YV3 - Dining out

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I slap another cut of beef on the grill. "I know I'm not supposed to ask, but is there something wrong at work?"

"Well...I mean, you're right, but..." Yasuyo absentmindedly snatches my wagyu. "Alright, Hasegawa isn't gonna like it if I talk about him to you, but he's an understanding sort of person, I think he'll forgive me."

"Is he your boss?"

"How do I put this...he's more like, the boss of all bosses." I watch as he wolfs down my wagyu and downs the little cup of sake, all without getting any on his favorite varsity jacket. "I mean, it's not a big organization that I'm a part of. All told, I think there's...I shouldn't say."

"Ten? Twenty?" I look at the plate of tripe and begrudgingly put a chunk of it on the grill.

"Closer to ten, and almost all of them are my bosses."

"Ouch. Gotta be rough. I bet none of them are nearly as weird as mine, though," I add, remembering the tale of how my boss spent an hour running away from a pair of shibas this morning in pursuit of the Perfect Shot.

"Honestly, it's probably better that way. Not many of them can agree on a given thing, so they generally just tell me to man the bar while they go do their planning in the back room." I could already see Yasuyo's shoulders relaxing from across the table. Him saying even that much about his worries was good for him, confidentiality be damned.

"I thought you worked under some big business conglomerate." The Omi Alliance could only very loosely be described as a business, but I wanted him to keep doubting that I knew much about them.

Yasuyo nibbled a bit on his bibimbap. "I mean, technically? We're small but we're under a bigger umbrella..."

"So what's this about you tending bar?"

"Ah, damn, I probably could have told you...uh, one of my bosses...boss's bosses...owns this little host club a few blocks away. They're shorthanded, so I've been kinda helping fill in while they try to get more staff."

"Heh...a host club? You know, I always figured that was more your style."

"I don't think hosts are allowed to be married..."

I finally decide my tripe has spent enough time blackening and offload it to my plate before it catches fire. "Which club is it, though? Can't be the Grand, can it?"

"Oh, no no, there's not a chance of that. We, uh, lost the...contract, back in 2006."

"2006? ...Probably don't know the details, though, right?"

"...Right..." He wants to say, but he's trying to focus on the bottle of soy sauce instead of me. "No, there's no way it could be the Grand. We're, uh...across town."

"What's the place called? I might like to drop in, order a few drinks." I hope my smile is disarming enough.

"Club Iriomote. It's not as big as a few of these places are, but it serves a wide clientele."

"How wide are we talking?" I'm restraining myself from whipping out my pocket notebook - this would be great stuff for MacSiv, but my interest is also personal.

"We're the only host club in town with both hosts and hostesses on staff, and we don't care which one you request." I wonder if Yasuyo is so talkative now because he doesn't have to talk about his bosses.

"So if I really wanted to come in for some girl talk, I could request a hostess?"

He blushes just a little bit. "I didn't think you were the type for girl talk, Ruby."

"And I didn't think you tended bar, so that's two things we've learned about each other tonight." I don't know what I expected, but the tripe isn't so bad once it has some charcoal content in it. That, then, is something I make a note of for my next MacSiv piece. As I think this, though, my cell phone makes a pinging sound.

"That's not Eriko-chan again, is it?"

I dig the phone out of my buttoned breast pocket. "No, it's Mack. I think he saw me check in."

"If you'll forgive me for saying, he seems like he's watching you a little too closely."

"I mean, he's my boss, sure, but I don't think I blame him for taking an interest in how his employees are using his website." As I look at my notifications, I hear another ping, but it isn't from my phone; it's from Yasuyo's. "Wonder who that is, then."

I watch him lean completely backwards to get the phone out of his front pants pocket (harder than it sounds, when you're sitting cross-legged on a cushion). "Ehhh..."

"Getting called in early?"

"Not exactly..." He flips his phone around to show me a headline. Cabaret Killer Strikes Again, it reads. "Yoshida-san sent me this. Seems the smaller clubs in Shofukucho are being targeted...it wasn't our club that got hit this time, though."

That crime detector in my head starts going off. "Which one's that?"

Yasuyo scrolls the page down a bit. "Looks like it's the one a little ways east of Iriomote, the place that used to sell wrestling equipment. I know the manager there."

I finally read my message. It's not from Mack at all - it's a Troublr note. "Cabaret Nebula, just off Shofukucho East...I heard there was a murder there but they're still opening tonight? Do they just clean up immediately, or is something going on? I'd check it out but I already wore out my entertainment budget this month..." I tap out a reply while I chew my last bite of tripe: "I'll go see if I can find out. Stay safe, OK?"

Yasuyo does his lean-back again, this time fishing for the wallet from his other pocket. "I'll get the check."

"No, I'll do it this time, Mack's supposed to pay me to review these places anyway."