Chapter 13:

Boys Of War: Kunshu


I was at the Golden Boy, drinking the stress away. That was the first trigger I've pulled since I was in Africa. I pondered to myself how far I'd gotten. How far Gisei and I had gotten. I sip my drink with pride. I look over to Gisei to see a face not too proud of what he just did. Gisei looked at the countertop, possibly thinking about the screams, the blood, the gunfire. I was used to something like that, but he wasn't. He always didn't like killing. Joining the army wasn't his choice in the first place. Hell, it wasn't my decision as well. We sat in silence, letting the violinist play her sad, lonely tone. It reminded me of when we had our first battle.

March, 1994.

Southern Osaka.

It was a regular day. I was crunching the numbers for how much we made that day. I was doing tons of mental math around bricks of cocaine and money. Millions of yen, and I have to make sure the math was correct. Father walked in while was working. "What's 35 percent of 5 million yen?" He asked me. 

I scoffed. "1.75 Mil. Easy."

"Good boy. What I say, I can teach you better than any old college can." Father was getting older, of course. He had gotten stabbed the week prior and had just recently recovered. That was the first time I took a life, with a smuggled pistol. It was tough for a while. I was struggling with getting that face of fear out of my mind. It wasn't a quick death. It was some stick-up kid wanting to make a name for himself. He had some shiv in his back pocket that day. I was a bodyguard. Father gave some old pocket pistol he was able to smuggle. That was his idea of a birthday present. I posted up, but I didn't see the signs. The kid pulled it out and shanked Father in the gut, then grabbed the bag full of the product to run. I just heard the yelling in pain before I came from behind Father. The kid was running scared. He didn't have time to think about his next move. I had my hands on the gun, palms sweaty. This was the very first time I had aimed my gun at a human being. I was shaking. I wanted to put the gun down, but I thought of Father's teachings.

Crush the competition.

In the heat of the moment, I squeezed the trigger.


I shot him in the spine. Nobody screams, they just scramble home. This was the southside after all. I ran up to the punk, bleeding out. He was paralyzed, twitching and looking right into my soul. He was scared, he never felt this before. He looked at the tiny pistol in my hand and struggled to move more, with tears welling in his eyes. He gasped and groaned, but no words escaped his mouth. It was time to help. I put the pistol to his forehead, right between the eyes, and squeezed once more. 

I didn't go outside for a week. 

I took care of my father, attempting to forget the pain and look of that kid. 

A week later, that was my first trip out in the street. Father didn't feel safe alone, There were police all over the city since the war broke out.

At that point, it was year 3 of the Jap-Americano War. It was a war that was caused by nosy Americans who wanted a piece of our nuclear tech, and Greedy Japs who wanted an excuse to take the oil In Africa. Father didn't care. If anything, the war was disrupting his partnership with his American friends. They had to lessen their meetings, so that also meant less product to sell on the streets. 

But there I was, right behind him, making sure nobody touched the money or the drugs. I was still on edge, but I was a lot more calm, just waiting for Father to sell out so we can go home.

 I didn't go home. 

At once, several policemen came armed, putting rifles in Father's face. I tried to fight, but I was disarmed and arrested as well. Father looked calm like he was waiting for this day for a long time. He didn't have that frown or that look of the fire in his eyes. He looked, tired. He looked like a flawed human for the first time in my eyes. This pillar of my life, this man I placed on a pedestal was just as flawed as I was. For the first time in my life, I was truly alone in the cell, waiting for something, anything.

3 days later, my waiting would pay off. I was escorted into an interrogation room, the usually small room with only one light to see where you even are. I sat down, just staring at the table at a time before an army man came in. He had all the buttons, the fancy hats, all the bells and whistles of a soldier. He came in and sat down from the table across from me. I took a quick glance at him. He had cold brown eyes, with accompanying bags to tell he hasn't had a good night's sleep since the war started. He had stubble as well, no time to shave when you're fighting to the death. I adjust in my chair awkwardly as he just stares at me. "Kunshu Ito." He says, with a deeper base voice. I don't respond, so he continues on. "You and your dad have caused a lot of trouble in the community, eh?" He pulls out a folder from his coat pocket. "Drug dealing, assault, murder, drug possession, and treason." He states. 

"Treason?" That piqued my interest. I knew that treason, especially now, is punishable to the fullest extent of the law. I could have my life basically end at 17, and that didn't sound too great. 

"You two worked with Americans. The police have been watching your every move, Ito. We've seen the drugs you grabbed from those pigs." He smirked, he got me right where he wanted me. "And you know what we do with traitors."

I look back at the table, frustrated. 

"You don't your dad to rot in a prison cell? Lucky you, I got just the thing to make all your crimes go away." He puts the papers down. "You're going to join the army. When the war is over, you and your father are free men. Just in case you decide to leave your post, we'll keep him in prison, then house arrest if you're a good boy. Deal?"

He knew I couldn't say no. I just stared at him in anger. 

"Great. You'll be on the plane to Uganda in three hours."

Joe Gold