The Monthly PAW: August 2020 Voting
I'm a day late but today I finally made time to show you all the wonderful submissions I got this month! <3 Once again, I had to split the thread in two posts because of the lenght of the stories.
Thank you all for the amazing work : :
If possible (if there's enough submissions), you have to vote for 3 submissions in each category.
Post your vote in this thread
Do not vote for your own submissions. In case there aren't enough submissions though, you can still vote for it but that vote simply won't be counted.
The points for the voting are called "paws". First place votes are worth 3 paws, second place votes are worth 2 paws and third place votes are worth 1 paw.
For voting you can use the following form:
Photography - Elements
Art - Cats
Writing - Gangs
Drrr!! Without The Durahan Is Just A Cacophony Of Boys
One fine afternoon, Abir was walking home from school. Suddenly he noticed a bag lying beside the road. It was a black messenger bag with silver stripes. He thought for a while and decided to leave it as it was.
That evening, Abir was studying when his elder brother darted into the room with wide eyes and a manic grin. In his hands, was a black messenger bag with silver stripes. His eyebrows rose automatically. ‘Someone was stupid enough to pick it up and that someone is my brother’- he thought, but said, “What have you got there, bro?”
His brother, Kabir, was panting heavily. He set the bag on the bed and unzipped it. Inside were papers, lots of them. Neat, rectangular-shaped pieces with seals and the face of a bespectacled mustache man on them, along with 1000 writ in all four corners. Abir’s jaws fell open.
“M-money! So much!” He could say no more and just gaped. Kabir nodded frantically and said,
“Guess what? There’s no identification of the owner on the bag.” His eyes gleamed.
Abir was the more rational one of the two. He said, “Have you checked the inside of the bag?”
Kabir shook his head. The two brothers then emptied the bag on the bed and rummaged through it. The bag was plain; one pocket on the outside and one in the inside and no more. There was nothing else in there. Abir looked at the heap of 1000 bucks on the bed, looking dumbfounded. He had never seen so much money together in his life. His rational mind poked him and he suggested going to the police to his brother. Kabir grunted and replied, “Do you think they’ll wait for someone to claim the anonymous bag with thousands of thousand bills? NEVER!”
Abir said skeptically, “What if these are fake?”
This thought had not crossed Kabir’s mind, apparently. He looked worried now. Finally, the two decided to keep the bag a secret, even from their parents, and wait a while.
Two days passed and nothing happened. No criminals came to chase them, no police came to search the house and neither of the brothers got any sleep. Abir had also asked some friends about any recent robbery or money laundering cases in any neighboring areas but came up blank. Finally, on the third day, Kabir decided that he had had enough. He wanted to buy the motorbike he dreamt of buying with money from the bag. Abir had to go through a lot of trouble to prevent him from walking out with the bag full of money.
“What if the smugglers are not yet sure that we took it? What if they’re waiting for us to make the first move?” He said.
“You don’t know that this money was smuggled,” Kabir said.
“It could be. Hell! It might very well be!” Abir was firm. Kabir made no reply.
The next morning, Kabir was gone and so was the bag. They stayed gone for hours. Their parents were worried but thought that their son had something to do. Only Abir cursed his idiot brother for being so stupid and cursed his own fate for having such a stupid brother.
That night, Kabir did not come home, or the next morning. Their parents were genuinely worried now and were calling everyone they knew to ask if Kabir had gone to their house. Abir understood what had happened. The smugglers had gotten Kabir. He silently snuck out of the house and ran to the motorbike showroom where Kabir had seen the cool bike he wanted to buy. On his way, he saw something and froze. The black messenger bag with silver stripes was lying by the roadside in the same place as before. Abir cautiously looked around. There were not many people on the street. He gingerly picked the bag up and unzipped it. What he saw made his eyes bulge out of his socket and he ran to the showroom, taking the bag with him.
As it turned out, Kabir had not stepped into the shop in the past three days. The salesman was certain that he hadn’t seen anyone who looked like Kabir after Abir showed a picture.
Abir walked out onto the street again. He was now at a loss. The bag slung over his shoulders felt heavy. Just then a man in a fancy suit- slightly dirty for a lack of washing no doubt- approached him. “Hey, kiddo! You lookin’ for somethin’?”
Abir regarded him warily.
The man grinned, revealing a missing tooth, and said, “I kn’w where you brothaa is.”
The man took Abir almost to the other end of the town, taking detours just to puzzle Abir, and finally they came to a rundown inn. He shoved Abir inside and closed the door behind him.
“I brought the cully! He has the baggie!” He shouted cheerfully.
A man with bloodshot eyes came out- 'he has to be a drug addict', Abir thought- and guided them into some sort of a cellar. Kabir was there, tied to a chair, his temples bleeding. Four thug-like men surrounded him. One of them said, spotting the bag in Abir’s arms, “The brother had the bag after all!” and smacked Kabir hard enough to make him whimper.
Abir tossed the bag onto the floor nonchalantly and said, “Take your stuff, give him back.”
One sallow looking man unzipped the bag, took a look inside and then glared at Abir. “Where’s the money?” he growled.
“What money?” Abir looked confused.
“The thousand-taka bills, you dimwit!” the fancy-suit man hit him on the back of his head. For a moment, Abir saw rainbows in the dark cellar.
Kabir squeaked. “Those other men took the money...” but he was smacked into silence.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Abir put up a bewildered expression, rubbing the back of his head.
A man in battered jeans drew out a revolver from the back pocket, cocked it and trained it at Abir. “Tell us, brat. Or I’ll put a bullet inside your stinking brain!”
“I really don’t know! That is the bag I saw.” Abir said, sounding desperate.
“Then why’s there a dead Gekko inside instead o’ the money?” Another man screamed. The sallow looking man had produced a glass case or something like that from the gab. There was a dead reptile in it, submerged in clear liquid.
“That’s no Gekko! It’s some sort of lizard of rare species. I read about it on the internet but forgot what it is.”
“Okay, brat. You’re-” before the gunman could finish, the door of the cellar broke open and some men in black rushed into the room. Every one of them was armed and masked. They trained their guns at the puzzled goons and the two brothers. One of them, close to the bag, screamed, “Hai! Sore wa oretachi no rizzaddo desu!”
A foreign man in a black suit and black sunglasses stepped forward. He had a bag in his hand that looked exactly like the one on the floor. He said in clear Bangla, “I believe there has been a mistake. That is our bag and,” tossing the bag onto the floor, “this is yours.”
The local goon who had first checked the bag with the lizard inside hurried to the second one and unzipped it. He screamed with joy, “Our money!” the others rushed forward to see that it really was their money.
Meanwhile, Abir swiftly ran to his brother, cut the ropes binding him to the chair with a pocketknife and supported him on his shoulders to stand.
While the local gunmen idiotically rejoiced over their lost-and-found money, the foreign man picked up the bag with the lizard, checked it, nodded and turned to leave.
Abir eagerly said, “Looks like you’ve settled the business. We shall go our way too.” He stepped toward the door.
The foreigner halted at the door and slightly turned his face at the local goons. “Our business here is finished. You may do with those two as you wish.” He paused, then added, “Mata aitakunai. Sayonara!” Then he disappeared up the stairs, his men followed suit. Abir’s hand slipped into his trousers’ pocket.
The local people stood in a fix for a couple of moments, digesting what just happened. The man holding the bag spoke first. “We still got the money.”
The others came out of their daze and exchanged glances. The gunman who had wanted to put a bullet inside Abir’s head said, “They’ve seen it. We can’t let them go.”
Kabir panicked and said, “We won’t tell anyone! We don’t want any shares. Let us go please!”
Abir grunted and hit his big brother’s head with his own. Kabir, panicking and bewildered, went out cold with the hard hit. Abir sighed and said, “Looks like I have no alternative.” His expression hardened; he no longer looked like a typical teenager.
The gunman grunted and trained his gun at Abir once again. Just then a horde of boys streamed into the little room. All of them had either big catapults or cricket bats in their hands. They rushed in and surrounded the goons too fast for anyone to react.
Abir smirked and said, “Meet The FOF.”
“Freaked Out Folks!” The goons all said in unison, shocked.
Abir took out a small, silver badge with a special sign engraved on it. The goons seemed to recognize it instantly. Abir registered that with satisfaction and said breezily, “There are around ten of us and...” He ran a gaze around the room, “...six of you, huddled together.”
The man with a missing tooth, the one who had brought Abir here, and the man who had guided them into the cellar had joined the four men who were guarding Kabir. They were standing close together now, a target too easy.
Abir continued. “We got you outnumbered. If you try to attack me, my boys will spare you no mercy. We are well-trained in combat and...”
“Shut yer trap!” Yelled the gunman. He trained his gun on Abir again. Then he screamed. “OWWWW!” He dropped his gun and clutched his head with both of his hands, screaming as he got to his knees. Behind him stood one of the boys holding his cricket bat high and grinning. Another boy lunged forward and picked up the gun. Then all hell broke loose. Cricket bats swung, catapults fired, fists connected with faces and blood gushed. The local thugs were unarmed and high. Abir’s gang made quick work of them. One of the boys pulled out a long chain from his pocket and wrapped it around his fist. Then he proceeded to hit the men and breaking ribs.
Abir grinned; one of his friends was helping him support Kabir now. “Retreat boys,” Abir said, “and don’t let them see your backs.” He started stepping backward. One of the boys picked the bag up as he advanced towards the door. When all of them were near the door, their weapons raised at the bleeding and groaning men, all on a sudden they all broke into a run and disappeared up the stairs. The men who were still standing then got their guts back and ran after them, but by the time they came out of the inn, the boys were nowhere to be seen. They could not believe that the new threat to all local goons- the FOF- was simply a bunch of teenaged boys.
The main residence of Hirano syndicate, in the city of Osaka
In a room with sliding paper doors and tatami on the floor stood a short-legged table. On the table was put a phone, many documents and newspapers. Behind it sat a stunning albino man, with short lightly wavy white hairs and piercing red eyes, yet still he had one flaw, and that was a few centimeters long scar starting from his left mouth corner. He was wearing a traditional japanese male kimono, which was covered by black open front coat with patterns of wild sea waves. He was reading some of the documents, sometimes sorting them in small piles. Next to him stood a very high, sturdy man wearing a black suit with his hands held behind his back, his stence motionless, face with no expression, sometimes secretly peeking at the person next to him. His hairs were curly, black and so long, it had to be tied up in a short ponytail.
The sliding paper doors across the table were hastily opened and two man in black suits entered with the third bloody and beaten up man in the middle. The dragged man shouted one threat all the time:
„Era of Hirano syndicate is long gone, it’s too late to change anything, Minato will take over this city and anyone, who disagrees, will pay with life.“
He’s thrown in front of the table. After so many shoutings, out of breath, the man looked up and stopped in the middle of a new word he wanted to utter. His gaze meet with red eyes of the albino, although their colour reminded him of fire, the way the albino watched him was cold, regal and maybe a bit bored. One of the two men in suits snapped at the worned out man to be quiet and pushed rashly his head to the ground, making him into a position of dogeza. The albino slightly moved his hand and the two men, who brought the third, immediately bowed and rapidly retreated out of the room. The man on the ground and the sitting albino never stopped staring at each other. After a while the albino said in a chilling and resonant voice.
„Who would listen to a kid?“ replied the man with disdain while sneering.
The albino slowly standed up, put his hand on a shoulder of his robust bodyguard, who would otherwise attack the snickering fool, and walked to the kneeling man. While he was approaching him, the face of a man on the ground got whiter with each step the albino made. The albino stopped in front of him. The man opened his mouth, trying of say some more threats, but suddenly he felt rapid stinging pain in his right thigh, soon after in his left one too. He cried out. All he managed to notice earlier, was gentle motion of albino’s hand, and that was enough for him to end up nearly fainting from pain? How is that possible?! And he doesn’t even have anything jabed in his legs! While the man’s been musing over this, the albino bended down and wispered to his ear.
„If you want to walk ever again, talk, now!“
The man started snickering again and planned to continue with his favourite threat, but the pain intensified, as if his thighs were firmly held and twisted by chopsticks. He started to break in cold sweat, barely managing staying conscious, gurgling unrecognizable words out. After forever, the pain subsided. That thing in albino’s hands, whatever it was, shouldn’t be made a weapon, so terrifying! He thougt and started to talk. At first his words were messy and not understantable, but soon the two could hear the same things, they heard, while the man was brought into the room. It was repeated, word by word, as if he was a robot or a person who completely lost his mind, voicing out the same threat over and over again. The albino straightened up and returned to his seat, then he said:
His bodyguard took a gun out of his suit and with no delays shot the man in the head, not giving the man any other chances to finish his fanatical speech. After finishing his job, he called other underlings from behind the sliding doors to clean up the mess.
„That is the fifth attack on your business, sir. Should I let some of our men spy on Minato ground?“ asked the bodyguard while hiding the gun back to the suit, his eyes following retreating men with the corpse.
„It’s highly possible some of our people betrayed us already, it’s too risky. You’ll go.“ said albino, after the sliding door was shut.
„But sir, who would be by your side, it’s too dangerous to stay unprotected!“ pressed on black haired guy.
„I haven’t always had you by my side and I survived, I’ll manage.“ retorted his chief.
„Sir…“ his right hand man haven’t given up yet.
„Kawasaki Rai, don’t make me repeat myself. Just go!“ the albino finished their conversation.
After a while Rai answered, „I understand, sir Murakami!“ and relucantly walked out of the room.
The white haired man remained sitting, absorbed in thoughts. After some time, his eyes catched a sight of an article in newspapers laying among the other documents on the table.
„The devastating explosion of a storehouse of Seito company, well-known mainly for electronic products, took 18 lives. After closer investigation the police discovered that the storehouse was actually hiding guns and munitions. It is highly possible we’re dealing with a city war of Yakuza gangs. How many lives will be claimed because of this unrest? The police promises to find the culprits, the investigation continues and… “
The albino had thrown the newspapers into a trash bin next to the table. It’s too much. In Yakuza, there were always some unfortunate accidents, but this was too intense and too frequent. It must be stopped. Shou Murakami stood up, opened sliding doors on his right and walked out on a terrace. Feeling a fresh breeze on his face, absorbing a quiet atmosphere of his beautifull garden, he concentrated on a pond filled with koi carps of various colours and sizes. He relaxed. He hasn’t even registered all of tiny details of his surroundings and the phone rang. Shou slowly turned back watching the ringing phone, annoyance returning. He knew, it would come, it was inevitable. He decided to take it. At first he heard only displeasing noise. Frowning, Shou finally lost his patience and answered.
„If you think, you’ll win me over by doing terrorist acts, you’re wrong. I will never work with you, I expressed myself clearly already!“
The noise continued. Suddenly, the very deep and amused voice replied:
„True, that wouldn’t be fun, would it? Let’s have a chat! Tajiyama, tomorrow at 8 pm. Both of us without fussy underlings of course. Don’t be late, sweetheart! See ya‘ soon~“
The noise and a few peeping sounds ended the short call, only making Shou even more irritated.
The docks in Minato ward, the city of Osaka, that day, midnight
The rush hours of a harbour was long over, only some paserby sailor or warehouser was returning in haste to home now and then.
Rai was wearing a leather short jacket and a tightly fit sporty pants, at first glance looking more like a loner enyoing the night view of the docks, rather than a Yakuza spy. But he was doing his job. Searching for any suspicious storehouse or activity being performed in this late hour. He was lucky. After an hour long search, he found a pile of similar looking containers with no symbol of any company he knew. The only sign it held was a picture of a sea wave in a circle. He checked, if anyone was near. The air was clear, he could start then. He took out a smaller crowbar from his inner jacket and swiftly broken a lock. It took only few seconds to get inside the container. What was inside looked innocent. There was a lot of wooden boxes with written texts like „Fragile“ or „Top“ with an arrow pointing one way, as if it was some kind of expensive glass material. Rai wasn’t discouraged and continued with his search. After opening first two boxes, he simply knew it were Minato’s goods.
All of the boxes contained highly dangerous explosives, which were surelly capable of blowing up a whole storehouse. He hastily rearranged the boxes and the lock to look untouched at first glance. After doing so, he heard a dull punching sound of something hitting a metal. He stilled, listening. He heard the sound again, now knowing roughly the direction it was coming from. He followed the sound till he came to the very similarly looking container with the sea wave sign. He hesitated, but the sound come out of the container again, very clearly now. He squeezed the crowbar he was holding, lastly glanced around and began breaking the lock. When he has succesfully broken in, he freezed, horror shown on his face.
In the container were dozens of binded and gagged girls and kids of various age, some of them were scared seing him, some hopefull, some already apathetic. So Minato’s actually been doing slavery, Rai was about to gag, he hoped he was wrong. True, he was working with Yakuza himself. As a double agent. Primarily being a police officer. But Hirano syndicate has never done slavery. Only trafficking with munitions, guns and sometimes drugs. Not much better, but slavery is really a taboo for his standards. He slapped himself mentally, it’s no time to stand here like this, I have to release them. He quickly went to the nearest girl and helped her out of the cuffs, they were slowly realeased one by one. He wasn’t carefull, he knew, he was making it only complicated this way for himself, risking getting cought, but his judgement sometimes shadowed his logic thoughts.
The last thing he remembered was a shout of one of the girls and a pain in his head, when getting smacked from behind. His sight turned black.
The bar in Kita ward, the city of Osaka, four hours before Rai discovered the first container
Shou, sitting by the bar, ordered another glass of whiskey. He wasn’t drunk, he’s hardly ever gotten drunk anyway in spite being Asian. He hated that prejudice, as if it should be generilazed. People are different no matter where they live. So are Asians. Aah, he was still irritated since that call and it only got worse by each thought that came on his mind. And waiting for someone, who was a hour late, hasn’t made his mood better at all. He was wearing marine blue shirt with silver delicately embroided dragon pattern at its collar and at shirt’s left side, and black trousers with white moccasins. He wanted to cheer up by doing so, but he saw everything in a pessimistic light no matter where he went or what he wore these days.
The bell rang and another customer has entered to the bar. Finally! Shou might have chewed the glass from irritation, if it would be another stranger. The person, who entered, wore a white T-shirt with cute puppies of Border collies, jeans and tennis shoes, had short brown hair, a slim body of an athlete, was of a smaller height, and his face was often brightened by everlasting smile. Simply put, he was a walking optimism, overflowing with energy Shou so needed right now. Shou has to stop thinking, or his depressing mood will never stop this way.
After young man spotted grumpy albino, he walked happily to his side and sat.
„The same he has.“ he said and turned to Shou with expectation.
„You’re probably wondering why I, the big boss, actually called you here, right?“ Shou nearly growled.
The young man laughed shortly and replied: „Don’t make me so stupid, I know I am sort of a dog, but have more faith in me, ok?“
Shou growled once more, but surprisingly, his mood turned slightly better.
„Why are you an hour late?“ Shou carried on with his questioning.
„How could I, you said to be here at eight right? So here I am!“ answered still happiness glowing fellow.
„Why am I not surprised…“ Shou uttered, but the corner of his mouth twiched a bit in an invisible smile when he noticed unsuspecting face of a young man. He doesn’t listen, just like those disobedient puppies on his t-shirt.
„Anyway, I need you to call some of your comrades to back up one of my subordinates, who‘s in an enemy ground right now. The sooner, the better. His life’s at stake.“ continued Shou after drinking some of his new whiskey.
„Aa~hw, you’re worried about your subordinates too, haven’t seen that comming.“ teased young man.
„Makoto-san, can I count on you, or are you gonna’ squeel here as teenagers do about their first date?!“ Shou momentary lost it.
These days he was tired, things went wrong, and he made his closest subordinate he had to go to the most dangerous part of his city. For Shou, trusting was very hard, but Rai somehow turned to be trustworthy in only three years through his sincere acts! Although he could be a „mother hen“, if safty of his chief was at stake, the fact could be easily overlooked. Rai’s behaviour reminded him of a police officer, but if Rai was by any chance one of those dogs, Shou wasn’t aware of it, maybe he was getting old and loosing his gut feeling, to not be so suspicious about Rai. Shou slightly shuddered, he hoped he was overthinking things.
„Sorry.“ said Makoto with a suddenly serious face, which was so rare for him. „Of course you can count on me. Where should I send them?“ he continued in the same serious, maybe a bit dejected manner.
„No, I’m sorry I snapped at you. I suppose I’m tired these days, don‘t take it to your heart much.“ Shou said with a sigh. „He will surelly go to the docks in Minato ward, trying to find some suspicious activity or storehouses. Try to look for the symbol of a wave in a circle.“
„It’s ok. You’re busy, I got that!“ said Makoto cheerfully again. „I’ll go right away, it’s ours job to protect the citizen anyway, so here I go!“ he stood up, but before he walked away, he asked: „How can you be so sure about that particular symbol?“
„I have my connections… Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten about it, before I made my subordinate go, so now at least you know what to look for.“ said Shou and subtly smiled.
Makoto replied with another smile, bowed a bit and disappeared from the bar, walking out with his natural energetic way.
The last remains of ice clacked in a nearly empty glass of whiskey. Now he just had to wait and probably pray for a good outcome. He finished his glass and stood up to leave the bar. No more drinking, he has to be fresh for tomorrow’s meeting.
In an apartment somewhere in Minato ward, in the city of Osaka, over midnight
In a well balanced and elegantly decorated room stood by the window a black haired strongly looking man, probably around fifty years old, wearing white shirt, black trousers and leather slippers, watching the view of a night city and wast sea in the background. The room was filled with very expansive mahagony furniture, wooden or stone decorations and its floor was cowered with beige carpet. The window was so great, it completely replaced one of the walls of the room. The man was on the phone and sounded irritated.
„…he can’t notice anything… No, don’t kill him… I will send some back ups…It’s just one man, you should be able to take him down, right? Or are you suggesting, you’re not capable? That’s what I thought. I want it to be settled in a hour!“ he ended the call annoyed.
The man put the phone on a mahagony table behind him and limped to the nearest wooden cabinet, got out a cigar and after cutting it of, he lightened it. After the first delightful draw-in, he subtly tilted his head back and looked at the half body portrait of a beautiful white haired lady watching him with ruby eyes, warm smile, wearing turquoise long sleeve dresses and delicate silver necklace similar to a water drop.
„Yukari, … he will come back and we’ll be family again. You’ll like Minato, that wast mass of water you like so much is here… it‘ll brings us the peace you searched for so long.“
After saying so, he turned back and limped to the mahagony table to sit. After he sat, he glanced on the table, particulary on the small photo in a black frame, which was standing in the table corner. On the photo was the same smiling woman as in the portrait before, next to her stood probably four years old boy, an albino, looking seriously. Part of the photo was cut off by someone. The remains of a third person on the photo was a male hand, hugging the beautiful woman around her arms. It has been a family photo.
The sitting man reached for the photo, and while he was holding it, his other’s hand fingers run over both person’s faces. When he ended on the lower side of a boy’s face, he hasitated, but only for a while, than he smiled a bit and aimed for the boy’s left mouth corner, although the mouth’s corner of the boy wasn’t unique in any way. The man started to talk, as if the people from the picture were there with him:
„You’re so similar. He’s great in acupuncture as you used to be, Yukari.“
A flash of happy memories appeared. The white haired boy and his new needles, the boy getting complimented by his first customers and later by his parents, the boy’s dad and him patting the boy’s head, Yukari smiling happily.
„Just… the boy was always so serious…“ continued the man with his musing, frowning.
For a minute he paused his speech and then his face darkened. He recalled a memory. Pain in his leg. The bullet went trough his right thigh. A young white haired man around twenty years old was still holding a gun and aiming at him. His hands trembled slightly, but what the boy said then was filled with deep hattred and resolve. „You have no power over me! I’m not gonna‘ kill you, that won’t bring back my father you killed, but I warn you…“ and with repulse in his voice, he added: „…Don’t ever show yourself before me, uncle!“
The memory’s started to fade, but before it completely dissapeared, some of its fragments run through the man’s mind. Knife in his hand. Another shot. Missed. His own fighting roar. The pistole went flying. One hand on the boy’s neck, second hand put the knife inside of the boy’s mouth.
„Your father was a prick, why aren’t you smiling as your mum used to, huuh?“ he asked, his eyes glinted in craze. „You’re the same as him…. But don’t worry, I can correct that~“ The memory dissipated completely.
The man was again in his apartment with a beautiful night view of Minato ward, sitting and still holding the photo. He put it back and continued talking:
„If it weren’t for his talent for an acupuncture, I wouldn’t have left him leave with only a scar…“
The man became quiet, clock on the wall ticked, time slowly passed, and after a long while the man carried on with his monologue, as if he forgot the bad stuff he remembered before.
„Soon… soon we’ll be family again.“
In a police car, on a way from police station to Minato ward, over midnight
„We’re so late!“ complained for nth-time Makoto. „Why did it take so long to gather few cops?!“
„Didn’t you get the message quite late already?“ said Judy, Makoto’s collegue. „And anyway, the informations weren’t too speciffic to actually know, where’re we going!“
„I say, why are we even trying?“ whinned another fellow worker in the back. „Yakuza aren’t worth our time, they should kill each other and it would be finally peaceful here.“
„So naive…“ uttered Judy.
„We’re helping one of ours, you fool, Rai is my best friend, he’s not really a Yakuza!“ Makoto got heated up.
„But we haven’t seen him in many years, it’s as if he’s one of them now.“ retorted the second collegue in the back.
„Enough, it’s always like this, guys, could you shut up at least for a minute? We’re in the docks Shou mentioned, he should be here somewhere.“ said Judy, looking around.
„Hey, I think it’s that way.“ shouted Makoto.
„Why do you,… oh.“ Judy stopped talking, stunned.
They could see dozens of men lying on the ground among conteiners used for transporting various goods. But more scary was the fact, that it wasn’t even half of the numerous group of men approaching one, bruised and bloody, but still standing man.
One of the police officers in the back said: „How is it possible he’s still standing!?“
„That is Rai! He wasn’t named The Raging Typhoon after that legendary mission for nothing.“ said proudly Makoto. „His speciality is endurance and hard head.“ laughed the young, now proud man, he will never stop admiring his pal.
Somewhere in Chuo ward, in the city of Osaka, the next day in the evening
„You mean Tajiyama in Chuo ward, right?“ asked a taxi driver and glanced at his passanger in an interior mirror.
„Yes, that’s the one.“ nodded Shou sitting in the back seat. The car continued with the drive and turned right. Shou was wearing a white light shorter coat, black shirt with a tinny embroidered silver wave pattern on his colar and white trousers with black expensive looking shues.
It was already dark outside and Shou, watching passing people trough the window, was thinking about their current situation. Rei was late, he hasn’t seen him since yesterday and that was very worrying. Rei was never late! If Shou sees Makoto next time, he’s so done with him, the police is not trustworthy after all. The important meeting was approaching. Shou was going alone, as was stated in the call, but of course he wouldn’t be called a leader of Hirano syndicate to not be prepared for the worst. Shou let some of his men go in hiding in close distance of the meeting place, in case he would need their help.
That call yesterday was still in his head, making him slightly nervous, irritated, but somehow he was ready for it. Shou wanted to change pace a bit, so his mind wandered much further back in time to do so.
When Shou was a little boy, he still had both of his paretns. He has very little memories of his mum, but father often talked about her. She was kind, talented doctor of Chinese origin. Their first meeting happened only because Shou’s dad had a very tiring job, so he searched for something relaxing. He found it in the clinic of Shou’s mother, who was focusing on acupunture techniques. They soon got very close. Unfortunately she was sick. Some sort of a rare anemia disease. At that time it wasn’t curable, so she died quite early, when Shou was around four years old. The only thing Shou remembered about her was, that she looked a lot like him, at least everyone around him said so. Especially his uncle, Yutaka. Shou sometimes got the feeling, that Yutaka was nearly possessed by their resemblence. Shou didn’t like moments, when he was alone with his uncle. He was always staring at Shou in such manner, that it gave Shou goose bumbs every single time. Shou never told his father about this, he was a man, he couldn’t be afraid of such trivial stuff.
Shou was the whole time looking out of the window, but now he closed his eyes while furrowing his brows.
Everything went out of control, when Shou was seventeen. He was visiting his uncle with dad in Minato. Shou hated being watched by many guards everyday, so he decided that day to sneak out of the uncle’s apartment and run to the nearest park to finally breathe some air, tasting a bit of freedom and being alone for change. That was a mistake. The first man, who found him, was actually his uncle. When he catched him, he held his wrist so strongly, Shou was sure if he’d hold him a little longer, it would be a fracture. He shouted a lot, as if he was loosing his mind back then. Normally, Yutaka was quiet and calm man. That day his behaviour did a complete turn, it was not an ordinary family querrel, it was rather frightening experience revealing something monstrous hidden very deep in Yutaka’s self. If dad’s subordinates wouldn’t have heard our fight, Shou didn’t want to imagine, what might have happened that day. Since this argument, Shou’s father and uncle often fought and Yutaka‘s visits were less frequent day by day. Everything ended with the most furious conflict Shou had ever seen… It was so sudden.
They argued about the leadership, Shou’s mother and Shou himslelf. Shou was at first stopped by Hirano subordinates and wasn’t able to participate in the fight. But in the end he managed to get trough the guards and witnessed a horrible scene. Yutaka was standing over Shou’s dad’s laying body with furious face, dad wasn’t moving and his head was bloody. The table near the duo was also bloody. It was probably an accident. But that doesn’t mean, it was an excusable act.
Shou kneaded his temple. That scene will never leave his mind. Father always wanted to rule in a fair way, with little of accidents and tried to maintain peace among gangs. His leadership was founded on rules stated in Yakuza code and who didn’t obey well, he was stricktly punished. Father wasn’t of weak figure and resolve, his subordinates were very loyal and respected such a leader.
Inheritance of Hirano leadership was never meant for Yutaka. Shou’s father make sure of that and left the leadership to his son, Shou. That was the content of his will.
Shou went back to present, still sitting in the taxi. He honestly hoped to be as great as his father was for most of his life, keeping peace and managing bussiness with little problems and casualities. That was his goal.
The radio, which was on the whole drive, started making unconfortable noises and Shou could understand very little. But things he’s gotten out of the forecast didn’t sound good. Strong wind, similar to typhoon, possible tsunami, might end up in forced evacuation. But because of the noise and horrible signal, the taxi driver changed the station and a few seconds later taxi stopped. Shou was at his destination.
Interier of Tajiyama was gently illuminated by lucerns on the floor. Shou was welcomed at the entrance by a black statue of a laying bull, which was looking at him wisely. The main corridor of the restaurant lead to many side rooms meant for guests, each of them could be entered by wooden and paper sliding doors. Everything was designed mainly in brown colour and most of the furniture and entrances were also wooden. The meeting was supposed to be in the remote room at the end of the corridor. It was the only room, which was decorated by the largest divider that filled the whole back wall of the room. On the divider were drawn very detailed tree branches put in a beautiful mountain scenery.
Shou wasn’t waiting long and the next guest arrived. Yutaka entered and before anything else limped to the coat-stand. He wore gray long coat, white shirt and black trousers, shues and hat with white strip. After his coat and hat was hung up, he sat in the seat face to face with Shou.
„At long last we had finally reunited.“ said Yutaka with his deep voice nearly in nostalgic manner and looked in Shou’s eyes. Shou was watching him the whole time with reproachful gaze. „Do you still enjoy to be in charge of such an archaic organization?“ added Yutaka with unnoticable disdain and one of his mouth’s corner ticked a bit in a sneer.
„New organization doesn’t always mean a progress, Yutaka. If you’re gonna‘ do things the way you do, you’ll have no one to boss around at the end.“ answered coldy Shou.
„Why so serious, Shou-chan? The syndicate should always be able to show, what it’s capable of, right? Look, you could say, it’s something like a prevention of possible disobedience of subordinates.“ blinked Yutaka with a naive smile.
„Murder is followed by revenge, it’s never ending cycle, you only dig your own grave like this.“ argued Shou. „Why do you always need to prove that you’re better? You only pour more fuel on the fire, making more conflicts every day.“
Yutaka straightened his back a little and with an amused look said: „Yakuza without a strick hand can’t be called Yakuza.“ His voice darkened: „Compassion only blinds your judgment, you will end like your father this way!“
„How dare you talk about my father!“ nearly growled Shou with a horrifying voice. „His leadership was one of the most prosperous in last century!... Why am I here!? Explain it to me, why do I have to meet you, after so many years, dining as if nothing happened… You can’t take back, what you’ve done, it’s too late for that!“ continued Shou with a gaze throwing daggers.
The waitress entered and cut off Shou’s rage. They got the menu. After she left the room, Yutaka answered calmly:
„Nothing lasts forever, Shou.“ and after a while he continued: „Tell me, how is sir Kawasaki? I heard, you two have an interesting relationship after only, how many, three years?“ asked Yutaka innocently.
„Rai has nothing to do with our past, just get to the point already, I have no time for your stupid games.“ said Shou resolutely, but in his thoughts emerged first doubts. Did he capture him? Or is he bluffing?
„Or you’re actually not that close?“ smiled Yukata. „Don’t you by any chance tell each other your old achievements, hm?“ in Yukata’s eyes flashed knowing look. „What about that mighty capture of a whole gang in nortern Osaka few years ago by only one police man? Such a legend~“
„To the point!“ said Shou curtly. He was loosing his patience. Yutaka played with him, he knew, but Shou coudn’t stand to doubt the only one he trusted. Rai’s acts are enough to prove his loyalty, and if he was someone else entirely before he joined Hirano syndicate, it doesn’t matter. It has to.
„Cooperation with the police won’t help you in any way.“ said Yutaka and shook his head as if Shou was some kind of a misbehaved child.
„Yutaka!“ insisted Shou with a hint of a threat in his voice. Is he spying on me? Does he have Makoto? This dialogue was starting to be endless, and self-control was every other minute in presence of his vile uncle crumbling.
„Tsk, you’re no fun…“ said with a sigh Yukata and his look turned serious. „Give Hirano up. Your Syndicate is loosing its respectability. You’re just a laughing stock in Yakuza. Join me. Minato is beautiful place, you will like it there surely. And your talent in acupuncture would be certainly appreciated in there.“
„Are you serious?! After so many things you’ve done? Dream on.“ retorted Shou and started to get up.
Yukata lightly clapped his hands and immediately many of his men entered and filled the room behind Yukata, they wore gray suits.
„You really think, you’re the only one, who doesn’t play by rules?“ asked Shou with contempt and snapped his fingers. Right then entered trough a second entrance other batch of men, this time wearing black suits. The men in black were aiming at the men in gray, the men in gray did the same.
„Easy, easy, men, are we in some kind of a western movie, guns down.“ said Yutaka, nodding his head.
Men in gray understood the meaning and hid their guns back in the suits, Shou wasn’t in haste to fallow, but soon even he nodded his head and his men did the same.
„Did you really think that dinning with me once will win me over?“ asked Shou and unwillingly sat back on his seat again.
„If only it was that easy…“ uttered Yutaka with a saddened expression. „No, that was never in my mind. But you will listen, if you don’t want to loose your bussiness and many lifes of your underlings.“ continued Yutaka with frightening tone.
Shou shuddered slightly, but rather in rage than fright. „No, you wouldn’t do that! You would endanger the whole city of Osaka like this!“
Yutaka put his right hand on his breast pocket of the shirt and tapped it a bit, smiling sinisterly. Only just now Shou noticed the bulge on Yutaka’s breast pocket, he was… this whole time… hiding something so powerfull there! Is it remote control for the planted explosives? He’s gone crazy!
„Wanna bet, hmm?“ said now crazily sneering Yukata, thinking how he got finally very close to what he desired this whole time.
What fallowed was very rapid. Shou swiftly threw one of his needles to immobilaze Yutaka’s tapping hand and at the same time he tried to get, what was inside in the pocket. But Yutaka cought his reaching hand instead with his second hand and with rough force pulled Shou across the table to him. Shou, not expecting such a fast move, ended up on the other side of the table on the ground, his captured hand behind his back in a firm military hold. Men around them pulled out their guns, they would not shoot, but among Shou’s men was one, who wasn’t so patient and shot in haste in the direction of Yutaka. Other side immediately shot the men and a great gunfight broke out.
Any kind of commands of their leaders couldn’t be heard in the uproar which wasn’t easing any time soon. The fight was chaotic. Shou made use of that and managed to get free of Yutaka’s hold while hitting his captor in the head. Yukata’s head was bleeding lightly, but he still caught Shou again and screamed in his ear:
„If you don’t call off your men, I will press the button.“ threatened Yutaka.
„No..!“ howled Shou and desperately tried to get free again, preparing his needles. But before he regained control, police men invaded the room and started to pacify the fighting men. How did they get here so fast? Thought Shou momentarly, but when he looked up, he understood. In the entrance stood enraged Rai in ripped clothes and with a bleeding head. He threw himself on Yutaka and started fighting life-or-death struggle.
Shou was watching them for few seconds, stunned, but soon he noticed the remote control on the ground and hurried to get it. Unfortunately the room was so crowded, it wasn’t possible to catch it immidiately and his efforts reminded him more of a game to capture a rabbit, control jumping here and there, sometimes hiding under the table or other furniture. When he finally caught it, he heard crumbling sound. That wasn’t a good sign… He looked up. Not just his imagination then, the roof was slowly breaking under the pressure of a very strong wind and started to colapse bit by bit. Shou with horror realized that the incohorent forecast back in the taxi warned about a possible occurence of something similar to a typhoon! He managed only to shout: „Rai, the roof!“ and found the gaze of Rai for the last time, some of Shou’s subordinates jumped on their leader to cover him before the roof went completely down.
I am sorry… I am so sorry, Yukari… I couldn’t fulfill your dream. Yutaka coughed blood. Wait for me. He smiled, we’re gonna watch him from there, right? While we enjoy that wast mass of water, together,… in peace. And before an enourmous wooden beam girder fell on him, he shut his eyes still smiling and quietly uttered: „Yukari…“
„… an ambulance…put him… u Murakami is…wounded…an evacuation…Minato is…tsunami destroyed…we can’t…hold him…adrenalin!“ Pain, shock, confussion. Rai felt many things, but he thought only about one. He has to live! His eyes were searching for his leader, but he couldn’t concentrate, his sight wasn’t working well. He didn’t feel his hand and had probably broken some ribs, but his legs were miraculously intact, at least it seemed so. Yutaka wasn’t so lucky, his upper body was crushed by a heavy wooden girder. Rai‘s last thought before he lost his conscious again was – hopefully Shou will outlive that piece of shit.
Hospital in Nishinari ward, in the city of Osaka
„You can’t go inside, pacient is still recovering!“ lashed the nurse out on an around fifty years old man, he wore a strick expression, his hair were brown with a hint of silver colour in some parts, he wore a civillian clothes, jeans, short coat, white t-shirt. He decided to take out his police badge, the nurse became alert and stopped nagging for a while.
„We were asked to talk with Shou Murakami. He could be a very important man, who posseses a great influence in current conflicts among Yakuza gangs in the city of Osaka.“ said the man in serious voice.
The nurse frowned, then added: „Please, try to not stress sir Murakami too much, if it’s possible. If you’ll need me, you know where to find me.“
The inspector nodded and entered the room after the nurse walked away. When he closed the door behind him, he aimed his gaze on a laying figure in the hospital bed. Broken legs, ribs and clavicular bone. Yesterday, he was still fighting for his life. If he wasn’t protected by so many subordinates, his heart would have been pierced by a broken wood. He was one hell of a lucky man, but fighter also. His state got better in a few days and today‘s morning he himself phoned to a police headquarters Keisatsu-cho to call him, the commaner in chief, who unites all of the police departments in the city with the help of a council in cases of emergencies like tsunami, typhoon and such. The inspector could swear, even though that bastard had his usual poker face, Shou seemed a bit amused watching him come to the bed right now.
„You never get bored getting in new troubles, huh?“ asked the detective, smiling a little and pulled up one of his eyebrows.
Shou’s voice sounded slightly hoarse and tired, but even so, he talked clearly.
„Never. You know me, can’t help myself.“ And Shou’s mouth’s corner twitched in an indication of a nearly invisible amusement.
„Why did you call me here?“ asked the inspector curiously.
„I have to fullfill our Yakuza code, but I can’t do that alone.“ answered Shou in a resolute manner.
„Always act chivalrously.“ quoted the inspector.
„The fifth rule of our code.“ nodded Shou. „Our storehouses were always far away from the sea, so tsunami didn’t affect them like the coast in Minato ward. I do business in different kind of fields, so I have many various supplies - clothes, food, drinks, even some hotels for a temporary living. I would like to give them to the people in need. It’s an emergency after all.“
„But that’s at least half of your business?!“ exclaimed the inspector in surprise.
„I am aware of that, but I’ve already decided.“ said Shou without hestiation.
„You’ll never stop surprising me.“ laughed heartily the inspector.
„Um, do you know, by any chance, what happened to my men?“ asked suddenly Shou.
The inspector quietened for a while, but soon answered: „Nearly everyone, who were inside of the building, didn’t make it. Two are fighting for their life, three are slighly better.“
So many died! And survived so little… Shou turned his head and looked out of the window, his gaze sombre.
„Your uncle has died too.“ continued the inspector.
Shou turned his head back and looked at the inspector with wide eyes.
„So he is already…“
„Not among us, yes.“ stated the inspector matter-of-factly while nodding.
Shou closed his eyes and he got visibly relieved. No more frequent conflicts, no more meaningless deaths. After he opened them again, he looked out of the window, watching the peacefull tiny waves on the dark turquoise sea in the horizon. His expression calm and content.
„I should probably go now to relay what we were talking about to the council.“ turned the inspector to leave the room.
„Wait…“ sounded from the bed. The inspector turned back again. Is Rai still alive? Shou wanted to ask. But his question got stuck up in his throat. He was afraid the answer would be negative. So in the end he choose different, the less horrifying one: „Was Makoto in the building, when it happened?“
The inspector was watching him thoughtfully, then he smiled and answered: „Makoto Honda was very close to the main entrance of the restaurant, when he was guiding new reinforcements inside, he managed to run out in time and he ended up with only a few bruises and sprained ankle.“
Shou was relieved once again, he wouldn’t have forgiven himself, if the mister positive wouldn’t have survived this mess because of him.
„Thank you, I won’t keep you here any longer.“ ended their dialogue Shou and let his head fall on the pillow to go to sleep. But before the inspector could open the door, some commotion was heard behind it.
„Sir, you shouldn’t be up so soon, you have many fractures to heal!“ said laudly a woman‘s voice outside.
„I really don’t get why you hate puppies so much, you’re heartless, hey, wait…“ the familiar energetic voice could be heard too.
„And I really don’t get why we were put in the same room…“ growled other familiar, but deep voice.
„Sir, return immediately….“
„But we were teammates, now you hurt my feelings…“ whined now saddened voice.
The inspector just opened the door, but he had to move out of the way, when this duo rushed inside. One was beaten up badly, had a bandaged torso and one hand, breathing heavily, but still held a sharp and adamant expression. Second one was limping, but overal was ok, his face brightened after seeing Shou woken up and shouted excitedly: „You’re finally awake, such a sleepy head, made us worried so much.“ and smiled widely.
Rai walked resolutely to the bed, a minute passed, and Shou with Rai stared at each other the whole time, trying to believe, that what they were seeing right now is real and not just a dream.
„Sir Murakami, don’t send me anywhere, where I can’t protect you, ever again.“ nearly ordered the bruised giant to the laying Shou suddenly.
„Just this once I will do an exception and listen to the advice of this insolent subordinate.“ retorted Shou and probably for the first time in a long time smiled warmly.