Chapter Sixty Nine
Nikko and Zi leave for New York, we have another day, then off to Tokyo. I'm not looking forward to it. Tokyo is a gigantic city designed for commerce. Not as populous as Beijing, still thirteen million people packed far more densely. Beijing is over six thousand square miles, Tokyo bit over eight hundred. Kyoto is more to my taste, but Chloe isn't filming in Kyoto.
Mercifully, it's a three hour flight from Beijing to Tokyo and our private jet allows us to skip the lines at customs. There are eight of us and luggage, the hotel has two SUVs at the plane and we're hustled away to the Peninsula Hotel. It's near tea time, we stow the luggage, head to the Cherry Blossom afternoon tea. Janah discovers they offer unlimited Veuve Clicquot Rosé for an additional thirty bucks. You have to be twenty to drink in Japan, all our documents show us at a minimum of twenty one, including Oceane, who looks fourteen and is only fifteen. The problem never materializes, the waiter doesn't ask for ID.
Dasha, "Ees gud champagne, we don't haf at home, why not?"
"Gosset and Charles Heidsieck are better according to Janah, prices are about the same. If you prefer this, I'll get it."
Dasha, "Maybe because rosé, we never haf at home."
"We'll get rosé in all three, you can compare and see what you like."
"Da, tea snack ees gud here, sushi."
"A nice alternative to cucumber sandwiches. The presentation is Japanese, just so."
Chloe, "This is superb, I like the champagne."
"Dasha wants a rosé taste test when we get home, Gosset, Heidsieck and Clicquot. I never thought to get rosé, we've always stuck with standard."
Amaya, "Shooting starts early tomorrow girls, be in the lobby at six thirty, we have two scenes in north Tokyo. Daria and Dasha are back at work, they have full days for the next three or four. After dinner tonight, watch a movie or something, be rested. No vodkas in the bar until midnight."
Dasha, "Dad, da, Eemaya. We will be professional acting persons. I keel three yakuza tomorrow, Daria will save Matt and Chloe from machine gunning."
"A lot of action in Tokyo."
Amaya, "Almost every scene is action or just enough snappy dialogue to move the story forward. Our audience will be exhausted from the ride. Movies like mine do not win awards, but they sell truckloads of tickets all over the world."
"Good thing, fifty million dollar budget, points for Childers, points for Matt."
Amaya, "I predict a minimum two hundred million gross. We wind up with forty percent give or take, that nets us thirty. It is not as simple as hacking a drug lord's accounts for millions, but it makes Chloe more famous. It also boosts her clothing and accessories lines, which makes money for Mayumi, Satomi and our manufacturers."
Our waiter slides up to the table, "Miss, there is a rather large group of young girls outside. We don't want to have a problem, but it is complicating arrivals and departures."
Amaya, "How many?"
"I would say perhaps a hundred, they have discovered that Miss Chloe is here. We can have them dispersed but…"
Amaya, "No, not that. Ask management if there's a spare ballroom available for an hour or so. And provide tea, water, sodas that sort of thing. No food. Put the charges on our account."
He moves off, the manager comes three minutes later, "We can have the crowd enter from the side, directly into the room. Do you need tables, chairs?"
Amaya, "Only a cart to dispense the drinks. They want to take a picture with Chloe, ask a few questions. I'll give them a time limit. Thank you for your understanding."
Amaya goes outside, announces the plan, a hundred energetic chattering girls file around the side into the ballroom. We act as traffic cops, but it's Japan, the process is orderly. Girls in everything from school skirts to cosplay. A microphone appears, then a deafening screech when Chloe enters. Sheesh, enhanced hearing isn't always a benefit.
Chloe says in Japanese, "Thank you for your warm reception. As you know, I love all things Japanese, and I especially love my fans," more screech, "settle down, let's have fun, not noise. If you want a picture, please form a line later, my friends will move things along. Right now, do you have questions?"
Eloise disappeared when we went to the ballroom, she returns with a drone. Girls start up again, chattering about the machine flying over their heads.
Chloe, "That is the drone we use for some of the filming of our movie. Eloise is recording this and we will put it on the fan page. I hope your parents know where you are."
Nervous giggles, one girl says, "My mother will show it to all her friends, she goes to the page almost as much as I do."
Chloe takes questions, simple stuff, how did she get into modeling, movies, which was harder? Geisha, kendo, Chloe explains all of it, smiling sparking violet eyes absorb each girl, as if she's talking just to them. They go from frantic to quiet and polite, like having a pleasant conversation with a friend.
"Okay, if you want a picture, please form a line. Daphne will take it on your phone. If you want it posted on the fan page, send an e-mail with any comment you wish to make."
That starts a whole new wave of girl enthusiasm, everyone lines up, phones at the ready. At thirty seconds per girl, it's an hour process, some have Sharpies and want their shirts or notebooks signed. Chloe patiently asks names while I snap the pictures. The idea is to get them in conversation, not girl mugging for the camera. Some want two or three friends in the shot, others prefer exclusives. Chloe touches an arm or shoulder, makes the picture more intimate.
Eloise films, after each photo Chloe and the girl wave at the drone, she introduces her new friend by name.
It winds up after two hours, Chloe, "Thank you all for coming, I'm so happy to see you. Tomorrow we start filming and I won't be around the hotel, nor do I know what time we will finish each day. It won't do any good to come stand around, tell your friends so they don't waste their time."
Amaya leans into Chloe and whispers, Chloe nods yes, then Amaya makes an announcement, "We will put a message on the fan page tomorrow. Chloe has a free day at the end of filming and would love to spend part of it with her fans. I will post a place and time, it is a Saturday, no school. We return to New York on Sunday."
One girl says, "There will be thousands of people, how will it work?"
Amaya, "We will have to have a time limit of course. If the venue holds five hundred people, they get in for an hour, then the next group. There may be no chance for individual photos like today, but people will be free to take pictures themselves. Check the page."
There's an orderly exit, girls staring at phones, tapping out texts to friends. The ballroom empties except for us.
Amaya, "Gee, how crazy, I have no idea what I have committed myself to, I have to be on set tomorrow."
"I'll handle the page and find a place. You deal with the movie."
"Thank you Daphne, saved me from myself."
"I'll think of a way for you to show your appreciation."
"Come to me this evening, I'll pay in advance, Chloe will need relaxing as well."
This is working our splendidly.
Chapter Seventy XIII
We wrap, go to our suites, I shower, mental Amaya, "Still want company?"
"I am stretched out in nothing, awaiting your pleasure...and mine."
"Janah, I'm going to visit our media girls, think you can find something to do?"
"Oceane is here, of course I can find someone to do."
I slip down the hall, into their suite, into their bed. The games begin. I service Amaya, then Chloe, then get double teamed. If you haven't had two tongues on you, search out the opportunity, we'll be here when you return from erotic bliss. Second round is toyland, I do it slow, the shaft vibrates in her and against me, twice the fun.
Amaya, "Thank you Daphne, thank you Chloe, I am sufficiently relaxed, near comatose. Daphne, you are welcome to stay with us."
"You have to rise and shine earlier than I do. Rest, I think Janah and Oceane are also out of it, I'll join them and sleep the sleep of nasty girls."
I kiss both, back to our suite, Janah and Oceane are quantum entangled, I slide in behind Oceane, kiss her soft shoulder. She scrunches into me, consciousness creeps away.
Morning, up with in room breakfast light, Janah asks, "What's the plan today?"
"It's Saturday, that means Harajuku."
Harajuku is a shopping district, morphed from a few hundred other things, it dates back to the sixteenth century. Today, it's boutiques and name brands. That's not why we're going. On weekends, it's the epicenter of kawaii. Kawaii is Japanese for cute, adorable, you find it everywhere in Japan. Pink is a primary color, lace, ribbons, Mary Janes, a Lolita porcelain doll look not meant to be sexy, rather innocent and beautiful. Kawaii is also the endless supply of kitty and cuddly bears plastered on trains, planes, phone cases, notebooks. In Japan, if it's got room for a cute cuddly, there's one on it.
It's necessary to mention the pop phenomenon AKB48 aside kawaii culture, the essence of adorable girl innocent with an edge. The group was founded in 2005 and rocketed to stardom in Japan, then worldwide. One of the early members, Mariko Shinoda went from waitress to favorite girl on Team A, then to over 20 corporate ads. I looked up her pictures, not hard to see why.
We take the train to Harajuku station, then out on the streets packed with sightseers, shoppers and kawaii up the whazoo.
Strangely, Oceane is transfixed, "This is what the inside of me looks like. Can I get outfits? Do they sell them, or do girls make them up?"
"A bit of both. There are lots of outlets for frilly dresses, blouses, girls add the ribbons, sew or applique add-ons, or you can buy them complete. Shoes range from personally designed sneakers to Mary Janes, clogs and platforms. Big eyes are mostly oversize contact lenses, your eyes are a natural as they are."
Oceane, "I can design myself. So many looks, childlike, colorful, dark, what's the word for it?"
"Goth, this tends to Goth lite, some do piercings, not pure black everything. I think they call it dark kawaii, decora is the light bright version."
Oceane, "I can be dark and light, either or both. Take pictures Daphne, I want to draw them."
Janah, "Figured out how to spend the day. Here's a tea shop, I need fortification, then we can go photo hunting."
Tea in hand, we stroll the street, come across Laforet, mecca of kawaii and almost everything else. Most of it is tame, Oceane is not so much looking to buy, rather to collect ideas. We go back on the street.
Girls dress this way to be noticed, they don't mind getting photographed, they want to be photographed. They like it even more when we speak Japanese. The spigot turns full force and we are inundated with boutique suggestions, how they came up with the outfit, fabrics, colors and dozens of websites specializing in clothes and accessories. Janah's memory comes in handy, they also text me links.
A few ask why we know so much about Japan and speak the language so well. I tell them about kendo, our Japanese family member Nikko, and how fond of Japan another family member is, in fact she is making a movie here.
Once I mention Chloe Sylk, we are surrounded by big eyed decora girls chattering at warp speed. I send them to Chloe's fan page, Eloise has already posted the spontaneous event at the Peninsula. There are fifty girls staring into screens, more coming our way drawn by the congregation already taking up a sizable portion of street.
"Girls," I announce in Japanese, "we're blocking the street. Next Saturday, Chloe is having a fan day, the location will be posted on the site. Wear your outfits if you come, we will film it and post like the one you see now."
There a collective 'oooohhhh' through the crowd, I hear Curoeh Shiruku, repeated a few dozen times. Our Japanese friends don't have an 'l' sound, bless their twisted pronunciation.
Janah, "We need to move along."
"Tell Curoeh we love her, number one American film star in Japan," I'm videoing them waving at me.
"I'll show her the video tonight, she will cry when she sees all the beautiful girls wishing her well. You will be on the website tomorrow morning."
If possible, more energetic waving, more, 'love you Curoeh, I hope to meet you Curoeh, come to Japan again Curoeh,' I'm walking backwards guided by Janah, filming until the crowds fill in and the girls aren't visible.
Oceane, "Chloe has fans everywhere."
"Especially Japan. She is geisha, a kendo 6th dan, speaks the language fluently. I better get busy finding a place for this reception, I hope the crowd is manageable."
"The ballroom at the hotel takes two hundred fifty. I haven't checked, but it's unlikely they have something on for daytime Saturday. We don't want tables and chairs, just drinks, water, sodas, bottled tea. It's all kids, no booze."
At the hotel, I call the events person, tell him what I need. I warn him there could be a crowd outside, we'll need a holding space out of the way of the entrance, we will have security both outside and inside. The hotel can arrange it and add the cost to our tab.
It isn't hard to figure out the hotel sees free publicity. They've had big events before, they know the drill. Plus it's Japan, attendees will be Japanese, order and patience are in the DNA. One problem settled, and Chloe can rest between receptions in her room.
Chapter Seventy One
Cripes, where does the time go? It's Thursday, Dasha and Daria are finished with their roles, still go to the set as security. Today, Janah, Oceane and I join them. While Eloise films with the drone and ground cameras roll, we watch curious onlookers while they watch the production.
Matt is in a scene with three Japanese, he'd negotiated the return of stolen data, it isn't going well. The inevitable argument turns violent. Unknown to the Japanese, Chloe is observing. Two grab Matt, the third whaps him across the jaw, then a shot to the gut.
Chloe strolls up, katana across her back, short sword in a scabbard on her hip, "Back off boys."
The language is English, the movie will be subtitled for foreign distribution, Childers doesn't like dubbing, it's impossible to get words and lips synchronized and the characters never sound right.
Japan One, "Stupid girl brings sword to gunfight," reaching in his jacket.
Cost his hand, gun still in it. In the edit, the hand will fall, gun clatter to the concrete, blood drips. Childers won't do the spurting blood thing from his severed arm, just a face in shock.
Japan Two, holds a gun to Matt's head, "Put down katana bitch, or gaijin spy dies."
Chloe, "Fine by me. Of course, nobody gets paid...and I kill you both soon as you pull the trigger. Or, you can finish up the deal and go home rich. The deal is a million dollars, I'm carrying a million dollars. We come to collect the package, you renege and want more money. Be sensible. The chip is encrypted, if you do crack it, it still isn't enough by itself. To make the product, you need specific materials, which aren't specified, and you need money, a lot more than a million. We agreed to pay to be rid of the nuisance. But it's only a nuisance, we can just let it go and you come up empty."
Japan Three, "He will tell us what we need to know, money is our problem, we'll handle it. There are millions to be made, not just one million. Better to kill you, then we make the gaijin talk."
The gun turns to Chloe, which is what she wants, Matt stomps the foot of Japan Two, the gun goes off by reflex, bullet hits the ceiling, Chloe removes a second hand, then his head. The blade winds up a whisper from Matt's neck. His arm is free though, and a hard fist shoots to Japan Three, a clean gut shot that doubles him over. Matt finishes him with a knee to the face and the actor flips backward onto a stack of boxes.
Matt, "Your blade was close enough to shave me."
Chloe, "Much needed, you look like road kill."
Cut, wrap, on to the next scene.
Matt's assistant, Claudia, comes over, "We should be done on time today, you want to have dinner at the hotel?"
Janah, "Sounds good, seven thirty work?"
Claudia, "Unless there's a hang up on set. I doubt it, the rest is pretty simple. Chloe's done for today, Matt has one scene left, the rest is with other actors.”
"If there's a problem, send a text. I'll make reservations, we can get a private room at Hei Fung Terrace."
"Good, see you then."
I call the hotel, book a room for twelve, Chloe comes along, "I'm bushed, can I get a ride to the hotel?"
"Does Eloise need to stay?"
Amaya, "No, she does shots outside, the rest of the day is inside. Harry has been using about twenty percent of what she films, but the shots are spectacular, angles they'd never get with conventional cameras. Chloe's stuff tomorrow is wrap up. Matt should be done today."
We pile in the cars, it's an hour to the hotel, Chloe is asleep by the time we get to a main artery.
Amaya, "Two days ran into evening, had to, there were night shots. And her scenes were all action, she's had three days of workout."
We finally arrive, Amaya takes Chloe to their suite, the rest of us have tea in The Lobby.
Dasha, "Ees gud to be feenish wiz moovey film. Eemaya ees writing book about our characters, we will make another moovey but she says it will be almost a year maybe. I will be happy to be home. I try to make Eemaya write our moovey in America, no over sea. She says some must be film in Russia wiz tweens younger than us, but we haf to go anyway for translating. Only maybe a week or so anyway."
"I wouldn't mind going to Russia, as long as it's not a month from now. Had enough hotel for a while, I may have forgotten how to cook."
We go to our suite, Daria and Eloise go to theirs, Dasha comes along with us to ours, she spots Oceane's outfits. They've been so busy, Oceane's new interest hasn't come up.
Dasha, "What ees clothes, Dahfoney going to be again leetle girl?"
"Oceane was fascinated by decora," I explain decora, "I was surprised. She doesn't like a lot of clothes on her, and decora requires layering, cosmetic jewelry and varied hairstyles and colors."
Dasha asks Oceane, "What ees about it you like?"
"It’s like art, I am the art."
Dasha, "Da, you would like, you will be adorable doll girl. Childers saw doll girls, he put in moovey for one street scene. Nikko and Zi dress like doll to beat up rapist boys in Houston."
"That's right! I'd forgotten. I think we still have the outfits, maybe you can use them Oceane. And you need to either grow your hair or get wigs."
Oceane, "Nothing on my head, I will let my hair grow. I think not such frilly hair, more like Kotakoti. I like some of her styles, the dresses, shoes, accessories."
Janah, "That girl, one day she can't stand being dressed in anything, the next she's turned into Amaya."
"What she saw in Harajuku struck her, a way to put herself out there without being herself maybe. Or perhaps I've got it wrong, it's an artistic expression of herself, performance art. That's what the kawaii girls say."
Janah's watching a Kotakoti YouTube, "Well, it doesn't hurt anything. I had no idea she knew who Kotakoti is, she even sounds like her."
"She didn't, she pulled up harajuku and that video was on YouTube. First time she saw her was yesterday. I'd seen video some time back, she goes by Dakota Rose as well. She's meticulous, looks precious. There are a bunch of trolls with nothing better to do than show how she really doesn't look like that. How stupid, of course she doesn't look like that without the makeup, it's the whole point of the makeup."
Janah, "You just discovering stupid people?"
Chapter Seventy Two
We have cocktails in our suite, Amaya is caught up in Oceane's new interest, "She will be adorably adorable. I can hardly wait to see what she creates."
"You going to make suggestions?"
"No, she is an artist, first with pencils and brushes, now with herself. It has to be her art, not mine. Oceane may gravitate to Geminola, where Janah gets some of her things."
(Geminola is a boutique where Lorraine Kirke designs clothes from antique fabric. It's on Bank Street, a couple blocks from our place. Janah's been buying from her for years.)
Chloe, "I love it, Oceane, you will be splendid."
"Time to meet Matt and Claudia."
We run into them in the lobby, "Good timing, hungry?"
Matt, "Yes, and after I checked out the menu, I got really hungry."
We're in a private room, Matt and Chloe are well known and while we don't get bothered much when we're out, the glances and gawks can be a bit much. At least there haven't been any paparazzi hanging around the hotel.
Champagne and wine is served, Matt proposes a toast, "To Amaya, who made me look like a savvy tough guy. I get to act when I do her films, I'm pretty savvy, hardly a tough guy."
I slug back my sparkling water.
"And a second toast, to Chloe, who saves me from being beaten to a pulp and, despite her powerful screen presence, allows me to have my time in the spotlight, thank you Chloe."
"To Chloe," I'm on a water roll.
"A third, to Daria and Dasha, twins who take menacing to an entirely new level. I'm all anticipation to see Amaya's new project featuring gorgeous twin assassins."
"To Daria and Dasha!"
Daria is liking this toasting thing, she downs a shot of vodka with every toast.
"And finally, a special toast to a young lady who has turned camerawork into technological art form, the drone shots are amazing, to Eloise."
"To Eloise," I may drown soon.
"In the absence of Nikko, I propose a toast to a generous actor who agreed to slave away for points when he could command far more upfront cash, to Matt."
Glug, enough toasts, time for food. Hei Fung lives up to the rep, delightful textures and tastes, and the menu is extensive, my scallops in black bean sauce are magnificent. There are ten conversations around the table, plates passed back and forth for everyone to get a taste of the amazing variety. I won't to a dish by dish recap, more fun to peruse the menu: Google Hei Fung Terrace at the Peninsula.
Dinner winds down, Amaya, Matt and Claudia are engaged in a tete a tete, I'm not in her mind so I don't know what's so engrossing. Dasha, Daria and Eloise are tipsy, dinner saved them from all the toasts, they aren't drunk. The twins can drink a squadroon of marines under the table, I have no idea where tiny Eloise puts it.
Goodnights to Matt and Claudia, we hang at the table, Janah and Chloe are finishing off a bottle of champagne, we managed to feed ten for a mere eighteen hundred dollars, which sounds more outrageous in yen, about a hundred eighty five thousand of it. Now I can tell people I had a near two hundred grand dinner for ten.
Amaya, "Matt wants a role on the twins movie. He and Claudia have a great time working with us, he thinks we're the new Coen Brothers. I told him there's a great character, a total asshole bad guy, but it's the male lead. He surprised me a little, he thinks it's just the twist his career needs."
Janah, "He trusts your writing. You will make him, not sympathetic, so bad the audience will almost admire him."
Amaya, "Exactly, a psychopath's psychopath, up against twin psychopaths. He will rule his deadly world, then he meets his match, twice. His character is brute force, people fear him without knowing why, when he just walks in a room. Dasha and Daria are cunning, and just as heartless. I shall have as much fun writing it as they will have acting it. The final Ultra Violet will put our film company on top, the twins' film will make us untouchable. And I am going to make it for half the cost of Ultra Violet 3. It will be in the US, with a short introduction of the twins as children in Russia. That will cost next to nothing. Besides street crowds, bar scenes, the whole film will be five or six more characters and all of them will be no-names. Only Matt and the twins, Daria and Dasha Kazakova."
Kazakova was the surname they chose when we took them in. Their given names were Daria and Dasha, but we dumped their original surnames to protect them. Unlike common Russian names, they don't use three names. In Russia and Belarus, children are required to have a given name, then the father's name, then a surname or family name. The twins never knew their father and are Americans now, what Russia and Belarus require is immaterial.