Chapter 4:

The Untouchables



Father was packing his bricks into a bag. We lived in a small apartment on the south side of Osaka. Heating wouldn't work some nights and I would see rats every other day, but It was home. "We come from a long line of misunderstood hard workers. They called us Burakumin. They used to treat us unfairly, less than human. They say it's fixed now, that it's equal opportunity." He spits in a cup as a sign of disapproval. "Bullshit. Don't you ever get used to working for those men. They are bad people. Kunshu. Look at me." 

I obey. "Yes father?"  

Father was a tall man. He was always overlooking me, like a hawk would its prey. He had a improper, gray and black beard. His hair was also graying, but that was most likely due to stress. He gave me some grams of the magic to sell. "Take what you deserve. Don't you ever settle for being somebody's employee. Be your own boss. Now what did I say?"

"Be your own boss?"

"Say it again."

"Be your own boss."

Be your own boss. 

Be your own boo-


The singer tapped my shoulder. "What happened? You spaced out on me."

I shook my head, getting back to reality.  "Yeah, sorry. I heard your dad was a burakumin?"

"Yeah," She answered. "Are you one too or something?"

"Yup. Proud of it."

"Wow, I'm surprised. Here I thought you had some traumatic involved with it."

"Not at all. I just remember what my dad would always say about the burakumin. A proud and hardworking set of people."

The woman took a little sip of the drink in the emptied out bar. She pulled a few favors. "I also heard they were one of the untouchables back in the day. The bottom of the ladder." 

I scoff. "And that's what I hear about Yakuza almost everyday."

"Good point."

"Say, you never told me your name."

"And you never told me how you felt about the performance."

I chuckle. "You never asked me."

"I'm asking now."

"Well...I thought it was beautiful. I loved your performance. It was like you were singing to me instead of at me...Like you meant every word you said or something."

"What if I was?"

I laugh. "You're joking. You don't know a thing about me."

"Then tell me who you are."

"I...I was born and raised here, I grew up with just my dad, got forced into the war, and now I'm here."

She moved her head back in surprise. "Wait, you're a veteran?"

"Jap-Americano War."

"Wow, that must've been heavy, eh?"

"It sucked. I got forced into the big wig's war. Least I made a friend and I made sure I'm able to fight."

"Then why join the Yakuza? I know you're better than that."

"You're wrong. But enough about me. What's your name?"


I tilt my head. "You hesitated there."

Star giggled. "I can't do that? I'm tipsy."

I made my move, scooting closer. "Oh yeah?"

"You're really gonna kiss me once you heard that?"

"You shut down this bar for a reason."

"What if I leave in the morning? What if you're just a fling, Kunshu?"

I hold her face with both of my hands. "I'm not." We soon locked lips, kissing each other for the first time. She huffed and made small noises as I moved to wrap my hands around her.  After a bit, I break the kiss. "My place." I simply said. 

She was blushing heavily at the thought. After a bit of consideration, she nods. "Yeah, sure."


We made love.

It's like what Father says, take what you deserve.

I hope you don't leave, like Mom.


Joe Gold