RING RING RING! RING RING RING!
It was ten o'clock in the morning and Yomiko Readman was still asleep. Slumped over her table, she was snoring like a boar and drooling all over the open book in temporary use as a pillow.
The doorbell rang a second time.
RING RING RING! RING RING RING!
A couple of loud knocks on the door sounded throughout the apartment, coupled with an irate female shouting through the door. "I know you're in there Yomiko! Open the door! You're about to be late!"
With a snort, Yomiko finally woke up, still drowsy and confused. "Who is it?" she mumbled.
"I know you're in there sleeping Yomiko! It's me, Nenene! Today you're supposed to work at that summer school in Nakano. Open the door!"
"Huh?" She fought the fog in her mind for a few more seconds. "Oh my God! I got to get ready! Don't worry Nene-chan, I'll be there."
She went to open the door, tripping over a stray book in the process, creating a loud thud. Nenene heard it and shook her head in despair; the author knew well enough what must have happened. Finally Yomiko opened the door. "Hey Nene-chan, how are you doing?"
"I'll be fine… if we get you to your work on time! Now quit playing around, and get yourself ready."
"I'm already ready!" she replied, not noticing her wrinkled, frumpy clothes.
"No, you're not! You haven't even brushed your teeth, and I can smell it from here!" Nenene pinched her nose in disgust. "Plus, you need to change - really quickly!"
Yomiko then smelt her own breath and Nenene was right - it was awful. "… I'll… just go ahead and brush my teeth. Do you think I need to take a shower?"
"No. You reek a little but it's nothing that perfume can't fix. Just go and brush your teeth!"
Luckily Yomiko had taken a shower last night - a cold one. "Okay."
Yomiko went straight to the bathroom.
"Don't forget to wash your face," came the parting command.
Nenene barely understood Yomiko's words (spoken as they were through the toothbrush in her mouth). Whilst the author waited impatiently, the paper-mage went into her room and quickly changed her clothes. When Nenene saw the result, she shook her head in despair. It was basically the same pair of clothes, only the tie was different. It was blue!
"God, I need to hire the fashion doctor for her." she muttered.
"About time. Let's get going - the bus will arrive any minute. By the way, I know you were up very late last night… what were you doing?"
Both women were aware of the volatility of that statement.
"Oh, Nancy was visiting. She's in town to visit her son. We just had a bit of chit-chat." Yomiko said, very carefully. Nenene wanted to ask more questions about Nancy, but they were in too much of a hurry. After some quick mental calculations and deciding the elevator would be too slow, they took the stairs two at a time and ran along the landings as fast as they could go. Amazingly enough, Yomiko didn't trip over herself. About three minutes later, they finally got to the ground level. Huffing and puffing, trying to regain some air, it took a few seconds to notice the bus outside.
"It's the bus! It's about to leave. Quickly, go! We've got to catch it!" Nenene gasped. Their lungs burning, they sprinted towards that bus stop as fast as they could go. Halfway from their goal, however, the bus saw fit to leave, and even frantically windmilling aims didn't persuade it to stop again. The bus had left and the women were out of breath.
After regaining their breath, Nenene began to fuss, probably justifiably. "Jesus Christ, we definitely going to be late now."
"Well… I think another bus will be coming in fifteen minutes. Let me look inside my schedule..." Yomiko began to dig. Her book bag was cluttered with books, and the schedule in question seemed to be at the very bottom of the stack. Nenene rolled her eyes.
"It won't do you any good. You can't find anything in there. The best we can do now is to find a taxi."
No sooner had the author spoken, one appeared down the street. As the taxi came closer to the two women, however, it became clear that this was no ordinary taxi - it was pimped out!
Due to the taxi driver's mystical taxi-driving instinct (…or maybe it was something else), he pulled up to the footpath on which the ladies stood, figuring they'd need a ride. The car itself was appeared to be a genuine 2003 Lamborghini Murciélago, which had been crudely converted into a taxi cab. It still had the traditional yellow color… but it also had 18-inch spinner hubcaps with a huge spoiler on the back, and a pimped-out taxi sign on top. Under the hood was a 6.5 liter engine, rumbling with power and ready to leave everything in the dust. This was one truly tricked-out taxi cab!
The driver came out of the car. He was a young man, medium-brown, with quite a few tattoos, wearing baggy clothes, and a plethora of platinum jewelry. The gentleman in question could not have been any older than Nenene, and furthermore seemed unlikely to be the professional type… which begged the question… how did he get a car like that? It's best to never ask such questions...
"Hey ladies, you need a ride?" he said, trying to sound smooth.
Nenene had her doubts about the whole business. 'A Lamborghini cab? Really?'
The naive Yomiko, on the other hand, had no such doubts, "Sure! Can you take us to Dokuto High School?"
"No doubt, I know where it is!" he said, in an urban American accent.
Nenene turned and looked at her friend. "Yomiko… I don't think it's a good idea."
"Don't worry about it. I'm sure he'll get us there in time," came the innocent reply.
"I'm not worried about that - I'm worried about getting us there in one piece!"
"Girl – whatcha' worried 'bout? I'm a professional taxi driver. I'll take good care of you girls, no doubt." The driver coupled this with a discreet head-to-toe, sizing Nenene up. This also involved checking out her 'goods' and thinking in his mind, 'Yeah Shorty! Give me a chance and I'll definitely take real good care of you.'
Nenene, however, was not born yesterday. She knew what he was doing and wasn't pleased one bit about it. Having already been thrown into a bad mood with the repeated use of 'girls', the perving turned this feeling up a notch; she was now livid. She wanted to put him in his place badly… but time was of the essence and she didn't have much of that left.
"Just open up the door so we can get in - we don't have time to waste!" she barked at the guy.
The guy was surprised by her feisty spirit, "Yes sir!" he said, adding a military salute at the end.
Unsure if it was mockery, the gesture added more fuel to Nenene's anger, and she was about to go off like a volcano – but before anything rash could occur, he opened the door, Yomiko jumped in, and Nenene was quickly pulled inside.
Anybody who has seen a Lamborghini knows that the back is very small and somewhat cramped. Despite being ostensibly a cab, this one was no different. Nenene and Yomiko had very little leg room. The guy got into his car, "A'ight, y'all ready?"
Yomiko shouted, "Yeah!"
Nenene muttered "Yeah, ready to kill you," under her breath.
"Good. Fasten your seat belts."
This they tried to do, but neither seat belt actually worked. "We can't put on our seat belts - they refuse to lock in," Yomiko informed him cheerfully.
"Oh yeah, they're broken. Forgot to tell you that. Well then hold on tight, cuz I'm 'bout to jet!"
Nenene's eyes bugged. "WHAT? Don't you know you are going against the safety regulations of... OOMMPPH!"
The driver floored the gas pedal, and the car went from zero to sixty miles in less than four seconds - ie, before she could finish her sentence. The force pushed both women back, causing them to nearly hit their heads on the back window. The speed was scaring Nenene. "Slow down Mifune Go, this ain't the Mach-go! We need to get there… but we're not in a freaking race!" she raged.
The driver simply smiled. "Take a chill pill girl. We'll get there just fine."
"I hope so," came the growled rejoinder.
Wanting to calm the situation, and to get some potential 'play', the driver unwisely attempted conversation.
"Say… what's your name, girl?"
"First of all, my name is Sumiregawa Nenene, and I am well-known author. Everybody refers to me as sensei - including you! And second of all, we're not girls - we're woman. So stop calling us that!" she sternly reprimanded him.
"A'ight, a'ight, I ain't arguing with ya'! I was just bein' nice. I know you ain't in a good mood and all, and I know it might be that time of the month for you, but damn..." About a few seconds later, he asked her, "But is your name really Nenene?"
"Yes. It is."
He burst out laughing. "Nenene! Hahaha! I've heard some strange-ass names before, especially back in DC… but damn! I ain't never heard a name like that! What was your parent's thinkin'?" He continued laughing. This did not help Nenene's levels of annoyance. She had reached boiling red hot by now and was primed and ready to explode… but once again, Yomiko quickly calmed her down.
"Don't let it bother you. He's just kidding!" It's amazing how Yomiko could infuriate her with her childish attitude, yet that same personality could calm Nenene down almost instantly. So she calmed down. "And what's your name?" Yomiko asked.
"Raul Diaz. And yours miss?"
"Readman Yomiko, Diaz-san. You must be from the Philippines?" Yomiko was no fool, she had travelled the world, and his features and name were fairly distinctive.
"Ah shit, I mixed it up. Raul's my first name. And you can just call me Raul. I ain't into all that honorific shit they got here. But yeah, no doubt. I was born there, but I grew up in the States - in the DC area. Came here because of a job."
Of course, the real reason why he had come was to escape a rival gang, MS-13… who had called a hit out on him after he had robbed one of their drug dealers. The Yakuzas had been very... how best to describe it?… understanding.
"Oh, I see," murmured Yomiko.
"Yeah; that's what's up. So… you must be from England?"
Yomiko chuckled, "Yes. My accent gives it away."
"Hey - I know quite a few people from England."
"Hell yeah, I seen 'em all on TV! Simon Cowell, Gordon Ramsay, Sherlock Holmes, The Beatles, Amy Winehouse and my favorite, Benny Hill."
"Well that's an intellectual selection..." Nenene muttered under her breath.
Raul heard but kept right on going, "Yeah, on TV, they always act like they got sumthin' up their asses. Man, they be talkin' like…" Raul assumed a face like someone had died. "'Well dear jolly chap, I think it is time for some tea and crumpets." Yomiko started to laugh. Nenene didn't even so much as twitch. "I say that's a splendid idea." Raul continued, in a different fancy English voice. "I fancy myself for some tea and crumpets, along with some fish and chips."
Yomiko was practically bursting with laughter. Nenene still wasn't impressed. "Will you stop your 'bloody phony English accents' and just drive the damn car?"
"Okay, okay. Somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning..." he grinned. Yomiko was still laughing it up… but Nenene was even more infuriated. Smiling, he turned his attention back to the author. "Anyways… so people call you 'sensei', huh?"
"Sensei, I know you ain't in a happy mood right now, and I can definitely tell you ain't got a man, but how 'bout I get your digits so that I can hit you up later? I'd like to get to know you better and don't let my appearance fool you, or my wonderful bling fool you, or my weed-smokin' fool you, or my associations with the Yakuzas fool you; I can be a real gentlemen. I know how to treat a lady like you right, you know what I'm sayin'?"
Nenene didn't know whether to be flattered with his honesty and directness, or to smack the daylights out of him for being so stupid.
"You're right, I don't have someone. But if I did, it sure as hell wouldn't be you!" The someone she wanted was seated right next to her, in fact… completely oblivious. Or at least Nenene thought she was completely oblivious.
The rejection did sting Raul a bit, but he played it cool, "I understand, no doubt."
The situation inside the car deteriorated from that point, to Nenene's further displeasure. Raul, to avoid further awkward conversation, was blasting profanity-laced and sexually-demeaning Japanese rap music from the stereo whilst chain-smoking cigarettes. Nenene, predictably, didn't like the music and didn't like his smoking.
"Hey! We're non-smokers here. Put out your cigarette! And change the music to something else - it's repulsive!"
"Okay, okay! Jesus..." the driver relented, as he put out his cigarette and changed the radio to something more appropriate - dancehall reggae. Not that this was actually more appropriate… he just believed they wouldn't understand the Jamaican 'patois' dialect. Not only was there further cursing and degrading lyrics, but there were also homophobic remarks in the song. Nenene, knowing English full well, understood some of the lyrics, especially the homophobic ones. For one, singular, very apparent reason, (but a reason that Nenene would instantly deny), she was personally offended. Yomiko understood the song lyrics as well - better than Nenene. After all, Yomiko was half-English and was familiar with the Caribbean culture back in London. Even if the polite bookworm didn't say anything at all, her personal displeasure was obvious to Nenene. Yomiko was thinking 'If Nancy-chan was in the car, she would kill him instantly. That's if Nenene-chan doesn't get to him first!'
Nenene, unaware of her companion's thoughts, immediately protested this new choice of music. "This is even worse! How could you listen to something so offensive? 'Batty-man?' 'Chi-chi man?' 'Rape the lesbians?' You don't think I know what those means?"
Raul was really getting nervous now, so he quickly ejected the CD and apologized again. "You're right of course, I'm very sorry. Let me see if I got any J-Pop, or some soft-rock instead." He found a decent CD and popped it in the player. Nenene's anger went down, somewhat.
Abruptly, the driver made a sharp turn. Yomiko slammed into Nenene. The wheel spun back, and he made another sharp turn; this time Nenene slammed into Yomiko.
Nenene was still simmering with rage, and Yomiko was starting to get slightly vexed as well. An interesting idea struck the bookworm. "I think we should huddle up together and plant our feet firmly on the ground so that we won't be knocking to each other. What do you think?"
"Sounds like a good idea."
So they held on to each other as the driver went speeding along at 90 mph. It was both pleasure and pain to Nenene; the pleasure being close to Yomiko. Even though the bookworm was wearing her scruffy coat, she was still soft to hold. The painful part was that this would probably be the only way she would ever get close to Yomiko.
Unknown to Nenene, Yomiko was also having conflicted emotions. She was strangely stirred by the closeness of Nenene, and of her gentleness. The perfume the author was wearing wasn't helping matters either. However, thoughts of Nancy were very much in the back of her mind, and Yomiko had strong feelings for her as well… but she couldn't ignore the attraction she had for Nenene. Finally she gave up thinking about it logically as it was messy and confusing.
While they were holding each other, Nenene took a look at the back of her neck and noticed red marks. Hickeys! Nancy and Yomiko had clearly done a lot more than just chat the previous night! She was about to get upset, but then realized she could use that energy better – by seizing the chance of having Yomiko for herself. Nancy was only in town once in a blue moon, and thus Nenene still had the opportunity to make Yomiko hers. Before this newfound resolution crystalized, however (ie before she could make any moves), the girl in her arms noticed something.
"Wow, I didn't know the school was near Bokuto Hospital."
"Huh? That makes no sense." Nenene grumbled, taking a look outside - sure enough, the hospital was up ahead. Much to her surprise, they weren't heading towards Nakano - instead they were heading in the opposite direction! They were in the Bokuto area of Sumida, which was east from Jimbo-cho. Nakano was west!
That was the final straw for Nenene. Now she was quite, quite angry. "Hey dumb-ass! We're in Bokuto!"
"Yeah? We're going to Bokuto High School, so what's yo' fuckin' problem?"
"We need to go to Dokuto High School, which is in Nakano, which is the exact opposite from here! DO-ku-to!" she said emphasizing the first syllable.
Raul, feeling like an ass, replied, "Ah my bad! Don't worry 'bout it, I'll turn this car around and I'll get you there. We still got some time left."
"We've only got forty minutes left, genius! It will take about twenty just to get to Shinjuku! And how the hell are you going to turn this car around? There are no U-turns allowed here on Keiyo road!"
That was the wrong thing to say. "That's what you think ma'am!" And so in the middle of the four-lane street, at 65 mph, he slammed on the breaks and spun the car 180 degrees, causing Yomiko to slam into Nenene once more.
"AAAAHHHHH!" the girls screamed.
They were pressed together like the ends of an accordion. Then the driver regained some fraction of control, got into the other lane, and headed towards Nakano.
Nenene didn't even bother to hide her feelings from him.
"What the fuck are you trying to do… kill us? Wait 'til I tell the Tokyo Taxi Commission about this! You will never drive another taxi again! I'm going to file criminal charges against you, you sorry piece-of..."
The driver had suffered enough. In response, he just popped in the dancehall reggae CD and blasted it up high enough to drown out Nenene's bitching. Bloody violence seemed imminent, but since Yomiko feared that Nenene might cause a fatal accident, she restrained Nenene as best as she could. Contrary to popular belief, Yomiko was the physically stronger of the two, so she was able to contain her in the back seat. However what they didn't know was that more drama was to come.
Not too far ahead, along the road from the tricked-out taxi cab, was a police car. Two female cops were driving on the mini-highway, just doing their regular police patrol.
"Ken-kun took me to a fancy restaurant in Shibuya yesterday for our anniversary. He's such a gentleman."
"Yeah; at least he remembers your anniversary. When it was our anniversary, I told Souji, 'Don't you remember what today is?' He looked at me and said, 'Yeah, F.C. Tokyo is playing against Kawasaki Frontale today!' Arrrgh, I can't believe it - it's only been two years - and he already forgot! So I gave him a reminder by punching him right in his face. Sometimes I wonder if he left his brain in the Himalayas."
The driver just chuckled, "Oh, don't fret; you know he really loves you."
"I know, but sometimes I wonder about him. So; how did Naka-san take the news?"
"Really well! He already started buying boys clothing for the baby - and we don't know what the baby's gender is! It's only been a month." The cop shook her head. "But I'm glad he took the news well. He could of…"
She was rudely interrupted by the ridiculously fast Lamboghini taxi passing by. "Miyuki-chan, what the hell was that?" her partner shouted.
The first cop looked out through the window and saw the yellow supertaxi in the distance. "It looks like… it looks as if a very fast sports coupe just passed us by, traveling at ridiculous speeds. Natsumi-chan, tell the dispatch we are in pursuit of a speeding vehicle!"
Yes folks, it's Tokyo's super cops - Natsumi Tsujimoto and Miyuki Kobayakawa from the Bokuto Police Precinct and they're a force to be reckoned with… as Raul will soon find out.
In the taxi, the women in the back seat did not fail to notice the police car as they whizzed by.
"Hey, did we just pass a police car?" Yomiko asked Nenene.
Nenene looked back, "We sure did." Feeling it was her civic duty, Nenene politely and gently reminded their driver of that fact. "Hey you idiot - you just passed the cops! Now they're coming for us!"
"Was that the cops?"
"Ah shit..." Far from ceasing and desisting, Raul instead stepped on the gas harder, trying to outspeed the police car. But the modified police car was able to keep up with him.
Police car sirens howling, the cops sped up to the taxi. When she got closer, Miyuki was surprised, to put it mildly.
"It looks like a 2003 Lamborghini Murcielago converted to a taxi cab. Of all the crazy things I've seen in this city…"
"Yeah. This one really takes the cake."
"To convert a Lamboghini into a taxi cab? That is such a waste… Natsumi-chan; run a check on the license plate."
Natsumi entered in the license plate number in the car's computer. "It's telling me that the driver's name is Raul Diaz and that his license was suspended for DUI and for property damage two months ago."
"Uh oh. He needs to be pulled over right away."
Natsumi nodded in agreement. Miyuki drove recklessly close to the cab and hailed it through the megaphone.
"Will you please pull the car over?" Raul just kept driving. A second warning was thrown at the speeding car. "Will you please pull the car over? I repeat, please pull the car over before we are forced to take further action."
There was no way the taxi driver was going to pull over. He knew his license was suspended, and he knew that he would get arrested and serve jail time if he pulled over, so he just kept on driving. Natsumi had enough of this and took the 'phone from Miyuki, sticking her head outside of the window.
"PULL THE FUCKING CAR OVER!" she yelled.
This time the driver responded by giving her an obscene Japanese hand gesture, followed by the more familiar Western middle finger. After that, he threw an open water bottle right at Natsumi's face. It was a measure of how close the cop car was, that this bottle hit her, and soaked her from the shoulders up. Then he again floored the pedal and sped off. Miyuki was trying not to laugh at that one, but couldn't hold her snickers. Natsumi noticed and wasn't very happy about it.
"It's not funny! That son-a-bitch is going to get it! Press the nitro button!" she ordered.
"Yes Natsumi-chan. Nitro on!"
The button was pressed. The nitro kicked in. The cops caught up to the cab. Raul, however, was no fool in this case - a quick exit off the highway took him out onto the streets. The police car remained glued behind him and it took Raul by surprise that this small Honda Today could keep up with him - clearly it wasn't just an ordinary Honda car. This surmise was correct; the Today was a modified patrol car with a 700cc engine, twin cams, a turbo-charger, and a nitrous oxide boost – all installed by Miyuki herself. Jinking through all the alleys and back-ways in the area, Raul was running out of options. Miyuki was an experienced driver and was able to keep up with him. Eventually, however, local knowledge won out, and the frightened driver lost the two cops.
"Whew..." he said in relief as he relaxed a bit… before the cop-car appeared to jump out of some innocent bushes and land right behind him! "Oh shit!" he exclaimed and hit the gas pedal again.
While the chase was going on, Nenene and Yomiko helding onto each other tightly. Nenene knew this was seriously not the right time to feel this way… but she had no intention of letting her friend go either, knowing that it might well be the last time she would ever get to touch her. As for Yomiko, she didn't want to let go either, rather enjoying the closeness of Nenene near her. She could feel Nenene's hot breath on her neck and it wasn't making thoughts of Nancy a high priority.
Knowing that death could be around the corner, literally, Nenene wanted at least one moment with her beautiful Yomiko, even if Nancy had already stolen her heart. So she took her time just looking at Yomiko's face… and saw that face was as flustered as she herself felt. Nenene smiled. It was a bold, confident smile… yet her heart was pumping more than the pistons in the cab's engines, and her hands felt clammy with sweat. Courage failing, the author decided now was the perfect time to just tell her feelings, if any moment was. "Yomi-chan… I wanted to tell you this before we die. You're the most important person in the world to me. Those books I wrote…? Well, they were really about my feelings for you." Nenene started to cry. "And I want to have that one moment with you… please."
Yomiko, as childish and naive as she appeared, knew exactly what Nenene meant. Love was nothing new to her - not after Donny, and she wasn't entirely unacquainted with girls confessing their love for her. While Yomiko returned Nancy's love, she also wanted that one moment with Nenene. The least she could do was to respect the author's courage, and to give her what she wanted.
Their eyes met. There were no more words needed. Nenene softly placed her right hand on Yomiko's cheek. Just as soon as she was about to express her love, Raul abruptly slammed on his breaks.
He was only six inches from slamming into the end of a cul-de-sac alley. The suddenness of the halt nearly threw the passengers into the front. A heart-beat later, the patrol car was blocking the exit, lights flashing. Raul was in a bind; he knew the only chance he had at staying out of jail was to get out of that alley, and the only way he could do that was to go in reverse. Slamming the car into gear, he revved heavily and shot backwards like a rocket. The cop, Natsumi, saw this coming and leapt out of her car, screaming profanities and, paradoxically, surging towards the other vehicle. Bracing herself for the impact, and with super-human strength, she stuck her hands out and lifted the rear upwards, leaving the tires to spin uselessly in midair. Raul, utterly shocked, continued to press the gas pedal to the floor, but the car wasn't moving one bit. Everyone was amazed.
"What the fuck! Am I dealing with Supergirl? Is that bitch on steroids or sumthin'?"
Nenene was ready to criticize him on calling the policewoman a 'bitch', but abruptly realized it was completely pointless. Raul changed gear and tried to move forward, but with the car still in the air, the cop simply took a firmer grip on the rear of the car, holding it with super-human strength. The car wasn't going anywhere. Miyuki, who by now was out of the car, moved to within only a few feet of her partner.
"What's going on?" Yomiko asked Nenene, in a worryingly serene tone.
"It looks like we're a few feet above ground. The policewoman is lifting the back up… we're above ground!"
Raul knew he was in a hopeless situation, so he rather rudely bailed on them, "Oh shit! Well ladies, you don't have to pay me; this one is on me, 'cuz I got to go!" He leapt out of the car and fled like a little girl.
"Stop; you're under arrest!" Miyuki shouted. The erstwhile driver predictably ignored her, haring off as fast as he could. The cop looked at her partner who nodded. An airsoft gun was produced, and careful aim was taken. A single paintball round was fired, which struck the fleeing criminal's back, immediately incapacitating him. That was not enough for Natsumi, who dropped the rear of the car without concern for its occupants.
"It's time to kick that punk's ass!" She yelled as she proceeded to belt over to his motionless figure and serve him an LAPD-style beatdown. While she was punching and kicking him, she was also talking a lot of smack. "You think you can get away with flipping the bird at us, having us chase you for twenty minutes, throw a water bottle on me, and then try to run me over? HELL NO! I'm gonna beat your ass like Rodney King!"
"Stop it Natsumi-chan, stop it!" Her young partner pleaded, but the supercop kept right on going.
"Take this, you pathetic piece of shit!" – CRACK! She kicked him right at the ribs!
Nenene and Yomiko were shocked - it's not every day one witnesses police brutality - but Nenene also knew that this was the perfect time to leave. As they quietly prepared to flee, Yomiko had just one question.
"Who's Rodney King?"
Nenene privately despaired, "I don't have time to explain. Read Official Negligence: How Rodney King and the Riots Changed Los Angeles and the LAPD … but for now let's just get the hell out of here!" Yomiko didn't question this order. Both women slipped out of the car, nonchalantly walking away, looking perfectly innocent. In the meantime, Miyuki had grabbed her excitable partner around the waist and had forcibly dragged her partner away from Raul. The steaming cop was still fizzing with rage and ranting about an 'asskicking'.
"Stop it Natsumi-chan! You might get suspended! There are people recording this on their cellphones!"
The raging cop was still seething like a boiling kettle. "He'll think twice before resisting arrest next time!' she spat, but nor did she demur when her partner bundled the still incapacitated criminal safety into the back of the patrol car.
After they were well away from the incident, Nenene and Yomiko, without a word, simply began to search for another mode of transportation. All the taxis – the real taxis – appeared to be full, but an old man riding a bicycled-powered rickshaw appeared to be free. This gentleman was persuaded to pull over to collect them; no mean feat seeing as he was listening to his iPod, and loudly singing songs in his gravelly old voice.
If she isn't with me I'll blink the lights
To let you know tonight's the night
For me and you, my part-time lover.
"Where are you going?" said the gray-haired man.
"Dokuto High School!" Yomiko called, Nenene sighed. She didn't think this was the most ideal plan ever either, but at this point she really didn't have much of a choice.
They clambered up. The man started to peddle. It was very slow. Nenene's decided to, diplomatically, express her feelings about the pace of travel.
"Hey speed up slow poke! We're going to be late!" she screamed near his ear.
The peddling gentleman almost fell off the bicycle in shock, "Okay! Okay!"
Yomiko didn't notice the drama playing out beside her – she was already captured in the 'romance' of it.
"This is so romantic, Ne-chan! It's like this book where a young Indian princess falls for a lower caste girl, and the only way they could meet and express their love for each other was in a rickshaw run by the lower caste's brother!"
Nenene paused to process this statement. "Really?"
"Yeah! It amazing how books can capture the essence of romance… even through rickshaws. Reading is the closest you can get to experiencing it for real."
"There's nothing like experiencing romance first hand." Nenene murmured quietly. "A book can never give you the experience of looking deeply into those dark blue eyes of yours. A book could never give you the experience of caressing you," She seized the chance to back up her words with action. The rickshaw driver was slowing down, enjoying the event with his rear-view mirror. Yomiko was suddenly flustered, blushing deeply. Nenene moved in for the kill. "A book could never give you the experience of someone stroking your hair tenderly like this," as she started to stroke Yomiko's hair, "or someone telling you how wonderful you are, and how much they want you in their life. But most of all, a book could never give you the experience of someone telling you 'I love you'… and the kiss that goes with it."
The author slowly moved her hand to the back of Yomiko's head and drew her closer. The bookworm tilted her head in anticipation… but thoughts of Nancy and the dire consequences were threatening to interrupt the moment. Yomiko's heart didn't care though, and for once it was leading, and not her brain. Within scant inches from touching each other's lips… – BUMP! They were thrown into the air, bouncing off to the roof of the rickshaw. The rider had been so busy looking at what they were doing, he had totally ignored the huge pothole in the road. Predicable, Nenene reacted badly.
"WHAT THE… HOW THE HELL COULD YOU HAVE MISSED THAT POTHOLE? EVEN STEVIE WONDER COULD HAVE SEEN THAT!"
"I'm so sorry, I'm terribly sorry! I really didn't mean it. I mean…"
He didn't have time to finish his apologies; Nenene terminated his employment with extreme prejudice. In plain English, she gave him a roundhouse kick to the head that literally kicked him off the bike.
"Oh my God… !" Yomiko stammered. "You've just… you just knocked him out cold! How are we going to get there now?"
Nenene muttered darkly, "I'll get us there."
The bike was seized, the gears and levers thoroughly studied, and then they were off again, at speeds that would have given Lance Armstrong a run for his money. Nenene peddled like a madwoman, weaving through all the many alleys and backstreets in Shinjuku. Yomiko, however, simply held on for dear life; she didn't know who was crazier behind the wheel, Raul or Nenene!
Nenene was so determined to finally get her charge to school that she was quite willing to run over anybody who got in her way. "Out of the way!" she barked at one pedestrian in the middle of an alley. His frantic leap to one side landed him squarely in a pile of garbage.
That rickshaw moved like a demon had it possessed. Nothing could stop the toweringly grouchy mood of the author, who refused to acknowledge any delays… not even a flat tire… until the delay was large enough that not even she could will it out of existence. A parade had appeared in the street, some sort of costume parade, and they were suddenly dead in the center of it. Nenene was in disbelief.
"This is great! Now we are definitely late."
Yomiko stepped out of the 'shaw to take a closer look…. there was something peculiar about the whole business. It was by far one of the most colorful parades she'd ever seen, with lots of pink and rainbow banners everywhere.
"How come I see men wearing dresses and high-heels? Are those women in tuxedos? Hey, are those men actually wearing clothing?"
Nenene remembered, and sighed. "I am an idiot. Of course… today's the Tokyo Gay Pride Parade."
"Yeah. Maggie-chan told me about it. She keeps up with that type of stuff."
"Wow, it looks exciting!" Yomiko exclaimed.
Nenene rolled her eyes. "But we have to get you to your work. How are we going to get through this?"
"I've got an idea."
Yomiko reached out for some colored paper in her trenchcoat, throwing the little scraps into the air. Using her amazing Paper Magic, they clumped and turned and twisted into a very professional-looking parade float, shaped like the rainbow flag! Nenene was amazed, and also irrigated.
"Wow! Great idea, Yomi-chan… but why didn't you use this earlier to get you to work?"
Yomiko smiled without a trace of concern. "I didn't think of it. But in case when I do think of something like it, I wear my trenchcoat; it's got lots of pockets. Oh, but this float totally fits in with the parade, so we won't look so out of place there!"
"Yeah… not looking out of place will help."
"So what are you waiting for Ne-chan? Hop on!"
With a rumble, the extra float squeezed out of the alley and joined in. The spectators were amazed; both at the float, and at the occupants.
"Isn't that Sumiregawa-sensei?" said one woman.
"It sure is! I knew it all along - I knew she was a part of the 'family'!"
Many of people in the parade were also fans of Nenene's book - mostly young, mostly female, and all of them very excited to see her. Yomiko, however, was not a happy camper; the introvert was finding it all a bit too much. Nenene ceased glaring into the crowd long enough to spare her friend a brief glance.
"Don't worry about all these people. They're not gonna bite."
Yomiko shivered slightly. "Yeah but I'm not used to it."
"I know, it takes time. Just relax, smile, and wave at them like a beauty queen," the author advised. Yomiko watched her friend put on a cheesy smile and wave to the crowds like the pro she was, before following suit, and letting her natural child-like behavior take over.
Over the roar of the crowd it was difficult to hear anything, but a streamer hastily converted into a projectile bounced off Nenene's forehead; it certainly got the young author's attention. Two men were jogging merrily next to the float - not some fans of her work, but a former classmate and some other guy with him.
"Hey Takeo-san, how are you doing?" she reached her hand down to him and pulled them both up onto the float.
"I'm fine." He said, bracing himself against the sudden motion. "How about you?"
"The usual - fine."
Takeo noticed Yomiko, and smiled hugely. "Readman-sensei! It's good to see you!"
"It's good to see you too Takeo-san! And who is this with you?"
"Oh, this is Pierre. He's from Paris."
"Does he understand English?" Yomiko asked.
"Yes, he does."
"Nice to meet you Pierre," she said in rather proper English.
"Niz to me't you too!" he replied in a thick Parisian accent.
"Nice to meet you as well, Pierre-san. I'm Nenene," she said the author stoutly, in something which (if heard from just the right angle) could almost be described as English.
"I've heard about you! My sister is a fan of your books. Of course, she reads the French translation."
Nenene just chuckled, "Well, I'm glad to hear that. How about anybody else you know; your girlfriend perhaps? Did she ever read any of my books?"
Both men laughed
"I guess so, if I qualify as his girlfriend!" Takeo replied, amused, wrapping his arm around Pierre's waist.
Both ladies were surprised; he'd never admitted a thing, the sly dog.
"I sure am. Don't look so surprised! You should know better than that! Not all gays fit the stereotype… you two sure don't!"
"What do you mean us two?" Nenene hissed at him, slipping back into Japanese. Takeo knew very well her temper and he didn't want to get on her bad side. Yomiko spoke up instead.
"He's right, we are gay. There's nothing to be ashamed of. After all, I do love you, and you do love me, don't you Nene-chan?"
Nenene paused, as Yomiko was, in fact, correct. Even better was that Yomiko had confessed that she loved the author back. Nenene knew then that it was now or never. Her eyes met and locked onto the bookworms. "Yes I do love you, very much. And I want the world to know that!"
Now. Here. This was the perfect opportunity – an opportunity to crush some rumors, one-up Nancy in the 'who has Yomiko's heart' contest, and to express her love to Yomiko, all in one fell swoop. They kissed. It was even better than Nenene had expected; Yomiko was clearly more experienced in kissing than she thought. While she, naturally, took the lead, Yomiko was able to follow with enthusiasm, and their tongues danced around each other. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of people were watching them – the parade was being broadcast on live TV and they both knew it - but neither cared. The noise faded out, the crowd dissolved. They continued their passionate kiss… until air became a necessity. Everybody watching went completely mad with celebration.
"Congratulations on coming out!" Takeo exclaimed.
"Uh… thanks?" Yomiko said, hesitantly. Takeo and Pierre just laughed, before jumping down and disappearing back into the crowd. The two girls abruptly realized where they were again. Both knew it was time to go. A discreet swerve sent the float into a handy parking garage, and in the shadows the float was once again reduced back into a sea of paper.
There was a regular taxi cab a few blocks away from the parade; both women took it, and were extremely grateful to have absolutely nothing happen to them for once; the last thing either of them wanted was more surprises. The cab was reasonably private, and they talked animatedly about all sorts of things; from the Paper sisters right all the way though to their new relationship… except for one very touchy topic. Both carefully avoided bringing up Nancy.
The school hove into view, and even after all the adventures, Yomiko was only ten minutes late. While outside the classroom, Nenene had some final words before getting back in the cab and returning home.
"Well I didn't get you here on time - but at least you're here!"
Yomiko smiled. "I have to thank you for that! Who knows what happen if I tried to do it by myself?"
"I don't even want to imagine." Both chuckled. "Look, I don't want to take up too much of your time, you've got a class to teach."
"Yeah I do. I'll see you afterwards?"
"Sure thing." A mischievous mood seized the author. "Anything to see those beautiful eyes of yours again." She leaned forward and gave her a smooch on her lips. Some of the students saw it and were shocked, others cheered. That brought back out Nenene's primary mood; ie, ire.
"What are you looking at, huh? Mind your own business!"
The students quickly turned away.
"Well goodbye Nene-chan."
For the rest of the day, Yomiko's mind was in a constant swirl. She was thinking about the kiss, but she was also thinking about Nancy, and what this could possibly mean. She loved Nancy the same way she loved Nenene. Could it be possible for someone to love two people equally? Was it because they were what she never was? Nenene was always confident and assertive, while Nancy was adventurous and always had an 'I-don't-give-a-damn' attitude. As much as she didn't want to think about it, she did so anyway as it simply wouldn't go away.
The kiss was broadcast on live TV. Who could blame the TV company? It was definitely… newsworthy. A live recording of it was even shown on an entertainment news channel in a bar near Jimbo-cho. One of the patrons was listening idly to it as she was sipping Jack-on-the-rocks, but she wasn't interested enough to actually bother looking at the screen.
"We interrupt this broadcast for some breaking news! Sumiregawa Nenene, author of the latest best-selling When Two People Meet, just 'came out' at the Tokyo Gay Pride Parade today." The anchorman said.
"Hmmm, it's about time. Maggie-san finally won her heart," the patron muttered to herself. The anchorman continued.
"Thirty minutes ago, the author kissed a dark-haired woman in men's attire, atop a very colorful float. Sources close to the action suggest the woman is Readman Yomiko, a substitute teacher from Jimbo-cho."
The drinker nearly choked on her alcohol when she heard that. The news struck her like a lightning bolt. Her glass fell to shatter all over the floor. The patron was in disbelief. It couldn't be. No way in hell her Yomiko could be in love with Nenene…! - they had just made passionate love the night before! She could have sworn… but Yomiko told her that she loved her, and that she was the most important person in her life. It seemed as if that all that was just empty talk!
The figure rose from the stool, finally looking at the screen. Sure enough – the clip was of Yomiko and Nenene kissing each other passionately. Hot streams of tears burned the patron's eyes and rolled down her cheeks as she watched; her heart shattered into a million pieces, and pure anger boiled to a million degrees inside her head. As she looked at the screen, she glared at the one she felt that was responsible for this and finally said something through gritted teeth.