Packing Heat


* * *

  Dalton and I are sitting in the back room with our guests. The front of the store is locked up. Our visitors hadn’t requested it, but it seemed the sensible thing to do. They had motioned for us to head into the back room when the greetings and pleasantries had been exchanged, and we had done as we were told.

  Mitsuki’s coffin is still the centrepiece, sat on the table with the lid off and propped against the far wall. One of the men is sat opposite us, poised on a stool, whilst his two comrades flank him at either side looking less menacing than I had expected. They look like their legs hurt, but they refused my offer of seats.

  The man in the middle – what I can only assume is the boss of the trio due to his weathered face and commanding presence over the two younger men – speaks slowly, the Japanese rolling off his tongue in elongated syllables and tired vowels, as if he were bored – after all these years – of speech. For a second I’m nervous; despite his steady pace and formal lexis I still find it difficult to keep up. Thankfully, the young and clean cut man to his left translates as soon as his colleague has fallen quiet..

  “Which one of you is mister Dalton?” he asks, his English practised and refined.

  “I am,” Dalton says calmly.

  “Inafune-san would like to know whether you would prefer to speak in English or Japanese?”

  Dalton looks at the three of them, and then to me, considering his answer carefully. He’s a long way from the usual Dalton I know, collected and calculating, but who wouldn’t be when faced with our company, members all of a powerful syndicate unrivalled in all of Japan.

  “English would be fine,” Dalton says, offering the smallest of nods. The translator translates and Mr. Inafune nods too, his face unreadable. He speaks again, quicker now, and I realise pace from before was for our benefit only. His attention never shifts from us. He never speaks to his translator.

  “Do you know who we are?” He asks through his kohai.

  “Yes,” Dalton says casually, “Yakuza, right?I can’t help but feel he’s being a bit ballsy with these guys, but I’m not going to interfere. Mr. Inafune smiles at this; it’s a word that obviously needs no translation. His demeanour changes instantly, he becomes a little more relaxed in his chair and the tension in the room lessens ever so slightly. I look to the man on the left and spot him peering into the coffin on the table inquisitively. This, more than anything, puts me at ease. It’s easier to ignore the fact that, should Mr. Inafune demand it, this guy could end us when for all intents and purposes he’s just another Japanese guy checking out a pair of boobs.

  “Hai, hai,” Inafune says, chuckling to himself.

  “You know then why we are here,” the translator says, no hint of a question in his voice.

  “You are here to offer us your valuable services of protection.” Dalton says with a smile. He’s playing these guys just as much as they are us, except we’re not packing heat in the back of our pants.

  The younger man smiles before translating to Inafune who, upon hearing Dalton’s answer, bursts into peels of laughter that fill the small room effortlessly. He nods.

  “It seems we are seeing each others eyes then,” comes Inafune’s second-hand reply.

  “Ah, sugoi,” interrupts the up-until-now silent third man. All of us look to him. His hand is in the coffin, obviously poking at Mitsuki someplace or another, feeling how lifelike she is to the touch. His surprise is not an unusual reaction to our dolls, but it seems wholly inappropriate now. Dalton and I exchange our first glance of the meeting. There’s an awkward silence before Inafune backhands his subordinate in the testicles and tells him to behave.


~ by Joseph Blame on November 15, 2010.

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