Keystone Trigger

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Chapter 19

Yoshio stood dripping onstage, ignoring the woman’s attempts to wipe his fluid. The pressure in his skull abated. Clarity. He had made a mistake, under these spotlights, to the applause of his fellow men. But it felt correct all the same. He was new, or replenished, and he felt for the first time in several hours the assurance he would kill Hidari Wasayama and return to Tokyo, to his downtown shoebox in Shinjuku, to continue his life.

Dana had left—so what? She knew nothing about him, other than his face. His city of origin. His DNA around her throat, on her wrist and clothes. Well, the rain had probably messed up some of that. His name was false. His passport was false. He didn’t exist outside the Kintsugi-kai. He was their garbage disposal, the well-paid burakumin. An eta slated for picking off testy customers. He liked it, fair enough. He wasn’t good at much else. Couldn’t manage a gambling parlor because he chased all the girls. Couldn’t manage a stable of whores because he chased all the girls. He had a few problems, he reflected, not for the first time. Then he smiled, aware of where he was, of the man exhorting him to leave the stage.

Before he complied, Yoshio peered at his genitals and waved hello. All finished, boss? He zipped his pants and fastened his belt and swaggered back into the crowd, adequately relieved. His phone buzzed.

“This typhoon does no one any good.”

“Sir, good evening.”

The ear-splitting music thumped on, and Yoshio stumbled toward the lobby.

“Where are you? Some nudo gekijo?”

“Of course not.”

“Next up,” screamed the announcer, “we have the beautiful Von Brauna!”

“Are you fucking around on our time?”

“Sir, nothing could be further from the truth, I assure you. I’m following the progress of our shipment with my customary eagle eye.”

“Don’t feed me any of your shit, goddamnit. I’ve talked to our local partner more than once. You cut some shit deal with him.”

“Sir, it was a personal matter, I take full responsibility for—”

“You’re goddamn right you will. I’ll take full responsibility for chopping off your balls and feeding them to a crane.”

“Cranes prefer to hunt live meat, sir, when they’re not foraging for seeds and tubers, but please, I must say that no problems will impede our delivery. I am sorry you had to call.”

“Sorry doesn’t give me time or money, you fucking loafer. You’ve been having yourself a grand old time down there, haven’t you? Fucking the local populace. You really want to have a brown baby with a Chinese mouth, you just fucking stay there, understand? The board is breathing down my goddamn neck on this. Two days you needed. Two!”

“Sir, you know in the typhoon they don’t allow planes to fly—”

“The plane has nothing fucking to do with it. The shipment. It doesn’t affect delivery of the shipment. For Christ’s sake. Oh, screw the metaphor, I mean killing her.”

“You can tell the board everything will be fine. I stake my word on it. This time tomorrow, the worst of the storm will be over, the delivery will go as planned, I will leave. The airline always comps those tickets when they get fucked up by typhoons. Who would have thought my only time down here would be so shitty, huh?”

“I don’t have time to hear out your fucking feelings, jackass. Get your job done.”

Yoshio allowed a certain hardness in his tone. “Have I ever failed in this regard? Has there ever been any issue before? It’s this island, sir. Messes with my chi, if you know what I mean.”

“Fuck chi, and fuck you. Goodbye.”

“Well, that was abrupt,” he said to the unlit phone. With a smile he stowed it away, then extricated Dana’s cell from his pocket and dialed Home. No answer. Leave a message? Nothing funny to say. Haruki was next, but he only reached his voicemail. Yoshio breathed into the speaker a few times and hung up, craving a cigarette to cement his post-coital joy. He lit one under the penumbra of shadow in the strip club lobby and scrolled through Dana’s contacts in search of the highest-ranking official. Colonel Dickler. Worth a shot.

“Hello, Colonel?”

“This is he. Who’s calling?”

“This is Haruki, uh, Tamashi, Dr. Dana Tamashi’s husband. You are able to get in touch with the base commander, are you not?”

“Dr. who? What are you calling for, exactly? Non-essential personnel aren’t needed today.”

“I would just like to inform you that I and my wife are driving to Heiwa as we speak, with a trunkful of high-grade explosives. C-4, etc. You should inform your commander of this.”

“What? Is this some kind of damn joke?”

“I wish it was, sir, but I realize there is no other way to get you off our island. My wife has been so kind as to assist me. The typhoon just seemed like a good time to do it, you know? Don’t want too many casualties, now. Just want to make a statement. Willing to die for our cause and all that.”

“Who the, who the fuck are you? Do you realize how serious this is what you’re doing?”

“One hundred percent, sir. Haruki Tamashi, sir, you best remember that name. It will go down in history. Dana Tamashi, too. You don’t know her? Works in, ah, mental health.”

“Goddamn it, sir, this is terrorism, and at the minimum a federal offense. In two countries. Why don’t you pull over to the side of the road and we’ll discuss this like human beings. Your people are peaceful, you don’t need to go to these lengths to get what you want. I’ll, we’ll send someone out to meet you. Where are you now, exactly?”

“Goodbye, Colonel. Have a pleasant afternoon.”

Yoshio slipped the battery from the phone and stored both items in his jacket pocket. He turned back to the bouncers and beamed.

“A pleasant afternoon to you, too.”

He limped out into the wind and rain.

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