Christmas is a comin’ and the geese are getting fat…
…I’ve never had geese before. Or is it goose? Now I want duck. Ooh, Chinese food…
Um, where was I? Oh, right, shopping for various forms of chocolate cookie stick things.
Er, I mean Christmas Special. With my usual nuance and subtlety of Ghal Maraz, naturally.
Chapter Five: Why Then Here Does Any One Step Forth?
Subject: Kim Soon-hee
Dr. Sorami and I have gone over your proposal, and, based on our current time frame, I see nothing preventing your idea. Once things are better hammered out on your end, we’ll know how to move forward. I’ve decided to accelerate her weaning in anticipation of her possible transfer. Whether or not she wants to, we need to start now to be ready by April –your confidence in the school’s medical facilities aside, I’d prefer she not be on morphine while in school. How she handles the weaning might change things, so be prepared for that.
Keep us posted and we’ll keep talking to Administration, though they seem on board with the idea as well.
-Tainaka Umi, MD.
Subject: Physical Therapy Study
Hey Four Eyes! I’m attaching that info you asked for, along with my contact information. My schedule is pretty full, but if the kid wants to talk to me, I’ll make time for her.
I’m also attaching a list of universities with good PT programs, both in Japan and in the US and Europe. You said her English grades are pretty good, so I figured it might be something for her to consider.
As for high schools, I got no idea. Take it up with Lilly and Hanako; they sit on the Foundation Board, after all. I just write checks. I’d consider it a damn sight better than the psych ward, but it’s not my call.
PS: Don’t let Kwan set anything on fire this time at the Movie Night. I don’t care how much he brags about what he can start one with. Seriously, I will kick your ass if I hear about another “Yippie kay-yay” incident!
Subject: Next Trimester
I have received the information you sent me, and I see no reason why Miss Kim couldn’t enter. I also think we might be able to arrange some financial support, based on what you were able to send to me regarding her grades. There’s a chance someone on the Board or in Admissions might want to use her for PR, but we won’t let that be an issue.
I’m getting ahead of myself, however. I believe Yamaku’s facilities are up to the task of her admittance, both academically and medically, so I see no reason not to at least give her the option. I’d imagine it preferable to living in the psychiatric ward.
PS: George is looking forward to the Christmas Movie Night. Please don’t let his hair catch on fire this time.
Subject: Kim Soon-hee
You are a Magnificent Bastard. You have my respect.
“I might print and frame that one,” I remarked.
Standing behind me to read the laptop’s screen, Hisao said, “Wow. I think I should start looking for Four Horsemen riding down the street.”
I chuckled and turned in my chair to face Hisao, “Never mind saving her father’s ass three times, it’s this
that gets me her respect.”
“She’s just weird like that,” Hisao stated, “She still says her proudest moment training me was when I nearly broke her nose with my elbow.”
I nodded and started opening and printing the attachments Emi had sent me. Hisao moved around my office desk to grab them for me, while I stood up and prepared to head to Soon-hee’s room.
“Do you think it’s a good idea?” I asked him, “My plan?”
“You’re second guessing yourself?” Hisao asked, “Are you feelin’ alright? I told you not to drink that bathtub eggnog Akira made.”
“A kid’s future is involved, I have a right to be worried,” I grumbled.
Hisao smirked and remarked, “Paternal instinct can be a real bitch, can’t it?”
I sighed and nodded. Pinching the bridge of my nose and closing my eyes, I grumbled, “Sometimes at night, when I remember the shit we did, the times we almost died, I wonder, if I had had a kid when all that started, would I have still been so eager to go through all that? I mean, even when I started dating Miya, I was starting to doubt my ideas, but we were too stuck in by then….”
I felt a hand on my shoulder and jerked up. Hisao was standing next to me, “You wouldn’t be the man you are if you didn’t fight for what you thought was right. Would you have been so insane about it? Probably not. But, you were insane when we needed you to be, and now you’re a father, because that’s what we need. And I have been hanging around you too long, because now I’m
being the dramatic one.”
I chuckled and lowered my hand, “Thanks, man. Hey, if this trip goes well, I might need to ask a favor of Hanako.”
Hisao nodded, “She’s expecting you to, and the answer is yes.”
“Thanks, man,” I said, “I better catch the bus.”
“Good luck,” he remarked.
Hisao handed me the papers, which I placed in my briefcase. Donning my hat, I gave my partner a farewell wave before heading out into the chill early December weather.
If ever there was an excuse to spruce up a building with pretty lights and decorations, Christmas is the perfect one. The psych ward was practically bursting with decorations of the coming holiday, and, unlike the overbearing décor normally filling up the place, the Christmas decorations seemed to actually brighten up the otherwise falsely cheery building.
Soon-hee’s floor was decorated, too. Strands of artificial garland in gold and green were pinned up along the walls, along with what looked like paper decorations. A few of the decorations looked like they were from the wrong holiday, but that’s cultural osmosis for you. Several residents had also decorated their doors, in a continued effort to brighten the place up and help the fight for a future where none may exist.
Soon-hee hadn’t decorated her door, which looked the same as it had the first day she moved in. Koizumi was nowhere in sight, so I knocked lightly and announced my presence.
“Okay!” Soon-hee called from inside.
The door clicked a few seconds later and was pulled open. I stepped inside and took off my hat. I stepped to the side so she could close the door, and as she did so she greeted me with a cheerful, “Hey!”
“Hello,” I greeted, “How’re you feeling?”
Standing in the middle of her room in her normal outfit, she shrugged and reached for a box of Pocky sticks on her desk, “Sore. Went a bit overboard at training today.”
“Any particular reason?” I asked.
Soon-hee shrugged again and popped the box open, “Felt like it. Also, Doc mighta mentioned speeding up my weaning. Made me a bit nervous.”
I nodded and looked around her room. Now that I focused on it, I realized that her room had been mildly decorated for the season; a small artificial tree was tucked into the far left corner by the closet, with a red and green paper chain wrapped around it and a tinfoil star at its top.
“Decorated for the season, I see,” I remarked.
Soon-hee nodded and started shoving sticks into her mouth, “Yeah, Koizumi gave it to me as a present. I like it, but…”
Swallowing the sticks she had rammed down her throat, Soon-hee said, “This holiday makes no sense to me,” pulling a stick from the box, she pointed to a book on her desk and added, “Even after reading about it.”
“Think of it as an excuse to get free stuff,” I said, since George and Lilly weren’t around to pull a Linus on us, “Speaking of which, do you want anything for Christmas?”
Soon-hee glanced down at the floor, chewing through a stick using just her lips to guide it, “You’ve done more than enough for me already.”
“So let me do a bit more,” I stated, “I already shop for a bunch of kids anyway, won’t hurt to add you to the list.”
After grabbing another stick and chewing through it, she swallowed and asked, “Can I think about it. Please?”
I smiled and nodded, “Sure. While I’m here, you want some tea? Or an orange?”
Soon-hee nodded, “Is it okay if I make the tea?”
I nodded and reached into my jacket. Handing her some tea bags, she thanked me and headed for the bathroom, which gave me a chance to pull out the chair and set down my briefcase.
“So how’re your classes going?” I asked her as I kneeled down.
“Same,” she replied, “English and history are going well. Still hate math.”
“Good to hear,” I said.
“…I also picked up a Korean language study guide.”
“Thinkin’ of learning it?” I asked.
“Learning a language on your own can be tricky,” I said, “So if you ever want some help, just let me know.”
“…Thank you. I’d like that.”
While Soon-hee fiddled with the tea in the bathroom, I hefted my briefcase onto the chair and popped it open. After sorting it out a bit, I pulled out two oranges, some napkins, printed copies of the papers Emi had emailed me, and some pamphlets for private high schools I had spent several weeks looking through. Like Hisao, I’m a fan of finding and taking the third option, and a school dormitory seemed like a good one to me. It had its own problems, of course, but like Emi said, it was a damn sight better than the psych ward.
Once I had pulled everything out, I closed the case and placed it next to me where it would be next to Soon-hee’s preferred spot. I placed the fruit and napkins on the chair, and the papers and pamphlets on top of the briefcase.
After a few minutes Soon-hee returned to the main room, each hand holding a plastic cup of tea.
“You know,” she said as she handed me my tea and kneeled down, “We could go to the cafeteria.”
“I know you prefer it here,” I said. Sipping my tea, I grinned and added, “Besides, even lukewarm this stuff is better than what they serve there.”
Soon-hee nodded in agreement and sipped her tea, eyeing the orange I had placed at her spot the entire time. She waited until I had set my tea down and started on my own fruit before going at hers. While she ripped the skin off and started piecing up her fruit, I noticed her eyes wander to the papers on top of my briefcase.