Sunday, 3 May 2015

Chapter three (segment six), twenty four years earlier, May, Ulf

“Urufu, that company you set up in my name, it's been bleeding a lot of money lately. Care to explain?”

Ulf looked up. He'd been expecting this.

“Well, you know...” He moved away from his tiny desk in the small living room that doubled as his bedroom during nights. “… high school is expensive what with new friends and going out, and new clothes.” The last part, at least, was true. And Amaya had gotten used to his… selective… taste.

And his books. One, small, bookshelf was hers. The two full height ones were his. One was half filled with books from kindergarten to grade school. He had just recently started to add fiction targetted at middle schoolers to it. The other, well the other was a poor attempt to rebuild his small library from a previous life. All those titles were in English, and most of them would have had a normal middle schooler grasping for their meaning, Brit or American wouldn't have mattered.

“Half a million yen expensive?” Amaya's voice recalled him to reality.

Should he be defensive or tell her, mostly, the truth? He decided on the latter. “I can't stop dreaming about finding a way back home.” He smiled at her with what he hoped was a suitably guilty look before he lied: “There are people out there with ways of retrieving data. They cost a lot of money, and I don't want you too involved.”

“Because I'm a police?”


“Because I'm a police I know that 'a lot of money' starts at five million yen rather than a half. What are you up to?”

Well, that apparently didn't fly. “We're starting a school club. I'm feeding it a lot of money. Buying laptops and such,” he answered more truthfully. He conveniently avoided telling her about the surveillance and other security measures he paid for in cash. She would dig further, which was why he had started using Yukio for laundering money that was actually honestly earned. He also kept the fact that he received over half of his earnings in cash to himself.

A new topic seemed in order, and he ransacked his memory for one that would catch her interest.

“Amaya, heard the latest?”

His legal guardian looked back at him. She was sloppily dressed, as always, with her hair partially tied up in a ponytail. He guessed spending the entire day in a uniform took its toll. Especially as the police probably didn't show as much leeway as high school when it came to innovative changes to the intended design.

“No, dear, you haven't told me. Pass me the Kikkoman, will you?”

Ulf slid a bottle with soy sauce to her and opened up on his own food.

“Christina has promised to show me the city. Next Sunday.”

Amaya arched her brows at him. “That's the tall one? The Swedish girl?”

Ulf nodded. He hadn't told her he wasn't the only fifty year old teenager in town.

“Little one is going on his first date,” Amaya teased. They were back to acting out the illusion that he was merely a high school kid at home.

“Date?” This topic suddenly travelled paths he hadn't intended.

She gave him a long stare. He must have shown more than he intended.

“You do know that it counts as a date, don't you?”

Ulf shook his head. Christina had used that word, and then a long list of must dos had flown out of her mouth.

“Oh dear!” He could see how Amaya stopped pretending to be his mother. “Urufu, listen here. There are a few things you should be aware of. She's Swedish, like you, but girls are girls everywhere.”

Ulf couldn't remember that being true from his teenage years, but then, to be honest, those belonged to the ancient 80:s. And, for various reasons, he hadn't exactly been a girls first choice back then. Extreme shyness when it came to girls popped up as one reason.

“Look, I went out with a fair amount of girls after university,” he tried and changed the topic a little bit. Besides, Christina was fifty, but he couldn't tell Amaya that.

She took a bite of her sashimi, chewed thoughtfully and swallowed.

“After university,” she said. “Like after curfews, tobacco rules, alcohol rules and first sex?”

She didn't have to be that frank about it. Ulf felt colour rise to his cheeks. He didn't remember blushing this easily since university.

“Don't worry, I'm not taking you to bed. Now, my little brat,” She really did love to call him a brat whenever he grew too much of an attitude in her presence. “mom's gonna write you a list, and you'll learn it by heart.”

“Yes mom,” Ulf said glumly. There was no point in protesting any longer. He had blithely walked right into it, and there was no way out any longer.

Amaya leaned back and grabbed pen and paper. “This is the list,” she said and made place for it on the table. She began scribbling.


“That's 'mother dear' for you.”

“Am...” The look she gave him could have turned their sashimi into fried rice with fish. “Mother dear, I… I...” He really didn't want to admit this. He gave up on his pride. “I can't read that.”

“You don't have to. You're going to learn it by heart, remember?”
Usually she was adorable, but right now she had turned into someone he could easily believe making arrests. “Yes, mother dear:”

In the end he learned the list by heart. Humiliatingly enough it was much easier than he had thought. It was, bullet for bullet, a match to Christina's list.

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