Saturday, 23 April 2011

Excerpt from Kujira

Hi Folks

I am posting to a new blog and needed somewhere to link to for the text. Thought it might be a good idea to put it here as well. Enjoy. If you like it you can buy it at the following link.  Kujira

An impression of a 'Hankyu Sen' train carriage at Umeda station.


The Hankyu Sen (Hankyu line) was Mike's favourite carriage design and the green
velvet seats and the powerful heaters made for a very comfortable journey. The train
was just pulling in to Umeda station as Mike sent a quick last minute text to Jon,
asking if Mark was coming to happy hour.
Within the minute, Jon had replied. "mark with ken now will cum 2nite cu
at 6. J" The message flashed on to Mike's keitai screen confirming the arrangement
and that Mark would be there. Spirited away by the other alighting passengers, Mike
walked with the flow towards the exit as he had done many times before.  He inserted
his ticket into the slot of the Kaisatsuguchi, (Ticket gate) exited then proceeded on to
the escalators leading down to the Hankyu station building and the thousands of
people, each with a purpose and a destination.
His girlfriend Kanako was busy tonight with friends so instead of wandering
back to his apartment, he walked back towards Kinokuniya book store, veering to the
left of the Huge Big Man screen then down the stairs to the Hankyu San Ban Gai
'Gourmet food' entrance to the elegant food hall below. Passing by 'Fountain Square'
that emulates the atmosphere of Milan of Italy, Mike was overcome with a sudden
urge for pasta. A small wooden bridge over a small water way with running water
led to an authentic looking Italian restaurant that was good enough for Mike as he
has skipped lunch and didn't want to do happy hour on an empty stomach.
Being alone, he was sat at the counter. Thanking the waitress, he opened out
his Oshibori (Hot hand towel) wiping his forehead before wiping his hands then the
back of his neck.  He threw the spent towel on to the counter, downed the water in the
glass that had been placed next to the oshibori then picked up his menu. Taking a
little time to decide, he finally settled on the Gnocchi with a local style tomato and
basil sauce.
While he waited, he picked up his keitai and tried texting Mark using the latest
number he had stored. "Long x no c how was syd? ru cumin 2nite? J" His meal
arrived quickly and with no one to talk to he had consumed the lot in a matter of
minutes. His developing beer belly was stretched to the limit as he sat content, picking
his teeth with the peppermint tipped tsumayouji (Tooth pick) that had accompanied
his oshibori and glass of water.
Mike's keitai vibrated on the counter as the screen lit up with Mark's reply. "at
Jons CU soon wots Kaori chan up2" Kaori was an old colleague of Mike's that
had transferred to another branch in Osaka about six months ago. Mark had met her about a year ago at a bonenkai (End of year party) that Mark had invited him to. Mike
still kept in touch as she was a good friend of Miyako's. Mark had skilfully acquired
her denwa bango (Telephone number) at the party but had become so busy with the
new business project that he hadn't had a chance to follow up. Mike knew via the
grapevine that she had just finished up with some loser doctor from the local
university hospital who turned out to be married so he thought he might do them both
a favour and invite her along for drinks.
"Hi Kaori. Are you free? Do you want to come to the Cantaloupe at 6?
My friend Mark is coming. Mike." Mike tended to use correctly phrased and spelt
English with his Japanese friends to avoid errors of time and place although most of
them could compose a text in two languages before Mike could even say,
"tsumayouji".  "CU @ 6," came the reply in under 30 seconds. Mike decided to leave
this as a surprise for Mark as he stood, collected the kanjo (The bill) and walked up to
the register to pay.
The 'Cantaloupe' was on the other side of Umeda and would take a good half
an hour to get there. It was about five in the afternoon now so Mike decided to spend
about thirty minutes browsing the magazines in Kinokuniya book store as it was on
the way. Walking up the stairs to exit from the San Ban Gai, 'Gourmet food' stairway,
he turned left and walked in to Kinokuniya. Weaving through the aisles towards the
English language section, Mike remembered some foreign colleagues telling him of
an Australian guy that was detained for stealing a magazine then arrested for
possession of drugs.  He caught himself, shaking his head in judgement at such a
stupid act and thanked the gods that he didn’t have friends like that. He browsed for a
short time, made a mental note of what he might buy next time then made his way
back of the store and on to the Cantaloupe.
Mark had returned to Jon's place and had just entered the genkan. The door
was open so he didn't make any noise as he walked in. No one came to greet him and
he could hear male voices laughing and Japanese language coming from the living
area. He finished his special shoe trick, stepping up from the genkan, this time
however, no one trailing him to correct the imperfections of orientation of his shoes.
Walking in through the door he was confronted by a confident looking Japanese man
in his mid thirties. He was sitting on the edge of the seat and was smoking a cigarette.
He smiled, light instantly refracting from a number of gold capped molars but he didn't
Jon jumped to attention and introduced Tsubasa to Mark. "Hajimemashite
Marku desu, Yoroshiku onegaishimasu." (Nice to meet you, I am Mark) "Oh, you
speak very good Japanese," replied Tsubasa. Mark had encountered this many times
before and knew that Tsubasa would insist on speaking English from now on so he
just switched over. "Yeah, thanks. Are you a friend of Jon's?" enquired Mark. Tsubasa
began to draw breath but Jon interrupted. "Yes, yes. We've been friends for a couple
of years now." "Oh yes, for quite along time", added Tsubasa.
Tsubasa was particularly well dressed in a fashionable Armani leather Jacket,
a superior quality well fitted Armani casual outfit and leather shoes. A Rolex watch
and chunky gold jewellery added to an appearance that placed him a little out of
context in Jon's living room. Mark had already decided that this was about the drugs
but decided to continue humouring their little routine.
Still standing, Mark asked, "Do you live near by?" "No I am from Kyoto. I am
a business man. I own many business in Kyoto and in Osaka," answered Tsubasa.
Volunteering so much information and so freely, Jon realised that it wouldn't be long
before Mark got to the truth. He stood up and 'cut to the chase'. "We are thinking of doing some business together. Well… we are doing some
business together." "Oh yeah, can't wait to hear this", said Mark. "Well you might not
be impressed but it's a little like your line of business… an internet venture in fact,"
Jon continued. "Don't tell me… it's porn", speculated Mark, half joking. Sensing
Mark's morally judgemental attitude, Tsubasa stood up and smiled nervously. "Yes
Mr Mark, Jon is MY man. We are business partners. He gets me the best foreign girls
in Japan." Mark's expression showed uncontrollable astonishment. Tsubasa moved
over to Jon and put his arm around him, patting his left shoulder affectionately with
his hand. Jon seemed to defer to Tsubasa so Mark decided to skip the moral lecture,
yet again deciding that Jon was just not capable of being reasoned with.
"Well good luck," Mark said looking first at Jon, then at Tsubasa. He had
already decided to never talk to this man again but knew that he might have to endure
just a little more in order to get out of this house cleanly. Mark knew Jon was a
wanna-be, right from the start - the first day they met and had gotten to know each
other all those years ago back at the karaoke bar - but to stoop so low… porn!
Mark shook off his concerns reasoning that in the grand scheme of things, it
didn't really matter because he had already decided to flee. Nevertheless he was a
little concerned for Jon and decided to interrogate him later at the Cantaloupe while
he was under the influence of alcohol and talk him out of this madness. "Anyway
Tsubasa, nice to have met you," Mark said in a conciliatory tone. "It's getting late Jon,
are we still making our way to happy hour?" asked Mark.
"Mark didn't ask Tsubasa and was a little unhappy when Tsubasa invited
himself and offered to drive them there in his Mercedes. Jon had already accepted
before Mark could come up with a half decent excuse to avoid it so they all left the
house for Tsubasa's car parked about a hundred meters up the road.  Mark was not at
all surprised as Tsubasa put on a pair of very dark sunglasses as they walked. He was
however, more than a little alarmed as they walked past the Yakuza guy he had seen in
the shotengai earlier that day. He bowed low, deferring to Tsubasa who gave no more
than a short downwards nod of the head. They climbed in to the Mercedes, Mark in
the back and set off for happy hour in Umeda.

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