SUMMER BLOOMS by John F. Martin.

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou and all related characters are owned by Ashinano Hitoshi and Kodansha. I wrote this because I had to. Please don't sue. You wouldn't get anything anyway.

I had run out of coffee beans again, so I was on another trip to Yokohama.

I was trying a different route this time though. A couple of customers had said that a bridge had been built over one of the flooded-out roads. I realised that going that direction would provide a more direct path towards Yokohama and perhaps I could make a day-trip out of it instead of having to spend the night. I was trying to find that road...

I had so far not had any luck. But the area I was riding through was very nice. It was a hot, humid day, and the road I was taking was lined with trees. Most so tall that the sunlight was filtered through them as though through lace. Spots of light dotted the road, and the resulting shade helped the little bit of breeze that existed to keep things, if not cool, at least comfortable.

I rounded a slow curve and rolled to a stop. The road ended not far ahead. I definitely must have taken a wrong turn somewhere. I was about to pull out my map when I noticed a spot of bright color through the trees farther down. Curious, I gave my scooter a bit of gas and coasted that direction. As I cleared a grouping of trees I saw a house set back from the road, a small path leading up to it. The color I had seen had come from one of the unbelieveably numerous plants that surrounded the house. There were lilies, and rose bushes, and marigolds and many more that I didn't know the names of. All of them with blooms of bright colors. All of them well kept. I put down the stand of my scooter and slowly walked towards the house as I looked around at the wonderous colors around me. In the sluggish air the manifold fragrances of the flowers filled the air, and with my scooter's engine off I became aware of the many birdsongs that accompanied them. This was evidently a haven for many of the local birds, and I admitted that it was probably a nice place to live if you were a bird.

As I neared the house, I saw that it had a wide covered porch going around the whole of the house, with wide steps leading up to it. As I climbed the steps, I called out, "Hello? Is anyone home?" I waited at the top of the steps for a minute, but aside from the birds, I heard no reply. Looking around I saw a large, comfortable-looking hammock attached to the beams across one corner of the porch, and many wide windows with open shutters. Over by the hammock, seemingly out of place, an old broom rested against the railing. I moved to the metal-screen door and peered inside--the inner door had been left open--but could see no one. I did see a desk and chair just inside the door though, and as I took a closer look at them I noticed something that made me glance around the inside again and then open the door.

There was dust over everything.

A layer of dust covered the desk and chair. When I opened the screen door I could even see cobwebs over them. As I stepped inside, I saw that I was not the first person in here. Several trails of footprints lead through the house. As I looked at them I could see that they were all about the same size, and thus I assumed all by the same person. As my eyes adjusted to the lower light levels inside, I saw a calender on the wall over the desk. The date on it was from thirty years ago. I didn't move any farther inside, though I did call out again. But, as before, the birds were the only ones to reply. Looking around the room, I saw that, aside from the tracks in the dust on the floor, nothing else seemed to be touched. I stepped back out and closed the screen door, glancing at the boards of the porch and noting that--aside from my own tracks--they were spotless. I walked over to the hammock in the corner and examined it. It was also clean. Though worn and fraying at the edges. I sat down on it and looked about. My ears were filled with the chirps and trills of birds. My eyes greeted with the warm, bright colors of the flowers and bushes surrounding the house, and my nose tickled with the sweet smells of the blossoms of the same. I didn't know who it was that was taking care of this place, though I could understand why they did so. This was not just a haven for birds. It was one for people as well.

After a while I stood and took the broom from it's resting place. First brushing the dirt and dust from the bottoms of my shoes, I then swept it off the porch. Following my trail back to the door and then down the stairs. Finally satisfied that it was as clean as before I came, I put the broom back at it's resting place and walked down the steps and back toward my scooter. I pulled my map out and oriented myself, then with one last lingering look, I started my scooter and turned back down the road...

Yokohama Shopping Trip, 'Summer Blooms', End.