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Title: Koushounin series 04
Koushounin wa Hamerareru [交渉人は嵌められる]
Page: 054 – 080
Author: Eda Yuuri [榎田 尤利]
Illustrator: Nara Chiharu [奈良 千春]
Publisher: Taiyō Tosho
Year of Release: 2010
Eda Yuuri is the original author of this work, and this is a fan translation. Feel free to re-post this elsewhere if you like but please credit this site. I did buy the original copy of this book, along with the rest of the series, so it'll be great if you can support her by buying her books.
By the way, this work contains BL, or homo-eroticism.
As I have no formal training in translation theory nor am I an expert in Japanese (nor English, for the matter), I cannot guarantee the quality of this translation work, but I promise I did my best.
I have been a big fan of the Koushounin series by Eda Yuuri ever since I got my hands on the BLCDs for the first and second instalments of the series, and have been waiting patiently for the BLCDs for the third instalment onward… to no avail. It has been 8 years since the sensei published Koushounin wa Furikaeru, and I am beginning to accept that there might be no BLCD after all.
Nevertheless, the fujoshi doesn't give up. The following is my attempt at the English translation of the rest of the series.
I received a call from Shizu Kyousuke, the day after he met me at my office.
He told me that he had decided to stop scamming people and live an honest life. According to him, he was able to make up his mind because he wasn't suited to swindling work in the first place thus his string of failures, and even a brat like Tomonori made fun of him about it. However, Sayuri-san's rice cake soup was the finishing blow.
—if I did a normal, decent job, it might get really tiring at times but at least I could take a break during the New Year, and eat rice cake soup with someone else… I was beginning to think that a life like that doesn't sound too bad. I mean, yesterday's soup got me wondering how many years it had been since I had rice cake soup during the New Year. Back then my Grandpa used to make some for me, but his rice cake was all melty and gooey because that was how I liked it, so…
And Shizu had said, half to himself, that he wanted a family of his own, too. He had lost his parents at a tender young age and was brought up by his great-grandfather, but I heard that that great-grandfather had already passed on, too.
—as long I continued being a marriage swindler, I wouldn't be able to get myself a girlfriend, to say nothing of getting married and building a family. That is why, Mebuki-san, please take care of the stalker in my request for me.
I readily agreed, and asked him for more information before carrying out my own investigation on Remi-san. After three days, this is what I found out: the woman that had been following Shizu around was called Azuru Remi, and she was thirty years old. She was half Japanese; her mother was a Filipina, and she cut a voluptuous figure. I heard that she was a little forceful in her advances, and inexperienced men would be taken in by her.
"And her job is… a hostess at a dating club. Have you heard of this club called 'Alpha Omega'?" I asked Kiyo, which was familiar with the underworld. With his usual lack of expression he replied: "Yea, I have."
It was almost 7 PM, and Sayuri-san had already gone home for the day.
"It's an exclusive club that you can join by-invitation only. They were saying that the deposit you have to pay to join the club is 200,000 yen, or something like that."
"Two hundred thousand…? Huh. A world like that really does exist, I guess."
Wait a minute, I thought to myself. A dating club is a business that dispatches girls upon request to perform sexual acts, so they are most definitely illegal. These businesses do not have physical shopfronts thus it is hard to uncover such operations. Furthermore, businesses of this nature are most likely run by gangster organisations.
"Oh, I don't like the sound of that. It sounds like the yakuza is involved in this… Kiyo, could you ask around for me and find out which kumi is managing 'Alpha Omega'?"
"Only to the extent that it doesn't get dangerous for you, that is."
I got it, said Kiyo as he flashed me an OK sign and wiggled his fingers. It was the finger sign for 'three' that Sayuri-san had taught him. He seemed to have enjoyed the sign language lesson. At that time, Tomonori was also assigning meaning to the numbers; lifting an index finger could be 'one', but could also mean 'start', and lifting all five could mean 'five', but also 'wait', and they were playing with the hand signs amongst themselves. Before I knew it, the gigantic one in my office and the tiny one seemed to have grown close enough to quarrel with each other… I did use the word quarrel, but it would appear that the only one picking the fights was Tomonori.
The door chime rang, the same time a voice called out: "I have a small package for you."
Kiyo answered the door. He took the package from the deliveryman, whose face I had begun to remember, and asked him: "Who is it from?"
"From a… Tora-san."
Kiyo brought the package over to me. It was B5 size padded envelope from someone claiming to be Kuruma Torajirou. Even his address was indicated as Katsushika, Shibamata. Well… even though I am a Tora-san fan, and I have the DVDs of every 'Otoko wa Tsurai yo' film, I couldn't possibly have had personal dealings with Tora-san, a fictional character… furthermore, Atsumi Kiyoshi, who played his character on the films, had already passed on.
"… Did he send me kusa dango1 from heaven, or something?"
Upon opening the envelope, I found a white ball-point pen, swathed in bubble wrap.
"A ball-point pen?" I said, with my head was tilted in puzzlement, and Kiyo said to me: "Let me see it," with his hand outstretched. When I handed it to him, he gave the middle of the pen a twist, and the pen came apart into two halves. I looked inside the pen and inadvertently made a sound of surprise.
It was a USB memory drive; a small device that could exchange information with a computer.
"Huh… there are things like that nowadays."
"Un. They are being marketed as convenience goods but this one is probably…"
A USB drive that is disguised as a pen, said Kiyo. In other words, the pen was simply a cover to keep the USB drive hidden.
"We should probably plug it in and see what's inside."
My computer could read the drive, but I was unable to open the encrypted file in it. On the window that popped up requesting for the password were the numbers '11 15 28 48'. The number '48' gave me pause. There was a total of 49 'Otoko wa Tsurai yo' films, and 48 is one short of 49… wait. Does the number 48 refer to the 48th 'Otoko wa Tsurai' film?
"Ah. It's Asaoka Ruriko."
Kiyo gave me blank look. He hasn't watched the films, so it was natural that he did not know. In every Tora-san film, there would be a 'Madonna' role which is played by a different actress in each film, but few actresses would ever reprise their roles. And in the 11th, 15th, 25th, and 48th Tora-san film, the 'Madonna' role was fulfilled by the same actress; Asaoka Ruriko. Her character in the films was called Lily.
I typed 'lily' in the password field in the window, and the file opened to reveal a rather lengthy text document. Upon closer inspection I realised it was an email log, and after reading the email exchanges for one to two minutes, my breath hitched in my throat. In my haste to close the window, I found myself clicking on the 'x' button more times than it was necessary. I could scarcely believe my eyes. My heart pounded in my chest, and I was at a loss for words.
Why…? Why did something like that arrive at my door, after all this time? I had probably gone white, for Kiyo whispered to me: "You alright?"
In all honesty, I was not alright. I was still frozen, my eyes still fixed on the familiar desktop monitor screen. It was a while before I could let out the breath I had been holding in.
"Sorry… please excuse me for a bit."
With that, I carried my laptop, which was still switched on, into my room at the back of the office. This was something I most definitely do not want to read in front of anyone else. Sitting on my bed, I clumsily opened the file once more, with shaky fingers. I didn't want to continue reading, but I had to… I had an obligation to fulfil, after all.
Yes, I had to finish reading it all.
I could almost hear the ghost of his voice, right beside my ear, a voice that would never call out to me again. Steeling my resolve, I read the document till the end. It took no longer than 20 minutes, and I could remember everything I read. After that, I sat there and pondered it all. It was evident as to what this file was, and the sender must have known, too. However, why did he send something like this to me? I racked my brains, to no avail.
A knock on the door later and Kiyo said: "… Mebuki-san, it's time," on the other side of the door. I suddenly recalled that I had an appointment at 9 PM, and that I only had thirty minutes till then. Immediately, I returned to the office, as 9 PM was my appointment with Azuru-san.
"Thanks for the reminder, Kiyo, I was running late." This meeting was hard to set up, so I shouldn't show up late and wound the feelings of the lady.
While preparing my things to go out, I thought about where to hide the USB, as it was something I absolutely cannot misplace. Should I carry it with me when I go outside? No, I wouldn't know what kind of trouble I'll get myself into in the course of my work, so it'll probably be safer to keep it in the office. Heading over to the pantry, I slid opening the door on the shelf and took out a tea canister and stuffed the pen in it after removing the lid.
"Un. It's kinda important."
"Nn," answered Kiyo with a nod, and he had nothing else to add.
On an unrelated note, I also had a cabinet that I could keep locked, but there was nothing in it save for a couple tens of thousands of yen in cash and documents that didn't really matter. It was simply bait for a robber who might come in when no one was in, looking for something steal.
Kiyo saw me out, and I left the office and set out for Shibuya, where my appointment was.
Shibuya was crowded with youngsters. I hurried through the crowd as I made my way to a café in Dogenzaka, flipping up the collar of my coat against the chilly night wind. In my hurry to leave the office I had left my muffler scarf behind. The night wind howled in my ears, jeering at me as I tried to take my mind off the USB drive by focusing on the task at hand.
I managed to arrive at the place we agreed to rendezvous five minutes early, but she arrived ten minutes late. Shizu had shown me her photographs, and since she was a woman of striking good looks that stood out from the crowd, it wasn't at all difficult to spot her. When she entered the café, I stood up and bowed to her.
"Pleased to meet you. It was good of you to agree to meet me today."
She gave me a cursory glance, and without a word, took her seat. Since she did not remove her designer coat, it was a sign that she wasn't going to stay for very long. To a waitress, all she said was a curt "Perrier…" for water, in a voice was husky and flirtatious. Yet she sounded a little tired, and her eyes were clouded with a certain listlessness, even if she did look young for thirty years of age.
I introduced myself and handed her my business card, but she did not utter a word. She didn't even smile at me; instead, she looked like she was sizing me up. It didn't exactly feel very pleasant, but I was used to such appraising looks. I kept my tone affable to the extent that she wouldn't think too lowly of me, as I explained to her that I was representing Shizu… or Shimizu, which she knew him by, and that I was speaking in his stead.
"Please allow me to speak plainly. Shimizu-san wishes to end his relationship with you."
When there are disputes regarding matters of the heart, I would endeavour to maintain a business-like tone throughout. Since both parties in such a conflict would be heavily bound in chains of emotion, the mediator would have to remain level-headed at all times.
"I won't break it off," said Remi in a whisper, without any emotion flickering across her face. Truth was, her lack of expression was far more intimidating than a violent outburst of emotion, but I kept my countenance calm.
"Azuru-san. A relationship is established when both parties have feelings for each other. Shimizu-san no longer have such feelings for you. Many times he has sought to break up with you. Yet you have ignored his pleas and continued to call and send texts to him, haven't you?"
"What is wrong with sending texts to a person you like?" Her lips had been coloured to seem paler than they were, as in vogue nowadays.
"The number of and frequency of the texts you send to him exceed what will be considered acceptable. I also heard that you have lain in wait for Shimizu-san in front of his apartment, and when he returned home, you shouted at him things like "What a rotten person you are". According to the law, what you are doing would be called illegal harassment."
"But I bought him many things. Expensive watches, clothes…"
"Shimizu-san said that he would return everything."
She blinked slowly as she said: "That is not the point here. What is he going to do with the feelings I put into those gifts?"
"I am very sorry to say this, but," I said dispassionately, "he cannot return those feelings. That is solely your problem, and should not have anything to do with Shimizu-san. There is nothing he can do anyway… your love is simply one that is unrequited."
Crap, the last part might have been unnecessary, I thought to myself as I looked at the furrow that had appeared in her brow, but I could no longer take my words back, so I continued:
"Shimizu-san has feeling troubled by this matter, and has taken some psychological damage from your actions. This has begun to show up as migraines and insomnia, both of which are physical symptoms of stress. I must implore you to stop your harassment of him at once."
"… Huh. What would you do if I refused?"
"Should you continue to do so, I am afraid that he will consider reporting you."
"Report me?" Remi laughed for the first time since we met.
"Please, go ahead and make that report." Her glossy lips were curled in mirth, and a chilly sense of foreboding crawled up my back.
"Azuru-san, please think through it again. I am sure you wouldn't like the police to…"
"Don't make me laugh. A swindler, reporting me to the police?" she said, with a sardonic smile.
I fell speechless. She knew. She knew exactly what Shizu was.
"I don't care if you are negotiator or a private investigator, but… you ran a background check on me, didn't you, Mebuki-san?"
She tapped a long square-shaped nail on the business card I gave her, which was on the table.
"Don't you dare think you can screw with me simply because I am a woman. I am someone who makes a living off riding atop men, and hordes of them, too… thus there is no way I would be fooled by a third-rate swindler like him. He kept hinting at me that he was in debt and that he had sick parents, plus his acting was really lousy… but it was so interesting, going out with a man like that."
She chuckled, and I noticed that she had left deep impressions on my card with her nails.
"Aren't you being really the jerk here?" Remi was still laughing. "He tried so hard to deceive me and I was happily playing along with him, so why did you have to spoil our game?"
Naturally, I was unsettled by this unexpected turn of events, but I wasn't stupid enough to let it show on my face. Keeping my breathing in check, I laughed along with her as I said: "I must hand it to you. I probably should admit that I have underestimated you, Azuru-san. However, since you now know everything, wouldn't you have no reason left to continue your relationship with him?"
"That is something for me to decide."
"Don't you think it is a waste of your time to continue this false relationship with a marriage swindler? It wouldn't amount to anything."
"I don't care if it doesn't." She inclined her head to one side and her long, lustrous hair fell on her shoulders. "I only want to enjoy myself for now… so don't get in my way."
"You really believe in living in the moment, don't you?"
Well now, what next? If I give up here, then it'll be my turn to be called a third-rate negotiator. I decided to acknowledge the vulnerability of my position. Slumping my shoulders, I said: "Well, this is awkward," with a sigh. "I shall have him prepare a sum of money for the settlement, then."
Sometimes, one had to make a compromise. Besides, it was Shizu's fault for trying to swindle this woman in the first place. Even if this was a costly mistake, I'm sure it will serve as a valuable lesson for him.
"My apologies, but I don't need his money."
"Anyone who looked at you would know that, but I know no other way of showing you how sincere or sorry he is."
"Hey. Are you soft in the head? Haven't I already told you that I went out with him while knowing he was a marriage swindler? I don't need his sincerity. I only wish to be romanced… I don't feel alive, if I wasn't in love." She fluttered her eyelashes, which have been heavily mascara-ed.
The word 'love addict' floated to my head, but I hesitated to label her as one. Was she really a love addict? Or was she making things difficult for me to hide the fact that she been fishing for the monetary settlement all along? The former was far more problematic.
"Oh, am I in trouble," she said, in a voice that was almost… tender. "I love putting men in a spot… the look on Kyouichi-kun's face when he got desperate was priceless. He looked like a dull-witted dog being chastised, and it was adorable. But Mebuki-san may do fine, too… when I see intelligent, handsome types like you in distress, I feel like pushing them a little closer to the edge."
"How frightening." I replied with a laugh, but that was how I truly felt. She was indeed frightening, and a formidable opponent. It was odd of me to think of her this way, but then again, I thought, almost defiantly, what of it? There was a certain stubbornness that was characteristic of those who had turned defiant, so that thought prevailed. What a terrible swindler Shizu was. He wasn't even able to get the first step right: picking a suitable person to be his victim.
"Go on a date with me."
"If Mebuki-san would agree to go on a date with me right now, I'll consider leaving Kyouichi-kun alone."
"I don't think it'll be very fun to go on a date with someone like me."
"We won't know until we try, will we?" she said rather confidently, as she probably knew that I had run out of options. Standing up with a small smile, she said: "Shall we go now?"
And that was how I ended up going on a date with a beautiful woman, but I wasn't in a position to feel happy about it.
I thought about how I could talk this deceitful woman around, and concluded that it would be better for me to set up a new meeting instead of making a mess of things in my hurry to wrap this case up. But if I were to insist on going home now, Remi will most definitely take offense, and a second meeting may not be possible. The best course of action right now was to accompany her to dinner and perhaps some drinks, before asking to meet her again to discuss Shizu's case.
Take me somewhere that has good food, instructed Remi.
I pondered my options. Since she was a call girl from an exclusive dating club, she should probably be used to eating at expensive restaurants. In fact, she might have gotten tired of eating at such places. What then, should I do?
"… I have a very special place in mind."
"Bring me there."
"Truth is, it is a place I wouldn't want too many people to know about."
"I'm getting excited hearing you talk like that."
"And, it gets rather cold there."
I don't mind, answered Remi, so we got into a taxi that was headed downtown. We alighted the taxi at the side of the road, somewhere in a part of town that was rather noisy yet had a quaint charm of its own.
"We've reached. Great… it isn't very busy today."
"Here… as in…"
Remi looked slightly astonished, but I beckoned her over with a wave of my hand. "Good evening," I greeted the owner. He was an old man with a knit cap on his bald head, whom I could now recognise. "Good to see you again," was his amicable reply.
I had brought Remi to a street-side oden stall.
It was located in the darkness beneath a railroad bridge, open only at night, and the only alcohol they served was rice wine by the glass. However, I could vouch for the taste of the oden.
Truth was, I had taken a gamble bringing Remi to a place like this, but she seemed to like it. I observed that she could hold her liquor well, by the number of times her glass of rice wine was tipped back. She seemed to be high spirits as she chose her pieces of oden, and even had a second helping of the simmered radish, which she said she was fond of.
"Mebuki-san, you have great taste."
"You think so?"
"I haven't had a date like this in years. It feels like we are a real courting couple… don't you have a talent for this?" You may be well suited to be a marriage swindler, she whispered, with a laugh. It didn't feel like a compliment, but I had to laugh along with her.
We drank for about two hours after that.
It was close to midnight when I told Remi that I would call a taxi for her, but she said: "I'm a little tipsy so let's take a walk," as she snuggled up beside me and curled her arm around mine. Her body felt firm and curvy against my arm.
Erm… well, I was flattered, but this wouldn't do. This part of town, if I was not wrong, was Suou-gumi's territory. I didn't think Hyoudou himself would be skulking around, but there was a good chance that his underlings might see me with her. Or his underlings' underlings, and so forth.
"Are you alright? Do you feel unwell?"
"I'm feeling good. Great, in fact." She chuckled once, before continuing: "I'm beginning to like you, Mebuki-san. I don't think I would need to bother with Kyouichi-kun anymore."
Her eyes burned with desire as they stared into mine. Crap… her interest was starting to shift from Shizu to me, and that didn't bode well for me at all. The night was chilly and we were out in the open, but I could feel a nervous sweat breaking out on my back.
"Hey… stay with me, till morning comes."
"Ah ha ha. We can't, Azuru-san."
"You're being cold to me."
"You really should go home now. I'll call a cab for you, so—"
No, she said firmly, and began walking briskly ahead. I hurried after her and followed her into a street off the main road. "Azuru-san?" I called when I lost sight of her, but she appeared out of nowhere to put her arms around me from behind.
"Uwa!" I exclaimed.
"… Stay with me, until tomorrow morning," she whispered into my ear as she pressed herself on me, and something soft and luxurious flattened against my back.
If I were a lecherous man without any brains to speak of, I most definitely would have walked blithely into her trap. And be overcome with regret when morning came, no doubt.
To exacerbate the problem, there was a hotel right in front of us, the sort of hotel which charges an hourly fee for a 'rest' in one of the rooms. If I were to carelessly allow her to pull me in… no. I planted my feet firmly onto the ground.
"We can't. Let's go home."
"If you go home now, I'll file a suit against him."
"I'll report Kyouichi-kun to the police, saying that he tried to swindle me by pretending to be my lover." A smile played across her lips as she wrapped her leopard-printed scarf around my neck, both ends of the scarf wound tightly in her fists. I could very well have been put in a pillory.
"But if Mebuki-san does as I tell him to, I'll leave Kyouichi-kun alone. We both have nothing to lose, don't you think? Let's spend a wonderful night together… well, it is a little off putting when I say it like this, but men pay a high price for this, you know." She pushed her ample body towards me, her voice taking on a seductive lilt.
Any man would be proud to have her hanging off his arm, but what I felt was something akin to terror. She felt like a huge serpent coiling itself around me, her tail cold and slithery against my skin.
"Azuru-san, we can't!"
"So you don't care about what happens to Kyouichi-kun?"
"Shizu-san has nothing to do with… Uwa!" My feet slipped as she pulled me towards the entrance of the hotel, which loomed before us. A drunk old man emerged from the entrance. "Tee hee hee, you're in for a good time, young man!" he said crassly, but I didn't think so. This isn't good at all. I was a frog that was a few seconds short of being swallowed whole by a snake.
Of course, I could throw her off me and run away from her now, but that will put Shizu in a difficult position. That being said, should I literally be putting my body on the line for the sake of a client? If everything could be solved by spending one night with her, then the situation would be slightly more bearable, but what if she decides to stalk me instead, after tonight? There is no guarantee that she wouldn't… no, it was highly likely that she would.
Perhaps it was as she had said; she was a woman who couldn't live if she wasn't in love with someone. The problem was that her love was something that ignored the will of the objects of her affections. She didn't care what they thought of her, nor did it bother her that she was causing trouble for them… that was why she continued to stalk them.
"Mebuki-san…" Her breath was hot against my neck.
A shudder ran up my spine and I was about to thrust her away from me in revulsion, but was stopped by a pair of arms grabbing my wrists from behind, forcefully jerking me away from her.
I leaned away and tumbled a couple of steps backwards, and would have lost my balance and fallen over if my back hadn't collided into the very solid chest of someone behind me. Strong arms encircled me, and I was enveloped in the scent of cologne.
Remi's eyes went round as she stared at me… no, at the person behind me.
"Is shacking up with a woman in a hotel part of your job, too?"
I didn't need to turn around to know who is was, behind me. How does he always manage to appear in situations like these, with such impeccable timing?
Right… some underling of his must have spotted me with Remi just now. Since his followers were his ardent admirers, they had a bad habit of reporting to him what I was doing every time they caught sight of me in town… just the other day, I was at the supermarket picking up some beef from the clearance bin, some chrysanthemum greens and konnyaku noodles. The next day, Hyoudou confronted me. "Who did you eat sukiyaki with last night?" he pressed, to my chagrin. It would have been an understatement to say that the walls have ears.
(Incidentally, I ate the sukiyaki alone. I couldn't help myself, since I was hit by a sudden craving for some that day.)
"I haven't shacked up with her yet now, have I?" was my indignant reply, and I heard a low chortle of laughter in return.
"Not sure where you would have ended up if I came here five seconds later, though… this woman doesn't look like an amateur. Why were you being dragged off to a hotel by a woman who is obviously a professional?"
"This…. well. I was under some rather special circumstances, and… Oi. Let go of my arm, would you? Erm, Azuru-san, this is someone I happen to know, and…" I said evasively as I twisted and squirmed in a bid to escape his vice-like grip, to no avail.
"Oi. You," said Hyoudou to Remi, ignoring me. "I don't know which establishment you work for, but it's no use trying to shake him down. He might be good-looking, but he hasn't got any money."
It was true that I didn't, but he needn't have pointed it out. I opened my mouth to tell him to mind his own business, but I ended up letting out a pathetic-sounding yowl of indignation instead. Hyoudou had reached his right hand in between my legs to grab at my defenceless… well, that, balls and all, before giving them a firm squeeze.
"Furthermore, this thing of his doesn't have any business with women. I'm giving it with all the attention it needs."
Remi stared at us in mute amazement, her mouth hanging open. "W-What is the meaning of this?" she finally managed. "Mebuki-san, are you gay?"
"That's right. He's gay. He can't get it up for women."
"W-Wha…?" I sputtered.
"You must be kidding me! Quit making a fool out of me, you pervert!" she yelled at me, and at the same time something bounced off my face.
I cried out in pain. It hurt immensely. Remi had kicked upwards, and the one of her black heels had flown off her foot to catch me squarely on the bridge of my nose. It was a remarkable hit, actually. Stars of pain exploded in my vision, but through the haze of pain I saw Remi stalk off in a huff.
"Hakuta-san, her shoe."
Hakuta picked up Remi's shoe and went after her, and she snatched it from him before turning around just once to give me one last death glare, her face looking positively demonic. Then, she was gone.
"… Give me a break, will you?" I muttered as I felt something warm dripping from my nose.
"That's what I should be saying, you two-timer."
"When did anyone two-time you? That was work, alright. She was my client’s stalker, and I was trying to get her to stop stalking him…"
"So… you were going to talk her around while making passionate love to her in a hotel?"
"I'm telling you it's not like that!" I finally managed to break free of his arms and turned around to face him. Upon seeing my face, the yakuza who always managed to appear out of thin air at the most uncanny of moments knitted his brows. "Senpai, you're having a nosebleed," he said, and before I could wipe the blood from my nose, he pulled me close and licked it off with a swipe of his tongue.
"Stop that, you pervert. Let go of me!"
"It won't stop if you move about too much, you know. You should rest quietly when you have a nosebleed… ah, aren't we in the perfect place for you to do so?" said Hyoudou with a knowing grin, as he looked at the signboard that said 'Rest - from 6000 yen'.
"… What are you thinking of?"
"It is thrilling to do it at a place like this, sometimes."
"I have enough of thrills. Just having you around brings me so much trouble that my entire life is a roller-coaster ride.”
"Please don't shower too much praise on me. It makes me shy."
I am not praising you!
Hastily, I tried to move away from Hyoudou, but he kept his grip firm on both my wrists. Furthermore, my nosebleed hasn't stopped and I had to quickly pinch my nose to stop the blood from flowing.
"Come along now, senpai."
A thin smile had appeared on Hyoudou's lips. He was smiling, but he was livid… He was furious with me for almost entering a hotel with a woman. Hyoudou, at times like these, can be very dangerous indeed. I usually have trouble walking the next day.
I looked at Hakuta for help, but Hyoudou's right-hand man only gave me a kindly smile. "Have a good time," he said, with a wave of his hand.
It isn't very difficult to deceive a person.
You could even say it is easy to. However, there is a contrivance involved. The person you hoodwink has to be someone who wished to be lied to, and you simply had to tell him the lies he wanted to hear. That is all you need to do.
After all, most people only see what their eyes wished to see, and hear words that their ears wished to hear. In stricter terms, the human brain is wired to do so. We process a great deal of information collected by our eyes and ears every day, and the brain has to filter all of it and internalise only information that is beneficial to us. This is a process known as selective filtering, and it is not objective.
This means that to a certain extent, everyone is someone who wished to be deceived.
In reality, life can get pretty difficult. Only a small number of people actually reap the fruits of their labour. Those who work hard and succeed are featured in documentaries. Those who work hard but perish are ignored, and everyone will pretend not to see them.
Why is it that those who don't own very much in the first place are the ones susceptible to losing their precious savings to swindlers? The answer is rather simple; these are people who wished to be deceived. Those who are weak would always need a crutch to lean on. 'Weak' doesn't have to mean impoverished, 'weak' can also refer to those who lack mental fortitude.
Look, there is an example of one right here, in front of me.
"Could I sit beside you, please?"
She raised her head to regard him warily, but amidst the suspicion in her eyes he saw a glimmer of hope. Something made me unhappy just now, I want to forget all about it and think of only pleasurable things, her eyes seemed to say.
"Ah, my apologies. Are you waiting for someone else? I'm sorry for bothering you, then."
He pretended to shrink away from her and tried to leave. There was no need to be aggressive with a woman like her; she was probably bored of men who had money and influence. He did not know anything about her beforehand, but he could tell by looking at her. Her clothes and belongings were all from high-end brands, but she didn't seem to think they were very precious. Her bag was thrown carelessly on the floor of the bar, and he would be hard pressed to call the floor clean.
"I'm not waiting for anyone in particular… so why don't you have a seat?"
He pretended to smile in relief, and took a seat beside her. His outfit was effortlessly casual; he was wearing a knit sweater over a shirt, and woollen pants. He looked like someone who did freelance work instead of the regular office work, but he was careful to not look too sloppy.
"I was waiting for someone actually…" he laughed, sheepishly. "But she blew me off with a text."
"Huh. So you've decided to hit on me, then?"
She didn't smile, so he tried a wry smile.
"… Erm, well. I guess I just wanted someone to complain to. Don't mind me."
I figured, the woman said as she took out a cigarette. She wasn't allowed to light up in here but she was still going to, anyway. Only hosts and hostesses do things like that.
"I could hear you out but… I met with something rather unfortunate too, just now."
"Then let's listen to what each of us has to say. It's not very productive… but you just have to let it out, sometimes."
He ordered a beer from the bartender before asking the woman, "What happened?"
She looked at him haughtily before answering, amidst in a cloud of smoke: "I got dumped."
"You? Surely not!"
"Because, what kind of man will dump a woman like you? Was he someone who hated cigarette smoke? Ah. Perhaps you have a pretty face, but truth is that you have extremely smelly feet, or something like that?"
Ewww, said the woman, as she laughed for the first time he met her. She looked much younger when she smiled. "My feet don't stink. Don't be rude," she said.
"You sure? Then, why did he dump you?" He lifted the glass of beer he was served, and lightly clinked it against hers. The woman moistened her lips with her cocktail and frowned as she said: "It's a terrible story. A man whom I thought would be a great catch… turned out to be gay."
"Eh. You mean, he liked men?"
"Yep. Can you imagine how horrible it was? And this unpleasant-looking person who was probably his boyfriend showed up in front of the hotel, too…"
"Sounds like an experience you don't get every day."
"Oh, it was the worst."
"Was the man who dumped you good-looking?"
"Rather than to say he was good looking… well. He was a bit of a pretty boy, and he had a really weird job. He said he was a negotiator… and gave me his business card."
He did not say, show me.
Feigning disinterest, he said: "Huh, a job like that exists, I see." If she was carrying his business card, he would have many chances to see it later on.
"What about you? What do you do?" she asked.
"My work is related to systems, and I produce engineering drawings using computer software. I recently got head-hunted so I moved to a larger company but… it does get tiring, having to deal with people all the time."
Yes it does, the woman agreed with a slight nod of her head.
"If you were head-hunted, that means you are good at your job, doesn’t it?"
"Ah ha ha, I wonder. Well, I guess I do okay… your glass is empty. Would you like another drink?"
"No, thank you. I drank quite a bit today," said the woman. In a softer voice, she continued: "… But I wouldn't mind a coffee right now."
"I wouldn't mind a cup, too. I know of a good café that is open through the night." He extended the invitation easily, as he smiled. The woman smiled, too.
Look at how simple it is.
It isn't at all difficult to deceive a person.
1 Kusa dango: rice balls on skewers flavoured with mugwort. Kusa dango is a local specialty in the Shibamata district, which is the key setting of the 'Otoko wa Tsurai yo!' films. Read all about Tora-san and the films .