Pachinko

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 8 (v.1) - He Means Trouble!

Submitted: May 02, 2019

Reads: 29

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Submitted: May 02, 2019

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Hey! I thought I told you I never wanted to see you here ever again?”

There was voice coming out of nowhere, dragging me back to reality. Instantaneously the whole room reappeared and I was standing right back in front of the Pachinko machine. Even though I wasn’t really in hyperspace, it took me a while to readjust. At the end of the hall, there was a figure of an old man approaching towards us, accompanied by two other men. Those two man were clearly taller than the old man, making it look like they were his bodyguards. 

Hirohito was still standing right next to me, definitely feeling anxious about the old man’s presence. A sheen of sweat covered his forehead, glistening in the neon light of the pachinko machine. His sweaty fingers pressed into the skin of his palm. His whole body was shaking by now. His heart must have been beating so hard against his ribcage that it was about to break anytime. Slowly the anxiety flowed away and his breathing became normal again. By the way he started looking at the old man, I knew they both had to know each other. He layer his hand on my shoulder and his lips finally started to move after minutes of silence.

“I’m sorry!”

“What do you mean you’re sorry?”

“I’m sorry about everything.”

He didn’t say anything except that he was sorry. He didn’t even want to tell me what he was sorry about. I was about to ask him, but after he said it he quickly turned around, started bowing a few times repeating himself and then started running towards the exit. But the time he was almost at the exit, I could hear him shout three more words:

“I AM FREE!”

At the time I just thought it meant he was free from the wrath of the owner, but little did I know he meant something completely different.

Of course the two large men who accompanied the old man started chasing Hirohito the moment he turned around, while the owner kept his eye on me, without saying a single word. A few moments later, the two men reappeared in the room, without Hirohito.

“We’re sorry boss, we lost him outside. There were just too may people on the streets.”

The old man still didn’t say a word, he just waves his hand in the air, meaning it didn’t really matter. They would get him another day. 

“What was that all about?” I finally asked him when everything had settled down. 

Again, he waved his hand in the air.

“I’ll be the one who asks the questions here, you got that?”

I just knotted in silence. I’m not going to deny that I wasn’t intimidated by him and the air that surrounded him. There was something about him, something that made very clear that he had power around this neighborhood. His grey hair and his well-fitted black suit also gave me that assumption. 

“So who are you and what are you doing back here? This is not a place for visitors.”

I wasn’t sure what I was about to tell him, but the one thing I wasn’t going to tell him was about the so called magic pachinko machine. He either knew all about it and that would mean he would want to keep it a secret from the rest of the people and that would mean nothing good for me. Or he would think I was crazy and I might end up in some asylum in Japan, nothing a foreigner would want to experience. So I just told him that Hirohito had tricked me into coming back here in order to compete with the a vintage video game.

“He kept telling me no one could beat him. I’m on holiday and I just had some extra money to spend here, so I thought I would take him up on that challenge. He knew you had a special machine down here, something not a lot of people knew how to play. And that’s when you came in and for some reason Hirohito ran away.”

The old man just stood there, looking me straight in the eyes and checked me from head to toe a few times, inspecting me. 

“Okay, I believe you. You do look like just a normal tourist.”

I sighed with relief. I really thought something was going to happen to me. This place had a serious Yakuza vibe lingering around.

“However,” he continued, “I still don’t appreciate you being back here. But you look like a decent kid to me, so I’m going to let this slide. Just this once though, so don’t let me catch you in here again, or there will be consequences.”

I let out a sigh of relief. For a minute there, I really thought he was going to beat the living hell out of me. Even though he looked just like a regular old man, I had a feeling he was someone not to mess with. 

Domo arigatou gozaimasu!” I said, trying not to sound disrespectful. 

I took a deep bow right before his two bodyguards laid their hands on my shoulder, ready to escort me outside. 

“Hey Kid!” the old man shouted when I was almost outside.

“Yes?”

“One piece of advice, stay away from the likes of Hirohito. He means trouble!”

The two men escorted me all the way to the exit. Passing trough the gaming arcade, most people didn’t even look our way. They were too preoccupied with beating their own high scores. Only the regular clients knew what was going on. In a place like this, were gambling was part of their core business, this couldn’t have been the first time someone was escorted outside by these two broad shouldered men. 

Outside, stars should have already filled the sky by now, but instead the neon signs of Akihabara were acting like substitutes. Even though they weren’t real stars, it still had his charm in its own way. Still I miss watching the actual stars, nothing can compete with a starry night. 

 

The night was still young and I didn’t feel like going back to my hotel. Luckily Tokyo is home to one of the most diverse and fascinating nightlife scenes on this planet. With so many amazing options to choose from, trying to decide what to do can be quite overwhelming. Trying to play it safe, mostly I just didn’t want to spend hours of searching for a decent place, I just returned back to Golden Gai. It shouldn’t be too hard to find a good nomi-ya. The collection of narrow lanes is packed with hundreds of these tiny bars, and because most of these tiny bars just have enough seats to accommodate a handful people at a time. This was the perfect option if you wanted to avoid human contact, like me, as much as possible. 

I heard a lot about a bar called Kodoji, also known as the Photographer’s Bar. This place houses countless photo books for inspiration to other photographers. The entire bar is filled with photos from all the photographers who frequent the joint. As an artist myself, I couldn’t let the opportunity slide to visit this iconic bar. 

It took me a while to find it though, since they don’t really advertise their address. I was starting to think it was a very well kept secret among local artists, trying to keep it from getting overcrowded by tourists. By asking around to some locals, I was able to find it not much later.

Not only was this bar incredibly photogenic, the entire place was filled with photos, top to bottom. Even the ceiling was decorated with pieces of local photographers. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but this was amazing. For some reason luck had it going for me again. Knowing that Kodoji only had seats for about six people, I was very lucky to find one open spot, right next to the iconic wooden statue of an armless man. There was an american at the bar talking with a frenchman and the bartender. I just love how so many different nationalities can get along while on holiday. If only this was always the case, there wouldn’t be anymore war. I overheard the american saying he was a writer of historical fiction, which was also the reason why he was in town. The bartender had to leave the conversation to make me my cappuccino. Somehow I felt kind of bad about it, even though it’s his job. I could have easily made it myself if I was allowed to. When I was younger I had a barista training, so I knew all about the whole process from bean to cappuccino. Sweet tones of jazz were filling the room in the background, creating an additional atmosphere of peace in the building.

On the other end of the bar there was an older man who was reading a book. He was dressed in black, all ready to be a burglar for all I knew. While I already ordered a 15 year old Yamazaki to go after my cappuccino, he was drinking a simple beer, nothing too fancy.

 

What the hell is going on here I thought to myself. I had absolutely no idea what I just went through, did it even happen? Or was I just dreaming again? There was one way to find out, and that’s going back there after a good night’s sleep. But if I was to go back there, I had to be careful not to run into the old man again. I didn’t want to find out what consequences he had in mind when he saw me back there. 

That’s when I got a phone call from Marissa.

“Hey Brian, where are you? I haven’t heard from you since we left Mt. Fuji, so is everything okay?”

“Hey sis, sorry I didn’t let you know, but I had some errands to run, but I’ll be back later tonight, so don’t wait up.”

Of course I couldn’t let my sister know what I was actually doing here. I could’t tell her that a strange man followed me to our hotel the previous day and he told me something about a strange machine that would let me be someone else for a while. No, I definitely couldn’t tell her that.

“Just as long as you’re not in any trouble. I did make a promise to mom remember?”

“Yeah I know, but you don’t have to worry!” I assured her.

She hung up not a little while longer, right after we agreed to grab some dinner tomorrow. 

Meanwhile more and more people came into Kodoji, trying to find an empty space to sit, maybe for the same reason I was, to contemplate over today’s events.

I took the glass of whiskey in my hand and swirled it around to let it breathe with the air around me. My nose let in fragrances that only years of aging in an oak barrel could achieve. Even before I took my first sip, all my doubts and worries from today started to fade.


© Copyright 2019 Nick Van loy. All rights reserved.

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