Diruman, Episode 0

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

This is my contest entry on another site. Diruman is a Manga superhero dreamed up by Biru and Hiroko in my novel "You Only Love Twice". i thought it might provide a little humor as a stand-alone story.


Adjusting his cloak about his shoulders, the wizened Business Kami groaned softly as he reached out to ring the bell at his side to summon his aide. It was cold enough in the mountaintop residence to see his own breath as he called, “Danforth? Attend me. We have planning to do.”

A gnome of a man, bearded like his senior, approached and knelt on the pad provided for that purpose. “What shall it be this time, Master? Is it time to establish another company, or perhaps bankrupt one? How about a nice gas price panic? A word in the right place and BOOM, up goes the price of oil.”

“No, nothing like that, Danforth. I have come to a decision regarding the situation in Japan.”

“Ah, yes, that would be the big merger between the two industrial giants that, according to you, would ‘stabilize their economy for quite some time’. At latest report, negotiations are about to fail.”

“Yes, Danforth. Therefore, you will provide assistance to the proceedings and make them successful. How you accomplish this is up to you. But, remember not to get carried away like the last time.”

Danforth bowed his head. “No. I have no wish to repeat that fiasco. The press campaigned for 2 weeks to ‘send the gnome home’. I think that the best way to handle this merger would be…”

The Kami raised his hand and said, “Stop! I have no wish to hear details, just results. Get packed. You have a long trip to Tokyo. Locate Suzuki Michio and give him a hand, granting him the necessary powers to effect the merger.”

“I’ll get right on that, master,” said Danforth, bowing his way out of the room.

* * *

Multilevel Services of Japan had their headquarters on a high floor of a modern glass and steel business building in downtown Tokyo. Most of the working staff had departed earlier, but one lone light burned dimly near the center of a mass of cubicles. Struggling to read his notes from the negotiations of the day, mid-level functionary Suzuki Michio squinted, adjusting his desk lamp for more light.

“Chintzy boss. I fail to see how a higher wattage bulb would make or break this company. I have a good mind to bring a lamp of my own and replace this piece of junk,” he mumbled as he whacked the side of the shade.

Ping! The light flashed brightly and then plunged Michio into darkness.

“Rats! That’s all I needed.” Michio sighed deeply as he rose and headed for the supply locker.

Signing his name on the log, stating he was withdrawing a light bulb, he grumbled about the cheapskate boss again. Locating the box of fresh bulbs on an upper shelf, Michio tugged just a bit too hard and brought down two reams of paper, a box of cellophane tape, a cluster of metal binder clips, and a large plastic bottle of printer toner which, fortunately, did not spill. The racket garnered unwanted attention.

Michio’s boss, Mister Kobayashi, who happened to be passing, poked his head through the door. “What are you doing, Suzuki? You will, of course, clean this mess up before leaving for the day.”

Hai! Yes, sir! Immediately!” stammered Michio, getting to his feet and bowing several times rapidly.

“Humph. Well, see that you do.” Kobayashi withdrew and continued down the hallway toward the exit.

“Yes, Mister Kobayashi. Of course, Mister Kobayashi,” Michio hissed quietly.

Michio had almost finished cleaning up when he heard the musical sound of two female voices echoing down the hallway. Brushing himself off, he turned to the door. Two women, high-level secretaries, one with the lovely name of Kyoko, and the other named Setsuko, were having an animated conversation. They paused at the open door and peered in.

“Anyone here?” queried Kyoko, looking into the gloom of the unlit closet.

“It’s just Michio, Kyoko,” said Setsuko, looking at Michio. “Maybe this is really where you ought to be working, Michio. You seem to fit right in.” She laughed.

Michio felt himself flushing with shame at her jibe. Looking up, he caught Kyoko’s eye and thought he detected a little sympathy for him. He paused at the door as the girls moved down the hallway, heading for the elevator bank.

Still bristling with suppressed indignation, Michio hustled back to his cubicle and replaced the light bulb. Frowning, he came to a decision. Instead of finishing, he would go home. In short order, he had all of his working notes shoved into a folder, which he tucked into his file cabinet, misfiled where it wasn’t likely to be found before he transcribed them.

Chuckling at his rebellion, he left the building, thinking, Well, what’s one more failure?

 

Exhausted by his commute, his shoulder still smarting from the efforts of the pusher to stuff him into the train car, Michio entered his drab apartment, locking the door behind him. He turned from tossing his keys onto the small table, faced the living room, and was startled to find a tiny, bearded man, sitting on a small silver suitcase, square in the middle of his living room.

The gnome held up a hand and wiggled his fingers. “Hi there, Michio.”

“What… Who… How did you get in here?” demanded Michio.

“Well, that’s a little hard to explain. From where I come from to here involved boxes within boxes, time-spatial relationships, flying carpets, a rowboat, and an extremely harrowing ride in a taxi. I don’t recommend the taxi. But this was a hasty trip. My return trip is better planned.”

“But, who are you? Why are you here?” asked Michio.

“I am a Shinko-Yaku, or Facilitator, but you can call me Shinko if you wish. I am from the Bijinesu no Kami (God of Business), and I’m here to help you. But first, I must evaluate your potential.”

Levitating straight up and halting a meter above the suitcase, Shinko unleashed a mental blow to Michio’s midsection, doubling him up and causing him to gasp for air.

“Oof! Why … did you … do that?”

“Pay attention. Your mind wanders.”

Michio frowned, peering at Shinko quizzically. “How did you know that?”

Suddenly, Michio’s mind was filled with images. His downtown building appeared, and then he zoomed into it, terminating in the meeting room he had seen every day for three long weeks. He heard people, negotiators on both sides of the large table, shouting and gesticulating in anger. His boss was standing, pounding on the table with his fist, trying to restore order. Eyes wide, the lovely Kyoko was trying her best to keep track of the conversations on her steno machine.

Then he saw himself, calmly rising to his feet in the middle of the chaotic scene. His voice rose, his hands outstretched, as he asked for quiet. Gradually, the din subsided and he began speaking, but couldn’t hear what he was saying. Men on both sides of the table began nodding with approval. Now Kyoko was smiling, taking down his words rapidly. When he finished, there was applause and Kyoko looked upon him with eyes aglow.

“All that can be yours, Michio. First, I need to toughen you up.”

“T-Toughen me up? How?”

Michio’s tie flicked out horizontally from his chest, grasped by a column of glowing blue energy. He was launched into the air and whirled around Shinko’s head several times, and then released, crashing against a far wall and sliding to the floor in a heap. A loud pounding emanated through the wall along accompanied by muffled yelling.

Michio got to his feet in stages, rubbing his knee where it had made first contact with the wall. “Ouch, damn! Now you’ve done it!” exclaimed Michio, “My neighbor hates me already.” Michio got to his feet.

Shinko sighed, giving Michio a sour expression. “You must learn…”

The suitcase popped open and Shinko reached in, pulling out a Kendo Shinai, a practice sword made from bamboo, many times longer than the suitcase was wide. Holding it in the approved manner, Shinko proceeded to whack Michio about the head, shoulders, and rib cage with the stave.

“Yi! Yi! Yi!” screamed Shinko, each shout a telling hit on Michio. Then, he stopped, peering at the prone Michio. “Again?”

Michio holds up a hand. “No. No more, please. Why are you doing this?”

“To make you the best dealmaker in history.”

“Dealmaker? That’s crazy. How?”

Whap! “Ow!” Whap! “Ow!”

“Focus! Go to work tomorrow and apply yourself forcefully. You might sense me close-by from time to time, so be ready.”

There was a sound like an exploding balloon, a flash of golden light, and Shinko shrank to a dark dot and vanished, taking his suitcase with him.

Fully expecting to find himself on the floor after a fall, bleeding, Michio struggled to his feet, stumbled into the kitchen area, and went about fixing his dinner. All the while, he tried his best to recall what had just happened. He was sore, that was for sure, so it must have really happened, but then there was no other evidence that Shinko had ever been there. Maybe it was just hunger.

He hears “Focus!” echo in his brain and flinches at a sharp pain in his forehead. “Wrong answer, Michio.”

 

Next morning, Michio’s bruises had faded. He felt more mentally aware then he had in a long time. Humming to himself, he dressed, ate a small breakfast, and headed toward the train station. He was pleased to note that the throngs of people, all as grimly determined to get to work as he, seemed to part when he approached the queue for boarding his train. Aboard, he was astounded to find he had a strap to hang from. At his stop, even the escalator to the street, which had been broken for months, was running.

He pushed through the rotating door of his building and moved directly to a waiting elevator. It did not stop until it arrived at his floor. Passing the secretarial pool, he spotted Kyoko, dressed as she appeared in the dream sequence Shinko gave him. A date is not possible, he mused as he passed her, not meeting her eyes.

Becoming engrossed with his small part of the big merger, Michio slaved away at his desk. His concentration was broken when he felt a tap on his knee. Startled, he looked down.

Shinko gazed back, a smile on his lips. “You sweet on that girl?” he asked.

“Um. Well…”

A mental image of a descending Shinai invaded his thoughts.

Michio ducked involuntarily. “Don’t do that!”

“Focus. Are you sweet on that girl?”

“Hai!” Michio said loudly.

“Hey! Quiet over there,” his co-worker called from the other side of the barrier.

“Have you told her this?”

“No. She is way above my class, Shinko.”

“Reminder time!” The mental Shinai descended again.

Michio flinched and knocked his coffee cup to the floor with a crash.

“Hey, knock it off. I’m trying to work here,” the co-worker called loudly.

“Sorry,” said Michio. But then the mentally falling cane connected just as Shinko vanished yet again. “Ow!”

“Hey! Stop it!” called the co-worker.

Standing, Michio peered over the divider. “Sorry again. Time for my meeting anyway.”

Gathering his paperwork, Michio shoved it into the folder and headed for the conference room, greeting others of the negotiating team with a wave of his hand or a muttered “good morning” as they did the same.

Entering the room, the first thing he saw was Kyoko, poised at her small desk, ready to take notes on yet another long, unproductive haggling session. He smiled at her and, he was astonished to see her smile back. When he took his seat and laid out his papers, he had a mental flash of him and Kyoko sitting at a table in the teashop he frequented. Emboldened, he started to rise, intending to ask her to lunch, but was interrupted by the arrival of Mister Kobayashi. All fell silent, rose, and bowed as he took his seat at the head of the table.

Shinko’s voice whispered in Michio’s ear, “No matter. You’ll have a second chance afterward.”

“After what?” Michio whispered back.

“After you negotiate the contract. Sheesh! Now, stand up and state your negotiating stance right now.”

“N-Now?”

“Yes. Now!”

A sharp pain in his butt propelled Michio to his feet, garnering the attention of all in the room.

“Yes?” said Mister Kobayashi nastily. “You have something to say, Suzuki?”

Another jab hits him in the butt. “Yes!” Michio said with emphasis.

Michio turned toward the hostile faces of the men of the other company. “Our terms are the most reasonable you will find, and they are of great benefit to your company. How can you continue to refuse them? Amid the more than generous provisions is a fair compensation package that will not leave any of your employees wanting. Given your great production facilities, and our transportation and marketing capabilities, together, we can become a powerful company. We have been negotiating now for three weeks. It is time to end the stalemate. Our offer will expire in three minutes. Starting … now!” Where the hell did all that come from?

Flushed with his newfound boldness, Michio remained standing, glancing pointedly at his watch periodically, watching the men he’d just addressed rather disrespectfully and restraining himself from tapping his foot. He stole a quick glance at Mister Kobayashi who appeared to be watching with interest, but not preparing to intervene.

“Time is up. Well, gentlemen, what is your answer?”

In the background, Michio had heard the clicking of Kyoko’s keys as she recorded his bold speech and ultimatum. He stared at the opposing lead negotiator across the table. Silently, the man nodded once, picked up his pen, riffled through the contract to the last page and signed. He passed the papers to the next man, who also signed. The paperwork moved rapidly up the table to Mister Kobayashi.

Mister Kobayashi folded his hands over the completed contract and looked up at Michio, and released the first smile that Michio has ever received from Mister Kobayashi. He nodded. “Well done, Suzuki.”

Michio finally sat down, rivulets of sweat running down his back, as he put his hands on the table, interlocking his fingers and waited for Mister Kobayashi to speak further.

Standing, Mister Kobayashi declared the meeting over, giving his thanks to the members of both teams for their attendance. Everyone rose to their feet, bowed, and followed him from the room, leaving Michio alone with Kyoko, who finished up with her machine and, smiling at Michio, left the room.

Stunned at what had just happened, Michio stuffed his paperwork into the folder and strolled to his cubicle. Emboldened by his newfound audacity, Michio stopped by the secretarial pool and asked Kyoko if she would like to have lunch with him. She accepted.

 

Noon approached slowly for Michio, but finally arrived. He met Kyoko at her desk, helped her don her jacket, and they left the building, heading for the teashop. On arriving, they were seated immediately at a quiet table for two.

“What happened to you in the conference room, Michio? You did not appear to be yourself. Instead, you were assertive.” She put her hand over his. “I like that in a man.”

Michio was greatly pleased at her touch. “I wasn’t myself, actually. Something seemed to snap inside me. We had been bickering too long and it had to end. When I stood up, the words formed in my head and I spoke them.”

“Well, you certainly impressed Mister Kobayashi. He’s telling everyone you made the deal go through. He is going to promote you, I think.”

Michio chuckled, not believing he would ever be promoted. “When he does, you can come and work for me, Kyoko.”

Kyoko sipped at her tea before replying: “Of course … Deal Man.”

 



Submitted: September 05, 2015

© Copyright 2022 B Douglas Slack. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Whiskey Charlie

A little assertiveness goes a long way, and you have just the right touch for putting it down in words, Tom. Well done.

Sat, September 5th, 2015 6:08pm

Author
Reply

Thanks, Charlie. it was fun to write, making Michio into a man from a mouse. ~Tom

Sat, September 5th, 2015 11:25am

Chris Green

This is first class, Tom. It has all the right ingredients for a story and is delivered with wit and panache. The descriptions put the reader right there in the action. Nice work.
regards
Chris
I would say you stand a very good chance of winning the competition.

Sun, September 6th, 2015 3:41pm

Author
Reply

Thanks, Chris. I was worried a bit that the reference wouldn't be made to my novel, but it actually stands alone as a story. Appreciate the comment. ~Tom

Sun, September 6th, 2015 10:58am

Vance Currie

Yes, this story certainly works as a stand-alone story. The good guy prevails and gets the girl in the end. I hope his good fortune continues in the novel. Thus is a very well written and entertaining story Tom. ~ Joe

Sun, September 6th, 2015 8:26pm

Author
Reply

Thanks, Joe. When the contest was announced, several of the authors on the site urged me to compete. This was the result. ~Tom

Sun, September 6th, 2015 2:03pm

Mr Watson

A very entertaining read Tom. Guy gets girl and promotion. Danforth did a great job, Kami would have been proud of him. Loved the humour.

Fri, September 11th, 2015 8:03pm

Author
Reply

Thanks. The plot was hatched from my novel You Only Live Twice zs Manga that Biru and Hiroko created. All the reviewers said I should write how he was 'born'. I even entered this into a contest. ~Tom

Fri, September 11th, 2015 1:31pm

A.K.Taylor

Just read this for the first time, Tom. I have to say it was very interesting and since, I do have a sense of how mangas and anime portray their characters I'd have to say it was spot on. I just wish I had read this sooner. If you had an artist to work with, I could see this as a rather humorous manga for sure.

Sat, April 15th, 2017 1:53am

Author
Reply

Thank you, Akumakaze. Actually, this little short story is a sub-plot from my Japanese novel. The main character created Diruman and sells episodes to a Manga distributor.

Bill

Fri, April 14th, 2017 8:18pm

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