Chapter 2: It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Hell

Ivan Gregory’s P.O.V.

It's the most wonderful time of the year; There'll be much mistletoe-ing, and hearts will be glowing when loved ones are near; It's the most wonderful time of the---

No. I can’t even allow the song to finish. I slammed the door to the carolers closed, ending the song before they could think that I was enjoying it. I whistled as I walked away, tightening my tie around my neck and flipping down my collar, feeling no remorse. Christmas songs have to be some of the most deplorable, unscientific nonsense a person can sing. How would a man that weighs nearly three hundred pounds get into a house through a chimney, eat cookies and put out presents without making any noise? What about the law? What about breaking and entering? Not to mention how impossible it would be for him to get back out again after everything was said and done. It’s unrealistic and stupid. This holiday, in my personal opinion, is probably one of the most distressing, well-thought of holidays I’ve ever experienced. Why? Because of marketing. Because of the gullible couples that have tricked themselves into believing that they are in love with their partner and therefore end up spending a lot of time and money on something the other person has a 55 % chance of actually liking. And the children? Don’t even get me started on the children. But despite what I know to be true, it’s good for business and I’ve got proof. Between November 1st and December 26th in 2011 consumers spent $35.3 billion online, over 15% more in the same time period of 2010. Which in laymen terms means people are only spending more every year. And as a man who gets a hefty percentage of that, I say that that is good news. 

To put it simply, Santa Claus doesn’t exist, but business? Business does. Me? I do. And I am business so unless I want to implode I must pretend to enjoy this season for another—I looked down at my watch—36 days, 10 hours, and 38 minutes; give or take. I sighed as I clipped on my pure gold cufflinks and straightened out the fabric of my black-label white button down. Speaking of time, I better get going, I thought as I headed toward the door. I wrapped my scarf around my neck and draped my coat across my arm as I put my hat on my head and left my flat, the door closing and locking behind me with three consecutive beeps.

Today is going to be a great day.

I lied, I thought, the light of my phone blared into my face as I double checked to make sure I was at the right place. Bob and Apples’ Bar and Grill? Really? Bob and Apples?  I shook my head and sighed, a white puff of vapor appearing in my face like a billow of smoke. I wonder if my assistant got it wrong. Why would, Kenji Takashi, a billionaire mall owner from Japan be interested in coming to a place like this? I re-checked the text-message, scrolling all the way down to read the post script.

Yes, I am positive that this is the location. - Lori

She can be so sarcastic sometimes. She should work on that. I rolled my eyes and dropped my phone into my coat pocket, looking over my shoulder as I stepped into the bar. As soon as I walked in I wanted to walk back out. It was game night and the place was packed. I looked around at all of the normal people that were suddenly surrounding me and couldn’t help but wonder ‘Why?’. Why when I know a perfectly good 5-star restaurant that wasn’t full of people who smelt of cigarettes and food that looks like somebody threw it up on the plate, would somebody want to come here? I looked to my right at the coat hanger next to me and shook my head in disgust at how many coats were actually hanging there.

I closed my eyes briefly, tightening my jaw as a woman passed by me smelling of apple martinis and disparity. Why? There were Christmas decorations and light-beer posters hanging on the wall. And one thing I hate just as much, if not more, than Christmas songs is Christmas decorations. I looked behind the bar where there were a few, rather large round tables and at one of them sat my client and his assistant.  I took off my hat revealing my short, $250 cut ashy brown hair and made my way to the back table. As I passed by the coat rack I nearly bumped into a small woman who out of my peripheral vision I’d seen standing there like a statue since I came in. I touched her shoulder softly excusing myself as I continued my beeline toward Mr. Kenji Takashi’s table. I vaguely heard her say something along the lines of ‘Oh no… it’s okay.’ But it was faint and barely audible over the sound of the jazz and soccer match going on in the front. For some reason unbeknownst by me, I looked over my shoulder back at her, I didn’t know what I was expecting but she was gone, clearly swallowed up by the crowd that had taken her place. I shrugged it off as I quickly approached the back of the bar slightly disappointed to find that it was no quieter here than in the front but I did my best to hide it well as I smiled politely and bowed at my waist in front of Takashi’s table.

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