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Limo Guy Extra: One Last call

mehkanik Jun 4th, 2012 1,608 Never
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  1. Limo Guy Extra
  2. One Last Call
  3.  
  4. I adjust my hat, taking in the dim glow of a small lamp on my desk. That's all I really need. Just that small lamp. I tilt the black lamp across the varnished wood of my desk. Manila folders, scattered papers in languages most people can't understand.
  5.  
  6. And a little rotary phone.
  7.  
  8. I usually just spend my time here, in this dim little room, reading papers.
  9.  
  10. My secretary brings me these files. She's a good girl. Never asks questions, just leaves it all alone. Where do the dossiers come from? Doesn't cross her mind. Why do I never receive funds for my services, but never seem to go out of business? Not a subject of discussion to her.
  11.  
  12. The job benefits she receives as a result keep her quiet and complacent. And I get to quietly run my escort service.
  13.  
  14. Sometimes I get calls, which I pick up. I listen to names and stories, but I decide the calls just aren't for me. I send them to some of my associates, instead.
  15.  
  16. Ever since I had escorted that last couple, I just haven't felt that burning in me to make something right.
  17.  
  18. I reach into my drawer, fetching a cigar and match. Without even thinking, I strike it against the brim of my driver's cap and lower it to the roll of tobacco dangling from my lips.
  19.  
  20. I wonder...
  21.  
  22. Will I feel that urge again? It's been so many years, I've driven so many people to their destinations. But now... I just didn't feel like it anymore.
  23.  
  24. The fog of smoke fills my mouth and I enjoy that peculiar taste it carries. The sensation fades quickly and I exhale. I tilt my lamp towards the top of my desk. A picture frame. My favorites.
  25.  
  26. A purple haired woman standing with her love, their children and friends surrounding them. Usually it puts a grin on my face. Today, it puts a crease in my expression. Puffing softly towards it, I try and understand what it was about them that took the spirit out of me for this profession.
  27.  
  28. In the end, a phone ringing breaks my thought process. I sigh, taking the cigar from my mouth. Moving my lamp to the left, I spot an ashtray that was hiding within the darkness. Had it been hiding there, or did I will it there?
  29.  
  30. I have no idea.
  31.  
  32. I remove the cigar and place it there, aiming the light back at my rotary phone, placing it to my ear. "Hello, Variance Limosines."
  33.  
  34. It was my secretary's voice, rather than a client's. They never knew that they were calling me, their calls just got directed to me somehow, whenever needed.
  35.  
  36. "There's something I feel you ought to know, sir."
  37.  
  38. "Yes?"
  39.  
  40. "Remember the last request you denied?"
  41.  
  42. "Yep. Tadao Narita? He was calling for a wedding limousine."
  43.  
  44. "Yes, but it's the wife that I think you should be aware of."
  45.  
  46. "Oh?"
  47.  
  48. "Her name's Izumi."
  49.  
  50. Ooh. That name sounds familiar. Why was that?
  51.  
  52. "Her mother's maiden name...?"
  53.  
  54. "Hara."
  55.  
  56. I sat up, a smile on my face. I know that surname. It's feeling more familiar. That's a good thing.
  57.  
  58. "Her grandmother's maiden name?"
  59.  
  60. "Nakai."
  61.  
  62. A grin burst onto my face. "Yesssss," I laughed into the phone. No wonder. I could never forget that surname. "The Nakai I hope it is?"
  63.  
  64. "Indeed, sir."
  65.  
  66. "Great. I'll make some calls."
  67.  
  68. =====
  69.  
  70. Wedding day. My wedding day. I've been looking forward to it for a lot of reasons, aside from the fact that I was getting married to the love of my life.
  71.  
  72. I brushed the folds out of my white dress, preparing for the fateful music.
  73.  
  74. "You look nervous, sweetheart." My mother gives me a sincere smile, resting her chin on my shoulder.
  75.  
  76. Shouldn't I be nervous? I don't feel nervous. I feel pretty calm. Take in a breath. Relax.
  77.  
  78. "I am NOT nervous!" I declare defiantly. My mother chuckles, nibbling on my shoulder. "You definitely look nervous."
  79.  
  80. "Oh, come on, Ayano. Quit harassing her." My aunt chimes in, telling her off. Minori. I remember being flower-girl for her wedding when I was just a little girl.
  81.  
  82. "Yeah, really! It's her big day, let her try and compose herself. I bet you were way more nervous." My best friend Tsukiko, my maid of honor comes to the rescue.
  83.  
  84. "You know, you never talk about your wedding."
  85.  
  86. She sighs, relinquishing hold of my shoulders. "That's because it was terrible. You remember papa Hisao?" I nod quickly. "Of course I remember him." She smiles softly. "Well, when I was getting married, I didn't invite him. He had a big problem with my husband to be." She taps her chin thoughtfully.
  87.  
  88. "Almost the entire family had problems with him. But your greatgrandpa hated him. Papa Hisao tried and tried and tried to give him chances to prove himself to the family, but my fiance always refused."
  89.  
  90. "And on my wedding day, he kicked open the door and made a huge fuss during the ceremony. Safe to say, not the best day of my life." She shrugged it off.
  91.  
  92. "I got you out of it all though, so I can't complain." She pecks me on the cheek. She never did remarry, so I guess I was all she needed. It put a big smile on my face.
  93.  
  94. Although... talk of granpapa reminds me of the last time I saw granmama.
  95.  
  96. And also why I was bursting with anticipation, for more than just my wedding day.
  97.  
  98. The stories. The photos.
  99.  
  100. That letter that my mother and her siblings read, delivered by a man who couldn't have. I was too busy thinking about everything I had been told by them, especially Uncle Nao. Nao was one of the more interested in what happened that day and I guess he passed on that interest to me.
  101.  
  102. When I turned to talk to the others, I saw that almost everyone had left, except for my mother. "The ceremony's about to start, they have all your bridesmaids assembling at the front." My heart leapt into my throat. Really?
  103.  
  104. "Mom, what if...?" I wanted to say it, but I felt like it'd be wrong to ask.
  105.  
  106. "Shh. Even if it does, I have no idea what I'd tell you to do. Except to not make a big deal out of it. It's your wedding day first, remember." I nod, feeling a little let down.
  107.  
  108. I want the fairy tale I've been told since childhood to be true. And I want to meet him.
  109.  
  110. The organ began playing. "Oh! Ohohohoh, go! Everyone's waiting for you!" Ayano started pushing on my back, ushering me out of the room and towards the aisle. I nearly stumbled upon exiting the room and I hear a small chuckle ripple through the church.
  111.  
  112. Thanks, mom. I can feel a heavy blush creeping into my face, but when I see Tadao's face- I don't think any of that stuff matters anymore.
  113.  
  114. Is this the feeling that gran-mama told me about when I was just a kid...?
  115.  
  116. =====
  117.  
  118. We had a great big celebration, all of our friends and our massive family all showed up. Not only was it just our family; but it was our family's friends since long past, people who my great-grandparents had brought into their lives.
  119.  
  120. I was the baby of the family, finally becoming an adult, getting married and starting my own life.
  121.  
  122. We were applauded as Tadao and the limo pulled up to the street's curb. Like I did when we were picked up from the church, I bounded straight towards the driver's side of the vehicle, peering in through the window with a determined face that frightened the driver at first.
  123.  
  124. Tadao laughed at me. "Hon, what are you doing? This is the second time." I pouted as I walked away from the door and towards the one that he had opened. I waved once more to everyone and got into the vehicle.
  125.  
  126. Once I had sat down, I leaned my head against Tadao's shoulder. I was tired and a little let down.
  127.  
  128. "Well, there's an old story in my family. A really old one. And it involves weddings and the driver." I sigh, wrapping my arm around him and nuzzling my face into his arm.
  129.  
  130. "I don't feel like talking about it right now, I'm kind of tired." Tadao pulled his arm away from me, instead wrapping it around me and pulling me tight against his chest.
  131.  
  132. "If that's what you want. I'm a little curious now though, I'll be honest. And tired? What about our honeymoon?" He asked with a laugh. I grabbed a piece of his tux with my teeth, tugging on it. A strange habit I picked up from my mom. We bite as a show of affection.
  133.  
  134. "Oh, hush. I'll think about it." I tell him in a lilted tone. I can practically hear him rolling his eyes, but he instead elects to sigh contentedly.
  135.  
  136. We're a great couple. He's steady, resolved. A bit on the big side, but I don't mind. Makes him more cuddly. Tadao tells me constantly though that he doesn't know how I fit so much energy into a little body. I'm usually bouncing around, being rambunctious or embarking on some crazy new project that Tadao can barely keep up with.
  137.  
  138. We balance out perfectly. I lace my fingers around his, looking at the rings on each of our hands. We're married now, huh? It's so surreal that something so simple, so small, can be so big of a difference. A few words, a memory and an event can change so much with so little really involved.
  139.  
  140. "Welcome home. And congratulations on your marriage!" The driver tells us, even exiting the vehicle to open the door for us. He extends a hand to let me out of the vehicle.
  141.  
  142. "Thank you." I tell him as he extends a hand to also help my newly-wed husband out of the vehicle.
  143.  
  144. "Much obliged." Tadao tells him, patting him on the back. When we take a step towards our home, a home that was given to my mother and I, we stopped suddenly.
  145.  
  146. A man was leaning against a car, a cigar dangling from his lips. In his hands, a folded over newspaper. As he looks up and speaks, my entire body freezes.
  147.  
  148. "Thanks for bringing them here for me, Charlie. Much appreciated." I whirl around to our driver and he's gone. I didn't even hear a door close or an engine turn over.
  149.  
  150. "Sorry about that. By the time I had realized who you were, you'd already booked someone besides me. I had to pull a couple strings to get you here at the time I wanted." I turn back forward to view him.
  151.  
  152. He places his newspaper behind him, on his small black sedan. "Unfortunately, I'm on a tight timeframe. Can't stick around too long. But I did want to do something for you two kids." He says, tapping on his sedan.
  153.  
  154. "...Izumi, do you know this guy?"
  155.  
  156. My voice catches in my throat. "You haven't aged a day." Was the only thing I could get out. He laughs, adjusting his hat. "I suppose I haven't. You on the other hand, have gotten quite big since I saw you at the funeral."
  157.  
  158. My heart's beating out of my chest. That was the same day he delivered that letter. This is... the driver.
  159.  
  160. "Who are you?" Tadao asked, starting to get defensive, moving in front of me. "Your driver for the evening!" He retorts, giving an elaborate, full flourish and a bow.
  161.  
  162. "No, who ARE you? What's your name, what game are you playing at." He's clearly suspicious about a man he's never met before, who knows me from childhood and is offering us a ride although we're outside of our home.
  163.  
  164. "Name?"
  165.  
  166. He scratches his chin. "I think I forgot it. Usually when I meet people, they never ask for it." He shrugs his shoulders with a smile.
  167.  
  168. "Is it really important? I feel like 'driver' is good enough. 'Driver, take this turn. Thank you for the ride, driver!' It's all I really do, so why not? I drive people where they need to go. Sometimes less literally than now."
  169.  
  170. I tug on Tadao's sleeve. "C'mon- this is the guy I mentioned. The one who's been scattered in random family photos, shown up at family gatherings without anyone realizing who he was... I want to talk to him more."
  171.  
  172. Tadao looked to be getting a little spooked. He was fairly superstitious, subscribing to more than a handful of unusual beliefs, so this situation was bothering him. He turns and gives a hard look at the man, who just keeps smiling, puffing a bit on his cigar and tapping the ash from the end.
  173.  
  174. "For you, I guess. But I'll say this- I don't like you, 'driver'. You... weird me out." Tadao says, shaking an accusing finger at him. The driver tosses away his cigar. "Totally understandable. Most people who aren't used to me feel that way. I'm not exactly 'normal', most people realize."
  175.  
  176. He then walks towards the back of his sedan, opening the door and motioning courteously for us to enter. We do as asked and he closes the door, moving towards the driver's seat and entering.
  177.  
  178. He starts the car and pulls away from our house. "So I don't get it, if you've really been around since Izumi was a kid and supposedly since before then, why don't you age? Aren't you human?"
  179.  
  180. "People age quickly, because they're their own creators. Nothing that puts itself together can last long off the bat. But look at buildings- they outlast people all the time because they were created with longevity in mind."
  181.  
  182. I arched an eyebrow. "Are you saying you were made?"
  183.  
  184. He's silent while driving. I'm not sure if he's thinking about my question, or ignoring it. We drive through our city, towards a tunnel that leads out of town.
  185.  
  186. "That's my theory. Honestly and truthfully? I don't know."
  187.  
  188. Tadao seemed impatient with that answer. "You know how ridiculous this sounds?" He asked. Our driver laughed, adjusting his rear-view mirror towards him.
  189.  
  190. "I'd say it'd sound less ridiculous than telling you I woke up one day with no prior knowledge of who I am, or where I came from."
  191.  
  192. Absolute silence.
  193.  
  194. "So why are you here?"
  195.  
  196. He sighs. "I told your great grandfather why I think I'm here, although he never knew I told him." He turns his eyes out of the rear-view and back towards the road in front of us within the tunnel.
  197.  
  198. It's not usually this empty. Or this long.
  199.  
  200. "He asked me if he had ever met me before. He hadn't, but I've known him better than anyone in the world. He's someone I've been keeping an eye on through the years and through entirely different lives."
  201.  
  202. I held onto his every word with anticipation.
  203.  
  204. "I told him what I do; make sure people get their fairy-tale endings. He told me he hoped I could get mine too, one day."
  205.  
  206. A look of indescribable melancholy entered the driver's normally smiling expression.
  207.  
  208. "I think that's why I'm here. I'm... looking for some kind of ending. My ending. My happy one. So I help people find their own, see if I can find mine through theirs. Maybe learn what I have to do to find it."
  209.  
  210. How sad. So here he was, a man with no memory, no past and no future. Just driving from place to place, trying to fill the space with others' happiness while he tried to find his. All the while, he keeps on with a smile.
  211.  
  212. "Is that why you've shown up for us?" Tadao asks. The smile pops right back onto the driver's face. "Absolutely! After all, of all the endings and stories belonging to Izumi's great grandfather- the one involving Hanako was the last."
  213.  
  214. He sighs.
  215.  
  216. "I've delivered him to every happy ending I could. This one felt so final to me, so I felt like I'd figure out what I didn't know when this one came to a conclusion."
  217.  
  218. I chime in. "And? How do you feel?"
  219.  
  220. His expression crushes. "More empty than I had when I began searching. In every story, he's gone. The stories I've grown so attached to have all finished."
  221.  
  222. "Seeing the happiness in him as he overcomes obstacles, falls in love, grows old and passes on- that's all gone. There's only you guys now. Which, I like you all- but there was something that compelled me to be around Hisao."
  223.  
  224. He scratches his chin while he controls the steering wheel with one hand. "Maybe it was a kinship I felt with him. Like me, he was thrust into a new situation, without want. All sorts of obstacles presented to him, coupled with hardships to make those obstacles that much taller."
  225.  
  226. The driver shrugs with a sigh. "We both suffer from scenarios we've been placed in from outside of our control and he's been able to overcome them. Me? I haven't. I've just grown accustomed to them instead."
  227.  
  228. I lean forward, resting my chin on the driver's seat. "Maybe that's what you need to be doing? Sure, it's lonely- but look at all the happiness you've brought. Look at my family, look how we've all done. Look at all the people you've brought together. Without ever really being known or properly thanked."
  229.  
  230. A strange expression appears on his face. "Shhh. Hold that thought, we're about to arrive." We finally erupt out of the tunnel, greeted with something that shouldn't be on the other side.
  231.  
  232. A grassy cliff, with a single bench, some trees on each side and a beautiful sunset like I've never seen before.
  233.  
  234. The driver parks shortly after exiting the tunnel, and lets both of us out. "This here is a place that no one can ever reach, unless I bring them. It exists on no maps, in any world." He says, extending an arm out towards the cliff.
  235.  
  236. "I was born here, I guess you could say. This is where I first 'woke up'. Dressed in this suit, with this hat on my head next to me." He said, removing it and running his hand through his short, neatly combed hair.
  237.  
  238. "Go ahead, take a seat." He tells us with a smile. We're still standing besides his sedan. For some reason... it feels like we're stepping into his home, into somewhere private, like a bedroom.
  239.  
  240. "Don't be shy, it's just a bench. I want you guys to enjoy this beauty I woke up to. The sun never completely sets here, just rests on the horizon. A reminder that the good things, the things that make life warm and worthwhile are just on the horizon." We follow him, holding each other's hands as he walks past the bench.
  241.  
  242. We sit and watch as he stands in front of us, reach out towards the sun. "You just have to go out there and reach for it. Sometimes, people need a lift and that's where I feel like I come in. Even if there isn't anyone to give me a ride once in a while."
  243.  
  244. It's strange, watching this. He turns towards us. "Izumi, would you mind continuing where you left off in the car?" He asks with a knowing smile.
  245.  
  246. I squeeze Tadao's hand. "Thank you. For everything. That you've ever done, that no one knows about. Because you've made a lot of people very happy. Myself included."
  247.  
  248. Our driver closes his eyes, sighing contentedly. "Maybe... that's all I ever wanted. Even though I never gave anyone the chance, I think I just wanted to be thanked for all my work."
  249.  
  250. "Thank you, Izumi. Tadao. Please, enjoy the view."
  251.  
  252. And just like that, he starts to come apart. Like a seamstress began pulling at a thread that held something together. He unravels at the core, leaving nothing but a stream of colors to drift away on the wind.
  253.  
  254. "I..." Tadao watches and witnesses what just happened. We both turn over our shoulder. The tunnel is gone, so is the car. There's just a path leading to a long walk down along a hill towards the coast, peppered with sparse trees, a beach on each side.
  255.  
  256. "I don't understand any of it either, Tadao."
  257.  
  258. "But I don't think everything in life is meant to be understood. That's why we reach out, isn't it? To see what we can grab hold of in the darkness." I rest my head on Tadao's shoulder.
  259.  
  260. "I guess I'm alright with that."
  261.  
  262. I can feel my eyes growing heavy. Today's... been so long. All the celebration, the emotional ups and downs and now this... I can't believe I met him.
  263.  
  264. =====
  265.  
  266. A second later after opening my eyes, I find that we're both in our home. Tadao's completely asleep and what I see on the table causes me to shake him awake.
  267.  
  268. "Tadao, Tadao. Wake up."
  269.  
  270. Shaking him awake, I can see a clear confusion on his face. "Did that... happen?" He asks. I nod, pointing towards our coffee table.
  271.  
  272. On top of it, there's three things.
  273.  
  274. A cigar box with a ribbon tied around it, a picture frame of the two of us facing towards the horizon.
  275.  
  276. And lastly, a navy blue driver's cap.
  277.  
  278. Picking it up, I find that there's a note. 'I probably won't need this anymore, I think', it reads. I look to the inside of the hat. Where the label is at the back, there's a single word written along the white label. A name.
  279.  
  280. It reads:
  281.  
  282. "Raita"
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