Saturday, 25 July 2015
Chapter four (segment five), 2016, August, Ulf
Despite what he had said earlier Ulf didn't like watching Shoji-kun flirting like mad with Christina. Especially as she didn't look like she minded in the least.
To his left some of the modelling crew were setting up grills, and the rest rigged for some kind of late evening shot. Or it would have been a late evening shot in Sweden. The sun set earlier here, and dusk was a half an hour long joke when daylight was replaced by darkness in what felt like moments rather than the endless hours he was used to from his earlier life.
Around him club members were milling around in astonished apprehension.
“They want us as models?”
“We're going to be in a magazine?”
“He's so cute!”
“I saw him look at me!”
Kids! Ulf thought. Then he smiled and mellowed a bit. Who am I to talk. I'd been shitting myself by now if I was sixteen. He looked at the grills and frowned. Morons, that's no way to rig a barbecue. Ulf walked over to the men loading the grills full with charcoal.
“Excuse me, do you mind if I handle the barbecue?”
“What about it, kid?” The man, in his mid forties if Ulf guessed right, looked back at him. “You think you know better?”
I don't think, I know. “I'm from Sweden. I've spent most summers doing garden barbecues the last...” careful now “… since I grew up.” Ulf fought and impulse to cover his mouth with his hand.
“Sweden you say. She's your girlfriend?”
“Yeah, our princess of Scandinavia.” the man said and pointed at where Christina sat beleaguered by Shoji-kun and most of the other models.
Ulf blushed. He had said he wouldn't interfere, and he did feel confident in her love for him, but right now he only saw his beautiful Christina surrounded by men so glaringly good looking he knew he could never compete. “Yeah, he answered,” more self conscious than he was used to. “But she's not called that any...” Bloody hell!
“But she was, wasn't she?”
What's going on here? “She told you?” Ulf blurted out. He stared at the stubbled face studying him.
“No, I reminded her,” the man answered. “I arrived here 86.”
How many of us are there here? Ulf took another long stare at the man. “You know her? Knew her?”
He received a grin in response. “Jealous boyfriend. Priceless! You look like a teen for sure right now.” And the grin subsided back into a smile again. “No, but I knew of her. She made her breakthrough in Japan around that time.”
Lacking a proper response Ulf started shifting the coals in the grill. He stared at his hands and looked around. “Jirou, got a towel?”
“Sure, Urufu-kun.” Jirou left Sango who glared at Ulf.
Sorry about that. You make a good pair. “My apologies. I didn't mean to interrupt, but I really need that towel now.” Ulf bowed to her, and the glare turned somewhat less hostile.
Ulf shifted his stare to the man by his side, and then back to where Jirou came with the towel he had asked for. “Mind if I leave some stuff with the two of you?” Ulf asked. “It's kind of expensive, so I'd be happy if the two of you could watch over it.” He stole a glance at Sango who suddenly looked back at him with much more approval in her face.
“Yes,” Jirou looked over to where his girlfriend sat and received a fervent nod in approval, “sure we can do that.”
“Superb,” Ulf said and started stripping. Quite a few of the members laughed at his act, and the commotion was enough to grab the attention of the models around Christina. That was a welcome bonus. He quickly got out of his jacket and shirt and left the bundle together with his tie in the hands of a befuddled Jirou. “I've got some stuff in my pockets as well,” Ulf said and pointed at the jacket.
“Aww, do the rest as well!” Hitomi shouted from where she sat with her new-found fan club. One that had expanded rapidly when he and Christina became an item. “Hot damn! Look at that body!”
That was enough to make him blush. In this life he was more aware of what his strenuous training made him look like. In his first he hadn't understood until he was well into university.
Christina shot him a glance filled with both approving... hunger? … and consternation that another girl had looked that way at him. He waved back at her, and this time her eyes only held disapproval. Damn, I still suck at the boys and girls game. Ulf shrugged an apology to her and quickly wrapped the towel around his torso. There was no point in destroying an expensive suit with sparks from the grill.
He grabbed an iron and moved away the coal from the sides of the grill. The crew had filled it evenly making it impossible to regulate the temperature of anything being grilled.
“Lamp-oil, or whatever you call it.”
Ulf received a bottle together with the response. “He dosed the coal and started working on the next grill. “So you're saying you arrived here thirty years ago?”
“Hmm, yeah.” The man stroked his unshaven chin. It looked like a habit of his.
Cradling his bag Ulf poured charcoal down the middle of the grill and placed it in order with his iron. “Here to spy on us, or what?” It was strange that the man hadn't as much as been mentioned during the first conversation with Christina's grandfather.
“I'm here on a photo job. Recognized that girl of yours.”
“So what?” Ulf still wasn't sure where the conversation was leading.
“She wants me to move to her team permanently. I want to know if she's good enough, and she told me to ask you.”
Ulf turned and stared at the man. “Are you a moron? It's Christina Agerman we're talking about here.”
“Hello,” the photographer waved a hand, “arrived here 1986. She had just made a breakthrough in Tokyo.”
Scratching his head Ulf looked back. He glanced at where Christina sat surrounded by models. “You know, I can't say. I don't know shit about fashion. She was a super model to the mid nineties or so. Announced that the was done and started Chag.” She's not merely my little girl. But I love you just the same.
“Sorry.” Of course, if he arrived here 86 he wouldn't know. “Second largest retailer in fashion globally.”
The photographer stared at him. “You're joking!”
Ulf looked at her. He felt heat streaming through his body and how his chest constricted. I love you more than life itself, but I can never tell you. “She's my girl now, but she was known as the billion dollar empress. She's anything but a joke.” Ulf forced his eyes from the woman he loved and stared at the man beside him. “If she wants you on her team it means you're international first class. Take that as a compliment.”