| Part 01: Sweet Ryoko
William Parnell slammed the telephone back into its cradle and glowered at it. How dare that fucking moron, he seethed, how dare he threaten him? Lawyers, the scum of the fucking planet!
He picked the phone back up and dialled, fingers of his other hand angrily tapping on the desk top while he waited for it to be answered.
‘Listen, you dumb cunt,’ he snapped as, Daphne, his ex-wife answered, ‘don’t think you’re getting anywhere with that stupid lawyer of yours!’
‘I’m just following the processâ€¦’
‘You just do what I say! You’re getting fucking nothing! I’ll tie you up in court for fucking forever!’
He slammed the phone back down and took a deep breath. Suddenly, he laughed, turned back to his computer screen and was happily examining the reservation listings when there was a tentative knock on the door and Fiona, one of the hotel staff opened it. ‘What is it?’ he snapped, not even bothering to look at her.
‘A woman has come about the job,’ Fiona said quickly, eager to get out of the office.
‘The upstairs maid’s job we advertised,’ Fiona explained patiently. He was fully aware, she knew, he just didn’t want to spend money on another person if he could bully everyone into working extra shifts to cover the vacant position.
‘We don’t needâ€¦’
Fiona expected his resistance but took a deep breath. ‘We do,’ Fiona said firmly, surprising herself a little as all the staff knew what a ferocious temper Mr Parnell had. ‘Doris is going on holidays soon and we won’t be able to cope. Mr Parnell, we really need some one to help. She’s outside and seems nice, really nice...’
‘Nice! I don’t give a fuck how nice she is!
Fiona winced. ‘I mean, I think she’ll be easy to get along with. Please talk to her, Mr Parnell.’
‘Ok, ok ,’ he grumbled, ‘I’ll talk to her.’ He turned around and looked out at the reception area through the open door. ‘Fuck,’ he said, ‘she’s a slant eye!’
Fiona flushed and glanced out to see if the young Japanese woman heard but, luckily, she didn’t appear to as she was seated near the stairs, staring impassively into space. ‘Please, Mr Parnell, she may hear you,’ Fiona urged in a whisper.
‘I don’t give a fuck if she hears me or not,’ Parnell snapped. ‘This is my hotel and I can say what I like!
‘Yes, of course, Mr Parnell,’ Fiona soothed.
‘How fucking old is she?’ Parnell demanded, looking out into the reception area again.
Fiona looked at the application form Ryoko had completed. ‘She’s twenty fiveâ€¦’
‘She doesn’t look it, she looks younger but they all do, don’t they.’ I remember that whore in Tokyoâ€¦ Parnell shook his head slightly to erase the memory.
Fiona silently rolled her eyes, waiting and finally, Parnell got to his feet. William Parnell was a big man and prided himself on keeping fit, working out with weights three times a week and believed he was big enough and strong enough to handle anyone, I don’t take shit, he said to himself often, from anyone! I can handle anybody!
It was no surprise that he was a bully to everyone and that he had a constant turnover of staff. The hotel was the biggest employer in the small village and which had recently undergone a tourist resurgence and. As a result, the hotel was constantly full with tourists and travelling salespeople.
Ryoko sat waiting patiently, showing nothing on her face although she had heard the man clearly refer to her as slant eyes. Her face was blank as she would put up with anything to get this job, now she had found him after all this time.
This man had been the focus of her life for so long and she had almost given up hope of ever finding him. Ryoko had been involved in a travelling magic show, a small circus really without animals but had seen a photograph of Parnell in a newspaper advertisement for the hotel.
It was a shock to see his face after all this time. Leaving the magic troupe in a hurry without a seconds thought, the train had taken her to the village and Ryoko had furiously thought for the journey how she would get close to her target. Ryoko had been planning her next move when she saw the advertisement for the position of hotel maid pinned on the community noticeboard in the village.
Walking back to the railway station, Ryoko had changed her clothes in the ladies toilets and carefully redid her face so she appeared demure and innocent. It was something she could do quickly and was well practised.
And so William Parnell saw a sweet Japanese woman when he lumbered out, one who jumped respectfully to her feet and bowed to him, her eyes lowered.
That appealed directly to Parnell’s ego and he smiled, looking around to see if Fiona had noticed. I might hire a few slant eyes, he thought, if they all do that, adds a bit of class.
‘I’m Mr Parnell,’ he said, towering over Ryoko. ‘The boss,’ he added meaningfully.
Ryoko bowed again, telling herself to be calm and nodded. ‘I am pleased to meet you, sir.’ Her voice was soft and she exaggerated her accent just a little. ‘I am Ryoko Yuzuki.’
‘Yuzuki, isn’t that a motorbike?’ He laughed at his own joke and Ryoko pretended to be confused but said nothing. ‘The job is to clean the rooms and I don’t bargain about money. You’ve seen the job description?’
Ryoko bowed again. ‘Yes, thank you, sir. The kind lady showed it to me. I am happy with it, sir.’
Parnell liked the way she called him sir and nodded. ‘There is a maid’s room upstairs and you’ll have to work long hours,’ he warned.
‘Of course sir, whatever is required.’
He smiled down at her. Such a cute little thing and so sweet, he thought, and so respectful. She’s nothing like the other clods I’ve got working here. ‘Ok, when can you start?’
‘I can start now, sir, if you wish.’
‘Great. Fiona,’ he bellowed and Fiona almost ran from the office. ‘Show her the ropes and get her started.’
‘Thank you sir,’ Ryoko said, bowing again. Parnell nodded and walked back into his office with a swagger and a grin.
Ryoko watched him go through narrow eyes and then smiled at Fiona. ‘The ropes?’
Fiona laughed and led Ryoko upstairs. ‘This is your room,’ she said opening the door, ‘it’s not much but you’ve got a view.’
Ryoko put her suitcase on the bed. ‘It’s good. Do I have to wear a uniform?’
Fiona laughed. ‘Could you see Parnell paying for uniforms? Not likely.’
Ryoko smiled. ‘I can wear what I like?’
‘Yes but be warned, Parnell is a sleaze.’
‘Sleaze?’ Ryoko played dumb and Fiona smiled.
‘He’s a groper and a bit of a sex fiend. I’m sure you’ve got them in Japan?’
‘Ah yes, we have all manner of sex fiends in Japan,’ Ryoko said enigmatically.
‘I’m sure you do,’ Fiona laughed. ‘Let me show you what to do and where the cleaning stuff is.’
‘Have you shown her everything?’ Parnell quizzed Fiona later in the day.
‘Yes Mr Parnell, she’s a smart one.’ Too smart for that job, she thought to herself, and she wrapped you around her finger.
‘She’ll be ok tomorrow when the customers go, she’ll know what to do?’
We call them guests, Fiona wanted to point out but just shrugged. ‘I think so.’
‘You notice she called me sir?’ he said meaningfully to Fiona who almost rolled her eyes, knowing he wanted her to call him that.
In your dreams, she thought viciously. ‘Must be an Asian thing,’ she said and quickly left the office.
Fiona was drawn upstairs, curious about the new maid, knocked softly on Ryoko’s door and she immediately heard Ryoko call, ‘yes?’
‘It’s just me,’ Fiona said, popping her head in and saw Ryoko putting clothes into the drawers. ‘Settled in?’
‘Almost, thank you Fiona,’ Ryoko said and Fiona picked up a piece of paper from the dresser top.
‘What’s this, a magic show?’ It was a flyer advertising the show and Ryoko silently cursed herself for leaving it out.
‘Yes, I was fortunate enough to work for a small while with them.’
‘Roberto the Magician, The Montrose,’ Fiona read with a smile, ‘what were the Montrose?’
‘Acrobats, I think the word is?’
‘Yes that’s the word,’ Fiona nodded and continued to read, ‘the Great Akira, what was he?’
‘Hypnotist,’ Ryoko said carefully. ‘I am finished.’
‘Ok,’ Fiona placed the flyer back down, ‘I can show you the hotel grounds and where the staff eat?’
‘Thank you,’ Ryoko was tempted to bow but thought Fiona was too smart to fall for that and just smiled.
‘What did you do in the magic show?’
‘I was just the person who cleaned and fixed things,’ she lied.
Fiona showed Ryoko the grounds including the tennis court and swimming pool. ‘Staff can swim in the morning or around lunch before the guests have settled in but the girls usually give it a miss.’
‘The girls do not swim?’ Ryoko frowned as if she was trying to understand.
‘Not often. See that small house there with the hedge?’ Ryoko nodded as Fiona pointed. ‘That’s where Parnell the pervert lives and the pervert comes out the moment we’re in the water and fairly leers at us so we give it a miss.’
‘Ah, I see, the sex fiend,’ Ryoko said and giggled prettily with a small hand covering her mouth.
‘Yes, the sex fiend,’ Fiona said, laughing with her.
‘He is the, what do you call it, the manager?’ Ryoko asked as they strolled past the kitchen gardens.
‘He’s the owner.’
Ryoko stopped. ‘He owns all of this?’ she asked slowly.
‘He won some money or so the rumour goes but Parnell never says where the money came from. Hewalked out on his wife and bought this reasonably cheap. Then the tourists suddenly began to come here and it’s now a gold mine,’ she said a little bitterly.
Ryoko looked around and nodded. ‘It is beautiful and it is his?’
‘Yes, believe it or not.’
They walked on in silence until Ryoko asked, ‘and why do the tourists now come?’
‘The mineral baths in the next village were renovated and they discovered some prehistoric artefacts near here. It’s really an excuse for people to drive here and relax for a weekend. Travelling sales people pull off the motorway and stay here as well so Parnell does very well, the lucky bugger!’
‘Where did he get the money?’
Fiona shrugged. ‘It’s all a mystery and he won’t say. Hungry?’
‘I am, thank you.’
Fiona introduced Ryoko to Doris the cook and Peter and George who looked after the gardens and acted as porters. The other casual staff had gone home. ‘How did you get on with Bill?’ Doris asked Ryoko?’
‘I am sorry, Bill?’
‘Parnell. His friends call him Bill, although we would never dare to,’ Doris said with a grin and everyone nodded.
‘He is fine, I think,’ Ryoko said carefully.
‘Yeah, well watch him, he is,’ Doris said with a glance, ‘he has a thing for girls like you.’
Ryoko acted surprised. ‘Like me? What do you mean?’
‘Asian girls, he spent some time in Japan, I hear.’
‘He did? I did not know that,’ Ryoko lied and smiled.
‘Ryoko used to work in a magic show,’ Fiona volunteered.
‘Really?’ Doris asked interested.
‘All sorts of people, hypnotists, acrobats and things like that,’ Fiona went on.
‘That hypnotism stuff is bunkum,’ Peter said sipping his tea, ‘it’s all rigged, isn’t it?’
‘Oh no,’ Ryoko said, ‘it is not rigged, it is real.’
‘I saw the poster,’ Fiona prattled on, ‘what was his name, the hypnotist?’
‘Akira,’ Ryoko said softly.
‘Was he your boyfriend?’ Fiona asked suddenly.
‘Yes but we broke up,’ Ryoko improvised.
‘Was he any good?’ George asked and everyone laughed. ‘I meant as a hypnotist!’
‘Akira was the best in Japan and had studied for five years with the secret masters.’
‘Why did he come here?’ Peter asked.
‘Akira was searching for someoneâ€¦’
‘Another girl, eh?’ Doris said shrewdly. ‘And then dumped you, what a prick!’
‘Men,’ Fiona said emphatically and Peter and George shifted uncomfortably and then poured another cup of tea.
End Part 1 of 15