The rest of the week was a blur of activity. Ju took one day to do a van on his own with the guys watching him do one side then allowing them to work on the other in turn. When he was satisfied they had a grasp of what was needed he let them loose.

The installation itself wasn’t that difficult if your technique was sound. The panel is laid across the top of the vehicle and down the sides, measured and cut to length and width. It’s held in place with heavy duty magnets on the top of the vehicle. Then using squeegees especially made for the work, the backing is pulled off inch by inch and the panel which has a special glue on the back is slowly and evenly smoothed down section by section with more backing pulled down as the work progressed. Special knives are used to cut around handles or anything else in the way and the edges of the squeegees were used to smooth the edges of the panel in place.

Any number of things could go wrong though and of course things did. If the backing is pulled too fast it could rip the vinyl or too much air could get under the panel and create blisters. Both can be fixed but it required removing the paneling up to the point of the mistake and that was a painstakingly slow ordeal.

The first day laying the panels included one very botched save attempt which had a panel in two jagged pieces but Ju had planned for that and made sure he had a couple of extras. He knew the guys were doing their best so he kept his temper in check as much as he could. When Tomoka and Ichi came in from school he put her to work making up designs for his “special project” and Ichi running supply errands back and forth to the shops and for the guys and that included meal runs. The brat squawked about it but Ju just ignored him for the most part, gave him money for gas which he was sure the kid only used part of for that purpose, and kept him hopping until dinner when he let them both go telling them to make sure they got their homework done.

He managed to spend a little time awake with his wife, usually at dinner but getting up so early every morning meant he was wiped out by the time the meal was finished. Still he appreciated her snuggling up to him until he fell asleep which usually wasn’t long after his head his the bed. She didn’t complain and while he was grateful he also felt a little guilty.

By the end of the week, the first three vans were done and delivered and three more were sent to the shop. Ayumi had called him very excited about the vans and praising him and his staff for the excellent work. Ju had gone over each van with a fine toothed comb making sure there were no cracks, bubbles or tears in the panels. He asked her about the box trucks but she wasn’t sure when he could expect them. He thanked her and hung up.

The second week went much smoother and Ju began to think that maybe he would stay sane for the whole project. He should have known better. Week three it hit the fan. First one of the vans came in with a huge dent in the side. Seems that it was in an accident and they thought that the body work would have been done before Ju needed the van. They were able to get a new panel for the truck and get it installed. Ju sent Ayumi the bill for parts and labor which Aya kind of growled about for a minute saying that Ayumi was overpaying as it was. Ju didn’t argue about the overpaying but body work was body work. That slowed the completion of the vans for a couple of days. Ju paneled that truck himself on that Saturday so it could go out with the other two. He got back into the flat around midnight and didn’t bother to eat. Aya found him slumped over the kitchen table, his plate untouched next to him. He was back up at five sunday morning to deliver the last van in that group.

Monday of week four brought the last four vans all which were in pristine order but there were four to do and deliver in the same time frame. The guys were polished hands at this now but still did their work slowly knowing that Ju was a perfectionist when it came to his shop work. Because of the size of the shop, they could keep the four vans in the bays but they could only have three in the bay when they were working on one. That meant moving one out into the back lot. Needless to say, it rained for three days straight. The van had to be clean and dry to panel and once paneled had to stay dry for at least 24 hours to allow the glue to set properly. Having it raining for days meant that they could only work on two and then had to wait another day before they could move one out to work on the others. Annoying and time consuming but not a real big deal.

Ju was happy with the progress of the project and since they couldn’t work for at least one of the rainy days, gave everyone some much needed leisure time. He caught up on some sleep, made sure that everything was going okay as far as supplies were concerned and wait for his wife to get home. He’d been too tired to jump her bones and was in need of some much needed Aya goodies. It was just his bad luck that the hospital had been hopping because of the rain and car accidents and she fell asleep almost as soon as she’d finished eating. For her part she did at least try to stay awake but she was tired too. Between fixing meals for him, working and baby sitting Toshi, she had a full plate. Speaking of Toshi, he was playing that night so after Ju made sure that Aya was tucked in he made a quick run to the bar.

The place was packed when Ju got there which wasn’t unusual when the band played. He found a parking space in the back and headed inside. He was greeted with lots of hi fives, pats on the back and man hugs. The band was playing when he walked farther in and Atsushi walked up and gave him an open beer. They talked for a few minutes, Atsushi asking how work was going and Ju how Toshi was doing with the band. “He’s good Ju. Damn good. Who did you say he played with? Gargoyle? The only group I know of that is called that, plays heavy metal. Wait…he’s Toshi from “THE” Gargoyle? What the hell? Why didn’t you tell me? How do you know him?”

Ju just shrugged. “He’s very laid back and didn’t want there to be a fuss. He likes playing in little clubs incognito. The guys worked it out so he can leave if he has a conflicting schedule so they don’t play when he can’t come but since Gargoyle has already finished touring for the year, he’s got some free time. As for knowing him…I met him about twenty years ago. I was working in a music shop and he came in for some strings. I was behind the counter playing and we started talking. He taught me a lot about playing. We’ve been friends ever since.”

Atsushi nodded. “Well I’m sure not complaining. He’s been getting along with everybody though Megumi is scared to death of him. She did her usual “I’d like to fuck you” thing with him. I don’t know what he said to her but she flees the room whenever he’s around. He gets this look an his face like a shark that just spied dinner but he never pounces on anyone. Damnedest thing I ever saw.” Ju laughed. “If I know him he just told her the truth. That his current love scares the hell out of me, him AND Aya.” Atsushi just stared at him in disbelief. “Aya? Your Aya? Scares Aya? I don’t believe it. When it comes to you she’d face a herd of angry water buffalo to protect you and not flinch. I can’t imagine anyone that would scare her.”

Ju laughed. “She damn sure would try. Sometimes she has more courage then common sense but I think she’s right about this one. She likes him and I think the feeling is mutual but if she ever made a play for Toshi I don’t think he’d hesitate to gut her…verbally. He wouldn’t hurt her physically. He’s still a scary man.” Atsushi raised one eyebrow at the he but didn’t comment besides saying that Megs was royally barking up the wrong tree. As if he knew they were talking about him Toshi grabbed the mike and welcomed his good buddy Ju back to the bar. Ju waved as people in the place start to clap and say hello. He held out his beer to Toshi in salute then headed to the bar with Atsushi.

He had one more beer then waited for the set to be over. Toshi saddled up not long after and asked where the missus was. Ju sighed, told him what happened and that he was gonna head home since he still had to get up early. Toshi nodded, told him he was driving into town to meet Kiba for a day and that he’d be back to the flat late tomorrow. He patted Ju on the back, told him he was getting boring in his old age and fled the bar before Ju could respond. Ju chuckled as he watched Toshi leave, knowing how much the man missed his lover. He turned to Atsushi, who waved off the money he was holding out to pay for his beers, nodded in thanks and said his good nights. It was later than he had expected when he got back but it had done him some good to get out.

He was back in the shop at five. The rain had stopped and he was busy moving the completed van to the back lot when his cell phone rang. Ayumi was on the other line. He couldn’t imagine what the woman would want at that ungodly hour of the morning and after he hung up he wished that he still didn’t know. She had called to let him know that the two trucks would be arriving earlier than expected. Ju had cursed mentally. With the four vans he had now there was no place to put two box trucks. Hell there was no place to put one. He was going to have to get the last two vans done that day and the whole four delivered in less then thirty six hours when the first box truck was set to arrive. He’d have to call the printer to make sure those panels were finished and delivered asap.

He called, they were and the printer promised that he’d have them shipped out first thing that morning. He grabbed Ryu as soon as the man hit the shop, had him make sure everyone got in as soon as they could and went to lay out some type of scenario that would get him some space for the coming trucks. The only way he could see it done was to do the last three vans now and get them on the road as soon as he could.

Ryu stuck his head in the door to let Ju know that two of the other guys had shown up. Ju got them to wipe down the van he’d just moved and deliver it to the bakery. One guy would drive the van, the other follow and give him a ride back. While they were gone, Ju would have the other vans wiped down. He checked the weather report and there was no rain in sight for the next couple of days. He put the crew that was there to work on two of the vans, wiping them down good. Once that was done he paneled one van himself while the guys did the other van. Ju had that van sent out like the first one, depleting his crew by two once again. He called Ayumi to make sure they had a place to store the vans inside, which they did, and gave her detailed instructions on what and what not to do with the vans for the next couple of days. Once that was done he turned to work on the last van.

It was late evening by the time all the vans were done and delivered. He’d put the remaining guys to work building a scaffold to be use when they panel the box trucks. He was hoping and praying that he could get at least one in the bay. If not, they would have to put up a tent to keep any rain off that might fall while they worked. He was busy going over the measurements of the panels and making sure they had been stored properly when Aya stormed into the shop. She slowed down long enough to greet the guys before heading toward Ju’s studio, a bento box in hand. She shut the door behind her with a resounding bang. She stood there all righteous indignation and put the bento box on his desk.

He regarded her with mild irritation. “Hello to you too. To what do I owe this visit? What’s with the look and the box?” Aya pointed at the box. “That’s the lunch you didn’t eat. It was still in the fridge with what was left of your dinner and your mostly uneaten breakfast. Ju you promised me that you wouldn’t do this. You need to take the time to eat! I don’t want you falling out because you aren’t taking care of yourself!” Ju stood up and went to his very upset wife. He gave her a hug before looking her in the eyes. “I’m sorry baby. You know how I get. I promise I’ll try to do better. You can blame your friend for this. They upped the arrival date for the trucks. I had to get these vans done asap. Forgive me?” He was about to give her a kiss when he noticed one of the guys doing something wrong with the scaffolding and rushed out to correct him before he caused a disaster. He forgot all about Aya being in the other room and his food and went off talking rapidly with Ryu. Aya just sighed, left him a note and went back upstairs. She didn’t see him again that night.


~ by jujuken on December 9, 2012.

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