by Robert J. Collins
“Pull over here.” Frankie Furukawa was more nervous than usual. A big score was going down, and he didn’t want anything to go wrong.
“It’s a No Parking zone, boss.”
“I said pull over here, you cretin. Don’t give me that ‘No Parking zone’ ka-ka.”
‘It’s just that the meter maids…”
“STOP THE DAMN CAR.”
“Yessir. Of course. The car is stopped…in a No Parking zone.”
Intermittent rain had left puddles upon which the reds, greens and blues of neon reflected. The mist hanging just above the buildings softened the colors and lowered the parameters of the scene to the sidewalks and the strolling hordes.
“Wait here,” said Frankie Furukawa, easing himself out of the car.
“If the meter maids come?”
“Be rude to them,” said Frankie Furukawa over his shoulder. He smiled as he placed a toothpick in his mouth. He was always being saddled with rookies.
The patrons waiting in line at the club automatically parted as he moved through them to the door. Girls with unnaturally brown skin, white lips and blonde hair stood on their platform shoes with their escorts— boys who looked like girls who looked like boys who looked like girls who were, in fact, deep down, boys. Frankie Furukawa winked at one of the girls and goosed one of the boys. They both toppled over.
“I’m here,” announced Frankie Furukawa to the bartender by way of explaining the incontrovertible evidence that he was there. “Where is he?”
“I’ll get him,” said the bartender, aware that a big score was going down. Before dashing off to the back room, the bartender pulled himself together long enough to serve an Orange Plussy—straight with no ice—to Frankie Furukawa. “On the home,” said the bartender.
“House,” corrected Frankie Furukawa.
“House,” agreed the bartender blushing mightily.
Sato-shacho appeared almost immediately, his eyes sweeping the room as he approached Frankie Furukawa. It was said he could calculate at a glance the exact number of patrons flailing away in his disco. (“Count the legs and divide by two,” was his secret revealed to but a few.)
“Here they are,” said Sato-shacho, handing an envelope to Frankie Furukawa. Rumors hinted that Sato-shacho was really Korean, or Chinese, or Laotian, or Greek, or Pakistani, or Sudanese, or from Chicago, but Frankie Furukawa had no interest in rumors. All he cared about was the score. He put the envelope inside the breast pocket of his jacket. Mission accomplished. “One more thing,” said Sato-shacho as Frankie Furukawa turned to leave. “These are for the boys,” he said as he stuffed an oblong package into Frankie Furukawa’s outside jacket pocket.
“And this is from me,” said the bartender stuffing a perfectly square package into Frankie Furukawa’s other outside jacket pocket. “For the long, long nights.”
As Frankie Furukawa reached the door, the girl, who had toppled over with the boy who looked like a girl but was really a boy, entered the establishment. She handed Frankie Furukawa 25 or 30 pages she had torn from her Hello Kitty notebook. On the pages were names and phone numbers. He put the pages into the left front pocket of his trousers.
Frankie Furukawa almost ignored the light tapping on his shoulder.
“Yeah?” he asked, turning and feeling the first signs of exhaustion wrought by the constant tension.
“For you,” said the boy who looked like a girl but was really a boy. He handed over a round package that Frankie Furukawa was just able to squeeze into the right front pocket of his trousers.
“Thanks, kid,” said Frankie Furukawa, chucking the boy who looked like a girl but was really a boy under the chin. He toppled over again.
Frankie Furukawa didn’t see the car at first. He then noticed it—parked in the middle of the street blocking traffic in both directions.
You imbecile. I didn’t say park in the middle of the street.”
“I know. But the No Parking zone. The meter maids.
“Shut up and drive,” counseled Frankie Furukawa as he climbed into the car. “Back to the station.” He slammed the rookie’s head down on the steering wheel for good measure.
The Kanagawa police inspectors were there as Frankie Furukawa entered the room. His boss, the chief, looked ashen. He winked at Frankie Furukawa with both eyes alternately, and made a motion of zipping up his lips and throwing away the key. Frankie Furukawa caught on the third time.
The oblong package, the perfectly square package, the pages of notes and the round package were absently dumped on the table. Frankie Furukawa watched as the inspectors opened everything, chatted, laughed and made a big show of equally dividing up among them the piles of pills and powder. They even cut the last page of names and phone numbers into four equal sections.
After the inspectors left, the chief unzipped his lips.
“Of course,” replied Frankie Furukawa, patting the front of his jacket. He pulled out the envelope. Inside were two tickets to a Yokohama BayStars baseball game—behind the visitors’ dugout.
“But I’m not going through this again,” added Frankie Furukawa.
“Relaxing now and then in the midst of these corruption investigations is important,” said the chief. “Don’t you forget that.”