At that moment, a bear-like man, tall and genuinely strong rather than the physique of a gymnasium bodybuilder emerged from the darkened interior of the house. He had no obvious Japanese features that I could identify, and was wearing a lemon-yellow bathrobe and hastily-donned sunglasses.
“What do you want?” he asked bluntly.
I took the package from my purse and held it up. “You’re the delivery agent?”
“OK, come inside,” he muttered, turning on his heel and returning to the coolness of the interior.
I followed him, stepping into a large open area - at least judging from the echoing sounds and sense of air movements - and filled with hulking shapes I could not immediately recognize.
Once my eyes had adapted to the low light, I found I was standing in an area which must have occupied more than half of the volume of the mansion, from basement level to roof beams with monumental sculptures. The room was filled with abstract forms which all gave the most striking impression of sadness and decay, without recognizably depicting anything concrete I could identify.
In this day and age, different people reacted in different ways to our age of infinite leisure. Many people adopt a hobby – often, more an overwhelming passion, a zealous enthusiasm for some artistic endeavor or other. Jackie Yamamoto was clearly one of these types, wiling away the decades in the pursuit of some artistic ideal.
I handed over the package I had been given. Jackie gave a grunt of acknowledgement before taking my money card briefly in his hand to make the payment for delivery. After that, he ignored me completely. He seemed engrossed in the object I had delivered, peering at it with, I suspected, senses augmented by the pervasive automation.
“I’ll just go them, shall I?” I asked flippantly.
He waved a dismissive hand vaguely in my direction, not taking his attention from the delivery for a second. I stumbled my way outside and stood blinking in the bright sunlight for a moment.
The boy and girl in the pool turned to watch me closely. “What's eating him?” I asked.
“Don't you mind Jack,” the boy answered, “He's just a bit distracted. He’s really into his art at the moment, ya know, and it’s not going so well.”
I shrugged, and turned to leave, striding across the poolside flagstones. Before I had taken more than a dozen steps, the female half of the friendly couple in the pool called to me.
“You look hot,” she said with a giggle, “Why not join us for a refreshing dip?”
Hell, why not, I thought, it’s not as if I had anything particular to do that afternoon. Just another day, another delivery.