This is the first chapter to a novel I wrote last year but shelved. It had started out as a short story and bloomed into something larger. I didn’t realise just how large until I’d finished and discovered it was a part of a series, not book one either. No, it was book two and as I was already working on something else it got pushed aside. But I do intend to return to it, one day. It is another Yakuza themed one… dark humor and violence are a rampant. Oh, and there is a dirty cop.
The research I did for this book, spawned The Yakuza and the English Teacher series, book one Dangerous Lessons available now, with book two due to be released….soon,
TW: This scene has depictions of the aftermath of violence.
Laughter echoed off the walls of the narrow alley. A sound which sparked fear in all those who could hear it as it bounced toward the main street; drifting out of the shadows cast over the alley no one dared peer into. He stared down at his handiwork satisfied the new red colour scheme now adorning the ground would serve its purpose. A warning. A reminder to those who walked in this world of shadows that it was he who ruled over it.
Not wanting to leave footprints or any evidence he had been here, he stepped over the puddles of red as they crawled across the ground with care and strode out into the busy street bathed in neon. His footfall sounded soft compared to the sounds spilling out of the bars and host clubs lining the streets as he blended in amongst the men who wore suits like shackles moving from bar to bar. Men who sought solace at the bottom of a cup; searched for dreams in the hidden smoky gambling dens only to lose it all and make the journey home in shame. He looked like them, at first glance, but his face wore a predatory grin as he stared at the men surrounding him viewing each one as another potential victim whose pockets, wallets would be emptied to line his coffers. His suit spoke of money with its high-end fabrics and tailored fit. It spoke of power with the specks of blood marring its surface which were highlighted by the bright lights of the entertainment district. If anyone noticed, they didn’t dare ask questions fearing their own blood might join it.
This was his world. His domain and he held no fear about being seen, for it was he who was feared. He ruled this world with fists of iron and a sword of sharpened steel. A world where money could buy you anything; anyone if the price was right. Where the smoke dancing in the shadows was not always from the end of a cigarette and the sound of guns echoed through the night was as familiar as the fireworks which burst across the sky in the New Year. Life was cheap and those beneath you, even cheaper and could be taken without remorse. Death swirled around all those who walked in this world of shadows, waiting patiently to make them its friend.
Love could be found here. But it was not the one found between the covers of a romance novel or went the way of fairy tales. In this world of shadows love lacked the sweetness of chocolate and couldn’t be compared with the beauty of roses, for this world tainted it. Delighted in twisting love into something cruel which could be used against you; against someone else. Manipulation, deception and threats walked hand in hand with love through the shadows, where the red associated with it came from the blood spilt in its name.
To love someone here; to truly give your heart to someone meant risking it all – risking your life. A dark love which gripped you tight and would see you set the world alight; burn it to the ground in order to protect them. If anyone dared touch them; threaten to hurt them their lives would become forfeit; dealt with in a brutal manner to warn anyone else who wanted to try.
And that is what the men, who lay battered, broken, dead in the alley he now strode away from, did. They threatened the man who he held close to his heart and for that, they paid the price. He didn’t care if the men knew the importance of the man they had been ordered to follow. Didn’t care if they were blissfully unaware of the connection between them. The message would be sent, all the same, broadcast loud and clear for all those who walked in this world of shadows to see. Don’t touch him if you value your life.
The shadows of this world were beginning to be pushed aside, the silver light of the moon replaced with the pink hues of dawn. He needed to get off the streets before the pavements were bathed in the warm light pushing its way between the high rises and wouldn’t allow for the blood splattered on his suit to be ignored as a new crowd of suits spilled onto the streets as they headed toward the train station. The fear he instilled in people tempered by the warmth of a world he did not step in. He pulled out his phone and barked out an order to the men waiting for the call, knowing a car would arrive to collect him before the last of the shadows disappeared.
City streets with high rises towering over them whizzed by as he headed for his refuge from the world without shadows. He wondered how long before the group the men belonged to would retaliate. Would they dare? He would relish the opportunity to wipe them from the streets of Tokyo, like all the groups who had dared to try before. Maybe they would come crawling; begging for forgiveness as they offered up apologies and excuses for not realising who the man was they had been following – because they hadn’t realised his importance. His thoughts soon drifted away from the rival group as the car pulled into the underground carpark of a high-rise apartment building in Roppongi Hills where he owned a penthouse. Instead, they lingered on the man he held close to his heart and for whom he would always kill for.
Hisato flashed his badge at the cordon, nodding his thanks to the young uniformed officer standing guard as he ushered Hisato under the yellow tape strung across the narrow alley. An alley which appeared no different to any of the others scattered throughout Tokyo asides from it being in the heart of the entertainment district of Kabukicho, and the addition of the two dead bodies found earlier. He strode toward the two Detectives he recognised from the Criminal Investigation section on the floor below his back at Shinjuku Police Station. He noted the worried looks they all wore; the fear hanging in their eyes as they greeted him. Hisato kept his disgust from showing on his face as he shook hands with them, their palms sweaty, cold, and he wished they bowed respectfully instead.
Murder was not the only crime, the Detectives in front of him investigated, only calling in specialist units if the crime warranted it. This crime as he listened to them speak, did feel as though it fitted his unit better, with its suspected links to one of the many organised crime groups in Tokyo. Suspected links which explained their nervousness; their fear as he followed them further into the alley where the bodies still lay out of reach of the sunlight, yet barely hidden by the shadows cast by the tall buildings on either side.
The bodies, Hisato noted, still lay where they had been found; left exactly as they had fallen when their lives were taken. Blood spread out from them, preventing him from getting close to the bodies, while a forensic team worked furiously cataloguing everything they could see. He peered at the bodies from the closest distance he could manage, looking for the reasons why the two Detectives called in the Organised Crime Section. Hisato looked for markings which could identify them as belonging to a particular group – tattoo’s, lapel pins associated with the Yakuza – or would point to them belonging to any one of the smaller gangs trying to make its mark upon the Tokyo Underworld. It didn’t take him long to see the tale-tell hint of ink peeking out above the collar of the suits the two men wore, which not only pointed to their belonging to one of the many Yakuza groups in Tokyo but were more than likely high ranking members. Not many of the new recruits wore ink upon their skin as a badge of honour or as a sign of loyalty to the same extent as previous generations. There were only three major Yakuza groups within Tokyo competing to control the seedier side of the city, but which one these two men belonged to, he couldn’t tell from this distance.
“We think it looks organised crime related,” Hisato could hear the Detective next to him say, the words shaking as they left his mouth. Words he practically whispered as though he was afraid of bringing the wrath of whichever group the two dead men belonged to down on him. It made him want to laugh, forcing him to bite down on his tongue to stop it from spilling out. “I-I suppose you can’t identify who they are associated with?”
“No. No, I can’t,” Hisato stated as he stood up, finished with his own limited examination of the scene. In truth, he recognised the two corpses in front of him. Their names and their group affiliation were unknown to him, but their faces were familiar. The pair had been tailing him for the last month or so. “I do agree with your assumption that these deaths appear to be consistent with organised crime,” he told them, the words coming out automatically. The same spiel he used every time he attended one of these crime scenes. Though with this one, Hisato was pretty sure he knew who killed them. “…forward all the reports for the case to us and we’ll take over the investigation.” Not surprised how easily they agreed, no doubt more than willing to wash their hands of anything to do with the crime families of Tokyo.
Hisato shook their hands once more and headed back down the alley toward the crowded street, slipping back under the cordon. Hisato weaved his way through the businessmen; the students and the shoppers as he headed to where his car was parked, thankful he had left his greenhorn partner behind at the station. He wouldn’t be able to do this, unlocking the glovebox and pulling a cellphone from a hidden compartment, if his partner had been in attendance. As he switched it on, Hisato loosened his tie and rang the first number in the contacts list. He didn’t care if the person was still asleep, despite it being nearly midday, though for the person he was ringing it was more like early morning. The call might not even be welcomed, yet he still didn’t care only wanting to confirm his suspicions before he proceeded further with the case.
“Is this your handiwork in Kabukicho?” he hissed, not bothering to explain further or allow the man who answered the chance to exchange pleasantries. He may have parked his car away from the crime scene, but he still needed to cautious, as Hisato struggled not to yell. “No, scratch that,” pinching the bridge of his nose as he rested his head against the back of the seat. “I know it’s your doing. The two dead bodies found, belong to the men who have been following me!”
“Did you like it? I ruined my best suit to give you that present,” the man growled, though there was no heat in his words. “Happy Anniversary.”
“Which suit did you ruin?” Hisato hoped it wasn’t the navy pinstripe one which hugged the man’s body nicely, before realising had gotten side tracked. “No wait, that doesn’t matter. You didn’t stop to consider that maybe two dead bodies weren’t an appropriate present considering my job?” Though it wasn’t the real reason Hisato was annoyed with him, but he couldn’t utter those words out loud here.
“I thought it was perfect. I knew you would receive it and the bastards who thought they could follow you have now learnt otherwise. It really does sound like the best present to me, because now I can see you again,” Hisato couldn’t fault the last part as being tailed had prevented them from meeting up, an already difficult task to do. “When can I see you again? I miss you.”
Hisato laughed. His whole body shook as the sounds bled out of the car drawing strange looks from people passing by. It was all he could do with the way those words slipped with ease off the man’s tongue, in stark contrast to his public image and the pages filling the file held on him by Organised Crime units across Tokyo. No one who knew the rumours about him (and there were many), or read his file would believe this man capable of feeling emotions. Hisato reckoned if his fellow officers in the Organised Crime Section could hear what Tatsuo Ogawa uttered to him, they would think their ears were faulty. They would believe the man a fraud and turf him out of the station even if he admitted to the worst of the crimes Tatsuo had committed, because Tatsuo Ogawa, the head of the Yamashita-gumi, was known for his cruelty. A man known for the brutal ways he dealt with those who opposed him – like the two men dead in the alley – and not for loving tenderness, or any kind of compassion. Yet Hisato knew differently. He knew for Tatsuo, the killing of those two men was a sign of affection, no different to the sweet sentiments whispered between the pages of romance novels or the gifting of chocolate to a lover on Valentine’s day.
“Well let’s see, someone made a mess in a Kabukicho alley which I now have to clean up and make sure it doesn’t get traced back to them,” he said dryly. “It might take a few days or weeks.”
“So this weekend then?”
“What part of I’m busy did you not understand?”
“Backroom of the usual club Friday, say about nine? Is that good for you?”
“I really don’t think…”
“…or I can get someone to pick you up and bring you to the penthouse so you can stay for the whole weekend? I think I like that idea more.”
“Hang on a minute!” he interrupted, memories of the previous times Tatsuo had arranged for him to be picked up flashed through his mind. “…your idea of picking me up is to get your men to kidnap me from in front of the station – the Shinjuku Police Station! Do you know how hard it is to come up with plausible excuses when you do that?”
“Fine. Fine. I’ll instruct them to wait until you return to your apartment and collect you from there.”
“That really isn’t any better.”
“Good. It’s settled then.”
The call ended before Hisato could protest further, leaving him to vent his frustrations out on the steering wheel with his head. He threw the phone back into its safe place and locked the glovebox. Hisato cursed the day he met Tatsuo Ogawa as he rubbed at his sore forehead, and whichever god thought it would be funny for them to fall in love.
Hisato knew he played a dangerous game loving Tatsuo, with way more than his future career prospects at risk. If his superiors discovered who his lover was; if they knew everything he had done to keep Tatsuo Ogawa and the men of the Yamashita-gumi from being prosecuted – and that was only the tip of the iceberg – his career would disintegrate around him. Cases he worked on would be brought into question and those who he had rightly put behind bars, as well as those who he framed, would be released. Hisato knew he would become a target for those men and the groups they belonged to. Despite the danger; the high stakes involved, Hisato found he didn’t care. He knew if; when it happened Tatsuo would set the world ablaze to protect him. You can’t help who you fall in love with, even if their idea of being romantic involved dead bodies – minus the wrapping paper and bows.
He had wasted too much time sitting in his car as he argued with Tatsuo and Hisato knew he would struggle to make it back across to the Shinjuku Police Station without getting stuck in traffic which would make the ten-minute journey a lot longer. But sitting in traffic would allow him time to calm down and restore an expression to his face more suited to a Detective. An expression which said two dead bodies were found in Kabukicho. I wonder who put them there? And not the one he currently wore my lover thought it was romantic to kill for me, again. Ten minutes would be all the time he had to put his façade back in place if he wanted to avoid unwanted questions back at the station, but it was all the time he needed with his years undercover having taught him how to school his features fast.
His years undercover taught Hisato how to lie; to deceive those around him convincingly. He knew how to bend the truth with ease; deflect attention away from the true perpetrators and onto someone else. Deception; manipulating the truth was second nature to him now and would be put to use again when the files from the Criminal Investigation Unit landed on his desk. Working undercover provided Hisato with all the skills he now used to help Tatsuo Ogawa and the men of the Yamashita-gumi, but then he hadn’t stopped working undercover. Hisato simply changed sides.
Hisato drove into the underground carpark beneath Shinjuku Police Station and parked in the spot reserved for him. He made his way toward the elevator deep in thought as he realised there were a lot of benefits to no one knowing about the connection between him and Tatsuo Ogawa, beside him being able to keep his job. No questions could be asked of him when crime suddenly spiked in their jurisdiction around certain dates each year. A trend which puzzled everyone except him, with the dates being special to Hisato – not that he was complaining.