Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Chapter four (segment six), twenty four years earlier, May, Yukio

By now it was clear to Yukio that three of their new members had actually joined because they were truly interested in a cultural exchange.

Ando Hiroyuki was a silent boy with a crew cut and glasses from his own class. Shibata Kichirou was Ando-san's opposite from 8:1 with long hair to the colour and dignity of a carrot, and a uniform that always seemed on the verge of falling off.

Yukio tore down a poster from the wall while he tried memorising the new members.

There was Kimoshita Midori who was noteworthy in as much as that she was both a part of Ryu-kun's fan-club and a fervent admirer of everything European. She would have been cute hadn't it been for her long, unkempt hair.

It impressed him how anyone with hair halfway down their back still managed to have bed hair. Gravity ought to have prevented that. But the first year from 2:1 didn't know about the laws of nature, and so her hair branched out in one unnatural direction after another.

It was time for the drawers. He emptied one into into a garbage bag. Did you guys ever use all of this? The crumbled poster followed.

Cleaning out the club room had become something of an archaeological dig. There were, literally, layers of stuff in the drawers. He beckoned to the closest club member to help him and immediately regretted it.

Saki-chan was not there for any cultural exchange. Ota Saki had moved here from Kyoto a year earlier, and it showed in her accent. It shows in your attitude as well.

She was also their latest member, having joined the club after that uncomfortable lunch. When Urufu rose in popularity you suddenly wanted a membership? Or is it because Ryu-kun looks more available now?

Right now she was throwing a tantrum because Urufu and Ryu-kun had left early to buy supplies. It was a very polite tantrum, but a tantrum nonetheless.

“The vice president and official mascot shouldn't have to run these kind of errands. People more suitable for the task, like you, should do that instead.”

OK, maybe not all that polite.

“But the vice president understands Sweden, just like President Ageruman-san,” Kimoshita-san countered, and continued fawning all over Kuri-chan.

The remaining idol in question sat together with Kyoko-chan and Noriko-chan and swapped banter with two girls on Skype. One was the Japanese girl who had helped set up the club in Sweden, and the other was, as he understood it, a third year who didn't look like anything he would have expected from Sweden.

There was, Yukio had started to understand, a certain lack of dominance when it came to blond, blue eyed people in that faraway land. And they wore no school uniforms, which was strange considering that Urufu had referred to it as an elite high school.

He listened to the peculiar conversation, part of it in Swedish, parts in English and some of it in Japanese whenever a misunderstanding needed to be cleared up. They really only did use first names in Sweden. Even the Japanese transfer-student spoke with Kuri-chan, Kyoko-chan and Noriko-chan as if they had grown up together.

He really didn't care all that much. What he did care about was how Noriko-chan had grown closer to Kyoko-chan and Kuri-chan since that spectacular evening in the Stockholm Haven Café.

But you're putting up a brave face right now, aren't you? I never guessed you were so into Urufu until Kuri-chan shot you down.

The secret told in the café. That was the reason why Ryu-kun followed Urufu like a subdued puppy wherever he went rather than strangling him.

Yukio smiled and tore down some more decoration from the walls. Cleaning day. It was time for their room to lose all Sengoku reminders and become a tacky dream for prospective tourists in need of a depopulated nation with endless forests, lakes everywhere, a coastline dotted with islands and fairytale towns.

Some of the printouts Urufu had plastered to the wall went as well. Because, Urufu you have sucky taste. Old posters, old music, old style clothes, well, old. He liked what Yukio's father might possibly have liked, and there was a reason.

The door opened and Wada Sango entered together with Taniguchi Jirou. Wada-san was a former member of Ryu-kun's fan-club, but she had taken a liking to the past president and only remaining member of the now defunct Sengoku Cultural Club, after he joined the club in search of a place to spend his time.

There had been a power-struggle for the presidency which had lasted for all of a few seconds, after which Kuri-chan asked him about similarities and differences between the Swedish social democrats and the LDP.

Yukio handed them the garbage bags he had filled and they left the same way they had come. She was part of the 3:1 bedlam, but Taniguchi-san was a sober second year from 4:2. They made a good couple, even though none of them had dared to confess yet.

Like I'm the confession hero. I've hardly spoken with her since she rejected me. And what a rejection that was.

Yes, that was a problem. He wasn't merely experienced in confessing to girls he fancied. He was experienced in receiving a prompt rejection. But I don't want one this time. I like her too much. I don't dare to risk a strike out like with Noriko-chan.

And here he was, inside their club room and together with the object of his affection. And they only shared silence. She was currently glued to a computer screen and he was picking up trash and transforming it into garbage.

Yukio sighed. Two bags out. That meant that the two girls from 5:1, Ito Aika and Inoue Fumiko were on their way. Both solid admirers of Ryu-kun.

That left the home-grown brothers, Tanaka Dai and Tanaka Hideo, and no, they weren't brothers. They weren't even relatives. Tanaka Dai was a walking flagpole. He managed to make Urufu look short, and Tanaka Hideo was barely of average height. They usually hanged around their leader Fukuda Sho. All of them from 3:1 and all admirers of Kuri-chan's.

Hitoshi Nori, the motor-mouth from 4:1, sat by the table talking to Sakurai Sakura from 3:1, whose parents needed their brains examined given what they had named their daughter. Too many pointless jokes had made her silent, and she was pretty much the perfect conversation partner for Hitoshi-san. He talked and she nodded.

There were another four members, but as they hadn't delivered a formal application Kuri-chan and Urufu pretended they didn't exist. 

The club really didn't need any more people at the moment.

The late afternoon passed in relative calm. The room got clean, the members tired and the Skype call finished. The last topic to be covered had been some kind of comparison between amusement parks.

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