The only wooden bunk bed open was on the bottom right, which Yuuto walked over to and sat down on. It was made from a dark wood and the bed seemed nice enough. Everyone was staring at him waiting for him to say something and he them.
He broke the silence saying, “Hello, I am Yuuto Shimizu. It's nice to meet you, I hope we get along with each other.”
Encouraged, the other three roommates introduced themselves. The person sitting across from him on the other bottom bunk bed named himself to be Rinji Matano, he was nearing being overweight. Above him was Motoki Ono who was the exact opposite to Rinji with his skinny body and glasses. Lastly there was Yuuto's bunkmate Takaji Nagata who looked like a pretty boy. Yuuto memorized the first two’s names and secretly named Takaji ‘Pretty boy’. ‘No one likes pretty boys, go die’ thought Yuuto.
“What landed you here?” asked Rinji.
“I was scammed into signing papers that gave me a business with a vast amount of debt and then things kept piling up. It has been a rough last few days. What's all of your stories?”
Yuuto could hear Pretty boy trying muffle his laughter muttering, “You're so gullible.”
“Sounds like it was rough. The reason why I was sent here was because I had a large amount of gambling debts that couldn't be paid off. Things were getting out of control with my creditors getting really angry. So I was offered this opportunity to clean the slate and work off the debt as a host. It was kind of a no brainer, this or constant fear of creditors.”said Motoki while looking wistfully at the ceiling.
“I won the lottery, so I quit my job, met new rich friends and things spiraled from there. I couldn't stop my spending, and I was soon out of money. I kept borrowing from loan sharks to keep up with my rich friends. In the end, when they found out I had no more money and was in deep debt, they wouldn't answer my calls or acknowledge me when we saw each other outside. This offer was the only way I could pay off my debt, as the job I worked at before declined to let me work for them again.” Rinji lamented while staring mournfully at the ground.
Pretty boy dropped down in front of Yuuto from the bunk bed above. He turned round and looked straight into Yuuto's eyes and said, “Well I guess it's my turn to share my sob story. I was married to a gorgeous woman at a young age, I was always financing new gadgets and buying things for her because it made her happy. My debt was climbing so I started to lessen the gifts and then stopped buying gifts for her. Our marriage was getting worse as the months passed and then a year later, she demanded a divorce. She wanted a large amount of money; I argued for a more reasonable split. I lost and was forced to pay the settlement and the legal fees for the attorneys. I didn't have any money to pay them, nor any for my other debts. So here I am soon to be a host so I can pay off my debts.”
“Sounds like everyone had a crappy experience. At first I wasn't so sure about this place but it seems like it is a haven for those of us who get mired in large debt. So then, what's it really like living here?” asked Yuuto.
Pretty boy scoffed, “It isn't that great living here. But at least we don't have to worry so much about the money owed to the creditors.“
“Agreed,” said Rinji.
“I have to agree with Rinji, it's a good place to escape your debts and pay them off over time. The only problem is your freedom of things you can do is limited. Although I hear if you are good at being a host and don't cause problems, you can spend time outside in the city. That's good I guess.” replied Motoki.
“Well I'm going to rest room. Just so you know our rooms don't have a bathroom, this floor shares one and we all try to not wreck it. The rest room is the middle door in the hallway on the right, the one on the opposite side is the room with the showers.”Pretty boy said as he walked to the door opened it and exited the room.
“How come there are no locks on the doors here? Are they not afraid you or someone else will try to escape?” Yuuto asked.
“It's not that they aren't afraid, it's because whoever tries escaping never gets that far. And always ends back up here. Trust me, you are better off following the rules.” Rinji answered.
“Yeah we learned that the hard way.” Motoki replied.
“Motoki you make it sound like we are the ones who tried escaping. It wasn't us who tried to escape, it was our former roommate. The one who used to have that bunk bed.” said Rinji.
“Well where is he now? What happened to him?” asked Yuuto.
“He was always complaining about it wasn't his fault he was in debt, and was never in a happy mood. He tried escaping four times, each time he was brought back by someone different. Two of the people were cops and one who looked like a cook at a restaurant. Couldn't tell who the fourth was. After the fourth escape the owner must have had enough of his escape attempts. He didn't come back to live with us, and was sold off to a garbage company everyone knows is owned by the Yakuza. A few weeks passed where no news came up which I guess was good. Just last Tuesday there was a news story of a garbage truck man somehow having an accident when trying to fix his garbage truck compressor and was found crushed and mangled along with the trash. They were only able to identify him by his wallet that had his ID. My guess is he caused some problems for them and they didn't want to deal with him any more. This is why it's a foolish idea to try and escape, if you think it's bad here, it is 100 if not more times worse with the Yakuza.” Rinji explained.
Everyone in the room became quiet after the story was finished. Not looking at each other and staring at the wall ceiling or floor thinking. They were startled by Pretty boy bursting open the door and looking at everyone's glum face.
“So you guys were talking about that. Here's some advice, don't do stupid things and you won't end up like him. It's simple really; Not all that hard to do.” said Pretty boy.
“True, well I guess there’s no need to dwell on the past only need to learn from it. Well on another note, I guess I can explain what we do every day. We don't actually do any hosting yet as we are all in training. We normally do physical training in the morning, and then in the afternoon, we learn about the rules and regulations of how to be a host. That is pretty much what it is like everyday. Once the old man thinks we are ready, we are then moved to a room with one other host, and start getting payed to work at the club.”said Motoki.
“The physical training is no joke, the doctor runs us ragged. Forcing everyone into even better shape than they already are. The hosting classes are a little easier.” said Rinji.
“We should get some sleep, we're going to need it for tomorrow. It was nice getting to know you.” said Pretty boy as he climbed the wooden ladder to the top bunk.
Rinji reached up and over from his bed to the light switch that was close to him and turned the lights off. Yuuto was able to fall asleep rather quickly, due to the stress and training he had went through all day.
He was woken up the next day from the bright light over head being turned on. The light along with the groaning sound of the wooden ladder being used by Pretty boy, and with him jumping off the ladder onto the floor with a loud thud helped Yuuto wake up abruptly.
“Rise and shine buttercup. We have a long day ahead.” said Pretty boy in his best drill sergeant voice as walked by and exited the room.
Yuuto sat up, yawned and slowly stood up scathing his chest while exiting the room and walking to the bathroom. The hallway was packed with people half asleep milling around. After using the restroom, he then shaved and washed his face. Feeling refreshed, he walked back to his room.
“You ready to go to the cafeteria?” asked Pretty boy.
“Yeah I finished up and am ready to eat. Is there anything good to eat?” Yuuto asked.
“Normally just miso soup and steamed rice. Let's go, I'll show you where it is.”
They walked through the crowded hallway and down the stairs, Pretty boy explained about of the ten floors of the building and what was on each floor. The gym was in the basement, on the 1st floor were the offices and holding cells and the front desk, next to the elevator for customers to get to the club. 2nd floor was the kitchen and storage rooms. 3rd floor was the host club where the men would be working. 4th floor was the VIP rooms. 5th floor was the hostess club where the old man's wife was in charge of running. And floor 6 on up was split into 2 separate buildings. The one on the right was for the men and the one on the left was for the women. The 6th floor contained the cafeteria and class rooms. Floor 7 and 8 were for host/hostess in training and 9 and 10 were for host already working.
By the time Pretty boy was done explaining, they had reached the cafeteria and entered the large room one floor down. The cafeteria was filled with an abundant number of round metal tables. Yuuto and Pretty boy picked up a tray that had two bowls, one miso soup, the other steamed rice. They found an empty table, sat down and started eating.
“So women work here also? How come I haven't seen one yet?” Asked Yuuto.
“Like I said the males and females are separated from each other. The only time you will see them is if you are working in the kitchen with them.” Pretty boy replied.
“Oh,” said Yuuto who quickly became uninterested in the subject.
They continued to eat their food in silence. Two minutes later, Rinji and Motoki sat down next to them without saying a word.
When they finished breakfast, everyone went to the gym and waited for Dr. Doi to come and supervise everyone through the day's exercises. They stayed at the gym until it was time for lunch. Everyone hit the showers and changed clothes before going to the cafeteria. Yuuto and his roommates sat together again and ate their lunch. Lunch was rice, fish, and a salad. Washing it all down with cold tea.
Yuuto, unsure where to go after finishing eating, followed his roommates to the classroom where the lessons on how to be a host would be held. As they entered Yuuto could see at the front of the classroom there stood a man wearing a flashy neon blue suit and red dyed hair.
“Hello and welcome to those of you who are new and welcome back to everyone else. I am Instructor O. Now everyone, please sit down and get ready. Today we are going to get into the details of training on how to pour and serve customers. First let us review the core rules of being a host. For you new people listen closely.” Instructor O walked up to a chalk board and began writing. When finished he turned around.
“#1) Your number one job is to act as a servant, entertainer, and as a boyfriend for the customer. While encouraging them to buy food and drinks. This is where you will earn your money.
#2) Host are not gigolos. You do not sleep with a customer for money.
#3) You are aloud to date BUT it must not cause any problems with work.
#4) When working you will only use your performance name. When talking to other colleges, you will use their performance name.
#5) If your customer is unable to pay the full cost of the bill, you have to pay for it. That customer can not come back unless they pay what they owe. For those of you who don't understand this rule, it means know who your customers are and estimate how much they can spend. Don't offer expensive drinks to those who can't afford it otherwise you will be paying for it yourself.
#6) Lastly but not the least important major rule. Don't talk or ask about these things with your customers:
Age, three sizes, weight, or about their work.
These are not all the rules of being a host, you will learn more as you prove yourself and start hosting.”
Instructor O walked over to his desk where a wine bottle was sitting in a bucket of ice with a stemmed wine glass placed next to it. Reaching under his desk, he brought out a bowl that was filled with ice and placed it next to the glass.
“Now onto today's class. To create a drink for your customer, you will first use ice tongs to pick up and add ice until it reaches the top. Our club’s ice cubes are rather large so it won't take that many.” Instructor O used the tongs to add four large ice cubes to the glass.
“Adding ice will make the bottle of Shochu, sake, or wine last longer. This allows two things, getting the customer to buy a drink and feel satisfied that it lasted longer than it normally would. It also allows for customers to be enticed to order appetizers from the food menu. Next, you take the bottle and open it with the correct tool. Do not move the glass or pick it up. You will use the stem of the glass to steady it and pour the drink having the label facing the customer.” He showed the class how to correctly do it.
“In no time, you grab the glass anywhere other than the stem. This is so you do not leave fingerprints on the glass and make it look unclean. On to the last topic, before you start the work of making drinks yourself. Water is free for customers who already bought a drink. you will not earn any money from it. If after their first drink or two, they order water do not be rude or stiff. Ask them if they would like a lemon with it. This lets them know you are there for them and you will more than likely get more positive reactions than negative. Now on each of your tables, you will find a wine bottle filled with water, ice, ice tongs and a stemmed glass you may begin practicing with.” Thus everyone practiced pouring drinks until Instructor O deemed they were good enough and let them return to their rooms. Yuuto was one of the last in the classroom to be allowed to leave. They spent the rest of the day watching TV and reading manga from the small library on floor?.
The next day, Pretty boy who had been in training the longest of the four roommates was promoted and moved to a room for hosts on another floor and started his hosting career. The routine of waking up training then learning new things kept going on every day until a week had passed. Yuuto and the rest of his roommates did not see or hear anything from Pretty boy. During that week, they learned more about how to serve customers, about eye contact, small talk, along with other tips on how to be a good host. Yuuto was constantly being reprimanded an untold amount of times throughout the week of training.
After training on the first day of his second week, Dr. Doi gave him a slip of yellow paper asking him to go to Instructor O's office which was next to his classroom.
He entered after knocking and receiving the OK to enter.
The room was messy books and papers stacked everywhere. Instructor O was sitting behind his desk looking at some papers.
“You may sit down,” said Instructor O while writing something on the papers with one hand, not looking at Yuuto and pointing with his other hand at two chairs in front of his desk. One of the seats had multiple books haphazardly stacked in it. Yuuto sat down in the empty chair. Instructor O finally looked up from the paperwork on his desk and stared at Yuuto.
“You know what I thought of you at the beginning of the week? Well I will tell you my thoughts anyway. I was amazed!!” he paused and Yuuto started to feel proud of himself. Then Instructor O continued. “I was amazed at how goddamn awful you were. You must have been one of the worst students I have ever trained. But it seems you have managed to squeak by. The old man has told me to inform you that you are being promoted to a probationary rookie host. I don't know what he sees in you, but I guess congratulations are due on passing your training.”
“Thank you,” replied Yuuto. He didn't know whether to be happy he passed or sad that he was pretty horrible and was just able to pass and start his new job.
Thanks for reading.