I am Nate Natsuki, and I doubt very much that I was created in the image of God, but the kisses of Tora’s mouth turned my saliva into wine.  That was my blessing for obedience.

        Then I saw her in her panties and my nosebleed started gushing.  I had to take out my blue contact lenses.  Accidentally, I smeared blood into my bleached hair.  That freaked her out.

        She and I had crashed together into a hello at ANIKONDA, the big Anime (Japanese animated productions) convention in Orange County.  I had been drifting around, recording observations and taking notes on my cell phone for my critic’s blog, ANIMASH.  I walked right into her from behind.  We fell down together doggie-style.  Her simple silky dress was pushed up and her bare legs were so firm and soft when – accidentally! – I fumbled trying to stand up.

        I don’t know why I said this but when I groped her waist helping her up I mumbled, “The nail that sticks up gets hammered down.”  I meant it as a complement to her.  I tell you; even from behind she really shaped my eyes.

        I picked up the sign that she had been holding and it said “HUG ME PLEASE”.  I must have been grinning.  I handed the sign to her and for the first time I looked into her eyes.  One eye was scolding and skeptical, the other eye was objective and calculating.

        She said, “Violence and the misuse of sex.”

        I stammered, “What, what?”

        She answered disdainfully, “You’re American-Japanese, right?”

        Don’t ask me why I introduced myself in reply, “I am Nate Natsuki.”

        She continued, “Blonde and blue-eyed, of course.  Japanese kids want to be blonde and blue-eyed and White.  White kids want to be Black.  Wiggers.”

        It must have sounded like two separate conversations as I continued, “I’m sorry I, sorry I wasn’t watching where I was going.  I was writing notes for my blog.”  She was not impressed.

        She continued, “I, on the other hand, am Japanese-American.  My name is Tora.  That means tiger.  Tora is usually used in a boy’s name in Japan.  I don’t suppose you speak any Japanese, do you, What-Was-Your-Name-Again?”

        I stood in that sweet hurricane and answered, “Nate, Nate Natsuki, and I speak a little Japanese, I am not a complete gaijin (outsider).”

        Tora curled those lips at me and asked her armor piercing question, “Oh, really?”

        It was only then that I noticed that Tora was with two other girls also holding signs, “GOOD-BYE, COME HERE” and “WHY DOES EVERYBODY HATE YOU?”  I nodded hello, but they just shook their heads and looked to Tora.  Obviously Tora was their Alpha-Bitch.

        I kept on talking, though, you betcha.  Here was a girl I had “met” and been “introduced to” and I wasn’t going to let go, pathetic as it was, and I said to all three girls, “Let me make it up to you ladies.  I’m staying at the Double Tree, room 5320, if you would like to meet for drinks?  Here, let me write that down,” and I grabbed a business card out of my pocket and wrote on the back, looking up repeatedly, as I boldly went where no Nate Natsuki had gone before and handed the card to Tora, saying, “I’m buying.”

        Tora looked at the proffered invitation, looked to her two companions who giggled and shook their heads, then she turned back to me and said, “Have lots of chocolate.”

        I hoped they weren’t yanking me as the three of them walked away holding their signs aloft, wading into the coiling currents of the ANIKONDA crowds.

        Then it was late, back in my hotel room on the top floor.  I looked at the champagne bottles chilling in several hotel ice buckets.  The hotel maid had been sympathetic but shook her head in pity as I tipped her.  Was I really delusional?  I looked at myself in the mirror over the desk.  I turned my head and squinted at the basket of expensive chocolates reflecting behind me.  If the girls didn’t show up I was going to be one giant drunken zit.

        I parted the long draperies and I stepped out onto the balcony.  The lights of Orange County danced with the stars in the warm night but from my trance I was beginning to wake up to a familiar nerdy self.  I held up my right hand and looked at my palm in bittersweet jest, asking, “Hey, bay-bee, what ere yooo doing later tonight?”

        Then my eye caught her far below in the parking lot.  I marveled at how her mannerisms in miniature were already keyed into my brain.  I shouted down at her, “Hey, Tora!  Tora!  Tora!  I’ll come down!”

        The elevator took forever and, of course, seemed to stop at every floor.  At the ground floor I didn’t run, but I practically glided on strides out into the parking lot.

        She was alone.  She said matter-of-factly, “My friends had a date with each other,” and I thought she was gauging my reaction.  I was genuinely pleased because Tora was interested enough to come alone.  I’m sure she could have bought her own champagne and chocolates.

        She helped herself to some chocolates while I opened a bottle of champagne.  I was jabbering something about, “Alcohol makes me sleepy except for champagne.”

        I handed her a flute of champagne and I said lamely, “To Anime.”

        Tora sipped and asked me, “So what is your little blog going to say about ANIKONDA?

        I began to effervesce on a testosterone high, saying, “Tora, you inspired me.  I’m going to admit that most American kids like what ‘pop culture’ tells them to like: glorification of crime, violence, greed, and amorality.  Gangsters are role models for boys and Sluts are role models for girls.  But Anime has a different message for young people: You can learn who you are, you can realize your abilities, you can find happiness in your place in the world by serving others.”

        Tora set down her champagne.  She took my champagne glass and set it down also.  Then she took both my hands and placed them on her breasts.  She pushed down on my wrists like a ninja, whispering, “Do what I say,” and I toppled forward into her kiss.

             I felt a surge of heat in my face and I felt like a tea kettle starting to whistle.  That’s when I felt the first trickle as my nose started to bleed.  My nose always bleeds when I’m too hot, goddam it.  I inhaled long and deep through my nose, snorting as I sucked and slurped her tongue.  She moaned and I had to inhale long and deep again.  It was actually sexy with all the other wet smacking sounds.

             I pulled one shoe off by standing on the heel with the other foot and then vice versa.  Vice.  Versa.  I snorted in residual geekiness.

        Tora then suddenly stepped back and let her simple silky dress fall away and she popped her bra off.  There she stood in her panties and shoes and she squirmed in that primeval semaphore code that made me shudder.

        And then there fell the axe of cruel fate: I became the head of John the Baptist, gushing blood from my nose, my sinuses pushing blood into my eyes and under my contact lenses.  I cupped my face and tried to pop out my contact lenses.  At some point I smeared blood into my bleached hair.

        Tora.  Freaked.  Out.

        She pulled on her dress, snatched her bra and fled from the hotel room, saying, “Ew.  Ew.  Ew.”  No, no, no!  “Tora, Tora, Tora!” I cried pursuing her down the hallway.  She ran past the elevator and headed down the stairs.  I pounded after her, our foot falls drumming down the stairwell.  I was trying not to break my neck as I pinched my nose.

        She ran to her car.  I ran barefoot across the filthy, jagged, asphalt of the hotel parking lot.  She pulled her car door open and leapt into the driver’s seat.  Her window was still down when I caught up to her, crying, “Wait!”

        She turned her head and looked up at me in confusion.  I bent down and grabbed her shoulders and leaned inside and I kissed her hard.  She sniffed and moaned and she kissed me back.

        She went limp in my arms and as we kissed and kissed she licked the blood from my lips.



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