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Baishakunin, Inc.

Chapter Seven—Who’s Ex?

>> Chapter six

“That guy is my best friend’s ex.” The lie about Laker2009, otherwise known as Rick Sleazeball Saiki, my former boyfriend, comes out so easily. He has just been in the office of my fledgling business, Baishakunin, Inc., a matchmaking service that is somehow supposed to keep my condo payments afloat. Only problem is, Rick is my first and only customer. Besides he has signed a contract in the presence of my public face, the elderly Oizumi-san, and my landlord, Jake. Oizumi-san makes most of her living cleaning houses and has excused herself for her next appointment.

“Bad breakup?” Sophia, my webmaster, asks.

“The worst,” I say, straightening out my blouse. “He kept making excuses not to talk about the relationship and then he just went on a business trip and had all my—I mean, her stuff—her music, CDs—returned to her. And then wouldn’t return her phone calls, e-mails, anything. She had to hear about all his grievances through a mutual friend.”

“What?” says my videographer, who is setting up his camera to record Jake. “That’s messed-up.”

“Ginnie never mentioned this guy before,” Jake comments.

Oops. I forgot that Jake knows my best friend. “Well, ah, she’s kept it low key. Doesn’t want people to know too much, especially now that she’s engaged and everything.”

Jake frowns. I don’t know if he believes me. “Maybe you should drop him as a client.”

“We need the money.” I feel drops of perspiration gather on my upper lip. “And besides, maybe he’s changed. That was a while ago.”

Sophia has returned to her computer, clicking the keyboard with her narrow fingers. “Ah, Caroline—” She draws closer to the computer screen and I’m glad to not have to talk about Rick anymore.

“Look at this.”

“What am I looking at?” Just rows of e-mail messages.

“Forty-six people interested in our services and 15 of them are women.”

Based on some preliminary research, Sophia and I both knew that men tended to join these paid matchmaking services. So to have 15 hot-blooded females was a goldmine.

“Hmmm, I get first pick, right?” Jake nears the screen.

I cover the names with my hands. “No, they will have to come in, sign the contract, get videotaped and then I’ll have to read their questionnaire.”

“Very scientific, I see.”

“I think that you’re onto something, Caroline,” Sophia says. “These older people want to find love and they are willing to pay a lot for it.”

By older, she means thirty and up. Since I’m 37, I could have been offended, but I’m not. She’s absolutely right.

“Speaking of videotaping, Jake, I’m ready for you.” Kyle waves a tattooed arm towards the makeshift set he’s created on one side of the room.

Jake sits in a used orange swivel chair I got in Goodwill.

“Caroline—” Kyle calls out again.

“What?”

“Well, somebody’s going to have to ask him these questions. A woman would be better than a guy.”

I sit across from Jake in a folding chair by the video camera. Even though I’m not the one being videotaped, I feel self-conscious. Is there anything in my teeth? Why do I care? It’s just my landlord, right?

I start off with the first question. “How would you describe yourself?”

“Easy-going. Spontaneous. Loyal. And sometimes funny.”

“Funny?” I can’t help to comment incredulously.

“I have my moments. My close friends see my goofy side.”

“What kind of woman are you looking for?”

“A woman who knows her mind. Who can take care of herself. Straightforward. Honest. You know, low-maintenance.”

Am I low-maintenance? I think to myself. I do know my mind and I’m trying to take care of myself -- but honest? I cringe inside. Just a few minutes ago, I pretended that my ex-boyfriend was my best friend’s ex.

Our office front door opens, and I figure it’s a deliveryman. But it’s not. I hear a familiar voice behind me, “What’s new, everyone?” It’s my best friend Ginnie.

Chapter eight >>

* "Baishakunin, Inc." is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogue are drawn from the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

© 2009 Naomi Hirahara / Image: Neal Yamamoto and Vicky K. Murakami-Tsuda

baishakunin Baishakunin, Inc. fiction little tokyo naomi hirahara romance serialized story

Sobre esta serie

"Baishakunin, Inc." is a new work of fiction from Naomi Hirahara the author of the Edgar Award-winning Mas Arai mystery series and two biographies published by the Japanese American National Museum. Its main character, Caroline Mameda, starts her own match-making business after being fired from her job. Set in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo.

Read Chapter One