The night was still, the stars were glimmering; there were no clouds for miles around. People retreated to the safety of their homes, the machinery had stopped, and serenity pervaded the night air. Manhattan was at peace.
Alexander W. Hamilton, Alex for his close friends, was sitting on the terrace of his apartment on the 72th floor of the Wayner building on the Upper East Side of the Jungle. It was Friday night, and he was unwinding from a long and exhausting week at the office. As per usual, Alex held a glass of Courvoisier XO, his favourite Cognac, in one hand, and a cigar in the other. Alex wasn't a smoker, but he enjoyed a cigar with his Cognac. It fit the occasion; he thought, and it set the proper mood.
Alex's apartment overlooked Central Park. He was at peace when looking at it. It was his solitude from the daily hoopla. Being an investment banker was stressful after all. No, being young and extremely driven was the real stress. But he excelled at it, due to his calculative and daring nature. At the young age of 31 he has built himself quite an empire, and he enjoyed every bit of the spoils of his wars – he wore expensive suits, drove the best cars, had a maid, several cooks, a chauffeur and a whole entourage of other personnel working for him.
Deep in thought, as he always seemed to be, he was contemplating every detail, no matter how seemingly unimportant the subject of his thoughts. What to do tonight. Shall he go out with his would-be girlfriend Melany, attend an event he was invited to on the 5th Avenue—a posh affair full of dull bankers—or his friend Jason's office party on Madison Avenue. None of the possibilities were particularly inviting he thought, so he stopped contemplating which of the lesser evils to choose and instead had a sip of his favourite Cognac. Resuming his gaze upon Manhattan, Alex had a certain gleam in his eyes and a slightly curled upper lip, like he was up to no good.
Seemingly decided upon his next move he went inside the apartment to prep himself up. He was always very particular and detailed with that. He'd carefully select what shirt to wear, which socks to put on, whether he'd use a wristwatch with a leather or a metal band, light blue or dark blue suit and so on. Borderline obsessive some of his closest thought.
“Good evening, Sir, how are you?” said the lobby clerk.
“Quite fine, thank you, Adam,” replied Alex.
Outside, a man waited in front of a black car, with the back door open, “Alex, what are we doing this fine evening?” said the man courteously.
“Sarcasm doesn't befit you, Richard,” replied Alex to Richard, his chauffeur.
“I can always be cynical,” replied Richard, smiling.
Ignoring the comment Alex said, “We're going to pick up Melany, and then go to Madison Avenue, Jason's hosting a party at his office.”
“Ah, what is it, bled out — I mean, acquired — another company?”
“No, it's just a party,” replied Alex, peering out the window. He watched an older man at the stop light. The man wore an impeccable pinstripe suit and a light-grey overcoat. It fit him perfectly. He looked tired, though, his expression rather empty.
“Mel, we'll be there in 10 minutes, are you ready?” said Alex over the phone. “Right, typical, look just be down at the lobby. I'm not waiting.”
Melany lived a few blocks away. She was a rather spoiled brat; Alex thought, but he kept returning to her for some reason. Maybe because she wasn't too bright and he didn't feel the need to be on his guard, which soothed him. She was also the senator's daughter, which might have been another reason for sticking around.
“Bravo, Mel, you're not late,” said Alex.
“I can be on time if I want to,” she replied briskly.
“You're a keeper,” chimed in Richard.
“Oh, Hi Rich, how are you?”
“Very well indeed, thank you. And yourself Ms. Rogers?” Richard asked politely.
“Swell, swell, I am in your company aren't I?”
“Ha, true that,” said Richard, grinning.
For all his banter, Richard was a faithful man, a pleasant one at that. And not because he had to be, it was his nature. An Englishman, Richard prided himself to be a man of class. He always wore a black suit, a black tie and a white shirt. He's worked for Alex for four years now, and they have become a good team. Richard was most trustworthy, thus, Alex trusted him with difficult and sometimes secretive, off the book tasks.
The offices of Squiggle Inc. were grandiose. Formerly owned by a large fortune 500 company who had spent lavishly to impress their clients, it had been bought by Jason's father after their inevitable bankruptcy a decade ago. Today they represent the offices of Squiggle Inc., ran by Jason, a long-time friend of Alex's. Jason is a highly intelligent, 30 something bachelor with extremely curly hair, horn-rimmed glasses, and an eccentric personality fit for a circus clown.
“Alex, where the hell have you been?” exalted Jason. “You're late. You shouldn't be late, not to my parties, haven't you learned that before? We've already snorted all the coke,” continued Jason in an excited voice. “I kid, I kid, of course, we've got a mountain of it left,” he went on disregarding a stern look from Wendy, the office manager. “Ah, Ms. Watson, it is great to see you,” he said in a very polite, mannered fashion, albeit with a touch of sarcasm. “Would you excuse us dear, Alex and I need to have a chat.”
“Wired at 9:45, isn't that pushing it?” asked Alex casually.
“Ah, but you see my friend, this isn't the evil doings of drugs, nah, this is pure ecstasy,” replied Jason excitedly, and continued in a hushed voice. “We've closed the biggest deal ever.”
“What deal?” asked Alex curiously, leaning towards Jason.
Looking around conspiratorially, he whispered, “The NewCo Deal. It's done; it's finished. We've conquered.”
“When, how?” said Alex in amazement.
“A few hours ago. We've had a stroke of luck, so to speak,” replied Jason, smiling mischievously. “350 million, can you believe it? A year and a half ago we thought 15 million was all the money in the world. Now look at us.”
“I can't believe it, you pulled it off, you twisted maniac,” replied Alex, shaking his head, laughing.
“Who knew, right, certainly not my father. In any case,” Jason went on. “This warrants some real celebration. You, me and old lady Vegas. Tomorrow, what say you?”
Alex merely smiled and nodded. He's had experience with "old lady Vegas" before. This was going to be a ride and a half.
By 3:35 AM people were lying hither and thither. The office which was spotless during the day was in shambles. Alex was leaning on a round, marble pillar, a spectator to human ignorance, thinking whether or not anyone here is going to make it to 40. He looked around and saw Melany, head in her lap, fast asleep. She'd been in the same pose ever since taking a hefty dose of coke, combined with Xanax and something people referred to as "The Bomb". Whatever that was. At the far right corner was Jason. He was shirtless; a tie hung around his neck. He had a pink-blue fedora atop his face. A large cross was drawn on his chest, with what seemed like blood.
“Richard,” said Alex over the phone. “I've had enough, come get me please.”
The next morning Alex felt exhausted from the night before. Nevertheless, as his discipline dictated, he got up at half-past eight, put on his jogging equipment, drank half a litre of ionized water and went out towards central park for his morning rounds. He would do them every day, no matter what, all year long. This was necessary to sustain his active life. Moreover, it was a way of keeping his sanity. Finding ways of relieving stress was one of his top priorities. It was either this or the Asylum. And he really didn't want to go there, nor would he fit, he thought.
After doing his usual ten kilometres he would exercise for another thirty minutes in his home fitness, all the while listening to audiobooks on a variety of topics. Sometimes it was on finances and history, other times fiction, and still yet at times, erotica. He regarded it all as brain stimulus and the expansion of his horizon.
When he was done with the exercise routine he would take a relaxing shower in his state-of-the-art bathroom, equipped with a surround sound system and all sorts of gadgets. Classical music was the choice of music in the morning. But he was no stranger to rock or jazz, and even punk on extremely rare occasions. His inclination for a broader horizon in play again.
At approximately 10:30 am he would prepare breakfast for himself. Being a cooking enthusiast he had no problems preparing a wide palette of meals. From vegetarian to classic American, Asian and even African. Among his favourite was a dish from the Ivory Coast.
"A relatively simple recipe, yet fascinating for people with a sweet tooth," Alex used to say, presentationally, to entertain his guest. "Just peel a couple of bananas, roll them in corn flakes and fry them in peanut oil. Then sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and enjoy. Delicious."
After finishing with breakfast, it was time for business due diligence. He would check on the status of business, which would give him the satisfaction of peace he needed to enjoy the rest of the day.
“Yeah,” said Alex, picking up his phone. “Oh, you're awake, you're an early bird aren't you mate?” he said sarcastically, but with a light tone. “So, what's up, you up for that adventure you were rambling on about yesterday?”
“Yes, what do you think I'm a princess, I'm ready to go,” replied Jason. “I'll pick you up at 6, but we're not going to Vegas, I've got something better in mind.”
It was nearly 6. Alex was waiting outside for Jason's arrival. He was dressed in a light beige blazer, navy blue pants and his most luxurious shoes. He was ready for whatever Jason had to throw at him. He took a small travel bag with him just in case this trip turns into a longer affair, as it used to do with Jason.
At the moment of Jason's arrival, Alex felt a momentary feeling of unease, which was quickly swept away with the sound of loud honking by the driver, no doubt on Jason's orders.
“Get in, we're late,” said Jason brashly. “We've got to be at the airport in 30 minutes. For some godforsaken reason, the pilot can't wait any longer.”
“Where are we going anyway?”
“You'll see, doesn't matter now,” replied Jason. “John, hurry it up will you. Just go through the red lights, who cares!”
As quickly as Alex's feeling of unease disappeared it had reappeared. This was the first bad sign; something was off he thought.
“Hey, we're here!” said Jason impudently, shouting at the pilot outside the brand new Gulf Jetstream private jet owned by Jason's father. The weather seemed to be getting worse, rain clouds were forming up ahead, and it seemed like they wouldn't be able to leave the airport.
“Look, I don't care what you think, let's just go, we've got reservations, and I won't have it!” shouted Jason. “I don't want to call father right now, but if I must, I will, and the next job you'll have is flying meat across the Pacific.” The pilot relented and let them aboard.
“I need a drink,” said Jason, deflating. “Darling, could you bring us two scotches, neat?” completely unfazed by the stern look the flight attendant gave him for calling her darling he continued, “Man, that was a rush.”“I wouldn't drink that scotch if I were you,” remarked Alex casually.
“Ah, what is she going to do, spit in it? I could do worse.”
“You're such an ass.”
“You know it... Here, have some Xanax, it'll calm the nerves before the flight,” said Jason, handing Alex a handful of pills.
“No, get away with that, I'm not in the mood,” he replied quickly. “Now tell me where the hell we're going?”
“Tokyo. We're going to Tokyo, my friend,” replied Jason, grinning.
“Oh shit,” said Alex, resigned to the fate that this will not end up well. It never did.
The flight itself was more relaxing than Alex would have thought. Jason was out cold 15 minutes after the jet took off, due to the effects of a large dose of Xanax combined with two glasses of scotch. Alex didn't mind. He was glad in fact. The quiet time allowed him to finish James Madley's book, “The Sole Survivor in a World of Chaos”, a worldwide phenomenon. Madley's book has made a deep impact on Alex, even though he was sceptical of its message at first. But sometime after chapter 3, “It's Not What You Think”, he was hooked and had made it his goal to meet James Madley as soon as he could. He needed to know the answer to some particular questions that just wouldn't go away until he resolved them, and Madley was the only one who could scratch this particular itch.
Funnily enough, Jason had taken a pill or two too many, so he had to be carried out of the plane and into the car. After 15 minutes he came to his senses, “What the hell … what... where am I—”
“Slowly, calm down Jason, you're fine. We're in Tokyo already. We've had to carry you out of the plane—”
“We’re here, oh man, I was swept away … what a kick,” exclaimed Jason energetically, picking up a bottle of water and splashing his face with it.
“Yeah, well, to tell you the truth, I rejoiced,” said Alex, winking at Jason.
An hour later they had arrived at the hotel. Swiftly the doors were opened by a hotel clerk, who had welcomed them to Park Hyatt Tokyo. After some more head bowing and greetings they found themselves in their suite on the penultimate floor of the hotel. The suite had two large bedrooms—each of which had a king-sized bed—two separate bathrooms and a vast, open space in between their bedrooms. A “place to party”, according to the manager of the hotel, who came to introduce himself personally.
“Americans! We love Americans! We love America. Welcome to Tokyo. If you need anything—ANYTHING—you say, we bring!” the manager explained happily, looking from one to the other as if expecting a cash reward for his hospitality and people skills.
“Ah, well, thank you. We love you too, yes,” said Jason, awkwardly. “We’ll be sure to let you know if we need anything, thanks, bye!” he continued, closing the door after him. “Man, these people…”
“They’re fun; we should be more like them in the States. We never welcome guests with such enthusiasm, do we?” wondered Alex while walking around the suite, examining it. “This isn’t half-bad, to tell you the truth. Do you remember Lost in Translation?”
“Ha, so you were paying attention! Yes, this is the very same hotel.”
“We should head down to the bar then, order a Suntory,” said Alex, laughing. “A bit later, though. I need to lie down for a few hours, sleep it off. Whatever you’ve got planned, it can wait, I’m damn Jet-lagged.” He threw himself on his king-sized bed, shut his eyes and dozed off.
A few hours later, Alex and Jason were on their way down to the bar. Wanting to re-enact a scene from Lost in Translation, they were quite keen on drinking whisky. The bar was called Meridian Star. It was quite empty this time a day. No one was too enthusiastic about getting hammered at 2:35 in the afternoon but Alex and Jason obviously had a different thought process. They were on vacation, after all.
“Hibiki 17, neat, and make that a double please,” instructed Alex to the barkeep. “And the same for my friend.” Looking around the bar, he noticed a woman at the far end. She wore a bright red dress and sported elegant white gloves. Her face was covered by a light scarf. Alex thought he noticed her glance over at him.
“Hey, hello, Mars to Alex,” interrupted Jason, Alex’s mind zoning back to the Hibiki. “Now this is a treat, and it’s really tough to get in the States, even if you’re of our stature.”
“Right, not bad at all,” Alex replied, distracted. He was still gleaming over at the woman in red, although he was careful not to be too obvious about it. There was a strange allure to her. Perhaps it was the mystery of her shrouded face. Maybe it was her red dress.
“Now we got to find ourselves each our very own Scarlett Johansson. You up for the task—”
“I thought you had something planned or are you going to make things up as we go along?”
“Ah, yeah, about that... you know how I operate. Smoke, mirrors and all that,” said Jason, but Alex wasn't listening. He was deeply engaged watching the Woman in the red dress. Jason followed Alex’s gaze to the alluring woman.
“Ah, so the Hunter is on the hunt already. That's my boy!” said Jason, looking proud, finishing the last of the whisky.
“It's nothing . . . she looks familiar, that's all,” replied Alex, giving her one last look. “Waiter, we’ll have another round, please. And if you would, please bring that lady in red over there a martini.” He wasn't entirely sure if it was the right move or the right drink for that matter.
Slapping Alex on the shoulder, Jason said, “Go over there if you’re that curious about her. Don’t go about ordering Martinis, of all drinks.”
“Forget about it . . . waiter, cancel that Martini, and the whisky,” said Alex, looking down at the floor, unsure of himself. “Charge the whiskies to room 102 please.”
“All right, fine, your decision. Let’s get out of here. I want to see more Tokyo,” snarled Jason.
Three hours later they had seen all the sights they cared to see today. It was time for something more exciting, so they opted to call a mutual friend of theirs, Martin Haggis. He was their Man-Tokyo. If anyone knew how to experience the real Tokyo, it was him. He would certainly know where they could experience the real Tokyo.
“Hey Martin, it’s Alex Hamilton, how have you been buddy? Yeah, you’ve guessed it, we’re in Tokyo and we’d like to have some fun. How about it?” said Alex, excited about the prospects Martin would bring. “Sure, we’ll be there in about 45 minutes. Cheers.”
“He’ll meet us at the Zoetrope,” said Alex cheerfully.
“Ah, that’s the best,” replied Jason in ecstasy and waved at a taxi nearby. “To the Zoetrope, Kudasai!”
Zoetrope was one of the bars Alex and Jason frequented when in Tokyo. With a broad selection of very rare and expensive spirits, it was an obvious bar choice for them. Moreover, they offered other specialities to affluent guests, mainly specialties that induced hallucinations. That, combined with the owner’s passion for classic films, both foreign—mostly European—and Japanese, made the experience very enjoyable indeed.
“My dear Lord, who do we have here?” exclaimed Martin Haggis in absolute delight. “I haven’t seen you two in a world of time. Where have you been my American compadres?”
“Martin, you nutso, it’s good to see you,” replied Jason exuberantly, spreading his arms wide and pulling him into a bear hug. “We’ve been up and around; you know how we are, globetrotters and all that.”
Jason waved a hand towards Masato, Zoetrope’s extremely animated (and devious) barman. Masato waved back, clapping his hands together, grinning ear to ear.
“Have a seat, come on fellas,” said Martin. “Let’s have a strong drink first . . . then we’ll discuss your hangover in the morning.”
Martin was the sort of man that you just had to love. He had an eerily high charisma, boundless energy and a zest for life. He knew everyone in Tokyo, from the most affluent socialites, the most powerful of politicians, down to the best hookers in town. He had a distinct, Italian-British look, medium-long, dark hair, greased and combed perfectly, an attractive face, sharp lines and kind eyes. He wore a kimono on this particular day, which, for some might be rather strange, but Alex and Jason were completely unfazed. They knew Martin well, and they were no strangers to his peculiar style of dressing.
For the next few hours, they would talk about everything. Martin had a way with stories, so he easily enticed them into listening to his musings. He was a passionate sort of fellow. A designer by heart, an artist in soul. His stories were always fascinating, almost, as if fictionalized. By midnight they had drunken more cups of sake than they could count, had taken a shot or two of prime-grade sedatives and, of course, drank a lot of whisky on the side.
“I don’t know about you two, but I’m pretty whipped,” said Jason, drooling and falling as if in slow-motion on the table in front of him. Masato, the kind, animated barman, was quick to pull him back up.
“Jason, Jason, we’ve only begun, pull yourself together will you, my man,” said Martin matter-of-factly, shaking his head and smiling.
“What’s next on the menu Martin?” asked Alex, sipping the last drops of his Sake and motioning towards Masato to bring the check.
“We are going out,” replied Martin, gesturing towards the exit. “And pronto; I’m just going to —” he hiccupped,“— the little boy's room.”
Outside Jason couldn’t keep it in anymore. He ran behind the dumpster and hurled viciously. Alex and Martin laughed and mocked him.
“Oh come on, we haven’t done anything yet,” said Martin, handing Jason a pill. “Here, have this.”
A few minutes later a black Mercedes arrived, stopping in front of them, “This is us,” said Martin. “Get in will you.”
They drove to an industrial part of Tokyo, some 30 minutes away from the Zoetrope. The ride was quiet; no one spoke. The anticipation was high. What would Martin deliver next? So far it was all pretty nonchalant, albeit intoxicating. But Alex was itching for something wild. He wanted to feel the motion. He was flying high right now. Jason, on the other hand, was not. His eyes were shut, clenched together like a small child's.
“Jason!” shouted Alex. “Get yourself together . . . Martin, we need to coke him up. Give it here.”
Alex took a small vial of cocaine from Martin and handed it over to Jason, “Buddy, hey, have a sniff of this; it’ll pull you right back up.”
Jason took a sniff or two, rolled his head around, exhaled and punched the drivers’ head rest, resulting in the driver jerking the wheel of the car and almost going over the bank.
“Whoa, bloody hell,” exclaimed Martin, laughing. “He’s alive!” “Let’s geg this palty stawted,” screamed Jason, eating half the words, bobbing his head back and forth.
The car had come to a stop, they had arrived. The area seemed deserted, as if it was a closed off part of the city, a memory from the past. There were no lights to brighten the streets; the glass on the windows was smashed. A sign shone bright red on the other side of the street; it said Antiquella. Alex looked suspiciously from Jason to Martin, “Where on earth are we, I’ve never been here before.”
Laughing and nodding in agreement Martin explained, “Yes sir, this is a rather new place for chaps like us to hang. It’s been abandoned a few years back – this was an industrial zone; now closed. My friend is the owner of Antiquella. It’s the place to be. Trust me.”
Jason and Alex looked at each other reluctantly, and then followed Martin’s lead over to the other side of the street. After knocking on a big, metal door three times, a small window opened. They spoke Japanese so Alex and Jason couldn’t understand. After exchanging a few words, the door had opened, and the bouncer let them in. Martin shook a few hands and waved at the second bouncer who was sitting a few meters away. He was reading a magazine entitled Shūkan Gendaia that featured General Kimimotto on the cover – a famous Japanese General, who was involved in a well-publicised political scandal recently, involving top brass politicians, some high-level executives and a dozen low-class hookers. Alex recognised the face as he read the story on the jet.
“Listen, you two, follow my lead and do not speak until told otherwise,” said Martin seriously, looking at both of them intently. “I’m serious, this isn’t a joke.”
They were led by the first bouncer through the garden to a second gate, down the stairs into a semi-lit room that looked very much like an abandoned cellar. Martin and the man exchanged a few more words and a few moments later Alex and Jason were being searched from head to toe for any concealed items, it seemed. The man nodded to the corner, where, unbeknownst to them someone was sitting, “Welcome, friends of Martin,” with a perfect British accent, although he was clearly Japanese by birth. “Enjoy your time here.”
Dazed and confused Alex and Jason followed Martin through the door at the end of the hall, which were opened from the inside. They saw a violet-blue light shining in the next room. Now they could clearly hear music blasting. The door opened to reveal a vast space, packed with people dancing. The pair couldn’t believe their eyes. It was as if entering another dimension.
“Relax chaps, you can speak now,” said Martin in a calm tone, tapping them on the shoulders.
“What the hell was that man —” started Jason.
“You could have warned us you know, on the ride here, and what was all that about anyway?” interrupted Alex.
“Ah come on boys, it was all good fun,” said Martin, grinning ear-to-ear. He spread his arms and gestured towards the room. “Look at this place. It’s filled with wealthy and famous people, and they don’t want any unwanted cameras here. It’s the best club in Tokyo. And nobody knows about it.”
Alex and Jason both looked around. This was by far the largest underground club they've ever been in. The floor spanned, at least, twenty-five meters in each direction from the centre, where a spiral staircase lead to the lower level—or levels—of the club. The architecture was harsh, industrial and cold. But at the same time, it exuded elegance and power. Most people were dancing while the rest sat in chairs placed atop of elevated decks. Some private, some semi-private. “We’re on the floor below, follow me,” said Martin, waving a hand toward the spiral staircase.
They went down the spiral staircase and entered a semi-private cubicle at the far left corner. Two women were already sitting in the cubicle. They were both beautiful. One had long black hair, and a soft, kind face. The other had shorter, dark red hair, with earrings in her nose and upper lip.
“Konnichiwa girls,” said Martin, and sat down next to the red one, kissing her on the cheek. “These are my friends, Alex and Jason. Alex, Jason meet Aiko and Cho. They’re friends of mine.”
“Hi, good to meet you,” said Aiko, the red-haired one. “How do you find Tokyo so far?”
“Good, good . . . although much more interesting now that we’re here,” stated Jason, peering at the both girls.
“Gentlemen, these two ladies might look withdrawn, but they’re monsters inside... as wild as they get,” cautioned Martin, tongue-in-cheek.
The next few hours were a blur. It started with an Antiquella classic, Awamori infused with a variety of medicine; the recipe was a secret of course. This alone hit them hard. Jason, in particular, wasn’t able to move his muscles for a short time. Alex had his head in Cho’s lap and Martin was deep in conversation with Aiko though mumbling uncontrollably.
Suddenly Alex lifted himself up as if electrified—a late side-effect of the drugs—, “OK, I’m going dancing, who’s with me?” asked Alex, hovering for a moment. “Cho, come on, I love this song.”
He grabbed hold of her hand and led her to the dance floor. They started slowly, gradually moving with the sounds of the music, until their bodies were clenched together, both breathing heavily. The drugs had taken full effect. Alex felt invincible, he had no other desire in the world but to move to the rhythm and hold on to Cho, who was enjoying the motions just as much. A moment later they were kissing passionately. Stopping suddenly, they both laughed, and looked at each other for a long moment.
The next second, or so it felt, Alex awoke sharply and looked confusedly around the room. He was lying on the floor of their hotel room, half-naked and covered in some kind of sauce. The room was dishevelled. There were bottles of champagne on the floor, the grand piano was caved in, women’s underwear hung on the chandelier. He got up, slowly and dizzily, looking for signs of Jason and Martin. What had happened? He couldn’t remember a thing after the dancing episode. Was he even in his hotel room? Apparently so, he thought, the view looked about the same. He looked at his watch; it was 2 PM. Apparently there will be no jogging today.
He heard a distant grunt from Jason’s room. He got up and slowly moved towards it. There he found Jason lying on the floor with his feet on the bed. A red-haired woman was lying atop of him; Aiko, he remembered. Then Cho must be near, too. He went to look into his room; no one around. He found his phone and ringed Martin, no answer. Resigned to the fact that they must have killed it yesterday and relieved that they were still alive, Alex went to the bathroom to clean himself up.
After a long shower it was time to wake up his sleeping pal, “Jason, Jason!” he shouted and nudged him. “Wake up, will you.”
Aiko woke up abruptly, leaped and screamed. Alex put his hands in the air, “Whoa, Aiko, calm down.”
“Sorry, I … I had a nightmare,” she explained, looking around for her friend.
“Yeah, they’re not here, Martin and Cho,” said Alex. “No idea where they are. Martin wouldn’t pick up the phone. Maybe you should call Cho and see if they’re all right. I’ll get Jason up and going, we’ve got a flight to catch.”
Jason slowly came to his senses after Alex splashed a glass of water over his face. Just like Alex before he looked confused, and wasn’t aware where he was.
“Hey mate, you OK?” asked Alex in a soft voice.
“Umm . . . I don’t know; where are we again?” inquired Jason.
“Well, in our hotel room. Apparently the night was a classic, a doozy so to speak. I don’t remember a thing.”
“Me neither, but it seems like we went all out again.”
“Anyway, get ready, we’ve got a flight to catch, and I want to eat
something before we leave.”
After they had gotten ready and called the hotel staff to caution them of the mess, they went down to the Meridian to get a bite to eat. On the way there a stunning woman in a red dress—the woman from yesterday—passed Alex. They both turned around and caught each other’s gaze; she smiled at him softly, turned back and went on as if nothing had happened. There was something about her that he couldn’t quite grasp. She was a stranger, but it didn’t feel like it all. They must have met sometime before, maybe in New York? Maybe she was famous, and that’s why she looked familiar?
Upon arrival to the Meridian, they found Martin and Cho in a booth.
“Oh, hello, how did we sleep?” said Martin. He was sitting across Cho, smiling delightfully. “Took you awhile, though.”
“I won’t even ask what happened yesterday, I’m sure we’re all short on the details,” said Jason. “I’m starving, let’s get something for my belly, and fast. Waiter!”
Together they ate dinner, exchanged a few words and bid each other farewell an hour later.
“It was a pleasure Martin, as always. You’re a crazy maniac. But you’re worth it,” said Alex jubilantly. “Aiko, Cho, you’re great fun, let’s meet again . . . when you’re in the Big Apple, you’ve got my phone number, call me.— ”
“Or me,” quickly interjected Jason.
Aiko and Cho merely bowed and smiled. It was time to leave Tokyo, for the time being.
Back home, in his apartment, Alex found a white envelope on his kitchen table. How it got there, he didn’t know. He was the only one with the keys. Temporarily brushing aside the idea that his apartment might have been entered by force, he opened the envelope. It contained a note.
Dear Alexander William Hamilton,
We have been watching you carefully. We’re convinced you would fit our cause. You’re invited to join us. Look for the signs. If you’re worthy, you shall grasp its meaning. We’re awaiting your arrival joyfully.
Dr Albus Holstein