Mister James arrived in the late flight. Mrs. Nakamura was there to receive him as soon as he stepped out of the baggage claim area. She was very nice, greeting him with a sign with his name on it in both Japanese and English. She asked him about his journey as they walked towards the door. Not even a minute later, as they were talking about how difficult it could be to sleep on a plane, a small black car, which seemed brand new, appeared out of nowhere and parked in front of the two of them.
Minute later, the car was on a highway, speeding next to many other cars and motorcycles. Mrs. Nakamura was talking on the phone and he didn’t know whom with. He was too fascinated with the view from his window to care: the city rose in every way, buildings all over. It was impossible to see the moon in the sky. It was late but there were lots of cars in the road. As they approached the core of the city, the denser it became.
When Nakamura hung up, she smiled again and explained where they were going and the name of his hotel. It was a very prestigious five star hotel with every single commodity a person could ask for. He personally thought it was a bit too much for a four days stay but he didn’t say a word. He knew Japanese people loved to be hospitable and it would be rude to say anything against it. So he just smiled and said that the city was very impressive. It was extremely big in every way.
Soon, they crossed the most popular neighborhoods, where people gathered to have a drink after work and the young ones paraded around to have fun, whether it was on the numerous arcades or on the specialized stores that sold comic books and other anime and manga related items. There were so much people, more than Mr. James had ever seen. He had being born in a very small city and had only left after high school so he was still impressed by large cities.
They arrived in the hotel just a few minutes afterwards. The building was beautiful and someone, a small man, came out of nowhere and took James’s suitcase. He almost went running after him but it was obvious he was an employee and he was only looking to be efficient. The driver left and Nakamura joined him in the reception for the check-in procedure.
The lobby of the hotel was very big, filled with flowers. There was no one around except the staff who was also very nice and smiled every single moment. It was late and they were probably tired so it was a very nice thing of them to keep smiling. The short man took the suitcase to the elevator and took them directly to the assigned room. It was locate on floor number 44. The view was outstanding. He almost didn’t hear when Mrs. Nakamura told him she would be there by seven in order to take him to the conference.
Once alone, he checked his suite: it was almost like a proper apartment with a living room, a small kitchen space and a large bedroom with a very comfortable bed. The bathroom, which had a circular Jacuzzi type of bathtub, had a window overlooking the city. He felt tempted to have a bath but he decided it was better to rest as he had an early day the next day. He took of his clothes and hopped into the bed. There, he stared at the window for a while and realized the bed was big enough for two. So he put a hand on the space next to him and fell asleep.
The conference that was being held in the city lasted all the four days he was going to be there and would take most of his time. When Nakamura came in to take him there, he was sad he couldn’t walk around the city first. But she noticed something in his face because she told him that they were going to have lunch in a traditional restaurant and dinner in an interactive place where many foreigners love to go. So he decided to look forward to both those activities.
The conferences were about security in the XXIst century and how could people feel safe in every single one of the spaces they frequented the most such as public transportations, shopping areas, recreation venues and so on. He had given the same conference once and again and again for the last five years. James was considered to be one of the experts in the subject, always invited by television networks to talk about terrorism and how it worked in urban areas and so on.
Sometimes, he grew very bored of hearing his own voice. And he knew that he also bored many people, no matter how interested they were in what he was saying. It was one of those traits that are impossible to erase from the personality. But he was looking forward to lunch so he decided to be as gracious and nice as he could.
He was awarded by the most delicious meal he had ever had, at least in recent times. There was some sushi but also ramen and noodles of all kinds and various cuts of fish and seafood. There were also sweets made of what he thought were strange ingredients. But he tried every single thing and was commanded by the chef for being such a good sport with everything. They even took a picture of the whole table, James smiling.
At night, Mrs. Nakamura took him to the strangest place he had never been in: it was called a café but it was more a hybrid between a bar and a restaurant. They had a live show featuring some people in costumes and the food was all filled with sugar: milkshakes, ice creams, sweet cocktails, cheesecakes and all kinds of desserts to enjoy as you watched the show.
When he arrived at the hotel and Mrs. Nakamura left, he had a big smile on his face. The place they had been last was filled with typical tourists and also younger people but he had a lot of fun looking at the costumes and the very creative show they had put up. He was a bit drunk because of some funny colored drinks he had but the first thing he did when he arrived at his bedroom was not to fall asleep but to grab his tablet and start looking for everything he wanted to see all around the city.
He had decided he wasn’t going to waste any time, no matter how short or if it had to be done at night. He wanted to see every single landmark that was worth a watch and also visit more places like that café, places that felt unique and special. He had gotten such a good vibe out of that place and maybe it was because he had never been in such a fun place, filled with color and with people having fun.
As he finally got into bed, he realized his job had its perks. It was depressing to talk about security every day but he got to visit such great places and have a fun time. It was always better that been at home where he had no one to come home to, where he had long nights in which the old insecurities came back to hunt him. No, when he travelled he was always happy and had the most fun he had ever had in his life. He wished it could always be like that.
The second day they went to the shopping areas and James decided to splurge a little. He wasn’t a fan or anything of the sort of manga but he decided to get advice from the owner of the largest store of manga they saw and ask him which ones he recommended to begin with. He bought four books, all in English so he could understand. The owner, as all the other people, was always very nice.
He also bought some clothes, making Mrs. Nakamura help him with the sizes and telling him if he looked good in them or not. At first, she had been a little apprehensive that he was not as she had expected him to be. But after some conversations, she realized he was lonely person, which wasn’t all that uncommon in her city, in her country. So she decided to help him as well as she could and follow him to all his adventures.
The night before he had to leave, they went to a very quiet sushi bar which she had recommended as she had dinner there with friends quite often. They discussed his schedule for the last day and when she mentioned his flight, James smile disappeared. He obviously didn’t want to leave yet. She promised to take him to a special place the next day, before the flight and he smiled to that.
James last night was one of almost no sleep, mostly thinking and thinking. And when he was done doing that, the sun was about to rise. By the time he arrived to the conference hall for one last lecture, he had taken the decision to change his life and to make that presentation the last he would ever make.