- Name: Nanakase Erina
- Stage name: Eriko
- Occupation: Hostess, Club Great Actress
- Hostess Stats: Near limitless stamina, very perky, preferred by customers who want someone Cute that can chat forever
Vignette 1, unfinished
It isn't hard at all to pick Eriko out of the Iwao Bridge crowd, even in her "street" wear, which at this point is the fancy coat and jewelry that her customers have gifted to her over the years. She doesn't have much trouble picking me out, either. Her voice pierces the noise so well that I can't hear anybody else for a few seconds. "Ruby-chaaan!" she calls, her voice reminding me of...one of those F1 cars, really.
"Eriko, how's stuff?" I call back.
"Ha ha! It sounds so funny when you talk all casual like that!" Her laughter hits my ears a little too directly. I try not to cover them out of reflex.
"Sure, it's not like I've been trying to become a naturalized citizen or anything like that..."
"So where are we going tonight? Drinks? Karaoke? Pool?" Her excitement has her bouncing so much I wonder if the bridge became a trampoline overnight and I missed the memo. "Ooh, maybe we could get burgers! I always wanted to try one!"
"...Why haven't you already?"
"Because I wanted you to be there to tell me what's good! You know, that secret American burger lingo!" She's practically grabbing me by the arm to drag me to the nearest Smile Burger.
"Eriko, you have enough trouble with English." I have no choice but to go with her down the stairs to the boardwalk, lest she rip my arm off. "...Speaking of that, though, how are your lessons going? You're not blowing 'em off too much, are you?"
"Nah, I've been going, relax. You know how serious I am about vacationing to the States!" Which is to say, she only started getting serious about vacationing to the US a day after she met me. "I got a question, though. Do you know what this means? OH MY GAAWWWD!" I cringe so hard from her shouting that I slip right out of her arm lock.
"That's..." I shake my head out like I'm some kind of cartoon. "That's a rude thing to say in America. You wanna be careful with that one. Especially with as loud as you say it."
"Oh, I know, but what does it mean?" Jesus H. Fuck. I've been with this woman for barely five minutes and I have to explain to her the concept of taking the Lord's name in vain.
How'd They Meet?
Eriko walked past the used book store with a shiver down her peacoat-clad spine. This was not altogether a new feeling to her; her time as a cabaret girl exposed her to all manner of unsavory men. But none had ever followed her this far before. She'd already gone in a circle around Shofukucho, up the boardwalk, and through the Don Quixote, but as near as she could tell, she was still being followed by her last customer.
She now neared the Iwao Bridge, and found it to be almost empty. Oh, come on, she thought, how am I supposed to lose this guy if there's no people here? She scarcely completed the thought when an American woman also started to cross. Flaming red hair, grumpy demeanor, and nobody following her. Eriko thought quickly about what her boss taught her the other day, and ran towards the woman. "Oh my god, it's really you! How long has it been?" she called out.
The woman did her best not to fall over from the sudden running hug. "Whoa! The hell?"
"I haven't seen you since graduation! How have you been?" Eriko desperately hoped this would work.
"Ah? Uh... fine, fine, it's all good." The woman hugged back at last and carefully peered over Eriko's shoulder. She whispered back. "The hell are you doing?"
"Being followed, that's what," Eriko hissed back. "Hey, you know, we don't see each other very much, let's go get some soba or something!" she said more loudly.
"I mean--sure, okay," the fire haired woman said aloud, then switched back to a whisper. "I don't see anyone back there!"
"He'll be there someplace, we need to move on like we don't suspect anything!" Eriko was starting to wonder if her boss had ever been stalked before.
"Alright, uh..." The strange woman relented and took a hand. "I know a great place, come on." She took off in a fast walk towards a seafood place that definitely did not serve soba. The two were immediately seated at a table with a good view of the outer windows.
The woman politely removed her flat cap and set it on the table. "So, first of all, what the hell?"
"I'm sorry if I caught you off guard, it's a trick my boss taught me for if I'm ever being followed."
"That's a trick? I mean, I sure felt like you tricked me..."
"Boss taught me that if I'm ever being followed out of the club and I'm by myself, say hello to the first girl I meet and pretend I know them. Creeps don't like approaching groups, or so Boss says."
"That's a new one on me..."
"Don't tell me you haven't ever felt like you needed an excuse to get away from somebody," said Eriko with a frown, mopping the sweat from her forehead with somebody else's monogrammed hankie.
"Not really, anybody stupid enough to follow me like that gets to kiss pavement."
Eriko's eyes lit up. "That's perfect! Oh, but I'm forgetting something!" She waved both hands in that bubbly hostess way. "I'm Eriko, nice to meet you!"
"Oh. I'm... Antonia."
"Not like...a cat, or anything. It's Italian."
"Alright, fine, you can call me Ruby. Anything's better than that noise."
"Ruby! I love it!" Eriko suddenly grabbed Ruby's hand with both of hers and shook vigorously.
"Hey! Whoa!" Ruby yanked the hand away. "Getting a little hyper there..." She tried to regain composure. "Anyway, this guy following you. What's he like?"
"Oh, he's quiet and doesn't talk a lot, but he's always been one of my best customers!" She frowned again. "Or, I mean, he spends a lot of money on me. I can't say as much for how he behaves outside the club."
"Club? ... You're a cabaret girl?"
Eriko nodded with a smile. "I might not be my club's Number One, but I'm getting there!"
"Ah, that explains the demeanor." Ruby looked out the tinted restaurant window. "Doesn't look like anybody else is coming towards us."
"Oh, he won't follow me into anywhere, he waits until I'm on my way out. You probably won't be able to see him right now."
"What am I looking for, here?"
"He's got this long hair he's done up in a tail, wears really thick glasses, and I always see him in this bright red suit, like a tomato or something."
"Big guy? Skinny?"
"... I'll assume that means 'big guy.'" Ruby looked again. "... That him by the bike parking? Looks like he's got friends with him."
"Oooooohhh no... is he really trying that now?" The look of worry didn't seem to fit Eriko's face.
"Aww fuck. Don't tell me he brought reinforcements."
"He told me he had powerful friends..."
"Well, they look like yakuza, for sure. I might have some trouble with a group like that. ... Doesn't look like anybody's packing heat though." Ruby pulled out her flip phone and had an immediate look of relief. "Oh, thank God, my service is back. Hang on."
"Do you have reinforcements of your own? Nice!"
"Yeah. Calling in a favor." She pushed a few buttons on the well worn handset. "... Hey, Yasuyo? You busy? ... Yeah, I figured you'd be on patrol. Listen, are you near the Iwao? ... Good. Yeah, I can see you from here. ... Doesn't matter where. Look to the left, will ya? See a kinda pudgy guy in a red suit? Glasses? Tough looking friends? ... I'm about to come out with some precious cargo. She'll get their attention. As soon as they're going for her, we close in. ... The fuck cares which family they're from? They're making a mistake and they need to learn from it. ... Right. Remember our code word from the gym? ... Knew you'd catch on. Right, we're moving in thirty."
Eriko looked quite pleased to hear of an impending beat down. "Okay, what do you need me to do?"
"You step out of the restaurant by yourself, hang right, go towards Iwao Bridge. As soon as Bob the Tomato there is locked on to you, I give my husband the signal and we both get after him and his goons."
"I'm not gonna explain right now."
"I'm kinda nervous..."
"Don't be, you have two of the biggest badasses in the Soten Judo Gym at your back."
Decidedly less than reassured, Eriko stood from the table. "If this works, I owe you a real dinner!" She made her way out the door, still shaking.
Ruby watched very carefully out the window. Eriko turned right immediately, hugging the building's edge until she got to the corner. But a man Ruby hadn't seen rushed in from just out of view, grabbed Eriko over his shoulder, and zoomed past, in the direction of the Cabaret Grand. Ruby burst out the door. "BLITZ! BLITZ!" she screamed to her right, as she gave chase. Another man, in an unassuming brown blazer and slacks, stopped leaning on a nearby street lamp and ran with her.
"How'd we miss him?" yelled Yasuyo between breaths, as he kept up his running pace.
"I don't fucking know!" Ruby peeked behind her to find that the red man and his entourage were not far behind the two of them. "I can keep up with her! Hold those guys off!"
"I'm not leaving you! There could be more ahead!"
"Damn it! Why's one hostess net this kind of attention?"
The chase led them all the way to a roof on the south west corner of the block. They had barely peaked the stairwell and caught sight of the Running Man when the tomato and his two side dishes caught up. One of the other suited men started the conversation. "I paid for one girl, you bastard, not three!"
The tomato gestured reassuringly, putting a hand on Yasuyo's shoulder. "I was originally only going to send Eriko-chan your way, but these two will make a nice bonus. We can discuss the particulars later."
"Damn you, Temujin, you're gonna find a way to fuck us over!"
"Temujin? Ah, right, that WAS the name I gave you, wasn't it?"
"Boss Fujisawa won't like to hear what you're doing!"
"With respect, Boss Fujisawa is nothing to me," said the tomato called Temujin, who motioned to his entourage to restrain the two would-be do-gooders.
Ruby, thinking on her feet, grabbed her attempted captor right back, and swung him around her side. "Blitz!" she said pointedly. Yasuyo stuck his hard soled shoe directly in the path of the swinging man's head, giving him a solid KO.
"Bastard!" screamed the Running Man, who had now let go of Eriko to charge at the husband and wife duo. Yasuyo, almost appearing to glow, pushed the Running Man's back in Temujin's direction, knocking both of them over.
Only one man now remained standing behind Yasuyo, and he was now producing a gun from his jacket pocket. He pointed it over Yasuyo's shoulder at Eriko, who otherwise would have attempted to flee or hide, but scarcely had time to pull the trigger before his gun hand found itself sandwiched between two crescent kicks. Ruby, feeling a burning surge of power, instinctively grabbed the gun out of the air and pressed the magazine release, as Yasuyo snatched the Gunner by his collar.
"...A BB gun? Really?" Ruby held up the magazine, a plastic replica with a cavity meant to hold a tiny bottle of CO2 gas. "And you didn't even load it."
The man in red, having now crawled out from under his subordinate, made for the stairs. Yasuyo tried to reach for him, but was just short of grabbing distance as he escaped back to street level.
"Fast runner for such a fat fuck." Ruby pocketed both gun and ammo separately, and turned to Eriko. "Eriko, you alright?"
She didn't need to catch her breath for long. She flew towards Ruby like an electromagnet and clung to her in much the same way. "Thank you so much! Thank you thank you thank you--"
Yasuyo interrupted. "We should get out of here before anybody decides they want to get cute here," he said, indicating the now disarmed Gunner. The other two agreed, and after making certain that the Gunner wouldn't be following them, the three headed back down to relative safety.
Once they'd made it inside a sushi restaurant up the road, it was safe to talk. Ruby was the first. "First time you ever been grabbed like that, Eriko?"
"Hopefully it'll be the last. Probably better stick with us tonight just in case," Yasuyo said. "And uh, also, just in case, here's my number. My name's Yasuyo Fujiyama."
"Hehe, I didn't think I'd be getting a cute guy's phone number tonight," said Eriko, tapping the digits in with her phone's sliding thumb board.
Ruby cleared her throat. "You know he's married, right? ... To me? Anyway, here's mine, too. It can go under Ruby Fujiyama."
"You two were awesome, though! I thought I was done for as soon as that guy started carrying me, but I didn't expect you to do that, that, that gun grabbing thing!"
"Yeah, I'm not sure how I pulled that one off. Heat of the moment, I'll call it."
The night ended with much laughter, and little argument over who was paying the check.