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The Girl from Good Mood pg2

Lisa Maguire

 

He tossed the card into the waste paper basket. His annoyance ran like water all over until it found the lowest ground. "Hiro" they'd scribbled. Not Sacho, not even Yoshida, but "Hiro."

Next in the pile had been a trade request. It was an approval to engage in a trade so large that it needed the signature of the most senior person in the trading operation in New York. Mr. Yoshida suddenly noticed the absence of the familiar hum of work on the trading floor. He looked up and saw the traders craning their necks over their terminals. At that moment, Reynaldo, head of Facilities, poked his head in the glass doorway. "I'm sorry to interrupt you, Sir, but I thought you should be aware that there is a disturbance at the reception. I've already called Security." Reynaldo ducked out again.

Mr. Yoshida looked at the back of Miss Sogo's glossy black chignon. An IM appeared:

Girl waits at the reception<

Crying<

Must see Wada-san<

Security<

Take her away<

It was Wada's favorite hostess, Kady. The Moroccan girl sang French like Piaf after a carton of Gauloises. Wada had confessed a few days before that Kady was calling him almost every day. He had shyly asked Yoshida whether he could ask the mama-san to intercede.

Mr. Yoshida dialed Wada himself. "Under no circumstances are you to go to the reception area. Please order a car for the visitor to ensure she is removed."

He hung up the phone and returned to the trade approval. A company called TymCera Corporation wanted to execute a yen/dollar forward trade settling within the year. The face amount was over fifty billion yen. Mr. Yoshida opened the file. He knew TymCera was one of those Scrabble-tile creations favored by conglomerates. Mr. Yoshida had long suspected these synthetic names served only to mislead and conceal.

He remembered Kady arriving at their table at Good Mood. She carried a little beaded evening bag with a fringe, which Wada admired. She shook the fringe at them. The mama-san said: "Miss Kady speak French." Wada sat forward in his chair.

There had been another paper on his desk, a request for TymCera Corporation to draw down on its US dollar credit line with Ogata's commercial banking operation. Mr. Yoshida did not notice that it was for the same amount, to the penny, as the foreign exchange trade, nor that the draw was to occur on the day the foreign exchange trade settled.

There was another girl at Good Mood. It was the night Kady had been assigned to his group. It would have been bad form to request a hostess from another man's table. The other girl had black hair and brows and very white skin. She wore a black velvet strapless dress to accentuate its pallor. She did not look at him or applaud when he sang at the piano. In Mr. Yoshida's travels across the globe, the contrast of pale skin against black hair, so prized in the Far East, never appeared in such an intoxicating combination as in Ireland, where the skin was translucent, and the dark hair was often paired with blue eyes. He decided she must be of Irish descent. She sat silent, smoking. He knew many customers came in just to look at her and watch her smoke.

She'd had a strong outer-borough accent. He'd strained to catch every uninteresting pebble of conversation that dropped from her lips. He wished he could have asked her name. He called his beauty The Girl With the White Shoulders.

It was a pity that the stamp had not stopped him—the deliberate gesture of taking the hanko from his desk drawer, pressing it into the spongy ink bed, pressing it into the paper beneath his signature. Why did this gesture, this complex and mindful act, not oblige him to recall that odd name TymCera...

"I did nothing wrong," Mr. Yoshida said to himself. "Nothing illegal or unethical."

The house was dark when he unlocked the kitchen door. He saw the glow of the television in the breakfast nook and heard the particular drone of television voices. Mr. Yoshida's wife was still awake. He found her in the nook more and more often. His wife claimed it was how she'd learned all her English. Mr. Yoshida had not doubted this claim since the night she greeted him at the door with "Wassup?" Mr. Yoshida preferred that she attend a language school, as she had done in London, but his wife seemed less and less interested in his preferences lately.

She looked up from the television, showing him her serious heart-shaped face, its soft dark cloud of hair tinted a fashionable auburn. She returned to the screen. "Have you eaten?"

Mr. Yoshida shook his head. She had not observed the answer, but she got out of her chair anyway. She took a breaded cutlet out of the refrigerator and put it into the microwave. She sliced some radishes and burdock into a small bowl and whisked in some vinegar. She poured him a glass of beer and sat down opposite him at the table, slouching forward with her chin propped on one fist. Her whole body had started to slacken in the two years since they'd come to America. The good posture he had long taken for granted was eroding. He half expected her to start tilting in her chair like the American boys.

"Surprised to see you," he said.

"We do not have so many surprises, these days," she replied. "Except where we must go next." She smiled at him, her eyes waning moons of appraisal.

"Tanaka says there is an opening in Tokyo, maybe next year. The group executive board must find a new director for the global trading operation."

She looked at her lap, hiding her disappointment.

"Don't you want to go home?" he asked.

"No," she said. "Now I know English and I drive a car bigger than my parents' house. The Meijiya market has all our favorite foods. We can fly to Europe in five hours. I see your mother twice a year."

"You may get your wish. It is not certain they will give me the job. Tanaka believes he will be chosen."

"Tanaka said that about New York, Singapore, and London."

Mr. Yoshida smiled at his wife. "Remember when I got the job in Singapore? I told him that they were waiting to open their new office on the beach in the South of France, just for him."

His wife smiled back. "Orlando, more like it."

"Tanaka would like us to come to dinner soon. I told him you would arrange it with his wife."

"I saw Tanaka's wife in the Meijiya market yesterday. She was wearing a blue pullover, blue flannel shorts, and bright blue knee socks. She looked like a Smurf."

They both laughed. That she was always impeccably dressed was one of his lesser reasons for choosing her.

"I would certainly like to stay here a little while," she said simply.


The next morning, Mr. Yoshida's car deposited him back in front of the office building. It was seven o'clock, an hour before the arrival of Miss Sogo. Mr. Yoshida thought he needed some time alone in his office to collect his thoughts.

Mr. Yoshida crossed the trading floor and saw an unfamiliar man waiting by his glass door. As he approached his office, Yoshida grew less worried. The man wore a short-sleeved white dress shirt, made of a material that reminded him of his boys' school uniforms, the kind of material favored by people who did their own laundry and did not own irons. The cuff of his trousers did not reach the uppers of his shoes, revealing white athletic socks. He held several overflowing accordion folders close to his chest.

"Sacho-san!" cried Fujiwara with a bow. "My deep apologies. This matter was so urgent, I took the liberty waiting for you this morning. Perhaps we could discuss this prior to any of your appointments today..." His voice trailed off, uncertain.

Mr. Yoshida beckoned him to enter after looking pointedly at the accordion files. By Fujiwara's age, he, Yoshida, already knew the power of not carrying papers.

Fujiwara did not speak at first, but started pulling documents out of the files and layering them on the empty shining expanse of Mr. Yoshida's desk. He was smiling with embarrassment. Mr. Yoshida waited.

"Sacho-san, it came to my attention when reviewing this trade that there was a concurrent transaction—for the same dollar amount for the same day. I asked the forex trader about it—he knew nothing about any other. I spoke to Fukushima-san in Credit—he'd never been told about the draw against the lending line. Then I spoke to the auditors—they said...well, I saw that Sacho-san was the signatory, so I want to show you—" Fujiwara continued, babbling apologies, pulling more papers out of his files, and reshuffling them on the desk as the story stumbled out. Mr. Yoshida stared at the Inspector's moving mouth, watched him thumbing and pinching his papers, gulping and stammering. Finally he heard Fujiwara say: "There will be a full memo, which, of course, I will review with Sacho-san prior to its—"

Mr. Yoshida felt his skin gathering at the top of his head. Fujiwara was now grinning ear to ear, such was his shame.

"The size, the trade, this trade is of a size that it must be escalated to Tokyo." Mr. Yoshida was expecting to be asked for guidance on how to smooth over this problem, but Fujiwara had already spoken to every party involved before coming to him. Even outside auditors. He'd been outflanked.

"Why?"

"A potential in—in—in—" Fujiwara looked down at his papers. "In-fraction."

"Of what?"

"The accounting policy must be considered. A full investigation must be recommended. I am sorry, Sacho-san. There is nothing to be done."

"But there was no infraction in what you described," said Mr. Yoshida.

"I am so sorry. It is required." Fujiwara did not meet his gaze but got up and gathered his papers. He bowed deeply as he backed out of the door. Mr. Yoshida knew the traders were watching this obsequious display, which could only mean something terrible.

Fujiwara and his papers backed into the arriving Miss Sogo, who was wearing a suit with a long tight skirt and patent leather ankle boots with stiletto heels. She almost tipped over. "Gomene..." the Inspector started to say, but Miss Sogo looked at him with such unconcealed disgust he scuttled away, without finishing his apologies.

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