Snow In Shibuya

The cup warmed Christobella’s hands as she took a sip, her favorite brand of green tea comforted her. It had snowed yesterday, but the streets of Shibuya were already cleared up to let traffic flow at its regular pace. The lights of a nearby building advertised a new video game. A young Japanese woman, probably in her late teens, was dancing, dressed in a school uniform -skirt above the knee, no less-, brandishing what appeared to be a pink AK-47. “Happy lucky adventure, yes, yes!” The young woman’s voice was chipper and high-pitched, a cute doll wrapped in plastic. Decades of living here and she could still be surprised, or at least amused. Japan, never a dull moment. She smiled at the young woman, now fighting what appeared to be a three-headed dragon. Another sip from her tea. Was the woman Hanzo slept with a school girl? She did look rather young when he saw them walking out of the love hotel one evening she was returning from her academy. She set down the cup, having lost her appetite.

Her father had also chased after some young skirt back in Rome, while her mother feigned ignorance. Vittoria, you fool. Something tightened inside Chris’s chest as soon as she thought of her mother. The telltale prickling sensation behind her eyes made her reach to rub them, but it was too late: she blinked and down rolled a fat tear over soft olive skin.

They had phoned her all the way from Italy, she had no idea how they got her home number. Her mother had died suddenly, just two days ago, from a heart attack. She was 73. Twenty more years of life than her bastard father. She still pondered, out of boredom nowadays, really, how different things would have been if signore Yoshimura had been her father instead. Not only did the older gentleman, back then in his early 60s, taught her how to play the violin, but filled her head with wondrous stories about his country to the point that she dreamed of going to Japan. He had died three years after she left for Japan, it was the only time she had considered returning to Italy. She would make the time to pay her respects at his shrine on his old home back in Rome.

“Chris?” Hanzo had walked into the living room entrance and was standing there, shifting slightly from left to right. His voice was soft, almost tender. Of course he knew about her mother. She had several flights to catch tomorrow to Italy, to attend the funeral -her relatives could hold it off for a day, two tops, but their divorce papers still had to be signed. “Do you need anything for tomorrow? I can have Satsune drive you to the airport.” He was not quite looking her way.

It had been her who filed for a divorce. Chris made no excuses for her father when mother told her about his infidelity, two years after his death; she would not make them for Hanzo. That was that. They had settled terms quickly: she would receive a very generous alimony payment each month, he would keep the apartment. He could afford it, seeing how he practically owned half of Shibuya’s buildings already. “Don’t bother. I’ll call a cab.” The man who had been her husband for the past fifteen years nodded, standing there like an actor who just forgot his lines, then simply left without another word. Good, she needed to start packing. It would be a very long day tomorrow.

Memory Of A Tune

A valley of desire runs long and untended between trembling thighs.
Carry my wishes to them with the breath of a unrepentant kiss,
then, maybe, I shall swallow your little gasps; pizzicato notes on our merry old symphony.
Oh, how this smirk -is it yours or mine?- flickers our lovers’ delight.
I’ll be sure to whisper your name, so please, spare a thought for my lonesome;
one day I’ll be sure to remember it.

Coming and Going

We were out on the porch enjoying the Summer twilight, under its pink horizon. The air was a bit muggy, but we kept ourselves cool with some cold Heinekens, listening to crickets serenade us. Out of the blue, Masdall gave out a long sigh while staring at the sky. He sounded like a balloon being deflated. “What’s wrong, Mas?” 
 
“Well…”, he bit his lower lip like he did whenever he was feeling nervous or just a bit too shy around people, “…y’know how I love getting hugs from you? I mean a good squeeze.” 
“Love you too, babe, but I’m too comfy on my chair right now to get up.” I reached out from my chair and tousled those grey locks of his. He didn’t move, but kept looking at the horizon as it slowly turned dark.
“Ah, forget about it. Just being silly.” He took a long sip from his can without turning to look at me. Guess he was being serious.
I grabbed his hand and looked at him, “Can’t. Got an elephant’s memory, or so my mom used to tell me.”
This time he turned to look at me, giving out a small timid smile, like he was asking not to be put on the spotlight. “Ah shit, Cass…I grab a Heine or two and just get all nostalgic. I’m just talking out of my ass. Making too much hoo-ha out of nothing!”He started to scratch the back of his head, looking at his feet. Whatever it was, Masdall was having a hard time getting it out there. 
I gave him a look that pretty much said I wasn’t dropping it. Masdall swallowed twice, running fingers across that gray mane of his. It really needed a haircut. “Ok, ok. Fine, geez! Don’t have to give me such a dirty look…” He gave a low whistle. “Well, I just remembered how I didn’t get much affection back when I was livin’ with my folks. At all, to be honest.”

Childhood talk wasn’t taboo between us, but it rarely came up. This took me by surprise: Masdall was never really eager to talk about his family. “I think you mentioned it once, long ago, but…I didn’t want to force that talk.”
 
“S’alright. I know I can be a bit of a clam and keep shut all day. Yeah, I didn’t get much in the way of affection until I met you.” He squeezed my hand.
“Aw, I’m sure someone gave you some lovin’ before I came along.”
Masdall shrugged, “Not from my parents. Nor anyone that stayed with me for long. You really changed things.”
“Hopefully for the better. I’d hate to be the gal that turned you into an old bitter lemon.”

He bent forward laughing a bit. “It’s not too late for that! But all kidding aside…I wasn’t good with showing affection. You helped me overcome that. One hug at a time, and the rest followed.”
 
“You’re welcome, hon.”
 
“Though…”, there was the slightest crack in his voice, “…I sometimes feel…my heart aching some when you hug me. But only sometimes. Makes me think of them years back with the folks and how I never…”, and like that he dropped his voice.
 
I squeezed his hand softly in silence. The stars were already twinkling on the dark horizon. Somewhere in the distance, a truck passed by. A song was playing loudly on its radio. I thought I could recognize it, but then it was gone into the night.

We Are Not Men

Disappointment was written all over Sophia’s face, her right knee shook in a tempo of irritability. To say the night was going south was an understatement. Rome was falling. The table they sat on opposite ends suddenly felt twice as big, or else Virgil felt twice as small.

He took hold of a glass full of ice-cold water set aside for him. The icy touch gave him a slight jolt of sensation which he held on to for dear life. Gulping the water down, letting it wash the dryness in his throat away, somehow cleared up his mind a bit. Language was something he had momentarily lost mere moments ago, but now he was somehow rediscovering.

“As I said, I’m leaving. It’s over between us.”, courage somehow flowed back into his body, filling him with a reassuring warmth. He was on the right, he had to be.

Sophie’s demeanor had not changed at all save for an eyebrow raised in an almost quizzical interrogation to Virgil’s decision. “Well, you were always one to run away when things got to real.” Straight to the jugular, as always. She had always whipped him when these verbal spats appeared in their lives. Not that Virgil ever won any of then, he was after all the little Yes Man in her life.

Another shiver, another few gulps of water down. Virgil steadied himself and placed the glass down hard, but Sophie remained unperturbed. Little boy’s trying to play as a big man, her sudden sneer said.

She’s not getting the upperhand, not this time. “I’m not running away from anything. I’m calling it quits. We’re no good for each other.”, he paused and chewed on that last bit, as if deciding something.

“No…you’re no good for me. I’ve been under your heels since before you and I were an item. I’ve had my fill of your abuse, so I’m leaving, simple as that.”, Virgil’s gaze had slightly shifted to the side, not exactly meeting Sophie’s eyes head on. She always had a way of peeling away at him with her stare, making him feel exposed and defenseless.

Then Sophie suddenly burst out laughing, mocking without a doubt, but it was genuine. A surge of rage shook Virgil’s body, making him hold on to his chair for control. “Oh God, you are just too much, Virgil! Almost sounded like a man. I guess somewhere actually behave like one…certainly never in be-‘.
The slap came fast and hard enough to leave a red mark on Sophie’s skin. It stung, but she was smiling. She was smiling. That fucking bit-

“That’ll do for today, Virgil, dear.”, Sophie had pulled out a silver tube the size of a can of pop. Buttons dotted its surface. A particularly large blue button stood out from the rest, turning green when she pressed it.

Immediately Virgil resumed an erect sitting position, arms pressed firmly to his sides, his face now had a blank-expression with eyes open wide, unblinking.

Sophie traced her fingers over the red mark on his cheek, cherishing the pain. At least one of us feels anything, she sighed, before a smile formed on her lips. Standing up she walked next to the unmoving Virgil and kissed him on the cheek. “Go back to your storage unit. We will continue tomorrow.”

“Yes, mistress.”, Virgil stood up with a precision and rigidness that his body had not shown before Sophie pushed the button. Silently he turned around and marched out of the room, leaving Sophie alone. She was still smiling as she turned off the lights and left the room.