71. Contacting De Dale

As soon as the two Customs officials leave, I hurry out the door myself, taking the fire escape, a rusting spiral of steel that creaks and moans with each step. Through a dark passage overcrowded with discarded bicycles, I come out on to the main street. With a quick glance left and right, I step out onto the street and make my way towards a 7-11 a few blocks away where I call Azami from a public phone.

When she answers, I apologize for having lost my temper earlier and ask her to meet me at a caféhalf a block away from my apartment. 

Hanging up the phone, I then take a roundabout route to get to the café, which I am relieved to discover is empty except for two young women having coffee and cake.

I take a seat in the back that is partially hidden behind a pillar but from which I can see the entrance. After a few minutes, a waitress comes to my table to take my order: a shot of Zacapa and a beer chaser. It is only five in the afternoon, but I need to calm my nerves and go over the things I need my girlfriend to do. 

After all I’ve put the poor girl through, I wonder if she’ll be up for it.

About half an hour later, Azami arrives. She lays into me as soon as she sits down, “What the hell’s going on?”

“Um . . . You remember that package Naila was sending me?”


“Well, apparently, her medicine was it.”

“What medicine?”


“Addo . . .?”

“Adderall. She was taking it for her attention deficit disorder. It’s a kind of ampheta . . .” 

“Why did you . . .?”

“Hold on, Azami! Ididn’t know she was sending me a package until she e-mailed me. Even then, I didn’t know what was in it . . .”

“But you said . . .”

“Never mind what I said. The fact of the matter is I didn’t ask her to send anythingto me.”

“Oh, Rémy, I just knew something like this would eventually happen.”

“Look, we can have that conversation later,” I say, taking my girlfriend’s hands. “Right now, I need you to do something for me.”

She recoils, yanking her hands away from mine. “W-w-what?”

“I need you to contact dé Dale.”


The two of them would never be confused for kindred spirits.

“One, I need to know the extent of the investigation. And, two, if the shoe were on the other foot—and it was dé Dale, rather than me, who was being investigated—I would want to know. He needs to be very careful. Just do this one favor for me, and then you can do whatever you like. Okay?”

I wouldn’t blame Azami if she were to tell me “Sayōnara”, but she gives a slow, hesitant nod. I know what she must be thinking, though: Rémy’s chickens have come home to roost.

“Call dé Dale from a public phone. You have his number, right?”

She nods again.

“And it’s probably not a good idea to go directly to his place. The cops might be keeping their eyes on him.” I look around the café. A couple in their early thirties, who came in after Azami, is studying the menu. “They could still be watching me right now. If possible, try to meet dé Dale at, say, a café in his neighborhood. Café Tecois just around the corner from his place. It should still be open. Tell him what I’ve told you. Tell him, that I’m going in for questioning on Sunday. I have no idea what the police know or how long they’ve been watching me. Ask him if he’s noticed anything odd going on around him. Got that? And, again, tell him he’s got to be careful. He’ll understand. Okay?”

Azami exhales through her nose and nods a third time. What little color there was in her face is now gone. Standing up and straightening her dress, she leaves without another word.

After finishing my beer, I pay the bill and head back home for the final lesson of the day.

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.

50. But she's sleeping

It is well past one a.m. in D.C. where my cousin lives. If my neck weren’t on the chopping block, I might wait until a more civilized hour to call. 

I try the number as Dita gave it to me with the extra digit and, not surprisingly, don’t get through. “One of the numbers has to go.” I drop the last digit, and, presto, the phone starts ringing.

“Hello?” It’s my aunt. She sounds wide-awake. Must be the jetlag.

“Hello. Ammteh Michelin, this is Rémy.”

“Rémy! It’s so good to hear your voice. What are you doing?”

Ammteh, I haven’t got much time. Is Naila there?”

“Yes, but she’s sleeping.”

“Listen: I need to talk to her right now. It’s extremely important.”

“Shall I wake her?”

“Yes, yes! Yal’luh, wake her up!”

Khalass, Rémy. I’ll get her.”

Naila is still half asleep when she comes to the phone. It always takes my cousin a good half an hour to sweep the cobwebs out of her head and start talking coherently, but I don’t have the time for pleasantries.

“Naila, you sent me a package a few weeks ago.”

There is a muffled grunt on the other side of the phone. Hardly the kind of unequivocal affirmation the situation demands.

“Naila, you’ve got to wake up and listen! You sent me a package, right?”

“Yeah,” she says, blowing her nose into the receiver.

“What did you send me?”

She mumbles something about dryer sheets, charcoal for my narghilè. These are the same things she mentioned in her mail.

“What else did you send?”

“Um, I don’t remember.”

“Naila, you’ve gotto remember! What was in the package?”

After a pause, she says, “Vitamins?”

Vitamins? What the hell do you mean by vitamins?” My aunt must be eavesdropping. “Listen, Naila, my place was raided by the police this morning.”

“Oh, my God! I’m so sorry, Rémy!” Now my cousin is awake. “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m so . . .”

“Naila, what did you send?”

Adderall is the muted answer.

“Adderall . . .”

In a way, it is a relief to hear that a fairly common prescription drug might be what all the fuss is about. Things could be much, much worse and I admit so to my cousin.

“I want to say it’s all right, Naila, like, hey, no problem, but I can’t. I’m in a shitload of trouble . . . not nearly as much trouble as I could have been if the police had, say, raided my place last week . . . if you catch my drift.”

She does. After living with me for ten months last year, there isn’t much my cousin doesn’t know about me.

“The thing is, Naila,” I continue “and forgive my vulgarity, but I feel as if the cops are pointing their fingers at me and accusing me of farting when, in reality, I’ve shit my pants.”

Halfway around the world, my cousin laughs nervously.

“What are you going to do?” she asks.

“Not a fucking clue. I don’t know what my options are, for one. I don’t even know if I’m legally obliged to talk to the cops. And, I don’t know how contained this is.”

“What do you mean?”

The Party,” I answer.

“Oh, right.” 

The Party is the nickname Naila and I gave my friend dé Dale, who has a habit of replying, “I am the party,” whenever someone asks him if there are any parties going on.

My cousin begs me to leave Japan. “You told me you were thinking of leaving,” she says. “Now’s your chance.”

“I can’t, Naila. Bastards took my passport away.

“Oh, haraam, Rémy, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”

“I haven’t got much time left on this phone card. Listen. I’m not angry with you, Naila. So, let’s save the apologies for later . . . I have to go in Sunday morning for questioning. I’ll try to call again before then, okay?”


“Just in case, God forbid, I don’t get through to you again, if you are ever asked, tell them . . . well, tell them the truth: I did not ask for the Adderall to be sent. I did not want it. Did not need it. I did not even know it was coming. Okay? I didn’t ask, didn’t want, didn’t know. You got that?”


“Good. I’ll call again. Bye.”

“Be careful, Rémy. I’m so sorry.”

“Remember: I didn’t ask, didn’t want, didn’t know . . . Didn’t ask, didn’t . . .”

And then the line goes dead.

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.