Friday, July 24th 2009
New York City
Mr. Robert Wells slowly walked down the bustling sidewalk of Brooklyn. He kept to himself, trying not to bother anybody as he trekked through the city. He was seventy-three years old, and could only walk with the assistance of a cane. Even still, his mobility was very limited. He eventually reached his destination, entering Starbucks with a smile on his face. After waiting in line, he ordered his beverage. Everything was right in the world. He got his drink, turned, and began walking to the door. Unfortunately, his pleasant day was about to take a turn. Busy blowing on his drink, he didn’t look at where he was going. Robert collided with a very large man, spilling his iced coffee all over the stranger.
“Oh my goodness, I’m sorry!” Robert apologized, pulling back and looking at the man’s shirt.
The large man shouted in retaliation. “Jesus Christ, old man! You ruined my shirt! And you could’ve burned the hell out of me too! What the fuck’s your problem?”
Robert trembled a bit at the intensity of the man yelling at him. “I’m sorry, it was an honest mistake.”
“Do you even realize who I am?” The (apparently important) man demanded. “My name’s Marcus Stewart. I work for Governor Paterson. This shirt cost over a hundred bucks, and you’re going to pay for it, shithead.”
Robert Wells was not a wealthy man. He got by from his monthly social security checks, as millions of retired Americans do. Because of that, he didn’t have one-hundred dollars on hand. He stammered a bit nervously.
“I’m- I’m sorry, Sir. But I honestly don’t have that kind of money.” He pleaded.
Marcus growled, grabbing Robert by the collar of his shirt and pulling him closer. This caused the old man to drop his cane, stammering in a panic.
“You shouldn’t go outside if you’re not ready for the consequences, geezer. You spilled my fucking drink, and now you’re gonna pay one way or another.” He balled a fist, glaring at Robert.
“ Hey. ” A small, unassuming voice growled from behind the two men. It was an odd sound, to be sure. The tone had more venom than a python, and growled like a lion. But the actual voice was like a little flute. “Put the nice man down. Now.”
Marcus let go of Robert, turning to face his unknown critic. For a moment, he couldn’t even see her. Then, he looked down at the tiny Japanese girl before him. She stood more than a foot smaller than him with shoulder-length hair and balled fists. She wore a white shirt with red designs, and a red collar. A rose was pinned to her shirt over her heart, and it all tucked into a maroon skirt. She wore white thigh-high socks, and black flats. Needless to say, she was adorable. Marcus couldn’t help but laugh.
“I’m sorry, were you talking to me, squirt?” He gestured to himself.
Something about the girl’s face was unsettling. The way her nose wrinkled in a snarl was unlike any expression Robert had seen on a child. She was truly, terribly angry. She spoke in the same growl as before.
“Is anyone else threatening grandpas?” She questioned, glaring up at him.
Marcus just laughed even harder, throwing his head back. “Holy shit, kid! You’re hilarious!” He snickered, waving a dismissive hand. “Now get lost, the grownups are talking.”
The child didn’t flinch. “How are you going to hit him without a fist?” She questioned.
Marcus raised a brow, skeptically looking down at his hand. A shrill, terrified scream filled the coffee shop when he saw his hand. Or rather, when he didn’t see his hand. The sleeve just seemed to end, his wrist leading into thin air.
“What the hell!?! Where’s my hand? What did you do?” He shouted, catching everyone’s attention. People were staring, and a couple of them even got out their phones to record.
The little girl just tilted her head. “What did I do? I didn’t do anything. Your hand’s fine.” She shrugged.
It was true. Everyone else could see his hand. Still, he waved it around in a blind panic. Soon, he found the sense to feel his hand with his other, confirming that it was still there. “How did you do this, you little punk? I’m gonna call the cops!” He shouted, frothing at the mouth in pure rage.
“Where’s your phone, Mister?” She asked innocently, tilting her head once more.
Marcus’s heart dropped, and he reached into his pocket. Once again, he could not see his phone. He could feel it in his visible hand, but he couldn’t see it. He couldn’t see the screen, and he couldn’t make a call. He stumbled back, panting and sweating. Everyone watched in fascination as a grown man seemed to have a mental breakdown in the middle of a Starbucks. He pointed at the girl, fear obvious in his eyes.
“S-Stop! Stop it! Stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it! ” He screamed.
“Do you understand what it’s like to be afraid of someone bigger than you now?” The tiny girl asked, taking a step toward him.
He shrieked, backing away once more. “ Stay away from me! I’ll go! I’ll go! Just leave me alone!” He pleaded.
Silence filled the room. Everyone was oddly invested in the scene before them. Even the adults looked to the child with a strange level of respect. The composure she maintained throughout the entire thing, the fear Marcus held for her, and the apathetic look on her face just painted the picture of someone you wouldn’t want to mess with. Everyone waited with baited breath for her response.
She shrugged, gesturing toward the door. “Then beat it.”
She didn’t need to tell Marcus twice. He sprinted out, running as fast as he could down the sidewalk and out of sight. The spell was then broken and everyone returned to their conversations, gossiping about the events that just transpired with hushed voices. After about thirty seconds, a concerned woman approached the child.
“Honey, are you okay? That man was screaming at you.” The stranger said, resting a hand on her shoulder.
“I’m okay Ma’am. But thanks.” She smiled, looking over to Robert. “I’m sorry about your coffee. That really sucks. Mind if I buy you a new one?”
Later, the little girl walked with the old man down the sidewalk. She had a carrying container with three drinks, and Robert held a new coffee.
“Thank you, young lady.” Robert smiled, walking beside his new friend.
She looked up at him with curiosity. “For what?”
“Don’t be coy. I’m old enough to know that there are things in this world I don’t understand. What I know for certain is that you stood up for me in there, and you scared the creeps out of that hot head.” He took a sip of his drink.
She smiled, looking down at the sidewalk. “Nobody should treat the elderly like that. It just gets me so mad, I can’t handle it. At least I didn’t hit anyone this time. My Mom would kill me.”
Robert let out a hearty laugh. “It’s just rare to see a bit of respect from your generation, kid. Why’d you get three drinks?”
She lifted the carrier up a bit, steadying her grip. “Well, the tea’s for my Mom. The black coffee is for Dad, and the hot chocolate for me.” She pointed to each cup in turn while explaining.
“And you walked here just to get that for them?”
“I always get everyone drinks after lunch. It’s kinda like, my thing.” She shrugged.
He shook his head. “Your parents are lucky to have such a good daughter. What’s your name, anyway?”
She smiled, extending a hand which the old man gladly took. “Joestar. Shizuka Joestar. You can call me Jojo.”
Saturday, July 25th 2009
Joestar Residence, New York City USA
It was another uneventful night in the Joestar residence. Ink Spot’s “If I Didn’t Care” played quietly in the corner on Suzie Q's old record player. She regularly queued up a classic record after dinner. It was essential to the post-meal atmosphere. Rain droplets trickled down the floor to ceiling windows overlooking a busy New York, and the constant city sounds managed to pierce both the thick glass as well as the music. The room had an orange tint to it due to the beaming overhead lights. They reflected off the African rosewood floors brilliantly, and added a small glare to the windows.
Shizuka was sprawled across one of the living room sofas. Her fingers apathetically tapped away at the screen of her blackberry as she whistled along with Bill Kenny. Her eyes drifted over to the elevator as the bell dinged. When it opened it revealed Joseph Joestar, leaning with one hand against the elevator’s wall and the other shaking against his cane.
Shizuka rolled off the couch, tossing her phone onto the cushion as she approached the elevator. “Hey, Dad.” She smiled, putting herself underneath his extended arm and supporting him.
He leaned against her, being careful not to apply too much weight to the little girl. He was an enormous man, after all, standing at 6’5. Even while slouching with age, he still towered over his adoptive daughter. She was scrawny, and tiny. Even though she was ten, she was still only 4’3 weighing in at 68 lbs. Despite this, she was always adamant about helping her old man around the apartment. He was a birthday shy of ninety years old, after all. It was ridiculous that he still went for nightly walks. The kid had to admit, though, he had killer calves.
Joseph let out a heave, walking directly for the couch. “Thank you, Shizuka…”
Shizuka helped her father sit down once they made it over half a minute later, swiping her phone from underneath his butt in the knick of time. When he was settled- and about done groaning about his back- Shizuka sat down on the floor in front of him. Her legs were extended, curving to face one another at the ends. She placed the palms of her hands on the floor between them, smiling up at her old man.
“So, how was your walk?” She asked, humoring him. She swore, half the reason he went on those walks was so he could tell her about his travels.
Joseph let out a hearty chuckle, patting his lap. He rubbed his gloved hands together. “So eager, aren’t you? Well… I managed to make it to the candy store this time. Who wants a snickers?” He carefully pulled the candy bar from his sleeve, having hidden it from her until the perfect moment.
She couldn’t help but smile. It was always the same. For as long as she could remember, he’d bring her candy after dinner. It was earth-shattering when she was younger. Honestly, she’d look forward to it all day. But lately she just accepted it to humor him. She wouldn't disappoint her father after all the effort he put into getting the treat. Besides, adults deserve treats too. He viewed the act of sharing candy as his own personal treat. She didn’t want to take that from him. She accepted the candy, tossing it down the hatch and looking up at him as she chewed. After a moment, she flashed a chocolate-filled smile. He laughed fondly, running a hand through her shoulder-length hair. His cybernetic fingers clicked quietly as their joints moved. He’d have to oil them before bed.
“OK.” He clapped. “So you wanna know how my walk went? Let me tell you, it was a time. I had to fight off some thugs. They were intimidated by my charm, afraid I’d steal their women if I ever met them.” He grinned ear to ear.
Shizuka giggled, wrinkling her nose. “ Riiiiight.” She patted the floor absentmindedly. “Is that why I had to help you to the couch? You used up all your strength on those punks?”
Joseph feigned ignorance. “Excuse me? I’m pretty sure I helped you to the couch. You’re so small. A gust of wind could whisk you away like a little leaf. You can thank me later.”
She just groaned, unable to win against her father in the ancient art of bullshit. “Okay, you got me. Thank you for your consideration in helping your poor tiny daughter. So what else happened on your walk?”
The old man chuckled as he remembered another detail. “I stopped in the lobby and let the manager know that a very special little girl’s birthday is coming up tomorrow.”
Shizuku looked up in thought. “But Mom’s birthday isn’t for another month?” After another moment of thinking she raised her hands in confusion.
“Very funny. It’s your gotcha day. I know you don’t like me calling it your birthday. But we don’t really know your birthday, and your mother loves cake. We had to settle on something.”
At the mentioning of her adoption, Shizuka felt a pit grow in her stomach. She instinctively sucked in her bottom lip, her hands balling into fists on the wood floor. She looked for the right words to vocalize how she’d been feeling for ages. “Y’know, about that.” She mumbled, looking down at the floor.
The old man raised a brow. He might have been on the verge of senility, but he still had his astute observational skills. “Shizuka… I know this gotcha day is a big one. It’s been ten years. You’ve grown into a young woman. Not the baby we had to tie a bell to all those years ago. Is there something you’ve been meaning to ask?”
She felt sweat growing on her back as she searched for words. “Yes, actually. Um, I-” She sighed. “I’m ten. I think- I think I deserve to know the real story. The story of how you got me.” She looked up at him with serious eyes.
Joseph paused. He’d feared this question for quite a while. He knew that someday his daughter would want answers. Answers he didn’t have. “Shizuka, darling, there is no real story. Your brother and I really found you in the streets of Morioh. I was visiting and we went for a walk. I found you with my Hermit Purple.”
This caused the young girl to groan in irritation. “C’mon, Dad! You just found a baby crawling around? Invisible? There has to be more! Something you’re not telling me because I’m little. But I’m big enough to take it! I’m big enough to know! Did-” She hitched her breath for a moment, losing confidence in her next question. “Did something bad happen to my parents? My old parents? Something violent?”
Joseph deliberated on the question for quite some time. In fact, he thought on it for so long that he had to force himself back to reality. Finally, he decided on something and spoke. “We like to think your biological parents are okay. The chances are they just lost you… well, It would be quite easy. Especially if they didn’t know about your Stand.”
“But I’ve thought of that! ” Shizuka protested, getting frustrated. “What are the chances that I’d just go invisible while they had me outside? I turned invisible when I was scared! They should have been holding me! Or I should have turned invisible in the house! Or my crib! They could have found me by my cries! And if that’s the case, they’d know that I could do that! If they knew, they’d be careful, just like you and Mom were! I know I’m special but the bell worked. And what are the chances I’d go invisible for the very first time while I was on the ground alone and in the outdoors?” She blurted out all at once, taking a moment afterwards to regain her breath.
Joseph thought for a moment. “Those are good points.” He mumbled. “I guess we just wanted to believe they were looking. The alternatives are… Upsetting.”
“Well I’m upset!” The young girl stood up, at eye-level with her sitting father. “What if they were looking for me? What if they’re still looking? What if they died? I deserve to know.” she crossed her arms.
Joseph frowned, furrowing his brow. “We have no way to know. I just don’t think we could find out. Sure, we could run maternity tests, but we wouldn’t have access to their samples. Not unless their DNA was in some sort of criminal database. Otherwise, we’d have to swab every citizen of Morioh. It’s just not realistic.” He sighed.
“Dad.” She said dryly. “Can’t you use Hermit Purple?”
“We tried that before, but there was so much dangerous activity in Morioh at the time, it clouded my perception. I couldn’t get any results.”
“But what about now? What if you checked now?” She sat up a little, feeling hopeful.
“Oh, okay. We can try. Hand me your cell phone.” He reached out and she placed it in the palm of his hand without hesitation.
Shizuka then ran around to the other end of the couch, looking over her father’s shoulder in anticipation.
“ Hermit Purple!” Joseph shouted, spiked vines shooting from his hand and into the device.
The screen turned black for a moment. They both waited in anticipation to see what the Stand would do. Suddenly the screen lit up, and the GPS app opened on its own. Shizuka watched in awe as an address typed itself out.
“Morioh Grand Hotel?” Shizuka read aloud under her breath.
Joseph rubbed his chin for a moment, contemplative. “Hmmm, Jotaro and I stayed there when we were visiting. Why would my Hermit Purple bring this up?”
“We have to go there! It’s obviously a sign. Something about my parents.. C’mon!” She patted the couch eagerly.
“Hold on, Shizuka, hold on. We can’t just go to Morioh, you have school.” the old man argued half heartedly, looking away.
“School? It’s the middle of July.” She raised a brow. “And you know that. So what’s the deal?”
Joseph sighed. “Shizuka, dear, there are facts of life that you don’t understand. You’re a Stand User. Not to mention your Achtung Baby isn’t an offensive stand. I’m too old to protect you- If we ran into an enemy, we wouldn’t stand a chance.”
Shizuka wrinkled her nose at the claim. “Enemies? Dad, this isn’t a Marvel Comic. There aren’t bad guys waiting to battle me at the airport.”
“There could be. Stand Users attract other Stand Users. We always seem to run into one another as if driven by fate. There don’t seem to be any in New York. That’s why we’re safe. I don’t think an arrow ever made it to the United States. But Morioh is another story. We have no idea how many people were shot back in the summer of 1999. There could be over a dozen Stand users we don’t even know about. If you go, you’ll be in danger.”
“So I should just give up on my parents?” She demanded
Joseph was quiet for a second. And then another. And another. He sat up, slowly standing with a groan. “If you want to spend time with your parents, we’ll be upstairs.” He grabbed his cane, walking to the staircase.
Shizuka dropped her head, feeling like a real jerk. She could have worded that better. It wasn’t that she viewed these mystery-parents as better than her own. She just felt a desire to know where she came from. Who wouldn’t? And maybe she could have two more parents? They probably missed her so much. Soon, Joseph was out of sight. She noticed his wallet resting on the arm of the couch. Her eyes were locked to it. She knew what the right thing to do was, but she just couldn’t let it go. She couldn’t get Morioh out of her mind. It would have been her home. What would life have been like? Who would she have known? She wouldn’t give up her life in America for anything but the questions were eating at her. She grabbed Joseph’s wallet, her cellphone, and ran up to her room. After five minutes, she entered the elevator with a small bag, pushing the button for the first floor.
Sunday, July 26th 2009
Gainesville Florida, USA.
It was a silent morning. Sunbeams pierced the slit between the curtains and lit up a small slice of the bedroom in the warm morning glow. Dust particles floated around the beam of light, rising up to the ceiling slowly. A large man was asleep in bed alone. It wasn’t the house he was accustomed to but instead a luxury hotel. He’d been staying there for three weeks, trying to find a new home. Needless to say, it was a difficult time for him. The silence was shattered by a telephone ringing. It rang three times before a low groan filled the room. The man rolled toward the sound and picked up the phone, speaking in a groggy voice.
“Kujo.” He mumbled. His eyes widened, and he sat up. “What? Old man, calm down.” He kicked the blankets off of the bed and stood up. “Call the airport and pay for my ticket. I’ll be right there.”
He grabbed his hat off of the bedside table, resting it on his head. His thumb and index finger wrapped around the rim, turning it to face forward. He got dressed, grabbed the suitcase he never unpacked, and walked out. As he got into his car he sighed to himself, a tired frown on his face. “Yare Yare Daze.”