Gaby Book 14 ~ The Girl ~ Chapter *17* Sayonara Nihon

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*Chapter 17*

Sayonara Nihon

We waited……and waited. The authorities were maybe a little early with closing the roads but our fellow observers seemed unfazed by the wait, personally I could do with a shower but I guess I need to be patient.

“I hope they aren’t too much longer,” Mand mentioned in an echo of my own thoughts.
“Yeah,” I agreed checking my watch.
“What is the time?”
“Ten past five, they shouldn’t be far away.”
“Do you reckon your dad is here?”
“Dunno, could ring I guess.”

Before I could put the thought into action the sound of approaching motorbikes pulled our attention to the roadway. A couple of the police riders sped towards our corner and through to the finish area that was just out of our view from our vantage point. An excitable MC could be heard yammering away but for us we were still very much in the dark as to what was happening.
The lead car sped past; they can’t be far away now.
“Here they come,” I pointlessly mentioned, I mean Mand can see the same things I do.
And what we could see was Bianchi jerseys at the front of a sea of riders bearing down at some speed on our position on the last corner.
“Bond, Bond!”
“Go ‘pollinaris!”
They swept past and that was that. A few riders had been tailed off – I’m sure more are still further behind. The commentary reached a crescendo; there was a winner but who?
It was fifteen minutes later before we were allowed past the barriers.
Brrp brrp, brrp brrp!
“Where are you?” Jules asked.
“Walking to the finish, where are you?”
“In a car park behind the big building.”
“Who won?”
“Tell ‘em to hurry up and get here,” Dad’s voice interrupted.
“Dad says,”
“I heard him, we’re coming.”
The call ended and my handy went back in my pocket.
“Yeah, Dad wants us to get a move on.”
“We could try riding,” Mand suggested.
Easier said than done of course.
We wheedled our way through the assembled throng and no more than ten minutes after the phone call we rode up to Team Bianchi HQ where our team director was just getting off the bus.
“Heya, George, wassup?”
“Good ride, girls?”

Grrr! Well I guess George always has thought I was a girl right from that first trip I made to see Mum in Germany nearly three years ago.
“Not too bad, where is everyone?” I enquired, there being a distinct lack of bodies about.
“Ah, there you are,” Dad stated from behind us.
“Geez, you made me jump!”
Mand giggled to herself.
“George, Vincenzo is looking for you.”
“Ach so, Italians!” he allowed rolling his eyes, before leaving us.
“Who won, Mr Bond?” Mand asked.
The $64,000 question.
“Jen by a country mile!”
“Mum won, ye ha!” I giggled about letting my bike go, Dad caught it before it hit the deck.”
“Geez, Gab,” Mand put in, “so what was the rush Mr B?”
“They want a few more pictures, especially with you pair as you weren’t about yesterday.”
Was it really only this morning that we left Kyoto?
I guess the photographs are the price we pay for the privilege of racing and travelling at someone else’s expense. It’s not a bad trade off, sometimes it can be fun; the downside is that they expect you to be smiling all the time, that can be a drag. To be fair it’s not been too much of a burden this week and I’m sure we wouldn’t’ve had such a brill time yesterday if Aoi hadn’t been looking for photo opportunities.

Satoro and Miyaki took a few ‘team’ photos before dragging Mand and myself complete with bikes up to the castle itself – how many steps? By the time we returned to the bus most people had departed and the others were waiting for our return.

“Where’s Mum?”
“Vincenzo dragged her off for a TV interview.” Erika supplied.
“You two need to get changed,” Dad mentioned.
Not wrong there, even I could smell me.
“Come on, there are showers,” Tina told us, “Jen’s only just gone so you have time.”
Showers – think portaloo and you wouldn’t be far off the mark. It was good to strip out of the salt encrusted kit and even if the water wasn’t exactly hot it was warm enough to reveal that the sun had been topping up the ole tan, the sting causing me to yelp. Hmm, nice.

Of course fresh clothing had been a quick grab into the top of my case, where Mum put my sensible stuff I’ve no idea, all I could find was a filmy frock. Look just because I’m a girl doesn’t mean I have to like wearing this stuff, well okay maybe sometimes.

“Very um, you need some makeup, panda eyes.” Mand stated when I emerged.
“And you,” I noted.
Mum and Vincenzo arrived back a moment before us still chatting away in their common language, German.
“Ah, the bambino is a mucha bootiful like her mama!”
Sheesh, save us p-leeze.
“I don’t think so.”
“Is a true.”
“What’s he on about?” Mand queried
“Giving me a load of flannel, I think he’s been drinking,” I opined.
“We are on a bit of a schedule people,” Dad prompted.
Schedule indeed, it’s a three-hour drive to Tokushima for our overnight ferry back to Tokyo, it’s due to depart at ten and it’s quarter to seven. Ken was keen to get moving, so much so that I wasn’t even in my seat when he set off. Not a problem except I fell over and ended up on my back with my dress over my head!

“Nice knickers, sis,” Jules crowed.
“Ah gomen’nasai!” Ken stated.
“Dress yourself, kiddo,” Dad suggested.
“Help your sister up, Jules,” Mum instructed.
“Nice shade of pink, Gab,” Mand smirked as I slipped into the seat next to her.
“Whatever,” I sulked.
The light was going quickly; by the time we reached the motorway it was almost dark.
“So what happened in the race, Jenny?” Mand asked of my mother sat in front of us.
And so we were regaled with the tale of the Japan Cup.
“…So we caught Erika with about twenty to go.”
“Damn,” Mand offered.
“It was expected,” Mum observed.
“Even so,” Mand noted.
“Anyhow, that was plan B, plan A was going to erm, plan. When Anja and Tina turned up the screws with five left no one else was sure how to react.”
“We saw them at the front on the last corner,” I informed her.
“Well a couple of riders went long from the corner but Anja didn’t panic leading me into the two hundred. When she pulled off I jumped on a fresh wheel, one of the Canadians, then at fifty I went for it.”
“Three lengths at the line,” Dad put in.
“Wish I could sprint,” Mand sighed.
“We can work on it,” Mum promised.
The Tokushima Expressway was relatively quiet and we seemed to be making reasonable progress, any hold up could still see us missing the boat. Luckily I still had some snack food from this morning, we don’t have time to eat before we reach the ferry. By nine we were only fifty kilometres from our destination, not that most of those on board would know, even Dad was gently snoring and I’d dozed off at least twice.
A change in engine tone stirred most people and the sharp turn into the docks finished the job. The bright arc lights of the dockside were a rude awakening after the unlit expressway and looking across the expanse of concrete it looked pretty nasty outside, wet and windy. Our little convoy was amongst the last vehicles to make check in, once through the gate we drove directly onto the ship.

It’s a long crossing, something like twelve hours, which is actually longer than driving, but we do get to sleep in beds on the way. It’s not the biggest ship; well about cross Channel rather than North Sea ferry and by the number of vehicles on the car deck, Saturday isn’t the busiest journey. There are three levels of accommodation, mat on the floor, basic cabin or superior suite, we had basic cabins – I say we, Genji, Ken and Vincenzo were slumming it with the mats.

With Dad and George sharing a double, the adult riders had one cabin and Jules, Mand and me had the other cabin. We were barely sorted out when a change in the ever-present rumble of the engines signalled our departure from the quayside. Food was the priority so after dumping bags we assembled outside the ‘a la carte’ restaurant – none of us has really eaten since breakfast back in Hiroshima over thirteen hours ago.
“I’d like to propose a toast,” George stood and raised his glass, “to Vincenzo, Genji and Ken – without you this trip couldn’t’ve happened or be so successful, to Bianchi!”
“To Bianchi!” we all agreed raising our own drinks – even Mand and I have been allowed a glass of wine tonight.

That was the prompt for Vincenzo to propose his own toast, “Thank you George, both for your kind words and for bringing these a laydeez to Nihon to help us promote not just a Bianchi but racing for the laydeez, is a big success. To Team Apollinaris, Kanpai!”
“Kanpai!” we all agreed - well you sort of get into the spirit right?

Dinner itself was quite unspectacular, steak with the inevitable rice and vegetables, I’m guessing the demand for anything not Japanese cuisine is quite small. With such a late departure entertainment options onboard are pretty limited so no one was particularly keen to leave the restaurant. Eventually our hand was forced as the staff were clearly packing up for the night, neither more drink or food would be forthcoming tonight, mind you it is after midnight!

Our transport was rolling about a little, well okay, quite a bit, looks like it’s gonna be a bumpy night. As the smallest I’d pulled the upper bunk, I’m not sure if it dampened or multiplied the ships movements but it wasn’t doing my stomach a great many favours! Not that I worried about it too long as exhaustion managed what intent couldn’t and I was soon comatose.
“Gerrup, Gab,” Jules mentioned shaking my leg.
The cabin didn’t have a window so I had to take her word for that however a tap of my handy’s screen revealed it was eight fifteen.
“When d’we dock?” I mumbled.
“Five minutes.”
There was a knock on the door followed by a muffled voice, “You girls getting up?”
The snow on Mount Fuji shone like a beacon even from out here in the Sagami Sound, last night’s storm having blown itself out giving our last day in Japan a memorable start. Breakfast was a simple traditional Japanese affair, thankfully supplemented by some passable coffee. Apparently we had lost time in the storm so our ETA was now ten fifteen, which was just as well, the occupants of our cabin needed to repack their bags ready to fly as we go direct from the ferry to Haneda airport for our afternoon flight home.

“Do you think we’ll ever come again, to Japan that is?” Mand mused as we stood at the rail watching our approach to the Tokyo ferry terminal.
“Maybe, I’d like to, it’s been fun but we haven’t really visited very much.”
“We did come to race,” Mand observed.
“Yeah but we spent half the trip on the bus.”
“We did go into Tokyo, he he,”
“What’s funny about that?”
“ I’ve just realised, Tokyo, it’s an anagram of Kyoto or the other way round.”
“Yeah, I suppose Kyoto was pretty good.”
“Come on you two, we need to get the bus loaded,” Dad called from the doorway.
Reluctantly we went inside and returned to our cabin to collect our bags.
“Wondered where you pair were,” Jules offered.
“Up on deck, you could see the Tokyo Tower earlier.”
“Wish we could stay longer,” Mand supplied.
“Only if Boris was here,” the Dark One noted.
“Missing swapping spit?” I chortled.
“You have such a way with words, Gab,” Mand pointed out as she dragged her case outside.
“Just missing him,” Jules said turning a fetching pink, “anyway I’m sure you won’t waste any time going round to Maxie when we get home.”
“As if!”
“Oh come on, Gab, everyone knows about you two.”
My turn to blush and it’s not like there’s any reason, Goth Gurl is just trying to wind me up.

Maddy Bell 14.11.15

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