lunch two weeks after she returns… part 8 of a serial
If an evening meal is a gesture of corruption, with the ones (ones one) she attends nearly always being the consequence of people having to negotiate situations. As much because of the rarity and numbers of courses, as for the fact that it continues for an indeterminate length of time in an indeterminate space, made up of indeterminate topics. With all too often determinate threats. I live from one threat to another she thinks… The exceptions are the difference that comes with the simple meals taken with her husband, an evening spent with him, to take time away from their children and the oppressive life they live within, they sit, take off their jackets and reveal themselves, she hopes she is on just the right side of glamorous, a necklace, a small amount of other jewelry, a top that hides the tattoos, trousers and perhaps yellow and black boots, she knows she cannot really tell. But even here as they talk about queuing theory, the politics of queues, the adventures of Imo at school, Suki at the dojo, the children are both at home whilst their parents are happy almost released from everyday cares. Perhaps beginning to think(s) about dessert, when the phone rings. Usually when the phone rings in a restaurant like this you will have seen the receiver of the call stand up and move to stand alone in a corridor or outside. They don’t do that, they ask. What is it? Briefly and sharply they speak, talk, interrogate the person at the other end of the line. We’ll do this, they say. It is probably Saturday or Sunday night, they issue order-words, then more order-words, each word laden with ideology. Agree what to do next, hang up. Perhaps they’ll say, before I read Deleuze and Guattari I would have spoken differently, been nicer. It’s my fault if I wasn’t with you, the other says. They smile at each other. Their expressions are uniquely expressive to one another as they order different desserts and espresso. What beans do you have ? He asks the waiter. The Barista likes the medium roast best I think, the waiter says. Her husband looks at her, She feels herself beaming at him. I’ll have the dark roast, give him the medium one, she says to the waiter. But this is not that day, today they are not together deciding to uncork a bottle of dessert wine whilst enjoying this rare moment of […]
instead of that utopian moment its actually lunchtime, it’s the middle of the week and she’s in the office and she knows she is in her usual style of work clothes, though today its a black long sleeved shirt with a few red and gold threads, black slightly shiny trousers and boots. It’s been the monthly finance meeting for Hat, the three sides negotiating the meaning of the presented facts and figures, the ontological meaning of the numbers being a way of preventing some of the people in that room from killing one another. Can you be more corrupt than this? The last ten minutes of the meeting is given over to Jeremy (one of her partners) talking about the lunch he has arranged. . I have a prior engagement today so I cannot attend, she says, leaving and taking her people out of the boardroom. “I swear she is getting worse”, the japanese woman says to the room as leaves, she doesn’t hear any of the responses. Are you coming with us Jean ? She asks him. No, I’m on baby sitting duties whilst Erro’s having lunch with you. What’s it like being a step-father? My life has become an experimental activity that may never end… It’s going to be a complicated lunch as Erro finds it hard to relax and let the child be without her. She and her friend Osaka, let Erro relax in her office watching him standing in the refractory corner with the baby, introducing the baby to a few people from the floor, some Erro would recognize she knew but others were new. Are they? Erro could feel the touch of panic in her head. It’s fine, she said to her, whilst you were away he worked mostly from your desk in the corner. He became a fixture, there was nobody on the software floor then. Eventually the three woman leave and go to lunch on the roof which has a popup restaurant and a table reserved for them in the corner. It’s a gentle multicourse feast, they slip off their jackets, hanging them carefully on the backs of chairs. She (that is to say if I am honest to the reader, I) unbuttons the top few buttons of (my) her black shirt with the red and gold threads, to let the sunlight warm my throat and upper chest. The top edge of the kelvar lined sports bra is visible in the V. Whilst others are planning on going back to work soon, some of whom are looking across the roof at her, the director of security and two woman whose identities are vague and hidden. A few starting dishes arrive, they uncork bottles of carbonated water. As they eat people head off deep into the building. Osaka is looking at Erro over her glass, and ignoring the conversation between Erro and her about future work, waving her left hand in the air between them, says, Enough , we all now about this, I want to know what are you going to do about him? She wants to say; “That’s not the …” I am thinking, not for the first time that things were getting out of hand in this universe. Erro for an indefinable moment of spacetime looks confused, and then she visibly synchronizes. We’ll go with the flow and see what happens. She pauses and forks some tomato and cucumber, you know all that stuff about long distance relationships, it’s all wrong it turns out. We just grew closer… How much were you in touch whilst you were in Madagascar? I asked. Erro produced some photos from her bag and placed them on the table eating a chicken skewer. All the time, we exchanged; messages, images, sentences, desires, miseries… She looked like she didn’t want to make this confession. I was looking down a photo of her looking pregnant on the beach. Her in overalls working on a small solar powered water desalination unit. Serving coffee in the bar. Looking miserable. Lonely holding stomach. What’s a lonely woman going to do when someone tries so hard… Osaka said to her putting the picture of her hugging him goodbye before her. I didn’t know then, i was a scared idiot. She was looking at me as she said this. We enjoy the afternoon simply by enabling it to move from lunch into afternoon tea before going downstairs. The lunchtime meal sometimes slides out as far as the beginning of evening, a gesture of revolt against the constraints imposed on our lives. When this happens sometimes, we become hungry again and think about an evening meal with wine and vodka, sometimes even saki or occasional shots of japanese whisky in memory of my killing youth. None of us leave yet, through the man of the popup restaurant is wondering who the women are. My PA appears, looking over the three of us — disreputable women, handing me the new appointment sheet, Chan and Jeremy at 4.30 is essential, Seo has buggered off, will call you later for chat. And more importantly he says she’s all right at the moment but… Send him up, bring him up actually… She watched the manager ask her about the three women. My PA smiled at him, the woman in the black top is one of the three people who owns K, the other woman is her best friend, and the other woman is being interviewed. Owner, I didn’t know. You are strangers for the most part, you would never have seen them had it not been for this lunch, they are not charming , you shouldn’t be charmed by them, listen carefully to what they say, laugh at their jokes if you like, they won’t laugh at yours. They may set the something of the world to rights. The PA smiles at him and the passively listening waitress. It’s fine, its OK, she says. Erro leaned forward over the table, when I was coming back I was more scared of him than I was of anything else, crazy really, why did i do that[…] I decided to tell her before anyone else came. Over the last year I have financed a small unambitious gang that was about to be destroyed by.. doesn’t really matter. Sent some people to help protect them, family and group[…] we have negotiated a deal which places additional protection for us and you in Tokyo. Erro looked startled. I negotiated the setup with them, Osaka said. We did this because with you back I needed to protect us, the three of us sitting here from Franz and the council, with a big internal problem. What do they do for you? Erro asked. They serve as our interface in Tokyo, to the Chinese. We have some other people embedded for the business work. They work with me, osaka , ley and chao… Erro stopped, And if things go wrong? We have people who can fight on the ground there, who we cannot support. Never did have before. One Dragon is now a hostage, She stopped abruptly. (I am not telling them of not doing this in the other universe.) This way our alliance with the Chinese is acknowledged and made concrete. The two ravens are good with the Chinese, and we enable, force them to compromise. If you stay then an attack on you is guaranteed to destroy One Dragon and cause a war in Tokyo. What about your sister, surely she… Erro said, fascinated despite herselves. It’s perfect, Seo knows how angry I was with her over the Hat, so Seo accepts that this is how to get forgiven, besides someone, I don’t know who, close to her likes Two Ravens, pleased to see them recover, and be used against Franz’s family and the others, but someone does, I am very surprised by that, our business endlessly surprises us. I said admitting that I am surprised at how understanding Seo has been about this strategy. [I am finding using the third person difficult when I really want to say this in the first, it’s me sitting in a black shirt with red and gold threads who is writing this after all) I think it is because Seo felt guilty over the Hat, Osaka interjected. I realize sitting here with them, eating my second dessert, a delicious creme caramel, with a small spoon, nibbling my way to temporary heaven, that I see them as accomplices, perhaps even as soul sisters who share similar tastes in desserts, espresso, books, film and drama, all of us exiles. Not realizing that we have made passionate choices standing together in the commons. I lean back in my chair listening to Erro and Osaka chat about their very different youths in Tokyo. There is a touch of horror in Erro’s voice quickly masked as Osaka talks about her late teenage years. Sitting in the sun, eyes closed, the wings of birds, magpies probably in my eyes. The sound of wind, birds, voices. (If your sitting with your eyes closed, later, you have to listen — his voice says to her). Both times I arrived in this spacetime with him I have felt isolated. As Sam and I acclimatised and invented a life for ourselves in this all too broken place we have had to construct relationships, family, friendships, colleagues and beyond that people who would harm us if it was in their interests. I (which of course means the singularity that is Sam and I) seems to be better at this than last time. She is finishing the second dessert scraping the caramel from the bowl with her spoon. She sighs contentedly, thinking that decades ago she used to be psychopathic assassin constructed by her parents, and now I’m the kind of woman with the ability to eat two desserts in an afternoon. Erro frowns slightly at at her, If Seo is accepting this situation then, What about Chan? She sits upright and explains that actually it makes his position securer, tying the three sides closer together. Is that business or criminality? Erro asked looking startled. Neither, though there is no difference, all capitalists are criminals, she explained. We are trying to ensure we remain balanced. You just have recognize what type. What about the other guy? what was his name M… ? He’s fine,, I have forgiven him and he helped with Two ravens.
Three women, a retired killer, a disabled woman who lives because she is there and a non-human pretending to be a woman, the first of them is looking across the roof to where a man carrying Fern has emerged from the lift, and stops at the popup restaurant. Orders some coffee, a banana for Fern, he is chatting to Nancy (my PA), she is reading Nancy’s lips, what is it like being a step father? Hey, he says, she came back with the baby and she bullied me into parenthood. Nancy is laughing. Such a perv, her lips say to him, but about whom I wonder. Something you should know is that the Two ravens deal is his fault he made a proposal, that, we could not avoid…. Osaka said gesturing at him. What? Should I ask? Erro asked looking bewildered. Better not, he’ll get that embarrassed look again, she said. Look at him, Error said to Osaka and me, terribly short sighted, flat footed, no muscles, runs slower than Osaka. She sighs. But he is here holding the baby, is the baby his? Osaka asked. I know, I know, it’s really him or nobody. He’s the one who wants to go to the cinema with me, looked after the baby today, makes me tea, talks, even the cat likes him. <we can never offer him the opportunity of leaving, we cannot offer that, there could never be anyone else.> <It would be me and Fern alone together. I’m terrified that if I offered him the opportunity he’d leave.> I told them that I had to go and see Chan and Jeremy. Is there anything else? No just that, Nancy says. He hands Fern over to Erro and sits clumsily into the chair beside her. Thanks for this afternoon Nancy, he’s back tonight and I missed him more than usual. The afternoon is crowned by a smoldering look that escapes from her as she says this. She thinks it’s like looking forward to a tryst. I know, her PA says.. She lifts Osaka up, adjusting her arm around her back and holding her upright. Hold me up please my leg is killing me. Erro watches the the three women leave, one to a meeting, the one limping and the other will massage Osaka’s leg. I look back at them sitting together at the table together and feel as though I have been orchestrating some decent, immoral game which has opened another aspect of the universe to us. Only this can explain my lack of surprise that there are three people waiting downstairs in Jeremy’s office, rather than the two I’d expected… My name is nomiko and everyday I expect terrible things to happen…
The end of a lunch.