October 26, 2004
An extra key

The first key-copy shop turned me away.

“We don’t do keys like this,” the wiry, balding man in a crisp blue canvas apron said as he turned my key over in his hand. “But if you go down the street toward the station, there’s a shop that might be able to copy it.”

The second shop smelled of cut metal when I pushed open the door. Behind the counter, an entire wall of blank keys hung ready for cutting.

“Irrashaimase,” a well-dressed man in front of the counter greeted me. He was looking at some keys on the counter in front of him. I thought he was a customer. Maybe he was the owner. He extended his hand palm up to accept my key.

The man behind the counter, dressed in a faded blue uniform jacket and matching pants, didn’t stir from the order book he was reading. To a man who looks like he’s been cutting keys for forty years, a foreign woman with a key to copy doesn’t merit a glance.

When my key passed across the counter, he closed his book, stood up, walked to the end of the wall and turned a brass handle to reveal a section of hidden storage. More keys!

It took him five minutes just to find the right blank.

Half a dozen options were silently and carefully reviewed, the choices narrowed to two, then one. Even then, the blank had to be adjusted with four passes through a saw to create a wider ward down the side.

Calipers confirmed the size. The man’s tarnished fingers ran over the edge to feel for imperfections. He turned the keys end-on. Something wasn’t right; he returned the blank key to the saw for another adjustment.

Then it was a quick pass through the copier to cut the tumblers. He snipped off the too-long end of the blank and smoothed the burrs on a rotating buffer.

2500 yen.

Posted by kuri at October 26, 2004 09:31 AM


Another master piece.

Posted by: sayaka on October 26, 2004 11:35 AM

I need to post more stuff like this, it makes you more aware of the life you are living.

Posted by: UltraBob on October 26, 2004 12:36 PM

Your details are unimportant, but you do have talent. You should try to write something that matters to you.


Posted by: Dragon on October 26, 2004 06:08 PM

if you really needed a key cut I guess it mattered enough. I enjoyed reading through. skillz

Posted by: tokyo goat on October 26, 2004 09:20 PM

i think that the details are important! details are the spice of life.. the memorable moments that stick with you. think of all the novels that would have been sooooo boring without the description of a hat or a walk down the street.

i like this story. i can just imagine the man cutting and shaping that key. i hope it worked!

Posted by: gleek on October 27, 2004 12:03 AM

Mr KV Dragon, was just wondering which details you though were not needed to still be able get the story out effectively??

Posted by: tokyo goat on October 27, 2004 06:28 PM

I liked this a lot. The detail is interesting.

By the way - are you going to be able to vote? You haven’t mentioned anything recently.

Posted by: ginny on October 28, 2004 12:09 AM

I too thoroughly enjoyed this description. More, please! It’s all part of life, that’s why it matters.

mike underscore rosenlof at yahoo dot com

Posted by: mike on October 29, 2004 04:02 AM
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