Chapter 1: New York
It was raining heavily, and – boy was it relief from the cold and frosty weather. Sam looked outside the window, smoking a cigarette, wet from perspiration due to his work out. The drops drew blurred lines on the glass, moving and glistening...strange writings of a culture unknown.
He looked at the city below, people scrambling in every direction to shelter themselves from the rain, dashing through deep puddles of water, cars splashing icy fountains on everyone not fast enough to jump.
Sam turned his back to the window, looked around in his scarcely furnished room. He went over to the mirror and stared at a man with dark-rimmed glasses, long hair combed back at the sides. A tattoo was visible, just above the hem of his trousers ... fonts that read 'non timebo mala'. There was a knock at the door.
He read the note that he had just received. It was from Bobby - he wanted to meet at the Bull Horn, his favorite drinking hole. Bobby was an alcoholic, but then Sam was no one to judge.
He put on his suit, hat, raincoat, strapped on his gun and headed out. He walked through the 14th Street avoiding the scrambling masses. He loved rains, they helped to mask the pain in one's heart, as well as the emptiness inside... The loud noise of the clouds made it easier to cry out in frustration, and rain helped to mask the tears. He got into a cab and headed downtown. They passed the Georgia Memorial Hospital... 5 years ago, he remembered Bobby coming over to tell him that John could not take it anymore - he had slit his throat with a broken window pane. Sam had run out into the rain, crying, but no one could hear him. He reached the hospital, and before the police could stop him, he barged into his father's room and - there he was fallen to the ground, in a pool of blood. The wall behind him had a red streak across the wall, bloody writing, fonts screaming at a horrified Sam. It was even worse than ...that other day so painfully seared into Sam´s memory. They gave John a state funeral for all the great work he had done for the city. When they asked him to give the eulogy, Sam just broke down and cried his heart out for the next three days until there were no tears left to shed.
The picture still haunted him in his dreams. Not as often as it used to during the first year after his Dad´s suicide, but still regularly enough. These days he didn´t wake up to it covered in cold sweat and crying out his father´s name anymore though. Most times, he found his fists and jaw clenched tightly, and his stomach knotted in one burning hot ball of anger.
Anger. It was what filled his veins now, fueling him with the energy he needed. Not for his jobs. They were easy enough to accomplish, once he´d got rid of the annoying feelings of guilt and self-loathing. No - his job made him feel - free. It surprised him still occasionally how the fact he´d just cut out the part of him usually referred to as "soul" (others would call it "conscience") filled him with - freedom. Who would´ve thought how all the humanity crap slowed you down - remorse, and empathy, and pity? Mercy. Sam scoffed, pulling up his shoulders so the heavy raindrops wouldn´t crawl down from the soaked collar of his coat.
The anger he reserved for something else. Something far more important than liberating the world from some random thug - be it the cold-blooded member of a criminal syndicate or a high-up outstanding citizen accompanying his family to church every freaking Sunday. In his experience, they were equally compromised by greed. He had learned that much during the last years: It was greed that drove humanity. Not love. Not compassion. Greed came in many shades, but in the end, it was always just - greed.
The cab pulled to the curb, and Sam got out, unfolding his lengthy frame. When would they ever build cars fitting his height...The cold downpour had him running towards the pub´s entrance, where friendly warm light poured out on the glistening pavement.
He took a moment to shake the worst damp off his hat and coat and entered the Bull Horn. The familiar mixture of cheap cigarette smoke, moist clothes, and alcohol-laden human breath welcomed him. He scanned the room for his friend-mentor-surrogate dad and found him, as always, sitting at the far end of the bar, right at the corner where the back door offered the possibility to make a fast and unnoticed exit. Just in case...that was what Bobby always said. His paranoia might be ridiculed by others - Sam knew what the man was talking about. In fact, in Sam´s line of work, Bobby´s behavior was normalcy. Life-saving normalcy.
He strode over to take the seat at Bobby´s side, nodding at the older man. The years in Korea hadn´t been lenient on him. His face, already creased and scruffy before his enlisting now looked like a piece of paper crumpled up, opened and scrunched again several times. It had taken Sam years to understand Bobby´s stubborn decision to join the army in this utterly senseless war. If anything, Bobby had been more short-cut, withdrawn and grumpy than before after returning from his "holiday on the McArthur Playgrounds" as he put it. Maybe it was the look in Bobby´s eyes when he was not guarded enough for a moment - and Sam didn´t need more than a split second to read people, it came with his job - that made him realize going into war was Bobby´s way of dealing with everything that had happened to his best friend and his family. He had held things together for years, for Sam´s sake; and when Sam was gone, so was his motivation to hold back anymore. Just like Sam, he needed something to channel his anger into - and chose a legitimate way.
It hadn´t worked out for him, though. The anger was still there, but it was somehow subdued and coated with resignation.
"Bobby", Sam nodded, putting his damp hat on the counter and waving for the bartender.
"Sam", Bobby growled.
"I got your note."
"Well, I'm fine too, boy. Anyways, I think I've got a job for you"
"Bobby, I'm always up for a job. Any job. But when will I ever find Them. I wanna work for Them."
"Well, it's your lucky day then. This one might get you closer to them."
Bobby slipped him the envelope.
Suddenly Bobby touched his ear. Sam knew that gesture. It meant an undercover cop had arrived. Sam finished his drink, took his hat and left the pub. The rain had stopped outside. Sam decided to walk a mile downtown. He came to a bus stop, sat down there and opened his envelope: it read „M. Kobayashi“. Along with the note, there was boat ticket to Osaka, Japan.
He scanned the few encrypted lines following the name - Bobby was always thorough when it came to security measures. Even without his books, he managed to decipher a few bits. Sam had no clue as to who M. Kobayashi was and why he´d earned himself a death mark; honestly, he didn´t care. What he DID care about was the fact that the killing was to take place in Tokyo, and the note mentioned an etablissement (AKA whore house) called "Rising Sun". Sam knew the name. He had read and reread it hundreds of times. His father had left a load of material on the case he had been working on for years by the time the Japanese mafia had decided to set an example.
When John had come home on that day, startled by a weird phone call, horror and dread making him run until his lungs ached, his wife had been killed, his older son vanished, and his younger son deeply traumatized by watching the well-organized killers/abductors do their work without any remorse or even hesitation.
The Yakuza was thorough and cruel in their methods: kill a man´s family, and he will seek revenge to the end of his days; but kill his wife, and take his son, leaving him in agonizing uncertainty, and mess up his other child for good, and the sheer amount of pain and despair will ruin him. It was, Sam had to admit, the perfect torture - without even coming near the man. And it sent a clear enough message to everyone else who might have the guts to stir up things for the powerful Yakuza family.
Sam pocketed the envelope inside his coat and got up. He´d have to do research, and time was short. This wasn´t one of his usual hit and vanish jobs. This was his chance. The chance he´d been waiting for for years. He felt the anger boil up inside his stomach, sending acidic energy through his veins.
Ever since the Kefauver Committee hearings in 1951, it had become a little more difficult to find the information he needed; but Sam had never been one to be slowed down by a bunch of bureaucrats believing in their mission. He got up, rolled his wide shoulders, and strode down the street, ignoring the pools of rainwater on the pavement. People hurried to get out of his way. The tall, impressive figure oozed a kind of subdued power and danger no one in his right mind would be dumb enough to mess with. Sam was headed to the one place beside Bobby´s house that had kept him sane (well, a shrink would probably raise protest to that, he smirked). His safe place. And his father´s before.
The storage room was situated just near enough to be reached easily, hidden enough not to be found, and in a common enough place not to raise suspicions. The perfect place for a life´s worth of work. Two lives, to be precise.
Sam went over parts of the material he had already combed uncountable times once again; he had to choose which information to take with him to give it another thorough look while he was shipping to Japan; what could come in handy if he needed a back door at some point (always good to have some leverage); and which documents were to be left with Bobby - just in case...a job like this could easily turn out to be a suicide mission. And Sam had no intention to let go of the sons of bitches who had destroyed his family just because he would eventually be dead.
He had found his Dad´s journal - by chance, wrecking the rickety chest of drawers which had always, as far as Sam could remember, held the huge black telephone, the blue-and-white ceramic dish where his parents used to put their keys, and everything from bills to last year´s Christmas cards inside the drawers, in a fit of desperate rage, about two days after the....other day. With Bobby´s help, he had deciphered the hints that finally led them to the storage room.
At first sight, it was - pure chaos. Files, boxes, loose paperwork, photos pinned to the walls seemingly haphazardly; drawers and shelves holding books, old volumes mostly. Bobby was even more stunned than Sam. Nobody, least of all John´s superiors, had had any idea how deep the detective had already worked himself into the bottomless pit that was organized crime.
It was Sam who found out how his father´s system worked. It was not one of the usual ones like alphabetical, or time related; his father had organized the information like a huge onion, or like the annual rings of a tree. Layers upon layers of crime - any kind of it.
Some of the files (which, Sam knew, were obviously here because his father had simply taken them from their legitimate places at the precinct or the new FBI office) were originals. Others were meticulously copied versions the originals of which he couldn’t get his hands on.
Sam knew part of the stuff by heart. He had memorized entire passages of records, had stared at grainy photos until his eyes watered. And he had read the crime scene reports. Over and over again. Each time, his anger was newly aroused, and he could go on for a few weeks, sometimes even months, again.
The hours flew by unnoticed while Sam made his decisions, piled up files and books, replaced them, pondered over other files and folders. When he finally had collected everything he considered indispensable, it was already dawning outside, and the air in the room was foggy from all the cigarette smoke.
Sam packed the chosen paperwork and books in the small suitcase he had stored in the room years ago, put a smaller stack of folders into a briefcase, locked the iron door, and left. He had only one or two hours to pack his personal things - not that he´d need much, mostly it would be his weapons and a few more books.The ship would leave this evening, and he had the flight to Los Angeles to catch.Start writing here ...