The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd rather not.
The Tokyo skyline rose high above the wet streets. The lights of passing cars flickered well below the elaborate apartment building on the expensive side of town. The streets were clogged with the usual slit-your-wrists traffic and thousands of pedestrians on one cross walk. But that was Tokyo: lights and millions of people swarming all around each other. There was the Underground of course, but I had never seen the street races that were supposed to be untoppable.
I was forbidden from being there.
I walked the streets like one of Tokyo's millions of citizens, but I might as well have been in a cage. My flight risk label gained from my crazy risks and past history of disappearing when things got hard for me had Kamata scrambling to keep me contained.
I hated it. I hated every bit of it. I couldn't get away from it, either. The only good thing about Tokyo was the part of my job involving cars. And the money was nice too.
I was as close to happy as I could get in Tokyo when my phone would ring. The night always ended with me getting a wad of cash that was the equivalent of months of hard work at a normal job and the adrenaline rush I needed to survive as I out ran cops and other Yakuza drivers.
The crash from the adrenaline rush always hurt, though. After a job, I was usually stuck in gangster bars talking with Kamata about the next job I would do, sitting in my empty apartment wishing I was back in the States, or stuck in an old storage room with Kamata's nephew.
I had been thrown in with his little group so I wouldn't go completely crazy from loneliness and he could still keep and eye on me. They were not my favorite people. I missed my friends and family in the States, but I wasn't exactly keeping in contact with them. I had been told from the start there were extreme consequences for me if I attempted to contact someone to help me. That exactly didn't stop me from sending a few emails from my ipod when no one was looking.
I wasn't met with the response I was hoping for. My family had a massive job go wrong that hurt a lot of people involved last time they were involved with the mafia; after that, something like this would get you disowned. The replies I got told me that I was nothing but a reckless coward for disappearing when things got tough and I needed get own self out of this mess. They hit the nail on the head about the reckless coward thing, but a little bit of help would have been nice.
It sounds like I complain a lot, and I guess I do, but I have good reason to. When my dad died I took his place running drugs to pay off my uncle's substantial gambling debt with a Yakuza loan shark. I was literally dragged to Tokyo. Well, more like drugged and thrown into some guy's carry on.
Working for them did have its perks. I had a garage by the docks and an apartment waiting for me when I got to Tokyo. The garage was my favorite. I had found an Mazda Rx-8 in DK's garage that he hated and immediately took it back to my place and started rebuilding. I chose times when I knew I wasn't going to be bumping into DK or his idiot friends who were always stopping by to work on it.
That's why I was a little shocked when someone changed the song on my ipod. After a long mental debate on whether I needed to stay under my car or go see who it was, I slid out and pulled myself up on my feet. A very attractive Asian man with very broad shoulders and longer hair was watching me with an amused look on his face and a bag of chips in his hand. I gave him a sidelong look as I leaned on the fender that was supposed to look arrogant and nonchalant, but it wound up looking like I was cornered and looking for a reason to run.
"You know you could put that on the lift, and then you wouldn't have to get completely under it." He drawled out with a smirk. My eyes traveled over his face trying to figure him out. I could tell he was a lot older than DK, and he had the same confidence a lot of the Yakuza had, but he didn't seem like one of them. He had on a sweat shirt and baggy khakis instead of colorful sweat pants or suits like the rest of the Yakuza wore.
"I like it this way." I replied slowly. I had managed to tone down the caged animal expression and get something a little more bored.
"I'm looking for L. Gonzalez. You seen him, kid?"
"I think you mean Ellie Gonzalez. If you do, you found her." I had to smirk. It was a very common mistake.
For some reason everyone assumed my nick names Elle or Ellie were first initials. I'm sure they were all picturing some massive, stocky, gang-tattoo covered cholo fresh out of prison. No one expected Kamata's driver to be a 5'1" Puerto Rican girl.
He gave me a quick once over with one of those piercing gazes that doesn't miss anything. It made me self consciously squirm in my grease stained wife beater I had borrowed from DK and my worn jeans from Neela that were falling off my skinny hips.
"I'm Han. DK asked me to take you to the races." He told me slowly. He paused to pop a few chips into his mouth. "Before I do that, we have got to find you some new clothes.