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8 January, 2009
"My family ambition is a chain of 4-Star restaurants on Kyushu. This is the flagship," Kaito said.
"A floating seafood restaurant sounded great but I never imagined anything this opulent and miraculous." Trey Montgomery gazed at the opulence of Kaito Shamura's Sushi Palace. This guy's going to make me a fortune, he thought.
A hostess dressed in a gold and red kimono guided the pair to one of the many private platforms floating on the artificial lagoon. In the center was a fountain spectacular for it's sea creatures. Three mermen stood at the compass points. A mount for the fourth merman stood empty and the pillar for the ubiquitous statue of Poseidon also stood empty. Trey wondered if the statue would have oriental or western features. The mermen were definitely oriental. Below the statue, in an artificial lagoon, swam the catch of the day, fresh and waiting to be eaten. A smiling waiter greeted Trey and held his chair. Trey took his seat at a table set with delicate bone china, fine silk linens and gold-plated service. The waiter served a cup of Miso and a deep-fried prawn and a dozen dipping sauces as appetizers.
"1990 vintage, special for you Taichi-san." The waiter showed a bottle of Kimoto Junmai Daiginjo Sizuku Genshu Sake' to Trey, poured it and snapped to attention. Kaito spoke harsh words to the waiter.
"I'll answer to Taichi-san or Trey. It means big man or muscle man, doesn't it?" Trey corrected.
"Pardon my youngest son, Juro. Taichi is his nickname for big American men. I am ashamed by his forwardness and impertinence."
"No offense take. Tell him all offensive linemen are Taichi. But I'm bigger and better at 6' 8" and 290 pounds of muscle." Trey flexed his arms. His suit bulged. Kaito laughed and scolded Juro in Japanese. It didn't sound like anything Kaito wanted to translate but Juro smiled and served more Sake'. "A toast our future in business together. My money people are moving the funds as we speak." Trey raised the warm cup and they drank. Trey drank twice; the alcohol warmed his body and relaxed his anxieties. He put his arm around Juro and hugged him.
"As long he keeps the Sake' coming he can call me anything." Trey laughed as Juro slid his body from underneath his arm. He felt like a kid, all scrawny bones and skinny arms and legs.
"I've ordered the chef to prepare a special sushi dishes of the freshest ingredients." Kaito pointed to a sous-chef retrieving live squid and octopus from the lagoon. The master chef took them and made short work of the preparation. Juro scrambled back with a platter of sushi -- translucent fish over wasabi and vinegared rice.
"The freshest sushi in the business," Kaito bragged. He set a fresh cup of Sake' in front of Trey.
"Only fish get to eat it fresher," Kaito said. Trey tasted several pieces each with a different sauce and drank the miso soup. Juro brought even more delicacies, cuttlefish, sea urchin and cucumbers, all from the lagoon. Trey and Kaito finished the platter and sat back, full of sushi and Sake', enjoying the glow of good food. The restaurant employees disappeared leaving only Juro to serve them.
"Are all these fish local?"
"Farmed. My family cultivates these cephalopods in pools. I also have contracts with fishing vessels guaranteeing me the best of the deep sea catch." Kaito's face beamed at his description of his own enterprise.
"Ambitious. I like that. That's why I'm became a full partner, well more than a full partner."
"And a silent one, I hope." Kaito's eyes narrowed. "I have an additional treat, a most rare delicacy, for the best business partner I could ever have." He signaled Juro with a hand movement. Trey watched Juro set a tray with two round containers of the largest caviar Trey ever saw. Their round, violet-purple orbs quivered. Trey picked one ball with his chopsticks. It was huge.
"Aren't you going to join me?" Trey asked.
"This is Juro's gift to you. He found the caviar and prepared the dish. I'll let him share it." Kaito pushed the plate between Juro and Trey, motioning for him to eat. Juro didn't touch the orbs until his father gave him an angry look. Trey didn't want to be part of what he considered a family matter. He ignored the bahavior between father and son. This caviar tasted of the sea, of squid and of fine black truffles.
"This is amazing. You're not having any?" Trey eyed Juro who ate this last sushi slowly.
"No, I promised my son and we only have two positions."
"You mean portions," Trey said, drinking more Sake'.
"I apologize. My English isn't precise. I did mean positions. You and Juro will have permanent positions at the restaurant... To the restaurant and success." Kaito toasted with a cup of Sake'. Trey drank. Juro picked up a container of Sake' and downed the entire thing. Trey eyed the young man.
"Making up for lost time?" Trey asked. Juro laughed.
"No Taichi-san, no time lost. We right on schedule. We should go hot pool now. Take Sake'." Juro said. Kaito's face snapped in and out of anger so fast, Trey thought his eyes fooled him. He picked up a bottle of the aged Sake' and saw the flash of anger once again. Older brother is cheap, Trey thought.
"Hot tub and expensive Sake', how could anyone pass that up?"
"I can make arrangements for you to stay here, in the restaurant?" Kaito said without warning.
"You mean while I'm in town?"
"You are a partner, you can share the bounty of the sea. In fact, I insist on it." Kaito said.
"Like Poseidon reigning over his realm?" Trey picked up several bottles of the Sake' and stood up. He followed Juro outside the restaurant past a series of large fish tanks. As they moved, employees slipped out of sight. At the far end of the complex, a concrete pool in the corrugated shape of an oyster shell sat bubbling and waiting. It was nearly twenty feet in diameter. Juro set the Sake' on the side and tugged at his clothing. Juro slowly revealed a muscular, wiry build. Trey estimated he weighed not more than 100 pounds. He looked young -- sixteen, maybe eighteen. Juro stood with a serving towel in front of his manhood. Trey pulled his shirt off and stood bare chested. He was big everywhere; thighs as big around as Juro, waist twice the young man's thickness, barrel chest and broad shoulders with impossibly large biceps and triceps, and no tan lines. Trey kept his shorts on as he went to step into the pool.
"Please no shorts, Taichi-san. Water warm. Not cold like for fish. Brine like sea."
"Just you and me naked, little guy?" This is an odd way to close a business deal, thought Trey.
"No like naked?" Juro asked. Juro dropped the serving towel and stood with his hands on his hips and his manhood pulsing, half erect. Trey smiled at the young man's brashness, slid his shorts down to his feet and stepped out of them. Juro put his hands on the lip of the pool and jumped in. he sank out of sight. Trey stepped into the pool and sat on a stone table deep enough bring the water up almost to his mouth. He dunked his head and came up shaking, splashing water. His skin tingled.
"I never been in a salt-water hot tub, before," Trey said.
"Special water. Feel good. We drink and soak." Juro slid his body against Trey's and leaned back. A dip in the shell-shaped exterior served to support his head. Trey imitated his move and found it easy to float in the salty water. He looked around for the Sake' and couldn't reach it. Juro snapped his fingers.
"Brother, Sake' for our guest, our new Poseidon, ruler of the seven seas and the vast wide oceans," Juro said. Kaito's face blanched but he didnŐt lose his hospitality smile. He prepared two coconut shaped balls to hold the Sake' without spilling it.
Trey jumped as something touched his foot and another sea creature slipped against his arm. Juro laughed.
"My pet school of squid and octopus live in pool. They cling but not hurt." Juro held up his arm. An octopus was wrapped around it. Trey took the Sake' and drank the entire container.
"Liquid courage. The beasties tickle." The alcohol burned his throat and warmed his body. Trey handed the empty back to Kaito and grabbed a full container. "Line 'em up, partner. I feel like a celebratory drunk tonight."
"I will leave you with my brother and the cephalopods he so adores. Evening service is about to begin. It's been a pleasure doing business with you, Trey Montgomery." Kaito held his hand out. When Trey lifted his arm from the water, three small octopuses stuck to his forearm and elbow. He shook and they held on. Kaito faked a laugh and delicately shook hands. Trey could hear him humming all the way back to the restaurant.
"Your brother's afraid of the fish," Trey said to his back. Juro agreed. They both drifted off of the wall and floated in the bubbles. The squid and octopus clung to each body. Juro dunked under the water to wet his head again and floated up next to Trey. They laughed and floated with just their faces out of the water. Both men dozed.
"One of them grabs me willy and it's going to die in the explosion. I'm so horny and drunk, the critter's dead meat," Trey pushed up and lay on the wall to reach the Sake'. He grabbed the container and slid back into the water. They drank. Juro slipped under the water and come back up with a handful of tentacles. He'd eat one raw and then give the rest to Trey. Trey washed them down with Sake'.
"Tasty little things. What are they?"
"Special, like caviar but different," Juro's mouth half-filled with water. He gurgled and coughed. Trey pulled him up and held him until the coughing stopped.
"Hey you can't talk with a mouthful of water you know. Not until we got gills like these fishies you raise."
"You strong man. Float like Poseidon." Juro leaned on Trey's massive shoulder.
"You're drunk. Drunk like me. I can't feel my toes but I'm floating." He reached under Juro's butt and pulled him higher onto his shoulder.
"Your butt feels funny. Like you only got one leg down there."
"Must be cuttlefish. They do naughty things."
"They nip. I know. They've been nipping at my legs all the while. Sake'?" They drank again and dozed back asleep.
Trey woke without bubbles under a half-moon sky. The water was black as the night around them. Even the lights of Kagashima were out. Service was finished. The day complete. Trey slid Juro off his shoulder and let him float on his back. He glided over the rim of the pool and poked his head up high enough to look for Sake'. Blue-white LED downlights lit the paths outside the pool. Juro splashed awake and spluttered water from his face. Trey felt the young man's hands at his waist. The hands felt thicker. Trey turned. Juro's skin gleaned white in the moonlight. His shoulders and chest weren't bony, but round and fleshy.
"We fell asleep."
"Sleep like fishes."
"Yeah, we slept with your fishies." Trey tousled Juro's wet hair. Juro sank beneath the surface and returned with a small octopus held in the tips of his white, porcelain-looking fingers. He smiled with clenched lips showing the eight legs of another octopus between his teeth.
"You want me to eat absolutely raw octopus? Well, yesterday I ate sushi. I guess it can't hurt me. It's going to be salty though and there's no wasabi or Sake' left. Shame really." His dialog amused Juro. He took the octopus and bit at it. Juro watched him eat it. Trey opened his eyes wide and shook his head in satisfaction. He kicked to raise him body out of the water. Juro flipped himself and dove under again. Both of Juro's back legs moved as one and his feet smacked the water. Trey felt him brush his legs. He sank below the surface to look down into the dark water. A mass of tentacles filled the darkness, blocking his sight. He reached down and grabbed something as thick as a cuttlefish and just as long. It grew stiff like his member. Juro brushed by him and broke the surface.
"One of your cuttlefish has me willy." He said. Juro reached down and tugged. The member came to the surface in Juro's hands and as he worked it, Trey felt his manhood grow hard.
"This not cuttlefish. It's you," Juro replied. Trey took a good look at Juro; the tubular body, the firmer rounded shoulders, the sweptback ears, the webbed hands and the gills slits. In his surprise, he reached down and felt not legs, but tentacles swirling in the waters beneath him.
"Happened? I am merman and you are Poseidon. Follow me, I turn on lights." Juro dove into the pool. Trey leaned back and grabbed at Juro with his tentacles. He felt each sucker grip the waiter turned merman and the release him in surprise. Juro flipped over and dove. Trey made his new tentacles squeeze together and followed Juro twenty feet underwater to the floor of the pool. Underwater lights blazed for a moment as his eyes adjusted to the depths and brightness.
The glass wall of a portal created a mirror and Trey saw his new body for the first time. A massive Poseidon. Instead of legs, he had the tentacles of the Leviathan, the giant squid. His hair and beard flowed around his face, small fins protruded from his forearms and shoulders, his torso and abdomen remained thickly muscled but his legs were now thick tentacles about ten feet long. All he needed was a trident.
Juro, his legs replaced by a single tubular and his feet by fins, swam circles around him. They surfaced together.
"I'm Poseidon. You made me Poseidon."
"God of the sea. Taichi-san. Big man."
"I must be so drunk to hallucinate this, huh?"
"You no like?" Juro asked, his face a mask of disappointment. Trey stopped and thought.
"Well no, I feel magnificent, like I was destined to be Poseidon."
"We need a Poseidon for the restaurant and dolphins for good fortune. My brothers already took their place. Tomorrow, I take my compass point and you will become our Poseidon, god of the seven seas. Bring both families good fortune."
"Taichi sacrificed four sons? But that statue is limestone. Are they alive?"
"All living stone. The morning sun turns body to stone."
"Why didn't he tell me this is what it meant to be an investor? Why keep this a secret?" Trey didn't know whether to be angry or shocked. He couldn't think of a good reason why he should be angry.
"Restaurant is all about illusion. Taichi's creations are all lies. Everything is a lie in the business. Nothing is as it seems for the customers and the staff. We are there to entertain and create their fantasies. Taichi created a restaurant in the sea. The very sights and sounds are lies. The appearances are lies. Such illusion requires sacrifice. The mermen and Poseidon are real."
"And when I signed my name and gave my word?"
"Your word? Taichi's word? All words in life stand the least truthful. Only our actions are true. These fishes cannot speak and therefore cannot lie. My true nature is the northern merman and your true nature Poseidon."
"But how is this possible?"
"The caviar we consumed."
"I'm still so drunk this all makes sense. Can't we live in the sea?"
"No, sunlight change us. We have tonight to swim as fish and the days after to stand as statues." Juro sank below the surface and Trey followed.
Taichi's new restaurant opened the following night to rave reviews and became the most successful restaurant on the island of Kyushu. Most customers thought the statue an entertaining exhibit. A few hardy seamen would gaze upon Poseidon and his four mermen and see the life inside. They understooding the blessings it bestowed.
2750 words more or less
FUTURES YET UNKNOWN
Ten Stories by Dave Fragments
*An Alien serial murderer and a furry detective with fleas.
*Murder on a world with altered humans.
*Disturbing apocalyptic visions *Monstrous dystopian societies.
*A man on trial for betraying the human race to robots.
*Devils, demons and ghosts.
*Survivors of a plague war.
*Cyborgs trying to be human.
*Six friends in a strange sinkhole.
*The truth about a world drowning in rain, without sun, without hope.
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