Chapter 3:

Generous Offerings


I got paid quite a bit for that job. As a sign of goodwill, Gota even threw in an apartment in Oldsaka to get me on my feet. That's all I would accept. No more gifts. Even if it was the holidays. With the extra money I was able to get myself something to wear, something I would be able to fit in. I bought myself a cheap black and white suit, with a nice bronze chain to treat myself. I buttoned it pretty low to give myself some slack. For the next two weeks, I was just going to the Golden Boy, decorated with the red and green lights to get in the festive mood,  and drinking my night way with Gisei and Kikuchi. One cool night, We were taking drinks and laughing to ourselves as we told different tales from our past. After Gisei tells his story about his run-in with his mother's many boyfriends and we bust into hysteria, I settle down and look at Kikuchi. "Your turn, Ani. What's a crazy story you got?"

Kikuchi slinks back in his chair. "Well, this was like two weeks ago. I remember that me and the boss were walking home from one of those new clubs downtown. Boss loves to indulge himself in the...nightlife. After sniffing half of the supply, he was fully gone at that point. He was a stumbling mess, a complete fool. I was helping him, then he sees some pretty women across the street from us. Boss makes a beeline for them, moving in front of cars and all to help himself. These women, unfortunately, Aren't local. The locals know when to let him cop a feel and move on, but these women are Chinese." 

I make a face. That's disgusting. 

Kikuchi continues. "They just see some creepy middle-aged creep in some suit. They yell and push him away. Before he could do anything, Their protector, brother, boyfriend, or whatever comes up to Gota. He tells him to back off in mandarin. Gota spews off some racist shit, and now I gotta protect him so I kick the guy's ass before he swung on him. Then I see the pendent on his shirt as I kick him away. He was a Triad."

We all stare at him for a moment. "Wait," Gisei put his finger up. "We got Triad beef?" 

Kikuchi laughed. "There's no way there are Triads here. This is all Yakuza, with downtown and Oldsaka belonging to Gota. We got eyes everywhere." 

I shrug and look over to the stage to watch the performance as Gisei and Kikuchi have a small discussion about the Triads. Once I saw the woman, everything just...Faded away.

The violins play their little tune. I could envision the night sky as the powerful sting instruments sing. As the tune lowers its pitch, the piano starts and the beat begins. The beautiful woman holds the microphone in preparation to sing. Her red dress shined in the spotlight. She had a rather sharp chin, with her nice, slick lips with the cherry color that matches her dress. She had a cute beauty mark on the left cheek.  Her long, black, curly hair swayed as she opened her mouth to sing. 

Fly me to the moon
And let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like
On Jupiter and Mars
In other words, hold my hand
In other words, darling, kiss me...

She started to get into it, opening her brown eyes to suddenly stare at me. I didn't break my stare, leaning in.

...Fill my heart with song
And let me sing forevermore
You are all I long for
All I worship and adore
In other words, please be true
In other words, I love you...

She leaned in, keeping the look without even blinking.

...In other words, I love you...

I snap out of my trance as the crowd applauds. I look over to Gisei, who's wrapping up the conversation with Ani. "Should be simple enough." He said as Kikuchi stood up to leave. 

"Oh, and Merry Christmas, boys," Kikuchi comments as he leaves the Golden Boy. 

"Shit, It's Christmas Eve?" I say, looking at the calendar. "And we gotta work?"

Gisei laughs. "Oh chill out, man. Not like we got a family to come home to or something." 

"Don't remind me. Now, what's the deal?" I ask as we head outside into the slightly chilly night. I don't have to wear a winter coat, yet.

We walk over to Gisei's car as he begins to explain. "Something simple. We just go over to some banker named Benjiro in the highlands while he's having a Christmas party and we...Convince him to help the Gota family to buy up more property. Being a known Yakuza scares off potential buyers and all that."

"Makes sense. Let's make this a Merry Christmas for him."

We cruise over to the north side of town. It's almost a perfect mix of lights and sizable homes. We stop at his modern two-story home. I step out, huffing out some cold air. Gisei had a bat in his hands. "I thought you hated baseball." I joked, walking up the steps. 

"I love me some home runs, though." Gisei knocked on the door, as soon as the wife opened the door, I pushed my way in as Gisei rushed inside to wack Boru in the arm while he was drinking punch. 

"OW!!" Benjiro screamed as the party starts to panic.

"What? This is a business meeting! Go over in the kitchen or something!"

Some listen, but two don't. One takes a swing at me. I move my head back and drive my foot in his leg. I ruthlessly knee the poor sap in the face until he stopped moving. 

Gisei played with the banker's friend. He tripped him twice before hitting the bat right on his spine. 

Benjiro stood up to try and help his friends, but he was met with another bat to the arm. "COULD YOU NOT?!" He yelled, holding his arm in pain. 

Gisei kneeled. "Dokeshi Gota, you know him?"

"Y-Yeah...You must be his goons."

"I prefer the term employee but I forgive you. You're gonna be doing business with him. Got it? He has tons of plans for this city."

Plans? What kinds of plans?

This place would be better in my arms. 

Benjiro sighed, having no options. "...He'll get a call Monday."

"Pleasure doing business with you." 

We leave, leaving the party with a topic of conversation till New Years. 

Eventually, He drives me back to Golden Boy. I wave goodbye as he speeds off. I look forward to see...The singer. Just standing there.

"I'm no ghost." She simply says. I was staring for quite a bit.

"I...Wanna drink?" I ask.

She giggled at my awkwardness. "Sure. Why not?"

Joe Gold