Kei lied on her couch on her balcony of her apartment. The heat smothered her like an electric blanket. She could barely move at all. Her small body just felt that heavy.
�I�m so bored�� she thought. She thought about calling up Simon or Conrad, but why bother? All of that extra moment would be pointless. Kei looked up at the sky again. The clouds seemed to be almost standing still in the sky. The Kyoto heiress lied there was her mouth parted open. She seemed to be wanting a drink right now. But, that would require her getting off of the couch, going inside, going into the kitchen, getting a glass, and turning on the faucet. Too much effort to do all of that today. Kei just didn�t feel like moving at all. Maybe when it gets cooler. Yeah, right� Just keep on lying there and doing nothing. That�s what Saturdays are for after all. Is that true?
Conrad couldn�t remember if he had ever been in church. He had a poor shuffle of his life. He hadn�t had much guidance in life. Mind you, his aunt did try in her own questionable way. She made sure that his butt was in school every single day. Helena drummed respect into his head over and over again. After a couple of smacks, it gradually sank into his thick skull. That boy didn�t dare disrespect his aunt. What choice did he have? She and his cousin were all the family had left.
His mother was doing time for drug possession and attempted murder. Conrad was only two when she was arrested. The court placed him under Helena�s care. Initially, she begrudgingly took the boy in. But when she saw him, her heart changed. Conrad was cuter when he was small. His face stirred a drop of warmth within her. The woman decided to raise the boy alongside her own daughter. That meant keeping her �business� out of his eyes. That woman did that well. She did her best to keep him innocent�at first.
Then, Conrad hit puberty. He came to learn some ugly truths about the world. Helena just stopped hiding the truth. This occurred one Sunday when he was thirteen. The boy had just come back from staying over a friend�s house.
�I�m home!� he called from the living room. Silence greeted him. The boy looked around some.
�Hello?� he asked. �Anybody here?� A few more seconds went by. Conrad blinked for a moment. �Strange,� he thought. �Somebody�s usually here.�
�In here, Conrad!� his aunt called from the kitchen. Curious, Conrad followed the sound of her voice. Green as far as the eye could see. Both in money and a certain green plant. The boy didn�t seem to know how to grasp the situation. Helena looked up at him as if this was normal. Her nephew blinked once.
�Aunt Helena,� he said. �What is all of this?� She gave him a serious look on her face.
�Come here,� she said. �I will show you.� The boy didn�t know what to think at first. Then, he slowly made his way over to Helena and the huge piles of green. Here began his career as a pot dealer. Yet, he hadn�t really been in church since he could remember. He may have been when he was a baby, but that was it.
On Monday morning, Kei and Simon made it up to Conrad�s front door. Kei rang the doorbell.
�Coming!� a girl called out. His friends waited outside. The door slid open with a snap. Simon and Kei looked up to see Krystal. Uncertainty met their faces. Krystal Bridges was only sixteen years old and already seven months pregnant. A while back, her school closed down because of repairs. That gave Krystal plenty of time with her then-boyfriend. She found out she was pregnant after they broke up. Helena was angry about this at first. But now, even she still hates the situation, she doesn�t complain as much. Krystal stared at her cousin�s friends with stern eyes.
�What?!?� she snapped. The younger kids quickly came back to earth.
�Oh!� Kei spoke up as fast as she could. �We came to pick up Conrad!� Krystal whipped her head behind her so that her braids were in three-fourths view.
�Conrad!� she yelled. �You�re little friends are here!�
�I�ll be right down!� he called from upstairs. Krystal turned back to Simon and Kei outside.
�He�s coming,� she said. The friends nodded.
�Okay,� they said. Silence passed again. Simon and Kei stared at Krystal�s belly. She began to get really huffy about it.
�Why don�t ya take a picture?� she snapped. �It�ll last longer!� The younger kids quickly returned their attention back to her face.
�No, no!� Simon quickly shouted. �We were just��
�Just what?� she snapped.
�Wondering when you were due!� Kei finished up.
�October,� Krystal answered bitterly.
�Ah,� the friends said. Right then, Conrad came to the door. Kei and Simon quickly looked up.
�Sorry it took so long,� he said. �Wrong number.� His friends looked happy to see him for obvious reasons. But, they tried to mask it the best that they could.
�Ready to go?� Simon asked quickly. Conrad nodded at them without a thought.
�Sure,� he said. Then, the three of them headed off to school. Krystal shook her head as they walked away.
�Freaks,� she mumbled to herself. Then, she closed the door after her.
On Tuesday, Simon looked all around him, carefully. She wasn�t anywhere in sight. But, he kept on his guard anyway. Emily had a knack for popping up when her least expected. That wasn�t the only problem, however. That heiress was just too aggressive with her flirtation. Plus, she didn�t seem to take no for an answer. Simon just didn�t know how to handle her. Even though Emily knew that he had a girlfriend, she still came after him at full force.
Simon quickly looked around again. The slightest shuffle could reveal that randy, young minx at any given moment. She was like a cat seeking out a mouse to have for her dinner. Unfortunately, Simon was the mouse that Emily had in mind for this dinner. A fast breeze caused him to whip his head around to look behind him. Leaves sailed by softly in the air. Simon looked around a few seconds more. When he was sure no one was there, the boy breathed out some.
�What�cha lookin� for, Si?� Conrad shouted from up ahead. �Get a move on! We have to get to class!� The other boy quickly snapped out of it.
�Oh, right!� he called. �Wait up!� Then, he ran to catch up with his friends.
They all go to different schools. But, it�s all the same really. They get up, get ready, pick each other up, get on the bus, get off at their respective schools, learn, have lunch, get their homework, and go home. They have teachers, people they talk to in class, books, homework, and essentially the same subjects. Okay, so the rules are a bit different at each school. But, it�s really all the same when it is stripped down to the basics.
Kei�s cell phone rang when she got home from school. She looked at the screen in suspicion. Simon and Conrad don�t call; they text her. Same with the rest of her little friends. That meant it had to be from home. Kei went grim at the thought of her dad calling to check on her. But to her surprise, it wasn�t her dad. The heiress raised an eyebrow at the number on the phone screen.
�Why is Kiko calling me?� she thought. Now, the girl was really curious. She pressed the button and held the phone to her ear.
�Hello?� Kei asked.
�Kei-chan!� Kiko said on the other line.
�Is dad having you spy on me too now?�
�Okay, then what is this about?�
�Can�t I just call up my sister from time to time?�
�You don�t want to �talk� unless dad wants something. Okay, spill it. What does he want now?� Kiko sighed on the other line.
�Fine. I�m coming to visit for the weekend.�
�Father begged me to. He would make the trip himself, but he�s on a business trip to California to expand 9 Records to the states. So, he asked me to see you instead. Just humor him. He misses you so much.� Kei rolled her eyes. �Misses having me under his thumb is more like it!� she thought. The heiress wanted to say that out, but she only sighed instead.
�Fine,� she said, begrudgingly. �But don�t try to baby me while you�re here, okay?�
�Thank you, Kei-chan,� Kiko said. �Father will be pleased.�
�Whatever,� the younger sister mumbled. �Goodbye!� Then, she hung up before Kiko could say another word. Kei flopped back onto her couch and blew her black-brown bangs in the air. They landed back on her forehead. That old ball and chain in Kyoto just had to go and remind her that she still wasn�t fully free from her family just yet.
Alas, the day of freedom came for the week. The little school children could run free in �Simple� Tokyo. But, Simon, Kei, and Conrad were not going to get any rest for the weekend. Conrad had to sell more weed to the neighborhood for himself and his aunt. Oh, he had a long list to get through this weekend. They just kept coming back to him. This wasn�t a problem at first, but now Conrad just wished him could just have one day where he didn�t have to help sell pot to make ends meet. He just wanted once to rest and be normal. But, that wasn�t a choice, now was it?
Simon was planning to take Nia out on another date tonight, but he would have to watch out for Emily as well. That was going to be a fun balancing act for him to perform once again. He would have fallen a couple times if Kei and Conrad hadn�t stepped in to save his ass. But, they were going to be busy this weekend. So, he�s pretty much on his own tonight. Time to get out his new set of eyes and keep looking all around him.
Kei had her own problems with Kiko coming up this weekend. She was still suspicious of what her sister and dad were up to this time. She too would have to keep her eyes and ears sharp until Sunday afternoon.
No rest for the �simple� as one can see.
VIII: Simple? Not So Much:
Looking at the activities of Kei, Simon, and Conrad in �Simple� Tokyo, simple just really isn�t the right word for them, don�t you agree? Maybe, it�s time for a better word. Coming up with one will just have to wait.