I stepped into my hotel room after a hasty dinner, and found her waiting for me.
‘Good evening sir. Do you want conversation or companionship?’
Oh my God. This is that ultra-traditional type of Japanese hotel, and, there’s an “escort” in my room. The old-fashioned type – she looks almost a stereotype of a geisha, but without the make-up. She is very pretty, but cold and nervous, and I think she is asking me if I want to go to bed with her, or just talk to her.
Despite the obvious, age-old temptation to say hell yes to the going to bed part, that isn’t going to happen. My wife is back in Sydney with my two daughters, and besides, I am forty-five and have never been to a prostitute and I do not intend to start now. Plus, I have been on a long flight from Singapore and I am shattered.
‘Ah, no thanks,’ I say, before remembering it was a question with two options. ‘Just conversation. Actually, what are you doing here?’
‘Sir, you get an esuko-to with the deluxe room,’ she says, not smiling. ‘Your company is paying.’
Gotta love my company. Although I am pretty sure that Stan, our accounts manager, would freak if he knew he’d signed off on a call girl. Probably didn’t read what was included in the deal. Anyway, she is here now and I have to figure out what to do with her.
‘My name’s Pete,’ I say.
‘Saori,’ she says. ‘Do you want me to stay?’ Still so cold, distant, guarded. She avoids eye contact as she awaits the answer. I want her not to be scared of me.
‘What happens if you go?’ I say.
‘I go back downstairs, and they send me to another guest.’
‘And, do you get paid if you stay, and we just talk?’ I ask, thinking there might be a way for her to make money with her clothes on for a change.
She catches on pretty quick, like this might have happened before with another generous older customer, and she says: ‘Conversation is less. But If I stay the night, it is the same rate. They just pay me for the night. They do not ask what I did.’
So I make the offer: ‘Why don’t you make yourself comfortable and tell me about yourself. Just conversation. Maybe you can stay the night.’
She takes the offer gladly, and sits up on the bench by the window, relaxing. She tells me is she is twenty-one and saving money to go to university because her parents cannot afford to pay for her degree. She loves video games, and skiing, when she gets a chance.
After a while she really relaxes and starts telling me stuff about the hotel, and about her job. She works as a call girl because it is the best money in Tokyo for someone with no experience. She only has to do two nights per week, and all her expenses are covered. She says it is a good life, but there is sadness in her face, and I can’t help but ask about it.
‘Do you like being a call girl?’ I ask.
‘Sometimes it’s great, with the right customer,’ she says. ‘But sometimes the businessmen can be a bit awful.’
‘Do you have a boyfriend?’ I ask.
‘No. I had one, but he did not like what I do.’ There’s the sad look again. Now I know what it is about.
‘Well, Saori, I am a businessmen, but I am also happily married, and have been for nearly twenty years. You can sleep on the spare bed. I hope you don’t mind if I snore a little.’
‘No, sir,’ she says. And the two of us talk for another half hour before it is time for bed, and she relaxes with me completely, melting like a pool of ice in the sun.
Just before bedtime, as she is getting up to go to the bathroom, her kimono slips for a moment, and I get a glimpse of what I just turned down; she certainly did come prepared for companionship. I guess that means she will be sleeping naked tonight, in a bed seven feet from mine, and I will not get up, and I will not go to her.
Can’t blame a guy for thinking about it, though. No one ever said that wasn’t allowed.