Roppongi, Tokyo, on New Year's Eve

Roppongi, Tokyo, on New Year's Eve
Among other things, I am writing a detective series that takes place in Tokyo. The first novel, "Be Careful What You Ask For," centers on a much-admired Tokyo police inspector being forced to confront his ties to a crime family while investigating a murder in Roppongi.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Detective novel continued 3

      Here are a few more scenes from the detective novel I'm writing:
       (previous posts can take you back to the beginning. It's worth it!)


        A clamor unusual for Roppongi after midnight began to swell outside the jazz club, and as Sato and Endo entered in the vestibule, ready to go, Endo wondered what the buzzing sound was. He got his answer when they opened the front door and found themselves in the midst of a throng of reporters and photographers. The uniformed officers had been able to corral the scrum off to one side, but were overmatched once Endo and Sato appeared.
        Endo saw the reporters make a rush to corner Sato, and he tried to put himself between the Sato and the crowd to forge ahead to the police cars. Sato pushed his way forward as he announced the department would be issuing a release soon, to check with the usual people there. One glance back at Sato and Endo could see the disappointment in his eyes.
        “Who died?” a young, well-dressed woman shouted as she thrust a microphone at Sato.
        Sato ignored her.
        “Who died, officer?” she repeated.
        “We are notifying the victim’s relatives so I have nothing to say,” Sato replied.
        “We heard it was a waitress,” she asked. “A university student.”
        Endo turned toward her voice and saw the face that went with it: a strikingly pretty face, framed by an expensive haircut, and as he glanced down at the rest of her, he could see she was dressed too well to be a newspaper stiff working in the middle of the night. He pegged her as young, ambitious and out for a big story. She must have scored a tip on what happened at the Down Low. She had an ANK TV sticker on her microphone. He looked for television cameras, and saw more than he cared for.
        The woman glanced at Endo but turned her attention back to Sato. She saw he was looking directly at her.
        "There will be a press release soon," Sato quietly replied as he struggled to get through the scrum; the officers were outnumbered, the sea of bodies quite unwilling to yield.
        "What about the girl?” the young woman shouted. “She was a student at Waseda?”
        Sato then realized the woman may have been one of the customers, or knew someone who had been inside.
        “How did she wind up in a back alley?” she shouted. “Do you have any suspects?"
        "There will be a press release in a little while," Sato repeated as he followed Endo, who finally managed to force an opening in the crowd.
        Encouraged by the eye contact, the woman elbowed her way past two reporters an quickly stepped in front of Sato.
“Were there any foreigners involved? Everyone knows the club attracts many foreigners. And GIs.”
        “The press release …” Sato began.
        The crowd then pushed in on him, spinning him around as the woman’s voice shouted: "Was it a gangster killing?" He saw Sato ever so briefly stop and stare at her.
        “Were any yakuza involved?” she shouted, pushing ahead, sure she had Sato’s attention. “The place is supposed to be owned by Jun Fujimori. Ses Fujimori’s son. Is he a suspect?”
        “No…” Sato began, but the reporter saw the flicker of recognition in Sato’s eyes. Ses Fujimori, boss of a crime syndicate entrenched in all levels of business, politics, government. A man with a world-class mind who started as a gifted safe cracker and bank robber before moving up to gambling rackets. Once Ses’ father, Key, cultivated his gifts of leadership, there was no stopping him. The millions he extorted during construction boom in Shinjuku made Fujimori wealthier than he could have imagined.
        And as a child, Ses was Sato’s closest friend. It was a friendship Sato spent years hiding from the department, especially the one time he went to Ses for help in arresting one of his men. Ses agreed, knowing Sato would be in his debt, a fact never far from Sato’s mind.
        The reporter heard the briefest of catches in Sato’s voice before he recovered and muttered something about the news release before turning away.
        The reporter knew she had something.
        So did Endo.

        Once Abe finished hustling Johnson and Ballard out of the club and into a police car that quietly pulled away with no lights, no siren, no crowd and no reporters or news cameras on that side of the building, he made his way around to the front of the club, and seeing the commotion, rushed over to wedge his body between the reporters and Sato and Endo, enabling them to reach the cars. Sato and Endo quickly got in one and Endo sped away as Abe wordlessly got behind the wheel of the other, leaving the reporters’ questions hanging in midair.
        Endo said nothing as he drove back to Azabu station, but his thoughts were a blur. He glanced at Sato, stoic and grim, and Endo had no idea no idea how to read it. But he knew then he had to find out why Sato reacted so strangely to the reporter’s questions. Was Tanaka right? Was there some nefarious tie between Sato and the underworld?
        As Endo pulled into the back parking lot at Azabu police station, he saw Sato quickly leave the car for the building. Sato seemed to have snapped out of his reverie. In his command voice he called back to Endo that he was going to call the American military authorities in Yokosuka about finding this Jones person, and that he’d be along as soon as he could.
        Abe had pulled into the lot by then and walking up to the detective’s room, Endo asked, “Did you see Sato’s expression when that reporter mentioned Jun Fujimori?”
        “Really? I did.”
        “You didn’t see anything.”
        Endo stopped and stared at Abe. Was he joking? Was he covering for Sato? Had he just insulted him? He didn’t want to get off on the wrong foot his first night on the team, but he could not believe Abe missed something so obvious. Abe glanced at Endo staring at him from the stairway, and with little patience said, “Endo, the inspector would have said something. He didn’t. So it can’t be important.”
        Endo followed Abe to his desk. “That woman said something about Fujimori. I saw something.”
        “You have to follow the leads,” Abe said, setting his ample rump in his squeaky ancient wooden office chair.
        “Don’t you think it’s important that a Fujimori owns the club?” Endo blurted. He couldn’t believe Abe wasn’t seeing the situation as clearly as he did.
        “That’s nothing,” Abe said slowly, patiently. “Everyone knows Jun Fujimori owns that club, and Jun Fujimori is a nobody. He’s a hothead and a daddy’s boy who couldn’t pick a pocket. Jun and that idiot cousin of his who always seems to be hanging around, those two are harmless. There’s nothing there.”
        “What do you mean, nothing’s there? What about the inspector’s reaction?”
        Abe’s long, hard stare right through Endo made the young detective cringe, but he fought through the contempt rising inside him.
        “Endo. Inspector Sato has solved a lot of cases. And it was the prime minister himself who insisted Sato be assigned to the Imperial Escort Division. And then he was sent to the diplomatic security section. He asked to come back here because he wants to do real police work one more time before he retires. Sato is the best there is. So when he says something is so, it is. When he says it isn’t, it isn’t.”
        Endo saw that Abe was not going to tell him what he needed to know. He went to his desk, his mind racing: “That reporter knew the place was owned by Jun Fujimori. And Sato didn’t like hearing that. Fujimori. I better tell Tanaka.”     
        Once Sato reached the American military authorities in Yokosuka and explained to them he needed to talk to Jones as soon as they could locate him, he phoned Chief Wada to let him know that foreign GIs may be involved in the case, and that he’d let him know as soon as he could if there was going to be any difficulties. Sato knew the sensitivities surrounding the issue of the American military’s presence and the firestorm that ensued every time a GI was involved in some crime. He dreaded dealing with that.
        He slowly made his way up to the detective’s room, airless despite worn fans spinning in vain, years of cigarette smoke staining dull walls under harsh fluorescent lights.
        Endo stopped writing his report and stood as Sato entered. “What are we going to do next?”
        “When the Americans find Jones, they’ll give us a call and we’ll go down to Yokosuka and interview him,” Sato replied as he took off his jacket and sat down at his tidy desk. “In the meantime forensics will give Kato a report of what happened to the girl. And we’ll match up our notes with the crime scene photos when they come over. The usual thing. We still have to review what the customers and staff said.”
        “The customers said little,” Abe said. “The GIs said even less.”
         “I think that bartender wanted to say something, but was afraid,” Sato said. “I know she was giving the manager angry looks. And I know that manager is hiding something.”
         “But what about the GI? What if he really did beat her?” Endo asked.
        “We have to check out what the GIs said. But Jones could be anywhere,” Sato said. “The Americans will find him. Then we’ll talk to him. Then we’ll see.”
        Endo was certain the GI was their man, but he also knew nothing about the Americans. “Have you had much experience with the Americans?” he asked.
        “Yes,” Sato replied.
        Endo waited for him to continue but Sato said nothing more.

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