Here is part four of my story. This section took a long time as I didn't follow my plan strictly. Well, if truth be told, I rewrote an awful lot as I just wasn't happy with it. I'm still not hugely happy with it, but it'll do. If anything, it gets us from four to five!
If you have any thoughts, please do comment!
The door opened to a room as dimly lit as the seedy bar it had closed on. The room wasn’t huge, yet it was large enough to fit everything perfect for a male social gathering. In one corner was a dart board. Situated behind was a coffee table with two sofas either side. On the table was a chess board, next to it, a decanter of whiskey. Close to, but not directly in the middle of the room was a pool table. In the opposite corner, there was a round table surrounded by chairs. Bottles of alcohol and cigar boxes were strewn across its top. And, in the furthest corner, there was a desk. Behind it was a large leather chair. At its front: a simple wooden chair. This furthest corner added a serious touch to a room otherwise purely catering for man’s entertainment. Yet, I wasn’t naive enough to believe that the rooms main function was entertainment. After all, the door was marked ‘PRIVATE’.
Allan further demonstrated the underlying seriousness of the room and situation by attempting to do the opposite, by attempting to make me feel comfortable: ‘Hey, make yourself at home. Sit with my fellows. Enjoy the quality cigars. Kristian and I, we shan’t be long, so make the most of this hospitality!’
His fellows laughed at this as they took their places around the table. I acquiesced and joined them, none too awkwardly. I glanced over to the business corner, but there was nothing to see. Besides, I had my own business to attend to, in the form of a drink.
A shot glass was slammed down in front of me and filled with a potent white tequila. I made my thanks whilst inwardly grimacing and necked it. The heat of the liquid burst through my throat and landed in my stomach. It was an unexpectedly pleasant feeling, and it brought a wicked grin to my face.
On looking up, it came to my attention that all four pairs of eyes were staring at mine. No one else had downed their drinks. There was an awkward silence. I smiled, awkwardly, until one of the guys started to chuckle and said,
‘I can see now why young Kristi likes you! You down the drinks when the ladies ain’t lookin’, an’ he gets all the credit an’ lovin’!’
The table resounded with mocking laughter. I smiled in return for this kindness and patiently waited out their mirth. After its passing, the same guy spoke again, addressing me with similar humour,
‘Just so you know, you don’t need to keep up none of these appearances for us! Though it does make me wonder: how the hell are you still standin’?’
I was, by this point, beginning to feel somewhat more comfortable in this environment. I almost laughed at the guy’s jest. I almost laughed at the fact that he knew almost as little about what I did than myself. Or, should I say, what I was to do. Nothing was expected of me here. Instead, I was just the target of friendly seeming ridicule. I could handle this easily until Kristian’s return.
Sadly, this feeling was short-lived.
‘Be of service...what an odd term...of service...tell me, what exactly can you do to be of service to our bosses’ little cous’? In fact, who the hell are you?’
It was the nasal voiced character. I realised then that, of all the group, he was the only one who hadn’t laughed when the guy had cracked his jokes. He certainly wasn’t smiling now. He was staring at me with full blown suspicion and contempt. I had a hard time meeting his eye. He had every right to be suspicious. I started to question myself. Why exactly was I here? I couldn’t explain that nothing really mattered to me, that I had lost everything worth anything, that I was merely floating towards a future that I couldn’t care less about. That wasn’t his business, that wasn’t anyone’s but my own. Yet, I had to say something.
‘I wouldn’t use the words ‘be of service’ myself. I would like to think that I’m simply...’
‘What the fuck! Have you gone completely mad? Get the fuck outta here, and don’t come back until you’ve done me proud, you understand?’
I turned to see Kristian stand up from the small, wooden chair, make his apologies, then head for the door. He motioned for me to join him. I looked around the group of faces. Every one of their eyes was now cold. I took my leave, but before I could make my exit, Allan called me over.
I took my seat in the unimportant wooden chair. Allan nodded at the retreating Kristian. He left the room. The door closed. Despite the group at the table, it felt like it was just us two in this room. It was our private domain.
‘I’m sorry that I’m going to have to say this, but my cousin has been dragging you along for no good reason. He had no right to bring you here, let alone expect you to help in any of his business. It’s his to do, see. Your service won’t be required, but, take this,’
He opened a draw in his desk and pulled out a wad of notes. He held the wad out to me. I didn’t take it.
‘Take it. You just keep your mouth shut, and leave him to do what he’s gotta do. You hear?’
I took the wad and nodded my agreement. Allan smiled then. Our business was done. We shook hands, and it was over.
Kristian was waiting outside. As soon as he saw me, he hurried through the bar without a word. I followed. I looked over at him, yet his face was unreadable. He didn’t look angry, not even hurt. If anything, he just looked purposeful.
He pushed through the exit and out into the streets. He didn’t stop moving. We ploughed through dingy alleyways as the sky slowly lightened, revealing the promise of a new day. We eventually arrived at a derelict car park where only two cars stood: a BMW and a Honda. Kristian got into the driving seat of the BMW. I climbed into the passenger seat. We sat in silence.
The silence lasted an amount of time. I can’t specify. It was however long Kristian decided to be absorbed in his own thoughts. Or, however long he decided to ignore his own thoughts.
‘I’m not gonna lie, that went pretty bad. I suppose I didn’t go about things the right way. I didn’t think about my wording. It’s always difficult to speak like someone I’m not. You see, that’s what Allan doesn’t understand, and it’s something he can’t know. He’s ashamed of me now, for what I suggested, for my suggesting you help me. But you’re going to help me, there’s simply no other way.’
He looked across at me.
‘I know what Allan said to you. I know he told you to not get involved. But I’m telling you this, you have no choice.’
With this, he whipped out a pistol from his trousers and held it against my head. He pushed it hard up against my skull, so hard I could feel the blood struggling through my veins.
‘So, what’s it gonna be?’
Uncontrollably, I felt my body heave with laughter. I laughed with a gun pointed directly at my head, ready to blow my brains out. I laughed at the situation, I laughed at his gangster talk, but mostly, I laughed because he simply had no idea that I wasn’t even thinking about choice.
‘Kristian. In the short amount of time I’ve known you, or, should I say, that you’ve known me, you have seen what I can do. By getting off that boat with you, I agreed to help, to put into practise whatever it is that I can do. Money holds no power over me. In fact, neither does that gun. Shoot me now, that’s your choice.’
Kristian didn’t relax his hold. The gun stayed firmly against the side of my head. But this was only brief. As quickly as he had pulled it out, the gun was tucked out of sight again. He then reached for my pocket, located the wad of money, and shoved it in the glove compartment. Without further ado, he started the engine, and we were on our way to our next destination.
Another reason why this took a while to update was because I'm currently struggling with a plan for my dissertation. When I have something worthy of sharing, I may add it to the blog. That is of course if anyone is interested in reading about Japanese cultural attitudes towards homosexuality during and after the Second World War. We shall see.
To finish with, here is a website recommendation:
It is Taka Hirose's (Feeder's bassist) website for sharing his cooking ideas. I love it. And, I hope you do too.