56. Ready or Not

Adachi’s office is a dishearteningly modest affair. Two dowdy middle-aged women stand behind a cheap reception counter, shuffling through documents in silence. A dirty window in the rear looks out onto a parking garage.

First off, I apologize for coming unannounced, then explain my situation in brief and ask if I might be allowed to meet Adachi.

One of the women tells me that “Sensei” [1] is out at the moment, but would return shortly. I take a seat on a squat vinyl sofa shoved into a corner between a sad little Benjamin tree with browning leaves and a clunky old copy machine that stinks of toner.

On the wall above the copier hangs a clock with a convex glass cover that hasn’t been cleaned in ages—a thick layer of dust cloaks the upper half of it like a fur collar. The time doesn’t look quite right either. A quick peek at my cell phone and I realize that I have even less time than I thought before I need to get back to work. I curse myself for not cancelling my evening lessons.

Twenty minutes pass and I’m starting to think it might be a better idea to consult another lawyer when a man hurries in. Gaunt and disheveled, he looks more like an absent-minded professor than a legal eagle. Noticing me, his eyes bulge. He gives me a nervous nod, then maneuvers around my legs to step into the office. After chatting a moment with the two spinsters, he makes a beeline for a room in the back and closes the door.

One of the secretaries serves me a cup of green tea and says that Senseiwill be with me in a moment. As I wait there sipping the tea, my feet are pointed towards the entrance. It is all I can do to keep from bolting out the door. 

If I’m not mistaken, another lawyer, a Kōga-sensei, has an office just around the corner. According to the List of Attorneys, he not only has experiences with narcotics cases but also speaks fluent English.

But what if Kōga isn’t in? I’ll lose another fifteen to thirty minutes. No, better stay put.

And stay put I do—precious minutes ticking away like diamonds being smashed into smithereens—until Adachi emerges from the back room. Running his fingers through pomaded hair, he gives a nod the secretaries. The resignation in his face couldn’t be clearer. 

Sensei is ready to see you.” 

Ready or not, here I come. 


[1]Sensei(先生), a word that literally translated means a “person born before another”, is used after a person’s name to mean “teacher”. It is used as a title to address teachers, professors, and professionals, such as lawyers, accountants, doctors, and politicians. The word can also be used to show respect to someone who has achieved mastery in an art form, such as an author.

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.