Into the Memento: Nick Sakaki


I’m new at this writing thing.  At least in the Memento.  But a Skype to Bruno did two things: settled his worries, at least, for the moment and gave me a methodology that the guardian text describes to unlock the powers of the book.  I laughed.  Apparently I AM supposed to talk to it.  Writing is encouraged, so I scribble a few details.  But I’m supposed to tell the book a story. 

I sit at the writing desk, make myself comfortable, take a breath to relax, remove all distractions, and focus.  So here it goes:

I arrive at the Russian Deli about half past 12.  I’m hard pressed to believe this building exists just a short 10 minute walk from my ritzy hotel.  The lot beside it is an abandoned KFC surrounded by fencing.  The cranes that dominate the Bellevue skyline must be looking to gobble this place up.  Inside, only a few elderly customers shuffle about.  An ancient Russian woman stands like the Iron Curtain behind the counter, arms folded, daring me to approach.  I decide to take a seat just as the door opens and Nick Sakaki bustles in.  5’11” maybe, thin, maybe 24 if a day, rumpled ill-fitting suit, spiky hair (seemingly not by choice).  He’s riffling through papers in a beat-up messenger bag, not paying attention as he knocks into a table, barely phased, then looks up distracted, seeing me.

“Uh, you here to see the rental?”the office

I see the Buddhist talisman around his neck, wonder which parent gave him that.  Look him in the face again.  Or girlfriend.

I stand, put out my hand.  “Sophie Quinn.”

He rallies, firm hand shake.  “Nick Sakaki.  Sorry I’m late.”

“Better late than never.”

“Uh, yeah, right.  The entrance is through the back here.”  He walks past the deli counter ignoring The Curtain as he digs in his bag.  I watch him disappear and return in a moment.  “Um, that’s not right.”  He keeps searching in the bag then finally grabs the lot, slaps it down on the nearest table and flips through until he picks one.  “The space is upstairs.  Five rooms.  I coulda sworn the stairs up were in the back of the deli.”  His face screws up as he reads the paper.  Upside down.

“A new property for you?”

“This isn’t it.  Crap!  Excuse me.”  He approaches the counter and I take a breath as the Iron Curtain prepares to fall.  But just as he starts to ask, she turns and disappears through a doorway.  “What the?” 

We can hear the staccato of rapid fire Russian as Iron Curtain returns with a teenager smacking her gum and looking utterly bored in a black hoodie.  In August.  “What do you want?”  Her accent is barely there.

“Hi.  I’m supposed to be showing the upstairs space.  Can you help me out?”

“We’re very busy today.”

He tosses a look around.  “Yeah I can see that.  Look, I just need to find the door.  I’ve got a key.”

It’s like watching chess.  “I can’t leave my grandmother alone.  She’s fragile.”

I bite my lip so as not to laugh as Nick takes a long measured look at the Iron Curtain who suddenly gives him a gap-toothed smile.

“Fragile.  Right.  No worries, if you can point me in the right direction, I won’t take any more of your time.  I can see you’re in your lunch hour rush .”

Indignantly:  “We run a succesful business here.”

“And I’m just trying to do some business for your landlord.”

It hits a nerve but unlike anything I think he intended.  She visible cowers.  “We’ve done nothing wrong.  We’ve paid up.”  Even  Grandma Iron notices the change and a quick exchange in Russian happens.  My Russian is rusty so I miss it all.

“I’m sure you have, kid.  Look, if you just point me toward the door, it saves me having to call the landlord and explaining how I lost a potential renter because you folks were too overwhelmed with patrons to help.”

The teenager and the grandmother exchange glances and the girl nods.  “I will show you.”  She comes around the counter and begins to walk toward the front door.  Nick follows but stops next to me.

“Now, Ms. Quinn, if you’d follow me and my young associate here.  Let’s take a look, shall we?”

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