Hotel Roku-Jyuu-Kyu: Chapter 8
The sound of the rain faded in and out, eventually turning into a buzz in the distance that dulled minds and senses with its white noise. Touji stared at the flickering of the sole candle in the middle of the table as it gave its last few flickers before the wick finished itself off at the black nub atop the silver holder.
“Gosh, what time is it?” The student addressed the sleepy room. Tatsu and Kyouka stirred, having fallen asleep shoulder to shoulder.
He peered down at Karen, who had slowly pulled her phone out of her skirt pocket, before fumbling for the power button in the dark. “Eh, what does it matter what time it is?” She sighed and readjusted the blanket with her arms underneath. “It’s cold, though.”
In the dark, Touji could hear fumbling across the table in Sachiko’s spot. With a hard click and a sudden bright light, the flashlight turned on and illuminated a big orange spot on the floor where the housekeeper sat. She shined the light down at her wrist where a dainty watch sat. “It’s almost 11:30.” She said passively. “You two especially should get some rest.”
Sachiko quickly flashed the light over at Ibaraki, who had slumped back over on the floor, snoring at a more manageable volume this time. After confirming that the man was still breathing, she scanned the floor over to Kyouka and Tatsu’s spot.
“Ugh, hell, shut that off.” Tatsu held his hand up and tried to shine his face.
Kyouka stirred and sat up, causing Tatsu to slide over onto the floor. “Ugh, has someone come to rescue us already?”
“No.” Tatsu growled. “Just shining the damn light around.” He pushed himself up from behind Kyouka and stared down Sachiko. “I’ve decided.”
“Excuse me?” Sachiko responded defensively.
“You got a boss, auntie?” Tatsu asked her, his voice gruff.
“Of course.” The housekeeper nodded quickly.
“As soon as we get power back, or get some sort of signal, and get the phone charged, I’m going to give him a call.”
“Tatsu, please.” Kyouka begged and sleepily rubbed at her eyes. “Just go back to sleep, and we can worry about this in the morning.”
The big man sat up and rolled his head loudly against the wall behind him. “No! Look at this place, this shit-hole. Doesn’t even have some sort of generator. My folks even have a generator at their place. I bet they’re watching some nice movie right now, drinking some hot tea and not having to worry about if the panties they’re eating are expired or not!”
Karen snickered and immediately tried to cover her mouth with her hands.
“Keep it shut, girlie.” Tatsu yelled down at her. Kyouka rolled her eyes and pulled at her boyfriends hand.
“Why do you want to cause a fuss, now, of all times?” Sachiko implored him with a calm, even voice. “What can you do at this moment? I cannot help you.”
“She doesn’t want to be here either.” Kyouka pointed out.
Touji stared at Sachiko from across the table as his face swirled around in thought. “I wonder if your boss would let you count all this time here as being on the clock. It would be a fat paycheck.”
“Like I care about that!” Tatsu raved. He formed his hands into fists by his sides and pounded at the baseboard. “What about our compensation? Having to be stuck here all night, with no proper food or sleeping conditions.”
Sachiko sat up stiffly, while keeping her distance from the upset man. “I’m sure something can be decided.” She attempted to diffuse the conversation. “But it will have to wait until we have power, or the water has gone down!”
“Listen to her! What are you gonna do at this time of the night?” Kyouka grabbed at the hem of his shirt trying to get his attention.
Karen leaned into Touji and whispered in his ear. “He thinks he’s so important, ever more so than the weather.” Touji pushed her away and waved his hand trying to shush her.
Tatsu turned to them, hearing the low voice. “What are you gossiping about now, girlie?!”
“Please don’t drag others into this.” The housekeeper attempted to stop him.
“No- you know what? I’m tired of you calling me that!” Karen objected. “I’m a college student for god sakes, you’ve barely got a few years on me at best.”
“Oh, a college girl.” Tatsu mocked. He nudged the kotatsu with his foot, making it rock slightly. “What’s the point of an education if you’re just going to be handing out tissues in front of random businesses?”
“Tatsu, I’m tired of this.” Kyouka huffed and pulled harder at his shirt. “I can’t stand up for you if you’re going to act like an ass to these nice people. They’re in the same situation here.”
“Sir, let me remind you that your issue is with me and this business.” Sachiko chimed in, shining the light of the flashlight up to Tatsu’s eyes.
“Yeah, and don’t forget it!” He yelled back defensively, shielding his eyes from the bright beam.
A loud groaning emanated from the edge of the room. Sachiko quickly swung the light around to Ibaraki, who had sat up. The hefty man held his forehead in his hands. “All this racket is making it awful hard to sleep off this hangover, I’ll have you know.” He growled and looked up at Tatsu through the dim light. “Unless you managed to find some aspirin and sports drink in that box of panties from before, we’re going to have a problem.”
“Oh yeah?” Tatsu stared him down. “I’ll find out where you work, and I’ll come down on you, get you out of there real quick.”
“You don’t scare me, Yakuza.” Ibaraki said smugly.
Kyouka huffed loudly and moved her grip up to wrap around Tatsu’s arm. “Stop, this is getting out of hand.”
“What tipped you off?” Tatsu smirked back at the hefty man.
“I don’t know, just your attitude. The way you talk, trying to act like you own the place.” Ibaraki said with a shrug. “Either way, you can’t touch my employer, up in our high rise here. Stick to trying to police the mom and pop shops and the people out on the street.”
“A yakuza…” Touji whispered under her breath. “I never thought I would actually run across one in real life.”
“Shhh-.” Karen nudged him under the table.
Sachiko clapped her hands together with a loud snap. The inhabitants of the room turned to her as she picked up the light and turned it up towards her face in an eerie fashion. “If you wish to leave this place, go right ahead. Go and see if your status, your money, or your tattoos will protect you from knee high water.” The housekeeper said indirectly.
Tatsu growled loudly and slumped back against the wall behind him.
Sachiko clicked in the button of the flashlight and the room returned to near complete blackness. The sound of the ruffling blankets of people settling back in covered up the din of the rain for a brief moment.
“You know…” Kyouka waited for the most silent moment to speak up. “You’ll have to excuse him. Tatsu here is just upset because he he’s going to miss his program.”
Touji repeated the line to himself over and over in his head, where it refused to process. “Huh?” He finally spat out.
“Please, don’t.” Tatsu pleaded nasally.
“It’s his late-night anime.” Kyouka said slowly. “One of the raunchy ones with the cute girls. You know, short skirts, panty flashes.”
“…you serious?” Karen said softly. She turned to look for Touji’s expression in the dark.
“As if.” Tatsu huffed and ruffled the blankets more as he turned away from his girlfriend.
“Kidding.” Kyouka sighed, before turning to lay her face into the small of Tatsu’s back.