Two at a Time

Hotel Roku-Jyuu-Kyu- Chapter 2

The first raindrops began to soak into the pavement, leaching into the air a refreshing aroma. Touji felt the drop of water in his palm and quickly pulled out his umbrella. “You’re so reliable!” Karen praised. “I totally forgot mine this morning, leaving the house.”
The college-aged girl pulled at the arm of his shirt and sneaked in closer as he raised the umbrella up over the two of them. “Murata-san, you need to remember the typhoon season is here.” Touji warned her. His eyes refused to look her way as her face drew closer, and her arm pressed against his.

The girl giggled, and Touji felt his face go flush. “Come on, I told you to call me by my first name.” She urged him. “We’ve been dating long enough, haven’t we?”
Touji look up at Karen’s pleading face. “Yeah, but…” The tepid wind sent fat drops of water tumbling off the awning above them, past the umbrella and onto Touji, soaking his left shoulder.

“Oh, you’re spacing out like a big dummy!” She halted and pulled Touji up in front of her. Karen quickly pulled her handkerchief out of her bag and began patting down Touji’s arm.

“Stop, stop.” Touji objected quietly.

“What do you mean stop?” Karen shook her head. “Your pretty college girlfriend is doting on you so nicely.”

“Someone might see.” Touji settled. He felt the girl’s arms wrap around his midsection.

“Who might see?” Karen whispered sweetly a few inches from his ear. “There’s only commercial buildings for several blocks around. Nobody from your school is going to come this direction.”

“What is this direction, Mura- Karen.” Touji corrected himself. Karen draped her arms over his shoulders and wrapper her hands around his as they held onto the handle of the umbrella. Her long dark hair tickled at Touji’s neck. He could smell the faint odor of her floral-scented perfume mixing with the air from Tokyo Harbor.

“Well, now that you’ve gone and got yourself soaked, we can go there early.” Karen hinted.

“What’s so interesting out here?” Touji asserted, nudging the girl off his shoulder.
Karen pulled at his hands and yanked the umbrella out of his grasp. With a twirl and flaring of her skirt, she skipped off ahead of Touji as the heavy raindrops began to soak into more of his shirt.

“Follow me!”

Ibaraki downed the last bit of his foamy, yellow beer with a gulp. The man behind the udon stall gestured at the cooler behind him to offer up another serving. The businessman looked down at his well weathered wristwatch and waved a gesture of no thanks back to the shopkeep.

After arranging his chopsticks on the empty udon bowl, Ibaraki began to rifle through his pockets for cash. The cook spoke up suddenly as another customer poked her head under the overhang of the stall. “Oi, Kasumi-chan, how is business?”

Ibaraki quickly scanned up the only other customer, stopping for a slightly longer moment to take in her large breasts hanging inside of blouse that strained at the buttons. She looked vaguely tanned, and sported hair that looked as if it had bleached and let grown out for a long period of time.

“So-so, mister. Too hot lately, nobody in the mood.”

Ibaraki quickly turned back to his hand full of change and sorted through to find the right amount of coins. He could see the woman peer down at him intently out of the corner of his eye. “Gochisousama deshita . Thanks for the food.” He said while placing down the pile of yen on the counter.

Stiffly, he slid back off the stool and back to the sidewalk. Just as he adjusted his tie and blazer and pulled out his umbrella, he could sense the woman right behind him. “Can I help you?” He said nonchalantly, turning his head slightly.

“How ‘bout it, old man?” The woman announced, shoving her arms up under her bust to accentuate herself even more. “You wanna’ spend some time with me? Call your job and say you fell ill, can’t come in the rest of the day. You’ll get home before the storm, too.”
Ibaraki rubbed his stomach and shook his head. “No, no. I’ve had my fill of Sapporo and udon, no way I’m exerting myself any way you’re suggesting. Best I can do is sit at my desk and pretend to work until I’ve done some digesting.”

As he began to trot away, the woman caught up and moved around in front of him. “You thinkin’ that guy at the Udon shop gonna tell on you, ay?”

“Leave me be.” Ibaraki shrugged and let out a long sigh.

“Tell you what.” The woman announced, sounding more gracious. “I can give you two hours for the price of one.”

Ibarki bit at his lip and stared at the sky. The raindrops danced on the umbrella, and the woman in front of him was becoming more and more wet by the minute.

“Even better-” The woman continued, persuaded by the silence. “Two and a half hours for the price of one.”

“The hotels charge by the hour, so it’s either two or three.” Ibaraki countered. “Which I’ll be paying for too.”

“Oh.” She smiled sweetly. “So this isn’t your first rodeo.”

“Kasumi, was it?” Ibaraki offered up a half of his umbrella.

“That’s Kasumi-chan to you.” She held back a sneer.

“Like the Dead or Alive girl from the arcade games? Is your place of choosing by an ATM?”

“Yes, of course.” Kasumi nodded. “Around here is the Roku-Jyuu-Kyu.”

Ibaraki repeated the words in his head for a few moments. “Very funny, like the position? Shikustey Nayn.” He attempted to pronounce in his best English.

Kasumi leaned in close and whispered up at him. “Sixty-Nine.” She said in a more convincing American accent. “Would you like to practice it?”

Inside one of the rooms on the second floor, Sachiko’s beeper went off, telling her that guests had arrived and soon would say what floor she would have to avoid. Touji and Karen had arrived just as the generally tame rain began to hint at the wind picking up.

“This room is cute, don’t you think?” Karen mused, looking down at the image of the pink chambers dressed in faux-velvet and other spongy surfaces.

Touji glanced down at the image of the room and back up the glass door to watch for anyone coming. The only movement outside was the raindrops hitting the concrete, and a sole, soggy newspaper attempting to lift itself into the sky without shredding itself to pieces. “I guess.” Touji shivered, pulling on fabric of the thin white dress shirt that hung on his shoulders.

Karen petted the screen in a final moment to allow herself to cast judgment on it. The damp sleeve of her sweater left a trail of condensation behind, just enough to tarnish the clean surface. Without no further input being required from her partner, she mashed in the reserve button with her thumb and the hidden printer inside the console began to spit out the long list of rates and possible charges.

Tatsu loudly slurped the buckwheat noodles between dabbling them into the tiny bowl of sauce dwarfed by his muscular hands. Kyouka joked loudly with his parents beside them while the old couple laughed and continued to chug through the beer.

“Get this, when Tatsu took us on our second date, he took that old motorcycle.” Kyouka recounted.

“I remember!” The mother was happy to take part in the gossip. “It was still a rusted out eyesore then.”

“And he made me ride on the back with him nonetheless!” Kyouka continued, giggling heartily. “I was surprised enough when I saw he had a helmet for me. He made me grab on to him as tight as I could, shoving my tits into his back. I thought I was going to end up with a big sweat mark!”

Tatsu frowned to hide his blushing face and attempted to distract his father by offering up another pouring of beer from the tall glass bottle. “The boy has always known what he likes.” The normally sharp-faced head of the household was now bobbing up and down with laughter.

Tatsu took the lull in conversation as a chance to take a breath while he stirred the green onions back up to the surface of his serving of sauce. As he quietly pulled another few strands of thick noodle to his mouth, Kyouka finished a swig of alcohol in time to recount another part of the story.

“You won’t believe the move he tried to make, too. At a red light, he pulled my hands off his sides and down to his groin!” Kyouka blurted out. Tatsu choked loudly, pulling an entire noodle down forcefully into this throat. Off to the side, one of the servants fidgeted awkwardly and made as if they hadn’t heard anything. “There’s nothing going on at that point, all I could get a grasp of was denim, anyways!”

The silver streaks in his father’s hair turned his way, his mother having already shifted to face him. Their eyes looked him up and down with blank looks in the awkward silence, before turning back to Kyouka and erupting into uproarious laughter. She quickly grabbed up the nearly empty bottle of beer to furnish the old man with the final serving.

Tatsu clacked the dishware on his tray noisily and stood up, hiding his face. “Tatsu!” Both Kyouka and his mother called out almost in perfect harmony.

Stepping out of the dining hall, the rough man pushed his way past the sliding paper shoji and out through the narrow opening in the heavy wooden storm doors. The rain soaked into the thick wool socks as he yanked off the slippers and shoved his feet into the wooden sandals.

Kyouka caught up to him just as he had reached the exit out to the street. She still hung onto the bottle absentmindedly. “Where are you going? What is wrong with you?” Her joyous attitude had all but disappeared.

“You know you’re going to end up in bade shape if you talk to my parents like that.” Tatsu said, gritting his teeth.

“Like what?” Kyouka rebutted. “They were loving it!”

“The people in my family… they don’t want to hear that kind of talk from a woman! Disgraceful!” Tatsu shouted as the rain began to pound harder.

“Ha!” Kyoka let out a loud, judgmental laugh. “But you saying that makes you a big man, a player!”

“Whatever.” He clicked his tongue. “I’m going for a walk.”

“Like hell you are!” Kyouka stepped up behind him and attempted to grab at his shoulder. Tatsu sent his elbow back at her simply to shoe her away. Kyouka returned by smashing the orange-glassed bottle of beer against his shoulder the second his back had turned towards him.

“What was that for?!” He exclaimed as the shards of glass made contact with the stone pavers beneath his feet.

“Serves you right!” Kyouka shook excitedly.

“Come with me right now, you!” Tatsu pulled grabbed at her wrists and pulled her out the gate while she began to protest. “I can look past you pulling something like that, but sure as hell my family won’t.”

Ibaraki leaned over the displays showing off quick and dirty snapshots of the rooms inside the hotel. The wallet now fat with 5,000 Yen bills bulged in his back pocket. Kasumi twirled her hair with her index finger and and arbitrated the movements of Ibaraki’s finger across the tall, glowing buttons.

“That’s the one you want?” She clicked her tongue. “Tacky.”

Ibaraki shot her back a glare. “This is about me.” He shrugged with a groan. “You’re the entertainment, aren’t you? The TV doesn’t care what room it’s in. Especially if all you’re watching is junk.”

Kasumi tilted her head and gnawed on her gum loudly. With a scoff, she turned to face the door and approached the glass slowly.

“No, wait.” Ibaraki pleaded.

The busty woman pressed herself onto the bar and looked out the window longingly at the pounding rain. With a quick turn, she reached her dainty, fingernail-painted hands into her purse and pulled out a neon colored phone. “This is cutting into your time you know.”

“Damn.” Ibaraki quickly pulled his worried gaze away and turned his attention back to the selection. He quickly selected a mid-ranged room with wooden accents and bright silver wallpaper. As the printer fed him a trail of paper, he pulled at his belt and loosened his tie. “I’m taking the stairs to help me get my blood pumping, you know, kick start the digestion.”

Kyouka scowled and looked at the now blank screen for the room he had selected. “Just tell me what room. I’ll be on the elevator.”

Tatsu walked stiffly down the road as the rain pounded against his chest, soaking his haori jacket. Kyouka jogged after him, following his long strides. “Tatsu, just stop.” She called out. “It was an accident, it was an accident.”

The tall man continued until he could hear the faint sound of her sobbing over the intermittent sound of passing cars and the gentle patter of the rain. His pace slowly crept to a stop. He turned to see Kyouka standing several squares of concrete behind, her face turned away to hide the tears. “You won’t hide those, even in the rain.” He announced, marching back to grab her up.

“You’re just scared’a your folks.” She sniffed. “What are they gonna’ do?”

Tatsu yanked at her wrist to pull her to attention. “You don’t understand. You talk the talk, but soon, people gonna start treating you like you’ve been in it all your life. You’re not ready for it. You’re just a fraud.”

“You don’t like me then?” Kyouka turned away and halfheartedly tried to pull away.

“I love you ‘cause of that, ‘cause you’re not strapped to this world.   I’m trapped in is bullshit.”

“Let’s just run, get outta here.” Kyouka quickly changed heart, grabbing onto Tatsu’s free hand tenderly.

“Not just like this… we gotta-”

The bright lights of a sedan flew past them just in time to warn of the tidal wave flung from the vehicle’s tires their way, soaking them with murky water.

Tatsu flew out of Kyouka’s hand and kicked his feet up in the direction of the long-gone car, cursing. “Damn you, you piece of shit! Get back here, coward, mother– Learn to drive!”

Kyouka traded her tears for a hearty laugh. Her wet clothes clung to her body, and Tatsu quickly returned to her.

“Please, Tatsu-.” She held back more giggles. “Let’s just find a way out of the rain for now, get dry.”

Tatsu ran his hand through his short, now soaked hair. He looked up at the buildings around him and the nearby street signs. “Yeah, I know a place around here… just hope you’re not picky.”

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