“In the planning stage of a book, don’t plan the ending. It has to be earned by all that will go before it.”
– Rose Tremain
A loud roar rains down from overhead.
Along the thoroughfare around the Tokyo Dome, on one side, a small amusement park bustles with business. Stretching out along the road-front is a small promenade with eateries and shops, tucked up underneath a small overhang for shade.
A man on the larger side, wearing a long overcoat on this cool Spring day in the capital city, steps out from underneath and turns his head upward, and looks up at the roller coaster that thunders by above him.
Looking back away from the street in front of him, Dan Ryan spies a bench along the pedestrian pathway and walks toward it, sitting down and looking at the time on the cell phone in his right hand.
A few moments pass, and he senses something. He calls out, “Have a seat,” and waves a much smaller, skinnier man, a Japanese fellow in proper business attire, over to the spot next to him. The man is in his mid-50s perhaps. He bends forward slightly at the waist, bowing out of respect, taking a seat as Dan looks up again briefly, anticipating the roar overhead. A roller coaster car flies past, and once it passes, he looks the man in the eyes.
The smaller man speaks first, in perfect unaffected English.
“Why are we here, sitting under this monstrosity overhead, across the street from the Tokyo Dome? There are hundreds of quieter, more discreet places to discuss business.”
Ryan continues to look straight at him.
“I like the noise. I don’t like quiet. People listen and overhear things when it’s quiet. The white noise is better, and I don’t want anyone hearing what we have to say.”
The man shrugs.
“It’s been a while since you came home. If you’re here, and you’re calling me to meet with you, I assume this is extremely important.”
Ryan looks away from him briefly, listens to the noise above, and turns back to him.
“I have a job for you.”
Reaching into the pocket lining the inside of his coat, Ryan pulls out a small envelope and hands it to him. The man takes it and runs his finger along the opening to reach inside for the contents, and pulls them out. Looking down, he reads, then raises an eyebrow.
“Are you sure about this?”
Ryan stares a hole through his head.
“I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t.”
The man stuffs the materials back into the envelope and cups it in his left hand, then leans forward and speaks softly, but loud enough to be heard over the ambient noise.
“I’ve been an associate of yours and your family’s for over twenty-five years. There are many secrets I’ve kept, and much that you don’t fully understand, but perhaps it is better that way. Perhaps you think you want something you don’t actually want.”
Dan Ryan ignores the pleading and tilts his head slightly to the left. “Are you gonna do this for me, or not?”
The man looks back at him, finally sighing and standing up.
“It will take some time, a week maybe, to gather up the information.”
Ryan nods. “I’ll be here another two and a half weeks at least.”
The man nods back, then bows again.
“I’ll be in touch.”
Ryan watches as he walks down the street, turning at the intersection near Korakuen Station, and disappearing from view.
Dan looks up again as another roller coaster car screams past and smiles.
He likes the noise better.
“Feeble is the character that bows to inflated ego, arrogance, and whines of affluence, whilst raising itself mercilessly on the humble and underprivileged.”
– Aniruddha Sastikar
Oh where to begin.
So much to talk about, so much to say.
Good lord, you look like cold shit.
I remember when you won War Games. How the mighty have fallen. It’s been real fun watching your Abbott and Costello routine with Jatt Starr every week, but Who’s On First, John, because it sure as fuck ain’t you anymore.
You bloated cocaine riddled walrus carcass in tights.
You toupee wearing ballsack nipple looking gynecomastia poster boy cunt.
I remember when you used to have respect, respect from other people, respect for yourself. Now you do a little song and dance with Jatt Starr every week and ask daddy if you can maybe defend the tag titles this week, daddy, oh please daddy? No, John. Sittin’ there with the same tattoos as the grandmother on Moana.
Don’t you think it’s weird that Lee called up his son to go get a job done this week instead of, I don’t know…. You? Hall of Famer, Former World Champion, War Games winner, tag team champion, recipient of the first-ever baboon back hair transplant? Why didn’t he ask John Sektor, I wonder, to put those pesky 214 peons down? Why are you going into a match with me, where I am very likely to maim you and take years off your life right before War Games, instead of fighting with the Best Alliance in the cage? Why, John? Why?
You dirty sack of rotten potatoes. You Doc Holliday with lupus-looking motherfucker.
I’ll tell you why.
You aren’t a star player anymore.
You aren’t even a Starr player anymore. Your own partner could replace you with pretty much anyone else in the Best Alliance, and no one would notice the difference. Maybe you wouldn’t have lost the tag titles for him.
You’re a face in a very unimpressive crowd. You run with a group of people eight, nine people deep? And yet the most dangerous member of your side is a 20-year-old kid who is, of course, Lee’s family. You aren’t his family, John. You’ll never be as important as Mike, never as important as Max was, and never as important as Sutler is.
You’re relegated to being Jatt Starr’s straight man, and there’s nothing sadder than a washed-up badass who is content to make fart faces while another man in his 40s tells pussy jokes and hams it up like a circus performer. You want a pussy joke? Jatt Starr. There’s a pussy joke. That pussy will tuck his tail and run the moment someone really punches him square in the jaw, and I have to tell you, I’m looking very forward to being the asshole who does it.
I know you’re in pain, John. You’ve been trying to medicate it on your own for over a decade now, but it’s not an insult from another like me that causes you pain. It is the part of your mind that agrees with the insult.
And of course, you are the embodiment of High Octane Wrestling. What other company could have produced someone like you and not seen the joke?
So you guys like inflicting violence and pain on people who cross you, eh?
I wanna play.
All you can ever talk about is old times, back when you functioned as more than just Sonny to Jatt Starr’s Cher. You’re like a plunger, always bringing up old shit. Cokehead Sonny likes to go skiing. Watch out for trees this week.
But John, if you think this is a chance to bring the glory days back, I’m sorry to tell you, but that caterpillar on your lip is never gonna turn into a butterfly, buddy. It’s time to give it up.
You couldn’t find your dick in the dark, you scheming, sleaze-mongering, Preparation H tube with skin.
Getting old, hair thinning out, dick wearing out. I heard you actually lent a girl an umbrella yesterday, which takes the total number of women you’ve made wet this year to a negative 1.
You’ve made so many mistakes in recent months, made such a fool of yourself, and you’re going to keep making these mistakes as long as you keep carrying your brain in the same drawer in Lee’s desk, with your balls.
I get it. You’re afraid. It isn’t something I’ll embarrass you with by making you say it out loud. It’s just too bad you’re around such idiots all the time. Fear is a communicable disease; it comes out in a sweat and passes from host to host. Fear is an incendiary agent; it combusts with stupidity.
You’re afraid it’s almost over, and it probably is. I myself am much closer to retirement than I would like, only I win more than you do, and I don’t need to wear a bra.
You won’t even try to talk shit to me this week, will you? You know you’re outmatched in that department, so instead, you’ll bore the fuck out of everyone with some old, tired, grandpa trick they used to use back in the good old days, like, I don’t know, maybe a forty-five-minute movie about Sektor on a boat, with a twenty-minute training session to boot. Maybe get four or five other people to do most of the talking for you while you hold your useless dick in between your thumb and pointy finger like a little dainty drink in a Japanese tea room. Why are you so long-winded anyway? Do you think because you’ve been on a boat for over a week you needed your shit to be as long as Titanic?
This is what people do when they’re scared. They panic.
Everyone is afraid of something. We fear things because we value them. We fear losing people because we love them. We fear dying because we value being alive. Don’t wish you didn’t fear anything. All that would mean is that you didn’t feel anything.
Monsters come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them are things people are scared of. Some of them are things that look like things people used to be scared of a long time ago. Sometimes monsters are things people should be scared of, but they aren’t. Fear of failure. There’s your monster, John, and you can’t prevent it. Fate rules us all, takes us down the path whether we like it or not.
You’re in my backyard this week. I grew up here, lived here, sat and learned here and became everything I am…. Here. The wonderful thing about me is, athleticism was always a bonus. It was never the core of who I am. It doesn’t matter if my back hurts after a long plane ride, or my knee acts up and needs to be iced down after every match. I’ve found new ways to win, new ways to be excellent. Unfortunately, you haven’t changed, haven’t adapted. The human spirit doesn’t like getting older, but it does like changing. Staying the same is a kind of death. The only thing you have to show for all of your wasted and spent time is that you just realize that you’re getting older. Nothing more, and you march on inevitably to the end. I’m going to rip your head from your shoulders and shit into your lungs, and when I’m done with you, you’re gonna lead me to wherever your fucking buddies are, and I’m not gonna wait for War Games. I’ll go through them one…. by one…. by one….. and you’ll do it gladly, or I’ll be kicking your uterus out through your nose, you fucking cunt.
Maybe I’ll do it either way.
“Oh my life is so awful, it’s just so awful to be me, you don’t know what it’s like waking every morning and finding the whole horror of being yourself still there.”
– Iris Murdoch
I’ve sat in that stupid room on that stupid ship for longer than I ever want to again, and now, consigned to some hotel room up on top of a far too shiny neon-covered skyscraper in downtown Tokyo, I find my room claustrophobic. It is small, but that’s not what I mean. It’s claustrophobic because I feel like I’ve been trapped here for so long, this floor forming the center stage from where my life story is playing out.
I’m straddling the line between reality and madness more readily now, more naturally, and I find myself wishing my brain would choose one or the other, to heal itself and think clearly, or succumb to the noise that thunders in my head. What’s scary is, I enjoy the noise. This does not bode well.
You believe what you are and you are what you believe. This is a vicious or virtuous cycle in which we are all trapped. Our faiths and beliefs are like walls erected around us that provide us security but also act as a prison by blocking our view from the complete reality. We live in a make-believe world, oblivious to the reality that exists outside the four walls of our beliefs. The deep-rooted belief is called faith.
But faith in anything is unfounded. You can’t depend on anyone, so don’t even try. It’s folly to think otherwise.
I feel trapped. The day will be hell. I’ll suffer. I feel like I might not survive.
This ever-present tangle of lies I’ve woven over the years tightens around me like a hunter’s net. The more I push it away, the more it clings to me like sticky, spindly spider webs. But the truth has to remain hidden inside the godforsaken asylum in my mind; and inside the silence was a father, a mother, a child, another child, and the ghost of something just at the edge of my consciousness.
I know this isn’t right. I know there’s something inside of this that I haven’t been able to reach. It holds me back as a dam holds back the deluge, and I have to find out what it is.
I lead a worthless life. I live in unreality and untruth. If only there could be total change, regeneration, escape. If only I could run and run and get back to the people in whom ordinary life is being lived. I have given myself an evil role and cannot now stop enacting it. But I, too, know that unreality is my reality, untruth is my truth. I am too old now and I have no other way.
It’s times like these when a man in a desperate situation must take whatever madness is offered to escape the darker madness in which he finds himself trapped.
I’m leaning toward embracing it, and the feeling of lessening disturbance, coming from within myself, unexpected, is profoundly disturbing. As I sit still, growing less and less alarmed by the situation, I know that I have to move fast, as fast and far as I can within this cramped room.
She is the key to all of this.
I will find the truth.
I will not be stopped.
“Everything has a past. Everything – a person, an object, a word, everything. If you don’t know the past, you can’t understand the present and plan properly for the future.”
– Chaim Potok
Phyllis runs her hand over the envelope. She looks down at it, terrified at what it might contain, and she sighs a nervous sigh. Looking to her left, she peers through a window at the electric buzzing of the Tokyo nightlife, and she shakes her head almost imperceptibly.
Minato Takeuchi had been an associate of the Ryan family from before anyone knew or cared who Dan Ryan was. He’d been the point man in Dan’s father’s business and had made deals with some very unsavory characters to ensure its success.
He looked across the table at Phyllis Grant, herself in the employ of the family for decades. She had been very loyal to her boss for many years, but Mr. Takeuchi, as he considered her, knew that she didn’t deserve what was coming her way. His own obligations concerned much more than the frivolous day-to-day of a professional wrestler. He peddled life and death, and he did it for a good living. It was only a matter of time before Dan came calling again. He was expecting it.
He nodded an abbreviated bow in her direction and gestured to the envelope in her hand.
“I came here because I wanted to warn you. I’m honor-bound to deliver this information to him, but I want to see no harm come to you. You’ve kept things from him, and it’s all about to come into the light.”
Her eyes came up and met his, just briefly, and then she looked back down.
“You don’t want to be here when he finds out. I’ve arranged transportation for you. Don’t look back, don’t try and find out what he’s up to, where he’s going. Trust me. Walk away. For your own sake, walk away. I will make sure you are safe, but I can only do this if you listen and do exactly what I say.”
Her eyes met his. They started to fill with tears, a near lifetime of service flashed across her eyes, better days, worse days, all blinked away in an instant.
“Okay. Please, just tell me what to do. I’ll do what you say. He’s not gonna be happy about this. I know. Believe me, I know. This is gonna be bad.”
Takeuchi reached across and took the envelope back. He tucked it into his breast pocket and stood.
“Don’t worry. Everything is under control.”