Shortly after hanging up the phone with Azami, the sleek white bullet train pulls into the station and unloads its cargo of “salarymen” and “office ladies”, schoolgirls and boys. I get on board, and settle into a window seat. The train departs and in no time is rocketing through the city along elevated tracks at a speed exceeding one hundred fifty miles per hour. The forty-plus mile trip to Kokura will take about fifteen minutes.
“That’s some speed,” I murmur to myself, the city becoming a gray blur outside the window.
Having partied with dé Dale for nearly a year, I was used to my friend digging his hands into his pockets and producing Ziploc bags of coke, vials of honey oil, lumps of hashish, or the occasional tin of ecstasy pills. “Felix and his Magic Bag of Tricks” I got to calling him. So, I didn’t have to think twice before following him out onto the darkened stairwell of a building where he would offer me my first hit of “shabu”.
It had been a damn good twelve months. Despite being in one altered state or another, I managed to accomplish quite a lot. I finished most of the course work for my Masters degree, and even managed to pass the highest level of the Japanese Proficiency Test without breaking a sweat. Business was booming, too.
And if that weren’t enough to have me floating on cloud nine, I pulled off a major coup d’état persuading my wife to study abroad for a year. If she wouldn’t agree to a divorce, the next best thing I could hope for was a long vacation from the marriage.
On the stairwell, dé Dale pulled a pen out of his pocket, unscrewed the tip and removed the ink.
“Hold this,” he said, handing me the shell of the pen.
From his wallet, dé Dale removed a square piece of tinfoil, folded neatly in half. Carefully opening the foil, he showed me the contents, what looked like shards of clear glass.
“Put the pen in your mouth and wait for my signal,” dé Dale instructed.
I put one end of the hollow pen in my mouth, and hunched over such that the other end was poised above the foil.
With a lighter, dé Dale heated the foil. The shards melted instantly, forming a clear liquid, and a moment later a milky white vapor rose from the foil. When he nodded, I inhaled deeply. It was flavorless, odorless, but upon exhaling a long stream of white smoke billowed out of my mouth.
For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
And the eyes of them both were opened . . . Genesis, 3:5-7
Dé Dale took a small packet out of his pocket and asked if I wanted it.
Did I want it? After only a single hit I felt as if the curtains had been drawn and the windows flung open. Everything was so goddamn clear to me now. Yes, I did want it.
I handed my friend thirty thousand yen ($285) for two one-gram packs.
“That’s some powerful speed you’ve got there,” dé Dale warned. “Go easy on it.”
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.