Friday, April 3, 2009

Noir News

Act 15: Death Fu

"Hanna...hurry!" Annie said, her voice cracking.

"Annie! Annie, what happened?" Hanna asked urgently. But there was no reply.

Annie's voice brought tears to Hanna's eyes. The anguish and pain in her voice...so palpable it hit her like a Mack truck...Mack! Oh no! She knew it was Mack! Oh God!

"Whoa, what's the rush?" Akira said, as Hanna sprinted past him. Akira grabbed her arm.

"It's Mack, Daddy! Didn't you hear?" She shouted, burying her face in Akira's shoulder.

"Now, let's not jump to conclusions little one," Akira said, taken aback. He softly patted his daughter's head as she clung to him in desperation.

"Didn't you hear?" She sobbed.

"Yes...yes I heard, dear," Akira said. "I heard."

"We must hurry! There might be a chance!" Hanna exclaimed, darting off at full speed.

Akira followed, running as fast as he could. Whatever was wrong, they were needed.
____________________________________________________________________________________

"No Mack, no! I can't lose you! I won't! I won't!" Annie shouted in grief, as the light in Mack's eyes began to fade.

Blood gushed from his chest and it was all Annie could do not to lose it. She applied pressure to Mack's wound and struggled to get her backpack off. Nervously, she fumbled for the first-aid kit, cursing when she couldn't get it open with her free hand. She would need both hands, she thought in horror.

Annie removed her hand and the blood continued to pump out of Mack's body. So much blood! Annie quickly got the box open and grabbed some gauze, feverishly tearing the packages open. Then she remembered she needed a seal for Mack's chest as more blood bubbled out, along with air from one or both his lungs. The blood was frothy like beer suds. Mack would probably laugh about it and make a joke if he were concious. She pulled out her cigarettes and removed the cellophane wrapper, applying it to mack's sucking chest wound. Then she applied the gauze and held it there firmly.

Mack tried to talk but blood had oozed out instead. He mouthed "I love you" and his eyes briefly flashed the light of love...before fading out.

"I won't let you die! You hear me, Mack? Don't you die on me! Mack? Mack?!" Annie sobbed, shaking uncontrollably.

"Nooo! Please God! Nooo!" Annie wailed.

Her heart felt like it was going to burst and she couldn't breathe as the anguish poured out of her soul. She had never felt pain this intense. But she had never loved anyone as much as she did Mack, except for her grandparents and Dad, but that was a different kind of love. The pain of loss spread through her and her heart shattered into a million pieces as she realized Mack was no longer breathing.
_____________________________________________________________________________________

Sensei had heard everything over his radio as he cleaned and swabbed up more ninja blood.

"Oh dear," Sensei said, steadying himself after Annie's anguished call.

He sat down and tried to calm his heart. The pain in Annie's voice cut deeply into his psyche. He could not help but feel empathy with the poor girl.

"Oh my," he whispered.

Sensei got up and steadied himself taking even, deep breaths until he was focused, and once again in command of his emotions. Once he was composed he walked towards the ninja prisoner. He tore the duct tape from his mouth.

"Please Don't kill me! I'm sorry!" The prisoner bowed profusely, scared out of his wits and shaking.

Sensei drew his sword and brought it down in a flash!

"Aaaaahhhh!" The ninja screamed shutting his eyes. Then he opened one eye, realizing Sensei had cut his bonds.

"I will be back in awhile. If you value your life you will not try to leave," Sensei said, sighing. "Because you know what the GrandMaster will do to you if he finds out you are alive. And remember this: if you betray us or try to hurt us in any way...I will personally send you to the hell where you will be flayed alive for eternity."

"I swear! You have my word, I will sit right here," the ninja said, bowing continuously. "Thank you Sensei, thank you for sparing my life! I swear my allegience to you blessed Sensei! I am at your service!"

When the ninja looked up Sensei was gone. He breathed a sigh of relief. But inside, he was riddled with guilt. That poor girl, he thought, shaking his head. When Master Suzuki sent them here, he was told the people here was a violent gang that had killed fellow Yakuza, shooting them in the back.

After spending some time here, it was obvious these were honorable people who took no joy in killing. They weren't told there was women here, and a doctor. He also didn't enjoy killing, but he came for his father, to prove he was worthy enough to be a part of Yakuza. Instead he discovered that Master Suzuki was dishonorable, and without any redeeming qualities.

Tadeo hung his head as guilt overwhelmed him. What had he become? How could he justify what they had attempted to do? This wasn't the first time he felt guilt, but it did make the decision to turn on the Yakuza easy. The kindness these good folks had shown him had a profound effect.
I vow to serve Sensei, he thought. These people know true honor and they live it.
_____________________________________________________________________________________

It took 20 minutes before Hanna and Akira found Annie. They both gulped down air as they approached, sweat pouring from their bodies.
Annie was sitting with Mack's head on her lap crying softly. Her hand on his chest, covered with blood, her other hand stroking his hair.

The scene was so heartwrenching Akira got choked up as tears involuntarily flowed from his eyes. Hanna quickly checked Mack's pulse and then broke down crying. She held Annie tenderly.

That's my girl, trying to be strong for Annie, Akira thought, wiping the tears from his eyes and turning away from the girls so they couldn't see his tears.
Akira got his cell phone out and called the same number he had dialed earlier. This time there was an answer.

"Hello?" A man's deep voice answered.

"He's dead, Jim," Akira said, barely audible.

"What? Akira? Who? Who's dead?" Jim asked, sitting down at his desk at the police department. "Akira?"

"Mack. I am sorry, Jim," Akira said, barely maintaining his composure.

"Mack? Dead?! Mack?!" Jim asked, the weight of the world crashing down on him as he tried to comprehend what Akira had said.

"Hei. I will call back later, Jim. I...I cannot say anymore right now," Akira said.
"I am sorry," Akira repeated, snapping the phone shut.

LT. Johnson was outside Jim's door, just about to knock when he overheard the last part, about Mack being dead. A smile spread on his face and he was so gleeful he had to return to his desk. His talk with Jim could wait. Besides, he wanted to celebrate.
_____________________________________________________________________________________

Jim sat there in shock. Mack. I'm so sorry I wasn't there, my friend, he thought, bowing his head. My God, what happened? Jim regretted not seeing Mack earlier when he had a chance. Once Mack was on the inside he couldn't see him or communicate in any way.

Akira had explained everything. Yukio hiring Mack, Kane's death, and that the GrandMaster was behind the murders of Mack's family. Without Akira, Jim would have never gotten anywhere on this case. Besides that, he had information about the drug suppliers, shipments, the human slavery ring Yukio ran that he had already broken up. Unfortunately, he couldn't link Yukio to the slave ring, because the judge had thrown out all the key evidence he needed on dubious technicalities.
And now he had a direct link to the head of the Yakuza. The case was about to be blown wide open, and Mack was dead.

It was never Jim's intention to get Mack involved. That was unexpected, but Yukio was known for doing the unexpected. When Jim got that first call from Akira a few months back he almost couldn't believe it. Akira had risked his life by telling Jim what he had. But he was careful not to blow Akira's cover, and he had kept everything to himself, knowing Yukio had at least one highly ranked cop on his payroll.

Akira had read about the gruesome murders of Mack's family and that had pushed him to contact Jim.
Akira was old school Yakuza. He had no problem with gambling or protection rackets. Even prostitution didn't bother him much as long as it was voluntary. But these growing number of murders and drugs and human slavery...well, Akira would have none of that.

Akira had done his homework and had carefully researched Jim before contacting him.
He had to be sure Jim was an honest cop, and that Jim wouldn't betray him. Jim didn't even tell the DA about Akira, and when they broke up the human slavery ring Jim had worked it out so that Akira was never referred to even as an anonymous source.
Nothing Jim had done could connect Akira to anything.

Therefore, Jim believed Akira's report of Mack's untimely death. It was just difficult to think of him as gone.

"I'll miss you, my friend," Jim whispered, wiping his eyes. "I'll finish what you started. The GrandMaster is going down and I'm going to bring the Yakuza crashing down around him!" Jim vowed, clenching his fists.
_____________________________________________________________________________________

"Annie," Akira said, gently placing his hand on his shoulder. "I am sorry for your loss."

"No!" Annie shouted. "No! I won't let you die, Mack! I won't!"

Annie furiously began CPR and breathed into Mack's mouth, beginning compressions again.

"Help me!" She screamed hysterically.

"Annie..." Hanna said, gently.

"Help me!" Annie screamed again, before breathing two more breaths into Mack.

Hanna began compressions, counting. She knew it was hopeless, but Annie needed to see for herself. They both worked feverishly for 15 minutes, switching when Hanna got to tired.

Sensei drove up in an old jeep, jumped out and ran to the scene. He watched for a moment at the superhuman efforts of Annie and Hanna to revive Mack. Akira bowed his head in respect.

"Sensei," Akira said, barely a whisper.

Annie and Hanna looked up, only now aware Sensei had arrived. Tears filled their eyes and rivulets streamed down, cutting through the dust on their dirty, angelic faces.
Hope filled Annie's gaze, but Hanna knew better.

"Sensei! Oh Sensei! Thank God! You can help Mack, right? You can bring him back!" Annie blurted, jumping up and hugging him.

"I...oh child...I am...I can only do so much. But I will do what I can," Sensei said, clearly moved by Annie's faith in him and troubled by it.

For Sensei knew what Annie did not: he was only human and there were limits to what he could and could not do.

Sensei knelt down next to Mack and examined him, checking his eyes. Then he placed a hand on Mack's head, and appeared to be in prayer. A very long 30 seconds later he reached into a satchel he had brought and took out a handful of ground up herbs, a greenish grayish color and sprinkled it around Mack's wounds, primarily his chest area.

Next, Sensei opened a vial of clear liquid and said something unintelligible in what appeared to be a prayer over it, and poured it into Mack's mouth, saving some to pour on Mack's eyes.
Finally, he placed a hand on Macks head and on his heart and prayed some more.
Mack glowed a soft blue, then green, then red, then yellow and finally white as Sensei's words increased in volume. It still sounded like gibberish to everyone there.

When Sensei was finished he collasped on top of Mack. Hanna and Annie quickly lifted him off of Mack finding that he was unconcious. They gently laid Sensei down on his back, and while Hanna attended to him Annie went back to Mack's side, and holding his hand in hers, she prayed.

A minute went by and Annie began CPR again. Hanna wearily got up to help. Poor thing, she thought. Annie is in denial but Hanna would help as long as she could.
Akira stood over Sensei, providing shade.

A half hour later, Sensei awoke and shook his head to clear the cobwebs. He watched Annie and Hanna still doing CPR on Mack.

"Stop," Sensei said.

Hanna stopped but Annie continued.

"Annie...Annie. That's enough," Sensei said, pulling her from Mack.

"Nooo!" Annie screamed, trying to fight Sensei off, pounding his chest with her fists. "I won't let him die! Mack! Maaack! I need you!" She screamed. "I can't do this my myself! I don't want to be alone again! Don't leave me alone, Mack. Please!"

Sensei held her and finally Annie stopped fighting and collasped in his arms, crying with such despair she broke every heart that could hear her cries. Only an anguish born of true love can hurt like this, Sensei thought, holding Annie.

Akira looked away in shame as tears flowed once more from his eyes. He had failed to protect Mack. He had to live with that dishonor.

"Daddy, it is not your fault," Hanna said, hugging her father.

She knows me so well, Akira thought, hugging his daughter tightly. It did not matter if it was his fault, Mack was his responsibility and he had failed. I will avenge you, Mack-san, Akira vowed. I will destroy the GrandMaster and send him into eternal torment.
_____________________________________________________________________________________

Sarah was waiting for Jim when he arrived home. He couldn't tell her over the phone and he couldn't stay at the office pretending nothing was wrong. Sarah knew something bad had happened but she waited patiently for Jim to open up.
Jim kissed Sarah, grabbed a few glasses from the kitchen and went directly to the living room. He opened their liquor cabinet and poured himself some whiskey.

"What will you have, dear?" Jim asked.

"Is it that bad?" Sarah said, concern edging her voice. Jim nodded solemnly. "A bit of apricot brandy then, please."

Jim brought the drinks to the coffee table in front of the couch and sat down. Sarah sat beside him and Jim handed her the brandy then took a deep drink of his whiskey and sighed, rubbing his eyes.

"Sarah, it's...Mack," Jim said, breaking down.

Jim had wanted to tell her more but he couldn't get it out. But Sarah knew, even if she didn't know the details.

"Oh Lord!" she said, dropping her brandy to the floor and holding Jim as they both cried.
_____________________________________________________________________________________

"All forty?!" The GrandMaster shouted, enraged. "Including the Witch? What did they have, an army? Tell me everything!"

"I believe so, Master. I barely escaped with my life," the voice said on the phone. "I was shot in my right shoulder by a sniper and played dead. The Witch told me that she would take your personal bodyguards and finish him off. I heard an explosion and looked through the binoculars. All I could see was the Witch lying on the ground all bloody. The gaijin and a woman emerged from a cave. After watching them for a few minutes the Witch shot the gaijin and he in turn finished her with his sword before dying."

"So he is dead then?" The GrandMaster said.

"Yes my lord!" The voice replied.

"And Akira?" The GrandMaster asked.

"I...I do not know, my lord," the voice said. "We never heard from the groups that attacked the house."

"Very well. Go to the safe house and await further instructions. I'll send a doctor and some men to get every detail so you be ready," the GrandMaster said, hanging up before hearing the reply.

"Forty well trained men! My personal bodyguards and the Witch!" He shouted angrily. "This gaijin must have been very deadly indeed to kill that many, even with Akira's help."

"What about Akira?" His second in command asked.

"I cannot afford to lose any more men. As it is we are severely shorthanded at the moment. Pull some men wherever you can. We have three big shipments arriving in LA over the next two days and they will need all the help they can get. Let us hope Akira is dead. If he has managed to survive we can always finish him off later if he gets in my way again," The GrandMaster said.

"As you say, my lord," the man said.

"Who planned this assassination?" The GrandMaster asked, still irritated at the loss he had sustained.

"It was the head of the LA Yakuza himself, Master Suzuki," the man replied.

"I will not tolerate this incompetence. Tell him to commit hari kari to atone for this dishonor. If he does not, kill him and his entire family!" The GrandMaster said pounding his fist on his desk which collasped in a broken heap from the force of the blow.

"Hei! Your will be done, my lord!" The man replied, bowing. He was relieved to get out of the room alive.
_____________________________________________________________________________________
Sensei carried Annie to the jeep and gently placed her inside. She had fainted from exhaustion. Hanna watched her while Sensei and Akira gently placed Mack's body in the back of the jeep.

"I'll be right back," Sensei said, returning to the cave entrance where the Witch laid.

He pulled Mack's sword from her heart and brought it down again, slicing her head clean off. Then he took a piss on her head before returning to the jeep.

"We will bury him with his sword," Sensei said. "Besides, this sword will have no other."

Akira nodded. It was a magnificent sword. Sensei cleaned the sword as Akira drove and placed it in Mack's hands. Rigor was just beginning to set in. The sun caught the sword and the brilliant light it reflected made Sensei turn away so he would not be blinded.

"I am sorry, Mack-san," Sensei whispered. "We will take care of Annie for you, I promise," he said, bowing his head.

When they arrived at Sensei's house, Sensei had to stop Akira from killing the ninja, since Akira had thought the man had gotten loose on his own and was trying to escape.

"Akira, we can use him. He knows much, and," Sensei said looking into the ninja's eyes, "I believe we can trust him. Now carry Annie inside. She can sleep on my bed.
I will return later."

"Where are you going Gramps?" Hanna asked, hugging him.

"To make funeral arrangements little one," he replied, kissing her forehead. "Hopefully without a full blown investigation. We were justified to defend ourselves but this is California, not Texas. Besides, I despise paperwork and bureaucrats."

After Sensei drove off with Mack's body Akira sat on the floor staring at the ninja. Hanna had gone to wash up, so they were alone. The ninja fidgeted nervously under Akira's baleful glare.

"What is your name?" Akira asked, after a long and uncomfortable, for the ninja, silence.

"I am Tadao," he replied.

"Ha! Tadao? Loyal man? Loyal to whom I wonder," Akira said. Tadao meant "loyal man."

"Loyal to Sensei and you, Master akira, if you will have me," Tadao answered, bowing.

"Why should I believe you?" Akira asked. "Perhaps you only say that to save your own skin. There is no honor among thieves."

"It is true, I only wanted to save myself after being caught. But after...after hearing that woman's anguish on the radio, and seeing for myself how decent and noble you all are, I have had a change of heart and I beg your forgiveness," Tadao replied, bowing again. "My life is yours to do with as you wish, Master Akira."

Akira detected sincerity in Tadao's eyes and in his voice. Damn it! He thought. I was looking forward to beating the truth out of him, but now I can not, knowing Tadao is sincere. Ah well, there will be beatings aplenty when I face the GrandMaster and his men, Akira thought. Perhaps it is wrong, but I feel a sense of justice when I fight evil men.

"I accept your life," Akira said. "Let us get some refreshments and discuss what you know of the GrandMaster. Afterwards we will clean up this mess."

"Thank you Master Akira!" Tadao said, bowing. "I will not let you down, I promise!"

"Sensei trusts you and so do I. There is no need to bruise your forehead further," Akira said, a hint of a grim smile showing.
_____________________________________________________________________________________

Sensei returned that evening, after the sun had set, without Mack's body.

"How is Annie?" Sensei asked as Akira walked up to meet him.

"She woke up a few times from nightmares. Hanna cleaned her up and managed to get her to drink but she will not eat. She has not said a word except in her troubled dreams," Akira replied.

Sensei nodded. "I arranged for Mack's funeral the day after tomorrow," Sensei said.
"I believe he was Catholic, yes?"

"Yes he was," Akira said.

"Good. Father O'Sullivan was kind enough to help with all the details. I gave him your number in case he needs anything," Sensei said. "You may want to tell Yukio and your men. Also tell them that Mack killed all the ninja's himself. They must not know about Annie."

"What? Ohh," Akira said, nodding in understanding. "Yes, that will do nicely. How many did Annie kill, Sensei?"

"More than all of us," Sensei replied. "You must protect her cover at all costs."

"Cover?" Akira replied, pondering. "You mean she's?" Akira asked without finishing the question and in a whisper. "She is very good."

Sensei nodded. "Yes she is, and she needs all the help we can give her to get through this. I trust Tadao but do not tell him. He has no need to know."

"Sensei..." Akira began.

"Yes?" Sensei asked.

"I have also been working undercover, giving Mack's old partner information. I am going to help him bring the Yakuza down. I...I am sorry I did not tell you before," Akira said, bowing his head.

"My...why that is good news indeed, Akira!" Sensei said, embracing Akira in a hug.
"I knew you would choose to follow good, and I am proud of you, Akira-san."

Akira stood in shock. Sensei had never hugged him like this before. Especially when he learned Akira was in the Yakuza. Akira slowly recovered from his shock and hugged Sensei back, fighting back tears.

"Thank you Sensei," Akira said, joyfully solemn. "And please forgive me."

"I do forgive you. I know your decision to follow in the footsteps of your father was under duress. You were trying to protect Hanna. I cannot blame you for that. And now that you see a way out you have chosen wisely! Now, let us eat and prepare. Tomorrow I will contact Master Toshiro."

"You know where Master Toshiro is? He is alive?!" Akira exclaimed.

"Yes, and like you he is under duress. More so, actually. I will explain later," Sensei said, patting Akira on the back and smiling. "I need to rest. I have spoken more today than I have in the last five years combined," he said, chuckling.

Then Sensei collasped. Akira caught him before he hit the ground.

"Sensei!" Akira shouted. "Hanna!" He shouted again, picking Sensei up and carrying him to the house.

16 comments:

Skully said...

Quit bein' an asshole Cap'n ben!
You can't just get me all attached to a character and kill him off like that. It ain't right, i tell ya.

You and me are gonna have a reckonin' over this...after the grog is gone, that is, then we'll have a reckonin'.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Because You demanded it! Okay, QP, anyway, but that's good enuff fer me!

After this story, Skully will write the next one: Tao Noir: With a sin in every scene!

Yes, Skully will write, act and direct (as well as operate the key grips!) and produce a story unlike any you have ever (or will ever) see!

Be there, fer his-story in the makin'!

See it! Before it's banned in yer neighborhood.

Hear it! In Skully surroundedsound!

Feel it! Fathom it! Look before you die-ve into the deep. Blue. See!

In amazing Skullycolor! In Hi definition!

More absorbent than ShamWow! With thrills, chills, and almost free grog refills!

Tell yer friends! Tell yer enemies!
This incredible flick will change yer life! BYOGRSVP!

Don't be the last one to see this spectacular work of grogulated Tao!

Just take a peek at these ubersecret reviews!

"I am...speechless." Sun Tzu

"He busted my thumbs!" Roger Ebert

"What the f*ck?" Gagdad Bob

"In three dementia's!" Walt

"It's not my fault! He started it!" QP

"It's really funny if you have the flu." Robin Starfish

Soundtrack sold seperately at all fine dives.

julie said...

But... but...

Well told, Cap'n. Even if I don't like how it turned out.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thanks, Julie.

I wasn't happy neither. But now Akira, Jim and, I bet Annie, is Out For Justice!

I can't wait to see what happens next (really, I don't know).

Robin Starfish said...

Well, shite.

No one can ultimately survive a Mack Attack, I suppose.

At least Sensei didn't die. That would have been senseiless.

sensei said...

Yes ... AK's, explosives, scorpions, ninjas, even funerals: all in a day's work.

But, too much talk, and it's as though I'm hearin' Howard Cosell in the background yelling, "Down goes Sensei! Down goes Sensei!"

I hate when that happens.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

DoJo-
Ha ha! I believe senseiless is a new word, and you get the credit! :^)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Sensei, Sensei...do you really think it's the talkin' that done it?
Granted that's one thing but Sensei has been very busy lately!

Probably longin' for some meditation, Tai Chi and tea, WITHOUT ninjas. Where is he gonna rest? :^)

walt said...

Noir takes a dark turn!

Now the counterforce to the Yakuza is Mack's revenge multiplied -- squared -- reified! -- by the revenge of those who knew him. Not to mention the "scorn" of the two women. All this bodes ill for the GrandMaster.

By the way, the GrandMaster is givin' GrandMasters everywhere a bad name, you know. I realize this is a kung fu epic, but still....

I remember one of John Wayne's last movies, The Cowboys. Right in the middle of the movie, some bad guys picked a fight with Wayne, and shot him -- dead! Whoa! Big shock for John Wayne fans, and fans of his movies. However, the "real action" in the movie took place after that point.

Think thrice, Cap'n, before you let yer crazed sidekick write the next chapters! Hold tight to the reins! Maintain control! You've got a best-seller going-on, and to risk it all in trade for cold grog ... erghh! ... a chilling thought!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

The Cowboys was a great flick! And yeah, no one wanted to see John Wayne gunned down. But those boys became men and they gave the bad guys a whatfor! So in a sense they didn't succeed in destroyin' John Wayne's character.

He was too big to die.

Not to worry, Walt. I'll finish this story. Skully is writing the next one. Fair warning! :^)

bogi said...

Now lishen here, Mac-
I tolja' them dames was trouble, and now youse went an' ended up killed. Ain't nothin more I can say to yez, Mack- on account o' you bein' dead an' all.
Great tale.

Bogie

Jimmy J. said...

Dam it, Ben! You're not supposed to off the hero before the grand finale. Now what's gong to cause Annie and Hanna's bosoms to heave....mightily.....awesomely,.....temptingly??

So, now it's all about revenge....slowly,....awesomely....violently. Jim, Sensei, Akira, Tadao, Annie, and Hanna - the AY (anti-yakusa) Squad. Grand Master is so screwed - he just doesn't know it yet.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Dojo-

Ha ha! Senseiless is a cool word!
I like it! :^)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Sensei-

As you will soon see, Sensei is just fine...right? No way would I kill off Sensei. Besides, who will get Toshiro back in the story?

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hey Bogie-

I feel yer pain, bro! Mack had to go and do domethin' honorable and look where he ended up. All for a Dame, too.

And Because I just couldn't wait- another chapter tonight! estions raised. This one will have you...hooked. :^)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Jim-

I know, I know! What can I say? But rest assured, I won't scrimp on the hot dames in the next chapter. No siree! :^)