken called out as the noise died down. “How come you never told this story before? It’s amazing.” This was it. Hamada wouldn’t be able to help him. He had done enough to help him, while still in the dark himself. Then there was the fact that it was one of his sempai’s who asked. Matsumoto looked down at his clenched fists. If he tried to evade, rumors would start and people would try to find out the truth either way. There was no way he could get out of this, and he didn’t think any good could come out of revealing his reasons. Everything was becoming too personal.
Hamada watched silently as his partner struggled alone. He really wanted to help, but he knew there was nothing more he could do at this point. His partner had to make the decision on his own.
Matsumoto sighed. He never got anywhere before by hesitating. Why start now? His decision made, the boke geinin looked up and took a breath. “The reason I never talked about this incident before is because…” Matsumoto trailed off, closing his eyes and lowering his head, as if he was in pain.
“…Hamada…should have died that day…”
Disclaimer: I do not know any of these people personally. This is all fiction. Also, I am in no way an experienced writer. I prefer drawing, but I have all these ideas I want to get out and I just can’t draw Hamada right. Anyways, this should be around 3 or 4 posts.