Friday afternoon, July 7th
Later when I’ve gotten back from Kokura, two officials from the Customs Office—Nakata, the pudgy one with the wimpy little mustache and Windbreaker—pay me a visit. Nakata told me yesterday that my cell phone would be returned today, but thanks to Azami’s incessant calling, the battery died before the data could be transferred. And now the two of them are entreating me, practically cap in hand, for the adaptor. They don’t have the authority to confiscate it out right, Nakata explaines with a tinge of embarrassment; my permission is required.
Were there anything remotely incriminating on my cell phone, I might not be so cooperative. Fortunately, I have for many years been in the habit of erasing all out-going texts, and keeping the in-box tidy, purposely free of anything that could implicate me, or my friends, in any crime or “extracurricular” love activity. I have dé Dale to thank for that.
Those first two grams of crystal meth didn’t last nearly as long as I had hoped. Imagine that! Before I knew it, I was buying a gram here, another there, but always for some express reason or another, of course. If it weren’t finals I had to cram for, then it was Giles Peterson DJ-ing at O/Dor a date with a hot nurse that required me to be sharperthan usual. Within six months of that first enlightening hit, I was buying five-gram bags of the drug for the bargain-basement price of seven thousand yen ($67) a gram.
Dé Dale meanwhile was buying the shit in bulk–twenty, thirty grams at a time–and, as a precaution, keeping most of his stash in a safe place an hour’s drive outside the city. Whenever he couldn’t be bothered, or was just too damn “baked” to make the trip, he would ring me up from a pay phone and ask to “borrow” a gram of “Shinji”, no different from, say, a neighbor knocking on your door to borrow a cup of sugar.
I’ll never forget that first neighborly visit.
Dé Dale wasted little time getting down to business. The Frenchman could be as methodical as a surgeon. After, giving the coffee table in my living room a good wipe down with tissue, he took the small packet of crystal meth I had given him and snipped a corner off with his Swiss Army knife. Placing the bit of plastic that he had just cut off in the center of the tissue, he twisted the tissue up.
Next, dé Dale set about preparing the foil. I handed him a strip, which he folded in half to form a perfect square. With another narrow fold along the open end he created a cuff sealing the foil. He then wiped the foil down with a fresh piece of tissue making it nice and flat, free of any wrinkles or creases where the meth might catch and burn. Finally, he manipulated the foil with his fingertips to form a shallow trough into which he then sprinkled some of the crystals.
Before lighting up, dé Dale dug a small, but powerful penlight out of his pocket and, illuminating the surface of the table, scoured every inch of the table and the surrounding floor.
“Aha,” dé Dale said, pointing to a speck on the table. “You see that?”
He dabbed at a splinter with the tip of his index finger and added it to the rest of the crystal on the foil. After placing the first tissue into the second and twisting the two of them up, he gestured for me to follow him to the toilet. There, he set the tissue alight, allowing it burn slowly and thoroughly.
“You may think I’m being paranoid,” dé Dale said, “but, my friend, paranoia has nothing to do with it. I’m merely being careful. And, I want you to be very careful, too. You have to realize what the risks are. Do you want to go to jail?”
“Of course not,” I said. “You think I’m stupid?”
“Well then, if you are so smart, I need not tell you that little piece of plastic in there could get you arrested. It’s not much, but it’s enough for the cops to take your freedom away, to put you behind bars until you talk, and believe me, you willtalk. If talking gets you out and back to your life, you will sing like le canari, just as everyone does.”
Dé Dale turned the tissue to keep the flame alive, and once satisfied he had destroyed any evidence, dumped it into the toilet and flushed it.
“Mon ami, ici, ce n’est pas l’Amerique. La France non plus,” he said. This is not America, my friend. It’s not France, either. “The police won’t break down your door here. They’re much more subtle. The first thing they do is go through your garbage when you’re not around, then they go in and check all the surfaces in your apartment, wipe them all down, vacuum the floors. Then, they take it all to their labs to be tested. And if they find traces of our friend “Shinji”here, how are you gonna explain how he got here? A little bird flew it in?”
Dé Dale stared intently at me, looking past my eyes into that thick head of mine to listen to the thoughts.
“No, my friend, you will not say anything,” dé Dale continued. “Why? Because they won’t find anything here that incriminates you. And you know why? I will tell you why. Because, so long as you want to meet Shinji, you will be as careful as I am. You understand?”
We returned to the coffee table and lit up.
The first posting/chapter in this series can be found here.
Rokuban: Too Close to the Sun and other works are available in e-book form and paperback at Amazon.
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.