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TAKE 1: JUN YAMAGUCHI’S DEBUT IN LOVE
2LDK ROOM FOR NEEDED FLATMATE
Local- 10 minute walk from station
Fully furnished incl. 2 separate beds, 45K + utilities, shower, toilet and kitchen.
Clean, roomy place with easy-going female flatmate.
Internet connection and Cable available, but must be paid equally.
Taxes will be shared. Smoking and Drinking is allowed.
Foreigners are welcome, although knowledge of the Japanese language is necessary.
Pets are not allowed. Health Issues should be addressed.
Anybody interested should book by contacting Kokone-san at the email addresss and telephone number below.
This very rental advert was just the ticket I needed for independence and also not to burden my guardian by continuously living under his manga café.
He deserves credit since he arranged and booked everything although he and I don’t know who Kokone-san is. No first name was mentioned.
My guardian is more like a surrogate uncle to me, especially when I was still living with my parents. His full name is a mystery but everyone refers to him as ‘Wani-san’, so called because his fascination with the movie monster of the same name.
His hobby made him recognisable in his work establishment and our current accommodation, Toryuu Manga Café, noticeable by the cool image of a battling tiger and dragon. The popularity of shounen manga in this place was kind of the inspiration for that. Wani-san is boss here and people from all walks of life can be found here from otaku to men and women of business, all to relax and ease the hardship from the world outside.
As for me, I am your average-looking twenty-two year old japanese man with a scruffy mess of tangerine hair, which would look like a slacker’s appearance. I also have pale black eyes to see. As for my wardrobe, a grey-white hooded jacket with patches of jean blue, jogging trousers that match the jacket and regular tennis shoes.
In short, I am Jun Yamaguchi, acting failure of the present.
Thinking back now, it was two years ago that I graduated from a respectable drama school with high hopes. But the thing about an actor’s life is that it is full of chances, whether good or not. I had my share of these, but only as background extras.
Actors also face rejection on an annual basis and the same applies for me. I can still recall the haunting memory of me facing overshadow acting judges for one audition to a television drama series that I really wanted to be a part of. Their words still linger in me.
“We are terribly sorry. The leading and medium you have requested have already chosen by other actors and the whole cast is set.”
“Oh, well, thank you very much for allowing me to audition” I replied, trying to hide my obvious disappointment.
I thrashed my head to clear the painful memory and made my way to the snack/beverage vending machine by the TV/DVD room at the further end of the café. I fished for 120 yen out of my wallet to drop in the slot and right on cue, a fresh can of coffee bumped downwards to the flap where I can reach it.
Now I returned to the smoking area where I was originally. Now I do smoke but not much, but right now there is nothing in the world that relieve frustration then a burning cigarette left in the ashtray along with some cool must-see manga and coffee-in-a-can.
From where I sat, Wani-san was four metres away dealing with customers on the counter or more or less, chatting with them. He is certainly dressed like a host with the most with a style that is as reptilian as his name sake like a tan leather wristwatch and a matching leather belt. Even his style is reptilian, from a tan leather wristwatch to a matching leather belt. His shamrock green t-shirt proudly sponsors the monster he loves, along with lichen coloured trousers. His looks are very remote for a middle-age man with balding white hair and small golden eyes. I am still don’t know much about his family or if he even has one. I envy him at times with his care-free lifestyle and how nothing seems to get him down. I should be like him, full of life and ambition, but since remembering that failed audition I convince myself, what’s the point?
With my coffee now finished, I moved onto the cigarette whilst looking at the good bits the manga I was reading had to offer. In between a few pages I glance at the few people around me. Some come and go throughout the day and it is always a surprise when they are people here that wouldn’t anywhere else.
Suddenly I froze with interest. To the point where I stopped reading and held my still-lit cigarette in my mouth very one of the tables in front of mine was a young woman.
Whoa!! She’s beautifulI thought to myself.
She must be somewhat older than me, and has a neat physique too.
She wore a mature night black blazer with a white shirt, and below, and grey skirt and pantyhose with shoes the same colour of the blazer.
Her long flowing hair was as black and shiny as ink in sunlight. A portion covered her right eye like a curtain. And the left eye was scarlet.
She was digging in a shoujo manga of all genres. It must be a girl thing.
She was not someone I knew. Maybe Wani-san knows her.
After I had a clear observing examaniation, I noticed she closed the book and started searching for something. Out came a square packet of all-white cigarettes, which she wasted no time clamping her lips one that was uprisen.
What came next was a portable ashtray with a sealed opening. However it appears that her lighter must be mislaid considering she look in her whole bag.
She turned her head up as if looking for someone. I became paralysed when her eye became fixed on me, a smile accompanying it.
Crap. She saw me!I panicked.
I tried with all effort, to ignore her, getting back to my manga reading.
‘Excuse me’ a muffled female voice spoke
Next minute I know, she was standing next to me, leaning down, with her lips securely straightening her white stick of tobacco and an unusual sight occurred.
Me and this unknown beauty touching cigarettes.
In that brief instant, it felt like time stood perfectly still and it gave my very wide eyes a good look at the smile her single blood red eye shows. I saw traces of confidence, friendliness and mystery there.
Then, when she got she wanted, the fire to light her cigarette, she broke off the connection inhaling.
“Thank You” she smiled, blowing out a straight line of smoke before returning to her table.
What the hell was that?
My senses came back while I immediately stubbed out my cigarette. But still, I did not expect what just happened. My eyes now refuse to look at anything else apart from her.
She was back to reading that shoujo manga, with a confused and uncertain look on her face. However, after observing her wristwatch, she took a last drag before stubbing out into her ashtray. Clearing the table of her belongings, she picked the manga up and passed it to Wani-san at the counter. Maybe he does know her, considering how friendly the two seemed to be to each other.
Then she went out the front door and the old dinosaur placed the book back to its section before heading towards me, an unsettling smile on her face.
“Wani-san, do you that woman you just spoken to?” I asked him.
“No I don’t. She requested a shoujo manga for reference.”
“I never would have imagined you as a charmer. You sly dog.”
Now his words earned a glare from me.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Do you have any idea what you did with that woman?”
Now he was really laying the cards out.
“Yeah, what of it?” I asked, wanting him to get to the point.
“You two have just kissed!”
That loud statement nearly caused me to fall backwards on my chair. I looked all around and I didn’t like some of the confused costumers nearby.
The best thing I could do was just chuckle nervously while the attention quickly gets killed off.
“Are you serious?” I whispered in a raspy tone “This better not be one of your weird jokes. Right now, I am not in the mood.”
“This is no joke. You two had a romantic moment!” Wani-san honestly replied back, his face right in front of mine.
He never liked it when I put myself down, but after grunting a nasally chuckle, he carried on.“Listen, there are many ways a woman can kiss a man. Not all of them are lip to lip. There are rubbing noses, eating treats like pocky and in this case, lighting cigarettes. You have made me so proud.”
I absorbed every word in and already I am feeling crazy about this strange woman.
“But what if she doesn’t come back here again?” I asked, partly to myself, doubt speedily pounding me like an out-of-control boxer on the punching bag.
“That will be a pity. But then there will be other women.”
Yeah right. This coming from a movie monster fanatic. At least I will leave here for a new place to reside and my new flatmate.
The café closed at 5.00 pm sharp that afternoon, just like always. Every person in there had either left to go back home or work or to drink and dine with fellow workers.
I was just outside with my trusty sunset orange and chrome coloured bicycle, which has been with me for a few years.
Wani-san came out the front door with his wallet full of yen notes.
“Here you are, Jun-kun. This should cover for two months there” he smiled, as he handed some to me.
“However, Just remember one thing” he added, which caught my ears “If you don’t get the offer or if that this woman acts like a beast, you are more than welcome to come back”
I grinned at his ever-so humble parenting tip.
“Wani-san” I replied tenderly “Thank you for having me here”.
And with a foster uncle-nephew hug, I parted ways with him and began to hit the road to a possible better life.
“I’ll call you soon. Wish me luck!” I shouted back before he was out of sight.
The apartment building from the advert was just as bland and unexciting as one would expect city-bound apartment buildings to be.
“Well, beggers can’t be choosers. This will just have to do” I spoke to myself.
There is a small lawn with shrubs, although that was all that signified its presence.
But who cares? Now all I need is for this owner to take me on board.
Who is she and what would she be like, my mind kept wondering, her face in shadow.
“Please be sexy. Please be pleasant. Please be my girlfriend” I begged quietly, again to myself. That was when I rang the call-buzzer.
“Hello” came the reply.
“Hello. My name is Jun Yamaguchi and I’m here the apartment advert.”
“OK. Please wait while I get the door, Yamaguchi-san”
I sharpened my appearance up slightly to look good. Now I’m ready for anything.
The door opened slowly and I bowed my head in greeting. I assumed she did the same.
“Hello and welcome Yamaguchi-san.”
“Thank you very much for taking…” I paused as I rose to meet her face.
OH MY GOD!! IT’S HER!!
My shock caused a very familiar amazed face from a few hours ago. One covered right ways by black hair. The woman from the café.
She lives here?!
“Well, ain’t this a coincidence. You’re the gentlemen from that manga café. Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes.” she greeted, raising her hair to reveal her covered right eye which winked back at me.
I forced my body not to lose control, even for a second. The last thing I want is a grave misunderstanding. She sounds easy going.
“Sorry. I forgot to introduce myself. I am Shino Kokone. Twenty-five years old and an amateur film director and scriptwriter. Please come inside.”
She didn’t had to tell me twice.
I was shown the hallway where our shoes were taken off, the two separate bedrooms, the shower room and finally the main sitting room.
It had everything from a flat screen television, small table with ashtray, a desk and Microsoft computer with scanner and printer. The works precisely.
“Are you hungry, Jun?”
“Jun?” I looked at her in puzzlement. We are already on first name statis already?
“Oh, it’s alright, you can call me Shino since we live together.”
I chuckled on that statement.
“I guess I am kind of famished.”
“Great, then we can celebrate your coming over Yakitori and Beer. There’s a great bar I know and I will pay for the meal.”
Without any delay, she checked her money and out we went to the bar she suggested.
It seems like speed dating. Maybe Wani-san is right. Fate is smiling back on me.
At the nearest bar, we were having yakitori and beer. I was too busy watching my new flatmate helping herself to the beer.
“Delicious!” exclaimed Shino, proudly lifting a large pint of beer “One thing about beer is that there’s always a kick with every sip.”
“You stole that from a commercial didn’t you?” I added with a little comedy.
She stared at me in confusion for a few seconds before bursting out with laughter.
With that, she took a swig and exhaled the freshness.
It time for my questioned to be answered and there could never be a better time.
“Kokone-san, eh, I mean Shino. Can I ask you a question” I said to her grabbing her attention.
“It is about earlier today. You know you, me and the cigarettes.”
“What was all that about?”
My heart was already running out of hard beats and likewise can be said about my confidence. Why did I say that?
Shino’s smile remained intact and appears to be recalling the event from earlier.
Then she explained.
“I left my lighter back in the apartment by mistake. So I needed a light and that was when I saw you and you were such a gentleman too.”
That was again, something I did not expect. Score two for her.
“Did I do something wrong?” she asked me, her expression now that of concern.
“No, nothing wrong” I replied in a desperately reassuring manner.
She shrugged it off and took some bites out of the yakitori. As for me, I just looked deep into space with my mind doing the talking.
So that wasn’t a real kiss. She could have asked me for a lighter. What have I gotten myself into? Just who is this woman?
“Oh right. I have almost forgotten.” Interrupted Shino raised her beer glass “A toast for my apartment’s new intern and the future that awaits him”.
I raised my glass and we banged together.
“Cheers!” we both cheered.
The celebration took its toll on Shino later that night, while I was still awake and slightly sober, she on the other hand, needed me as support since tiredness and a little hint of too much beer have made her almost limb.
It was fortunate enough that the bar was a walk-away from the apartments, but was that was beside the point.
Something tells me that life is about to get complicated from here on. What have I got myself into?