Detective X: Part 2 by Shirley Pesto
The next few weeks for Komori were much of the same blissful mundanity. His days consisted of waking up early in the mornings, walking a sometimes rainy commute to Flower Mart, getting through an uneventful workday, and then enjoying a quiet evening with some food in front of the television. He hardly even dreamed.
The Flower Mart job was easy and, at many times, boring. To fill his work hours, Komori took to making observations about everything and everybody that crossed his path. The water drops that beaded off the plastic awning at the front entrance created delightful patterns. The automatic door had a way of bouncing slightly on the track that was gummed up by years of grime and random trash that packed itself into the grooves. There were different types of customers that came in at certain times of the day. Komori focused on these things and anything else he could use to keep his mind busy.
His lunch and smoke breaks were taken at the front of the store. He would either lean on the cinderblock wall or squat on the shallow ledge that protruded were the wall met the ground. This area was about ten feet away from where he stood for most of his shift. That didn’t stop him from making the same observations, except from a different perch. He took it as an opportunity to see different perspectives.
For lunch, he would usually eat the hot buns or rice balls that Flower Mart had to offer in the “Food on the Go” section. Boss was nice enough to sell those items to Komori at a discount. He coupled that with a can of tea or coffee, and his lunch break was always capped off with a cigarette.
Among the many things that Komori observed, he noticed that Boss was a nice kid. Whenever Boss was telling one of his stories, his lanky arms gesticulated wildly and his face was always so animated. He was a casual supervisor. While conducting his managerial duties at Flower Mart thoroughly, he was never condescending about it. He seemed driven to do well, but not necessarily pressed to be doing anything different with his life. Komori didn’t view that as a shortcoming. Besides, being a young man, if Boss wanted to make a change, there was plenty of time for him to seize different opportunities.
After about a week of working at Flower Mart, Boss presented Komori with business cards he got printed for him. Boss did this with his own money. He said he did the same for Shunichi and it was good for networking purposes. Boss was adamant that networking was the best conduit to opportunity. Komori smiled to himself when he saw the job title under his name listed as “Security Consultant”.
Whether or not Boss had his mind on different hopes or aspirations, he surely spent a lot of time thinking about his girlfriend. She would stop by Flower Mart sometimes and they would do simple things that young people do together. Boss would take a break when she arrived so they could take a walk or have lunch. She was a beautiful young woman named Mika. When Komori met her for the first time, he could see immediately why Boss was so taken by her.
Her beauty and the carefree way she carried herself was effortless. It seemed like she was never in a rush to go anywhere, yet she always had places to be. She was the type of person who could always be late, but had the privilege of never being reprimanded for it. Sometimes she would show up in a ridiculous french maid’s outfit that her job required her to wear. Shunichi, the master of crass jokes, would always take the chance to comment on it. Boss would kindly, yet seriously, tell him to stop. Komori wondered to himself what kind of a place would require the employees to wear an outfit like that. Then he looked down at his own Flower Mart smock. He shook his head at the absurdity of it all and thought it better not to judge.
“Mika said it’s her dream to go to the United States. She tried enrolling in some English lessons, but she told me she realized she doesn’t have the time anymore. She had to pick up an extra job,” Boss told Komori one day during a smoke break.
Boss was leaning against the painted cinderblock building under the short awning in front of the store. Komori stood facing the street with his hand in his pocket and posture that curved forward. He nodded and took drags off of his cigarette as he listened to Boss.
Boss continued, “She prepaid for the year and it’s unfortunately non-refundable. Mika was trying to transfer the classes to me, but it’s 600,000 yen. I can’t afford that. I’m actually trying to save up money so we can take a trip to the states together. I don’t want to tell Mika yet though, it’s a surprise!”
Komori smiled and they stood as the sound of the rain hitting the plastic awning filled the silence.
“Hey,” Boss’s eyes lit up like he got a grand idea, “are you interested in learning English?”
Komori smiled and exhaled sharply, almost emulating a laugh, and shook his head.
“Here’s the teacher’s card, just in case. Only if you’re interested though; it’s a lot of money, so no pressure.” Boss pushed his weight off the wall and leaned forward to slip the card into Komori’s smock pocket.
Komori took a final drag on his cigarette and exhaled as he put it out in the provided ashtray set on the ledge near the ground. With a smile and a nod towards Boss, he went back into the Flower Mart to finish off his break time with a trip to the bathroom.
Komori shook his head and smiled to himself as he washed his hands. Boss was so happy and energetic when he talked about Mika. Komori thought nostalgically as he imagined the young love that coursed through Boss’s veins. He took a look at himself in the mirror and, for the first time in a while, saw a smile on his own face.
After seeing his own smiling face looking back at him, Komori decided that he would take the English lessons. Purchasing them from Mika would help her and Boss out, and that was something he wanted to do. Plus, learning some English couldn’t hurt.
He splashed some water on his face and made his way back to the front of the store to finish his day. On his way home, he stopped by the bank to withdraw the money for Mika. When he got home, he tucked the envelope of money under his pillow. Still seated on the bed, he called the number on the card that Boss had given him. They mentioned there would be class the next evening.
The following morning, Komori approached Boss.
Before Komori could say anything, Boss greeted him with a warm salutation. “Mr. Komori! Good morning.”
“Good morning, Boss,” he reached his hand in his pocket and pulled out the envelope. “This is for you to give to Mika. I’m going to take those English lessons that she prepaid for.”
Boss’s eyes widened. With his arms waving in the air, he exclaimed, “Mr. Komori! Thank you so much. This means everything to us.”
Boss made a motion to try and hug Komori, but with a small nod and a smile, Komori kindly put the envelope between the two of them. Boss sandwiched the envelope with his two hands and bowed and nodded vigorously with appreciation.
Komori nodded and walked to his post to start his shift greeting customers. He could hear Boss ferociously texting Mika the good news. The texts were followed up with several reply dings and then a call. With his phone held out in front of him, Boss swiped the screen, jogged the short distance outside, and answered the call with glee.