Brief: It took quite some time to admit to myself that the second version was not good. This is why for the third time I am undertaking the task of re-writing this story. Since my ninth grade year in high school I have been simply fascinated with the characters that my mind created. Now that I have much more life experience and more skill with my writing I wish to take this tale and re-write it. I hope for reviews, yes…but please if you can be critical and help me better understand my flaws as an author, I'll forever be grateful.
Working for Affection
Author: Niki Tori
Chapter One: Ol' American Duct Tape
Inclement winds carried drifting petals past a dim lit restaurant. A group of five White and Asian men walked from a store fully satisfied. All but one discussed in various detail what they most liked about Japan and how much they would miss being there. Pocketed in the middle of the important business men was a beanstalk of a man. This place was not somewhere he found enjoyable; it was only bearable for business sake. An impressive young male hit the silent man on the chest with the back of his hand.
"Why are you so quiet here? When we visited you in New York you had so much to say, Rodgers-san."
"Well there is no place like home. Don't get me wrong Japan is beautiful Kiosuke…but it's just not where my heart is."
"Where is it then if I may be so forward?"
"I suppose you could say that it is lost in the memory of what was once solid stone." Rodgers replied more or less tetchily. But the men found it surprisingly poetic and respected his words.
"Like I promised I wanted to show you Hitomi Park not too far off from here. I suggest we bring our umbrellas gentlemen." Kiosuke informed, leading them to a line of black luxury cars. "It's a must see!"
Huffing in the cool of the summer rain was a timid Japanese girl. She knelt forward attempting to catch her breath. Those red, tattered shoes encasing her feet gave her courage. Written over the top of the right shoe was: Property of Shoji. Usually they were enough to motivate her into finishing her one mile run, but the rainy blue eyes of the woman was haltered by fear. Early tomorrow morning she would fly high above the rising sun to be with him once more. Rejection was never a word she took kindly to, but it was a possibility. It taunted her each day, following her around as an ominous cloud.
"It's been ten years Shoji-san. Will you remember me? Will you love me?" She banged on her head and pulled her silky brown hair from its roots. "That's right this is all in my head! I just wish I could get rid of this darn doubt cloud."
With one final glance at her shoes she smiled confidently. In shame her cloud of second guessing flew away with wind. She positioned herself then sprinted forward. Mud splashed up to her thigh as she dashed through the sticky substance. These shoes brought them together and would reunite them.
As she pressed forward to the silver skyline of Tokyo she felt her toes slip through the front of the shoes. "W-what the heck-someone help me—"She braced herself to fall backwards. Thoughts of the mud getting in her hair made the tears leak. But to her surprise not a bit got on her instead she felt the warmth of another. Men ran down the hillside screaming out to the man. Mimi turned around to face the handsome foreigner. His entire kimono was covered in the mud that should have sullied her.
"So dedicated to track your running in the middle of a storm? What a foolish young girl. Well I am glad it was you that ruined this thing they've got me wearing." Rodgers laughed helping himself and her off the ground before retrieving his umbrella.
"Rodgers-san, are you okay?" Kiosuke struggled to say his breath staggering from running.
"Yes, perhaps you should ask her that instead." He replied glancing down at her destroyed shoes. The writing on its corner intrigued and humored him, was her name Shoji? He pushed the thought out of his mind. "Let me fix those for you. I don't want you to fall on your way home."
Kiosuke translated his last sentences to the girl who looked dully at them both. At this point she found it useless to tell them she could understand English. Mimi removed the shoes revealing her bare blistered feet. Rodgers took them carefully from her hands then pulled out a roll of Duct tape from inside his kimono. Everyone watched disturbed.
"Who carries a roll of duct tape on them!" Mimi pondered anxiously.
"Ol' American Duct tape can fix anything."
In a matter of moments he had the shoes wrapped up and ready for stepping in. Rodgers let her have the roll and got Kiosuke to inform her that the grip wouldn't be the same so it would be best for her to walk home. With a final wave they returned to the top of hill speaking comically of the event.
"That was so embarrassing! No tears now Mimi, we can't afford to cry. A prominent wife is a lady fit to handle every situation with grace. Although I sucked this time, I won't let it happen again." Mimi put on her doctored shoes. The American man was even kind enough to patch the talking heels. At the end she was just glad to have Shoji's handwriting still showing.
One day she would serve Shoji's chairmen tea, be his exclusive eye candy, and perhaps have the honor of meeting the leaders of states and countries. This would all be done for the one she loved most. She mewed with delight and shook her blushing face; it just couldn't be helped. She looked above before pressing carefully on.
"Wow, this tape is really working!"
A day passed and nightfall had approached a sleepless New York City. An exclusive bar called Point was just beginning to open. Within the hour's start prominent men of the time entered its eclectic walls for drink and commerce. Waiting at a table tucked in the front corner of Point was its most wealthy visitor, Hitomi Shoji. Dark circles clouded his mysterious brown eyes. Sleep had escaped him in lieu of a business merger he wished to painlessly finalize. Across from him was a tanned skin woman with long brown hair. She elegantly lifted the wine glass from the table and pressed her glossy thick lips on the rim. It was striking how little she drank. Men gawked wanting her to indulge in the wine so she would sigh afterwards. Shoji wondered if his anticipated guest would conjure the same effect.
"What are we doing here again Shoji darling?"
"You are holding the glass wrong, Kayla. You should hold it by the stem." He responded agitatedly. "Someone might mistakenly assume you are dense."
"Can you answer my question?"
"I would have no problem doing so if you hadn't asked the same damn question five other times this week, darling."
"I see. Well, I don't like the idea of you meeting some old girlfriend." Kayla muttered slamming the stemware down.
"She isn't one of my exes. She is some girl I met a long time ago. We were close, and I suppose she just wants to see me again. Besides what are you bitching about, I brought you along didn't I. Nothing was done behind your back."
"It's the same thing to me." Kayla stood up from the table. "I am going to go touch up my makeup, if you'll excuse me."
"No excuse necessary, go as you please." He responded cynically as she strutted towards the restrooms. All eyes were glued to her seductive figure, but Shoji's. They were downcast at his watch. This would be the first thing in the while he had done unrelated to business. It kept his tired vision strong. He peered out the window for a second then got out of his chair. She was here.
Mimi left from a yellow taxi cab with a smile wider than the sun. Nerves had her wince in fear; her fingers clung to her tote-bag. With a reassuring fist pump she walked into the bar. Shoji unbeknownst to him also was wearing a smile. He called to her and she ran to his side.
Time had made her a pretty young woman indeed, but far from Kayla's league. If only she would quit wearing barrettes in her hair she'd appear more mature to him. They hugged before sitting at the table.
"I wasn't sure you were coming. With the time escaping so quickly I was sure you changed your mind."
"How could I?" Mimi glowed with buoyancy. "I've missed you so much."
"Yes you frequented my mind as well. It seems as though it was only yesterday we shared our first green tea ice cone. Was that not the first day we met."
"Mmhmm, I still have the shoes you gave me that night." She removed the taped up shoes from her bag. Shoji's eyes expanded at the sight of them. He took them in his hands seeing past all the wear and tear to the promise they held. A light flickered behind him as his face grew red, could such a young girl remember all this. Is this why she was here? Heels clacked loudly in the background and he knew this conversation would have to die fast. Work was just never done for him.
"This is all very nice, Mimi-chan." He passed the shoes back much to her surprise. "Becoming an American citizen is not easy and not something to be done lightly. Mother and I are more than willing to see you through and help get you on your feet. Here take this."
Mimi took his business card to caress it gently and with that touch a lump formed in her throat. Using her remaining courage she pushed the sore spit down. "When I returned these to you, you promised a ring. I am here now Shoji so we can—"
"Enough you silly girl, I was only joking with you back then. I knew you were naïve but by now I would expect you to know better. I am a man eight years your senior, with a whole company to think of. I have no time to entertain girls."
With strangely ideal timing Kayla wrapped her arms around Shoji. Just the perfume from her hair intimidated Mimi.
"Is this that homely girl you were telling me about Hitomi? She is much prettier than what you had described. Come on now Shoji you have a phone meeting tonight." She pulled him from the chair.
"That is true. Why don't you get the car ready and I'll finish things up here."
Mimi's teary focus moved to his averted eyes. Never would she think it would turn out this bad. Her fragile heart was destroyed. Hitomi passed his keys to the Hispanic queen and she left to start his car.
"If you are serious about staying, call me. I have a job opening that pays well. You say the word and it's yours. I am sorry our reunion had to be so short and indignantly to the point. I have no intention of keeping a ten year old promise; otherwise I would have contacted you sooner. I let such a thing go many years ago. Life is about business, nothing more."
Shoji grabbed her head and kissed her hair, it was amazing how soft it became. With a final pat on her back he departed the building. Ache shook her as she clung onto those shoes. Crying never felt so hopeless before now. No one cared. She laid her weary head on the old footwear.