Rokuban - No.6

 

Fast Times and Hard Time in Japan

 

 


Tuesday
Oct192010

3.11 Kamikaze Gearheads

Neither of us was thrilled about going to Patpong; the district and its sisters, Soi Cowboy and Nana Plaza, reputedly the world’s largest red light quarter, made Sodom and Gomorrah seem a like salubrious family getaway, as wholesome as Disneyworld. In a sense it was a theme park of sorts, a Fantasyland for fiends of every stripe: sex-starved Germans--sweaty lust smeared over their faces like butter; scummy down-and-outers from Europe; your garden-variety British pedophiles; andkamikaze gearheads like my friend and me. That raw vice that had once made Patpong an amusing novelty, though, had been long been watered down and was now crowded with slack-jawed tourists, intrepid bargain hunters, and parents with their children in buggies.

The first time I visited the area back in the early nineties, both sides of the street were packed with go-go bars, girls in string bikinis dancing on bar counters and shaking their little fannies to Eurobeat tunes.

If one of the girls gave you a personal hard on, you could order her, like a numbered dish off a menu, and take her back to your place for an hour or two or all night depending on how long you could go before your poor testicles, shriveled up into little raisins, cried, “No mas!”

As you passed, panderers and pimps would call after you in a dozen languages, watching your eyes for the glint of recognition.

Guten Abend, Mein Herr . . . Konbanwa . . . Bonsoir, Monsieur. Buona sera. Good evening, sir.”

A familiar greeting in your mother tongue is the seductive bait and you can’t help but look in the direction of the voice. The pimp has you in his crosshairs. “Good evening, sir,” he says as he reels you in. He holds out a graying card, tattered and frayed, and starts rattling off the smorgasbord of vaginal acrobatics and other “exotic” performances waiting for you:

“Ping pong pussy, sir . . . Pussy blow the horn, smoke the cigarette . . . Pussy shoot banana . . . Pussy cut banana . . . Girl and girl . . . Girl and girl and banana . . . Man and girl . . . “

And so on.

I went to one of these shows way back when I was just a kid really. I had oly been in Bangkok for three days but had been hounded the entire time by taxi drivers, tuk-tuk jockeys, hotel bellboys, and common street pimps, all asking me the same question: “Sir, you need a girl?”

“No thanks.”

“You want nice Thai massage, maybe a little more, help you sleep better?”

“No, I’m fine.”

“How about a good-looking Thai boy?”

Good grief.

After three days of this constant peck-peck-pecking, my defenses had compromised, so when a barker called out ”Ping pong pussy!” I couldn’t resist.

I stepped inside, took a seat near the stage and ordered an overpriced cocktail. A Thai woman, rather long in the tooth, came out onto the stage, undressed and, lying on her back, proceeded to shoot ping pong balls out of her vagina into a martini glass several feet away.

Was I impressed? Somewhat. It was certainly more than I could do with my own genitalia. Was I turned on--and I do believe that was the point of the show, to get me so lathered up with sexual desire that I would take the prostitute massaging my back to my hotel room--was I burning with lust watching the show?

No.

To be honest, I found the whole thing rather depressing.

“You want to take me home?” the prostitute asked.

A ping-pong ball hit the rim of the martini glass and flew into the audience where a middle-aged kraut caught it.

“Not really,” I replied.

The prostitute stopped kneading my shoulder and went to work on another man’s neck.

Easy come, easy go.

As soon as Jean and I arrived in Patpong, we made a beeline for the Japanese street, a lane with bar upon bar catering to Japanese men. There was no comparable street exclusively for Germans or Aussies or Frenchmen, but the Japanese managed to have a street all for themselves, employing some of the best looking girls you’d hope to find in the trade. And what made these girls all the more attractive is that they were dressed in evening gowns rather than the raunchy outfits of the go-go girls that left nothing to the imagination.

They called out to the salarimen passing by in simple Japanese, “Hey uncle, you’re welcome here.”

And so on.

Jean said it would be fun to pop into one of the clubs and freak everyone out by speaking Japanese, but before we ever had the chance to do so, we got sidetracked by a cigarette peddler.

Jean walked up to the peddler and asked if he had Gauloises, blue?

“No, sir. Sorry.”

“Just give me a pack of Marlboros then.”

The peddler handed Jean the pack and said, “One hundred baht.”

“One hundred baht! Are you out of your mind? Forget it!”

“Okay, okay. Eighty baht. Special price for you, sir.”

“Special price for you maybe,” Jean grumbled as he removed some bills from his wallet. “Rémy, remind me to get some cash tomorrow.”

“Jean, get some cash tomorrow.”

“Would you like me to smack you now or when we get back to the hotel?”

As the peddler was giving Jean his change back, it occurred to my friend to say: “Maybe you can help us.”

“Yes, sir?”

“We’re looking for something a little, shall we say, stronger than tobacco to smoke.”

A small, dim light clicked on inside the peddler’s head. He smiled. “O-h, okay.” Motioning for us to stay put, he said, “Let me get friend.”

Before long the friend came, a guy roughly our age in faded jeans and a tatty, faded blue polo shirt.

“You want grass,” the friend asked right off the bat.

"No,” Jean said. “We want yaba".

“W-w-what?” The guy stuttered; his eyes bulged. “It’s n-n-not easy t-to get.”

“Tell us about it,” Jean replied flatly.

“How about some grass? Real good quality.”

“No.”

“Hashish?”

Jean gave the man an emphatic No. “We want yabaYaba or nothing.” He made like he was about to start walking away.

“Okay, okay. Wait. Wait.”

The guy’s eyes darted about, taking a survey of the people in the area. He gave us a good looking over, too. And why shouldn’t he? For all he knew, the two of us, as odd a couple as Laurel and Hardy, might have been out to cheat or, worse, entrap him.

Taking a few steps away from us, he made a call on his cell phone.

“Okay,” he said to us after hanging up. “It take time. Twenty minute, maybe thirty. Not easy. Very, very hard to get.”

Jean’s eyes met mine as if to ask: you okay with this?

What are bridges for if not for crossing?

I nodded to the dealer. “Let’s do it.”

“Okay, follow me.”

We were led away from the Japanese street to a wide thoroughfare lined with noisy beer gardens and overrun with sloppy drunks.

“Wait here. I come right back. Five minute.”

As we waited, Jean whispered to me in French, “Any sign of the cops, I want you to hightail it to that street with all the shops there. Go all the way through until you get to the main street on the other side. Understand?”

“Yeah.”

“Get a taxi, but do not, and, man, I shouldn’t have to tell you how important this is, do not go straight back to the hotel. You do not want to lead the cops right back to where we are staying.”

“Gotcha.”

“Take two taxis if possible, or better yet, a tuk-tuk. They’re faster. Walk the last kilo.”

Patpong3

The guy came back a few minutes later and said he could get the yaba, but once again emphasized that it would take time.

Yaba is heavy shit,” he said as he led us away.

Where did this guy learn his English?

“The police are . . . Police are . . .“

“Clamping down?” I suggested.

That seemed to be the word he was searching for. He nodded.

“Yeah, the police are clamping down. Heavy shit. Heavy, heavy shit. When you get it, hide it there,” he said pointing to his sock.

It didn’t sound like the shrewdest piece of advice to me. Were I a cop, that’s one of the first places I would look. No, it’s better to keep it tucked in you hand so you can toss it into a river, or down a drainpipe, or into a garbage bin the first sign of trouble, and run for your life into the nearest, most crowded place you can find.

“I understand,” I said.

"Ten years", the guy said over and over. "Pot, hash, no problem, but Yaba? Ten years."

He made a gesture with his hands to show us the handcuffs that would surely be slapped on us if we were caught.

I started to occur to me that this yaba might not be worth all the hassle and risks. Ten years in a Thai jail was no day at the beach. Just the same, I followed behind the dealer like a child on the heels of the Pied Piper.

Jean and I were brought to a small bar far off the main strip. It was chockablock with young prostitutes sitting in booths, singing karaoke. Aside from the bartender and a doorman, there were no men in the place, not a single customer.

My first thought was that we had been tricked into coming to a hostess bar where we would be forced to buy the girls drinks. Jean was ready to bail right then and there, but the dealer persuaded us to wait until he came back.

“Fifteen, maybe twenty minute,” he said, leaving us in the care of the bartender.

We sat down at an empty booth in the back that faced the entrance, and ordered gin tonics.

Before long, some of the bar girls slinked over like cats about to pounce on mice and asked where we were from.

Jean replied that we were from Luxembourg.

More questions followed: How long have you been here? What are you doing in Thailand? And so on.

Jean fed them a load of baloney about being orchid buyers for a flower-importing consortium. Why bother with the truth?

 

 

When one of the girls tried her best to curry favor with Jean, I told her: "You’re a very charming girl, but, I’m afraid it won't work. My friend here likes men. Little men. Hairy little men."

The girls recoiled, but, without skipping a beat, they turned their attention to me.

One of them sat down next to me and grabbed my wimpy bicep.

“You very tall. Me like,” she said. "Do you have girlfriend?"

"Yes,” I answered. “I have four."

"Butterfly boy!!!" They cackled with laughter.

The girl put her arms around my neck and begged for me to let her be my fifth girlfriend.

“I’ll think about it.”

“You don’t like me?”

“Oh, I like you alright.”

Not that she wasn't pretty, she was, captivatingly so with her friendly eyes and natural, unaffected smile, but the thought of spending the next six months worrying that I might have contracted HIV or some other nasty STD was enough to make the hot water in me run cold.

Ten minutes came and went and Jean started tapping his lighter against the tabletop. "If the guy doesn't show up in another 10 minutes,” Jean said, “I’m outta here. "

I had to agree with my friend. The longer we were forced to wait the more I worried we were sitting ducks.

The bartender, noticing that the two of us were getting restless, came by and assured us the guy would probably be back in another ten minutes.

Jean was ready to bolt. I swear he had the patience of a firecracker. When I suggested he have one more cigarette before leaving, he lit up and sat back in the settee, arms crossed, glaring in the direction of the entrance.

Fortunately, before Jean could finish his cigarette, the dealer returned. It had been nearly forty minutes, breathing heavily.

So much for yaba being readily available.

As Jean settled the bar tab, I followed the dealer to the restrooms in the back of the bar where, locking the door behind us, he pulled out a roll of ten pink pills, tightly wrapped in clear plastic.

"I only wanted a few," I said. "This is way, way, way too much for the two of us."

"But I bought these for you," he said. "Ten for five thousand."

"Five thousand?" It was taken aback.

So much for the drug being cheap.

"I haven't got that much," I said. Actually, I didn't really know how much cash I had on me and I wasn’t about to start counting the contents of my wallet before him. "I'll take five for two thousand. It’s all I can afford."

That was out of the question. The guy wanted to unload the whole lot as quickly as possible. It was far too risky carrying it.

"Look, I only wanted five at the most and I've only got twenty-five hundred baht."

"All for three thousand," he said finally.

"Deal!"

Pratunam

I passed a wad of bills to him, took the roll of pills from his hands, and left the restroom.

Jean was ready to leave, and, with not so much as an adieu bade to the girls who had been such charming hostesses, we beat feet out of the bar. Once outside, we hopped into the fourth taxi and drove off to the Pratunam area where the Baiyoke Sky Hotel was located.

Getting out of the taxi a good ten-minutes’ walk from our hotel, we dropped in at a convenience store to get some tin foil. Not finding any, we bought, a chocolate bar, chewing gum, cigarettes--anything we could find that came wrapped in foil. We also picked up a fresh lighter, some tonic water, and, once fully accoutred made our way back to our hotel, snickering like kids leaving a candy store.

 

 

© Aonghas Crowe, 2010. All rights reserved. No unauthorized duplication of any kind.

注意:この作品はフィクションです。登場人物、団体等、実在のモノとは一切関係ありません。

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

The complete version of No. 6 is now available for a variety of devices at Amazon's Kindle store.

Tuesday
Oct192010

3.10 Kao Sarn Revisited

this wayI spent my second day in Bangkok pricing furniture, antiques, and other Asian knickknacks; the kinds of things I had been decorating my apartment with over the years. Having run all over town all day in the sweltering Thai heat, I didn't have the energy by the time evening rolled around to make the trip back to Khao Sarn Road to try to score someyaba.

I doubt the battle-axe at the guesthouse will actually come up with the goods, anyways.

And so, when Jean arrived at the Baiyoke the following day, he found me empty handed.

"What?” He was exasperated. “I was hoping you'd have the stuff already. Man, what kind of friend are you anyway?"

He would learn soon enough for himself how difficult it was to scoreyaba despite all the reports to the contrary. But that’s the media for you. Its penchant for exaggeration is a by-product of a drive to increase market share of readers breastfed on the embellished fact. Time magazine had reported that the drug could be found on just about any corner and sold for only a few bucks a hit. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

Jean and I hopped into a taxi and returned to Kao Sarn.

When Jean had sent me the “treasure map”, he instructed me to "act cool and observe what the others there were doing." It was for that very reason that I had sat down and ordered a Singha when I went to the guesthouse two nights earlier.

So what does Jean do when we arrive? Mr. “I am the Party” walks straight up to the makeshift front desk counter of the guesthouse and, with a nod and a wink to the old man slouched in his worn chair, says, "I'm . . . looking for . . . something."

I had to smile. The old man didn’t budge, didn’t blink, didn’t raise a pinky.

So, is this how it’s done, Master?

“I’m looking for . . . something?” he said again.

My stomach started convulsing. I had to cover my mouth with my hand and bite down on my tongue to keep from laughing.

Jean repeated the same pregnant question a third time to which the old man motioned lazily towards a woman in her late thirties. I had not seen the night before.

With ever more purposefulness in his voice, Jean said, “I want what you have . . . ”

It was all I could do just to keep from cracking up. 

The woman answered with a definitive shake of her head, at which Jean finally gave up and started for the alley.

“Fuck!” shouted as he made his way out the alley.

My friend was not one to be easily deterred. When frustrated, he only grew more aggressive and full of purpose, accosting tourists on the main strip and asking where he might be able to find "something". A hippy pointed in the direction of a rundown guesthouse at the end of the block. We entered, hiked up a dilapidated set of stairs, took a seat in a seedy lobby where we ordered two beers, and waited for any signs of action.

But there wasn’t any. You could have found more action on Bingo night at the local parish than in that dreadful little guesthouse.

After half an hour, Jean banged his beer down on the low table and got up.

“C’mon, man, this is a waste of time.”

Back out on the street, we hailed a taxi.

"Patpong," Jean told the driver.

“Kapoh.”

 

© Aonghas Crowe, 2010. All rights reserved. No unauthorized duplication of any kind.

注意:この作品はフィクションです。登場人物、団体等、実在のモノとは一切関係ありません。

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

The complete version of No. 6 is now available for a variety of devices at Amazon's Kindle store.

Friday
Oct152010

3.09 Forbidden Fruit

tuk-tuk

 Azami and I left the Balinese restaurant and headed for a Thai restaurant called Jammin Kah, where a Thai man and his wife, both bubblier than cheap spumante, ran the kitchen. Whenever the two of us were feeling low or fighting, all we needed to do was pop into the restaurant, sit down at the counter, and chat with Mr. Chan. Listening to him talk in his animated mix of broken Japanese, pidgin English, and Thai, it wasn’t long before we’d forget what we had been upset about. We would leave Jammin Kah with our bellies full and hearts warmed.

Sawadi kah,” Mr. Chan beamed as we descended the steps into the restaurant. “Long time, no see! O-hisashi buri!”

We took our usual seats in the middle of the counter, before Mr. Chan’s work area.

Mo kekkon shita?” he asked Azami.

My girlfriend shook her head. No, we hadn’t gotten married yet. She looked towards me and rolled her eyes.

“Sir, why you wait?” Mr. Chan said.

I shrugged.

“You should hurry up marry, have chil’ren. No spring chicken! Ha-ha!”

“I know. I know,” I said, pretending to wipe the sweat from my brow with an o-shibori hand towel.

“Ha-ha-ha. Sir, you want Singha?”

“Yes, please.”

His chubby wife waddled over to a beer cooler and brought me an ice-cold Singha beer. Mr. Chan served Azami a pot of hot jasmine tea. We then proceeded to order. “Mu satay, baikapao . . . “

Baikapao is a fiery hot dish made with stir-fried ground chicken and chopped vegetables, flavored with chili and basil, and served on a bed of jasmine rice. It’s out of this world and happens to be what I ate on my first night in Bangkok back in the spring of 2001. I was dining at a street stall--admittedly, not the most halal of places to eat, but damn good, nonetheless.

 


With Jean in China on business, I went ahead to Thailand, checking into the Baiyoke Sky Tower.

A few months before our trip, Time magazine happened to do an exposé on amphetamine abuse in Asia. Authorities in Thailand, in particular, were having a devil of a time trying to eradicate a potent form of speed, known locally as yaba, or mad medicine.

The article, which was written by the author of Speed Tribes, depicted the local drug in the most unflattering terms. As a former abuser, Greenfield knew what he was writing about. But, rather than persuade me of the dangers of yaba, the article had the perverse effect of wetting my appetite for this new, exotic high. And so, while I might have written “sightseeing” on the immigration card, the true purpose of my visit was to dig my teeth into the meat of another forbidden fruit.

After dinner, I took out the treasure map Jean had e-mailed me a week earlier from Guangdong and hailed a tuk-tuk.

Sawadi krap,” the driver said.

“I want to go to . . . “ I said, checking Jean’s map. “Kao Sarn Road. Take me to Kao Sarn Road.”

“Kao Sarn. Ka poh,” the driver replied. “Okay, okay.”

As soon as I hopped on the three-wheeled taxi, the driver revved the small engine, kicking up a black cloud of exhaust, and proceeded to take me on a Mr. Toad's Wild Ride through town.

Kao Sarn was a broad road, a single block long, lined with restaurants teaming with drunk Brits and Krauts, dirt-cheap guesthouses, dubious bars, and street vendors selling the same kind of overpriced crap that could be found anywhere tourists congregated. The area was crawling with Europeans--hippies wigged out on who knows what, loud students, and the occasional disoriented family.

Map in hand, I managed to find the dark alley that Jean had described, and walking down it located a run-down guesthouse where “X” marked the spot.

It seemed an unlikely place to score drugs, but I sat down at a table all the same and ordered a Singha.

There was an elderly couple sitting behind a makeshift front desk. And in an open-air lobby of sort,s which was set up with three cheap plastic tables, three reasonably attractive, but rough-looking Thai women chewed the fat.

As I sipped my beer, one of the women called me over and asked what I wanted.

"Depends. What do you have?"

"What do you want," she repeated testily.

"I'm looking for yaba."

“We don’t have anything today,” she said. “Come back tomorrow at five.”

I finished my Singha, and returned to the Baiyoke.

 

 

© Aonghas Crowe, 2010. All rights reserved. No unauthorized duplication of any kind.

注意:この作品はフィクションです。登場人物、団体等、実在のモノとは一切関係ありません。

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

The complete version of No. 6 is now available for a variety of devices at Amazon's Kindle store.

Friday
Oct152010

3.08 Lightning Bolt

IMG_3969

True to his word, Jean took the Amazonian home with him the night of the salsa party. I don’t know how the little bastard broke the ice--I had been in a toilet stall topping off when he made his move--but by the time I returned to the hall, the two of them were standing close to one another, deep in an animated tête-à-tête. Jean said something and the tall, gorgeous woman laughed like glass shattering. She gave her long, straight hair a playful flick and touched his meaty shoulder. And there you have it, boys: make a girl laugh and in no time you’ll be halfway up her leg.

After the party, Jean invited Nori, that was the Amazonian's name, and the nag she had ridden in on to join us for drinks later. With a wink and a nod, a battlefield commission was handed down to me: wingman. My mission: keep “Rocinante” happily engaged for the rest of the evening as my friend worked his magic. It was a thankless task but I performed above and beyond the call to duty. That’s what friends are for after all. By and by, Jean would cajole Nori back to his place where they would go at it all night long like a bulldog giving an Afghan hound the bone.

 

*

 

At about the same time that Jean had met Nori, a lightning bolt hit me, as well.

Like I’ve said before, things had been going pretty damn well at the time. Business in particular was booming no thanks to that buffoon Mori who was Prime Minister at the time. Because I advertised regularly, it was not uncommon for prospective students to call me to arrange a time to observe a lesson. It was, however, unusual to get three inquiries in one day like I did the day Azami called.

And yet, her call stood out. Where most people who called left me with the impression that they didn’t have the slightest clue why they were calling, her voice was clear and businesslike. Instead of hemming and hawing over the phone, this Azami was eager to come by and start up--today. I told her I appreciated her enthusiasm, but suggested she observe a lesson first and decide later.

Shortly before the six-thirty lesson was about to start, Azami arrived. She was fairly tall, not model tall like Jean’s Nori, but tall enough. She also had shoulder-length black hair. Black hair. Of the fifty or sixty young women visiting me each week, only one other had black hair: a real beauty by the name of Eiko. The remainder in some crazy attempt to project their individual personalities all had their hair colored brown or dark blond. It was enough to make the Eikos and Azamis seem almost exotic.

And boy was this Azami exotic. With her large brown eyes, strong masculine features, and a complexion that was naturally darker than most girls, what the Japanese call jiguro, it was as if she had just stepped right out of a Gauguin canvas.  When Azami said she wanted to have private lessons, I was more than happy to oblige the young beauty.

Private lessons to English teachers can be what lap dances are to strippers and so it was with Azami and me from the get-go. A typical conversation went something like this:

“Men don’t find me attractive,” Azami said.

“What would you make you think a thing like that?”

“I’ve never met a chikan,” she answered.

By chikan, of course, she meant that uniquely Japanese variety of pervert who got his rocks off groping women on crowded trains.

“You’ve never been molested?” I asked.

“No, never.”

“And you’d like to be molested?”

“Yes! I want to be molested,” she cried. “I want to be molested. I want to be molested.”

“Perhaps I can arrange something for you.”

It wasn’t long after that that we became lovers.

 

*

 

As soon as work finished, I went to a Balinese restaurant where I chased double shots of Ron Zacapa Centenario with pints of beer until Azami showed up. Despite all I had consumed since the afternoon, circumstances were keeping me as sober as a judge. 

Azami arrived an hour later with a hastily scribbled message from Jean: "Warrant?" 

"Of course they had a warrant,” I said. “A warrant to search my apartment, one to search my body, and, another one to make me piss into a cup. Warrants are the least of my worries. What about Jean? Is he okay?" 

Azami said that he was. Nothing out of the ordinary had happened since Jean and I had last met the previous Sunday.

It was a huge relief, but I shuddered to think what would have happened to the two of us if the cops had raided my place then. The thought of it sent a fresh chill through my bones. 

I must have looked as white as a sheet because Azami asked if I were okay. 

"Yeah, I'm fantastic. I'm having the time of my life,” I said, downing the last of my Zacapa. “C’mon, let’s go get something to eat."

 

© Aonghas Crowe, 2010. All rights reserved. No unauthorized duplication of any kind.

注意:この作品はフィクションです。登場人物、団体等、実在のモノとは一切関係ありません。

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

The complete version of No. 6 is now available for a variety of devices at Amazon's Kindle store.

 

Friday
Oct152010

3.07 Up for it

Azami

As soon as the two Customs officials had gone, I hurried out the door myself, taking the fire escape, a rusting spiral of steel that creaked and moaned with each step. Passing through a dark passage overcrowded with discarded bicycles, I came out on to the main street. With a quick glance left and right, I stepped out onto the street and made my way towards a 7-11 a few blocks away and called Azami from a public phone.

When she answered, I apologized for having lost my temper earlier and asked her to meet me at a café near my apartment.

Hanging up the phone, I then took a roundabout route to the café, which I was relieved to discover to find empty except for two young women having coffee and cake.

I took a seat in the back corner. It was partially hidden behind a pillar but offered me a view of the entrance. After a few minutes, a waitress came to my table to take my order: a shot of Zacapa and a beer chaser. It only five in the afternoon and I had to return to work in an hour's time, but I needed to steady my nerves before Azami arrived. There were so many things that I needed my girlfriend to do, but after all I’d put the poor girl through, I wondered if she’d be up for it.

 

*

 

About half an hour later, Azami came. She laid into me as soon as she sat down, "What the hell’s going on?"

"Um . . . You remember that package Naila was sending me?"

"Y-e-s?"

"Well, apparently her medicine was it."

"What medicine?"

"Adderall."

"Addo . . .?”

“Adderall. She was taking it for her attention deficit disorder. It’s a kind of ampheta . . .“

“Why did you . . .?"

"Hold on, Azami! I didn't know she was sending me a package until she mailed me, even then I didn't know what was in it . . . "

"But you said . . . "

"Never mind what I said. The fact of the matter is I didn't ask her to send anything to me."

"Oh, Rémy, I just knew something like this would eventually happen."

"Look, we can have that conversation later," I said taking my girlfriend’ hands. "Right now, I need you to do something."

She recoiled. "W-what?"

"I need you to contact Jean."

"Why?"

The two of them weren't exactly kindred spirits.

"One, I need to know the extent of the investigation. And, two, if the shoe were on the other foot and Jean was being investigated, I'd want to know. He needs to be very careful. Just this one favor and then you can do whatever you like. Okay?"

I wouldn't have blamed Azami if she had said “Sayônara” right then and there, but my girlfriend gave a hesitant nod. I knew what she was thinking, though: Rémy’s chickens had come home to roost.

"Call Jean from a public phone. You have his number right?"

She nodded.

"And it's probably not a good idea to go directly to his place. The cops might be keeping their eye on him." I looked around the café. A couple in their early thirties that had come in after Azami was now studying a menu. "They could still be watching me right now. If possible, try to meet Jean at, say, a café in his neighborhood. Cafe Teco is just around the corner from his place. It should still be open. Tell him what I've told you. Tell him, that I'm going in for questioning on Sunday. I have no idea what the police know or how long they've been watching me. Ask him if he's noticed anything odd going on around him. Got that? And tell him he's got to be careful. He’ll understand. Okay?"

Azami nodded again. What little color she’d had in her face was now gone. Standing up and straightening her dress, she left without saying a word.

I had to get back to work in a few minutes. I finished my beer, paid the bill, and left.

 

 

© Aonghas Crowe, 2010. All rights reserved. No unauthorized duplication of any kind.

注意:この作品はフィクションです。登場人物、団体等、実在のモノとは一切関係ありません。

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

The complete version of No. 6 is now available for a variety of devices at Amazon's Kindle store.