Not Even a Goodbye

T

his is not necessarily the end of the story, but its a good place to end a chapter, I suppose. It has worked out to be approximately 7000 words? Is that enough to send to a publisher? Jerjonji, you know something of this, don’t ya’? How about some advice? You think this would sell? For those of you who don’t know, Jerjonji’s a great pal–don’t think I forgot all those B-day cards!–as well as being a great writer. I think, and I hope she agrees, that we seem to write our best when we right about something that’s close to our hearts. You should read some of her stories about her childhood. Great stuff. Touching memories, Bohemian, and snake tossing songbird. Yeah, you gotta read it yourself.


T

hat night, I called her house. It was just before 11pm. But no one answered. Is no one home? Is it too late? What’s next? I worried as I hung up the phone.

The next morning was Christmas Eve, Sunday. I called again and she answered. “I have to go now,” she said hanging up the phone.

As I gift wrapped boxes of rice crackers and rice cakes for last minute Christmas shoppers, all I could think of was DKLA. A person who was basically a non-entity just a few weeks earlier now wouldn’t vacate my mind. She’s the one who showed an interst in me. She’s the one who approached me. So I run with… and what? Now she doesn’t want to see me? I wonder if it had to do something with Billie? I hadn’t really lied to her about Billie. We weren’t seeing each other; we didn’t have a thing going on. Although somewhere deep in my heart, I still had a thing for Billie, it was a one-sided affair, and shouldn’t really matter. What was I supposed to do? I thought. Tell her, “Yeah, I think your a cool chick, but I gotta thing for another girl, but don’t worry because it ain’t going nowhere”? Yeah, right, that would go over great. But I still couldn’t figure out why DKLA had asked me about her. It was so out of the blue. Did someone told her about my feelings for her?

No one’s asleep now, it’s only 8 o’clock, I thought as I dialed her number from home after long day. But no answer. Okay, maybe I dialed the the wrong number, so I dialed it again and let it ring–nine, ten, eleven, twe

“Hello?” a sleepy man’s voice said.

“Hi, um, I was wondering if DKLA was home?”

“Uh, who’s this,” he asked perturbed. I told him who I was and he replied with a calm but threatening voice. “I don’t think you should be calling my sister… again.” And he hung up on me.

And that was that.

I heard what he said. I know what he meant. Don’t bother my sister anymore. What started with a bus ride, what turned into something promising with a single kiss, had turned into a train wreck. What the hell went wrong? I thought over and over again. Christmas was the next day and… Shit, I hadn’t even bought her a present. Everything had gone up and down so fast that I hadn’t even thought about a simple thing like getting her a present. Is that why she doesn’t want to see me anymore?

The following week, I saw Angel at work. He had asked me to get him a part-time New Year’s gig at the confectionary shop and I had come through for him. He was just as chipper as he was the day I told him about DKLA and me.

“How are you guys doing?” he asked.

“We ain’t doin’ nothing,” I confessed. I didn’t go into the particulars. “She didn’t give me a reason. She didn’t even say goodbye.”

“Ah, that’s too bad. You still got Billie, right?” he smiled and went back to work.

During the week leading to New Year’s, we worked together at Mikawaya. It is a particularly busy time of year and we hire a number of part-timers to help out. On of them was the son of my boss’s hairdresser, Diddly.

We talked about J-Town and school and music. After hours, we’d get a bite to eat at Denny’s and hang out. We talked about Angel and I jammed together with others on weekends for fun and he told us he used to be a drummer for the Koyasan Boy Scouts. He said he wanted to hear me play the piano and perhaps jam a bit at my house. Angel, of course, was all over this.

Epilogue: What Goes Around Comes Around

In 1980, I worked at a travel agency, MitsuiLine, located in J-Town. I delivered tickets as far away as Costa Mesa and as close as downtown LA. Once, on my way back from a downtown delivery by bus, I noticed L.A. Councilman Gilbert Lindsay, and sitting right next to him was DKLA. I said Hi and she said Hi, giggled a bit, like she did on that first bus ride we took eight years earlier. She told me she had graduated from a local university and now worked for the Councilman. Councilman Lindsay’s district encompassed J-Town and DKLA was designated Lil’ Tokyo Liaison to the Councilman. As a result, she had to work closely with the Lil’ Tokyo Chamber of Commerce which was headed at the time by K, my boss at the confectionary. They became friends and every time I would visit the shop, she would be there. I never stayed long.

In 1982, I met a girl that I thought was really nice. We got along well enough. We’d eat lunch together and sometimes study together at UCLA. I told a good friend of mine all about her, how I felt, and I wanted him to meet her. Guess what happened? She fell for him, and he succumbed. A guy who I thought was a good friend, a solid friend, hooked up with the girl that he knew I was interested in. If I hadn’t an inkling regarding how Angel felt before, I had a pretty good idea now. Their relationship lasted longer than my little whirlwind with DKLA–of course that wouldn’t be hard for anybody.

While hurt and dumfounded, the irony of it all was not lost on me. And I learned a couple of things. One, in life, there is balance. If you are good to others, good things will come to you. If you screw others, others will screw you. It may not be the same person, but it will happen, I firmly believe this. I’m hoping someday, a student or two of mine will become wildly rich and/or famous and remember little ol’ me… *sigh* I wish! I alos learned that friends–really true friends–are few and far between. It is something that can be easily made perhaps, but not so easily maintained.

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