The voice belonged to a woman sitting one stool away from me. Her arm was fully stretched and her upper body bent toward me in order to reach my elbow. I wondered how come I hadn’t noticed her earlier. Her stare bore into me and, just like her hand on my elbow, did not let go. She had the most peculiar eyes. They were big, only slightly slanted, with deep green irises. The more I looked at them, the more I had a feeling they didn’t fit on her face, which looked Japanese. Their colour, their shape....they were just...off.
“So will you?” Her voice burst into my consciousness.
She released me and I realized I must have zoned out, for I had no idea, what was she asking. I grasped my chin and slightly adjusted my lower jaw. Her stare was unnerving.
“Umm, I’m sorry, will I what?
She averted her eyes just to roll them upwards and chuckled. “...buy me a drink, gaijin.” Her words carried a heavy accent.
I felt stupid. She was obviously hitting on me and I was so preoccupied with Fujiwara that I...Shit! I glanced to the left, towards the corner with the yellow sofa. He was still there, sitting in the exact same position as before.
My stare returned to the woman, who shifted on her stool and was now turned toward me. Her clothes -- tight pants, a t-shirt, and a short leather jacket, were all black, the only exception in colour being her ankle-high, military boots, which were dark red. She didn’t wear any make-up, and her face, like that of most Japanese women, had a very white and smooth skin tone. Her overall appearance was young, but her eyes projected a more mature confidence. She could have been my age or as much as ten years older than me. She was not ugly, but definitely not my type.
“No, I can’t, I have to go. Sorry,” I replied and turned to leave when she launched her arm at me and grabbed my elbow again. I was a bit surprised, to say the least, by her gesture as well as by the strength and speed of her grip.
“Sit down, have some sashimi,” she continued in the same lazy tone as if her daring move was something ordinary.
The bartender brought a plate with pieces of raw fish and put it on the counter in front of her. She let go of my arm, placed her elbow on the counter and leaned her face on the palm of her right hand. She continued to stare at me with an annoying smirk. A strand of her hair, which was cut in a straight line at the length of her chin, slid over her tilted face. She tried to remove it by blowing it away at first, then decided to tuck it behind her ear. I noticed blue highlights on her otherwise black hair as she moved her head directly under the counter light.
“Come on, gaijin, taste this. I promise you it’s the greatest sashimi you’ve ever eaten. It just melts in your mouth.”
The way she kept calling me gaijin began to irritate me. There was a subtone of arrogance in her voice as well as in her body language. The feeling deepened as she took a piece of sashimi from the plate with her fingers, put it in her mouth and nonchalantly chewed it while looking at me.
A crackling sound in the microphone diverted my attention to the stage. Musicians were readying their instruments, while a black singer in a beautiful red nightgown tested the mic.
“One, two, one, two...Konbanwa, my dear ladies and gents! You feelin’ the love tonight? Love from the moon, love from the stars...” Her low, seductive voice resonated through the place and was answered by immediate whistles and claps from a small crowd that gathered on the dance floor.
The musicians began to play and the singer sang the first lines of a song I knew all too well from the record collections of my grandmother.
Fly me to the moon,
Let me play among the stars....
It was a jazzy version of Frank Sinatra’s Fly Me to the Moon, topped by an amazing, soft, velvety vocal, which warmed my heart.
“Look, I need to go. Enjoy the food,” I said to the woman.
I barely finished the sentence when she jumped from her stool and came up really close.
“Stay here with me. Let’s talk.” She slid her hand down my arm and clasped her fingers around my wrist. Her hand was small, unable to enwrap my whole wrist, but she squeezed hard and dug her fingers into my skin.
Instinctively I pulled my hand out of her grip in a quick motion and with considerable force. She was a head shorter and her frame was much smaller than mine, so my reaction made her stumble to the side.
“I’m not interested, ok? Is that clear enough for you?” I said it in a low but menacing tone. All I wanted was to continue with my plan.
She quickly recovered from the stumble and faced me again. Contrary to my expectation, she didn’t look affected by my excessive reaction or by my words. Her eyes widened and a snorting laughing sound came from her mouth.
‘I wasted enough time’, I thought to myself and made my way through the crowd on the dancefloor.
Fill my heart with song
Let me sing for ever more
You are all I long for
All I worship and adore...
The song triggered memories of my grandmother. She was the only person in the family, who understood my love for fighting. She said I reminded her of her husband, my grandfather, whom I never got to meet. I was glad the song brought her into my thoughts at such an important moment of my life.
I reached a short flight of stairs which connected the dance floor with the sitting area. I was less than five meters away from Fujiwara and his companions. I made eye contact with him and I could swear he acknowledged me with a small nod. At that same moment, the woman once again appeared in my face. She pressed her hand against my chest and seized my stare with her odd eyes.
“I can’t let you do this,” she said in a low voice.