Monday, February 23, 2009

Neither Life Noir Death Kin Fu

Act 9: Pasterized

"The address is blocked, Mack, but it's in the general area of Clairemont Mesa. An Upscale neighborhood. If you can keep him on the phone for a few minutes we can run a trace," Jim said.

Why am I back here in the past? I wondered. Perhaps I'm dreamin'. But that can wait. Maybe I missed something.

"Okay, I'll be there in an hour or so and we can give it a try," I said. "But this has to be on the QT."

"No problem. But you better fill me in," Jim said.

"Right now it's just all hunches, Jim. I'd rather not speculate at this point."

"Okay, that's good enough for me. I'll call in a favor," Jim said.

"Thanks Jim," I said.

I tried to make sense of Master Toshiro's disappearance. Was he in trouble? Why didn't he call me? I wondered.

I drove as fast as I could but it was lunch time and highway 8 was packed.
I reflected on all the new events. I had to be careful. I didn't wanna get Jim in trouble. I wasn't too concerned about myself. It was imperative I find who killed my family and find Master Toshiro.

Yes, now I remember, I thought, as I watched myself drive. That's somethin' that's always cool about dreams, you can see different perspectives of things you think you know.

Since ths was a dream the time it took for me to get to Clairemont Mesa went by quickly. Funny how in dreams time is so...maleable.

I stopped and bought a disposable phone. I would need two phones for this operation.
I called Jim on my phone.

"Hi Jim, I'm ready," I said, giving Jim the number of the disposable.

"Okay, all set here," Jim replied.

I called the number I had found at Master Toshiro's.

"Hello?" The same man who had answered earlier said.

"Hi, I called earlier. I'm Toshiro's brother," I said.

"...Yeah?" He replied. "I already told you, I don't know your brother."

"Yes, and I'm sorry to bother you again," I said. "I just need to know, have you had this number long? You see, I was thinking, maybe Toshiro gave me an old number. It's been quite awhile since we talked and he always called me, since I'm usually in Hong Kong."

"Well...I.I'm not really sure. Maybe a year ago. My wife usually handle that stuff," he said.

Man, this guy is a bad liar," I thought.

"Yes, I know what you mean. I never really pay attention to that sort of thing," I said. "It's just that..." I choked up, or at least tried to make it sound like I was broken up. "Our sister, she..." I poured it on, hoping this mron would stay on the phone. "Sh...she's been taken from us...I'm sorry, it happened so suddenly," I sniffed.

"Oh...I'm sorry for your loss," he said. "But I..."

"Sh...she w...was found in her apartment, and..." I let out a breath. "This is really hard," I said cutting him off. "Please...forgive me, I haven't spoken about her...since I..."

"...No problem, I understand," he said.

" you think maybe it's been a year?" I asked.

"Yeah, probably," the man said.

"Thank you sir," I said. "You have been most kind. Again, I'm sorry. I hope I didn't inconvenience you in any way," I said, sniffing.

"Not at all. Sorry I couldn't be more help," he said. "Goodbye."

My phone buzzed. "Mack?" Jim said. We got it. I'm going to patch you through to Kim. Call me back after Kim gives you the info, okay?"

Kim handled the tech stuff, like traces, recovering data from hard drives and stuff like that.

"Mack, Kim here. Here's the address. The phone belongs to a Ren Sato. No warrants or record, yet. He runs a shipping business. Sato shipping. He has been under investigation in the past, but he's never been charged with anything. Sh*t, Mack, he's been suspected of human trafficking, drug running, and dealing in the black market, among many other crimes, such as ordering the executions of witnesses that agree to testify. Incidently, no one has ever lived to testify against him. He likely has ties to Yakuza. The guy looks to be dirty but extremely slippery. He has dual American and Japanese citizenship. What do you have on him?" Kim asked.

I copied the address and name down. "Nothin' yet. Just checkin' on a lead," I replied. "Thanks Kim." Kim was phenominal on the computer. Anyone else, I would be waiting at least an hour for all that info.

"Don't mention it. And careful, man. Sato is powerful." Kim said.

"Yeah, will do," I replied, snapping my phone shut. I almost called Jim, but instead I put the phone in my pocket.

No, I wasn't gonna get him involved, I decided. Because if Ren didn't cooperate, well...I wasn't gonna take no for an answer, and I sure as hell wouldn't get a judge to sign a search warrant with only a number and a hunch as probable cause.
Besides, Master may not have much time, if he's still alive.

It only took me five minutes to drive to the Sato compound. I drove right up to the main gate, stopping at the guard shack.

"Please state your business," the guard said, checking his clipboard.

"SDPD," I replied, showing my badge. "I need to ask Mr. Sato some questions."

"Senior or junior?" The guard asked.

Hmmm...good question, I thought. "Both," I replied. Be interesting to get their reactions, I mused.

"Standby," the guard said, going back to his shack and making a call. A few minutes later he returned. "Okay, you can pass. Just follow the road to that big mansion over there."

"Right. The big mansion," I quipped. Who woulda thunk it?

I drove up, circled the driveway until I was closest to the main door and got out. I was kind of surprised they didn't simply refer me to a lawyer. Or group of lawyers.
A butler was waiting at the door.

"Follow me please," he said.

I followed him to what appeared to be a den. There was a young man of perhaps thirty there playing a video game with an older, sixtyish guy. The Sato's, I presumed. It looked like some sort of fighting game. The butler motioned to a plush chair and I sat down.

"Damn you! I lost again!" The older man exclaimed as his character fell to a vicious and bloody combo. "I still don't see what you get out of these games."

"I get to win, father," the younger Sato replied, laughing.

"Come, we have a guest," Daddy Sato said, patting his son on the shoulder.

I stood up as they approached. I will try this the easy way first, I decided.

"Mack...Mack Westphal, I am Ren Sato senior, and this is my son, Ren Sato junior. How may we assist the SDPD?" He asked, extending his hand.

"Thank you for seeing me," I said, shaking their hands. Ren jr. looked nervous and arrogant, I observed, but I couldn't read Ren sr.. "You know my name?" I asked. "I don't recall meeting you before."

"I like to know who I am meeting with," Ren sr. said, smiling. "Technology is grand, is it not?"

That's still pretty fast, I thought. Either someone told them that I specifically was coming, or they had some helluva computer programmer to ID me so quickly from the video feeds.

"Yes. Yes it is," I said. "I'll get right to the point sir, I'm looking for Toshiro
Nakamura. He is...missing."

Junior turned white as a ghost but Ren sr. didn't flinch. "Hmm, that name doesn't ring a bell does it son?" He said, looking at his son intently.

"N-no, it sure doesn't," he replied, still nervous.

"Go see how your mother is," Ren senior said, looking disappointed. "Mr. Westphal..."

"Mack," I said, cutting him off and watching his son slink off.

"Mack...why would you think that we would know where this...Mr. Nakamura is?" Ren asked.

"I traced one of his earlier calls to this address," I replied, lying.

"Hmm...well, we do have a large staff here. I'll be happy to ask around," Ren said. "Care for a drink?" He asked, pouring himself a brandy.

"Yes, thank you," I replied. "That looks good."

Ren poured me a brandy and handed it to me. "I propose a Mr. Nakamura...may you find him safe and sound," Ren said, raising his glass.

Asshole, I thought, clinking his glass with mine and taking a drink. He knows.

"Your son..." I said, after draining my glass, "looked troubled when I brought up Toshiros name."

"Oh, he always gets nervous around strangers," Ren said, smiling. "I assure you, he knows nothing."

"Look," I said, "I know your lying, Sato so you can cut the act. Where is Toshiro?" I asked.

"I already told you, he isn't..." Ren started.

"Bullsh*t!" I shouted, grabbing him by his shirt. "Now talk!"

Four men rushed into the room, but Ren stayed cool and waved them off.

"Or what?" Ren said, smiling. "I suggest you release me, if you value your life."

I pulled Ren closer. "Don't push me," I said. "I want some answers."

"You will never see Toshiro again," Ren said, laughing. "by the way, how is your family?"

"Wrong answer," I replied, hitting Ren so hard he fell backwards into the giant widescreen TV, knocking it over and hitting the floor.

His goons closed in, and I went ballistic. Ten seconds later, the room was trashed, and so were his goons. I saw Ren jr. through the window, running outside. I threw a chair through the window and followed him into the garage. I could hear more men mobilizing.

I entered the garage, which was more like a covered parking lot, to see Ren jr. aiming a gat at me. I dropped down behind a limo, as he fired several shots at me, and got my gun out. I moved to the other side of the limo, but I couldn't see him.
A car started up, and I popped up, sweeping the garage. A black corvette stingray was burnin' rubber, and ren jr. took off.

I ran outside, dodging gunfire from more of Sato's goons, and jumped in my car, a '72Chevy Malibu, and the chase was on.

It was strange, watchin' all this in my dream, from a third person perspective. I followed Ren jr. as he flew past the gate, which the guard had opened. Apparently, he knew it was Ren jr.. Yeah, technology sure is grand, I thought, flyin' past the gate before the guard could close it.

I turned on the red flashing light on my dashboard and closed on Ren jr.. I thought abut callin' it in, but I was too busy tryin' to avoid crashing as we careened through Clairemont Mesa. It was all academic anyway, as we soon attracted other cops anyway, who also gave chase.

Ren jr. was good, but he wasn't as good as me, and he couldn't shake me. The longer the chase went on, the more reckless Ren jr. got. Reckless fugitives do stupid things, and Ren jr. was no different. He was too young to know I didn't have anything on him, until he shot at me, that is. Ren jr. entered I-5 north...goin' south. I followed.

We zigged and zagged through the traffic, and although it wasn't rush hour, it was still crowded enough. I could hear the radio chatter and soon Jim was callin' me.

"Mack! What the hell is goin' on?" Jim asked. "Call me, dammit!" And the radio chatter resumed.

I floored the Chevy and tried to gain on Ren Jr., who decided to try and shoot at me. Not a good idea when you're weaving in and out of traffic, goin' the wrong way! Ren jr., wasn't a very good shot, fortunately, and he soon realized the folly of not keeping his eyes on the road, as he plowed into a semi.

"Sh*t!" I yelled, slowing down, and approaching the scene of the crash. I needed him alive. The trucker slammed on his brakes and stopped, and I also stopped in the same lane, jumping out of my car and runnin' to the scene. I didn't need to bother. Ren jr. was roadkill. His body cut in two. I got there in time to watch him die, his face a twisted mask of utter fear.

"Where's Toshiro?!" I shouted, tryin' to will the young idiot to live a few seconds longer. Of course I got no response.

"What in the hell were you thinking?!" The Chief of police shouted at me. "Do you have any idea how many laws you violated. Not to mention the rights on Ren Sato and his son! His dead son!"

"Chief...I...they know where Toshiro is. Ren, he...knows something about my family's murders," I replied.

"I don't give a flying f*ck what you think he knows!" The Chief shouted, spit flyin' everywhere. "We'll be lucky if he doesn't sue the department! You blew it mister! Give me your badge and your gun. You are suspended until Internal Affairs investigates. And I assure you, you are through. You will never work another day for this department!"

"Chief!" Jim shouted. "You can't do that to him. His family was murdered for God's sake! I know he violated some procedures, but if Mack says Sato knows something, then by God he does!"

"Shut up, Jim! We got rules for a reason! I will not tolerate a vigilante loose cannon on my force, you got that?! And you are suspended for one month without pay for helping this fool!" Chief screamed, his face turnin' red.

I started to leave but the Chief kept yellin'. "Where in the f*ck do you think you're going? I ain't done with you yet, Westphal you stupid f*ck!"

I turned to face the Chief again, trembling with rage. "F*ck you!" I exclaimed, opening the door and then slamming it as I walked away.

There were several of my fellow police officers just outside the door. No doubt listening to the Chief go into his carpet bombing rant. They quickly went to their desks or walked around lookin' busy. I noticed one officer studying me intently. It was Captain Johnson. He had a smile on his face as he watched me walk away.

This was something I couldn't have seen when it happened. Was my dream accurate? Was Captain Johnson the mole Yukio had mentioned? I wondered.

Jim tried his best to get me reinstated, but to no avail. After his suspension he learned that Captain Johnson had given the case of my murdered family to another detective. Jim was livid, but he couldn't get the case back, no matter how many favors he called in.

"I'm sorry, Mack, I failed you, my friend," Jim said, visiting me a few months after I got fired.

"It's not your fault, Jim," I said, drinkin' another swig of whiskey, and passing him the bottle.

"Something really stinks about this. I mean, all you did was hit Sato, and defend yourself from his guards. Sure, you made some mistakes, but nothin' to get you fired. You're right, Mack, Sato knows something, if he isn't behind all this. Look, Mack, I can't get you your job back, but I can help you get a private investigator license. What do you say?" Jim asked, taking a drink of whiskey and handing the bottle back.

"I don't know, Jim. It's useless to even try, I think. Why bother? Sato will never talk. I'll never know..." I trailed off, drinking another swig.

"Mack, you can't give up, okay? I know this is hard, but you got to promise me you won't give up, okay? C'mon buddy, you got some bad guys to catch!" Jim said, looking into my soul.

"Sure, Jim," I replied, drained of emotion. I took another drink, hating myself. Hating what I had become. I just wanted to be numb. I just wanted to drink until I died. God, what in the hell is wrong with me? I asked. But there was no reply.

Jim never stopped tryin' to help me, but I was beyond his help now, I had thought.
Sarah also tried to help. Mostly by fixin' me meals, and hugging me a lot. They tried everything to reach me. Lookin' back now, in my dream, I felt like smackin' myself for bein' such a fool! I felt sorry for Jim and Sarah, wastin' their time on me. Why did they do it? I wondered. What do they see in me?

For three years they tried to help me. Three long years, lost in a drunken fog. Wandering without purpose. That's what Jim and Sarah really wanted to give me. A sense of purpose. Meaning. Motivation. A love for life like they had. I wished so often to have the love of life they had, and the joy they radiated.

Why was I such a fool? I wondered. Then my dream went black. What is happening? I wondered, feelin' scared of the...darkness closing in. I wasn't usually afraid of the dark, but this darkness was...malignant. It wanted to suck my life away.

I cowered and shouted out at the darkness. "Get the hell away from me!" The darkness continued to inch closer. "Jim! Sarah!" I shouted, fear gripping my heart. My felt like Death itself was squeezing my heart in it's death grip. I tried to breath, but the darkness was stealin' my air.

"I can't help you through this Mack," Jim said. I couldn't see him, but I heard his voice. "You need to pray...pray to God, Mack."

"Okay," I replied. And I prayed. "God help me, please. I'm dyin' Father. I don't wanna die," I sobbed. "Not yet. Not really."

The darkness remained, but that desire to live grew within me, and the fear began to subside. I had a sense of purpose now...but I couldn't define it...yet. For the short term, I would fight to live.

"You need to go back, Mack. Wake up! Go back!" Jim's voice said.

"Yes, wake up, Mack!" Toshiro's voice said. "Fight!"

"Thanks, Jim and Sarah. Thanks, Master. Thanks God," I said, smiling. Then I a world of pain.


USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Next chapter is gonna be Senseitional. :^)

walt said...

It was strange, watchin' all this in my dream, from a third person perspective.

Yes, and it was kind of strange from a fourth person perspective as well, trying to keep it all straight. In fact, I was thinkin' that if I dreamed that I was reading this I might see it from a fifth or sixth person point of view depending, of course, on how our dreams "related." Relationships are all-important, as you well know.

And as I was reading along toward the end there, I had the feeling, the sneaking suspicion -- I dunno, maybe it's all the Private Eye stuff I'm learning from Mack -- that a wee bit of auto-biography was showing through, and I don't mean makes and models! It just could be that the author was relying on memory as well as imagination. Just a guess.

And very clever, using a dream sequence to finger Johnson -- the rat! But why not? After all, Cap'n Ben's Unconscious is at-one with the Big Hologram, hovering just below the undefined surface tension of the unbounded Vastness -- so why not take advantage? Besides, Raccoon Technology™ is grand.

So while you keep priming the pump and banging out chapters, I'll go bang on the old fool's hut and tell him yer still thinking about him -- not that he ever listens to what I say!

Hey: no sex this time! I thought this one seemed really different -- now I know why!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi Walt,

I think you would make a superb detective!
Excellent points, all. It's kinda interesting how different perspectives can reveal new info. and new mysteries.

The unconcious can be quite potent sometimes. Filling in blanks that the concious mind may miss, subtle clues that are otherwise undetectable.
Body launguage, facial expressions, readin' between the lines, eyes, the spiritual and even silence gives us thousands of bits of information and mystery everyday.

Of course, Raccoon Technology can be very useful in discerning, deciphering and extracting all sorts of useful stuff.

As for the glaring lack of sex this chapter, even Mack needs a break every now and then. :^)

I'll try to make the next chapter, spicy. But tasteful, with just the right amount of curry n chili powder. Shoot, now I'm hungry. What were we talki' about again?

mushroom said...

A '72 Chevy Malibu -- a REAL car, I'm picturing a burnt orange 350.

walt said...

Our cunning marketing scheme has come to "not much" so far ....

Robin Starfish said...

"Pasterized" - You had me at the first word!

That's a lot to stuff in the blender all at once, but that's the nice thing about blenders; there's a button for everything. And this 'smoothie' is tasting pretty good about now.

That Captain Johnson has me concerned; Johnsons are never what they seem...