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VOLUME 2: ~Naïve~
Chapter 5 “Yada-kun’s guardian angel” PART 1
Winter vacation was really too short.
Christmas and New Year’s had pa.s.sed by with great pomp and splendour, and work at the MAHO-do had kept me busy. Yet when I got back to my room at home and saw the pile of homework, my mood came cras.h.i.+ng back down again.
As Pop was preparing for her entrance examinations at the same time, I tried to get into the mood as well, focusing on my homework with the kind of vigour I had when I was preparing for my entrance examinations last year. However, no matter how many pages I completed, the work never seemed to decrease. I wonder if dwarves came into my room in the middle of the night, armed with erasers to undo all the work that I’d done during the day.
Look, my work had disappeared again. If this went on, I’d never finish it all…
“What are you mumbling about?”
“Oh, Majorika! Why are you here?”
I lifted up my head to see everyone surrounding me. Eh, why was I in the MAHO-do? Why wasn’t I in my room at home?
“Doremi-chan, your work really is messy,” Ai-chan commented.
“But she’s erased it all away. Anyway, you’re amazing. I never knew you could do work even when asleep,” Onpu-chan teased.
I looked down at my work on the table. I was holding a pencil in my hand, and there was a page full of faint scribbles that looked vaguely like words on my open notebook. Faint scribbles, because most of them had been erased from the page.
“Was I asleep? For how long?” I asked.
“It’s alright, Doremi-chan. You were asleep for ten minutes at most,” Hazuki-chan a.s.sured me as she pointed to the clock on the wall. Oh, but Hazuki-chan, I remember last checking the time more than half an hour ago.
“You woke up at the right time,” Lala chirped as she pushed aside the textbooks spread on the table to one side and set down a tea tray. “Let’s take a break. Momoko made some pancakes for us.”
The smell of vanilla soon accompanied the fragrance of the tea in front of me.
“I’ve opened up a jar of the jam Onpu-chan brought back for us. Let’s heap those on the pancakes and dig in!” Momo-chan said as she brought out a towering plate of pancakes. Although I couldn’t see her face behind the huge stack of pancakes, the cheer in her voice brought my mood up.
This was great. I knew doing my homework at the MAHO-do was the right choice.
Over the New Year holiday, Onpu-chan had gone to Tohoku on a location shoot for a movie. I thought that she had wanted to focus first on being a stage actress, but it seemed like she was now also accepting offers to star in movies. I guess it was because of her failed attempt to break into the movie business as a child idol, so she wanted to take up the challenge again. That was just like what Onpu-chan would do.
When she went to Tohoku, she brought back some delicious-looking jam and honey as souvenirs. There was a jar of pear jam, another of cherry, and another of apple… They were all homemade and looked absolutely delectable.
“All the location shoots are completed, and we’ll be working on the studio shots next, so I’ll be able to return to a normal life soon. Also, I hope that Momo-chan can spend some time to engage me in English conversation,” Onpu-chan requested.
I was busy staring at the scene of paradise before me; there were steaming pancakes dripping with jam and honey. My eyes trailed up the stack of pancakes to the piece right on top. The pile was so high that I’d probably need to stand up tall to reach it.
‘Oh, English conversation? That’s going to be tough,’ I thought as I stood up and reached for the pancakes.
“Onpu-chan, I heard from Papa that you’ll be going to London and Paris in March to stage the musical that was shown here in autumn,” Hazuki-chan asked.
“Really? That’s awesome,” Ai-chan commented.
“You’ve done it. I can read through the English script with you. I’ll be the best partner!” Momo-chan volunteered excitedly.
“Thank you, Momo-chan!”
The two shared a hug, while Hazuki-chan asked shyly if she could join in the English conversation sessions too. But that was not my concern. Right now, I was like a hunter, eyes locked onto my unsuspecting prey.
Lala pa.s.sed me a plate. I could already imagine myself grabbing the jam-covered pancakes and stuffing them into my mouth, all the while muttering “Fuhehe, hat’sh hreat, Honfu-fan!” (Ehehe, that’s great, Onpu-chan!) Oh dear, I would look like such a glutton.
As expected, I was spotted.
“Doremi-chan’s the first, as usual!” Momo-chan said with a laugh.
“Well, I don’t blame her. It’s vanilla pancake topped with jam, such a sweet harmony. It’s like a fruity paradise in my mouth~~” Ai-chan said in a dreamy voice as she took a bite of the pancake.
Thank you for the commentary, Ai-chan. Let’s see, which jam should I try next? It was a battle scene between the food and us from the moment Momo-chan placed the pancakes on the table.
They’re so delicious, Momo-chan, you’re truly the best! I’m really the happiest girl when I’m eating—.
I took another pancake onto my plate, and moved to open the next jar of jam.
“It’s hard to express this delicious taste in words,” Ai-chan commented.
“Seeing Doremi-chan eat just blows away all the worries I have about the upcoming overseas shows,” Onpu-chan said with a smile as she took a pancake and drizzled it with honey.
That’s right. The musical “Blue Moon”, which Onpu-chan starred in, was originally a British play. The story and songs in the j.a.panese adaptation were slightly modified to suit the local audiences’ taste, so I had no idea what the original story was like.
However, I remembered being in love with Onpu-chan’s character, Kate. She must have reinvented the character and made it her own, so I guess the upcoming plays would be like a reinvention of a reinvention.
“Doremi-chan, you’re eating too fast!” Momo-chan complained. I tried to slow down my pace.
“Are the other actors going to London too?” Hazuki-chan asked, cutting her pancake into neat slices.
Onpu-chan made a face, “The main cast will be going, but the rest will be incorporating the original British cast. A round of auditions for new actors will also take place.”
“So it’s like an international cast? That’s so cool~~!” Momo-chan exclaimed.
“It’s like a battle, Onpu-chan, so make sure you show the world the power of j.a.pan!” Ai-chan added.
Onpu-chan smiled at their words. “That’s right. Guess I shouldn’t worry so much. I’m just anxious, since I still can’t speak English as well as a native speaker.”
“Don’t worry, Onpu-chan,” Hazuki-chan a.s.sured her as she took the jar of honey from Onpu-chan and pa.s.sed it to me. She then continued as she picked up a slice of neatly-cut pancake on her fork, “I know that being in a musical must be tough, but it’s probably really fun too, right? So just enjoy the feeling of performing for an audience. Even if you can’t p.r.o.nounce something right, the audience will surely understand you as long as you put your heart into it.”
She said all of this in a quiet, gentle voice, but the words were so strong. I imagined that it must be like how Hazuki-chan used her violin to speak to her audience. Although it wasn’t a rare thing for j.a.panese musicians to win awards at international compet.i.tions, the violin still had the image of being a Western instrument.
“Yeah. ‘Blue Moon’ already belongs to Onpu-chan. If you worry too much, then you won’t be able to perform well,” I said.
Everyone turned to stare at me.
“That’s right! She’s totally right! Doremi-chan, you said something awesome!” Momo-chan praised me enthusiastically.
“You were so busy eating, I thought you weren’t listening at all,” Ai-chan confessed.
Oh, you two are so rude.
I mean, Onpu-chan was really living the character while on stage. It wasn’t because of the auditions, nor was it because the role suited her. “Blue Moon” was made just for Onpu-chan.
“I’m sure you’ll go on to play many different roles, but I guess ‘Blue Moon’ is your masterpiece right now,” Hazuki-chan said with a laugh.
That’s right. I nodded vigorously at Hazuki-chan’s words; glad that we felt the same way.
I wasn’t the only one who was busy during this short winter vacation. Ai-chan, who was the holder of the track record in the high school category, trained indoors during the winter season, and was definitely more conscious of her health than ever before. It was just such a waste that the school could not hire a real coach for her.
However, Ai-chan still had super senior alumni who could give her advice, like how she should not think too much and be as natural as possible, just like Onpu-chan. And if she had a coach, she might be forced to drop her job at the MAHO-do. That would probably be too much, since the MAHO-do was like an oasis for Ai-chan, a place to relax when she was not training.
I decided to study and do my schoolwork at the MAHO-do again today. Though everyone else acted like scary teachers to me, I managed to learn a lot from them too. Thanks to their help, I felt ready to face the upcoming semester.
And that’s not something usual for me, so please don’t say things like “but that’s your job as a student!”
“Oh! Hazuki-chan, welcome,” I greeted Hazuki-chan when she dropped by my place after the new semester’s welcome ceremony at her school. We were to head to the MAHO-do for work together.
I led Hazuki-chan into the living room. As Pop’s entrance exam date drew closer, Hazuki-chan sometimes dropped by to give her some tips and advice. It’s just such a relief to have someone so experienced around.
“Thanks for always dropping by, Hazuki-chan,” Mum said.
“It’s no trouble at all, Doremi-chan’s mum,” Hazuki-chan replied graciously.
In fact, Mum was more worried about the exams than Pop herself. I didn’t see the need for that; judging by Pop’s mock exam results and her piano technique, she should have no problem pa.s.sing the exams.
Oh yes, Seki-sensei, who had been my homeroom teacher in elementary school, became the homeroom teacher for Pop’s cla.s.s from last year onwards. During this winter vacation, Pop had been drilling herself with homework and exam practice questions, and her confidence was boosted when Seki-sensei wrote her a letter of recommendation. Receiving that really made us less anxious about Pop.
“What should I wear for the interview? Is this one too gaudy? This one’s black, but the design is quite chic. Do you think it’ll make me look cla.s.sy?”
Mum had brought out the ensemble she’d worn during my high school opening ceremony, as well as the suit she wore during my middle school graduation ceremony. I felt that both were great choices, but Mum did not share my opinion.
“But maybe they’re not so fas.h.i.+onable anymore. I’m sure everyone else would be dressed to the nines,” she added.
I wondered if she actually knew anything about the current fas.h.i.+on trends for formalwear.
“I don’t think anyone dressed up too much. They’re both great choices, but I think you’d look amazing in a brighter colour. How about going with this one?” Hazuki-chan advised.
Mum, must you ask for advice from a high school girl? And you didn’t even ask for my opinion. But Hazuki-chan really did give her a great, mature answer. Karen Girls’ Academy students were just different from the rest of us. Mum looked satisfied too, as she started to ask more about the interview procedure.
“That’s right. I heard Yada-kun on his trumpet for the first time at ‘Bird’ the other day. He plays really well.”
As the conversation between Mum and Hazuki-chan reached a lull, Dad took the chance to come in with some coffee and add his comment.
“Oh? That’s lovely,” Hazuki-chan replied happily.
I knew that Dad liked jazz, but since when did he become such a critic and expert? Was it because of his recent dabbling into writing?
Anyway, Dad was definitely a frequent customer at the jazz club where Yada-kun worked, since he entered high school, as a waiter. I’d heard that, in recent days, he would perform during the weekend live sessions as well.
“I’m really sorry, Hazuki-chan. It’s your winter vacation, but you still drop by frequently to supervise Pop’s studying. I guess it must be tough on you and Yada-kun, especially if he can’t catch a break to meet up with you during the day,” Mum apologized.
I thought the comment would embarra.s.s Hazuki-chan and she would start to deny things and change the topic like she usually did, but her reply surprised me.
“It’s alright. Masaru-kun has been cheating on me lately, so he hasn’t been coming to look for me anyway.”
Hazuki-chan giggled at our reaction before confessing, “He’s currently dating the 1.9m tall Gabriel Baker.”
This time, it was Dad who let out the surprised yell, and even Hazuki-chan was a little shocked at his reaction. As for myself, I couldn’t comprehend how Hazuki-chan could be so unaffected by the fact that her boyfriend was cheating on her.
“Is it really him? The jazz pianist GB?” Mum asked.
“Oh, so you know him too, Doremi-chan’s mum,” Hazuki-chan smiled.
Mum and Dad sometimes went out on dates to local jazz houses, so they must have heard of this Baker person before. Once again, I felt like I was missing out on an important piece of the conversation.
It started with Hazuki-chan’s Christmas.
Every year, when Hazuki-chan’s dad isn’t away overseas on business, the family would host a Christmas party at their place. The event was held a day after Christmas this year, and as her father is a movie director and her mother comes from a powerful, privileged family, many important guests are usually invited. Since New Year’s Day celebrations were closed-family event for them, Christmas was thus opened up to friends and family. It was similar to what families in Western countries practiced.
“One of the movies Dad directed a while ago featured a jazz music piece as its theme song…” Hazuki-chan shared.
“It was the movie ‘Mr’s Last Words’, right? That was a great movie, and the music was the best too. You mean…” Dad was a big fan of jazz, and was understandably excited.
Hazuki-chan gave a bitter smile, “Yes. GB-san and Dad became good friends because of the movie, and he came with his band to our party.”
It was obvious how much the Fujiwara family prized their daughter, as well as Yada-kun and his ambition of becoming a professional trumpeter. I marvelled at the artful way Hazuki-chan’s dad managed to get such a high profile artiste to attend his party. It was the perfect exposure for Hazuki-chan and Yada-kun.
“I’m sorry. I would have invited you if I’d known you are a fan,” Hazuki-chan apologized to Dad.
“No problem, Hazuki-chan. It’s your home party, after all,” Dad casually waved off her apology.
She then shared that a jam session was scheduled into the programme, and GB-san and his band, together with Yada-kun, joined in to give a performance.
“GB-san seemed impressed by Masaru-kun too. They invited him to go watch their concert one afternoon at a jazz club in Yokohama called ‘Five Pennies’,” Hazuki-chan finished.
“I know that place. It’s a bright club with a great atmosphere… Oh, so he’s been recognized by GB. He’ll have a bright future,” Dad said.
GB, or Gabriel Baker-san, was an American jazz pianist. While he spent most of his 20’s performing in the U.S., he’d since married a j.a.panese woman and had more or less settled in j.a.pan. He’d also released quite a few CDs over the years. Now, most of his shows were held either in Yokohama or here in Tokyo. Oh, and his wife was a jazz vocalist too, elegant and with a powerful voice; she was a really cool woman.
The jazz club “Five Pennies” was named after an old American film, which featured a jazz soundtrack. Dad, the jazz expert, shared all these to us with a joyful expression on his face.
Anyway, back to GB-san. Named after one of the archangels, he was an imposing man, standing at nearly 2 metres tall. His appearance might look a little frightening, but he was a loving father who doted on his elementary-school-aged son.
“I have my own semestral examinations coming up, so I will have to attend more violin lessons. From now on, I guess Pop and I will be communicating mainly via messaging and phone calls,” Hazuki-chan informed us with an apologetic tone.
Oh, that’s right. Hazuki-chan would soon be taking her first violin exam since entering high school. If she performed well, she would get to join other students from the university level to put up a performance. She would also get the chance to take part in both local and international compet.i.tions.
I finally understood why Hazuki-chan had expressed an interest in joining in Onpu-chan’s English conversation sessions with Momo-chan. Aside from jazz, English was an important skill that both Yada-kun and Hazuki-chan could certainly improve upon. Not that I’m a good judge of that, since I was terrible at the language myself. Maybe I should ask to join in the sessions too.
The days seemed to get longer when the new school term began. I continued to work at the MAHO-do in the afternoons after school.
“Harukaze, come to the library during your lunch break.”
The request came from Yamaki-sensei, aka Leon. Yes, I was also currently under an apprentices.h.i.+p to become the manager for the school soccer team.
The main person acting as my mentor was third-year student and the current manager, the charismatic Kogure Maki-senpai. The audition for the position of centerfield was coming up, and she had been using the chance to train me to take up her role daily after school. The whole thing made me anxious and worried, and I felt like I was studying for some entrance exams, just like Pop. However, she always rea.s.sured me with a smile and a “don’t worry, just relax.”
I had been watching lots of soccer matches on TV lately, as well as our school team’s practice sessions after school before I headed to the MAHO-do, so I was slowly coming to understand the game. However, there was still much I didn’t know. It was a strict apprentices.h.i.+p for me, but Kogure-senpai seemed to handle her role like a breeze.
Since I still didn’t really trust Leon, I did my best to consult the soccer coach whenever I could. Now, I was working on remembering all the player’s names and their positions on the field.
Ai-chan, who was in the track team, and Momo-chan, who was surprisingly an expert on soccer, also helped me along a lot. I hoped that, by the time I reached my second year, I would become more knowledgeable about the sport. By then, a new batch of players would be joining the team, and I would become a senpai myself as well. No, I should not hope to become more knowledgeable, I NEEDED to become more knowledgeable. Either way, I suspected Leon was waiting for some kind of grat.i.tude from me for his guidance, so I guess I should take advantage of this chance and glean all the information I could from him.
With the new school term, our seating arrangement in cla.s.s was also changed. I was seated quite some distance from s.h.i.+dou Yuuna-chan, but I was now closer to s.h.i.+makura Kaori-chan and Ai-chan. As a result, our corner of the cla.s.sroom became more much lively and noisy.
“Doremi-chan, Ai-chan, are you girls free during lunch break?”
With that, Kaori-chan invited us to join her at the corridor outside the cla.s.sroom. I suspected that she’d gotten hold of some sort of gossip again. I hoped it would at least be something interesting.
“I’ve been hearing some things about Yada-kun lately…”
“Huh?! What is it?!!”
Kaori-chan shushed us with a finger to her lips, even though there was no one out here in this chilly corridor. I thought of Yada-kun, but didn’t recall him acting strange lately.
“Some people have spotted him in the downtown area of Yokohama, together with a bunch of foreign men.”
At that, I remember our recent conversation with Hazuki-chan, and was just about to share it when Kaori-chan continued,
“People are saying that those men are drug dealers.”
“What? How can that be?” Ai-chan asked.
“That’s impossible!” I denied immediately.
Before we could speak any further, Kaori-chan interjected, “Yes, I know. I know that Yada-kun hopes to become a professional jazz trumpeter, and that those foreign men are just members of a jazz band based in Yokohama. But that’s not the problem here.”
She then shared that Yada-kun had, in fact, been spotted hanging out with those men numerous times. But that was to be expected; they were fellow performers who frequently put up shows together, after all. However, it seemed that some troubles and fights had been breaking out near the jazz club in recent days, and Yada-kun was unfortunately always spotted somewhere nearby.
What made it worse was that these incidents usually occurred after 9 p.m. . I marvelled at Kaori-chan and her advanced information-gathering skills, since she even managed to get wind of all these minor details.
“Well, it’s the downtown area, after all, and lots of foreigners frequent that place, so it could all be just a misunderstanding. That said, a jazz club certainly isn’t a usual hang out spot for a normal high school student.”
I started to protest, but was shushed by Ai-chan. I guess she was trying to remind me that there wasn’t much point in arguing, since even Kaori-chan herself knew that these rumours were baseless.
“I’m sure the truth will come out soon, and that’ll stop all these rumours. If anyone tries to say otherwise, I’ll do my best to explain it to them, so there’s no need for you girls to worry. In fact, don’t do anything; otherwise it might worsen the situation,” Kaori-chan warned.
After a.s.suring us that she would try to find out more about the matter, we went back into the cla.s.sroom. I was grateful that she had understood our personalities, and had come to inform us first. If not, we would probably have acted rashly upon hearing those rumours. And knowing how good-looking Yada-kun was, such gossip was sure to spread like wildfire.
I arrived at the MAHO-do with Momo-chan. Ai-chan said that she would drop by later, after a meeting she would be having to decide on a training schedule for the track team, in preparations for various compet.i.tions coming up in spring. Hazuki-chan and Onpu-chan had said that they would come by as well, though I was still troubling over whether to tell Hazuki-chan of what I’d learned from Kaori-chan.
“Of course you should! You need to tell her,” Momo-chan urged.
“…I guess you’re right,” I agreed reluctantly.
I guessed Yada-kun and Hazuki-chan themselves were as yet unaware of these rumours. I recalled how hurt Hazuki-chan had been, when she became the target of groundless rumours during last year’s summer vacation.
“Rather than just letting her know, it’s best for us to talk it out together, before she hears about all this from someone else. Kaori-chan said that she’d be helping us by explaining the situation to anyone spreading the rumours, right?”
“Yeah, keeping quiet is almost akin to lying, I guess.”
We decided to bring up the topic after work. While waiting for the others to arrive, we set about making New Year-themed pastries.
Soon, everyone had gathered, and Momo-chan placed a sample cake before us. Majorika and Lala came over for the taste test as well, bringing plates and forks.
“Since it’ll be January, I decided on festive colours like red and white,” Momo-chan explained as we eyed the sweets spread before us. I noticed that she’d used the English terms “red” and “white” in her description.
“Why must you say that in English?” Ai-chan wondered.
But the cake looked really stylish, so I guess describing it in English instead of j.a.panese seemed fitting.
Momo-chan had used a round pie as base and piled lots of sponge cake and custard cream on top to form a cute dome shape. It was only about 10 cm across, just enough to serve one.
“It’s so cute, like an igloo,” Hazuki-chan gushed.
“You’re totally right, Hazuki-chan. That’s the inspiration behind the design,” Momo-chan replied happily.
“The white chocolate is translucent too, so the pink beneath shows up really beautifully,” Onpu-chan added as she spun the cake around to view it from all angles.
The dome was decorated with tiny strawberries and raspberries, and the entire surface was then coated with a layer of white chocolate. The overall effect was a slight pink colour, as Onpu-chan had described. Cutting the cake then revealed its beautiful red interior.
“It’s delicious! You’re the best, Momo-chan!” I exclaimed as I took a bite of my slice.
“It feels like such a waste to cut and eat it up,” Hazuki-chan added.
“But it looks really nice even when cut up. What a masterpiece!” Ai-chan added her praises as well.
“You’ve slightly baked the strawberries and raspberries, right? The colours are really lovely.” Onpu-chan’s observations were sharp, and her comments elegant, as usual.
Momo-chan appeared happy at our profuse praises, but it was true that her creations were all so delicious and cute, despite them being made using only the most basic ingredients.
Aside from this new creation, we also decided to decorate our standard cakes with winter decorations as well. We would use powdered sugar to create snowflakes and constellations such as the Orion, which s.h.i.+nes brightly in our night sky during this season. Lala would help by forming plum blossoms with chocolate, which would also give the cakes a j.a.panese style. We tried out these ideas on tiny cupcakes and shortcakes, and I found myself grateful for having such an enjoyable job.
After cleaning up, we settled around the table and brought up the issue with Hazuki-chan.
“What…? I didn’t know about that,” she whispered, shocked.
“It’s as if that incident with Hazuki last year wasn’t enough. Kids just love to gossip, don’t they?” Majorika huffed in disapproval.
“That’s right. They might find it fun, but this is just too much. They just don’t realize that they’re hurting others,” Lala added angrily.
“n.o.body in cla.s.s has been talking about it, though, and even Kaori-chan doesn’t know where the rumours began,” I said.
“That said, Kaori-chan has indeed become more discreet,” Ai-chan added.
For that, we were thankful that Kaori-chan and her inquisitiveness had found out about this issue so soon.
“Yada-kun hasn’t been acting any different; at least, he still sounds the same in his text messages to me. How is he in school?” Hazuki-chan asked.
Ai-chan and I glanced at each other. Ever since learning about the matter during lunch break, we’d stolen peeks at him throughout the rest of the day, but didn’t manage to spot any difference in his behaviour.
Come to think of it, though we’d attended the same elementary and middle schools, our interactions with many boys in cla.s.s had decreased drastically. It was nice to see these familiar faces and approach them when we felt like it, but that was slowly becoming a rarity.
“Yada-kun…? Well, ever since we entered high school, we don’t really talk much, aside from exchanging greetings,” Ai-chan confessed.
That was true, but the only people Yada-kun still spoke to these days were his good friends from elementary school, like Hasebe Takes.h.i.+-kun and his gang. He’d always been the quiet type, anyway, so it was entirely possible that he knew of all these rumours but chose to ignore them, rather than get annoyed or try to deny them.
But with so little information to work with, even Onpu-chan couldn’t come up with a good course of action or advice.
“If it’s just baseless rumours, they should disappear on their own soon. Yada-kun is cool, and quite good-looking, so he’s always been popular with the girls, though he chooses to remain aloof. Maybe that has caused some of the boys to become jealous, and they decided to come up with these rumours,” she said.
I recalled our conversation with Kaori-chan, and wondered if what Onpu-chan was suggesting could be true.
She added that GB-san himself, as well as all the band members who performed with him at “Five Pennies”, were mostly African Americans. Many of them were tall and large, of various ages, skin colours, nationalities and spoken accents. Thus, it was possible that someone had been intimidated by these men, and after spotting Yada-kun hanging out with them, most probably speaking in English, had come to the conclusion that they were up to no good.
However, there was nothing we could do about it now. We hoped that what Onpu-chan had said was true, and that the incident would die down soon, as we left the MAHO-do and headed home.
We heard no news over the next few days, not even from Kaori-chan. There were no rumours too, though, so we were also relieved, thinking that the incident had blown over.
“What, Kotake? I’m working at the MAHO-do now. Yes, everyone’s here too.”
I’d received a call from Kotake on my mobile phone as we were cleaning up for the day at the MAHO-do.
“Yada-kun was questioned by the police? Kotake too?”
My exclamation shocked everyone present. After ending the call, I updated everyone on the situation.
After the Christmas party, Yada-kun had become really close to GB-san’s band members as well as his vocalist wife. Since then, he had started visiting the jazz club “Five Pennies” at Yokohama. As the band played mostly at nights, Yada-kun usually stayed at the club late into the night, until the performances for the day were done.
Kotake and Yada-kun are friends, so they’d made plans for Kotake to visit Yada-kun after a soccer match at Yokohama’s Mitsuzawa stadium that day. However, it was already past 9p.m. and the club was filled with adults drinking alcohol, making it difficult for a student like Kotake to enter. In the end, Yada-kun had to come outside, and they were chatting with each other when it happened.
Police officers suddenly made an appearance and started to make inquiries. Kotake showed them his ticket for the soccer match and said that he was on his way home. The officers told them to move along, but made no further interrogations. It was lucky that the club was located on the road from the stadium to the train station.
“I asked Yada-kun to return home with me, but he decided to stay on at the ‘Five Pennies’ instead. I was slightly worried for him, but since the club owner had offered to drive him to the train station after the performance that night and he also promised to go home right after the show, I didn’t insist,” Kotake had shared that during our phone conversation.
Yada-kun’s stepmum probably knew that he visited the jazz club at Yokohama on a regular basis, but it was still potentially a risky situation, since Yada-kun’s work permit only stated that he would work at “Bird”. “Five Pennies” was a club located in the downtown area, and now, with these police interrogations, maybe it would be wise for him to update our school teacher regarding the situation.
“It’s better to make things clear before anything bad happens. It’ll also save GB-san some trouble should anything go wrong,” Hazuki-chan said worriedly. Her dad was the one who introduced them, after all.
“True. A jazz club definitely seems like a place meant only for adults,” I added. Dad had often told me that most of the patrons at “Bird” were middle-aged men.
Jazz clubs frequently have bars as well, so while it was a s.p.a.ce for musicians to perform, it was also a place for patrons to drink alcohol and eat while enjoying the music. There were about two to three live shows every week, which usually only started after 7p.m.
Each performance could last from one to two hours, and depending on the venue and date, there could be two shows per day as well. I thought back to how Dad described the “Five Pennies” as a bright club with a great atmosphere.
“The club’s located in the downtown area, and it’s quite easy for anyone to enter the premises. Though most of the patrons on performance nights are jazz fans, many people unfamiliar with jazz also frequent the place due to its wide selection of food and drinks,” I continued, relating to everyone what Dad had told me.
“Yada-kun seems to really respect GB-san’s band. Do they play live every week?” Onpu-chan asked.
“They play three to four times every month, usually on Fridays and Sat.u.r.days. Yada-kun isn’t allowed to join them in their performances, but he gets to play with them during their afternoon practices and evening rehearsals, and that makes him really happy. I can tell that he’s enjoying himself lots lately,” Hazuki-chan replied.
“Enjoying himself? He looks the same to me,” Ai-chan retorted.
She was right, since Yada-kun wasn’t known to show his emotions freely. It wasn’t that he hid them away, just that he didn’t see the need to talk about his pa.s.sion and ambition of becoming a jazz trumpeter with everyone. In a way, he was just like s.h.i.+dou Yuuna-chan; both of them preferred to keep to themselves.
“Yada-kun lives together with his stepmum, right? It won’t be nice to make her worry. Hazuki-chan, I think that it’s best if you go to talk to him about it, since you know him best. Maybe just caution him to be careful?” Onpu-chan shared her advice calmly.
Yada-kun’s dad was a jazz trumpeter himself, and he was often away overseas working. I wondered if their relations.h.i.+p extended beyond father and son into friendly rivalry, since they were both in the same line.
“Hazuki-chan, advise him to let Leon know too,” Ai-chan added.
“Yep, I agree,” Momo-chan said.
Yes, maybe it was the best choice to discuss the issue with Leon. Majorika and Lala agreed too.
Hazuki-chan nodded, promising that she would let Yada-kun know. He was still a high school student and therefore not of proper age to enter clubs, after all. Furthermore, it was a matter of not bringing trouble to the club and GB-san’s band should anything go wrong.
Hazuki-chan managed to convince Yada-kun, and he notified our homeroom teacher Leon that he sometimes visited the “Five Pennies” to practise and watch live performances. It was a good thing that Leon was also in charge of Yada-kun’s permit to work at the “Bird”; other teachers would surely have been strict and not allowed it.
Leon gave Yada-kun three conditions. First, that he would return home immediately after the performances. Second, that, aside from inside the club, he wouldn’t spend time with the band members at night. Third, that he would inform Leon every time he planned to visit the club, at least one day in advance. Leon insisted that Yada-kun keep to these conditions without fail.
Yada-kun was understandably upset, but Leon also pa.s.sed him his mobile number, telling Yada-kun to call him should any officers interrogate him again. Hazuki-chan managed to convince him that it was better than contacting his stepmum and causing her undue worry, and Yada-kun reluctantly stored Leon’s number in his mobile phone.
However, all this could not prevent what was to come.
We found out about it on Sunday night.
Momo-chan and I had been working at the MAHO-do since morning, with Ai-chan and Hazuki-chan joining us in the afternoon. Onpu-chan arrived as the shop was closing, and with her help, cleaning up was a breeze.
“That’s it for today. Why don’t you girls go change, then we’ll have some tea together,” Lala suggested.
We quickly changed out of our pâtissière uniforms into our own clothes and took a seat at the table.
“Yada-kun has been suspended, so he won’t be going to school tomorrow,” Hazuki-chan suddenly spoke with a flat voice.
“Huh…? What? What happened?”
I didn’t know how else to respond, or what questions to ask. Glancing around, I saw that I wasn’t the only one frozen in shock. Even Majorika and Lala had stopped preparing tea.
“I don’t know much myself; Yada-kun refused to talk to me about it. It’s just that you might hear some strange rumours tomorrow and start to worry, so let me update everyone with what I know first.”
So saying, Hazuki-chan launched into a full account of what had happened on Sat.u.r.day.
GB-san’s band was scheduled to play on Sat.u.r.day night, and Yada-kun had made his way to the “Five Pennies” by afternoon. The club was open for lunchtime and would close for a while from 3- to 6 p.m. in order to prepare for the night’s performance, clean up the place and prepare food for the night.
The performance ended past 8 p.m., and the next show was scheduled to come on at 9 p.m. Customers and band members alike were moving in and out of the club, and the staff was kept busy with their work.
As the second show would end at 11 p.m., Yada-kun left the club right after the first show, keeping his promise to Hazuki-chan and Leon. However, as he was leaving the club, a group of punks approached and insulted him, resulting in an argument and a physical fight, leading to Yada-kun’s suspension.
“He wasn’t the one who started the argument, but he did initiate the fight. It also got the club into trouble. Right now, he feels that a break from school isn’t so bad, since he now has more time to practise on his trumpet,” Hazuki-chan concluded.
“That’s a careless way to think of things. He should have clarified things, and then he might have been let off with just a warning,” Onpu-chan chided. I totally agreed with her.
“He should have just stayed at his workplace,” Ai-chan added.
“But isn’t this good for Yada-kun?” Momo-chan asked. “I myself have thought that way too. If I didn’t have to go to school, I can make so many more sweets, and do more research by visiting other bakeries and shops.”
“Me too. I often miss out on school when I go away for location shoots, and it’s tough to work out a schedule for both school and work. So, I sometimes wonder if I should quit school,” Onpu-chan added.
I thought about what Momo-chan and Onpu-chan had said, and decided that it did make some sense.
“But school’s fun too. Afternoon cla.s.ses are tedious because I get sleepy, but eating lunch together with everyone, getting to chat with my friends; I love doing these in school!” Momo-chan exclaimed.
“That’s true. Now’s the time to really experiment and do things that only a high school student can do. I even made a friend the other day when I borrowed her notebook during lunch for reference. There are other idols in school too, but I don’t feel reluctant to go to school. Just like how I come to the MAHO-do, I also love going to school,” Onpu-chan said with a smile.
I’ve never thought about things that way before. Yes, we were kept really busy every day, but it also was fun. Lessons were hard, and we had to take tests too, but school was where all my friends were. So, I’d never really thought about quitting school.
“Doremi-chan, let’s just see what happens tomorrow, but I don’t know how to tell Leon about Yada-kun’s current predicament,” Ai-chan sighed as she patted me on the shoulder.
“Yep, you’re right. Alright, we’ll report back to everyone here tomorrow,” I said.
We were all still worried, but as Hazuki-chan seemed to have calmed down a little, we decided to wait till Monday to decide what to do.
When Ai-chan and I stepped into cla.s.s on Monday morning, friends immediately flocked to us, eager to share news about Yada-kun’s suspension.
It seemed like s.h.i.+makura Kaori-chan had already found out about it. According to her story, Yada-kun had been dragged into a fight after a performance at the “Five Pennies” on Sat.u.r.day evening.
In addition, she also informed us that a local teacher and some volunteers who usually patrolled the downtown area had rushed to the scene. As a result, they had informed our school of Yada-kun’s situation, which resulted in his suspension.
“Leon has managed to get the princ.i.p.al and head of discipline on Yada-kun’s side, but until the matter’s cleared up, he won’t be allowed to come back,” Kaori-chan whispered to us.
At that moment, Leon entered the cla.s.sroom.
“Yada-kun seems to be down with the flu. All of you take care of your health. Make sure you don’t get any of our students who are studying for their entrance exams sick, because they won’t be closing the school if all of you get infected. Though I’d love to catch a break should that happen…”
Leon’s explanation was crisp, his tone daring anyone to inquire further. However, many cla.s.smates remain unconvinced.
That evening, we all gathered at the MAHO-do.
We’d heard that Hazuki-chan had been keeping in contact with Yada-kun still, and we were eager to find out more from her.
She had tried to convince Yada-kun to tell the truth and apologize to his teachers, in hopes that they would lift his suspension. However, he had remained silent, keeping the truth even from Hazuki-chan, insisting that he’d much rather quit school completely.
It was well-known that Yada-kun worked at a jazz club and had foreigner friends. Even though we all knew that those friends were members of the jazz band and thus good people, it wouldn’t be easy convincing other people to overlook their prejudices.
However, we all trusted Yada-kun, despite the fact that he refused to share the truth with anyone. Without any proof, it would be hard to convince anyone of his innocence, and that fact grated on our nerves.
“We have no choice but to investigate this with magic!” I exclaimed.
Everyone nodded vigorously in a.s.sent.
VOLUME 2: ~Naïve~
Chapter 5 “Yada-kun’s guardian angel” PART 2
Late that night, the group of us, aside from Onpu-chan who had work early the next morning, turned into witch apprentices and flew to Yokohama on our brooms.
Along the way, we asked Hazuki-chan for updates on Yada-kun, who was still on suspension, but she confessed that she had only received a single call from him, with an apology for making her worry, and had no other news to share.
She must be worried sick. Glancing at Hazuki-chan’s pained expression, I found myself blaming Yada-kun for his recklessness.
“That’s the ‘Five Pennies’,” Hazuki-chan said as she pointed out the club to us. The place was in the midst of closing up for the night, and we spotted a male worker switching off the neon signboards at the club’s entrance.
We landed on the roof of a narrow building nearby and surveyed our surroundings.
There was a large ginkgo tree located right in front of the club. After making sure that there was n.o.body around, we flew down and landed at the foot of the tree.
This ginkgo tree was but one in an entire row of trees which stretched down the road. It was towering at over three stories tall. As it was winter, the tree was bare of leaves.
“We’ll be able to see everything from this spot,” Ai-chan said.
“And this tree’s so tall. I’m sure it knows everything that happened!” Momo-chan added cheerfully.
“Let’s move a little further away,” I suggested.
Gathering some distance from the tree, we quickly summoned Magical Stage.
“Ginkgo tree, please show us what happened here last Sat.u.r.day night, during the fight!”
Following Hazuki-chan’s command, we suddenly found ourselves floating up into the air, before being carried to one of the branches of the gingko tree. The moment we were all perched on the branch, we felt time s.h.i.+fting around us.
I saw the winter sun sinking at the horizon, so I gathered that we had travelled to about 5 p.m. on that day. GB-san’s band was scheduled to play at 7 p.m. in the evening.
The club had closed after lunch, and was probably preparing for the dinner crowd. The lights were on, but all the window blinds were drawn, and we couldn’t see inside.
“Ah! That must be Yada-kun,” Momo-chan pointed out.
“You’re right. I can see his trumpet,” Ai-chan added.
I looked closer, and managed to spot Yada-kun and his trumpet through a minor gap between the blinds. There seemed to be about ten staff members in the club as well. We spotted them pa.s.sing in and out of the club via the side entrance, sometimes to catch a cigarette break, or on errands to get ingredients. Some were dressed as chefs, while others, probably waiters, were clad in white b.u.t.ton-down s.h.i.+rts and black pants. Most were j.a.panese, but there were a few African Americans and Europeans too.
Then, it happened.
“Eh? Isn’t that Kotake?” Ai-chan suddenly exclaimed as she pointed to one of the side alleys.
I was surprised to spot him, and rubbed my eyes before looking again. Yes, it was really Kotake.
“But Yada-kun said he was alone during the incident… Doremi-chan, did you know about this?” Hazuki-chan asked.
“No…” I replied pensively.
“I’m sure Kotake-kun was worried about Yada-kun too, so that’s why he’s here,” Momo-chan a.s.sured me.
“Oh, I see. That’s really nice of Kotake,” Ai-chan said. “Doremi-chan, look at those two women coming this way. That’s Yamaki-sensei’s wife and Tachibana-senpai’s mother, right?”
I looked, and saw the two beautiful women coming from the opposite side of the road, walking in our direction as well. I wondered if they were here as spies for Leon, seeing that he was probably worried about Yada-kun too.
“They’re certainly dressed differently from usual,” Ai-chan commented.
“But they’re still recognizable, even with those sungla.s.ses,” I replied.
I wasn’t the only one watching the two women, many pa.s.sers-by were staring at them too. Though they were dressed in plain-looking coats and boots, they definitely stood out from the average woman. Leon’s wife, Minako-san, was especially conspicuous with her large sungla.s.ses, partly because the sun had already set quite some time ago. Ai-chan and I had met Minako-san and Tachibana-san during that incident last year with Tamaki, so that could also be the reason why we managed to spot them so easily.
“That’s GB-san’s wife,” Hazuki-chan suddenly whispered to us as she pointed at a woman, who was leading a child to the side entrance of the club. I had never met her in person before, having only seen photos of her in the jazz CDs Dad owned, but her presence in real life was truly imposing.
“Ah! She’s just like Big Mama,” Momo-chan commented.
Yes, that’s exactly it. This woman almost matched GB-san in size and att.i.tude; she was truly the typical big-bodied Osakan lady. At that moment, she seemed to spot Kotake, and waved him over. The two exchanged some words, but we couldn’t hear them because we were too far away. Just then, the two beautiful ladies joined them.
“Are they saying h.e.l.lo? I think Kotake will be shocked to find out that one of them’s Leon’s wife,” Ai-chan said.
“You’re right. Kotake seems surprised,” I laughed.
“Oh well, he’s in the presence of three powerful ladies, after all,” Ai-chan snickered.
Ai-chan was right, Kotake did seem a little overwhelmed standing in their midst. Finally, GB-san’s wife went back into the club.
“Doremi-chan, Ai-chan, that wasn’t very nice. Kotake-kun is here because he’s worried about Yada-kun,” Hazuki-chan scolded gently.
“Those three ladies were so cool. I wish I can grow as tall as them…” Momo-chan said dreamily.
Seriously, Momo-chan, you’re still too young to join them anyway.
At about 6 p.m., the lights at the club entrance flickered on. A short while later, a waiter came out, carrying a board with details of that night’s live concert written on it, and placed it near the door. It seemed like the club was ready for business. The two ladies, who had been waiting near the entrance, spoke to Kotake, as if convincing him to join them, and the three of them soon entered the club together.
We waited patiently on the gingko tree as the time for the concert came. As we were outside, we couldn’t tell what songs were being played, or what was happening inside the club. Yada-kun never came outside, either, despite the fact that he wasn’t performing that night. He was probably helping out as a waiter.
The street was bright with the neon lights of many establishments along the road, many of them restaurants, cafes and eateries. When we first came, there were plenty of children about, but now, the street was filled with office ladies, businessmen, and college students. I finally understood why Kotake was initially hesitant to enter the club; the area didn’t seem like the sort of place for a young student to hang out at night.
“I think the concert’s over,” Momo-chan suddenly spoke as she pointed at the club’s entrance.
It was just past 8 p.m., and customers were starting to leave the club. As there was going to be another concert later on in the evening, a number of customers were entering the establishment as well. We saw some staff members outside the side entrance too, standing around and talking, the flames of their cigarettes glowing in the dark. We couldn’t tell if Yada-kun was among them.
Soon, Kotake and the two ladies came outside as well, and Kotake made his way to the staff entrance. A while later, we spotted Yada-kun, trumpet case in hand, exit the building. He bowed to someone just inside the door, and we guessed it might be GB-san or his wife inside. Then the door closed behind him, and the alleyway fell into darkness.
Meanwhile, the two ladies had made their way towards the gingko tree we were perched on, chatting happily. They must be talking about the performance, and judging from their smiles, it must have been a good show. The two ladies then stopped under the tree; they must be waiting for Yada-kun and Kotake.
Just then, a group of males exited the club and made their way towards the two ladies.
“Did they come for the performance too? They must have spotted the ladies while inside; they’re too beautiful to go unnoticed,” Momo-chan commented.
“What? So they’re trying to pick them up? Gotta hand it to them,” Ai-chan replied.
I saw the scene as the men did; two ladies were standing alone in the dark, seemingly in a good mood after listening to such a great performance. They probably had their guards down, and I understood how the men could have worked up the courage to approach them. Regardless, the two ladies confidently stood their ground. The men might have been drunk, or up to no good, but judging from their stance, I had no doubt that the ladies knew how to handle the situation.
However, at the moment, we spotted Kotake and Yada-kun das.h.i.+ng towards the group. They must have a.s.sumed that the ladies were in trouble.
“…No! Let’s go stop this!” Hazuki-chan suddenly shouted in a panicked voice.
“Wait, something important is going to happen soon,” Ai-chan cautioned.
Yada-kun and Kotake soon reached the group of men and confronted them, their courage belying the fact that they were mere high school students. Heated words were exchanged, and suddenly, one man s.n.a.t.c.hed Yada-kun’s trumpet case from him and, with a mighty swing of his arm, tossed the case away.
“That’s horrible! Now Yada-kun’s going to be really mad!” Momo-chan gasped.
Momo-chan’s prediction came true and Yada-kun swung a punch at the man, as Kotake and Minako-san hurriedly tried to hold him back. In that moment, pa.s.sers-by came rus.h.i.+ng to the scene, no doubt drawn either by the crash of the trumpet case hitting the ground, or by the sounds of conflict. We spotted the teacher and the volunteers amongst the crowd.
Kotake was holding tight on to Yada-kun’s arm and saying something to him. Tachibana-san had gone to retrieve the trumpet case, and now handed it back to Yada-kun. However, Yada-kun proceeded to push Kotake and Minako-san towards Tachibana-san, and then motioned for them to leave the scene, but it was already too late.
After witnessing the scene, we called Onpu-chan, who was as anxious as us, and updated her regarding the situation. As usual, she provided us with great advice on how to proceed, then cautioned us not to divulge that we’d learned the truth using magic. I felt that the warning was somehow directly solely at me.
During lunch break the next day, Ai-chan, Momo-chan and I went to the staffroom to look for Leon, but he was not at his seat. Hesitating for a moment, we then headed up to the roof.
“How many times are you going to break the no smoking rule?” Ai-chan called out.
Leon jumped in surprise upon hearing her voice, but relaxed and continued to smoke after seeing that it was only Ai-chan. Then, after learning that we had come to talk about Yada-kun, he grew serious, stubbing out the cigarette in his portable ashtray.
“You three girls look like you’re ready for war,” he commented.
“Leo… Yamaki-sensei, we know the truth. Yada-kun was not at fault. Please let him come back to school,” I pleaded.
Leon sighed, and retrieved his pack of cigarettes from his pocket, pulling out another stick.
“Our high school isn’t a welfare organization. We can’t do anything if he insists on wanting to quit school,” he mumbled as he took out his lighter.
“That’s really mean, Leon!” Momo-chan argued.
“Yada might have acted without thinking, but it wasn’t his fault. In fact, I’d already heard the whole story from my wife. She even offered to speak to the school leader and princ.i.p.al, which would have led to him receiving nothing more than a heavy warning. But Yada was the one who declined her offer, so the truth was never made known. I thought he was trying to cover up the fact that Kotake was there, but that boy had already come and spoken to me himself,” Leon said.
“But isn’t that good enough, now that we all know the truth?” I asked.
“I’ll repeat it again. Our high school isn’t a welfare organization. If Yada has chosen to hide away, n.o.body can help him. You girls can go organize a pet.i.tion or whatever, but the result will still be the same. Personally, I don’t care if he chooses to drop out of school or not, but if he is unable to handle such a small situation properly, then I worry for him. The world isn’t such a kind place.”
With that, Leon finished his cigarette and extinguished it in his portable ashtray.
“Anyway, don’t make things complicated. If you girls really care for Yada, convince him to go speak to the teachers and the princ.i.p.al himself. If you can do that, I’ll help you girls and put a good word in for him then.”
Giving us a wave, Leon then headed for the stairwell door and disappeared back into the school building.
That day, we relayed Leon’s advice to Hazuki-chan. Onpu-chan was also present, having made time to come to join us.
“So that is Yamaki-sensei’s advice. Thank you for telling me. I guess I’ll take a day off work today, and go meet with Yada-kun,” Hazuki-chan said in a determined voice. Thankfully, the sadness which had plagued her these past few days was nowhere to be seen.
“Is it alright to just let her go alone?” I asked worriedly as we all stood at the entrance to the MAHO-do, watching Hauki-chan leave.
“It’s okay, they will figure it out,” Onpu-chan said in a bright and confident voice, as she tied an ap.r.o.n around her waist. All of us, including Lala and Majorika, then started to tidy up the MAHO-do. With Hazuki-chan’s determination and Onpu-chan’s confidence in our hearts, we all felt relieved for the first time in days.
The next day, Yada-kun returned to school. After school, Leon rounded up Yada-kun and Kotake and accompanied them to the princ.i.p.al’s office. They were to meet with the princ.i.p.al, the student leader, as well as the teacher in-charge of us freshmen, for a discussion.
All of us decided to “join in” the meeting as well. However, we didn’t have to use any magic. This time, we employed the old-fas.h.i.+oned method of eavesdropping.
Hazuki-chan had called us the previous night, sharing that GB-san, his wife, and the band members were all worried about Yada-kun, and apologetic that the incident had happened.
“I shared that with Yada-kun too, and told him to think about the history of jazz, as well as the history of the African-American people like GB-san. That was all,” Hazuki-chan said.
Not understanding her words, I asked Dad about it when I was updating him about Yada-kun’s situation. Dad was worried about Yada-kun as well, as he had not seen Yada-kun turn up for work at “Bird” for the entire week.
“I see. Hazuki-chan’s simple words will probably have a heavy impact on Yada-kun,” Dad said with an emotional expression on his face.
Then, seeing that I was still confused, he finally explained, “I feel it’s better that youngsters like you are exposed to cla.s.sical music than to jazz. If Yada-kun had picked up the piano, like you and Pop, or the violin like Hazuki-chan, such incidents probably won’t have happened.”
He then shared a brief history of jazz with me. It was a complicated one, but I finally understood what Dad and Hazuki-chan were talking about, and also why Yada-kun decided to go to school today too.
Now, hiding in the school garden outside the princ.i.p.al’s office, it was easy to hear what was going on inside the room, despite the curtains being drawn. Aside from Ai-chan, Momo-chan and myself, a large group of interested parties had also gathered. There was s.h.i.+makura Kaori-chan, Okuyama Naomi-chan, Nagato Kayoko-chan, Yokokawa n.o.buko-chan, Hasebe Takes.h.i.+-kun, Sagawa Yuuji-kun, Oota Yutaka-kun and Miyamae Sora-kun too. Everyone was worried about Yada-kun, and with strength in numbers, none of us were afraid of the fact that we might get caught.
Kotake was the first to speak, and after he was asked to leave, he came to join us in the garden to eavesdrop. Next, Yada-kun spoke about the encounter, and then started to talk about why he decided to change his mind and come back to school.
While jazz had a shorter history compared to cla.s.sical music, it used to be a style based on African tribal music. Thus, jazz had its roots in America, with the African Americans being its founders. While there are many Asian and European jazz artists in the world today, the genre had started out as music created by the poor and oppressed African Americans after the revolution freed them from slavery.
We had read about the discrimination issues in our textbooks, and I remembered learning how the African Americans had stood up for their rights countless times, despite facing strong opposition forces, and how they had finally earned the freedom to live as an equal member of society.
I guessed that was what Hazuki-chan was hinting at with her words, and it seemed that Yada-kun had understood, as he now explained how he wished to learn from the resilience of GB-san and his band. And then, as Leon had no doubt made him promise to do earlier, Yada-kun bowed and apologized to the princ.i.p.al at the end.
I recalled what Dad had told me last night, “History may not seem important to us now, but jazz is a genre that has come a long way. I’m glad that youngsters like you are still willing to learn about it.”
Now, I heard Leon speak about the same sentiment to the princ.i.p.al and a.s.sembled teachers. He also spoke about Yada-kun’s sincerity in mastering the trumpet, and since GB-san’s band was one of the best around, it would be good for the princ.i.p.al to give Yada-kun express permission to visit the club and practise with them.
He further added that written permi