Kimiko's Chat Session
A CAPOW original story
From: Dare Cheung
"What?" Kimiko blurted into the receiver of her phone. "I think you've got it wrong, sir."
"From what I gather," the voice at the other end of the phone, "you need a bit of work on your people-skills. I've read the reports about you Kimiko-san. Assaulting suspects in the questioning room, use of excessive force in the field, the wanton destruction of public property!"
Kimiko was about to fume. "That's not me!" she protested. "You're thinking of Agent Genkawa! He's a loose cannon, that one."
She could hear the man tsking at the other end. "Agent Souichi Kimiko! I'm surprised at your behaviour! Putting the blame on other agents. Now I want you to attend the seminar."
"But--" she started.
"That's an order! And don't go to the chief about this. He's on vacation and I will not have him disturbed. Good day." A click meant he hung up. Kimiko was definitely fuming now but had no choice. Public-relations workshop, oh joy, she thought. They said people didn't come out the same after attending those workshops. She shuddered.
* * *
It was a usual business day at the Lurker's Retreat. Lurkers lurked while regulars regulated, their usual drinks and group conversations, that is. Madoka, the tireless bartender and owner was discussing the finer points of a hybrid Windows98-AOL merge and the apocalyptic implications to several lurkers. Jo-chan, clad in her usual waitress outfit, sat by one of the tables as nobody really required her. Yet.
It was the perfect time for Kimiko to step in. And she did. The saloon style doors whisked and creaked as she strode in confidently as if she just nabbed her latest cultist. A few new lurkers looked up from their tables to observe the agent take her usual seat by the corner. The others ignored. Jo-chan decided it was time to do her job again, got off her chair and approached Kimiko, pulling out her notepad just in case a large order was coming.
"What can I get you Kimiko-san?" she asked tentatively, pencil in hand.
"Why don't you have a seat, Jo," offered Kimiko, pointing to the empty chair. Jo looked at the seat carefully and sat down, not sure what was going on. She put the notepad away. Kimiko had on her best smile, the one that said "I'm-smiling-hard-everything-is-fine-do-not-suspect-anything"
"Er, what's on your mind, Kimiko-san?"
"Well," she started, "I was always wondering how we never chat, Jo-chan." The smile seemed more forced than ever.
"Er, well that's because you come in, order your usual cup of tea, sit at your computer, type away and then leave when you're done."
"Yes and now I'd like to talk with you," Kimiko forced between her gritted teeth, "If you don't mind," she added a bit too forcefully.
"Er," Jo tugged at her collar, "sure."
"So," Kimiko started with an ice-breaker, "How's it like being an aqua-transsexual?"
Jo-chan nearly choked at the question. "Uh, well, it's, er, interesting--"
"What's in the satchel?" Kimiko asked suddenly, changing the topic and pointing to the little brown bag at Jo-chan's side.
The waitress shifted her eyes left to right to see if anyone was listening. "Just a towel and other things," she started to say.
"Why do you suppose Anne always mallets you," Kimiko asked once more abruptly.
"Hey Anne isn't _ALWAYS_ malletting me!" Jo-chan defended herself. "And what's with all the twenty questions?"
"Oh," Kimiko thought for a moment. She whispered to herself, "What does it say under 'Audience asks back?'" She blinked a few times before deciding on a properly formed response. "Oh, well I'm taking a workshop on public-relations. They recommend a good way to relate to people is to ask questions about themselves."
Jo-chan gave a sheepish look. "Maybe if you let me finish answering it would help, hmm?"
The agent shrugged. "I don't know, didn't get that far yet. So, when will you finish paying off your debts to Madoka?"
"Did someone call my name?" Mads shouted from her discussion group, head turning back and forth before returning to her chat.
"Er, yeah," Jo-chan started, slowly getting off her chair. "Maybe I'll just get you that cup of tea now."
Kimiko got up quickly as well, tugging on Jo's sleeve. "No! Don't go. Stay? Please?" She had one of those puppy-dog looks in her eyes. It was uncharacteristically un-Kimiko-like.
Jo-chan pulled her arm back out of Kimiko's grasp and backed away from the table with added haste. "Uh, yeah, one cup of tea coming up." She scurried back to the bar's kitchen, looking back twice, checking to see Kimiko wasn't going to follow her.
Kimiko sighed. How would she ever practice her nearly formed skills? Then, she spotted Ace at the other end of the bar. "Smile, greet, question," she said softly to herself, repeating it several times. Once she felt confident, she nodded to herself, got up and walked briskly to the dimunitive mail-man.
"Hi Ace!" she greeted cheerfully.
"Hi Kimiko. How are you--?"
"How's it feel to work for a scumbag like Thickett?"
"When did you first meet Jessica Halbrant?"
"How did you know--?"
"How's the postal job, the pay any good?"