When two broken souls are joined together by lies and deceit, can there be salvation within?
Tears, he wishes he has them. They were his father and half-brother after all. But does he really care - no.
Inside the large mansion, there is an air of solemn respect. The soft chants of the Buddhist monks and the occasional ringing of their holy bells permeate the silent crowd. Outside, close to 1,000 men in black and a procession of black Mercedes and other foreign luxury brands, with tinted windows, line the streets.
The eldest surviving son of the family, a young man little over 20, kneels dutifully by the two coffins. The guests pay their respect and he bows deeply back, polite but emotionless. Except for a handful few, everyone is a stranger to him. But it doesn't matter. He's only there for show. Only not too long ago, he's nothing but a blank slate in the Takizawa 'family', an unrecognised illegitimate child. But a plane crash changed everything.
The horrific death of both the godfather of Japan's largest crime syndicate and its second-in-command - his eldest son, dealt a heavy blow to the already corroding hierarchy of the once all-powerful conglomerate. Internal power struggles, competition from rival gangs and the increasing pressure from the National Police Agency to curb their influence have all taken a toil on the long-revered Takizawa-gumi.
A yakuza's life is not what Takki had expected for himself. But what did he expect for himself? Nothing really. He has no special talent or grand ambition. His life was like a kite set loose, until a storm caught up to it and swallowed it whole.
The adrift kite soon finds himself tied down to overwhelming responsibilities. Although he's only a puppet on show, it's an elaborate show. He's now the 'head' of a 17,500-member strong nationwide organisation with 2,500 businesses that grossed over $460 million annually. While he makes up for his utter lack of knowledge in the family business by attending hands-on lessons in 'Introduction to the Yakuza 101', the newly appointed second-in-command, Nagase-san and 12 other leading bosses in the 'family' run the show.
With businesses ranging from sophisticated gambling and loan-sharking operations to heavy investment in sports and entertainment industries, Takki is kept gainfully distracted. One day, he would be visiting Ginza to check out their 'water' business: bars, restaurants and nightclubs. The next day, he would be inspecting establishments in the fields of money-lending, construction and real estate. And another day, Takki would find himself wining and dining with the representatives of Japan's largest corporations: Ajinomoto, ANA, Hitachi, Kirin Brewery, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Takashimaya, Toshiba, Toyota, etc. All of them pledged to continue their support in the form of corporate payoffs. ANA, in addition, is happy to continue offering discounted air fares to the gang members. The family business might be sleazy but it has its perks.
Today, Takki is scheduled to visit the entertainment wing of the business. Takizawa 'corporation', being big on entertainment, owns many movie studios and production houses, from big names that produce international blockbusters to unknowns churning out amateur AV titles.
'Stop being such a wuss and stick it in!'
'See, it's not rape if she's already so wet and begging for it.' To prove his point, the lighting guy casually wriggles his fore and middle fingers into the exposed pussy. The spaced-out and semi-naked girl in school uniform doesn't protest.
'And she's just right too, not too tight or too loose,' he smirks and licks his fingers.
'Look, if you don't do it, we could easily turn this into a gang rape GV,' the director finally threatens.
With the threat turned on him, the young actor rouses into action. He gives his limp penis a few half-hearted jerks, then laguidly approaches his victim.
'What's going on here?' Takki queries sternly, trying to sound important. He's still overcoming his initial shock.
Seeing the VIP, the director quickly assures that it's all very innocent. They were merely role-playing. The girl isn't really a schoolgirl they had just picked up from the street to be drugged and raped. She owes them money and can't pay up. This is simply a payback. Even the young actor is one of them. He's a new yazuka recruit and this is simply his initiation ceremony.
Takki says nothing but throws the director a disapproving glare. He often employs that cold, hard scrowl, which he finds rather effective in coercing common lowlives into submission. To pacify him, a lunch break is hastily declared, and a change of actor quietly arranged.
In the private room of a yakitori restaurant, two young men of about the same age sit on opposite sides of the low table, quietly sipping sake and carefully avoiding each other's gaze. From the corner of his eyes, Takki sizes up his company. There's something different about him. He doesn't belong with the roughnecks.
'What's your name?' Takki asks softly.
'Imai. Imai Tsubasa.' He sounds guarded but there's fire in his eyes.
'I'm Takizawa. Takizawa Hideaki.'
'I know.' For the first time, the young man gazes fixedly at Takki, unwavering and undaunted.
Like a moth drawn to the light, Takki is intrigued. Why does this stranger hate him so much? What did he ever do to him?
It's no surprise that despite his title, few in Takizawa-gumi regard him kindly. At the funeral, there were perhaps a few sympathetic glances from the old guards, those who still believe in obligations and traditions. But they, like their magnificent, full-coloured neck to calf tattoos, are fast disappearing.
'You know, I'm new too. We rookies ought to stick together.'
Part 2/5: The Hands that Touched Me
That night, Takki can't sleep. He thought that since he's alone, he would rest better. Often, nights were spent in mindless sex with a string of starlets and hostesses that his minder sent over.
The drugged up girl from the afternoon's shoot haunted him. And he thought of his mother. When he was just a kid, he caught a glimpse of his mother's lover inject her with drugs before their sex romp. Takada-san, used to be the second-in-command after his father. Because of his foresight, he chose to go into the drug trafficking, which later grew into the third biggest earner for the organisation. With increasing profits, his hunger for power grew and it extended to the boss's women.
Takki's mother was well-aware that there were other women. In order to stay in the payout account, she had him. He was her guarantee of a life of luxury, albeit a lonely one. To escape the waiting night after night for someone who turned up less and less, she turned to Takada-san and his drugs.
Despite his ways and methods, Takada-san was kinder to Takki than his father ever was. He would occasionally buy him toys and bring him to amusement parks. Sometimes, Takki wondered if Takada-san was his real father. But he never got to find out. When Takki was in high school, Takada-san was killed, assassination-style - a bullet to the head. His mother died of a drug overdose soon after. Was his mother's death an accident, suicide or murder? It's another question he would never have an answer to.
'Hola!' Takki greets cheerfully.
Tsubasa eyes him with surprise.
'It's Spanish for "konnichiwa" right?'
'Yes.' Tsubasa answers in his usual cold and curt manner.
'You speak Spanish?' He asks doubtfully.
'No. I'm no good with languages. Or anything really,' Takki laughs self-depreciatingly. He likes how he can be himself with Tsubasa. There's no need to hide his flaws or pretend to be strong. Because Tsubasa isn't an ally, he's an enemy.
For the briefest of moment, Tsubasa senses that Takki, like himself, is hiding something.
'Let's play some golf!' Takki chirps, as he resumes his bright and cheery self. 'With my new customised golf set! Look, it has a soft pink hue! Isn't it pretty?'
Tsubasa turns away and rolls his eyes in disbelief. It's hard to believe that this young man his age, with a pink obsession, is a gangland leader. He looks so innocent that it would hurt to hurt him.
'Maybe I should order him to slice off his fingertip as atonement. You think?' Takki questions dreamily, his body relaxed and submerged in the steamy water
'Nobody does that anymore,' Tsubasa, blissfully soaking away, answers in an equally hazy voice.
'Well, he's beyond disgracefully late.' Takki waves his hand in lazy protest.
'He's an elder after all.' Tsubasa reminds. Sometimes, he feels that he spoilt the younger man. As his bodyguard, he is naturally around him too much. But lately, he seems to have taken upon himself the role of advisor and nanny, cautioning him and keeping him out of trouble.
'Elder or not I'm the boss now!'
Tsubasa listened quietly. This time, he doesn't bother to correct the inflated ego because even Takki knows that it's a blatant lie.
The silence weighs on his conscious and Takki feels a little guilty. After all, as far as he could recall, Kitagawa-san had been a kind and blameless uncle figure, who used to pick him up from school and treat him to ice-cream. In fact, it was Takki who invited him back from Taiwan with the hope of having an ally on his side.
'Let's wait a little more. 'I'll massage you.'
Tsubasa gently splashes water over the thin frame obediently slouching in front of him. Smoothing his hands over Takki's bare back, he could easily sense its tension and unease. For a moment, he felt a glimmer of pity. It was wrong for such a young body to carry so much pain.
'What kind of childhood did he have?' The masseur wondered. 'Was it as carefree as mine?'
Tsubasa was a loner even as a child. He would play alone in the sandpit and make his kindergarten teacher worry. But he was happy. He had everything he needed - his father. His mother had left them for a 'better' life after his father turned to God. To make up for the lack of maternal love, his pastor-father doted on him. He was attentive and loving, yet careful not to spoil his young son too much. Even as a teenager, Tsubasa was often alone. Because of his family background, his peers ostracized him and labelled him a social misfit. Nonetheless, he was still happy. His father was always there for him.
'Takki, are you all right?'
Feeling the body before him suddenly jerk, Tsubasa awakes from his reverie and pulls Takki out from the onsen.
'Is it too hot? You want to go back to the room?' Tsubasa questions as he sits with him, wiping his face dry and stroking his hair.
Takki doesn't answer. He's out of the water but he feels like he's drowning, like being sucked into a whirlpool of dark memories. Feelings and sensations he had tried to forget and lock away are suddenly threatening to bury him.
The stunned man remains stubbornly silent. All it took was a man's hand down his body to trigger off the hidden anguish and desire. How could he tell Tsubasa what he remembered? How could he tell him that every time he has sex there was always someone at the back of his mind? It doesn't matter which starlet or hostess he was cumming in, it was always someone else's hands, lip or mouth he was feeling.
'I'm sorry I'm late, Takki-chan!' Johnny Kitagawa-san hollers as he enters the private open-air onsen, unaware of the commotion inside.
The blurry images are suddenly as clear as day.
Part 3/5: Buried Memories
'Do you have a girlfriend?' The young man asks the little boy in his passenger seat.
Hesitantly and a little embarrassed, the little boy confesses, 'I've this classmate, Pi, that I like. But it turns out she's a boy.'
The young man stares blankly ahead for a while, then slams his fist into the car horn as he bursts into laughter.
'It's not my fault. He's really cute!' In vain, the boy tries to salvage what is left of his dignity.
Wiping away his tears, the man half-laughingly continues, 'Then do you know how to kiss?'
'No...' the boy giggles. 'It's yucky!'
'Not if you do it right.' The young man has stopped laughing.
That afternoon in the car, parked in the garage, a young Kitagawa-san showed Takki-chan how to do it right. And over many more afternoons, Takki learned many more new things.
It was an afternoon too, when it all came to a bloody end. On an unexpected visit, Japan's foremost mob boss, Takizawa-san discovered his young son licking red bean paste off the engorged private of his trusted right-hand man. Without a word, the mobster picked up a nearby baseball bat and savagely pounded Kitagawa-san into a pulp. When the brutal attack was over, all that was left of Kitagawa-san was tenderised meat, bloody, battered and broken. Even Takki was not spared; he was slapped so hard he lost consciousness.
Waking up, Takki glanced around groggily. He could tell that he was in a hospital. But in his daze, he couldn't remember why he was there. The private room was sparse, no flowers or get-well teddy bears in sight. His only company was the air-conditioner humming audibly above the silence, and his father.
Seeing the sleeping figure on the sofa, Takki instantly remembered everything. And he cried. Not because it hurt, although his cheeks still resound with soreness from the violence. But because it was the first time he felt loved by his father.
The muffled cries woke the sleeping father. He got up and approached the bed. Takki, not daring to look at him, was both fearful and expectant.
'You'll forget everything.'
With that, he left. And Takki cried again.
'Are you all right, Takki-chan?' Kitagawa-san asks, lightly touching his shoulder.
Takki immediately slaps his hand away and recoils from him.
'Don't touch me!'
'Takki-chan, what's wrong?' This time, Kitagawa-san holds onto his forearm firmly. Takki freezes.
'I'm sorry for Takizawa-san's outburst, Kitagawa-san,' Tsubasa interrupts cautiously. 'I'll be taking him back to rest.'
Tsubasa throws the silk pajamas into the laundry basket for the third time that night. It feels like when he just started out as a new recruit. His days were spent in menial errands such as picking up the laundry and chauffeuring his boss and family around.
Returning with a jug of water, Tsubasa finds his sleepless boss, sitting topless on the bed. The disturbed man has been waking up drenched in sweat throughout the night.
'You'll catch a cold. I'll get you something else to wear.'
'Forget it, it'll only get soaked again,' Takki dismisses the suggestion but pulls up the cover to his neck.
Handing him a glass of water, Tsubasa sits beside him on the bed and strokes the damp hair.
'I'm fine,' Takki says, pushing away the hand gently.
'I'm sorry, Tsubasa. Can you just sit here beside me, just like that, until I sleep?'
'In case you haven't noticed, I've been doing that all night. Now, just get some sleep so that I can get mine.'
Takki finally smiles. He nods and lets Tsubasa tuck him in.
With Tsubasa watching over him, Takki asks himself, 'Is this a sad life if this is the most heartwarming moment I've had in the longest time?'
Before he can answer, he dozes off.
Like a crocodile eyeing his prey's every move, Tsubasa observes Takki's breathing slows and relaxes and knows that he's asleep, and defenseless. And while the tormented young man sleeps, his caretaker turns his attention to the loaded revolver in the bag.
Part 4/5: When the Wind Changes
The moment he steps off the plane, Tsubasa knows it is the right decision. The warm balmy Hawaiian breeze is instantly refreshing.
However, as he heads to the baggage pick-up point, Tsubasa is slowly filled with dread. Although he had braced himself, he still frowned at the sight of it - large pink suitcase. It crept slowly towards him, taunting him. Grudgingly, with a heavy heart, he leaned over and hauled up the equally heavy luggage.
'I thought you said you're not gonna carry it,' Takki sneers as he approaches the fashionista in black next to a sparkly pink suitcase.
'I'm not. You won't catch me dead pulling this girly thing around,' Tsubasa earnestly defends.
Takki chuckles and wonders if there is a term for phobia of the colour pink. He makes a mental note to Wiki or Google it later. There are, however, far more important and pressing matters to worry about. Kitagawa-san, who has been exiled by Takki's father to Taiwan, has decided to return to Japan for good. Backed by the Chinese triads, he is a force to be reckoned with. Takki had initially sought his support. But that was before their history together came unblocked. There is no turning back now. And for now, Takki only wants to escape.
Distracting himself, he brags, 'Do you know that the Japanese own all but one of the golf courses on the Hawaiian Islands? And that Takizawa-gumi owns the majority share?''
Tsubasa nods. Illicit profits have to be laundered somewhere. And much of it finds it way to America, into real estates, hotels and even souvenir shops in LA, San Francisco and, of course, the Hawaiian Islands.
Although Takki is on official business to grace the opening of one of their latest investment - a golf resort on Maui, he has insisted on a vacation as well. Tsubasa notices that the much needed vacation is a huge success; Takki is starting to show signs of his old pretend-cheerful self. He has even allowed Tsubasa to apply sunscreen on his back when they island-hopped on a luxury racing yacht.
'What are those guys standing around for?' Takki points out to their chauffer.
'The same reason as those girls over there,' the chauffer teases.
Takki blushes a little and looked away.
That night, Takki declines Tsubasa's invitation for some after-dinner dancing, claiming that he needs rest.
'Japanese?' the eager and underaged-looking boy asks, as he tugs at Takki's shirt. 'Yasui! Ichi ban! Ichi ban!' He pesters, relentlessly.
'No. Thank you,' Takki mumbles as he bows apologetically.
A few steps later, a muscle man presses up against him and offers, 'I'll fuck you hard, so hard you'd think you were fucked by a train.'
It is slow business that night and a pretty customer is hard to come by. Before long, Takki is swarmed with sweaty men and inundated with sexual favours. Amused at first, Takki soon finds himself worried for his safety. He might have just sent a lamb into a lion's den.
'Back off! He's mine!' He hears someone yell. The next thing he knows, he is rudely yanked from the mob.
The hand that pulls him away is familiar, but not the forceful grip on his wrist. It is beginning to hurt. Still, Takki doesn't protest. He quietly follows behind an angry Tsubasa.
'You should learn how to do this by yourself.'
Takki nods. But he doubts he can manage. Tsubasa looks to be having a hard time himself. Tying a bow tie appears to be more challenging than initially perceived.
Takki gazes at the little thing Tsubasa has been fussing over. It already looks nicely fastened. Despite the near perfection, Tsubasa continues to tweet it a little to the left and then to the right. As if to help, Takki raises his hand to tie, grasping just the corner of it and Tsubasa's forefingers. For a moment, they linger, fingers embracing one another.
'Better hurry or we'll be late,' Tsubasa chastens.
At the sight of the resplendent gentlemen in tuxedo, the chauffer beams generously.
'My, my, you guys look like Johnny's idols!'
Tsubasa immediately cringes then scoffs a reply, 'You'll never catch me dead in a feathered sequined suit!'
With a round of shared laughter, they began the ride to the charity gala cum opening of the golf resort.
'Is this the way to the resort?' Tsubasa suddenly asks. 'It's not supposed to be so far.'
The chauffer drives to the side and sheepishly smiles an apology.
'I'm sorry let me check the map.'
Opening the glove compartment, he rummages a little.
'Takki, get down!'
A shot rings through the air. Then some more.
Part 5/5: Lonely Skies
'What are we having for lunch?' Little Tsubasa asks excitedly as he walks home hand in hand with his father.
'Pasta. You like that don't you?' His father smilingly replies.
'Yep. And one day I'll cook my version of it for you.'
'Not too soon, I hope. I want you to stay my little boy for a little longer.'
Tsubasa doesn't understand why but he holds his father's hand a little more snugly.
Tsubasa wakes up and feels his hand in another. It's not his father's.
Looking around the room aglow in the evening sun, he could've thought he had died and gone up to a flower shop. There're flowers everywhere, some he can name and many that he can't. There's even a huge get-well balloon in a corner, next to a giant feel-better card.
'You think someone's trying to finish the job?' Tsubasa jokingly asks the man who is also just waking up by his bed.
'If the bullet doesn't get him, the pollen will?'
Takki doesn't laugh.
'It's not you they're after. It's me.'
Tsubasa nods knowingly.
'Did the chauffeur say anything?'
'No. I emptied your revolver.'
For a moment, there is silence.
'How did you know about the gun?'
'I know a lot more than that. I do background checks.'
Tsubasa is startled. He hasn’t expected Takki to be so cautious.
'Why take that bullet for me if you’re gonna kill me anyway?! You want to do the job yourself?!'
Tsubasa looks away, down at the tag around his wrist. If only it was on his toe and he was lying cold under a white sheet. If only he was with his father, he wouldn't have to face this music.
When he joined the gang, he didn’t' know how long it would take to be in a position to get close enough to Takki. It happened sooner than expected and he had more opportunities than he could ask for. So how did it come to this?
‘Why didn’t you say anything?’
‘If I’m gonna die young anyway, I might as well die to atone for my father’s sins.’
Tsubasa feels his chest ache, and it's not from the bullet wound.
Before the silence becomes more unbearable, Takki announces, 'You're fired. The severance pay is already in your account.'
It suddenly becomes hard to breathe. He doesn’t want to be alone again.
'I'm not leaving.' Tsubasa answers, his voice quivering.
'Did the bullet get your head too?' Takki asks, incredulous. Forcing back his tears, he continues, 'Did you forget that my father killed your father?'
When Takizawa-gumi was invited by a real estate developer to 'persuade' a church to make way for a swanky new shopping mall, Takizawa-san took the task upon himself. The pastor of the church was an old classmate of his. Despite that, his numerous negotiations failed. Nonetheless, Takizawa-san never gave up.
'Maybe you don't know this. But my father didn't just kill yours. He broke him too.'
'This is ANA Flight 283 to Tokyo, Japan. We would like to welcome all first-class passenger on board please.'
Takki stares blankly ahead at the plane outside the long full-length windows. He feels heavy. He didn't buy any souvenirs or gifts back. But he feels like he's carrying excess baggage, probably the same emotional kind that his father carried around with him.
When Takki inherited his father's position, he became in possession of many things, including a key that opens to a drawer full of letters. The letters were rubber-banded according to the year it was written. There were about ten bundles of them. All the letters were all neatly folded into envelopes with no name or address on them. Some letters are pages long and some are just one-liners. But they all bore the same sad content, of pining for a love that was forever lost.
'I wanna kill that drunk driver. It’s not fair. He’s alive and you are...‘
‘I’m still checking my phone for messages from you.'
'It's funny, you know. It's so sad to remember, yet I don't want to forget.'
'I wish you left more voice messages behind.'
'You think it’d get easier. It doesn't.'
'I just realised that I never told you that I love you. I love you.'
'I tried making that pasta you used to make. I failed. But it was fun.'
'The boys are graduating high school soon. Tsubasa's homeroom teacher says he wants to be language teacher. Don't worry, I'll find a way to sponsor him. My son, Takki is graduating soon too. But he hasn't seemed to make up his mind about what he wants to do. He worries me sometimes. I've enclosed Tsubasa's picture and Takki's too. Won't it be nice if they became friends?'
Takki smiles a little at the last recollection. They did become friends after all. But it wasn't all nice.
Takki ignores Tsubasa's pleas and continues lip lubing the erect penis.
'Maybe my dad wasn't sucking on my mom's pussy because he's too busy with your dad's cock. You think?
He plays with the head a little then takes the thick shaft into his mouth, working the entire length of it diligently.
‘Maybe a man of God tastes better; or maybe doing it in church is more exciting?'
Restrained by the earlier gun wound to his chest, Tsubasa could only grimace and squirm helplessly. But when Takki’s fingers finally find the spot inside him, his reactions made any resistance futile. It didn’t take long for him to climax in Takki’s mouth.
'Lift your hips,' Takki commands as he hooks the immobile man's legs in his arms. Watching Tsubasa bite his lips in involuntary anticipation and his legs dangling in mid-air, it’s so intoxicating, Takki almost feels dizzy.
‘We’re doing it for real now,’ he smiles deviously.
Late that night, Takki finally steps out of the room. Tsubasa is left naked and spent on the bed. The leaving figure doesn’t bother to clean up his blood and bodily fluid from the wet and wasted face and body. The nurse can do it. The humiliation has to be complete.
'This is the final boarding call for ANA Flight 283 to Tokyo, Japan. We would like to invite all remaining passengers to please board the plane now.'
The holding lobby is now empty, except for the anxious ground crew watching him at a distance. If only they knew that what awaited him was a treacherous future.
Takki doesn't know who tried to kill him. Nagase-san? Kitagawa-san? He only knows that he didn't die. Perhaps he should get busy living instead.
But life can be such a lonesome journey. Would he have to make it alone?
Takki doesn't have answers, only questions. And so, he sits and waits, just a little longer.
~ End ~ More stories at http://avery-averette.livejournal.com. Enjoy!
Spoiler: Takki lied to Tsubasa to push him away from danger. Tsubasa's dad died not because Takki's dad ordered it. It was a car accident. Their fathers were actually secret lovers.