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Stephen Hill - Part XII
Eingestellt am 05. 04. 2018 15:37

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Katsuhiro Otomo, as it turned out, was quite a letdown. Jessica was not sure what she had expected, but as soon as she saw that old man coming on stage, all dressed in grey and wearing a shirt that made him look like a Japanese bank accountant, she was disappointed. Of course she knew that Otomo’s major work Akira, the one that he was most favorite for, was published in the 90’s and she did not expect a young man to hop on stage and act all cool and stuff, but this man didn’t look like an artist at all. And it was then that she realized how stupid or naïve it was to look at art and then draw conclusions about the person behind it. She understood that art and the artist were two separate things. Katsuhiro Otomo probably was a regular Japanese man who simply had this extraordinary faculty for drawing and inventing Manga characters that seemed out of this world. He probably considered his art a regular job and the way he talked about his art during this panel discussion wasn’t any different from a plumber talking about different sewage systems. The more he talked, the more he destroyed the magic that surrounded his Manga characters and Jessica was frustrated to the point that she wished she had never met or seen the man. He was destroying the illusion. But a look at Tux, Ainu and Aika told her that they didn’t feel the same way. They looked at Otomo as if he was a God who had decided to descend on earth for a quick talk show and they devoured everything he said or did as if it was this stuff Gods had as dessert, Ambrosias or something.

When Ainu and Aika realized that they had to leave they almost didn’t bother to say goodbye to Jessica. They got dressed without averting their eyes from the stage, because they didn’t want to miss anything of what was going on there. When they really had to leave, they both gave Jessica a quick hug and said ‘See you!’ but didn’t ask for her address or phone number. Jessica didn’t mind, she actually felt like leaving with them but thought it would be rather rude towards Tux. So she stayed and even swapped seats in order to sit right next to him.

When the panel discussion was over and all of the guests got up to get ready to leave, Jessica was on the verge of falling asleep.
“Tired?”, Tux asked.
“Yeah, a little. I had better get back to the train station.”
“Alright, well, if you want, we can take the subway. You can ride on my ticket and it’s only a few minutes from here.”
Jessica looked at her watch. It was 9:30 pm and her train would leave in half an hour. Usually there was a little delay, so she probably had more like 35 minutes.
“Okay then”, she said, smiling back at Tux.
They left the convention center and walked one or two blocks. When Jessica saw a sign that read Jefferson Station she looked questioningly at Tux. He looked back at her and nodded.
“Yeah, this is where we got on. Let’s hurry, just to be on the safe side.”

They raced down the stairs into the underground and Jessica followed Tux to Track 2, where a sign indicated that they would be taking the West Trenton Line. Jessica had no idea whether that was the right train to the station, but she willingly placed her trust in Tux and felt certain that he would get her to the train station in time.

When they reached the platform of Track 2, a train was already waiting for them. They hopped in and sat down on one of the benches. There were only very few passengers aboard the train and most of them were half asleep, so no one took notice of them or their peculiar costumes.

“So, did you have fun?”, Tux asked her.
“Yeah, it was really great. I’m not sure I liked the panel discussion that much, but I had a lot of fun, definitely.”
“Well, then we should do this again some time”, Tux suggested.
“Definitely”, Jessica replied and yawned.
They remained silent for the rest of the short trip and looked at the train’s display from time to time, waiting for the letters on it to read Next stop: 30th street station, which Tux had explained to Jessica was just another name or address of the main railroad station in Philly.

When the train finally reached their destination, Jessica took another look at her watch. It was 9:44 pm, so she would still have eleven minutes to fetch her train home to NY. Then one hour and a half and she would be able to fall asleep in her bed. She couldn’t wait to get there.

Since both Tux and Jessica believed that they had plenty of time left, they didn’t bother to run the rest of the way. They slowly walked up the stairs, took the time to take in the view of the station’s Art Deco main waiting room and then trod on to the platform from which Jessica thought the train to NY was leaving. When they reached the platform they both didn’t realize that there was hardly anyone around waiting for a train. Neither did they notice that there was no train to pick up passengers. For some reason, both obviously and subconsciously assumed that the train would arrive any minute now, and that the lack of people waiting for a train was due to the time of day, or rather, time of night. They spent a few minutes talking about this and that while Jessica kept looking at her watch: 9:54, 9:56, 9:58, 10:00, 10:02, 10:04.

At 10:07 Jessica was starting to get worried.
“I wonder where the train is?”, she said out loud.
“Me too. And there is no one even here”, Tux agreed as he looked around.
“We had better ask someone”, Jessica suggested.
They walked back to the main waiting room and looked for a desk that was still open. There was light emanating from inside of one of the tiny counters, so they headed for that one although they couldn’t see anyone behind the counter. As they reached it, they could see a black woman in a blue uniform sitting on a low swivel chair. She looked up at them indifferently.
“My train didn’t come!”, Jessica blurted out as if she held the black woman personally responsible.
“And which train would that be?”, the black woman asked.
Jessica got out her ticket and looked at the train number.
“66 Northeast Regional.”
“Did you check the time, love?”, the black woman asked in return.
Jessica looked at her watch again. It was 10:16 pm.
“The time on the ticket, love. I meant the time on the ticket.”
Jessica looked at her ticket again. And then she saw it. Departure: 9:45pm. How could she have missed that? The train had already left.
Tux gave her a puzzled look.
“The train has already left”, she told him.
“Oh, shit”, he said.
Jessica turned around to the woman behind the desk again.
“Is there any other train New York tonight?”
“Not tonight, there isn’t. Earliest train to NY leaves at 5am tomorrow morning.”

For a second, Jessica was too shocked to speak. She was stranded. She wouldn’t get home before the next day and she would have to spend the night waiting right where she was. She would have to call her dad and tell him all about what she dad been up to. Her plan had failed.

“You can come back to my place, you know that, right!?”, Tux asked.
“What?”, Jessica replied, unable to put two and two together.
“I don’t live that far from here. You can sleep at my place and then we can come back tomorrow morning at 5am. Or, even better, you stay for breakfast tomorrow morning and take one of the later trains. There’s no need to hurry now, is there?”
Jessica still didn’t know what to make of the situation. She had started this adventure to prove that she could pull it off, probably also to find out how far she could go without her father finding out about it. But this was something else. Sleeping over at a guy’s place that she hardly knew, not telling her father where she was and having to take a train the following day was way more than she could handle at that moment. Hence, she stayed mute.
“I can sleep on the couch”, Tux said. “Really, there is no need for you to worry. My mother will be there, too, you know. She might fix us something to eat when we get back.”

Slowly, Jessica tried to reason with herself. Tux aka shoichiyokoi had turned out to be a nice guy. He had been nothing but polite, friendly and interested the whole day through. She wasn’t quite sure yet where this relationship was going, but she liked him and as far as she could tell, she trusted him. She relied on her instincts and told herself that Tux was just a regular boy, not a sexual predator. And if his mother was there, too, what could be the harm? The only thing she was afraid of was that his mother would ask to call her dad so that he’d know of her whereabouts. She asked herself if she should call her dad or at least send him a text message. But then she realized that she hadn’t heard of him all day and that he would probably go to sleep without checking her room. He seemed so distracted lately that he cared even less about her than before, if that was even possible. Screw him, she thought and pushed her cellphone back into her bag.
“Okay, let’s go!”
Tux smiled.
“Okay, let’s.”

So, instead of going home, Jessica and Tux got back into one of the subway trains and drove to Tux’s place. It took them twenty minutes to get there and they had to change trains twice. The street Tux lived in was a regular street in a regular part of the city, nothing about the area was dodgy or fishy. Tux had the keys to the main entrance and then they took the elevator to the fifth floor of the building.
“I’m home”, Tux shouted into the spacious apartment when they stepped over the threshold. He turned on the light in the hallway.
“Mum?!”, he shouted. There was no answer.
“My parents run a restaurant - slash - club. They work on weekends, but usually my mom comes home at 10pm. Maybe it’s too busy over there.”
Jessica nodded. She walked into the apartment like a spaceman walked into unknown territory. The interior design was Asian, alright: a little golden Buddha was placed on the floor, Oriental folding screens separated parts of a bigger adjacent room, red lampoons were hanging from the ceiling and there were incense sticks protruding from a bowl made of clay.
“I like it”, Jessica said.
“I think it’s too much”, Tux said, “and it’s so typical, almost corny.”
“I like it”, Jessica maintained. But she agreed with Tux, too. It was exactly what you’d expect an Asian apartment to look like.

Tux showed Jessica into the living room and invited her to sit on the couch.
“Would you like to drink something?”
Jessica wasn’t quite sure if he meant alcohol, but either way she wasn’t going to pick him up on it.
“A glass of water will do. And, if you don’t mind, I’m really tired so if we could…”
“Yeah, sure, no problem”, Tux rushed to say, blushing a little, which Jessica thought was cute and made her even more comfortable. “I’ll just go and the get the blankets from my parent’s bedroom and then I’ll show you my room. Do you need an extra toothbrush? I could probably get you one of my mother’s nightgowns, too, and..”
“I’ll be fine”, Jessica said, smiling softly. “An extra toothbrush would be great, but really, don’t ..”
“Extra toothbrush coming up”, Tux said and ran off to the bathroom. He came back with a toothbrush, toothpaste, a glass of water from the tap and a little towel for Jessica to use.
“Now I’ll get the blankets”, he said and was off again. Jessica remained seated on the couch, thinking late thoughts. She couldn’t help but feeling guilty because she still hadn’t called her dad. She got out her cell phone to see if he had tried to contact her, but there was no message at all. Screw him, she thought again, sliding her cell phone back into her pocket.

When Tux came back with the blankets, Jessica got up from the couch so that Tux could make a bed for himself. When he was done doing that, he stood up from the couch, addressing Jessica again.
“Now, my bedroom is straight down the hallway and the last door on the left. You’ll find everything there. Oh, and the bathroom is to your right.”
“Thank you. Really, thank you”, Jessica said and meant it. She wasn’t sure whether to hug Tux or to shake his hands or to just walk off to Tux’s bedroom. She was grateful to him but had no idea of how to express it. So, acting more on her feelings than on anything else, Jessica leaned over and kissed Tux on the cheek.
“You’re a life saver”, she said and left Tux where he was, walking into his room.

In his bedroom, she shut the door, switched on the light and illuminated the room of a typical teenager. There was a black desk with a fancy looking computer and an extra large screen, there were various posters of Manga comics and video games hanging across the wall; clothes was carelessly thrown all over the carpet floor, and there was a large bed with Star Wars bedsheets. I’m safe, Jessica thought. Tux is a nerd.

She left the room again and went into the bathroom. She took fifteen minutes to take of her make-up and turn from Vannelloppe back into Jessica. When she had taken off the make-up and changed back into the more ordinary clothes, she felt like a snake sliding back into its original skin rather than losing the old. Her alter ego, which she had lived in for almost a day, was gone, as easy as that, and a process of realization set in. What am I doing here? she thought. I am two hours away from home, I haven’t told my dad and I am sleeping over at a boy’s place that I hardly know. Although everything seems to turn out fine, I must never do something like this again. It’s too dangerous.

She switched off the light in the bathroom and went back into Tux’s bedroom. She switched on the lamp on the bedside table and was unsure whether to undress for the few hours of sleep that she would have. She was also unsure whether she wanted to leave the apartment in secret at 4am in the morning to get that first train to New York or whether she should pick Tux up on his offer to get a good night’s rest and go back tomorrow morning. Instead of making a decision, however, she just slid under the bed sheets and switched off the light. She left her cellphone by the bedside table but didn’t set the alarm. As she was cozying up to herself underneath the blankets, she felt the heat and decided to take off her sweater and the jeans. All she wore now were her panties, her bra and a T-shirt, but she still felt a little too warm. She turned around for another ten minutes, listening into the apartment and trying to find out if Tux was already sleeping or if his mum had come home after all, and then, finally, she slowly doze off and eventually fell asleep.

The next bit would burn into her memory forever. It was like a clip from a film that would play over and over again, a clip that lasted probably two minutes, not more. The clip would start with darkness, and then with Jessica, the protagonist, from whose point of view everything was filmed, slowly becoming aware of that darkness and the rustling sounds that went along with it. The sleep inside her body kept her from immediately understanding what was going on. There was something or someone in her bed, so much was sure. She had no sense of orientation, she had completely forgotten everything that had happened before her falling asleep, so, naturally, she thought she was at her place. And then only one person could have been next to her.

“Dad?! Is that you? What are you doing?”

This sentence startled the living thing that was under the blanket with her. Suddenly she felt a finger or rather fingers quickly sliding out of her body and out of her panties, and she felt a wetness on the fabric of her panties. What the hell is going on? Jessica jumped out of bed and instinctively switched on the lamp on the bedside table. As there was light, she saw Tux rushing, hastily sneaking out of the room, stooping over like a wounded animal and closing the door behind him with a bang. Completely in shock, Jessica looked down on herself. She was still wearing her bra and her T-shirt, and she still had her panties on, but they were hanging down on one side, and when she touched her crotch she noticed that she was wet from some kind of lubricant. She connected the dots of what had happened and, like an animal that had just been attacked by another animal, a primal fear and instinct kicked in. The fear made her worry for her life and the instinct made her run. She took the clothes that she had put over the chair and got dressed with lightning speed, she put on her shoes, she grabbed her bag and then nervously walked over to the door. She worked up all the courage that she could find in herself and then she firmly pushed the door handle. The hallway was dimly lit and seemed longer than before. Jessica ran like mad and looked neither left nor right. She reached the main entrance door and hoped to God that it was unlocked. She saw the door chain loosely hanging from its bracket and felt instant relief. She pushed the door handle and leaned her entire body into the yielding door. Then she was outside. There was no question of taking the elevator, so she looked for a door with an emergency exit sign. At the other end of the hall she saw that sign and ran for it. She pushed through that door, careened down five flights of stairs, ran to the main entrance and then exploded into the street. But instead of sighing a breath of relief, she kept on running away from that building for full five minutes, as if the devil himself was behind her.

It was pure physical exhaustion that finally stopped her. She turned around and saw an empty street. He was obviously not following her. She looked around and saw a house with a bigger stairway in front of it. She walked over and sat down on the cold stone.

What the heck had just happened? Jessica asked herself although she knew the answer. Tux had come into her bedroom while she was asleep and he had put his fingers inside of her, apparently with the help of some lubricant. He had, and there was no other expression Jessica could think of, sexually molested her. Jessica was now a victim of sexual harassment and she felt the pain, the shame, the humiliation, the dirt on her skin and the terror that afflicted all women with a similar experience. She was now one of them. And she was in shock.

She couldn’t remember how long she sat on the cold stone of that porch. She couldn’t remember the few people that passed her and she couldn’t remember the face of that woman who asked if she could help her. She could, however, remember the feeling when she got up after what seemed like an eternity. She felt like someone had severely beaten her and it was hard for her to move. But despite the physical pain she somehow managed to get the attention of a cab driver and after she had squeezed into the backseat like a gangster in his getaway car, she told the driver to take her to the central station. When she got there, she had to wait another two hours with a tiny flock of other lost sheep who seemingly were in a similar or worse predicament than Jessica herself until finally the 5am train to New York entered the station and picked up its passengers. During the passage home Jessica was unable to clothe a single word in thoughts and just stared outside the window into the vast nothingness of a night in America. When she finally got home and unlocked the door to her apartment, she subdued the urge to take a shower, stumbled into her room and fell apart over her bed. She slept eight hours straight and only woke up when her father came into her room to see if she was still alive and actually there.

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