New Pulp Press

"Bullets, Booze and Bastards"

Sample story from Count Down To Osaka

Osaka, Japan

THE FIRST TIME she saw Johnny Kubo, Koi knew she would kill him.
He’d stumbled out of the Bar Onsen on the Sakaemachi and knocked her mother into a street sign. He blamed her for being in his way, called her a whore.
Koi knew in that moment, she just didn’t know how or when.
Last night she followed him for three hours while he shopped for electronics in Denden Town. She wanted to move on him in the noisy crowds but he had too many people around him, other clan members and flirty off-duty hostesses from his boss’s clubs, a flaunting entourage of reputed libertines who demanded discounts at every store in the district.
This morning she watched him from the Mister Donut across the street as he stood in front of Juso Station, his back against a lamppost. He wore a black suit with an open-collared white shirt and dark glasses, looking at a betting form for the Sumo – morning coffee in a paper cup. Koi thought about that night on the Sakaemachi, under the red lanterns. She had stopped on her way to school to bring her mother tea after her shift. Her mother looked tired in the early morning against the backdrop of concrete alleys and the neon clinging to the walls like an invasive species. The door swung open behind her mother and Johnny swung with it, stopping his fall with her mother’s back.
Ten years had passed since that night. Memories could wait. She had a job to do.
Koi wore a common sweater and a black beret pulled low to her sunglasses resting over a polka-dot surgical mask – Osaka normal. She could feel the weight of her tanto knife in the messenger bag, slit on the side for easy access. She would stick him between the fourth and fifth ribs, perforating his lung and heart. Kubo carried his cell on the left side; she’d come at him from the right.
Johnny Kubo was a member of a rival yakuza clan and a reckless boozer. His clan had a penchant for western handles. Johnny had soft eyes so his crew gave him as American a nickname as they could muster. She never knew his real first name. It didn’t matter. He’d become a problem for her bosses, and she had orders. If she didn’t kill him by sunset she’d have to apologize, meaning she’d lose a knuckle off her left pinky, not a pretty look.
Being so absorbed in his Sumo, he’d let his guard down. He paid little mind to the people around him, partly out of arrogance. He thought well of himself, thought he was untouchable. No one would dare cross him, let alone attack him. He drank his coffee and planned which matches would be fixed and where he would lay his biggest bets.
She crossed the intersection with a score of people looking at their phones.
The morning sun had the numbers in shadow so Kubo brought the paper closer to his face. He never saw her coming – in and out like a sewing needle. Koi wiped the blade across his back as she slipped into the crowded mall under the glass canopy of Juso Station toward the subway, head down and weaving among the shoppers and salarymen. She passed a young couple laughing and bouncing their toddler up the stairs, counting along for him as they rose, “Go, Roku, Shichi...”
She stopped to watch them, all three smiling.