Chapter 20:

Spring Finale


End of May, 1999.


I took a trip downtown alone to see Benjiro that rainy evening before I met my partners. I went on the clean elevator to the top floors to see the boss himself. I walked up to the assistant and flashed my Gota Family pin. She let me in with no question. When he saw me, he frowned as he typed away. 

I open my arms as I sit down. "Come on, Benji! Don't give me that face."

Benjiro rolled his eyes while fixing his glasses. "Oh please. And I-I told you, please call me Benjiro. I'm 29..." 

I cleared my throat. "Sorry, Benjiro. I got something you're gonna do for me. You're gonna also keep this secret. alright?" 

He stopped typing to give his full attention. "Alright."

"How about you start working for me soon."

Benjiro leaned in, nervous. "What about G-Gota?"

 I pat the smart man's shoulder. "When the time comes, I'll call you. Till then, sit back and chill."

Benjiro nodded. I knew he was tired of Gota abusing him and taking his building apart after every party. He was in my pocket. I got up and left, taking a bus to the east. 

The gang decided to host a little hang out at the local speakeasy in Oldsaka. It was cramped, full of smoke and bodies. The men were older, just enjoying their cigars and jazz music in a more intimate environment. I walked downstairs to see the men, minus Gota and Shuga I sat next to Kikuchi as he sat next to Gisei, who fell asleep. I bummed a smoke and we chilled out to the music. After a minute, I wanted to talk. "Kik. How did you get so good at fighting?"

He chuckled to himself. "When I was a teenager, I took a trip to China. There was this old homeless man babbling on about how he met the greatest fighter of all time. Being the dumb kid I was, I listened. Because I listened, He taught me Jeet Kune Do."

I was shocked. "Shit, you learned Jeet Kune Do from an old man?"

He shook his head. "Not any homeless man. He was in the best shape he could be. He could fight for days. He was probably a traveling fighter."

"I see." I checked the time on the clock. It was about time to leave, see Star. "I gotta go, later." 

An hour later...

We went on a date, ending it on top of the apartment, smoking on the rooftop. We joked and chattered for a bit. She was talking about China, her homeland. "China wasn't the best growing up. That's for sure." She started. "Like I had to share a room with two other families."

"How were they?" I asked. 

"One was fine. The other was a problem. The damn Haung family was the issue. They were Triad. Sneaking drugs in. I knew better but the other family had two little boys. One day coming from school I saw the police at my complex. I thought my parents bit the dust but it was one of the boys. They found the stash. He didn't make it. I hated organized crime ever..." She stopped and looked at me. I gave her a face of worry. "When I see you Kunshu, I don't see a criminal. I don't see a killer. I see you."

I disapproved. "No. You have to admit it. I'm a killer. I'm a bad man, Star."

She looked confused like it was impossible. "But I hate bad men. I hate criminals."

"So what the hell am I, Star?"

She didn't answer. 

I raised my voice. "Huh? What am I? Do you hate me?"

No answer.

"Or do you just see yourself in me? Is that it?"

She looked at me, almost going to break down. We suddenly kissed, rapidly breathing as we locked lips. I pulled out so she could talk. "I love you, Kunshu Ito. That's why I can't see all the shit you do."

"You're admitting this? You know that's bad."

"I don't care." She hopped on my lap to kiss me again, taking off my jacket while I wrapped my arms around her waist. We looked at each other one more time. I admitted it. 

"I love you too, Star."