Chapter 54:

My New Guitar Teacher is Absolutely Insane.

My Dad is an Otaku, My Mom is a Fujoshi, and I Wish I Was Dead

If anyone figures out I'm missing, then I'm gonna be fucking dead, dude. This isn't like just sneaking out to the music store. It's a 60-minute train ride to Tokyo and back. That's a lot of time for Nee-san or someone to stumble into my room and realize I'm not there.

I've kept my head down and put my hoodie up, so I think I'm good for the time being. The train's starting to fill up with old guys and they stink, dude. It's like a BO sauna in here.

The only good thing about being crammed onto this train full of sweaty, fat old men is that the crowd has gotten so big that I can barely see halfway across the car. That means I'm pretty much, for the most part, perfectly hidden. Real hard-ass gangsters don't normally hide (it's a coward's action), but this isn't hiding, it's playing it cool. Totally different. Anyways, where was I?

When the train pulls into its next station, the doors open with a hiss and the crowd streams out, being replaced with a new set of businessmen almost as quickly. Two stops to go. Thank God...I don't recognize anyone familiar. Not that I expected to, but you run into dudes you know when you least expect it.

As I tug my hoodie up closer to my head, out of the corner of my eye I catch a glimpse of what looks like a skirt and a pair of long legs, and then a flash of medium-length hair...and I swear I saw something red, too...

Nee-san? Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck...

Frantically, I swivel my head around, but there's nobody in front of me but the same group of salarymen.

Calm down, Ryou. You're just being paranoid. There's absolutely no way that Nee-san is on this train, of all places.

Still, I need to get the fuck out of here. I'm feeling impending doom. I'm not sure why, but I am. Call it my Delinquent Sense or something. Yeah, I know that's a lame-ass name, but you try to come up with something fuckin' better on the spot.

As soon as the train slides to a stop at my destination, I'm already well on my way out, slinging the guitar bag over my back and walking quickly enough where I can get out of there fast but slowly enough that I don't look that suspicious, but as soon as I leave the station, I freeze.

I have no idea where I actually am.

I don't have a cell phone, so all I can rely on is this piece of paper and the information sign. Let's see...go straight, third right, second left- Fuck! I was looking at it the wrong way...okay, I'm here, and 15 is...goddammit, this map is trying to fuck with me!

I think I've got it. Two blocks ahead, right, then a right, then a right, and it should be on that street.

The street that the station is on is relatively decent, but as soon as I turn off the main drag, shit starts to get sketchy. I mean, like unnerving, dude. I don't mean there's gangsters or shit around...even if there were, I wouldn't be afraid of them, but everything turned rundown real's kinda, I'm not fuckin' scared, I'm a real man! Realer than Kouga, at least! It's just pretty...unnerving. Yeah. That's the word.

I guess this might have been a shopping area a while ago? Everything's all boarded up now, though...and there's almost no one I being watched?

Hair salon? Are you kidding me? What a weird-ass thing to be the only store that looks like it's operational on this street...and it's closed. At 3 pm on a weekday. I guess if you like having the entire building fall down on you when you get a haircut, this is where you wanna be. It looks like one gust of wind will knock it over.

Time to get out of here. One more turn and then I'm there...huh?

There's no music store, or anything, on this street. It's just a series of nondescript houses that have seen better days. Did I make a wrong turn or something? Nah, I swear I read the map right...Let me just pull out the paper again.

Yup, that door right there is the right one, but there's nothing on it that says anything about a music teacher. Maybe I could ring the doorbell? Aw, shit, it doesn't have one.

I guess I have to knock.

"Hello? Is anyone there?" Fuck, dude, I hope to God this is the right place.

Seconds pass, and no one answers my rapping on the door.

"Anyone home?"

Once again, nothing changes on my second attempt.

God fucking dammit. I guess I gotta turn around and go back and look at the map again...

I absentmindedly put a hand on the door as I do, and it swings open, revealing a dark, cavernous set of metal stairs. As soon as I see them, I gulp.

Every bone in my body is screaming out, telling me that it's a terrible idea to go down them and that I need to run, but fuck it, real men don't back away. I've gotta see what's at the bottom. As I take a breath, my footstep creaks loudly on the top stair, and then again, and again, and again, until I've made it all the way down.

I'm expecting something really seedy, but there's only another door at the bottom of the stairs. Something stops me before I can knock on it- a sheet of paper, quickly taped to the door, reading "Yuyu Shibuya". Well, at least I'm in the right place. Not that I ever doubted my sense of direction. Not at all.

Once again, I hesitantly knock on the door, and once again no one answers.

I swallow as I slowly push the door open. "Shibuya-san? Are you inside?"

The door opens up on a small room, painted black and gray from floor to ceiling, with only a couple chairs in the center of the room, a raised, carpeted platform that's seen better days off to the right, a beaten-up amp with its cable strewn on the floor, cans and juice boxes lying everywhere, and...

Someone's facedown in the center of the room.

I quickly rush over, but the figure doesn't stir. It's a woman...I think. The figure has long, straight black hair and is wearing completely dark clothing.

"Hey, are you okay?" I gently shake the figure on the shoulder. She doesn't respond.

Oh, God. Oh, fuck. Someone's been killed. That's a body. I need to go to the cops...wait just a minute, no I fucking don't! If they contact my parents or my sister, I'm in deep shit! The only thing I can do is run away...I'm sorry, lady...forgive me...

I whirl around, but before I can take a step, something tugs on the back of my shirt, hard, and a raspy voice rings out from behind me. "Where do you think you're goin'?"

I'm so shocked, the only thing I can do is slowly turn my head and catch the eyes of a young-looking woman, prying herself off the floor, staring daggers at me beneath straight bangs with two bright purple eyes (obvious contacts). She looks only half-awake.

"What's going on? Who are you?!"

"Can't you read the name on the door, kid?" The woman finally lets go of the back of my shirt and slowly pulls herself into a sitting position.

"Yuyu Shibuya?"

"I'm genuinely curious who else you thought I might be. Anyways, I'm out of alcohol. Lowson down the street. 2 As*hi tallboys, 5 things of cup sake, 10 Onik*r*shi. Make it quick." She rips a piece of cash out of her wallet and waves it dismissively in front of me.

"I can't buy alcohol, I'm a minor!"

She doesn't even bother to make even the briefest acknowledgement. "Nice try. Now go get me some."

"I keep telling you, I'm a minor..."

"And I'm Barack Obama! Now go get me some more booze!" She unpleasantly snorts as she laughs, rearing back from her seated position. I'm starting to get pissed at this bitch.

"I'm not here to run your errands, I'm here to learn music!"

"Huh?" She cocks her head to the side, staring daggers at me. "Where's your payment? This ain't a charity."

I stiffen. "I don't have any money."

"Then get out of here! I've got things to do." This bitch is definitely fucking with me. Mitsukoshi made it sound like she was some sort of skilled teacher, but she's just a drunk!

"Wait a minute, I'm Youzan Mitsukoshi's apprentice!"

The woman sitting on the floor falls silent for a second, giving me another glare, then slowly pulls herself up to her feet, clutching her forehead. Now that she's standing all the way up, she looks even more bitchy. "I don't buy that."

"Here." Ripping the note with the address on it out of my pocket, I growl as I shove it in her face. "This proof enough for you?"

"I'll be the judge of that." Before I can react, she's snatched it out of my hand, scrutinizing it like a detective. "This looks like Mitsu wrote it, alright...hold on." She whips her phone out of her pocket, presses a couple buttons, puts it up to her ear, and instantly her deep growl turns into a cute murmur. "Mitsu? This guy showed up at my place today...oh...uh-huh...yeah, that's what he looks like...TWELVE?!" An expression of surprise crosses her face. "Oh yes...I'll be sure to teach him...don't to you later!"

Her wide smile immediately fades as soon as she hangs up the phone. "Well, I'll be damned, kid. You were telling the truth."

Biting my lip, I spit back, "So you assumed I'm a liar?!"

"Listen here, kid." Before I can blink, she's up in my face, glaring at me with her eyebrows furrowed. Holy shit, dude, her breath fuckin' reeks. Smells like booze mixed with stale milk or something. "So long as you're here, I'm the master, you're the student, and the first rule is that you don't talk back to me. Got it?"

She's itching for a fight, and if she was a dude I would've dropped her drunk ass, but all I can do is huff and look away. "Fine."

"I'm gonna get some more booze." She staggers toward the door, clutching at her head. "When I come back, you'd better have your stuff set up, or I'm kicking you out." The door slams behind her, leaving me alone in the room.

God. She's a fucking jackass. How could someone as nice as Mitsukoshi-sensei ever have anything to do with her?

Fine. If she wants to treat me like I'm trash right from the get-go, then I need to shut her up. I shrug the bag off my shoulders, lowering it onto the busted linoleum floor, then unzip it, take out the guitar, and start tuning it. I know the guitar isn't mine, but I've had it for so long that it almost feels like it is. That's right...Mitsukoshi said he would give it to me. I still don't feel like I could accept it, though. I'm still a beginner, and it's too well-made for someone of my skill level.

As the twang of the strings slowly comes into tune, the door slams open, and Yuyu Shibuya comes barging into the dark, ratty room, her cheeks flushed pink, a great big smile on her face, holding a gigantic bag of...I think that's all booze. Nothing but fuckin' booze. She's already popped the lid on one of those trashy-ass sake cups and, as I watch, throws her head back, swallows the last of it, and tosses the cup away, where it shatters on the back wall.

"Hey, Shiritori-kun!" The voice coming out of her mouth is so cheerful it's hard to believe that this woman is the same as the bitch who got in my face. "Sorry about that...I was on a lil'...downward spiral." She immediately pops the lid on another cup, throwing her bag of booze down on the carpeted platform, which I guess might be a stage?

"Let's see whatcha ACOUSTIC?" She staggers back so far that the drink in her hand sloshes, clutching at her stomach and howling laughing. "I should've guessed Mitsu would send you here with one of his 'masterpieces'! If they're so great, how come nobody buys 'em?! Kyahahahaha!"

Before I can open my mouth to say anything back, she snatches my guitar out of my hands.

"Hey!" I'm on my feet in an instant. "Give that back, you-"

"You can't rock out with this," she replies cattily, cocking her head while she walks off with my guitar in tow.

"But that's Mitsukoshi-sensei's guitar!"

"Relax, kid. You're so uptight." She shrugs her shoulders. "I'm gonna take good care of it."

"But still, you can't just-"

"What's rule 1, Shiritori-kun?"

She turns around, and in her hands is a sleek, solid black, rounded electric guitar with gold accents. Where did she get that Les Pool from? That's a high-end model! It costs at least 300,000 at minimum!

"Here. Try this one on for size."

I take it, gingerly. Something like this costs so much money...if I break it, I have no doubt this bitch'll try and fuckin' kill me.

"Now how long have you been playin'?" Yuyu Shibuya flops down on the edge of the stage with the fucked-up carpet, swinging her feet.

"Um...six weeks, I think."

"Alright. Freestyle. Show me what you got."

What was it that Mitsukoshi said? It was all about feeling, and not thinking? I've tried practicing solos over and over, but I've never managed to reach that state he was talking about. The "zone". The one where you're no longer thinking about your fingers or the song, and music just flows out of you. I think I've gotten close, but every time I realize that I'm about to get there, my concentration breaks.

I'll start with a G7 and see where I can go. Wait. That next chord just came out. And then another, and then another, and now my fingers are fluttering, and...

"Stop." The high-pitched, sharp voice immediately breaks my concentration, and my solo peters out. Fuck, I was almost there! I felt like I was gonna do it!

Shibuya picks herself up off the stage, taking a big swig from her cup. "What was Mitsu teaching you to do?"

"Well...he told me that the key to a great solo was turning off your brain and letting your body-"

"He's always running his mouth about that 'zone' bullshit!" She stomps her foot so hard that the liquid in the cup comes sloshing out. "He acts like it's some kind of mystical power where you close your eyes and then you get possessed or something!"

"Mitsukoshi-sensei didn't put it that way..."

"That's the reason why he never made it any bigger than the bar scene in the sixties...he was trying to 'follow his heart' instead of writing music or promoting his own band or ANYTHING!" Holy shit, she is mad. I guessed that when Mitsukoshi referred me to her, they knew each other, but I guess they're a lot closer than I would have thought. "Listen up, Shiritori-kun. You don't have to enter some mystical plane to hit a good solo. Even if you just pick three chords and switch between them, so long as they sound good together, you'll get a rockin' solo out of it. Start over, and only use C, D, and E, but change between them however you'd like."

"Okay..." Hesitantly, I start playing again. I flash her a look of annoyance as she flops back down on the stage, happily drinking away. She's really tied my arm behind my back- since I can only use a few chords, all I can think of doing is rapidly going up and down the scale...

"Stop right there, Shiritori-kun."


"How'd that feel?"


"It wasn't bad."


"At your skill level, that's exactly what I'm looking for."

I know it's not cool or manly to get all excited like a little schoolgirl, but I can't help but feel proud. Even though I wasn't happy with my effort, it was still good, apparently. Maybe this Shibuya chick was right all along?

"So it was good?"

"Huh? Hell no, it wasn't good. It was trash."

Instantly, I'm on my feet. "Are you kidding me, you-"

"Hey, siddown, kid." Shibuya dismissively waves her hand. "You're a lot better than most newbies, but you're still nowhere close to good. That's where I come in. By the time I'm done with you, you're gonna be rockin'. Believe me."

"That doesn't give you the right to-"

"Master, student, Shiritori-kun."

I huff in annoyance as I slowly sit back down.

"It's not gonna be easy, of course," she continues, taking another swig and tossing the empty glass away, "and I'll work you like a dog, but by the end of it you'll be a rockstar. I guarantee it."

"Nobody told me about this."

"Take it up with Mitsu. Anyway, give me another solo with only those three chords. Until I hear a good one, you're not going home."

I want to immediately jump up from my seat, bury this stupid drunk bitch three feet in the ground, leave, and never come here again, but for whatever reason she and Mitsukoshi really do seem to be friends, and not only do gangster-ass thugs not hurt women, we don't hurt our friends' feelings. So I have no choice but to do what I'm told.

I realize now why I don't like Shibuya. She's just like Nee-san, if Nee-san was a hopeless drunk.

Steward McOy