Baishakunin, Inc.

"Baishakunin, Inc." is a new work of fiction from Naomi Hirahara the author of the Edgar Award-winning Mas Arai mystery series and two biographies published by the Japanese American National Museum. Its main character, Caroline Mameda, starts her own match-making business after being fired from her job. Set in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo.

Read Chapter One

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Chapter Seven—Who’s Ex?

>> Chapter six

“That guy is my best friend’s ex.” The lie about Laker2009, otherwise known as Rick Sleazeball Saiki, my former boyfriend, comes out so easily. He has just been in the office of my fledgling business, Baishakunin, Inc., a matchmaking service that is somehow supposed to keep my condo payments afloat. Only problem is, Rick is my first and only customer. Besides he has signed a contract in the presence of my public face, the elderly Oizumi-san, and my landlord, Jake. Oizumi-san makes most of her living cleaning houses and has excused herself for her …

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Chapter Six—Behind the Shoji Screen

>> Chapter five

I pull Jake, my landlord, behind the Japanese folded screen in the back of the offices of Baishakunin, Inc. “Ah, ah—” No words emerge as I gesture towards the voices in the reception area. What do you say when your ex-boyfriend is looking for love at your fledgling dating service?

“Are you choking on something?” Jake asks and I quickly put my hand on his mouth to muzzle him. His full lips feel pretty soft, but that’s not the point right now. What was the point was that Rick, or LakerFan2009, was being questioned on his love …

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Chapter Five—Full House

>> Chapter four

“Cool. This going to be a soft-porn gig?”

I look incredulously at Kyle Honda. If it weren’t for the tattoos and the two hoop earrings in his ear, he would look like a fresh-faced baby boy. Kyle is getting his bachelor’s degree in filmmaking in USC and is desperate to work for close to nothing to get any kind of credits on his resume. So, in other words, a perfect fit for my new company, Baishakunin, Incorporated.

“What made you think that this job would involve pornography? This is a legitimate high-class match-making company.”

“Oh, over the …

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Chapter Four—Finding Mrs. Butterworth

>> Chapter three

It’s been a week and I’ve gone to at least ten garage sales, two 99-cents outlets, and five thrift stores to make the headquarters of my new matchmaking service, Baishakunin, Inc., halfway presentable. My best friend Ginne Lee did her part by lending me all this Japanese stuff she had in storage—shoji screens and Japanese bowls—to make everything look authentic.

The only thing missing is a face—the face of my company. I need a Japanese Mrs. Butterworth, a soft, comforting maternal image that I’ll be first to admit I don’t have.

“No. No stealing of web …

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Chapter Three—Let’s Make a Deal

>> Chapter two

Ever since I turned 35 (two years ago), everyone has treated me differently. During every holiday dinner, my parents and my younger brother with his wife and two kids look at me pitifully, as if my expiration date has long passed. I’m no longer part of the cool 21-34 crowd on surveys and marathon categories, I’m now part of the 35-44-year-old crowd. Even bag boys call me ma’am and offer to carry my groceries to my car—what are they thinking—that maybe I drive a Super Stock Dodge, the classic Little Ole Lady from Pasadena wheels?

All this …

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