“The living room,” said Yuki, proud, but in his very human and contemplative manner, smiling passively. Evelyn clapped across the pristine granite floors in her little sandals.
“Look, Dad, look at this! Look!” she screamed. She had found a paint brush on the coffee table amid newspaper.
“Yes,” said Yuki as a young woman, his daughter emerged from the hall and greeted the visitor with a gentle bow. “This is my youngest, Emily.”
“Pleased to meet you,” said Hoagland.
“Perhaps you could show Mr Hoagland’s daughter how to watercolor,” said Yuki, then kneeling said to Evelyn with a wag of his finger and a broad, squinting smile, “but you must be careful, very messy for little girls!”
Hoagland took a good look around his future business partner’s open-plan home and marvelled at some quality that was confusing his senses. Since walking in he had felt as though some static had dropped, or a tension, like the pulling of a rubber band around his mind had loosened. He didn’t need to search for it; the feeling was abrupt and disruptive, as people in his field were known to describe new products—though this wasn’t the result of a product, he felt, or he would have pinpointed it—it was a phenomena of some kind, an alien lucidity and calm. He strolled automatically, open-mouthed to the kitchen bench, touching the wood, the steel.
“We’d better go outside I think,” said Emily, bundling the watercolours, the paper and newspaper. Hoagland realised she was asking his permission and waved assent.
“Sure, sure, of course.”
He turned to Mr Amimoto who was flicking dry a paintbrush onto the newspaper.
“How?” Hoagland began, unable to finish his sentence. He frowned as if anticipating a sneeze.
“It’s all channels, Mr Hoagland. We must work with them, especially when we build.”
“Channels of what?” said Hoagland. It wasn’t his usual mode to soften enquiry but he made an effort, sensing that something here was genuinely above him. “Channels of…”
“The blood of the earth,” he said, surfing an invisible wave. His fluid and childlike way clashed with his blue blazer, grey shirt, polished shoes, red Rolex. Hoagland never felt more attracted to a man. “Like oil or water,” he continued, snaking his hand, dowsing, “like oil or water you have to know where to dig, where to go, to build. I build here.” He pointed downward with both index fingers. He suddenly laughed and strode over to his guest to hit him hard on the shoulder, to push him like a big plush bear. Hoagland felt bewitched, stuck to the spot. He laughed too.
“Well, let’s,” Hoagland began, searching for his briefcase, “let’s…”
“Let’s paint!” said Yuki.