Thursday, January 15, 2009

More Kung Fu Noir

Act 3: Blood Don't Lie

"Master, forgive me for prying into your business, but why do you put up with Yukio's disrespect?" I asked.

Master Toshiro looked down and shook his head. Then he looked at me, his wizened eyes showing sadness.

"Mack...this is not to ever be repeated, you understand?" Master said.

"Yes, Master. Of course," I replied.

"Yukio's father saved my life many years ago, so I owe him. His only request is to train his son. Perhaps Yukio will learn more than just Kendo one day. That is my fervent prayer. You must understand, Mack, this is a matter of honor," Master said.

"Yes, Master," I replied, bowing. "May I ask how Yukio's father saved you?"

"Yes, you may," Master said, smiling.

I waited and finally, I caught on. I smiled back.

"How were you saved, and by what, Master?" I asked.

"We were both so young, Kane and I. We were such good friends then. Kane knew my mother was Chinese, but he kept it secret. Somehow, a local gang had found out, and they decided they didn't want my kind in their neighborhood of Tokyo. They ambushed me one night, as I was going to the dojo. There were eleven of them. I managed to take out five of them, but their numbers were too great for me at that time, and the other six were giving me a severe beating. And they weren't going to be satisfied with that. As they continued to beat me they started talking about where to dispose of my body. I was too hurt, and weak to fight back at this point. One of them, the leader drew a long knife and I knew my time had come," Master said, his eyes glazed over.

"They were that prejudiced?" I asked, incredulously. "Bastards!"

Master chuckled. "Yes, they were bastards. Very vicious and hateful young hoodlums. But the majority of Japanese and Chinese had the same prejudice which is why I kept it secret. My mother, bless her heart, would rarely leave the house, and when she did, she always pretended to be our maid. Father would get furious, but mother convinced him to go along, for my sake," Master said, smiling as he remembered his parents.

"She was a lovely woman and a perfect mother. It's no wonder father fell in love with her on a business trip to Hong Kong. They married a month later and I was born eight months after that. I never saw two people who loved each other more," Master continued, wistfully.

I wondered how the gang found out Masters secret. Could Kane have told, perhaps in a careless moment? It was hard to picture Yukio's father as a friend of Master Toshiro. He seemed so cold, like Yukio whenever I had seen him. What had changed him?

"As they were about to slit my throat, Kane arrived, and he defeated the remaining gang members. He...he cut the leaders throat with the same knife the leader was going to use on me. I tried to protest, but I couldn't speak. Indeed, I was barely concious. Kane gently lifted me and ran to get me help. I never spoke of Kane killing the gang leader, because he had saved my life. I was 16 at the time, and Kane was 17. He stayed by my hospital bed for days, caring for me," Master said.

"Kane did that?" I asked, surprised.

"Hai. But Kane had changed. He became more distant. A few months later he joined a gang and tried to get me to join but I refused. I saw him rarely after that. I was surprised to see him here in San Diego, that day he arrived at my dojo. He asked me to train Yukio, and how could I say no? I owe him my life. But I think I will regret training Yukio. And Kane...he is working for the Yakuza. He keeps asking me to join," Master said, laughing bitterly.

"Yakuza! Criminals! They are like the mafia, Mack. Very bad. I wish it were not so," Master said, shaking his head. "Promise me Mack...promise me you'll never join criminals," Master said, looking into my soul with his penetrating eyes.

"I promise, Master," I said, bowing.

Ninja Lackey stopped his advance, as I laughed. His eyes grew wide and then confused. He looked back at Yukio, unsure what to do.

"Kill him you fool!" Yukio shouted.

Ninja Lackey advanced once more and I smiled. He obviously thought I had lost my marbles. Good. I just stood there. No stance and just smiling. The ninja closed to within five feet, and slowed down even more. I looked up squinting my eyes and ninja Lackey also looked up to see what I was looking at, which was nothing.

"Kill him! Can't you see he's f*cking with you?" Yukio boomed. "I'm getting bored. I want to see some blood. Is that too much to ask? F*cking moron!"

Sh*t. I had hoped Yukio would stay out of it. Wasn't the fact I was handcuffed enough? So much for tricking mr. Lackey, I thought. Looks like I hafta go with plan B.

Ninja slashed horizontally, and tentatively. I didn't move, since he needed a few more feet to make contact. Ninja inched forward, and slashed again. Closer, but not close enough. I simply stood there with a blank look on my face. Plan B was to catch him by surprise.

Ninja quickly took the last few steps and slashed again. I barely moved back in time, but he stll made contact. Damn it! His sword cut through my shirt and sliced into my chest...about a quarter inch. Blood flowed freely, soaking my shirt. Annie screamed. Shut up! I thought, focusing on ninja. Great. He was faster than I anticipated. My heart was beating like a jackhammer! Too f*uckin' close!

"Ha ha ha!" Yukio cackled. "Oh yes! Now that's entertainment!"

Okay. Maybe I better go with plan C, I thought. Damn, this guy is good!

Ninja advanced again, and once again, he slashed me, this time on my abdomen. A superficial slash but there seemed to be lots of blood. I tried to remember there is always more blood than it looks like. Unless a major artery is severed. Pleasant thought, that. Yukio laughed again and I charged ninja Lackey grabbing his sword arm. His eyes grew wide at my unexpected move. I kept my feet moving like a running back, driving him back as he struggled to break free. I gripped his arm with all my might and brought my knee up connecting with his gut, but unfortunately, it was a glancing blow.

Ninja hit me with his left, hard, stunning me, but I wouldn't release his sword arm.
He tried to get the sword with his left hand and I fell backwards, kicking at the same time to add momentum to my judo move. Ninja Lackey, in accordance with the laws of physics, or maybe it was gravity, one of the two, and perhaps both, had to follow, and I executed an almost text book judo throw with my legs, trying to maintain my grip on his sword arm, but I couldn't. It was sweaty, so he slipped out of my grip, and Ninja Lackey landed...hard, on his back. I could hear him gasping for breath after an initial "oof!". I quickly got up and kicked him in the head as hard and as furiously as I could.

"God damn you! Stupid mother...!" He somehow was able to make a wild swing at my legs with his sword and I jumped, avoiding it. I jumped again, landing on his neck and I twisted with all the strength I could muster. "F*cker!"

"Snap!" I had broken his neck. He went limp but his eyes still showed some life and fear incarnate. I could hear him gasping for breath, as he tried to plead with his eyes.

"Well done!" Yukio said, approaching and clapping. "seems like I underestimated you, Mack. My employer will be pleased." Yukio drew his sword in a flash and nonchalantly plunged it into ninja Lackey's heart as if he was performing some mindless chore.
"So hard to get good help these days," Yukio said. "I do hope he provided a bit of a challenge at any rate."

I could hear Annie sobbing quietly. I wish she wouldn't have looked, but I had no choice.

"Thanks Yukio," I replied. "Now...can I get these off?" I asked, smiling.

"Soon. Soon. As soon as I find the key. F*ck! I think he has it," Yukio said, after checking his own pockets. "Damnit! Where is it? Sh*t! I can't find it! What the f*ck? I'll be back in a minute. Let me check the car. I can't believe this sh*t! I told him to get the key. Stupid asshole!" Yukio said, kicking the dead lackey. "I bet you'll listen now, won't you? Dumbf*ck!"

After kicking the hapless lackey for awhile, Yukio said, "now where were we? Oh yeah, the key. I'll check the car. Back in a flash,"

"Okay, Yukio," I said. This guy has serious anger issues, I thought.

Yukio left snd I looked at Annie. She had stopped crying and was looking down at the floor.

"Annie, I'm sorry you had to see that," I said.

Annie looked up at me and ran towards me, throwing her arms around me. I almost fell backwards but soon regained my balance.

"Mack!" She whispered. Then she kissed me again. "You're hurt!"

"It looks worse than it is," I said. But it still hurts, I didn't say. My legs buckled and Annie struggled to hold me up.

"You are hurt! Here, sit down, slowly. Oh God! There's so much blood!" Annie exclaimed.

"Just...a bit woozy," I said, tryin' to smile. "Just gotta rest a minute." I shook my head to clear the cobwebs. Must be all the adrenaline combined with drug after-effects combined with blood loss, I thought.

I worked on slowing my breathing. The slower my heart rate the slower I would bleed and faster my blood would clot up. Gotta...stay awake.

"Did you see? Yukio killed him in cold blood!" Annie exclaimed, pressing on my wounds in an attempt to slow the bleeding.

"No. He was already dead. I killed him," I said. "He would've aphyxiated. Yukio just put him out of his misery." And kicked him a lot after he was dead in a psychotic rage, I thought.

"You had no choice," she said. "And besides, you don't know that for certain."

Actually, I did but I didn't see a point in arguing. Annie was right, I had no choice, but I still felt bad about it. It was such a useless waste of life and for what? I seethed at Yukio, but I had to control my feelings.

"Look, no matter what, don't piss Yukio off," I said. "I'm gonna hafta convince him he can trust me so don't freak out, okay? Okay? C'mon now, I'm in no shape for another fight right now."

"O-okay," Annie said, looking down, obviously not happy. Neither was I, but I realized I had to act as if I were Yukio's friend now, or at least willing partner.
That wasn't gonna be easy. Yukio was paranoid under normal circumstances, and worse, he was unpredictable. "Good girl," I said, kissing her on the forehead.

Yukio returned with a handcuff key and released me. "Here's your gun," Yukio said, handing me my .45. I seriously considered blowing him away, but there was two reasons not to. If I killed Yukio I would never know who his boss was, and I had no idea if Yukio had disabled my gun by taking a crucial part out. Like maybe the spring. That would make sense, because I doubted Yukio trusted me that much. And if I tried to shoot him or take him into custody and the gun was inoperable, he would kill me on the spot.

"I also brought some saki. Let's drink to our new partnership," he said, sitting down and pouring a cup of saki which he handed to me. "Afterall, the better you make me look, the more I get paid. And like I said, you'll get more money than you've ever imagined. It's a win-win situation, right? We...are going to be rich. Well, you are going to be rich, I'm going to be richer! Ha ha ha ha!"

"Partners," I said, smiling and raising my cup and clinking it against Yukio's, before draining it. Like I said, psychotic. But the saki was good, and it wasn't long before I was feeling considerably better, which made it easier to laugh at Yukio's stupid jokes. Or him personally, to be more accurate.

His idea of funny was recounting the pathetic lackeys, victims and even a few bosses he had murdered through the years to get where he was today. What astonished me was his total lack of remorse and disdain for all those murders and those who he had crippled. Nothing had better get in this psycho's way, and those who didn't still better hope he was feeling halfway non-homicidal.

But listening to Yukio drone on and on...and on, I knew he was also very cunning and shrewd. He was careful not to kill or cripple unless he saw a clear opportunity...most of the time. Those times he didn't was the times he had killed the bosses directly above him. And he made took pride in the elaborate lies he told his new bosses along the way. He didn't hafta tell me, although he did, that he was a member of the Yakuza. The Japanese mafia, American southwest division I presumed.

"Awww, we are out of saki! You know, Mack, I always knew you were just putting Toshiro on with all that noble talk of justice and sh*t, ha ha ha! You were brutal with that idiot you fought tonight! A man after my own heart, ha ha! Almost as cunning as me. I told my boss you would be a great asset. Yes, when you told your boss to go to hell at the department, I laughed my ass off, hee hee! You would be surprised the connections we have, not to mention the places we got bugged." Yukio said, very pleased.

He was drunker than I was or he certainly wouldn't be so damn stupid as to tell me all this. More than a few times I had to stop myself from at least attempting to kill this evil son of a bitch! One good thing about all his bragging...he didn't consider to ask me questions, which meant I didn't hafta lie much, or concoct a story on the spot. A story and lies I would hafta remember verbatim.

"Well, I guess we should go then. Why don't you drive, bitch?" Yukio said, throwing her his car keys to Annie. "And remember, if you get pulled over for anything, you will die a painful death, you understand?"

"Yes," Annie said, not looking up. Good girl, I thought. She was catching on.

"Where to sir?" Annie asked after we got in the car.

"Just drive. I'll tell you when to turn and where," Yukio said.

After we got going I could see we were near Mission Beach. "Take I-5 North into La Jolla," Yukio said. "Wait until you see my mansion. It rocks!"

"I bet it does," I said. "Say, I was wondering, Yukio, have you seen Toshiro recently?"

I purposely left off Master, because I didn't want Yukio to know I still respected and loved our sensei. It was harder than i thought.

"You mean you don't know?" Yukio asked, looking at me. "Huh. I guess you don't. He's dead."

"What?! How?" I asked, dumbfounded, fighting not to look too shaken.

"I don't know the details but I heard it was a jealous husband with a shotgun. Ha ha ha! Can you believe it? The mighty Toshiro killed by a fat man with a gun? I really was surprised myself. Seems Toshiro was getting some action on the side and he picked the wrong woman. Ha ha ha! He always had a weakness for redheads," Yukio said, laughing.

I did believe Master had a weakness for redheads but I didn't believe he was killed that easily.

"When was this?" I asked.

"Let's see...around the time your family was carved up, I think. Oh. I'm sorry, that was terribly ill-mannered of me. Look, we're pals, right? I tell you what, I'll give you Annie. Yeah, she's all yours. Consider her my first gift to you. Thing is, you can't let her leave or I'll have to kill her, okay? She knows too much. Don't worry, if you get tired of her I'll send more whores your way. Just give me the word, and whatever you want. Personally, I don't know how any man can stay with just one woman. Especially after they start bitching and nagging. That's when it's time to sever the relationship...sever! Get it? ha ha ha!" Yukio said, laughing.

"Um, thanks Yukio," I said, wondering if it was possible to wanna kill him more.

"Don't menton it! You take care of me and I take care of you. I have a feeling we are going to be very good friends," Yukio said, smiling.

Oh brother. I am so gonna enjoy killin' this asshole! Forgive me Master, I silently prayed. I'm gonna hafta break my promise.
Me workin' for the Yakuza...I still couldn't believe Master Toshiro was dead.


walt said...

The thing with the stinkin' Yakuza is that they are too clever by half. When there's a lotta action and noise and blood, they see a neon light in their heads sayin' "Action = Progress Towards Our Nefarious Goals," or some such. They're not thinkin' spherically, like Mack is, which is to say that each detail is seen as an infinity of simultaneous omnidirectional events around a common center. And this will be their downfall, I'm purty sure.

Besides, what did that shrink that used to work in Forensics at the Department say? You remember the guy -- Bob Something-or-other --the one with all the "funny ideas"? He said that bad guys always project! So of course Yukio sez Master Toshiro is dead -- Ha! He wishes! Just more projection -- OR, maybe he's tryin' to fool Mack? Geez, d'ya think?

But Yukio too will have to remember his lies verbatim, because if there was one thing Master Toshiro always stressed to us, it was "Remember every detail." You do remember that, right?

And it was pure genius to use the word "Noir" in the title of this tale, because it rhymes with so many, many words -- not only 'more,' but also score, floor, chore, whore, encore (!), smore, and door, ie. a "portal" unto many more chapters, coming soon . . . one hopes!

mushroom said...

Slowly I turned, step by step ...

A nice narrative setup leading into an well-done action scene. The scene draws us deeper into the plot, gives motivation and foreshadowing, ending with anticipation and transition.

QP said...

Honor, chivalry, action and intrigue. Heck, I like Mack.

Bogart said...

Lishen, Mack I gotta huch 'at dame izh moore than she's lettin' on to ya. Jes' a word o' wizhdom. Don't trusht no dames.


julie said...

"a "portal" unto many more chapters, coming soon . . . one hopes!"

Yep, what Walt said :)

walt said...

I wish to differ with Commenter Bogart.

In my opinion, Annie has offered Mack ample reasons to trust her.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Good points, Walt.
As far as organized crime goes, Yakuza certainly has been at it awhile, although in the 1800,'s even gamblers were called Yakuza, which didn't mean they were bad other than gambling, so they didn't get a fair shake, IMO.

But the brothel bosses and highwaymen and such deserved that label.
BTW, it's kinda odd that both Japan and the US had a sort of "wild west" atmosphere in the 1800's.

I do think that, eventually, if Japan cracks down on crime and corruption more, that the Yakuza will go the way of the Italian and Sicilian mafia (at least in the US).

The Triad seems to be goin' purty strong, though. Even Communists can't seem to stop them, not that that's relevant to the story here...or is it? Hmmm...:^)

Oh yes! Bob the forensic psychologist. Maybe he will make a special guest appearance. Mack needs all the help he can get.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hiya Mushroom!
Yeah! What you said. I'm glad my unconcious mind thought of that because I definitely didn't conciously think of it.
I like your review thus far. I'm actually learnin' some things here. :^)

Gecko said...


"Snap!" I had broken his neck. He went limp but his eyes still showed some life and fear incarnate. I could hear him gasping for breath, as he tried to plead with his eyes.

"Well done!" Yukio said, approaching and clapping. "seems like I underestimated you, Mack. My employer will be pleased." Yukio drew his sword in a flash and nonchalantly plunged it into ninja Lackey's heart as if he was performing some mindless chore.
"So hard to get good help these days," Yukio said.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi QP,
I'm purty sure Mack likes you too. :^)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thanks Bogie.
If only Mack didn't have a weakness for Dames...especially dames in trouble, who may be trouble with a capital T.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hey Julie-
If you insist. I'll continue to peck out the same (ahem!) high quality (cough!) stories you guys have grown accustomed to. :^)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Snort! Good thing I wasn't drinkin' somethin' when I read that. Sure did perk me up. :^)

One thing I can say about Mack is: he knows quality ample when he sees it. I mean, we ain't talkin' ample and oranges here.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi Gecko!
That Yukio is one bad dude, ain't he? :^)

I'm glad you liked that passage. I'll keep 'em comin'.

Bogart said...

Lemme tell ya dere Walt. Dere's dames, an' den dere's dames. I'll grant youse dis Annie may be one of th former, but den again, she may be one o' the latter. Sometimes dere ain' no tellin'.


Jimmy J. said...

Ben, as TPM Barnett would say, "You're cranking 'em man!"

No writer's block here - this flows like a Skagit River flood. Damn, I'm envious.

Robin Starfish said...

Ben sez, "I'm not Yakuza but I play one on tv. Every week."

Yeah baby!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I think you're right Bogie, she's prolly one of dem dames.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hey Jim!
Yeah, fiction is easier, and harder than I imagined. Ha ha!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi Robin!
I was purty lucky to get this gig.
The Director took a chance and voila! I mean, what are the odds?