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Good References (Solo)

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"I believe in America, Obayun."


Ishmael froze, his hand hovering over the panel-switch that lay hidden under the rustic wood walls. Very slowly, the teenager flattened himself against the wall and listened intently, eyes narrowing as he digested the implications of the unexpected voice.


"America made me great, as far as this city is concerned. Let me bring anything from the homeland to the Emeralds. Made me so I can give my family anything. I have raised my children in the American fashion, and so when one of my daughters found a boyfriend in another Osakan boy, stayed out late and started spending every weekend after school with him, how could I protest? How could I not give her everything she wanted?"


This late(10.42, according to a quick glance at his phone) the Harada building with its sloping crenelations would be nearly empty. Sure there would be a few on the lower, corporate floors, but in the penthouse nobody but Mr. Takazumi, his family or his bodyguards would have much reason to hang around. And the Young Dragon had been very clear that the reason he was so comfy sending the young translator to meet the Old Dragon was because papa wouldn't have any other business.


"Last week...the Osakan boy had another friend along, they and my daughter went out to some of the inner bars, got her to drink genshu. They tried to...she resisted, they beat her like a dog and left her on the street. I went to the hospital where she was taken. The doctors told me she would need a new face just to live."


Was I supposed to hear this? Shifting uncomfortably, Ishmael barely stopped himself from stepping on the creaky floorboards Papa Takazumi kept outside his office. Why are all these people so paranoid?


"I went to the police, of course. My girl could not speak, but she could write, I knew the boy and his family and the accomplice was soon caught. But that Gardner, he pled their case. Made those monsters out to be just irrational 15-year old boys. Judge Wagner was no better. A year in juvenile detention. A year! This is American justice? This is all I get for doing everything right?"


There was a silence so long that Ishmael started to worry somebody had fallen asleep.


"My wife told me, 'if we want real justice we must go to Takazumi.' I will pay any price, Oyabun, if you will just do what I ask."


There was another long, long silence. Ishmael could hear the water flowing in the ornamental garden down the hall. Then a dry, rumbling voice asked in a voice thick with a Tokyo accent


"The police? Not me?"


"I-I just didn't want any trouble, I didn't know-!"


"Calm down. I understand, Sakamoto. I have two children of my own and I worry every day that this is the day I get that call, that those words leave a man's lips. But I cannot ignore such shallow loyalty. And what you want is revenge, not justice. That is more expensive."


"I will pay anything."


"I do not need or want your money. You run an import business? On the Riverfront?"




"I may need you someday Sakamoto. Maybe tomorrow, maybe never, but I will expect total loyalty and cooperation all the same. In return I will send my son and his Demons after those boys and whenever you or yours run into trouble you will come to me. We will eat together, get to know each other, our wives will stroll through Jadetown and joke about us. I have friends, they will give your daughter her face back."


"Thank you Oyabun!" There was a rustle as the supplicant shuffled into a low bow "I'll do it and anything else you want! Thank you thank you thank you!"


"Go without fear, my friend. Never even think about the police again, you have a far stronger and better ally in me."


With another rattling litany of gratitude the sliding door whisked aside to let out a rotund businessman, his black hair slicked greasily back and his face beaming through tears of joy. In moments he was gone, his feet pounding carelessly into the distance. Ishmael let out a breath in relief.


"Come in, Ishi. Ryu called ahead. A thousand apologies for the wait."


Startled, Ishmael nonetheless ducked into the low room with its antique lamps, wall hangings and a window admitting a glorious sight of the Moon over the Malory Bay. Sitting at a bamboo table and typing away at a concealed computer, Tetsuo Takazumi observed the translator closely. Fit, stocky underneath a loose robe bearing the family's dual hawk-head crest and with a kind of brusque elegance to him, the man's greying hair lent an air of authority and dignity while the lines spiderwebbing around his cold eyes gave him a flavor of the veteran sailor who can see a storm in a sail's flickering. It was hard to square him and his contradictory surroundings with the fact that Tetsuo Takazumi was one of the most powerful mob bosses in the Emeralds.


The gangster gestured across the table to a cushion "Please, sit, I had to watch you standing all that time on the monitors." Dark eyes bored into Ishmael's very soul "I have a job for you."


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