Friday, July 30, 2010
Bitter Fruit - Excerpt One
From “Lemon Yellow Anthology”
What was that sound? Takai listened. Angelic, soulful and bewitching all wrapped up into one. Looking around he spotted someone standing in the shadows along the wall outside of the restaurant he was about to enter. The song was coming from whoever it was. Takai stopped to listen. It was a lullaby. The words were familiar but he couldn’t put a name to it. The song drove him over. “Excuse me, what is the name of that song you’re singing?”
The person stepped into the light.
Takai gasped. It was a young man and he was beautiful. His facial bones were delicately carved. Long dark lashes swept down across his high cheekbones. Long black hair hung down like shining glass against his ivory complexion.
“Takeda. My mother used to sing it to me as a child.” The expression in his currant-black eyes seemed to plead for friendship, but his velvet-edge voice was strong and endearing.
Something worried Takai’s heart. Perhaps it was simply his uneasiness about the situation. Old fears and uncertainties reared their ugly heads. “Yes, I remember. My mother sang it to me too. Please continue.”
The young man seemed nervous at first. “I really should be getting back to work.” He pointed toward the restaurant’s door. “The boss will have my ass if I’m late from my break.”
“Just one more verse.” Why was it so important that he continue the song? He had hundreds of singers vying for their big break everyday.
“Okay.” He began the song, holding Takai transfixed until the end.
“Have you ever thought about performing professionally?”
“You mean like on stage?” He leaned against the wall again.
Takai nodded, reached into his pocket and pulled out a card. He handed the card to the young man who accepted it and read over it quickly.
“Would you like to?”
“I don’t know. I really need this job. I have rent to pay.”
“I can make you rich.”
The young man pushed away from the wall. He was barely out of puberty…probably twenty or twenty one, tall, but not muscular. “What would I have to do? Nothing filthy I hope.”
“What? No, just sing?”
“Is that all?”
Takai understood. He was so beautiful. Strange men probably hit on him everyday. “I didn’t mean to offend you. All you have to do is sing.”
He looked down at the card. “I’ll have to think about it.” He walked toward the restaurant’s door and Takai followed.
“The young man looked confused and perplexed.” I was on my way to dinner when I heard you.” He held the door open. “Take a couple of days to think it over.”
They stepped inside of the restaurant.
“By the way, what is your name?”
Takai extended his hand for a shake and Kin accepted. It was surprising soft, which meant he didn’t do dishes. “Nice to meet you Kin Watanabe. I hope to hear from you soon.”
Kin watched as one of the waiters escorted the man to his seat. He looked down at the card again barely making out the wording under the lowered lighting inside of the restaurant. “Takai Nakagawa, talent scout and music promoter.”
“What do you have there?”
Kin looked up. His boss Mister Satou stood before him inside the kitchen door.
“Nothing.” Kin tucked the card into his pants pocket.
Mr. Satou tossed an apron at Kin. “Then you better get back to work. Plenty guests arriving.”
Mr. Satou was a nice man but a little high-strung. He didn’t pay much but he did allow the waiters to eat in-between shifts and often sent food home with them. Kin walked into the kitchen and washed his hands. Several minutes later he exited the kitchen rolling a cart of plates and serving dishes. He looked around. Takai Nakagawa was gone. Probably got an important call of something, Kin mused as he served a table in his station.