Mob Child VIII
Yay, I'm past the halfway point! lol Alright, I’m back to Aito’s perspective with this one. I’ve been envisioning this chapter for a pretty long time now, so I’d appreciate your feedback to see how well I executed it Anyways, enjoy
Previous Chapter: Meeting Expectations
- The Difference -
The week following Mao’s “promotion” to head honcho was arguably the most frantic seven days of my entire life. Yes, my fat bastard of a father was dead and I was making trips to Susume’s restaurant every other day now – and yes, frequent abuse from all the other pricks wandering through the huge manor had virtually disappeared from my life – but other than that, I was still on my toes as often as I was during the days before I became a murderer, perhaps even more so. I also soon discovered why Roku had seemingly vanished from the house during the first three days following Mao’s rise to power. It was a hit, Roku’s first assignment in ages, and he had already been sent out on a second. I found it rather odd – I can barely recall the last time Yatsumi gave him one target – and yet, Mao had given him two in only his first week on the job. I can’t exactly describe what I felt when I first made that connection, but rest assured, I knew that Mao must’ve had some sort of hidden agenda…and God forbid I found out what it was.
About this time, I was on one of those frequent trips into Honolulu I was referring to earlier. It was mid-February, so I was still wearing my sweatshirt every day, but the sunlight was just beginning to pierce through the cloudy winter sky once again, blanketing the entire island with a temperate atmosphere not felt in over two months. Hawaii in the summer’s a ***** for the Japanese – being this pale and all – but that was only half of my anatomy, plus I got pretty used to the heat after eighteen years. Even so, it seemed it was too much for the rest of the populace, cause I was the only one wearing a sweatshirt when I entered the city limits. It didn’t bother me, though – few things did anymore – and I casually made my way across the parking lot to the Saimin Shop, knocking on the glass to get Susume’s attention once I was by the front door. As always, he disabled the metal detectors to allow me through, but I was hesitant to sit down in my usual seat…because Mahina – the beautiful girl who was here eating at the beginning of the week – was sitting in the seat next to it, sipping away on what appeared to be an iced tea. Right away, my face began to turn red. I could tell – there was no way in hell the sweatshirt was just now starting to get too warm for me – and I waited a minute to allow myself a chance to cool down before slowly walking up to the counter and sitting down, ignoring anyone who might’ve been staring at me while I was standing by the door. She looked up at me as I sat down, I’m sure, but I didn’t have the nerve to look back, even if it were just to confirm that she was. Thankfully, Susume was there to break the ice.
“Afternoon, Aito.” he said as he came back from dropping off a few meal orders. His casualness as he spoke to me immediately clued me in to what was going on – that and the gigantic grin on his wrinkled old face.
“Hey, Susume.” I replied with a false tone of cheerfulness, looking out of the corner of my eye to see what Mahina was doing. I just narrowly held back a sigh of relief upon finding that she was still sipping on her drink, afterwhich I leaned in to whisper something to Susume.
“Anata wa kore o setsumei suru kidesu ka?” (“Do you mind explaining this?”)
“Hm? Explaining what?” he asked confusedly – or rather, the old man was just pretending to be confused, but his unremitting grin gave it away. It took every ounce of willpower I had not to cuss him out right then and there – both in English and Japanese – and even more not to gaze over at Mahina to see if she was looking at us now.
“Fuzaken na yo, ojīsan! Anata wa nihonjindanode, gengo o shiyō!” (“Damn it, old man! You’re Japanese, so use the language!”)
At this point, looking at Mahina was inevitable – it would’ve been too abnormal for me NOT to. It seemed that my shouting had now given us her undivided attention, much to my dismay. I could only thank God that we were speaking in Japanese, and I glared at Susume to ensure that saying “we” was appropriate.
“Bakkin, bakkin. …Sore wa anata no sono warui ni kankei suru baai, watashi wa kanojo ga koko ni ita kanojo no saigo no jikan ni hanashi o kiite, kanojo wa anata ni aitai baai wa, kanojo ni tazuneta...anata wa kanojo ni totemo muchū ni shite irunode.” (“Fine, fine. …If it concerns you that bad, I talked to her last time she was here and asked her if she’d meet with you, …since you’re so infatuated with her.”)
My suspicions confirmed, I bit my tongue – the profane word sitting on the tip of it was in English, and I couldn’t allow one of those to slip out in the middle of this restaurant. I was beet-red by this point, I’m sure, and I was also certain that the low sound ringing in my left ear was a giggle from Mahina, but there was no way in Hell I could bring myself to look over and confirm that.
“Anata ga naritai toki ni hontō no Dikku, anata wa sore o shitte imasu ka?” (“You’re a real **** when you wanna be, you know that?”)
“Hey now, he was just trying to help you out.”
I might’ve choked had I been chewing on something at the time. Thinking back on it, though, I can’t say for sure whether that was from the shock of it all, or from how beautiful Mahina’s voice sounded – okay, it was obviously the former, but I had a sudden urge to sound corny. I looked beside me to find her sitting there with a slightly irritated expression on her face – fortunately, though, it was easy to tell that this was just part of her act. I might’ve been embarrassed that she had actually understood our conversation up until now…had I not been laughing for that very same reason.
“Well, I’d prefer it if he kept his wrinkled old nose where it belongs.” I said once the laughter had ceased, heightening my voice to make sure the old man – who had just gone back to making drinks – could hear me. She giggled at this, too. Damn it, she was so cute when she did that.
“I’m Mahina.” she said as she held out her hand. I took hold of it after a brief hesitation.
“Aito. Nice to-”
Our exchange was interrupted by a loud pounding noise on the counter. I jerked my head to see what it was, only to find yet another mystery-flavored Ramune sitting in front of me. Susume was standing there intensively, waiting to see my reaction to the taste. Normally, I’d be up for this little game of ours anytime, but it wasn’t so easy now that we had an audience.
“Now? Really?” I asked him, praying that he could postpone this at least until Mahina left.
“We made this promise when you were ten, Aito. I ain’t asking you to drink it if you don’t like the flavor, but you’re obligated to taste it.” he answered, unwavering in this so-called promise of ours – it’s not like it was set in stone or anything, we just kept on doing it whenever we met up here. I looked at Mahina to see her reaction. Intense curiosity, just as I feared.
“Ah, crap.” I said aloud before pushing down on the marble cap and throwing my head back. This time, I couldn’t even manage to swallow it, and I spun around and spewed it out all over the floor – thank God none of the waitresses were walking by. This little spectacle garnered more attention than I had originally hoped for, even more people pulled in by the fact that Susume was laughing his ass off. I wanted to cuss him out, but I was too busy coughing up a lung in my chair.
“Octopus?” he guessed once he had finally calmed down.
“What…gave it away?” I asked in between coughs.
“Only one flavor’s ever been able to get that strong a reaction outta you, Aito.” he answered as he set an original-flavored soda in front of me, which I quickly opened and chugged down – sweet, citrus-y relief from the pain of my least favorite flavor. Once I had regained myself, I looked up and opened my mouth to yell at him, only to be stopped dead in my tracks by the most unexpected of requests.
“Mind if I order one?” Mahina asked Susume, having apparently gotten quite a kick out of seeing our game, as well. I locked eyes with the old man for quite a while, only stopping to look back at her once the two of us began snickering.
“You sure about this, hun?” he asked her.
“Yeah. It looks like fun.” she said in a cheerful tone – hell, I wouldn’t have turned her down for anything if she spoke to me like that. Apparently, it was the same way for Susume, cause he reached under the counter and pulled one out, returning to his watchful persona after he handed it to her. I did the same – it was the first time I’d ever seen someone else on the receiving end of our game. She pushed the marble down with some effort and I was half-expecting her to just smell it and take a small taste before going back to sipping on her iced tea. I was shocked – as was Susume – to see her throw her head back and chug it just as I did, even more so to see her smile afterwards, having apparently enjoyed the result.
I looked up at Susume. I know he had no say on the flavor, but I was too pissed off to worry about logic.
“Anata yarō.” (“You son-of-a-*****.”)
“Hey, I’ve got no control over them, Aito. …I’m just really good at picking ‘em out.” he said real slyly as he picked up an order he was just handed, like he actually did have some sort of influence on the flavor. I shrugged him off – I knew he was just trying to get at me. Besides, Mahina just asked me a question.
“So, do you come here regularly?”
“Used to. …I’m startin’ to get back into the swing of it, though.” I answered her. I paused for a moment after that – I didn’t anticipate that we would actually be striking up a conversation at one point.
“Oh, yes! I love coming to this place. Every day if I get the chance.” she said with some enthusiasm. I chuckled softly at this – it was almost as cute as her giggling.
“I’d think that the personnel would make you think twice about coming back.” I said sarcastically, gazing over at Susume as I did. He took the hint and looked the other way with a smirk, as if to say he had no idea what I was talking about.
“Don’t be rude! Susume’s a very nice man.” Mahina responded to my remark, though she was clearly exaggerating her discontent – her expression was proof enough of that.
“Thank you, sweetie. There’s no point telling him, though.” Susume cut in, his little way of getting back at me for that previous remark. I just rolled my eyes at him.
“I know how nice you are, old man. …Kōun o ore wa shikashi, mitomete morau.” (“…Good luck getting me to admit it, though.”)
Mahina giggled at this, too – it seemed that had become my main goal now during this conversation.
“So, are you Japanese, too?” she asked me. So, we’d finally reached the part where we find out more about each other.
“Just half. My mother was native Hawaiian.” I answered her, quickly regretting my choice of words.
“Was?” she asked in confusion. At the time, I wish I had been more dishonest and told her that I meant to say ‘is’, but even if I did, there was no getting past my dismal expression or the fact that I was looking at the floor.
“Sorry.” she quickly retracted her question once the truth hit her. I managed a small smile before shaking my head to reassure her of my well-being.
“Don’t worry about it. People have lost them younger than when I did.”
Mahina nodded feebly in agreement to this statement, and now, she was the one looking down at the floor. I didn’t need much time to realize that she was someone who fell into the category I had just described – yet another reason I wish I had chosen my words better. I wanted to give her some words of support, but I ended up changing the subject at the last minute. There was no way she wanted to open up about this to someone she didn’t know – I sure as hell didn’t.
“So, how’d you pick up on the Japanese…language?” I asked her, adding on the last word when she gave me a confused look.
“Oh! Um, well, I had to take a foreign language course for two years, and there’s not many Spanish or French people in Hawaii, so…” she explained. A small light inside my head switched on as I mused over this, followed by a desire to have a little fun. At the very least, I’d be able to learn from this just how much of my talk with Susume she understood – at the most, perhaps a good laugh.
“Reasonable enough. …Anata wa ore ga ima inotte iru mono o rikai suru koto wa dekimasu ka?” (“…Can you understand what I’m praying right now?”)
“Yeah, I can understand.” she answered in what seemed like a mixture of cheerfulness and pride, completely oblivious to the minor error in her translation. It took all I had to keep my laughter at bay until I could come back with the following comment.
“You sure? …Cause I wasn’t ‘praying’ anything.”
I just barely squeezed this out there before I was forced to lower my head and started laughing hysterically. Susume also found this quite amusing and chuckled softly from behind the counter. Mahina quickly realized her mistake and smacked me on the shoulder – playfully, of course.
“…Sorry. Just havin’ a little fun, that’s all.” I said once I had stopped laughing.
We kept this back-and-forth up for at least an hour. We were eventually compelled to order something as time went on and our appetites took the better of us. I found it strange, to tell the truth. I had been hoping for an opportunity to speak to her like this for over a week, and now my desire was finally being fulfilled. …I couldn’t recall the last time anything else in my life had actually gone my way.
“So you’re still in school?” I asked her, having just polished off the yakisoba I ordered.
“My last semester. I’m home free come this May.” she said cheerfully, throwing her hands in the air in a sort of makeshift personal celebration. I chuckled softly at this.
“Why, you?” she questioned me in exchange.
“No, I was homeschooled. I was completely done by the time I was sixteen.” I answered her, a bit of unintentional pride in my voice.
“Why the rush to finish?” she asked out of curiosity. Once again, she was treading on sensitive grounds, grounds I normally wouldn’t step on. Still, I felt almost obligated to tell her – if I wanted this to go any further. So, I compromised.
“Ore wa sore wa mondai de suru amari, hoka no seikatsu no naka de okotte imasendeshita.” (“I didn’t have much else going on in life for it to matter.”)
Evidently, she understood perfectly this time, cause she looked down at the floor again.
“I see.” she mumbled. I could see the pity in her eyes, something that would’ve sickened me if it were anyone else. Even so, I preferred it when her eyes were gleaming with happiness, so I changed the subject – and took the opportunity to poke more fun at her while I was at it.
“So, you do understand a bit.” I said with a smirk. She responded with a somewhat sassy expression – mixed in with playfulness, of course.
“Hmph, inai anata wa yuki soredeshou ka.” (“Hmph, wouldn’t you snow it.”)
I had to bite my tongue to keep myself from laughing out loud, though that gave me a bit more time to realize that she was merely poking fun at me in retaliation for earlier, turning what would’ve probably been a rather loud cackle into a soft chuckle.
“Yeah, I guess I would.”
She started digging through her purse shortly after I said this. It was only after that that I realized she had finished her soba, as well, which meant she was probably fixing to leave. My face started turning red all of a sudden as I realized that this would be my only chance to ask her out – damn it, I was dreading this moment. I couldn’t even look at her face as I stumbled to think of something to say. Thank God the old man was just called into the kitchen.
“Um, so…I don’t have a car, but if you want to, uh, …you know, some time, you and I can…”
I dunno how the **** someone can keep a blank face as they point a gun at an infamous hitman’s head, yet stutter in fear as they ask a woman on a date, but I’d somehow managed to pull it off. She waited a few seconds for me to finish my sentence – she was probably laughing at me, at least on the inside – before standing up and walking over to the register, which was only a few feet away. I thought for sure she was gonna walk out without a word, but fortunately, she turned back to me with a smile after paying the young cashier.
“Anata wa, watashi wa `inoru'da ka o rikai dekiru ka dō ka dakedenaku, michi o arui hōhō chīsana konbini ga arimasu. …Roku ashita?” (“Well, if you can understand what I’m ‘praying’, there’s a small convenience store just a short ways down the road. …Tomorrow at six?”)
I still dunno why, but all the confidence I lacked at the time came surging back to me when she said that, and my face returned to its usual pale complexion. I felt almost empowered, embarrassing as it sounds, and I nearly didn’t pick up on what was her second attempt at poking fun at me during the course of our conversation. I didn’t acknowledge it either way, though, and I responded to her invitation with a gentle smile.
“Ore wa umaku rikai suru koto ga dekimasu.” (“I can understand just fine.”)
She returned the gesture before heading out, leaving me to wonder if she was just as enthusiastic about our new plans as I was. I sat for at least three minutes pondering it before Susume handed me my bill. …It seemed he had taken the liberty of filling in the amount for the tip.
“Ore ga itta yō ni, ...anata wa hontō no Dikku kanō, Susume.” (“Like I said, …you can be a real ****, Susume.”)
“Don’t hate, Aito. I think we both know that you owe me a little something extra for hooking you two up.” he responded, evidently very sure of himself. I wasn’t so quick to cave in, though, and I reached into my wallet and set the designated subtotal out in front of him – and only the subtotal – before getting up to leave.
“Well, when we actually hook up, I’ll be sure to give you a cut. Until then…” I replied, receiving several obscene complaints from the old man – all in Japanese – as I walked out.
I can’t remember what I did in the twenty-four hours following my departure from the café – my mind was much too focused on my plans with Mahina. The hours just wouldn’t fly by fast enough, I thought, but they eventually did. I recall I spent the last two of them in Yatsumi’s office – I refused to admit that it belonged to a ****in’ twelve year-old boy. He was sitting behind the desk as usual – bored out of his mind from the looks of things – and I was leaning against the wall next to a nearby window as I smoked. It was the only place Mao would allow it in the office now, not that I really cared so long as I could do it at all. I hadn’t told him about Mahina – he had no business knowing. To be honest, I don’t even remember why I went in there. It’s not as though I enjoyed his company any more than I did any of the lowlifes he had scurrying the halls day and night. Perhaps I had originally intended to announce my plans to him just moments before setting out, or maybe it was simply the fact that I was in need of intelligent company – sorry, Seishin. It didn’t really matter either way. I had about fifteen minutes left before I planned to head out when Mao’s boredom finally lifted him from his seat and carried him over to the large window behind it. The estate was on a rise, so there wasn’t much to look at from the back except a wall of greenery. I stared at him as he stood there, wondering what would come out of his mouth first while knowing I wouldn’t like the answer. As usual, my instincts were spot-on.
“You know the difference between God and the devil, Brother?” he asked out of nowhere, little change in his blank expression. I was hesitant to give a response to a question of that nature, but I eventually came up with one.
“…Aside from everything?” I answered sarcastically. It was the only right answer there was to give in my eyes, …so I knew that it was wrong.
“At least the devil doesn’t pretend that he’s not out to ruin your life.”
I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t surprised by his answer, but I was in no way caught completely off guard. Just from the way he set up the question, I knew he would be criticizing God in some manner. …Needless to say, I was highly offended.
“And when did you stop believing in God, Mao?” I replied. I was hoping my tone might arouse some sort of irritation on his part, but he must’ve known this was my intention, cause all I got was a smirk.
“What makes you think I ever did?” he asked in return. To this, I needed no time to think of a response.
His smirk vanished when I said this. It was the truth, after all. Mao never did seem to me like the theological type, although our mother took us to church as often as she could. There was just something about his character and way of thinking that made something like Christian faith seem completely unsuited to him, though I suppose that ran in our family.
“Somehow, I think you’ve become a tad more outspoken, Brother. And yet, you seem to be a lot less foul-mouthed lately, as well. …Any reason behind that?” Mao asked me as he returned to his seat. To be honest, I hadn’t noticed this myself until just now – and it did pose a few questions about my current state of mind.
“Hmm, dunno. …Guess I’ve just been looking at the world differently over the past few days.” I said as a smirk crept onto my own face.
“You mean time spent talking with your new girlfriend?”
I jerked my head in his direction when he said this, making sure to keep a straight face as I did. …When he did find out, my first thought was.
“Mahina’s just a friend, Mao, …and how the hell did you find out about her? Don’t tell me you’ve had Denashi or Kaozu doing some undercover work on me.” I suggested, knowing the answer wasn't nearly as underhanded.
“Susume called not too long ago, actually.”
“Hmph, that’s a first for the old man.” I said sarcastically.
“That’s what I said. …He said you were stopping by more often and wanted me and Seishin to do the same. He ended up mentioning you and her after I insisted on hearing more.” he explained. So, he admitted to snooping around for extra details, I thought. Not exactly abnormal behavior, but hearing it just made me feel…uneasy.
“Stop looking into my personal ordeals, Mao.”
“Why? Is it uncomfortable for you?”
“…You have no idea.”
“And why’s that?”
Yatsumi’s ugly mug flashed in front of my eyes as I thought about my answer.
“Because no one whose sat in that chair before has ever given a **** about me. …It’s just too creepy for me to deal with.”
Mao chuckled softly at this – the little prick – but he still respected my position and dropped the subject…almost.
“Can I at least ask one question, then?” he asked, a bit of sincerity in his voice now, much to my surprise. I considered it for a moment, coming to the conclusion that one more tidbit of info wouldn’t kill me, so long as it wasn’t about one thing in particular.
“Fire away.” I said.
“Have you told her about your…relations?”
Damn it. Exactly what I was fearing.
“Have you at least told her your last name?” Mao asked when I didn’t respond. Again, I hesitated, but I eventually gave him an answer this time around.
“She didn’t ask for it, nor did I for hers. …It’s not important, anyways.” I told him, placing quite a bit of emphasis on the latter statement. He just shook his head at me as though I was naïve for believing that.
“Of course not, but that’s only because you haven’t brought it up yet. …Brother, I’m only looking out for you here, so don’t get upset. But, what do you think might happen if she were to find out that your family is the-?”
“Mao, that’s enough.”
He listened to me – thank God. I really wasn’t in the mood for his smart mouth at this point. Besides, I just looked up at the huge clock on the opposite wall and saw that it was time for me to head off. I disposed of my cigarette in the ashtray, which was now set beside the window and away from the desk, and threw a piece of gum in my mouth to get rid of the smell it left behind – weird to actually care about shit like that, I thought.
“I’ve gotta go. …I have a date in about fifty minutes.”
“Have a good time.” Mao said to me as he saw me out the door. God knows what he was really thinking.
Looking back, I guess I should’ve watched more TV – or at least read a newspaper – otherwise I might’ve known about the dark clouds hovering over my head as I made the long walk into the city. Hopefully, Mahina did and she brought an umbrella, I thought to myself. The small store she asked to meet at was a short ways past Susume’s restaurant, so the walk ended up taking about forty minutes instead of the usual thirty. Either way, I was still about ten minutes early, so I went ahead and waited outside for her. The streets were surprisingly empty for Hawaii’s capital city – I suppose the potential rain was a factor in that – and I started to wonder whether or not anything fun the two of us could do would even be available now. The time I spent waiting also helped me realize that I never even asked Mahina for her number, let alone where she lived or if she had a car of her own – she was my age, after all. I almost smacked myself for this. We spent nearly an hour or so in that damn café talking about personal info, but never once about contact info.
“Damn it. Way to go, jackass.”
I forgot about it in the next second, though. I was sure she would be showing up in the next five minutes or so – that was before I checked the time on my phone and found that I had already been waiting for fifteen minutes, that and that I had a few missed calls from Susume. Those could wait until after our date, though, I thought. Yeah, the time was a little discomforting, but even if our plans did have to be postponed, I was sure that she would at least show up and tell me this, since we had no other means of contact besides face-to-face.
“She’ll be here. …Please, for the love of God, be here.”
She wasn’t, though. And she wasn’t to go to be, either – I recognized that after almost thirty minutes of waiting. I heaved a long sigh of the greatest disappointment upon having this realization. I was so sure of myself, I had forgotten exactly who I was, and to whom I was connected. She probably mentioned the name “Aito” to a friend or a parent and found out my last name from there – Yatsumi’s criminal activity was well-known around these parts, but there was just never enough evidence to bring him down. I guess that no matter how hard I tried to deny it or run from it, my bloodline would always catch back up to me. The moment I had this thought, a small wet spot on the top of my head alerted me to the first few inches of rainfall, which gradually grew heavier with passing second.
“…How painfully ironic.”
I guess I’d lost all sense of sanity in those next few seconds, cause I fell to my knees and began cackling at the heavens, laughing frantically at my own misfortunes. …I say I lost all sanity because the one I was addressing was almost certainly below me, not above me.
“You just couldn’t stop ****ing up my life, could you!? Even in death! You fat ****ing bastard!!”
Only the Devil himself could’ve been so cruel, I thought. Who else could’ve given me such high hopes for a life outside the yakuza and then snatched them away from me like they were nothing? …No, I thought. Had this been the Devil’s workings, I would’ve known before I even came out here. It would’ve been so obvious from the start – after all, since when does the Devil hide the fact that he’s out to **** up your life? I thought back to what Mao told me while we were alone in Yatsumi’s office.
“Oh, …so that’s the difference.” I said out loud as I finally succumbed to the tears building up in my eyes.
To Be Continued…