[When You Gonna Learn]


I paid to get into the Shirakawa Cooperates. The man, known as ‘Blade’, was my keystone. If it wasn’t for his greed, I would have had to start by getting in as a lowly bodyguard. With a vast sum of money, he helped me to get into one of the ‘parties’, as they called it.

My party was in charge of heroin.

The party itself was a battle field. Men and women fought for power, money, all trying to work their way up the ladder. My position in the party was as the leader’s bodyguard. Much better off than those right at the bottom of the hierarchy. They only existed to take bullets.‘

The stuff will get off the ship in two week’s time.’ The party leader was Blade, a beer and cigar stuffed man in his mid-fourties. ‘I’ll be there to inspect and you,’ he raised two lazy fingers and pointed at two people sitting across the table from me. ‘You’ll be there to help out.’

The people nodded. I could almost see them growling like animals under that human skin, ready to bite and dominate. Blade was stupid to keep these people here. They would soon skin him alive if he wasn’t careful. But then that would be my chance to perform and be recognised. Perfect.

Power struggle was never my thing. No I did not have a fetish for pressure and competition and having to worry that one day someone will stab me in the back, thank you very much. I preferred being my own boss, being in charge of myself, so I became a private detective. I liked working at my own pace. However now I had no time to waste. I wasn’t going to sit there and wait for someone to walk to me, shake my hand and introduce himself as The Pope. I would find out, and to do that, I would delve into this land of insanity, step over dead bodies and work myself upwards. Just pray that I wouldn’t go insane myself.

With my arms I pressed Aya’s face into my chest and squeezed my eyes shut. I still saw it, that smile, and I felt it, the corpses around us, staring. They never had time to close their eyes before death took them.

Then when fire blazed, I heard screams, screams of the men who were there, and the head of the man with the grenade trigger landed with a thud beside me, that smile still plastered on his face. His eyes became two dark fountains of blood, but that smile, he was still smiling.

Aya had stopped struggling under me. Had he gone unconscious? Or had he too seen that smile, with a trickle of red down the corner of the lips, and couldn’t move, just like me?

Fire. Omi, Ken, don’t come up here. There’s a fire. Just run.

The stuff came by the cargo. Efficiently it was loaded offshore by mechanical arms then delivered into lorries.

‘I guess this is your first big thing.’

‘Um.’ I didn’t look at my colleague, just continued scanning the area. There were about five places from which an attack could launch and three other that could have weapons concealed in.

‘Chill. Nothing ever goes wrong.’

I spotted the Browning the moment he said that and pulled Blade to behind a column, the round of silent bullets missing us both narrowly. My fellow bodyguards immediately surrounded our boss and I with a few others made our move.

‘Your chance, Youji, just your chance.’ I told myself, running straight towards the Browning, the man holding it, dressed in black, was exposed. He, like most people would, panicked when I ran to him as if the gun wasn’t there, and I took that moment of hesitation to jump and elbowed him on the throat, my momentum knocking him off his feet. His gun fired as he fell but missed again. His head landed heavily on the ground, and with my gloved hand I grabbed his face, lifted the head, slamming it down once more, his skull cracked and he was out. The whole thing took no more than five seconds.

In shape tonight, Youji. I spotted another one, hidden behind some crates thinking that no one saw him. Stupid. I made a dash for him, grabbing hold of a rope from one of the boxes. I didn’t want to expose my own weapon to these people. He was too slow for me, when he tried to run I had a hoop casted over him already, neatly looping around the neck. My arms tightened and pulled.

‘Bye bye.’

I handed him to my colleagues. The usual things would follow: torture, questioning, finally death. This guy was unlucky. If I wasn’t around him and his mate would be off celebrating already.

The name ‘Kudou’ was then known to all in Shirakawa Cooperates for stopping an assault in a legendary 17 seconds.

I leaned against the wall just outside my hiding and watched her. She was probably seventeen, at most eighteen, with single-lidded eyes, thin brows and lips, and honey-coloured skin. She took a look at me, then looked at her feet and smiled.

'I’m stupid, aren’t I?’

‘Not stupid, just a little silly.’ I smiled too, but looking up instead of down, at the old lamp above with hundreds of tiny dead insects in the glass case. Little black flying things were whizzing around it. ‘Take a look at this lamp. These bugs love the light so much they fly right into it and get killed. Silly, but at least they die happy. Not many of us do.’

The girl smiled again at my words. I wondered if I was the only person that didn’t call her stupid. But who would know the heartache, the will to continue to wait, unless one had been driven crazy by it?

Suddenly I felt like having coffee. I opened my door and got out two cans of UCC coffee - cold but that would have to do - and tossed one over to her. She looked just like the average coffee drinker, and I was right, she thanked me with a nod and opened the can.

‘How long will you be waiting for?’ I asked her, gulping down the caffeine into my bloodstream.

‘Until he comes back.’

‘If he doesn’t?’

‘Keep waiting, and pray that I’ll die happy.’

When I finished the typing, the sky had changed from deep blue to an almost turquoise colour. Another new day had started its course and I had only three hours before work again. I checked what I typed again and again, putting in every detail I knew because Weiß would be relying on this information. Missing out anything could cost my friends a lot.

I saved the file on the MO, then made a copy under the password system just in case. I considered my options: sleep for two hours and feel tired all day, or not sleep, feel awake for the first few hours then feel like a zombie for the next few. Neither of them very nice. I flopped down onto my wood board bed, closed my eyes and let sleep take over.

Summer was ending, about time that Omi’s finals results were known, I guess. The results come out at the end of summer right Omi? You worked really hard for it, I hope you did well. Have you made up your mind about university? Still going? Wouldn’t the computing stuff there be too easy for you? Maybe you should go learn something more challenging, like aeronautics or explosives. That would be chemistry... learn something that would make people think ‘wow’. About time you really push your talents to the surface. Make me proud, but more importantly, be proud of yourself.

Can’t sleep...

Kudou was promoted. I was known as Kudou, a surname so common that I didn’t bother to change. I didn’t exist anyway, according to the national records. I trusted Omi to have done his job well and removed me completely.

Bodyguard still, but the bodyguard for the Head of Parties. I never knew such a position existed. In fact I still had no idea how the system worked because I had no chance to investigate. I had been with Blade for two months, just going to meetings, night clubs, casinos, basically by his side. He was too loosely connected to his job for me to see anything. He never talked about the cooperation, never made any phone calls in front of me, and I didn’t even get a chance to search through anything. The word ‘Pope’ was not even mentioned. The whole thing was like hidden behind a lead shield. Two months, and all I knew was that there were parties, party leaders and head of parties. Like some stupid political systems.

I spotted my new boss coming in and immediately left his desk. The documents there were useless. There was nothing lying around that I could pick up on. Shouldn't have wasted my time coming in early.

The way he glared at me from the door all the way to his desk made cold sweat break from my back. Had he saw me reading his things?

No he hadn’t. Never assume you are busted, otherwise you make mistakes that would bust yourself.

No one would associate me with Blade’s death, a job finished by Weiß so perfectly that absolutely nothing could be traced. I could guess the date and time my friends would do it and had made sure I was off duty.

The man had a very distinct smell on him, and he looked, well, hollow, even though he was in a black suit and was about my height. His right hand jerked a few times, just very small movements, but I spotted it as he reached for his cigarettes. I knew these signs well enough, having gone through about thirty people that looked just like him before I got into the cooperation. I lit the cigarette for him.

The smoke smelled funny too. It was spiked, and I stepped back to avoid breathing it in. My new boss was a drug addict. Would that make things easier?

No it didn’t. It went worse. Much worse.

[end chapter five]

chapter four chapter six