tagInterracial LoveWhitewash High: Rising Sun Ch. 08

Whitewash High: Rising Sun Ch. 08

byEnglishTeacher©

A month passed since the torture. As promised, Musashi had language books delivered for Nik to study. Revenge consumed each waking thought. If studying to be a natural at the Japanese language was a road to vengeance, he'd pour heart and soul into it.

Each day he'd practice words and phrases with the nurses that'd bring food and check on his condition. Others would think it a perfect opportunity to flirt and hit on the cute staff. A fantasy come to reality. Sex, and other women, were the furthest from his thoughts.

Nik couldn't walk. Moving body parts hurt. The doctors had him maxed out on painkillers. Studying with books and TV shows was all he could accomplish. Nik could only guess at the hospital bills. Private room, expensive meds, and multiple, extensive surgeries. Musashi told him he'd be good as new, like nothing happened. Once he could move around, Musashi had a laptop delivered with an assignment.

"Find the perfect tattoo. Your tattoo. One that has meaning only to you."

That was all the note said. Full internet access at his fingertips, Nik did as he was told, after dealing with the avalanche of emails to fix life in the real world. Family, friends, bills, everything to put the world in proper order again, so they'd not think he truly died.

While researched the tattoo, Nik thought back to stories he read as a kid. Tales of heroes and legends. People who overcame great, personal tragedy to survive and win. His family name prodded him into reading stories of knights and ladies, myths like King Arthur. Yet as much as Excalibur interested him as a child, the story sparkled too clean for his current reality. Still, reminiscing about it led him through a link game rabbit hole, clicking on similar link after link after looking up a King Arthur story. One Japanese legend caught his attention, fitting his mindset perfectly.

X

One Year Later

Legend speaks of the unholy sword Muramasa, a sword that must draw blood each time it is released from its sheath. A sword so sharp, it'd cut friend and foe alike, without remorse. Researching ideas and inspirations for the irezumi tattoo, Nik knew a weapon would be needed. The basic idea came to mind easy enough, a constant reminder of his shame. His last name symbolized the honorable defender of the realm in western literature. Strong, stout, and steadfast. Neither trait allowed him to save the love of his life.

But blood demands blood, and so the Muramasa beckoned his name. A dark knight, thirsting for the blood of all who oppose his fury. Damnation came at a price; one he would gladly pay.

"He doesn't do the artwork for the cash. You want him to do the piece, you'll have to convince him the art has meaning," Musashi said. "He doesn't speak a single word of English. This is the first test I told you about. If you can get inked, you're in. Can't, and I'm on the phone to the local Shinkansen office."

"You think he'll do it?" Nik asked.

"Don't know. He did mine, but no one else I know. He is also an eccentric man. That fine line between genius and madness. My advice, don't bullshit him."

Musashi opened the door for Nik, waiting outside the shop. He knew from experience the conversation required privacy. Nik took off his shoes and called out.

"Muramune-san? Are you home?"

From the outside, the shop looked like a normal Japanese-style home. Small, one floor building, with a small wall to protect an even smaller strip of grass around the building.

"Are you the foreigner?" he called out, walking to the door with a cane.

"Yeah, I mean, yes, sir, I am."

"Let me get a good look at you, boy," he said, immediately grabbing Nik by the chin. "Good jaw, strong. But your eyes, I see nothing but pain."

Bent over, the cane kept him from collapsing. Each step a turtle's crawl.

"Why do you want the irezumi, hmmm? Painful, much painful, and a long commitment. Yes, very long. Many years, many changes, hmmm?"

Nik remembered Musashi's words. Tell the truth.

"I want redemption, sir. I want to wear a reminder of my weakness until one day I can conquer it."

"Weakness, you say. You look strong, tough. Why are you weak?"

The old artist walked out of the entrance, waving Nik inside to a small living room. Packed to the ceiling in books and artwork. A small TV sat in a corner, showing afternoon sumo. Tea rested on a small table. Nik waited for permission before sitting down, Japanese style, to try and honor the renowned artist.

"I failed to protect the woman I love, and she died for my actions. Tortured and raped. The shame haunts me, and the hurt angers me."

"You seek vengeance then."

"Maybe I seek both, and redemption is at the end of vengeance."

"Do you know how many tattoos I've created, foreigner?" Muramune asked.

"I can only guess. A hundred? Two hundred?"

"Twenty-nine."

"How do you pay the bills?" Nik asked, surprised.

Muramune chuckled, loudly, as if the comment were from a great comedian.

"I design worlds, living, breathing monuments of ink and flesh. You can cut your skin off and hang it like a picture in a museum. I bore easily. I can draw dozens of sketches to pay my bills, young man, but they don't garner my spirit. Spirit gives life."

"May I ask how those twenty-nine were graced by your spirit?"

Muramune shrugged.

"I don't know. Their spirit spoke to me."

"I'm willing to endure the pain," Nik replied.

"Everyone says that, everyone. But pain twists and distorts. What you seek won't be the final result. Your soul will twist in the process."

"I don't care. If pain distorts, I'm already distorted. I'm not the same person that got tortured."

"Self-harm. You should seek a psychiatrist, not a yakuza ink man."

"Twenty-nine people were accepted, but how many bared their soul to you?" Nik asked.

"One or two."

"Don't be coy, sir, it is beneath you. If you're who you say you are, you remember everything said in these interviews. You remember the enunciation of every syllable and their intent."

"You're not cowardly, foreigner. You don't kowtow to anyone, do you?"

"Maybe I used to be overly diplomatic, and if need be I can do so again, but I have a singular goal in mind."

"Have you heard the story of Masamune and Muramasa?" Muramune asked.

"I've heard of them, did some research. Maybe I heard the story you speak of."

"To find out who was the greatest of all blacksmiths they put their heart and soul in creating the perfect blade, one to surpass all their previous accomplishments. Both finished, they went to a quiet stream to test their creations. Muramasa dipped his blade into the water. Reeds, frogs, even the water itself bled by its sharpness. Masamune dipped his blade into the water. Reeds, frogs and water sailed harmlessly over the blade.

A passing monk noticed the competition, sitting idly by to enjoy the performance. At first glance, the untrained eye would declare victory for Muramasa. His blade cut everything. It should be the natural winner. But to the trained eye, Masamune's blade didn't cut not because he created a faulty, dull sword. Nothing required cutting. The frogs, reeds and water brooked no ill-will.

Two blades for two purposes. Both testaments of genius and masterworks of swordsmithing. I chose the name Muramune to recognize the light and darkness within the human soul. You seek the Muramasa, to strike back against those who wronged you. With it, you hope it'll allow you to hold the Masamune, never needing to swing the blade again."

Muramune pondered in silence for a moment, staring at Nik. Despite old and feeble looking, fire lit up experienced eyes.

"If you seek a Muramune, there is only one rule for our contract to be bound by honor. I require blood."

"Blood?" Nik asked, shocked.

"The portrait will need a sacrifice, proof of conviction. Bring me a liter of your blood. It will allow me to make ink to invoke the spirit."

Nik didn't hesitate. His convictions only emboldened the fortitude to shrug off an extreme request as common.

"Okay. I'll do it. I'll go to the hospital and..."

Muramune rose a hand, smiling sadistically.

"No, not from a clean source. You seek the power of the Muramasa, therefore it requires the appropriate sacrifice."

Nik narrowed his eyes, staring back at the master irezumi artist. Only one thought came to mind. A small penance for his conviction.

"Do you have a knife and bowl?" he asked.

Muramune kept smiling, nodding. Musashi was right, Nik thought. A fine line between genius and madness. A few moments later, Muramune sat back down with the instruments. Nik took the knife with the left hand. Right hand clenched fiercely, blood vessels popped out in support. No thoughts, no hesitation, he cut open his forearm just above the elbow joint. Deep, but clean. He immediately hovered above the bowl to allow it to greedily drink up every droplet of life energy.

The knife and bowl didn't come from the kitchen. They looked old, ceremonial. The knife cut quickly, remorselessly. No jagged wound or hesitation mark, it couldn't have been a cleaner wound.

"Did your friend explain you're crazy?" Muramune asked.

"Something like that. Did you expect me to decline the offer and leave?" Nik asked back.

"Yes. Everyone has. Each tattoo requires a different test to stoke my spirit. Each payment is private. I won't break that oath. But each person with similar motivations required a blood sacrifice, and all left. Some before the first cut, and some couldn't dig deep enough. A tiny flesh wound at best. This tattoo will be hungry, like the Muramasa. It'll be your symbol. As long as I live, no other client will I adorn with the sacred blade."

"You honor me, even though I've not sat down for a single needle prick."

"I'm a good judge of character, foreigner. Yes, yes, I am. Twenty-nine of you, soon thirty. Thirty masterworks."

The sudden change of speech pattern threw Nik off guard. Again, it must be the madness Musashi spoke of. One moment, sane, another insane. The man gazed at the constant crimson flow dripping into the ornate cup. Around the outside of the cup, various swords of legend were engrained into the metal. Excalibur, Durandal, Balmung, Colada, Kusanagi, and others Nik never heard of.

Blood kept pouring out, enough to fill the cup. Not wanting to annoy Muramune, Nik kept his arm tilted to overfill the cup. Each indentation sucked in the blood greedily. The entire time, Nik thought of the story, reciting it in his head. Everything Muramune said rang true. He sought power, enough to smite those who wronged him. But he did not believe himself to be evil, as one might think at first glance in the story. One man's Muramasa is another's Masamune.

Swords of legend required sacrifice, a common theme to become a legend. Being a westerner, Nik knew more about the legend of King Arthur and the Excalibur than Japanese swords. But while he felt honored to be bestowed the honor of his own Muramasa, even if only a painting, it would be his Muramasa. His name, his story, his sacrifice.

"Let me name it," Nik asked.

Overflowing onto the table, Muramune paid no attention to the mess. He simply focused on the sacrifice.

"And what will you name it?"

"I don't know yet, but I'll think of a suitable name."

Muramune walked off again, coming back with gauze to wrap up the wound.

"Go and tell Yamato-san you'll be staying a while longer. We have much to discuss about the portrait, yes, we do. Much to discuss. I can smell this will be a magnificent masterpiece. Your blood smells of a fine vintage. It speaks to my muse. She accepts the sacrifice."

The way Muramune gazed at the cup disturbed Nik, like he wouldn't hesitate to drink it if given the chance. Not arguing, he got up and bowed. The gauze stopped blood from ruining the small, inexpensive carpet.

Outside, Musashi leaned against the outside of the wall, waiting patiently. Half an hour went by since Nik first entered the house.

"I take it you were successful?" he asked, hearing the door slide open.

"Yeah. I'll be staying a while longer."

"All night. When he gets his inspiration up, it stays up harder than a horny teenager on sex pills."

"Thank you," Nik said.

"For what? You should be cursing me. You're going to be a yakuza. You might go to jail, or die. And I'll be ordering you to do tasks you won't want to do. We're on familiar terms, life debt, blah, blah, blah, but I'm still the family patriarch. Don't forget that."

Musashi waved, not once looking at Nik. He knew Muramune's code. The price could not be shared, so he didn't look and risk knowing. Honor demanded it. Nik went back inside and never left until the morning. A design meeting mixed philosophy and life. Each stroke and contour sketched properly on the pad.

"A proper irezumi grows with experience, like life. We will begin simple, and once you begin smiting your demons, we will build upon it. Each stroke will breath with vitality and resolve," Muramune explained.

A European knight, dismounted. It could not get simpler. Clad in heavy armor signifying fortitude and perseverance in strength and duty. The helmet used the crusader bucket style, with the eye slit shaped like a cross. A cape flowed, like in a storm to weather and survive. The Muramasa held in his right hand, while the left remained empty.

No fiery background or additions. Pure simplicity, for Nik's journey only began. No victories and defeats to scar and temper the knight.

"Come back next weekend. I'll have prepared the ink and equipment for the procedure. Come alone. Make no other plans, no plans at all."

Nik bowed again, lower, before departing the eccentric genius' humble home. A fresh rain poured down on the city, and a full moon glistened the skies. It took him a couple hours to walk home. The subway would have been quicker but he wanted to enjoy the storm. It felt poetic, baptistic, in his rebirth.

Despite being a design meeting, the conversation forced Nik to reveal his demons and inner feelings. The good and bad. It focused his mind, steeling it to Musashi's words. He would not be joining a pleasure cruise, allowed to do as he pleased. He would be a grunt, whatever the boss deemed necessary.

Thoughts turned to the past, wondering what life would be like if he didn't meet Anri. Before their fateful romance, he couldn't believe he'd throw away a promising career to go on a novel-esque revenge. Mind and heart demanded killings, but without being tortured, would he have ever felt the same feelings?

A fork in the road of life. A road never traveled except in an alternate universe. Those thoughts fleeted quickly away. Damnation accepted, and prepared to do what Musashi asked.

X

"Follow you around?" Nik asked.

"Yeah. What, you thought I'd hand you a gun and say 'go pop that sucker'? Watch too many movies, man."

"Still, I thought you'd be making me do something more...yakuzy."

Musashi laughed, loudly, to the point of tears.

"You're a riot, gaijin, you really are. Wait until I tell Ryuji. Yakuzy. Hahaha. What do you think we do in the yakuza?"

"Kill people?" Nik replied.

Musashi kept laughing.

"Oh, fuck, that was funnier than it should have been. You've got a lot to learn. The yakuza is a business. Murder, while sometimes required, is bad for business. I'm not in the hitman business, sorry to disappoint."

"So, what do you do?"

"I'm a pimp."

"A pimp?"

"Yeah, skin trader, pornographer, sleaze merchant, and so on and so on. I make my money with sex. Don't feel too bad. You'll still get your revenge."

Musashi opened the door of his office to Nik, leading them deep into his production company.

"It has been months since, well, since then. You're going to have to get used to being around women again."

Nik followed but didn't reply.

"I know a couple girls who'd take you out on a date, if you're interested in Madonnas? Sex starved MILFs needing a good time," Musashi joked.

Nik still didn't reply, remaining moody.

"Tough crowd. Okay, seriously, need to lighten up. I'm going to make you Ryuji's assistant. Learn the ropes from him. Once you're on your feet, we'll discuss the next phase."

"Fine."

"Don't thank me all at once, gaijin. Eyes open, ears open, and zipper closed when on set. Unless you're the actor, don't touch the product. See the guy over there in the director chair?"

"Guessing that is Ryuji?"

"Go introduce yourself. Oh, and ignore his irritability. Bad mood lately."

Musashi gave Nik a hardy pat on the back and went back to his office. The studio wasn't the biggest, only a few rooms, but it had just enough space to be customizable. Good camerawork could hide the size and scope of the area.

A couple girls lazed about on a couch, dressed like nurses, with Ryuji reading from a booklet out of camera shot.

"Excuse me, Ryuji-san?" Nik asked.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, set the coffee over there," he replied, pointing to the small table next to the chair.

"I'm Nik. Musashi told me to introduce myself."

"The gaijin helper...No, no, no, feel the kiss. You two are sucking face like inexperienced virgins in a closet."

"Practice for a movie scene?"

"How very perceptive, gaijin."

"Do you have a problem with me?" Nik demanded.

"Calling a spade a spade. Don't like it, leave."

"No problem at all, Jap," Nik retorted.

"Heh, you got a mouth on you, kid. You don't give a shit, do you?"

"Not in the slightest."

"Good, I don't need a yes man around here. Here is the sit-rep. I've got to make seven films a week, that is one a day, and make them profitable. Top paying perverts don't wait for their porn. But these whores don't know how to be provocative, and it is ruining my mood."

"Maybe don't call them whores and they'll respond better," Nik commented.

"It is the porn world, gaijin. Anyone in it is a whore. A woman who spreads her legs for cash is nothing but a whore. The only question is the price. Don't forget that."

"Lesbian scene?"

"Perceptive."

Nik walked over to the bed, pointing at the older of the two women. He explained in painstaking detail the art of seduction, micromanaging them to do exactly as he told. No lewd detail left unsaid, and nothing held back. Both girls blushed, embarrassed by the level of detail, but did as they were told.

"Soft or hard, Ryuji?" Nik asked.

"Softcore."

Ryuji observed, interest peaked.

"Stroke the side of her hair, gently, like a comb. Use the back of your hand, and go with your flow. And look into her eyes the entire time," Nik instructed.

He knelt down in front of the pair.

"Now, lean in and kiss. Don't smoosh them together. Let them glance and glide as you hold the kiss."

Nik backed off, watching from a different angle.

"Boss never told me you were into the arts."

"I'm a school teacher. I teach. It is easy when the student follows orders."

"Heh, well then, be my guess, gaijin. Direct them. The script is yours. I'll go work on another film," Ryuji said, tossing Nik the script.

"Wait, I was told to work with you."

"And you are. Seven a week, gaijin. Or did you butt in, giving orders for the fun of it? Get someone to look after your boner later though, or wear baggier pants."

"I'm not hard."

Ryuji couldn't help perk an eyebrow up at the information, nor could the two girls, blushing brighter.

"Fuck directing. I'll get you on camera with that thing. Make us a million dollars."

"Not going to happen. I'm not a whore, as you kindly put it," Nik replied, folding both arms over his chest.

"We're all whores. Someone pays our bills," Ryuji chuckled. "Whatever. Just get the scene done, okay?"

Ryuji hopped out of the chair and presented it with an artsy flourish of his hands.

"Jackass," Nik said to himself once Ryuji left earshot.

Sitting down, he clapped at the two girls.

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