ahaha yes I changed the title from "Spell it Like Lust" to " Eat World". I decided "Spell it Like Lust" didn't have much to do with the overall story; it's more about J-ko's story.
Anyways, let's proceed :D
Los Angeles: literally, the City of Angels. I can't help but wonder: what if? What if that plane hadn't crashed 19 years ago? What if my parents had survived the flight? What if the plane had arrived safely at the airport? Instead of being the elegantly spoiled Japanese heiress, maybe I would have been a typical American girl spending her weekend nights out partying, attending the latest concerts by Hot-New-Band.
Maybe I wouldn't have turned out this way. Meek and obedient. Sure, I sound all tough and rebellious inside. My public face is an entirely different matter. The media calls me "ice queen." I do what my father tells me to do:
1) Talk when you're addressed
2) Posture and tone are everything
3) Emotion is always left behind a stone mask
4) Obey your father.
Maybe that's why he was so harsh when I let my emotions slip the moment he told me I was getting married to Kane.
By Marisa L
Chapter 2. Mr. Liberator
June 27, 2007
I am such a fool.
I gritted my teeth and attempted to run down the chandeliered hallway. It was just my luck I was trying to escape while wearing the most ridiculous waste of cloth. Anyone sane would recognize me romping around the hotel.
There was definitely something wrong happening in the Park Hyatt. Unfortunately, I wasn't just imagining there was more than one man with a gun somewhere in the hotel. Why in the world were there gun-wielding lunatics here and now of all times? I seriously doubted a Los Angeles street gang would crash a wedding. It just didn't strike me as something very "gang-ly" to do.
I listened attentively each time I turned a corner to confirm I was going the opposite direction the vicious lunatics were going. By the sound of things, they had already ransacked my room. More than likely, if I had obeyed my father, I would currently be lying in a pool of blood, riddled with bullet holes. Ugh. Bad thought. I shuddered and stumbled as fast as I could down a series of hallways.
I opened the back door on the first floorand winced at the blast of summer . The fabric of my gownwas already soaking up sweat. I felt ridiculous wearing such a flagrantly poofy dress, feeling like an ice cream sundae that would melt in a matter of minutes.
I had no idea what to do or where to go. I figured I should at least try to get some distance between the Park Hyatt and me before taking time to plan. I walked stiffly down one of the shadowy streets, away from the gleaming streetlights and blaring traffic. I figured I'd risk running into something creepy in the alleyways than foolishly walk down the sidewalks of the big streets. I might as well have worn a gigantic neon sign screaming I AM A RUNAWAY BRIDE! PLEASE TAKE ME BACK HOME if I wanted to prance around the sidewalks in a wedding gown.
My heart pounding, I rounded the corner and walked quickly down the alleyway. It wasn't likely I'd be spotted in such a dark place, but who knew what hung around in these places? Drug pins? Gangs? Rats? I shuddered and tried to console myself. Stop it! Don't even think about it. Walk around aimlessly and you can get far enough in no time.
I racked through my brain frantically for any escape ideas. Was there anyone in LA that I could go to? Probably not. All my Los Angeles acquaintances were through my father; running to them for help was like running back to the cage. I had some US dollars in my bag –some hundreds or so – I could get by myself for a while. No doubt I would need to get a job if I intended to stay on the run for more than a month.
Huh. That would be a problem, wouldn't it? Truthfully, the only job I ever worked was modeling, and my family had prearranged all of the shoots. Who was going to hire this Japanese nineteen-year-old with no references, no experience, nothing? I suddenly had an unpleasant image of trying to discuss apartment rent in pantomime. Thank god my father had paid for an English tutor since I was six – at least I could communicate in English fluently.
I cursed bitterly. It wasn't my fault I really had no special talents or abilities. I'd taken all sorts of classes before – fencing, tennis, painting, wushu, you name it – but each time I was just about to get good at something, my father canceled the lessons. Meet Jitsuko Araki: mediocre at everything, excels at nothing.
I wonder why my father never let me stick to one thing. Maybe he thought being pretty was good enough for a girl. Readymade for dress-up and pictures - that's probably what he saw in me the first time he held me, back when I was up for adoption. Ken Araki never was truly fatherly to me – sure, he bought me lots of things and took me to nice places, but with so many demands and restrictions I couldn't help but feel penned up like a prized horse.
I never called Rumi "Mom". She was more of a good friend than a motherly mentor.
Okay I confess.
Call me a loser; I never really had friends. Rumi is probably my best friend. I mean, of course I have "friends", but these people were handpicked and pre-approved by my omnipresent father. Even after they were accepted into the so-called "inner circle," all my interactions with them were closely watched. They sucked up and lavished me with thousands of compliments, but really, they didn't care to know me well, as long as my presence boosted their public profile.
When I was around 13, I was pretty good friends with my cousin, Keiko Araki. Five years older than me, she didn't kiss my feet like all the other wannabes did. I admired her so much mainly because she was far from my father's ideal "proper lady" and never cared to live the life her parents set up for her. She liked to party downtown, dance to loud music at clubs, and made her own outfits for cosplaying in Harajuku. Keiko dreamed of being the keyboardist in a band; she even had friends in the USA who were trying to make it big in the music industry.
I'm not sure what happened; just one day Keiko was disowned from the family and we never heard from her again.
I would never have the guts to go against the family like Keiko. I'd like to imagine if she were the one trapped in a marriage, she would throw all the traditional banquet food at her in-laws, shattering all the gold-plated dining plates to fine powder. Then she would make a statement by setting her wedding gown on fire, scorching brilliantly on top of a Araki company flag pole, flapping amidst a cloud of smoke and fumes...
Footsteps snapped me out of my fiery daydream. I froze, afraid to breathe. A couple of deep voices were muttering, and I managed to catch a few strings of Japanese. Something about "girl" and "paycheck."
Shit. Must be about me.
I risked a peek. There were three men; one of them lit a cigarette with his lighter, the small flame casting flickering flares across his face.
My eyes widened in horror. The man with the lighter was missing a finger on his left hand. This guy must be yakuza. Japanese mafia. I had heard stories: if the henchman displeased the yakuza boss, he'd have to cut off a finger to prove his loyalty. Kinda like seppuku, ritual suicide, only far less serious.
Wait a second. What the hell were the Yakuza doing here?
It didn't seem like the three men were aware of my presence just yet, but I knew I had to get out of there FAST. There weren't many options. The safest choice, I would have to backtrack my steps and turn into a different street.
I carefully tiptoed back, taking care that my dress didn't rustle against the grimy potholed road. I could only imagine how filthy the thousand-dollar gown was now. Thankfully those three men probably weren't the sharpest crayons in the box – I was amazed they couldn't detect me at all. Just a few more steps, and I could...
I didn't notice the garbage can lid lying on the road until it was too late. In a horrifying scraping noise, I accidentally kicked the lid and sent it screeching down the alley.
The men immediately buzzed in alarm. "What was that?" one of them whispered sharply. The spotlight of the flickering lighter suddenly pointed my direction.
My luck was seriously taking a nosedive, wasn't it? If I had been wearing black maybe they wouldn't have noticed me, but white? Why couldn't Queen Victoria have popularized black wedding gowns?! I whirled around and ran back towards the main streets as fast as I could. I could hear the trimming of the gown tear and rip as I stumbled frantically.
I heard the heavy clomping of their boots thundering behind me. Luckily I had managed to get a decent lead before they began the chase. I wondered why none of them had used any weapons against me yet until one of them yelled out, "Don't shoot! Boss wants her alive!"
Oh wonderful! Lovely to know I wouldn't be killed just yet!
I ran towards the glare of the city lights, disregarding any concern for being recognized by passersby. I shoved past the curious people gaping at me as I raced down the sidewalk with a repetitive chant of "Pardon me, 'scuse me, pardon me."
I think the men hesitated for a second, not sure whether to plow through the crowd with their guns or not. In Japan, they probably would have shot innocent pedestrians right there. But not in America. They could have gotten away with it there, but not in such a foreign country.
But it was only a second. Almost immediately, they began shoving through the people on the sidewalk, begging pardon with the universal grunt. They began to cut down the lead I had earlier and wereslowly closing the gap. This was not looking good. I had to do something quick.
The words left my mouth before I even processed what I had done.
"HELP! RAPISTS! LEAVE ME ALONE!"
I screamed as I ran through the crosswalk. I hadn't literally intended "rapists", it was just the slang Keiko used casually, but that word did the trick. The pedestrians, hearing my outcry, responded in outrage. A whole mob of people blocked up the sidewalk, some of them jumped the men, creating a gigantic human wall between the Yakuza and me.
"WHY, PEOPLE LIKE YOU ARE THE WORST!"
"RUN FOR IT, GIRL!"
For a moment I stood there stupidly in awe of my luck. Or actually, in awe of the English language. I couldn't help it – I was laughing and crying all at the same time - laughing at the irony of the situation, crying in desperation. The makeup on my face streamed down into a big mess of color and sweat.
Shit, what was I going to do now?
One of the yakuza muscled his way through and poked out of the mob, his ugly greasy head shooting a glare of death. I snapped back to focus and started sprinting again. What was I going to do now? Run into a building and hide? Down the street there was a club with surging pink lights and a steady thump of a bass, illuminating its cursive neon sign, "Lolita." I decided to take my chances there – loud noise and big crowd equaled less chance of being visible.
I ducked down the gum-splattered stairway and barged right through the club doors. It was dimly lit inside. Generally everyone there was either A) freak dancing to the latest R&B hit, B) drinking or lurching drunkenly or, C) making out passionately with plenty of dazzling sound effects.
At least, I didn't look too out of place – there were a couple of girls imitating the whole Gothic Lolita deal: black-clad Victorian doll. My gown was ruined; ripped and frayed with the edges dirtied with city filth. Strands of my hair flew in the air as if static electricity was playing a trick. Weird seemed to be acceptable here.
"Hey," one of the Gothic Lolita dolls put a hand on my shoulder. I couldn't help but wonder how much eyeliner she'd wasted – she looked like a raccoon in a French maid costume. "Neat dress. Where'd you get it?"
"Oh, around." I answered, panicked. Gah, what if that yakuza follow me here? Where am I gonna hide?! "Hey, you know where the restrooms are?"
She stared at me curiously and replied, "Oh, down that hallway on the right. Umm... friends of mine just went a little earlier. You'd better hope they've just started."
What the hell? What did she mean, "they just started"? Just started what?
I thanked the girl, and at that moment, the club doors swing open. It was possible the yakuza didn't see me yet, but I wasn't going to take any chances. I ran the direction she had given me, trying to weave through the crowd. Down the graffitied hallways were several doors; I took a chance and flung open the first paint-splattered door.
Oh, it was definitely a restroom all right. There were your usual sinks, mirrors, and stalls. The couple half-dressed and making out against the sink counter, however...DEFINITELY DID NOT BELONG.
I don't know who screamed louder: me, in horror and disgust of walking in on a free sex show, or those two. They took one look at my dirt-caked face and stained wedding gown and bolted, not even bothering to pick up the rest of their clothing left on the tiled floor.
I was well aware by then that I must have looked somewhat along the lines of the Corpse Bride. Instinctively, I shut myself inside a stall and hoped that our scream fest hadn't given away my location. I hope even the yakuza have some decency not to walk into a women's restroom, I thought miserably.
Fat chance. Yakuza live on extortions, killings, illegal gambling, torturing, and prostitution – like they're going to let a stupid sign stop them.
I quivered involuntarily. All at once, tears started pouring down my face. I don't even know why I was crying. I was scared, I was confused, I was miserable. I didn't know what was going on and I had no idea what was going to happen. I had spent my entire life dependent on people to organize my life. The prospect of so many open options was terrifying.
I didn't even notice someone had walked in until I heard knocking on my stall door. I couldn't even think rationally anymore, I just couldn't stop shaking in fear. LEAVE ME ALONE! I wanted to scream, but the words were caught in my throat.
Whoever was outside the stall just wouldn't give up.
Another knock on the door.
I had meant to sound sharp and irritated, but my words came out in a whimper. "It-it's taken," I said, my voice sounding clogged. "I'm having a bad day, so just leave me alone, okay?"
The only sympathy I got was harsher knocking. What was wrong with this person? Was she deaf? "I said it's taken!" I whimpered somewhat louder this time, but the abrasiveness was still dulled by my choking sobs.
My patience reached critical mass, abruptly switching gears from misery to irritation. I shrieked angrily, "I SAID IT'S TAKEN! THERE ARE OTHER STALLS, WHY CAN'T YOU GO KNOCK ON THOSE DOORS?!"
I hadn't even finished my sentence when the knocking began again. "AGHHHHH! WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!"
I kicked open the door and found myself staring face to face with a guy. A tall guy and a blond guy; nevertheless, he was a guy... in the same restroom as a girl.
Something was definitely not right.
He looked somewhat ticked off yet amused at the same time. "Hey," he looked at me disdainfully, his head tilted towards the row of urinals I hadn't noticed until now. "You do know you're in the men's room, right? Or are you just perverted or something?"
I stared at him in shock, letting his words sink in. When it finally hit me, it hit me HARD.
OH. MY. GOD.
I HID IN THE MEN'S RESTROOM.
I screamed and slammed the door back shut in his face.
This time I heard the restroom door swing open. When I heard someone cussing in Japanese, my heart nearly stopped beating. All breath cut short.
"Hey, you." I heard someone grunt in heavily accented English. "You see girl in wedding dress here?"
Start praying, Jitsuko.
I heard the blond guy outside my stall laugh, "Why would there be a runaway bride in a hellhole like this? And why would a girl be hanging out here in the men's room? You drunk or something?"
"Watch your mouth, boy," the yakuza snarled. I heard the click of a pistol and the hair on my skin bristled in terror. I heard the blond guy inhale sharply. "What the... how did you manage to smuggle that inside?"
The yakuza sneered, "Lucky today, boy. I have better people to waste my bullets on." I waited until the footsteps died away before I risked a heavy sigh.
"You've got some serious explaining to do."
All right, I owed him possibly my life for getting the yakuza off my trail. I opened the door cautiously and peered at my liberator.
This guy was... good-looking, though Kane Tanaka would probably beat him in that area. I'd never seen someone with hair like this guy's: a beautiful blonde color, bleached by the ocean, with shades dark brown peaking underneath. His light brown eyes scanned across my wedding gown and widened in astonishment.
"That dress..." he looked at me sharply. "Isn't that Vera Wang? From Spring 2007?" I nodded. I never thought I'd meet a guy who cared a damn about wedding dresses, I thought icily.
""How about a simpler question," his question snapped me back to focus. "What's a girl like you doing in the men's room?"
I stared at him in disbelief. Uh, hello? Remember the guy with the big scary gun?
I cleared my throat as I attempted to retain composure. "As you may have noticed, I am hiding from... uh... certain men."
I didn't know if I could trust this guy. If I told him the yakuza were after me, then I'd have to explain everything when I didn't even know the whole story.
He leaned against the graffitied wall and eyed me lazily. "Well, missy," he drawled. "I don't think you can hide from men in the men's room."
Did he play me for an idiot?! Losing all poise, I snapped back angrily, "Look, boy, I walked in on a couple about to perform the spread eagle! How was I supposed to know it was a 'men only' room?!" I froze suddenly. Oh my god. Never talk back, never talk back! That's what your father drilled through your thick skull your entire life!
Apparently, he took no notice my horrified look. "How old are you?"
"Nineteen." Shoot, I hope I was old enough to be allowed in this club.
The corner of his mouth twisted into a small smirk. "Hun, I'm four years older than you, and you're calling me 'boy'?"
"Well, I don't even know your name, and you're calling me hun!"
ARRGH, JITSUKO! STOP TALKING BACK!
He glared at me, unsure of how to respond. There was a long pause; I swear I could feel the hate vibes volleying back and forth between us. Finally, he sighed and glanced at his watch - either a Rolex or a very nice imitation of one. "All right, it's none of my business. Just take care of yourself, okay?" He turned around and gripped the doorknob. He hesitated a moment, and turned around to look at me again. "If those men are still there, I'll come back to warn you."
And with that, Mr. Liberator was gone.
endlessdreams is my superhero! go visit her!