Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Chapter six (segment two), twenty four years earlier, June, Noriko

It was pouring down. Urufu-kun's anticipated garden dinner would need wetsuits and oxygen tanks. And that was only the food. Any non-suicidal dinner-guest would have to come in a submarine.

In short the prospect of a typical Swedish midsummer's eve outdoors didn't look promising.

From the coast Noriko heard thunder rolling closer.

Well that settles it.

At least the food hadn't arrived yet.

In the gym hall Kuri-chan was doing what Urufu-kun should have done a long time ago. She was begging for one hour, two including preparation and cleaning up.

Any other person and Noriko would have estimated the chance for success to equal the life expectancy of a snowball in hell. In the case of her idiot brother doing the begging, a very large snowball. You had to give him some credit.

Noriko stood under the roofed walkway with an umbrella in her hand. Neither roof nor umbrella helped much. The only reason she saw a possibility to have dinner in a dry school uniform was that she was wearing her PE-uniform. Which was soaked through.

Days like these she wondered why they weren't allowed to roam the school in their bathing suits.

Well it didn't matter. She felt the wind increasing together with the rain.

Then their car arrived with her mother driving. Her idiot brother was in it with Urufu-kun and most of the food. She hoped there were lots of waterproof containers to carry it all in but given the mental capacity of her brother he probably brought it all in paper bags.

The car came to a stop and Noriko dared the rain. She couldn't be more than soaked.

“Noriko! You certain about this?” That was her mother voicing the brain Ryu lacked.

“Alternate venue,” Noriko answered. She glared at Urufu-kun. “Because someone actually did think ahead.”

Morons with luck. This weather a little earlier and the entire festival would have been at risk. A week. It had rained non-stop for a week.

June 24. It's not even summer solstice. That already passed. Guess you want it on a Friday.

According to Urufu-kun Sweden closed that day. Kuri-chan had confirmed that the entire nation closed down. And it's not even an official holiday. Are you people nuts?

When she arrived at the car she started unloading it together with Urufu-kun. The bags were plastic.

They had to run three times each and by the time everything was safely stacked inside the entrance hall Kuri-chan came back from her begging session.

“Made it,” she announced. “Ulf you owe me so much you don't even want to think about it!”

Noriko felt a smile spread all over her drenched face. “Mascot? Photo shot? Cosplay?”

Kuri-chan just growled back at her.


It took them the better part of half an hour to carry all food, a couple of tables and a mixed assortment of plates and glasses to the gym hall and prepare the dinner. When they were finished Noriko was certain she could have walked into the shower to get drier.

Food. Whatever Moron-sama said it didn't deserve to be called that. It would be an unforgivable insult to the word 'food'.

Glass jars and cans with pickled fish competed for space with boiled potatoes, really obscure dairy produce from Hokkaido, some strange herbs, bread that had dried until it was hard, rough bread that hadn't dried fully to that degree, bottles with some foul smelling liquid (Moron-sama said it was a non-alcoholic substitute for traditional Swedish midsummer drinks) and more normal bottled water.

That was it.

Sixteen suspicious and extremely wet club members eventually showed up in the gym hall.

They sat on the floor. A Roman indoor style replacement for a Swedish outdoor dinner party.

“What's this?” Dai-kun asked and pointed at a reddish glass jar.

“Pickled herring,” Moron-sama answered.

“And this?” Aika-chan wanted to know and stared at a glass jar that was yellow and opaque.

“Eh, also pickled herring,” Moron-sama answered.

“Whoa, salty! What's in this can?” Fumiko-chan queried.

“That's a salty kind of pickled herring,” Moron-sama answered.

There were a dozen different cans and jars on the table.

“Is everything fishy...”

“Pickled herring! Great, isn't it?” Moron-sama exclaimed and shone like a retarded sun.

“This milk has gone bad,” Hiroyuki-kun noted.

“It's supposed to be that way,” Moron-sama disagreed.

“It tastes as if it has gone bad,” Midori-chan agreed with Hiroyuki-kun.

“It goes well with the salty pickled herring,” Moron-sama persisted.

“The boiled potato has gone cold,” Kichirou-kun complained.

“It doesn't matter because it tastes just as well together with some pickled herring,” Moron-sama promised.

“You can't expect humans to drink this,” Jirou-kun gulped.

“It's supposed to be drunk with...”

“Pickled herring! We got that!” The entire club responded with faces like the dark side of the moon.


The door to the ramen-shop wobbled slightly in despair. Inside sat sixteen moist high school students, ten of which had ordered food.

Moron-sama sulked in a corner. He was one of the other six.

“Ulf don't be that way!” Kuri-chan said to him. “The,” she lowered her voice to a theatrical whisper, “pickled herring was great.”

Ten faces turned in disgust at her words.

“I'm grateful you gave me this experience,” she cooed. “I had to prostrate myself and promise god knows what to have it,” she continued relentlessly.

Ten faces choked on their ramen.

Noriko snorted. It wasn't often Kuri-chan spoke directly to Moron-sama in Japanese, but in all fairness this time she really spoke to everyone else rather than Moron-sama.

Kuri-chan could continue to tease Moron-sama for all she wanted. Noriko had seen her gobble up vast amounts of the by now infamous fish earlier. Yukio-kun, and to Noriko's surprise Kyoko-chan also had their fill during the atrocious dinner.

Now that's the loyalty of friendship for you!

Midori-chan and Hiroyuki-kun it turned out only refused the sour milk. They also belonged to the group of six who felt no need for ramen.

Ten faces slurped their dinner after dinner. Noriko suspected a few of them ate their ramen more to get rid of the foul taste rather than because they were actually hungry.

She shuddered and rinsed her own mouth with some more noodles.

In their corner Moron-sama continued to sulk and Kuri-chan kept on teasing him. But Noriko saw how Kuri-chan caressed his hands with loving tenderness despite the scathing sarcasm that came from her mouth.

It stung a bit to see the two of them so close but for today Kuri-chan could keep Moron-sama all to herself. Tomorrow, if Noriko decided to be in an exceptionally benign mood, Moron-sama might, just might, be upgraded to become Urufu-kun again.

Ten faces sounded like that was an extremely unlikely outcome.

The door to the ramen-shop creaked in wholehearted agreement with them.

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