chapter 1I was utterly dazed, in a state of total confusion. Someone was at my door, and they were knocking in a very precise nature. It was a constant string of taps with hardly any pause between them. I figured whoever it was would go away after realizing I wasn't going to answer, but the knocks were persisting, the tone not increasing in volume. There was no urgency, so I moved slowly, not completely awake. I have to get up, I thought. I reached for my glasses, putting them on my face sleepily. I looked over at my digital clock, noting that it was nearly three. Who in the hell would be at my door at three in the morning? I was suddenly much more alert, kicking off my comforter. I stood up, pulled on a pair of shorts, and ran to answer the door.
"I'm coming!" I called, my mind waking more and more by the second. At the sound of my voice the knocking stopped. They hadn't been knocking as though they were in distress. It could be the building manager, but in my two years of living here Bonnie had never knocked this late. Someone could be messing with me, or it could be a potential intruder. I was making myself panic, like I always did. Chill out, I thought. It is probably a simple reason why they're knocking.
Cautiously, I looked through the peephole to get a look at the culprit. There was nobody there. I paused for a moment, almost certain what awaited me on the other side would bring my demise. I opened the door, and I quickly looked both ways down the hallway of my apartment complex. Maybe it was some practical joker. I didn't think there'd be anyone living in this building with the sense of humor of a ten-year-old.
Looking down, I found a note with a key taped to the back. It read, in small, neat writing:
Hello Mr. Kirby,
This is from your neighbor Jomei Tanaka. I live in 707 and I was hoping you would look after my apartment while I am away. Please keep an eye on things, for it is uncertain when--and if--I shall return.
He hadn't signed his name, just having written the word goodbye.
Why would he just up and leave? Why would he ask me of all people to look after his place? I took the note into my apartment and sat it on the end table by the front door. It gave me a bad feeling, definitely. The nature of the note felt so final, I worried he'd done something reckless. I hoped he would be all right.
I didn't even know what Mr. Tanaka looked like. I had never seen him. I was pretty sure he even got his groceries delivered. Could I go to the police with just a hunch? Did I need more vital information? After about thirty minutes of internal debate I was starting to get groggy. I would check things out in the morning.
A few hours later I dressed quickly for class, making sure to leave enough time to check out Mr. Tanaka's apartment. I was feeling guilty about not going to the cops when I first received the note. Mr. Tanaka could be dead in his apartment, and I could've made sure he survived. I was once again thinking the worst.
I ate a bagel with cream cheese as I packed my bag for the day. Moving from the kitchen to the living room I grabbed my computer from on top of the coffee table, as well as a few text books. I had a pack of gum, a couple mechanical pencils, and some other miscellaneous items in the various pockets. Once I finished my breakfast, and was certain I had everything I needed, I headed over to Mr. Tanaka's. I wondered what he even needed me to look after. His plants? His pet snake? I took in the brass numerals on his door: 707. Unlocking the door caused his alarm system to chime. I worried he might have had it set, but after a few moments of silence I assumed I'd be okay to continue my survey of the scene. I adjusted my glasses and looked around before entering further.
Mr. Tanaka sure left in a rush or the place had been robbed before I showed up. I stepped over a shattered mug, making my way towards the sofa to set down my bag. His apartment was the deluxe. One of the seven apartments on each floor was a deluxe model. That meant there were four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, and a living room. My place was miniscule in comparison, being a one bedroom, one bathroom. What did one man need so much space for? He was probably some sort of swinger. I could imagine wild sex parties taking place in each of the various bedrooms. Maybe he'd fallen for someone just this morning and they had to elope in Vegas. Love was just that powerful! I laughed out loud at the idea of it all. That was far-fetched, even for my imagination. My theorizing was cut short by the sound of a ringing telephone.
It continued to ring as I looked around, frantically searching for its location. It was going to be an ordeal attempting to locate it in Tanaka's tornado zone of an apartment. I had given myself plenty of time to handle this, but I started to fear it was going to make me late for class. I was a junior at the university not too far from here, studying English.
"Hello," I said reservedly. There was no response. I'd found the phone in one of the bedrooms, which was a total mess--the bedspread on the floor, clothes all over the mattress. "Hello?" I called again. I had picked up the phone just as it stopped ringing so maybe I had missed the caller.
"Hello, this is Doe speaking." Her voice sounded like one of those recordings they used for voicemails. "Jomei Tanaka, state your authorization number."
"Uh, hello, Doe," I said. "Mr. Tanaka isn't home, and I don't know when he'll be back. Can I take a message?"
"No, that will not be necessary. Project will be terminated."
"Project?" What was she talking about? I wanted to question her, but it was really none of my business. "Doe?"
"Goodbye." The line went dead. I set the phone down, still trying to figure out what she was talking about. I exited the bedroom, ready to get my bag and--oh my God. There was a guy, a naked guy, shoving all of my gum into his mouth.
I froze. I had no idea what to do. I didn't know if I should approach the mentally deranged guy chewing on a twenty-five-piece wad of peach bubble gum or if I should just snatch my bag and get the fuck away from him.
"So sweet," he said. His voice sounded kind of like slurps, because of all the gum, but underneath that was a deep, raspy tone. I looked at him more closely, and he appeared well-groomed. He wasn't bad looking either, actually really handsome. He was tall, somewhat lean, but incredibly muscular, and barely had any body hair. That is to say he had eyebrows and thick black hair on his head and around his penis, but he wasn't a Sasquatch. "More?"
"Uh, I'm going to take my bag," I said gently, in case he really was crazy. He grabbed the bag and held it in his arms. If it weren't for my computer and textbooks I would have left empty handed. "That--that's mine."
"Your bag," he said. His whole Tarzan routine was concerning. "Your bag! Your bag has chewy stuff inside!"
" ;Your bag has gum! I want more gum!" I had just noticed he wasn't chewing the gum anymore. He had swallowed it, paper and all. He walked close to me and I got a little nervous. I took a step back, but he kept coming. He extended his arms, holding the strap of my messenger bag. I couldn't move back any further, my back against a wall. He'd cornered me, though he didn't seem aggressive. He put my bag on me, his penis brushing against my hip.
"Uh, thank you," I said, my face hot from discomfort. He didn't seem to mind being naked. Where did he come from? I had locked the door behind me when I came in; he couldn't have gotten in that way. He must've already been here. Was Mr. Tanaka actually into some sort of weird sex stuff? That'd be outrageous. "What's your name?" I asked.
11 chapters, created 12 years , updated 4 years
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