While I have never been one of those people with a memory for faces, when you have been confronted with the vision of Satan herself, it is not something that is ever likely to slip your mind. And yet it was not she who I noticed as I entered the hostess bar, already half-cut and filled with exuberance from the abundant feminine presence.
No, the first face that caught my eye was one perhaps even better known to me, one into which I had spent hour upon hour gazing, the one I had loved with all of my heart and had cast aside as both my money and influence grew.
“Mari, long time no see. How are things?”
“Look Josh, were it not for the fact that very few of the girls here speak English, I would be ignoring you just as much as everyone else from Koyama does. As it is, I am here because of work, and that’s it.” And then she flashed me a grin so wide and beautiful I was close to believing that what she had said was in jest. But then I saw into her eyes, and there was nothing but sadness. It was no laughing matter.
“I’m sorry Mari, I meant to call, I’ve just been really busy with work.”
She looked around at my friends, the Legion boys with girls in their laps, pouring glasses of sparkling wine, singing karaoke.
“So I see. Well, are you going to buy me a drink or what?”
I took my money clip out of my pocket and looked around the room in the hope that my huge wodge of cash would perhaps bring a less surly girl to my aid, but they were all otherwise engaged.
“Of course. You know I’d do anything for you Mari.”
“Sure. Except call me back after you have slept with me.”
“Sorry,” I said, pretending to have been distracted by the blast of a Disney tune from the Karaoke machine. “I didn’t quite hear that.”
“You heard,” came the reply.
And she was right. I had. She was right about everything. She always was.
Despite the initial frostiness, she maintained a jovial professionalism, and I for my part managed to ignore the friction and pretend that we were having a good time, just like the old days, before I had my money.
And then things gradually changed. It started with a laugh. It had just slipped out. Then there was another. And another. They were genuine. Then there was a placing of a hand on the shoulder, on the knee, and slowly the sadness slipped from her eyes,
Things were going so well that I hadn’t realised how quickly the time had ebbed away until Jude came over, a glazed look on his face and lipstick on his neck, and announced that a few of the guys were going back to the apartment of a girl he knew, and if I just paid a fee of ¥40,000 for the pleasure, I could come along too. Of course I was in, if it meant that I could keep the night going, and with a shrug of her shoulders Mari too acquiesced.
Outside the plush Yabacho apartment block we were buzzed up, half a dozen guys and a few more girls piled in to a lift built for six; jokes, gropes and laughter all the way up. But my laughter soon ceased when the door was opened by a woman whom I recalled all too well. She was beautiful and clad in the tightest of tiger skin dresses. It was she with whom I had battled before: the Queen of Darkness, the Angel of the Bottomless Pit. It was Satan.
Despite the imminent danger I knew we were in I followed the others through the door. Now, dear reader, I am sure you are wondering what I was thinking. You are no doubt imploring me to run with all of your hearts. But you have to understand, I entered not because I was drunk and kind of horny, a conclusion to which those of you with baser instincts may have jumped. But no, I in fact realised what was happening. This had to happen, for destiny had brought me here.
So I found myself in the lair of the beast and I have to say, it was rather cosy. Italian furniture, tasteful artwork and floral arrangements. Not exactly what you would expect. But while the soft furnishings were incongruous, the debauchery was not. As soon as our money was laid down the drinks came out and the clothes came off, and I very quickly found myself on a sumptuous sofa locked in the near-naked embrace of Mari, in that moment realising how my life had changed for the worse. All the money, the adulation, the power meant nothing if I didn’t have Mari by my side to share in it.
I felt a welling up of a desperate urge to give myself over to her, to do anything she wished, wash her feet with my hair if that’s what she wanted. Not that she would. That would be a silly thing to do. But if that’s what she wanted, that’s just what I would do. However just as desperate was an urge to piss out the gallons of sparkling wine I had drunk, so despite the beautiful moment I excused myself and headed to the bathroom, much to Mari’s annoyance.
In that bathroom I looked at myself in the mirror. Despite the ceiling lamp behind me casting a ring of angelic light around my head, I could see that from my face beamed another light. It was a joy I had not seen for some time. It was love, it was happiness. It was a realisation that I had been wrong. The goal of a prophet is not to make money. It is to spread love, and I left that bathroom with an emptied bladder, and a filled heart.