Baito (x)

I wasn’t sure if I could keep my job.

It was hard enough trying not to get fired. Trying to please Fujimora without having to give him pleasure. Trying to play by their rules while also playing by mine. Trying not to choke on my own gag reflex when I thought about taking the elevator to the fiftysixth floor.

I was willing to suffer much to be able to do my job. I was not willing to give up my ability to do my job, just to keep it.

But I couldn’t leave an assignment unfinished. I might as well just let his hands run all over me.

Just get through this, I promised myself. Get to Friday, get this assignment done, then quit and never look back. Never, never, never look back.

I found the company car where I had parked it in the hotel lot. I turned it on and checked the GPS readout: the driver’s car was stuck in traffic on the Shuto. I checked in with the hotel: Mr. Kindergarden had not yet touched his breakfast. I had some time.

I didn’t feel like being alone. I didn’t feel like being with anyone I knew. I sat down in the hotel lobby with my laptop on my lap; always the perfect way to compromise between sociability and solitude.

It didn’t take me long to piece it together. It made good business sense. Hardie Pritchard was just a smaller and more specialized version of Akihabara. Their market capitalization was about two-fifths that of ours. Where our market share had been shrinking, theirs had been growing; where the price of our common stock had been flatline stable, theirs had been trending upwards for more than a year. With our resources and their whatever-they-had, mutual benefit could only be assured. Or at least, the pitch would be good enough that all the shareholders would love it.

The price of Hardie Pritchard stock had increased by nearly fifteen percent in the last week. Ten of that in the last two days. It was a good week for them. And all the insider traders in the two companies, of whom I assumed Fujimora was the largest. Happiness, in him, could easily be the catalyst for such insufferability. And to one such as he, what catalyst for happiness was there but money?

The front desk rang me. They had themselves been rung. Kindergarten wanted a pot of coffee and white toast. Apparently a night of drunken karaoke was not something to which he was immune.

I wondered if he was smart enough to have bought some stock himself, smart enough to have done so quietly. Maybe he would be a rich man soon. I wondered what such a man would do with riches. Differently, I wondered, than he had done the past few days while I had watched him?

I didn’t know. I still felt like I didn’t know the man.

He was on his computer, reading the New York Times. I tried reading what he read, but his fast scrolling speed proved too much for me. My English is proficient, not native. I read the headlines. I read the bylines. I was considering ordering breakfast myself when he opened up an Instant Messenger window and began to chat.

It was AOL Instant Messenger. I expected better from a grammarschool child.

He signed in as JK38889. He typed in a contact name, too fast for me to see it, and started to chat.

JK38889: hey there old man.

-HOST UNKNOWN-: Whatever happened to you checking in every day?

JK38889: ive called the office every day since ive been here

-HOST UNKNOWN-: You were supposed to check in with me privately, using these secure channels.

-HOST UNKNOWN-: Did you forget that?

It was clearly his superior at Hardie Pritchard.

JK38889: ive been busy

JK38889: been looking at the copmany

JK38889: visited a factory like you said

I snorted.

-HOST UNKNOWN-: The signing ceremony is tomorrow.

JK38889: i know i know

JK38889: everything kosher?

-HOST UNKNOWN-: As the company representative, we expect that you will behave yourself.

-HOST UNKNOWN-: I expect that you will behave yourself.

Such an authority figure could only be his brother.

JK38889: yeah of course

JK38889: just sign the papers and drink the champagne, what’s the worry

There was a pause.

-HOST UNKNOWN-: I know, I’m sorry.

-HOST UNKNOWN-: I’m nervous.

-HOST UNKNOWN-: It’s a big deal.

JK38889: i know is is i know

JK38889: everythings going to be fine

-HOST UNKNOWN-: I just don’t want any surprises.

JK38889: going to go smooth

JK38889: smooth sailing

JK38889: smooth sailing

-HOST UNKNOWN-: Good. Good.

JK38889: i have to shove off im late for an appointment

-HOST UNKNOWN-: with who?

JK38889: call you tomorrow when its all done. i promise.

With that, he signed off.

Five minutes later he called he called for his driver. I know this because the driver called me.

“He wants lunch,” the driver said, like this was a criminal idea.

“With you?”

“Didn’t say. Probably not.”

“He say anything to you last night?”

“Not really. Bought me some drinks, not all of them. Just wanted company I think.”

“How was his singing.”

“Oh, God, boss, you should have heard it. Sounded like two cats-”

He paused.

“Wait, how’d you know we went for karaoke?”

I bit my tongue.

“GPS,” I said, in an apologetic tone.

“Grumble grumble,” he said, or noises to that effect.

“Whatever. I do my job. You do yours.”

“Seems like I’m doing everybody’s job today.”

“Welcome to the corporate world,” I said. “Enjoy the Tokyo gridlock.”

“God dammit-” he began, but I hung up.

I liked the kid. I promised myself I’d ask his name, one of these days.

I thought of something, and called him back.

“What?”

“Text me when you know where you’re going. If he asks for a particular place, I want to know.”

“Whatever.”

I got a message about ten minutes later: he says he wants american food

No place in particular?

no

then

texting while driving is fun

I refrained from replying to that.

Without a set destination, he couldn’t possibly be planning anything. I didn’t feel the particular need to watch him argue with the waiter over the check for a second time. Instead I thought that I would take the opportunity to check up on his living-space, the only place in Japan where he had been for long periods unobserved.

There was a Do Not Disturb sign on his door. I asked the front desk; it had been there since his arrival. I got them to let me in regardless. They didn’t ask any questions. Akihabara owned the hotel.

The view was breathtaking. A whole wall was window, just like Fujimora’s office. All in front of me Tokyo Bay sparkled in the midday sun. It took me some time to move past that.

The suite was palatial. It wasn’t very clean. The bed was a mess. The minibar was open and mostly empty. A half-empty room service cart was in front of the TV. Dirty clothing was on the floor. Fortunately there was so much floor it didn’t matter.

It’s amazing how fast an apartment can get bachelorized. I was glad, as ever, that Yoshi inspired me to cleanliness.

I looked the suite over as closely as I could. I was careful not to disturb anything. Especially the nontrivial amounts of hard-core pornography by the bedside. Most of which, I saw, had not yet been, ah, used. Made use of. Something like that.

I was looking around the main room one last time when I did a double-take. There were two laptops, one on each side of the room.

One was the computer he had brought with him from America. The other I had seen him purchase at the shopping mall.

The packing material for the shopping-mall computer was still on the floor nearby. Also along the floor was an ethernet cable which ran from that laptop to the wall.

The other machine had a password-protect prompt sitting on its screen. It had the look of a machine running OpenBSD, the most secure (if not the most functional) of all computer operating systems.

All I could learn from it was what its keyboard LEDs told me. It was on; its battery was charged; and it was connected, wirelessly, to the internet.

Kindergarten had two computers connected to the internet. One to the internet in his room. One not. One was fresh-out-of-the-box, and hadn’t been used for anything but a little light web-surfing. The other had been brought from seven thousand miles away and was running the kind of software that was run by the most paranoid of cryptoanarchists.

I didn’t know to what wireless network it was connected. I had no easy way of knowing. In a hotel this size, even in the sparsely-populated top floors, there might be dozens of broadcasts (and rebroadcasts) that he could choose from. It would be difficult to monitor the packets it sent back and forth. Even if they were unencrypted; if he was truly channeling Theo de Raadt and his tinfoil hat, monitoring his data might be next to impossible.

It seemed that every time he did something that put him beyond suspicion, here he would go and do something which made the hairs on the back of my neck go all sharp and straight. Just as every time he did something suspicious, you could be sure the next thing he’d do would make you wonder how such a person could ever

It occurred to me that I had no real reason to doubt that the man was precisely what he purported to be: ignorant, lazy, here for no other reason than to show the flag. Likewise that, if he was in fact engaged in something which he wanted to be kept from prying eyes, I had not the least inkling of what it might be.

I groaned. I realized there was no need for self-restraint: I went over to the bed and punched it, nice and hard, a couple of times.

On such a messy bed, it was hardly noticeable.

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~ by davekov on 26 July 2010.

3 Responses to “Baito (x)”

  1. I fully agree completely

  2. Thankfully some bloggers can still write. Thanks for this read!!!

  3. Markedly well executed article..

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