Yuuto walked over to and sat down on the only wooden bunk bed open which was the one on the bottom right.
His new roommates were quietly staring at him waiting for him to say something.
“Hello, I am Yuuto Shimizu. It’s nice to meet you. I hope we get along with each other.”
Encouraged by his friendliness, the other three roommates introduced themselves.
The person sitting across from him on the other bottom bunk bed named himself to be Motoki Ono, he was almost at the point of being overweight.
Above him was Rinji Matano who was the exact opposite to Motoki 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 to muffle his laughter muttering, “You’re so gullible.”
“Sounds like it was rough. The reason I was sent here was because I had a large number of gambling debts that couldn’t be paid off. Things were getting out of control with my creditors getting really angry. So when I was offered this opportunity to clean the slate and work off the debt as a host I accepted. It was kind of a no-brainer, this or constant fear of the 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 come back and work for them,” Rinji lamented while staring mournfully at the ground.
Pretty boy dropped down in front of Yuuto from the bunk bed above.
He turned around 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 that 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. What’s it 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 as well, it’s a good place to escape your debts and pay them off over time. The only problem is your freedom and the things you can do are 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,” said Motoki.
“Well, I’m going to the restroom. Just so you know our rooms don’t have a bathroom, this floor shares one and we all try to not wreck it. The restroom is the middle blue door on the right, the one on the opposite side is where you can find the showers,” said Pretty boy as he walked to the door 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.
“This isn’t a prison and they don’t worry about it much because whoever tries escaping never gets that far and always ends back up here. Trust me, you are better off following the rules,” answered Rinji.
“Yeah, we learned that the hard way,” Motoki replied.
“Motoki you make it sound like we’re the ones who tried escaping. It wasn’t us who tried to escape, but our former roommate. The one who used to have that bunk bed,” said Rinji pointing at the bunk bed Yuuto was sitting on.
“Where is he now? What happened to him?” asked Yuuto.
“He was always complaining about how 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. I 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 anymore either.
This is why it’s a foolish idea to try and escape, if you think it’s bad here, it is 100 times worse with the Yakuza,” said Rinji.
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 all startled when Pretty boy opened the door with a bang.
“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 as he looked at the expressions everyone was making.
“I guess there’s no need to dwell on the past. We only need to learn from it and move on. On another note, I guess I can explain what we do every day.
We actually won’t be doing any hosting yet as we are all in training. We normally just 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 all we do every day. Once the old man thinks we are ready, we are then moved to a room with one other host, and start getting paid 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 Yuuto,” said Pretty boy as he climbed the wooden ladder to the top bunk.
Motoki reached up from his bed and flipped the light switch turned the lights off.
Due to the stress as well as the day’s physicals tests Yuuto was able to fall asleep rather quickly.
The next morning he was woken up by the bright light overhead being turned on. Yuuto tried to cover his head with his pillow to try and fall asleep again.
As Pretty boy descended the wooden ladder it let out a loud groan. With a loud thud, he hopped off the ladder onto the floor.
“Rise and shine buttercup. We have a long day ahead of us,” said Pretty boy in his best drill sergeant voice as he walked past Yuuto and exited the room.
Yuuto sat up while yawning. He slowly stood up and sleepily stumbled out into the hallway 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.
“Are you ready to go to the cafeteria?” asked Pretty boy.
“Yeah, I finished up and I’m ready to eat. Does the cafeteria have anything good to eat?” asked Yuuto.
“Normally, it’s 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 while Pretty boy explained about each of the ten floors of the building and what was on each floor.
The gym was in the basement.
The 1stfloor had the offices, holding cells, the front lobby desk, with the elevator next to it for customers to get to the club on the floors above.
On the 2ndfloor, the kitchen and storage rooms could be found.
The 3rdfloor was the host club where they would be working when they passed their training.
The 4thfloor was nothing but VIP rooms.
The 5thfloor was the hostess club where the old man’s wife was in charge of running.
The 6thfloor on up was split into two separate buildings. The one on the right was for the men and the one on the left was for the women.
The 6thfloor contained the cafeteria and classrooms while the 7thand 8thfloor were for host/hostess in training and 9thand 10thwere for those already working in the clubs.
By the time Pretty boy was done explaining, they had reached the cafeteria.
The cafeteria was filled with numerous round metal tables.
Pretty boy led Yuuto to pick up their breakfast of miso soup and steamed rice and then found an empty table to start eating.
“So women work here also? How come I haven’t seen one yet?” Asked Yuuto as he looked around the cafeteria.
“Like I said before the males and females are separated from each other. The only time you’ll see them is if you’re working in the kitchen with them,” replied Pretty boy.
“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 had finished eating breakfast, everyone went to the gym and waited for Dr. Doi to arrive and supervise the day’s exercises.
They stayed at the gym until it was time for lunch. Everyone hit the showers and changed their clothes before going to the cafeteria for lunch.
Yuuto and his roommates sat together again and ate their lunch.
Lunch was rice, fish, and a salad. Washing it all down with cold barley tea.
Yuuto, unsure where to go after finishing eating, followed his roommates to one of the several classrooms where the lessons on how to be a host would be held.
As they entered the classroom Yuuto could see at the front of the classroom there stood a man wearing a flashy neon blue suit with his hair dyed fire red.
“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 deep into the details of how to pour and serve customers. First, let us review the core rules of being a host. For those of you who are new listen closely,” said Instructor O as he walked up to a chalkboard and began writing.
When finished he turned around and pointed at the first point.
“#1) Your number one job is to act as a servant, entertainer, and as a boyfriend for the customer. While also encouraging them to buy food and drinks. This is where you will earn your money.
#2) Hosts are not gigolos. You do not sleep with a customer for money.
#3) You are allowed 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 only 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 cannot come back unless they pay what they owe.
For those of you who don’t understand this rule, it means you need to 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 the 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,” said Instructor O as he 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 customers to be enticed to order appetizers from the food menu.”
“The Next step, 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.”
Yuuto and the rest of the trainees watched as Instructor O showed them how to correctly pour the wine.
“At no time are you to 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 have 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.”
“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 just as I showed you before.”
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.
The four roommates spent the rest of the day watching TV and reading manga from the small library on the same floor.
Several days later, Pretty boy who had been in training the longest of the four roommates was promoted from a trainee to an active host and was moved to a room for hosts on another floor.
The routine of waking up, physical training, and then learning new things in the classroom kept going on every day until two weeks had passed.
Yuuto and the rest of his roommates did not see or hear anything from Pretty boy ever since he had moved out of the room.
During those two weeks, Yuuto learned more about how to serve customers, about eye contact, small talk, along with other tips on how to be a good host.
He had lost count of how many times he had been reprimanded for messing up throughout the two weeks of training.
When the day’s physical training was finished Dr. Doi gave him a slip of yellow paper asking him to go to Instructor O’s office.
“Come in,” said Instructor O.
The office was messy with books and papers stacked everywhere.
Instructor O was sitting behind his desk looking at some papers.
“You may sit down,” said Instructor O pointing at the two chairs in front of his desk with one hand while he continued writing something on the papers with his other hand.
One of the seats had multiple books haphazardly stacked on it. While the other only had a few folders.
Yuuto moved the folders and sat down.
When several more minutes passed Instructor O finally looked up from the paperwork on his desk and stared at Yuuto.
“You want to know what I thought of you on the first day I met you? Well, I’ll tell you my thoughts even if you don’t want to know. I was amazed!!” said Instructor O.
He paused and Yuuto started to feel proud of himself. The last two weeks were tough.
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 decided that you are to be 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 only able to squeak by to start working as a host.