Chapter 12:

Shift Heads


Mid-April, 1999.


I hated that time of year, It was always rain and the smell of cherries. At least the tree grew back. I always liked to watch the pink leaves sway in the wind as I walk, well, at least as a kid. at 22, I wasn't really smelling the roses as much as I used to. When I took Star on dates, maybe. I was just too focused on the job at hand. It woke up in the afternoon like I usually do after a night on the town with Star. I could treat her to a lot better now that I was done with patrols, and on to the special operation Gota talked about in the winter. I rubbed my face, letting my now silver chain slink down my bare chest. That woman was a monster in bed, really. She had her arms wrapped around my waist as usual. I pet her softly to let her know I'm up. She moved, and I got up to get dressed. 

While I was cooking, I get a ring from my phone. It's Kikuchi. "Hey, Ito. How's it going?"

"Ah..." put the basic, almost tanned eggs on a plate to start her day. I never felt like I needed a cookbook. "Just fine. What's up?"

"Gota wants the war twins in his office in upper Oldsaka. You know the place."

Upper Oldsaka was just a small business square. It's where the small pencil pushers work, hoping to be on their way to the top downtown. It's surprising that Gota even picked that place considering how lowkey It was. Must've had Kikuchi in his ear after all. "Yeah. I know the place. You told Gisei?"

"Yeah. He'd said he'll pick you up."

"Sounds good. Bye." I hung up and got dressed in a nicer navy blue and white suit, at the request of Gisei. He was always the fashion icon. I walked outside to see Gisei in a decked-out, new, shiny, blue, and silver GT King Cobra. I wasn't that into cars, but It even looked fast. "You work fast," I say, walking up to hug my friend. 

He laughs, proud of his creation. "Ah, I had some help with the nitrous, but it's really no big deal." We got in, and he goes from zero to sixty in no time.

"So," I start, wanting to catch up a bit. "What's been going on?"

He puts one hand on the wheel, casually speeding over. "I've been on the case." 

"To find Elin?"

Gisei nods. "I think some Koreans are involved. It might be some huge ring we don't know about."


"I've been on the web..."

"Oh, shit. You became a nerd." I laughed. The web was really hard to understand, plus getting a box cost an arm or two. 

He hit me. "Shut up. It's not that hard, plus you get information from around the world. So I've been on Korean news, right? I see a bunch of headlines starting in 91' that says that a woman has gone missing. Over the years the number and volume of women being taken have gone up. After some huge task force and some arrests, the number goes down in 96' eventually. Then I switch to the news in Japan, I see the numbers of missing women go up here as recently as 1997."

"So you think they moved here."

"I know they moved here. I also know this is a hot zone as well. Osaka is a fast-growing city with tons of foreign women visiting. This is paradise to them."

It made perfect sense. I nod as we reached the modest office in Oldsaka. We left the car to head up to the top floor. Gota and Kikuchi were talking about something when we opened the door. We sat down and Gota turned to us. "Boys. I got something for ya. We're starting the war on the other little factions. If you remember they choose the wrong team, they'll pay for it with their lives."

We both nod along as Gota pulled out a picture of three men. "First up is the Shi Boys. Some run-down biker gang on the southside. We set a trap with their three main leaders. You two are gonna take them out." He slid over a picture of their car. "I called them this morning. They think they're gonna get bought out by the Gota family, so they'll wait near the Boru offices for some guys on a motorcycle to give them a package. They'll think it's all good, so safe. But they'll get a face full of lead. Meanwhile, I'll have Shuga and Kikuchi clean out their clubhouse. Now, I'll want you two to get armed with one of my guys, named Buki. Got it?"

"Downtown? In the middle of the day?" Gisei asked, concerned. 

"You worried you'll be seen or something? I ain't no fool, Akiyama. Buki will have all you need. Any more questions?" Gota threw a card with Buki's address on it. 

We shake our heads and leave, driving over to the address given. It looked like some old auto shop, repurposed to be a Yakuza's gun shop. Knocked on the large metal garage door. A small part in the middle slid open, revealing an eye. "You Gota's boys?" He asked in an ashy, gruff voice. 

"Yeah. He said you had our stuff for the job." I said back, looking at the sky. It was gonna rain real soon. Again. 

The doors opened to reveal a middle-aged man in an engineering outfit. He had graying hair, he was pretty tall, and he had stubble that he neglected to shave. He had this tough army look to him. He walked back to his sitting area after he closed the door, letting us look at his small, but noticeable collection of weapons. It was smaller, compact guns, I assumed the bigger guns could take a while to enter Japan "It was a bitch to even smuggle a pistol here. This took basically the entire month of January." Buki revealed a Super-MAXX Submachine Gun. He smiled. "This baby has 40 rounds in its clip, and it could spit it all out in 14 seconds or less. Truly a marvel of Asian engineering." He handed it to me. I aimed to see how it felt in my hands. Buki also pulled out two black jumpsuits and biker helmets that are smoked out, so you can't see who's behind it. Once we got them on, he showed us the motorcycle. "I'm no car guy. The piece o' shit can get to where ya want. You boys know who to call if you need more toys." 

"Thanks, man," Gisei said as we got on. Since Gisei was always the better driver, He drove while I hid the SMG in my jumpsuit. The bike was fast, so made it down downtown with no problem. We drove through the traffic as the rain started to fall. It was rush hour, so that didn't help. We saw the car in the picture, and with a rev on the engine, he sped over to the side of the car. The three men looked at me for a second before I pulled out the gun. I pulled the trigger, and in 13 seconds I emptied the entire clip in that car. I saw the blood fly, the screams of the victims and bystanders, the bullet holes litter the car with the once happy passengers, now dead as dirt. Gisei pushed the pedal to the metal, driving out of downtown before anybody could identify us. 

We headed back to the garage to cool off, Buki was drinking a beer and laughing. "We're on the news! Hah! Sonuvabitch! You two fools actually did it!"

I roll my eyes as I blow some smoke. "Don't act too excited." 

"Yeah, yeah." Buki opened the doors to look outside, looking at the slowed rain. "You two act natural. Act like you didn't take three lives today." 

We walk out, back in our original outfits. I sigh out. "Golden Boy?"

Gisei placed an arm on my shoulder. "Golden Boy."

Joe Gold