"I vehemently refuse to attend this concert, Calvin," Willard told him, over the phone. "The sound of your didgeridoo hurts my eardrums. I become a victim of incontinence when I am around you. Your musical ability reminds me of a flatulence case in an airport lavatory."

Willard hoped that his insult would hurt Calvin's feelings. He adjusted his tie and smiled at himself in the mirror, as he held the receiver in one ear. The afternoon had dragged on, and he had errands to run.

"I am a talented didgeridoo artist. You will adjust to my musical experimentation. You have failed to develop an appreciation of the instrument," Calvin insisted.

"No, I refuse to go," Willard told him. "I cringe at the thought of another concert. You must allow me to escape this debacle. This bonding is not necessary."

"I demand that you go. You promised me. I will give you a frightening case of severe indigestion if you skip my concert. Think of how my victims suffer," Calvin told him caustically. "I will manipulate you. You will attend all of my concerts. Think of the consequences, Willard."

"I have scheduled a date with Abunai for tonight. I doubt she will enjoy the music and chaotic, crazy atmosphere," Willard pleaded.

Willard knew that Calvin would feel offended by his dismissal of his musical talents, so he told him about his date with Abunai. His niece, Ethel Vandertramp, had set up her uncle, Willard, with her foreign exchange student in order to help him get over his failed affair with the latest blonde gold-digger he found at a bar.

"My fans love my music. I am an accomplished didgeridoo player," Calvin insisted. "I enjoy performing live for my audience."

"I have a date with Abunai, since she wants me to get out of the house. I doubt she will enjoy loud noises in a smoky place," Willard told Calvin. "Since we are working on our relationship, Abunai wants us to go out on dinner dates."

"Look, I jog with you, in secret, every morning and take you to rugby games. You owe me a favor. I need your support, Willard. I insist that you come to this concert. This is the first time I have taken the stage in a year," Calvin told him.

"Will your accordion be audible? I hope not. I heard from Ethel that the sound system failed to work last time," Willard snapped at him. "You drown out the rock and reggae sounds with your wailing. The audience only hears you."

Willard scratched his head. A lock of blonde hair fell over his eyes. He thought of a night wasted on Calvin's music and shrugged off the nightmare, as a headache came over him. He sighed and gave into fate.

"I installed a new system myself. The sound quality has exceeded my expectations. I had my didgeridoo readjusted. You will love my performance," Calvin told him.

"Must I endure the agony of your live performance? I would prefer to choke myself with a didgeridoo than listen to you," Willard asked him. "I hope you know about that incident at the last concert with a didgeridoo player. Someone in the audience tried to choke him."

"I obtained pictures from one of your parties through a friend of mine," Calvin told him. "I love cell phones and digital cameras. My friend sold the pictures to a local tabloid. I could make a lot of money if someone tried to choke me. The drummer had a good excuse. She was drunk at the time."

"She was drunk on several bottles of red wine. She came onto him suddenly. She is responsible," Willard told him. "She attacked him."

"I doubt Abunai would believe that story, since she rarely believes what people tell her," Calvin told him. "I can imagine the arguing. If she is in a bad mood, she will start an argument. Rochelle mentioned that she seemed depressed on the phone this morning."

"I will go to the concert. I guess I can take Abunai," Willard insisted. "I know she will feel offence at the sound of your music, but we will go."

After Willard called Abunai to confirm their plans, he hung up the phone and headed for the kitchen. He made himself a cup of espresso and slumped in his favorite chair, frustrated at the situation. He had hoped to take Abunai to an empty restaurant with candles and seafood.

Back in Tokyo, there was a man by the name of Seisho Hirohito. He worked long hours and drank too much. He had dropped Abunai the summer before. He realized that their marriage blocked his promising career as a bank manager. After careful thought, he ended their protracted engagement. Crushed like a grape under a man's foot, she had registered as a foreign exchange student. She wanted to escape the city and his presence.

Thrilled as she was to spend nine months in Canada, she missed Tokyo at time. She returned for the summer, so she jumped at the chance to visit her uncle in the suburban area.

Ethel helped to arrange travel plans and handled all the paperwork. She had wanted to learn the Japanese language and enjoyed time with foreigners, so Abunai's presence in the household was welcome.

Ethel had spent two years in a number of different countries overseas, including New Zealand, Japan, South Korea and Singapore. Photography, hiking and travel journalism had appealed to her. She had obtained a degree in journalism, against her father's wishes, as he insisted that she obtain a business administration degree. Abunai described to Ethel and Rochelle her plans. Willard decided to take her to one of Calvin's shows, since he only had ten dollars on him and wanted to impress her with the free beer, loud music and entertainers.

As they sat at the kitchen table, they sipped on their green tea. Abunai was unfamiliar with a Western kitchen, so she only made sushi and sukiyaki occasionally with Japanese cooking equipment and a skillet. She had returned from her volunteer shift early, since the the head coordinator had closed for a meeting and drinking session. Rochelle lived on and off with Hugo Whitman, and she enjoyed coming over in the evening. She had begun a secret relationship with Stellan on the side, and thought they might become engaged, though she was still entangled in her mess of a relationship with her second boyfriend. Calvin followed her around like a lost puppy.

Ethel had not yet arrived, and they wondered when she would start dinner. They were hungry and hated cooking for themselves. Abunai described her joy at the prospects of reuniting with Willard. She had initially gone after him and he had refused her, though they remained friends. Rochelle hoped to prevent their recommencement of their relationship.

Though Abunai was aware of their debacle, Ethel was not. She would have disapproved, since Rochelle had already rejected Calvin, but Calvinshowed an avid interest in her. Abunai hated competition but felt hard-pressed to reject and punish her friend. She had heard about some attack Calvin had barely survived, and felt sympathy towards him, after Hugo had attacked him for coming onto Rochelle.

Rochelle insisted that she and Hugo had a wonderful relationship, though she had started on her sex addiction workshops and any form of psychiatry and counseling available to her, though she had an aversion to counseling. She had recently found Dr. Schumann after several years of failed treatment. She hoped to drop Hugo in favor of Stellan.

Ethel had told them about the Cherryville Monitor's accusations of drug use against her, though she knew that she no longer had a drug problem. Calvin made up the stories to cover up his own prescription pill addictions. He needed the money, and had sold the story to the local newspaper, in order to fund his own addictions. Ethel never refused a joint, but claimed that she hardly ever drank and was personally unfamiliar with prescription pills and street drugs. She had sued him, and settled out of court.

Unfortunately, her father had discovered the rumors after Calvin set up a meeting with him, and he upset him greatly. He had considered removing Ethel from the will. Ethel resented this accusation, as she had felt excluded after she had received a trust fund from her paternal grandmother, but she did not hold any leverage against her own father's assets.

Her father had paid for Ethel's education to make up the difference, but had refused to fund her after college, so she had raised the money for a house herself, and took up work as a waitress.

"Do you really want to meet Daddy at a rock concert?" Rochelle asked Abunai. "There are better locations for a date."

"I don't know. That is what he wants," Abunai replied. "Sometimes, I have trouble with his English. I want to go out with him to know him better."

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