Staring at the sky
Life a fleeting memory
Rain now fills my eyes
The black skies wept angry tears through the glowing city dome, hammering on the roof like the heavy thrashing beat of Tek-metal. It was all the rage with the kids.
A couple dashed across the street, dancing between the puddles of vibrant neon. The girl’s pink spray-on latex and thigh length boots reflected from the glass storefronts, almost as garish as the signs above her. She was a working-girl, hooker – I’m not sure what the correct term is anymore. I didn’t judge.
Twenty-odd years on the force did that to you. My youthful need to leap into any potential felony had waned with experience. The girl wasn’t the problem; it was her pimp and the gangs that paid him who needed taking down. Anyhow, I was on a break.
Another growl from my stomach. When did I last eat? Six, maybe eight hours ago? My skinwatch read 03:17—where the hell had Shin got to?
The passenger door flew open, Shin pushed two cartons along the central console and slammed the door behind him. Water beaded on the scarlet plastifoam packaging from the Red Tiger Noodle House. Tiny streams formed and dripped onto the leather seating as steam escaped the neatly folded packages. The aroma reminded me of long stakeouts and hours of boredom.
“Chopsticks or fork?” he asked.
“You’re joking, right?”
Shin laughed, and water bounced from his hair, which somehow maintained the gravity-defying style he preferred. It held its perfect shape against all the laws of physics I knew—then again, it had a similar consistency to plastifoam.
Three months since he was patrolling the streets. Now he was a junior detective, and by a cruel joke, my newest partner.
“Yeah, yeah. Everyone knows gaijin can’t use chopsticks.”
“Fuck you,” I said, grabbing a set of wrapped sticks. “I’ve lived in New Tokyo longer than you’ve been out of short pants.” It was a running joke in the department. As the only Westerner, they called me gaijin—foreigner.
Shin was an okay kid, but whoever decided I was the right mentor for him was crazy. I’d made more than my fair share of enemies—disgruntled city officials, gangs and even high-profile members of the Yakuza. The legendary crime gang now had seats on the Council, but they still had their fingers in lots of unsavoury shit. I didn’t accept their new respectable front as many others did. That had led to serious trouble with my Inspector.
Screw him, I thought. Screw them all. I joined the force back in New York twenty-four years ago, or was it twenty-five now? Either way, I’d done well and prided myself on keeping clean all these years. It was an ethical stance. A personal code of Bushido if you like.
“So Drake, is it true what they say back at the office?”
“What do they say?” I asked, between a slurp of noodles.
“That you shot another officer?”
“Yeah, but it’s not as exciting as they make out in the locker room.”
“And you got busted for it? Demoted to sergeant?”
“Look, kid,” I said, the chopsticks paused halfway towards my mouth. Thick red globs of spicy sauce slid down, threatening to stain my shirt. “Don’t believe everything you hear. Plenty of assholes work in this department, and grudges grow over the years. It’s best to keep out of office politics and get on with the job. Do your shift, go home and enjoy your downtime.”
The radio burst into life. “All units, we have an 11-97: Officer in need of assistance. Anyone in the vicinity, proceed to the Hokuban apartment building on the corner of Hokuban drive. Patrol unit twenty-three was responding to a report of gunshots fired. His emergency transponder has activated.”
“That’s less than five minutes from here,” I said gunning the engine.
As Shin replied to the dispatch centre, we skidded into the main street with lights and sirens blazing through the early morning stillness.
“Shit,” Shin said. “His bio-monitor flatlined.”
“Ok, I get the idea.” I punched the emergency override and took manual control. Radio signals raced through the ether clearing a path through the traffic system for us.
By Gareth Clegg