Yukio Maku stood drinking at the mahogany bar, at an intimate pub in Santa Monica called “The Cock’n Bull British Pub.” Tall and thin, his Armani silk suit gave him an air of sophistication, while his stylish Tom Ford glasses made him seem slightly intellectual. He spoke English without the slightest hint of a Japanese accent even though he’d recently arrived from Tokyo. Working in Hollywood as a consultant for an investment firm which specialized in securing financing for low budget films, he was in his prime— closing a string of deals in the last three weeks.
Celebrating his latest deal closure earlier today, he stood at the bar, relishing the conversation with his newest acquaintance, the sax player in the band performing at the pub. The band was on break, and Yukio bought a round of drinks for the guys in the band.
“Salute,” said Yukio, raising his glass to the tall, thin sax player standing beside him at the bar. The sax player had shoulder length curly blond hair and wore a leopard print jacket with black jeans.
“Cheers.” They each drank their shot of Tequila then sucked on their limes.
Yukio reached over and slapped the sax player on the back. “What’s your name, pal?”
Yukio extended his right hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Lance. Do you guys play here often?”
Lance shook hands with Yukio and said, “We usually play here every other Saturday night. I haven’t seen you here before.”
Yukio smiled. “I’m new in town. Just in from Tokyo.”
Just then, Maxime stood up from where she was sitting with the other wives and girlfriends of the guys in the band, and she hurried up to the bar. She nuzzled up beside Lance and said, “Hey sailor, want to get lucky?”
Lance laughed, leaned down and kissed her on the cheek. She pinched him on the butt and scurried off to the ladies’ room as Yukio watched her walk away.
“Wow. She’s hot,” said Yukio. “Do you know her?”
Lance nodded. “Been married to her for almost ten years now.”
Yukio raised his beer and said, “To matrimonial bliss. May it always endure.”
Lance raised his Bud Lite and said, “I’ll drink to that,” then noticed that the other band members were ambling back up onstage, preparing for the next set. “Break’s over,” he said. “Thanks for the drink.”
“My pleasure.” Yukio smiled and watched Lance make his way back to the stage and pick up his tenor sax. He noted with interest the way young women flocked to the dance floor up front near the stage just as soon as the band kicked into a soulful song. The dance floor was packed, and Yukio scanned the bar, looking for a woman he could ask to dance with him.
When his eyes landed on Maxime, he smiled. She wore a bright red miniskirt with a red sweater and a red beret. Her black high heeled boots made her look taller than she actually was. He watched as she moved to the dance floor with three other women from her table until he was interrupted by a young blonde woman, asking him to dance. He glanced at her, without really noticing much about her then glanced back out at the dance floor where Maxime was moving to the music. He took the blonde’s hand and led her out to the floor then began dancing with her right next to Maxime. He was a smooth and supple dancer, and Maxime noticed him and smiled.
He smiled back.
When the song was over, Maxime and her friends returned to their table, and Yukio returned to the bar. He sent over a round of drinks to Maxime’s table, and when the waitress pointed him out at the bar, Maxime raised her glass to Yukio in appreciation. He raised his glass to her, and they drank, smiling at each other across the room.
Maxime had already drunk two Boddingtons stouts so she was a little tipsy or else she wouldn’t have imbibed the glass of champagne that Yukio sent to her table. But fueled with the confidence of too much alcohol, she finished her champagne and approached Yukio at the bar to thank him for the drink. When she tapped him on the shoulder, he turned around, quite surprised to see her.
He asked her to dance.
The band began a slow love ballad just as Yukio and Maxime approached the dance floor. He pulled her into his chest, and she stumbled a little in her heels. He held her fast, and she could feel the strength in his gentle arms. She closed her eyes. They danced together for another half hour, until the band took its second break. Then Maxime took Yukio’s hand and led him back to her table and introduced him to her friends.
Maxime said she needed to sit down so they sat down, and he bought another round for the entire table. After finishing another drink, Maxime was laughing way too loudly at Yukio’s story about visiting the monkey cages at the San Diego Zoo.
Lance approached their table and sat down. After Yukio finished his story, Lance leaned over to Maxime and whispered in her ear, asking her not to drink any more. Yukio flagged down the waitress and ordered a round of shots for the band. When their break ended and they took the stage again, the waitress served the band another drink. She pointed to Yukio at the table with Maxime and her friends, explaining that he had bought them that round. Lance glared at Maxime as she sat giggling with her friends at everything Yukio said.
By the end of the second set, Yukio had sent several rounds up to the band, so Lance was fairly drunk
as well. When Lance approached Maxime at her table he said, “We need to talk.”
She stared at him blankly and said, “I can’t drive. Here are my keys.”
She reached into her pocket and took out her car keys.
She gave them to Lance, and he glared at her. “I’ve got to break down and hang with the guys for a while. It’ll be a of couple hours. I’ll call you a cab.”
Just then, the lead singer in the band, Chris, approached and spoke to Lance in hushed tones. “Hey man, it’s okay if you need to drive her home. Don’t worry about breaking down. We’ll do it and I’ll come by your place tomorrow to pay you.”
Relieved, Lance stood and held out his hand for Maxime. He did not want Yukio to offer to drive her home. She wobbled a bit, then took his hand and followed him outside to her car, a black Honda CRXsi.
She felt better in the cool night air, and as Lance opened the door for her, she touched his arm and said, “Sorry.”
“For drinking too much. I’m such a light weight.”
He helped her into the car and fastened her seat belt. “Don’t worry about it. I’ve done it myself, as you well know.”
She smiled at him as he shut the door. She felt sick.
Lance slipped in behind the wheel and started the engine. Maxime leaned her head over against the window.
“Sit up,” he said. “I don’t want to be pulled over.”
Maxime tried to sit up straight and not look conspicuous, but her head was pounding. Her body rebelled and she felt nauseated. She slouched in her seat and leaned her head over against the window again.
“Damn it, Maxime. Sit up!” snapped Lance.
She moaned, turned her head away from him and whispered a meek, “Fuck off.”
Lance gripped the wheel, letting his anger get the best of him, but he said nothing until they reached the parking garage back at their dock at Palawan Way, in Marina del Rey.
“We’re here,” he said. “Wake the hell up!”
Maxime opened her eyes. She held her head for a moment, then said, “I think I’m going to be sick.”
“Get out of the car then,” he bristled.
She fumbled at the door trying to open it.
“Can’t you help me? Or are you going to be an asshole all night?”
Lance knew it was the alcohol talking, she’d never called him that name before. But he was a little drunk himself, so rational behavior ceased to be an option for him at that moment. When she called him “asshole” he lost it. He said nothing else— he simply threw the car keys at her as hard as he could and slammed the door, leaving her alone in the parking garage.
The keys hit her in the mouth and cut her lip.
Lance left the garage fuming and stormed off to their boat. Maxime checked her face in the mirror, wiped away the blood then stumbled off to the ladies’ room in the marina facilities, where she threw up. As she leaned over the toilet, holding her long hair out of her face with one hand, the other hand gripping her knee, she started to cry. The past ten years she’d spent with Lance flashed before her eyes. From their incredibly spontaneous meeting, where they’d both been struck by what could only be described as love at first site, to the ensuing decade after buying their first sailboat, and the origins of their dreams to one day sail around the world together. To their eventual cross-country move from Dallas to Los Angeles, with nothing but their faith in the future to guide them. They gave each other the courage to dream big—to go for their dreams without a “plan B” to fall back on. All these things flashed before her eyes as she wretched and heaved up the evening’s libations.
Then it hit her all at once, everything that she’d lost tonight.
She lost her belief in their pre-destined love—her unwavering assurance that they were meant to fall in love and spend their lives together. The reason she believed this so strongly when they first met was because it had been utterly life-altering for them both. They each believed their attraction was so intense and strong, that it could only mean they had loved each other before— in a past life— and that they’d simply recognized their “soul mate” in each other’s eyes.
It left her empty inside. The vomiting. The loss of her surety that Lance was her true soul mate. Feeling numb, she washed her hands and face, rinsed her mouth, then with the resolve of a first-time battered woman, she vowed she would never allow any man to abuse her like this again, PERIOD. She then painted on fresh lipstick and felt better. Then it occurred to her that she didn’t want to sleep in the same boat with Lance, so she returned to the parking garage, got in her car, and started to drive herself to a nearby hotel on Lincoln Boulevard. She was so angry at Lance, that when she saw an LAPD cruiser stopped in the parking lot of the 7-11 convenience store on the corner, she did a U-turn and pulled up behind the police car. She got out and approached the officers.
She leaned down to their open car window and said, “My husband hit me, and I want to press charges.” Saying this, she felt empowered— like she was finally taking control of her life. Life is too short to settle for abuse like this.
The cops got out of the car and stood on either side of her.
“Have you been drinking?” asked one of the officers.
Maxime said, “I had a glass of champagne with dinner earlier, but that’s all.”
“Can you touch your nose?” asked the shorter officer.
Maxime did as she was asked.
“Can you stand on your left leg, point your right toe and lift it off the ground about 10 inches?”
Maxime inhaled and squeezed her buttocks muscles together and balanced on one leg. If not for all those years of ballet training back in junior high and high school, she would not have been able to maintain her balance. When she passed the sobriety test, they told her to get in their car. She did as she was told.
The shorter policer officer stood outside the car, holding the back door open. “You’ll have to take us to your husband, so we can arrest him.”
“Arrest him?” Maxime blinked. Her bottom lip began to quiver. Tears rimmed her eyes.
“Yes. It’s the law,” said the officer.
She held her breath, hesitating— her resolve seeping out of her skin like sweat. Her heart pounded inside her chest. Her ears began ringing. What the hell was she thinking?
Both police officers got back in the front seat and suddenly Maxime opened the back door. “I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to press charges.”
The officer turned around in the front seat and gazed at her. “Ma’am California is a must arrest state in cases of domestic violence. We have no choice.”
Maxime climbed out of the car. The shorter policeman got out of the car and stood facing her.
“Can I see your driver’s license?” he asked.
“It’s not his fault.”
“What’s your address?”
“He just had too much to drink. That’s never happened before.”
“Ma’am. Your address?”
Maxime turned and walked off towards her car.
“We need to take your picture,” said the officer. “It’s the law.” He took out a camera from the glove box and asked Maxime to stand in front of his car so the headlights would shine on her face, illuminating her cuts. She did as she was asked, and then got back in her car. The policeman leaned down and spoke to her through the open window.
“What’s your phone number?”
“I’ve changed my mind. It was mostly my fault.”
“I really should arrest him, but if you can promise me that you feel safe, I’ll let this go.”
She nodded. “I feel safe.”
“If he threatens you again, will you call me?” He gave her his business card.
“Yes officer. I will. Thank you for dropping this.”
She started her car, backed out of the parking lot, and drove straight to the Windjammer Motel a few blocks away on Lincoln Boulevard. She checked into a single room and lay down on the bed sobbing.
When she woke up the next morning she drove to the mall, bought a pair of jeans and a shirt then went back to the hotel and showered. It was Sunday and she had the day off, so she lay in bed all afternoon watching the History Channel and putting ice on her cheek where it was bruised. She thought about calling Lance, just to let him know where she was, but changed her mind. She was angry that he’d hurt her, and she didn’t want to go back to him yet. Even with her belief in their past-life connection, and that they were destined to be together, and even with their decade long history of love and harmony, she could not reconcile staying with a man capable of this type of anger. Life is way to short to spend it like this.
(End of Excerpt).