Chapter 3 – The waiting game
“Why aren’t they responding?”
I looked at the clock on the microwave and calculated the sixteen hour difference. “It’s two PM there. For us, this is a big deal. For them, it is Tuesday. We are probably not as big a priority as their existing projects.” I justified the wait as much for Nate’s lack of patience as I did for my own sanity. For good measure, I hit refresh on my email again.
Nate sighed heavily and reached for another slice of pizza. One bite in he quickly stood up, grabbed a beer from the fridge, and dropped back into his chair. “I should head home soon,” he said, glancing at the clock.
“Then don’t open the beer. Put it back into the fridge and drink it another night,” I ordered.
He looked at the bottle in his hand. “It’s only one…”
“I don’t care!” I snapped before he could finish.
He paused. “You’re right, I’m sorry. I forgot.”
I shook my head and held up my hand. “Let’s not open that can of worms again.”
“Understood.” Nate rose and slipped it back into the fridge before reaching for his jacket. I followed him to the door. “If you hear anything, call me.”
I held up my pinky. “I promise.”
With a laugh, he stepped out into the cold evening air and jogged to his car. I watched as his taillights disappeared into the darkness before finally closing the door.
“I thought he would never leave,” came the irritated voice of Demetri.
I scowled down at the cat. “You didn’t have to stay hidden the entire time he was here. That was your choice. He’s an animal lover, you probably could have scored more tuna.’
The cat gave me a look that conveyed a disinterested shrug. “The fewer humans that know about a talking cat, the better.”
“You could have opted not to talk?”
“Be serious! How else would I convey my distaste for the things you do?”
“Silly me,” I answered with an eye roll.
“I could do without your sarcasm. Please keep in mind when we move to Japan that you can’t do that,” he said dryly, sniffing around the bowl I had put tuna in for him that morning. “Tuna, please.”
“Excuse me?” I asked, startled.
“I said, ‘Tuna, please?’ ”
“No, before that?” I insisted.
“Oh, when we move to Japan, please try….”
I cut him off quickly. “When did I agree to move to Japan?”
“It’s understood that for you to fulfill your destiny you will go where they most need you.”
“Anyway, how am I going to afford to live there?” I asked.
“With your new manga writing career,” Demetri replied logically.
“Do you know how much a manga author or artist make?” I quizzed the animal, who had dug through the shelf during our conversation and was now rolling a can over to me.
“I don’t know, but it is a job.”
I took a deep breath. “I’m not an artist. I’m just a writer. I know how to storyboard for comics, but the artwork needs to be done by someone with talent. If I’m lucky, I will make twenty thousand a year, and that is a HUGE ‘if’. I most likely will make less than half of that.”
“Hmmm, you can buy a lot of tuna with that amount.” The cat’s eyes glazed over.
“Yes, but where will I sleep? What will I eat? How will I afford an internet connection to submit my work to my publisher?”
Demetri snorted at me. “Is that all? How much could that cost?”
“A lot more than your tuna. I can’t go to Japan. I have a decent job here. Maybe I could go for a vacation a few times a year if I planned, but I can’t live there.”
He rolled his eyes. “Open this,” he insisted. I was quiet for a long moment. “Please?” With a sigh, I leaned down to pick up the can and crack it open.
By midnight I still hadn’t heard anything from Mr. Sato. I closed my laptop and made my way to bed. I was exhausted. In fact, I was beyond any words I knew to express my level of tired. Outside of that, I had a deep feeling of disappointment. I knew it would probably take a few days to hear back, but that didn’t prevent me from wishing for a more speedy response.
I crawled into bed and didn’t even argue when Demetri snuggled in under the covers with me. He fell asleep with a soft drumming purr that relaxed me. Darkness engulfed me and soon I had fallen into a dreamland where I seemed to know what was going on even though nothing was familiar.
I jumped from storyline to storyline, encountering evil necromancers, giant robots, and ghost ninjas. I never had time to get scared because one adventure bled into the next. As I sat around a long table discussing plans of action for the newest threat to humanity, I heard a familiar song playing in the background. I asked if anyone else heard it, but all the dream characters shook their heads in confusion.
The more I ignored it, the louder it became. As I pondered its meaning, I remembered that I had once had a phone that played that song as a ringtone. “Wait, I still have a phone that….” I sat up in bed with a snap and fumbled for my blaring phone. I glanced at the screen. “Plus eight one,” I read out loud, only to remember a split second later that that was the international country code for Japan. Taking a deep breath, I hit the green button and lifted the phone to my ear. “Hello, this is Jordan Nakamura.”