Chapter 6 – From Phone Calls to Talking Cats
I had just set my keys down on the table by the door when my phone buzzed to life. I flipped it over and rolled my eyes when I saw the caller ID. Hitting the button for speaker, I walked towards the kitchen. “Hi Mom.”
“Hello sweetheart,” chirped a happy voice.
“What did Nate tell you?” I asked, already hearing her chuckle. “What did he say, Mom?”
“We’re just so proud of you for chasing your dream,” she started.
“What does Dad think?”
“Your father thinks that moving to Japan will help you get in touch with your heritage, and for that he is thankful this opportunity came along,” Mom explained, with a tinge of something that told me that wasn’t exactly what Dad thought.
I laughed this time. “Where did this notion of me moving come from? Seriously, what did Nate tell you, because I don’t think you got the entire story.”
“Well, you see…”
“Here we go,” I mumbled, collapsing into a kitchen chair.
“Mariko called me to offer her congratulations after talking to Yuki, who told her all about your job offer,” she began.
I sighed. “How did I know Yuki was behind this?”
“Well, you know he’s been sweet on you since you were kids.”
“No, he’s tormented me since we were kids and continues now that we are adults. The only difference is Itsuo isn’t here to tell him to shut-up.”
Mom went silent for a moment. “You know what happened wasn’t your fault, right?”
“I called him out to get me in the middle of the night, Mom. I should take some responsibility for it.” Tears pricked at the back of my eyes. It had been eight years since the accident and I still couldn’t talk about it. “Mom, I would really rather not talk about this.”
“Whatever you say, dear. Anyway, Yuki told Mariko and she called to offer her congratulations. What kind of daughter lets her mother find out she is moving out of the country from someone else?”
Ah yes, the nagging part of the evening, I thought to myself. “Sorry, Mom. I just found out this morning and the paperwork came in while I was at work. I sent it to Yuki to translate. They didn’t offer me a position overseas. They just want to run my comic in a magazine.”
“That’s a big deal. How are you going to do a comic in Japan while living in Seattle?” she asked.
“Email and cloud storage?” I answered honestly. “Everything is electronic now. I can rule the world from my living room if I feel so motivated.”
“Oh Jordan, you don’t need to be so dramatic. So tell me about this job?” she pushed.
“Well, I would publish in their magazine for three months. If readers like me, they would sign me on for a year of creative work and help get my comics into book form. I don’t need to move there to do the job. I can do it here while still working in programming.” I secretly applauded myself for planning to be an adult and keep my real job.
Silence was all I heard in response. Then I heard my mother’s muffled voice and the phone being handed off. “Why don’t you want to live in Japan?” my father cut in. “If you are going to make manga like a Japanese artist, shouldn’t you go there and master the trade? I went to the US and France to master western style cooking.”
“Dad, I already know how to do this. I have a successful webcomic,” I reminded him.
“Is it the same?” he asked in an unyielding monotone that normally signaled I was about to lose an argument before it even began.
“Not exactly, but…”
“Not exactly means no, it is not the same. Japan made Japanese style animation and manga. You should go there and learn from the masters in it so you can do it at the best level you are capable of,” he argued.
“And how am I going to afford to do that?” I asked, perhaps a little too sarcastically.
“I will support you. Besides, maybe if you go there you will find a nice Japanese boy.”
“Dad, I’m thirty-one. I don’t need you to support me so that I can write manga. As for a nice Japanese boy, you didn’t marry a nice Japanese girl. You married Mom.”
“Are you saying you mother wasn’t nice? Or she wasn’t a good girl?”
“No, Dad, that isn’t at all what I am saying. I am just pointing out that she was a white girl from New York who was teaching English there. Things worked out well when you married an American. Are you saying that things didn’t work out well for you marrying Mom?” Ha, I turned that back around on him, I thought to myself.
“It’s not the same. Boys now have no respect,” he countered.
“What about Nate? You raised him to be respectful. You and Mom both like Yuki and Itsuo.”
“Nate is your brother so you cannot marry him. You can marry Yuki,” he accepted and I almost choked in shock. “I will call his parents and arrange everything. Okay?”
“Not okay!” I almost yelled into the phone sitting on the table.
“You just said he was a good boy. I agree with you. He likes you. You… sort of like him. Meh, all I want is to know you will be taken care of.” I heard my mother mumble something about grandchildren in the background.
“Dad, I’ll be okay. First, let me see if I even get enough readers to be signed long term. I promise I will consider moving to Japan, if I can get enough readers that the publisher offers me a long-term contract.” Just then I felt a nudge around my ankle. I looked down and Demetri had rolled a can of tuna over to me.
“Jordan, could you please use your thumbs and open this for me?” Demetri asked.
“Not now,” I snapped at the furball.
“Jordan, who was that?” came my father’s instant question.
“Oh you know, just Demetri.”
“Who is Demetri?”
“My cat,” I answered before thinking it through completely.
“Be serious, Jordan. Are you seeing a man and not telling us?”
Letting out a heavy sigh, I came up with a believable story. “My new neighbor Demetri, ummm, doesn’t have thumbs. He was born without them. Anyway, I sometimes help him open cans.” I groaned inwardly, knowing how ridiculous it sounded, but I couldn’t bring myself to lie outright to my parents.
“Ah, how does he button his…” my dad was cut off by the sound of the doorbell.
“Sorry, Dad, I gotta go. Someone is at the door. Love you, bye.” I quickly hung up before rushing to the door.
I flung it open to Yuki’s smug face. He took one look at me panting from my brief jog down the hall and immediately said, “Heavy breathing as soon as I arrive. I would say I just got here in time.”
“You!” I stabbed a finger in his direction.
“FYI, we’re getting married or I have to move to Japan,” I told him in a flat tone.
“Ah, you must have talked to your parents,” he said with a chuckle.
I stepped aside so he could come in and closed the door behind him with more force then I meant to. “What do you want?”
He held out a bouquet of roses with microwavable burritos nestled among them. ”I wanted to give you these before they thawed.”
I rolled my eyes and accepted them. “I thought we discussed fifty as the preferred number?”
“I figure if I give them to you a few at a time I can see you more often,” he said, stepping closer.
I slid just out of reach and headed back into the kitchen. “I better get these in water… and the freezer. Seriously though, why are you here?”
“I think you should go to Japan,” he insisted.
With a laugh, I turned around as I closed the freezer door. “You know, I was just kidding about the whole getting married thing. Your bachelor lifestyle is safe.”
He clutched his chest like I had wounded him. “For you, I could be a changed man.”
“Do those lines actually work?” I teased.
“More often then you want to know,” Yuki answered with a wink.
I was ready to retort with a snotty comment when Demetri hopped up on the table. “You there! The good-looking man with pointy hair. Do you know how to open a can of tuna? This human insists on trying to starve me.”
Yuki stared at the cat. “Hey, Jordan?”
“When did you get a cat?” he asked. His eyes never left Demetri.
“A couple days ago,” I said with a shrug, horrified about how this was going to play out.
“And how long has he talked?”
“Since I got him.”
Yuki sank to the floor and sat staring up at my talking cat. Demetri looked at me. “Why are you humans so shocked that a cat can talk? With so many intelligent creatures on this planet, why do you think you’re the only ones who are capable of speech?”
“Demetri, now isn’t the time to discuss this.”
Demetri looked back at the shocked Yuki. “So, where do we stand on your can-opening abilities?”