tagInterracial LoveWhitewash High: Rising Sun Ch. 10

Whitewash High: Rising Sun Ch. 10

byEnglishTeacher©

Sometime in the Past

Kaze sat on bedding, knees held against her chest. At the club, she kept her calm and cool. The moment she stepped into her bedroom, both hands shook uncontrollably. The reality of the situation struck her like a Mac truck spiking a car running a red light.

She wasn't naïve about life with a yakuza brother and a dead yakuza father. They lived well, needs and wants taken care of at the snap of a finger. Kids at school always gave a wide berth. But those were all passive realities, not directly affecting her well-being. When the thug grabbed ahold of her stomach, trying to push her into the car, the delusional bubble burst. The privileged station could also be the location of a giant, messy train wreck.

Hours passed by, huddled against the bedroom wall. The shakes kept coming. Calmness mined through the fervent fear, but her mind kept spinning the wheels of what might have been. What if the gaijin didn't risk his life to save her? What if?

"I need to get stronger...stronger, stronger, stronger," she whispered, rocking. "Stronger...I need to...stronger..."

Outside the door, guards stood to protect her. Others stayed in the house, and outside on patrol. Other people protected her. She could not protect herself. Staring at her hand and arm, eyes only saw atrophy and weakness. No muscle. No conditioning. No defence.

"I need to...need to...stronger..."

Crazed ramblings on constant repeat, snapped like a broken record. Every time her brain flashed back to the attempted kidnapping, the ramblings gained intensity.

Present Day

"Huff...Huff...Ughn..."

"Harder. Strike it harder. Is that what you call a jab!?"

SMACK!

The boxing pad smacked Kaze across the face. The eighteen-year-old sunk to a knee, dazed by the sudden riposte.

"You begged me to train you, and a simple tap is all it takes to knock you down? Pathetic."

A tall woman stood above, glaring downward. Pads covered both hands. Kaze stood up. Fierce determination etched each line on her pretty face.

"I'm not pathetic!" she screamed.

Fists flew again, striking the pads with solid contact.

SMACK! SMACK! SMACK!

"Ow!"

Three more solid hits struck the girl across the face.

"You're not paying attention. Don't focus entirely on the gloves. Keep your eyes open. Observe."

A bell rang, stopping the practice.

"You need a lot of practice, Kaze. No power, no speed, and no situational awareness."

"I know. I don't need it beaten into my skull," she spat back.

"You asked me to train you, not play nice."

"Isn't there like a rule about bodyguards being kind and nice?"

"You watch too many movies. I'm to guard you with my life. If me calling out your shortcomings is the price of it, get over it."

"You sound like Ryuji."

"I like to think Ryuji sounds like me."

The pair giggled at the retort. Located inside a private gym, no one could eavesdrop on their conversation.

"So my brother spent the cash to buy this for me?" Kaze asked, admiring the wide open space.

"Two floors to make your own dream come true. Unless you lied in your last letter?"

"No, I need to get stronger. I can't have others protecting me my whole life. I don't want to be a burden to my knight in shining armor."

Upon mentioning her shining knight, her eyes lit up in admiration, sailing away on a cloud of romance.

"You don't know him. Some random gaijin who stuck his nose in business he shouldn't have."

"I'd be dead, or worse, if he didn't stick his nose in that unwanted business, big sis."

"I'm not your brother. Not my place to say who you fall in love with but as your bodyguard I have to worry about every move you make."

"Thank you. Cheer up. You're as moody as Ryuji sometimes."

Kaze looked around the empty building. In her mind's eye, she envisioned how the place would look fully stocked and full of people. She spent weeks scouring magazines, websites and videos for the perfect gym setting.

"When do we begin?"

"I've got the number for the equipment salesmen. Just write me a list. I'll take care of it."

Keishu walked over to her backpack lying near a wall. All the equipment they had for the impromptu boxing lesson came in two backpacks.

"This came for you in the mail today while you were at school. I'm assuming it is yours."

Keishu threw it at Kaze like a ninja star. The teen easily snatched it out of the air.

"My early acceptance letter. Like the name?"

"It is unique. Think anyone will figure it out?"

"As long as I drop the Yamato part of my name, I don't think anyone is going to dig deep. All Chinese have English names. I'll just pretend I'm fully Chinese and not a half-breed. Problem solved."

"Rest time over. Enough chit-chat. Get back into position," Keishu commanded.

Kaze did as she was told. The sounds of fists smacking leather filled the hollow building.

"Harder. Punch the glove like it is an Ueno thug's face. Harder! Are you the heir to the Yamato clan or some street whore?"

Keishu spoke as a drill sergeant would to a raw recruit. Uncut and uncensored. Nothing held back. If a random passerby could hear the one-sided conversation, no doubt social media would blow up over cries of emotional abuse. Kaze endured, stoking the fire inside her heart.

Each punch flashed forward, striking hard. The berating pissed off the teen girl, not because it hurt her feelings but because Keishu spoke difficult truths. She was weak. She had no muscle. A thin, scrawny brain that needed others to protect her. A knight in shining armor came to the rescue once, but he would not be around a second time.

SMACK!

The gloved strike knocked Kaze to a knee. Keishu looked down in disappointment. A rewind of moments ago. Standing up, Kaze huffed and puffed. Her skinny frame felt shocked, tired from the intensity of a simple workout.

SMACK!

"Hands up. Always expect the enemy to strike when you're at your weakness. Expect them to be ruthless."

SMACK!

This time the sound reverberated off Kaze's arm, barely blocking the attack.

"Better. Strike back."

Blood caked the pads. No gloves or tape, only bare knuckles. Blood trickled out of the seeping wound only to splatter everywhere. Every punch stung, more intense with each impact. A buzzer alerted the pair to stop.

SMACK!

"Ow, what the fuck was that for?" Kaze asked, annoyed.

"I told you, your enemies are not going to play fair, and neither will I."

"I'm a beginner, at least cut me a little slack."

"Never."

Keishu stood with an imposing stature. Back straight, chin up, hair held back in a ponytail, people would mistake her for an army vet. In a training bra and shorts, a full-back, dragon irezumi tattoo flourished on porcelain skin. Wild colors, fresh and magnificent, gave an allure of power.

"Has your brother been in touch with you?" Kaze asked.

"No, he is following Musashi's plan, and so will I."

"I'm sorry."

"For what?"

"I know leaving Japan must be hard for you, leaving your brother and all. Taking care of a petulant teenager probably wasn't what you signed up for in the yakuza."

"Did your brother ever tell you what I do for him?"

"No, he kept all clan matters to himself. I only know what I heard in whispers. He never hid anything, more like made sure I wasn't around when he talked about it."

"For now, let us say I took care of a lot of petulant girls, some needing disciplined in different ways than you. When you graduate high school this year, I'll tell you more if you wish. Until then, use that brain of yours to put two and two together."

"Were you in the army?"

The question caused Keishu to laugh, breaking up the stoic veneer.

"Yes. I had a drunk of a boyfriend who used to beat the shit out of me. One day he lost it all at a gambling den and sold me off to cover his debts. I skipped out before they could find me. Months later, the boyfriend showed up. He saw me working at a convenience store and followed me home. He played the 'I'll change card', the 'debt is settled card', but too little too late. We struggled, I stabbed him, and then I ran to the nearest recruiting post.

Cops questioned me later but I just said I didn't know what happened. I played dumb and they didn't care about solving a deadbeat's murder."

"But if you joined the army, why leave to be a gangster?"

"There is more to people than meets the eye. You can take the girl out of the army but can't take the army out of the girl."

Kaze scrunched her face, confused at the cryptic message.

"I don't get it but maybe I don't need to."

"We're done for the night. Time to get you back to the house," Keishu commanded, patting Kaze on the shoulder.

X

Nik's body slammed hard against the mat, grunting in pain.

"Just for show like I thought," Barbaydas commented, easily lifting Nik back up. "Ever been in a real fight, boy?"

"Yeah, once."

"And what happened?"

"I got my ass kicked."

Barbaydas laughed out loud, slapping Nik on the shoulder.

"Honest son of a bitch, I like that."

Nik flew through the air again, landing with a thump.

"Don't let your guard down just because I give you a complement. We're not going to be sharing showers."

"Yes, sensei," Nik groaned, rubbing his ribs from the hard landing.

He stood back up, hustling to the empty spot in line. All the students stood at attention, silent and attentive, waiting for Barbaydas' commands.

"Expect the unexpected. Expect the enemy to fight dirty. Expect them to take it to the extreme. If you do, you'll never be shocked. If you don't, you give them an opening to expose you."

"Yes, sensei!" the group shouted in unison.

"Gaijin, Muta, face off," he ordered.

Both walked out of line, facing off against each other, no bowing, no touching of gloves. The first time Nik bowed at Barbaydas, he promptly took a swift kick to the face and got a lecture. Muta didn't wait for an order to begin, throwing a punch immediately when they got into position. Nik barely dodged it and tried to grab the arm for a throw. No form and bad positioning only lifted the opponent up off the ground. Muta did not get flipped, easily putting Nik in a simple choke hold. He tapped immediately, gasping for air.

"Bottom of the ladder for you, gaijin," Barbaydas commented. "Enough for today, men, go get drunk or get syphilis, whatever floats your boat."

Musashi walked over, patting Nik on the back.

"Don't worry about it. We both knew you sucked at fighting. You dodged a punch at least, better than before," Musashi laughed.

Nik took a hand, standing up and dusted himself off.

"Who needs pride? So this a daily thing, or am I hitchhiking out here on my own dime?" Nik asked.

"I'm sure I can swing a raise to make sure you get here when I'm busy. Come on, I'll buy you dinner to sooth your ego. I can call a couple of those Madonnas?"

"I'll just take the dinner. Thanks though."

"A little beating improved your demeanor. Should I be worried you're a masochist?" Musashi joked, lightening the atmosphere.

"Yamato-sama, I know a delicious restaurant you'd enjoy," a thug said, sucking up to the boss.

"Yeah? And which relative runs the shop?"

"Uh, well, you see..." the thug stammered.

Musashi smiled and laughed.

"Relax, relax, what is the address?"

The thug told the address and scampered off.

"Aren't I a jovial individual?" Musashi asked.

"Always. Hard to believe you put a bullet in someone's skull."

"Yeah, I had a wild youth. Pimping and murder ain't easy. I like to think I mellowed in my old age."

"We're the same age."

"Don't correct your elders, gaijin. I'm two months older than you."

"That makes you ancient. I'll get you a cane."

"Now if only I can get you and Ryuji not to beef, maybe things will mellow out around here. Everyone walks on egg shells like I'm going to snap their neck."

Nik's stomach began to growl. They had been at the dojo for five hours training.

"Go on ahead and shower. I need to discuss something with Barbaydas."

Nik nodded and headed to the locker room. Inside, a few of the Yamato thugs were standing around, shooting the breeze, and fresh out of the shower.

"Looks like the gaijin showed up. We heard rumors about you, gaijin. You're shit," thug A laughed, dismissing Nik's appearance.

Nik ignored the guy, stripping at his locker.

"I don't get why the boss is infatuated with him," thug B commented. "A dozen locals look like him. He isn't special."

"He speaks Japanese, dumbass. He knows we're talking about him," thug C said.

"What the fuck do I care if he hears me call him a faggot? Hey, faggot, what is your angle? Hey, I'm talking to you, dummy," thug B yelled.

Nik kept ignoring the group, stripped naked, and holding a towel in his hand.

"You deaf and dumb? I'm talking to you."

Thug B walked up to Nik, pushing his shoulder to get the man's attention. Nik simply stared the man down without speaking a word.

"That pathetic stare supposed to scare me? I saw your skills. You're shit. I bet if I beat the shit out of you, boss will thank me for getting rid of dead weight. Then I'll drop by your place and give your girl a real, hardcore fucking."

The trio of thugs laughed but Nik exploded. He grabbed the thug by the face and slammed the man's skull against the metal locker door. He kicked out wildly, all rage, no technique, beating the absolute shit out of the heckler. His buddies stood by in shock and awe at the gaijin's swift change in temperament.

The one-sided brawl only stopped when Musashi grabbed Nik from behind, pulling him away.

"What the fuck just happened?" he snapped.

"We were giving the new guy a hard time. Sansuke talked about fucking his girlfriend and the gaijin freaked out and brained Sansuke."

"Dumbasses, you're not Ueno monkeys. Use your head. Barbaydas, this is your dojo, I'll leave you to discipline these three however you see fit."

The conscious pair gulped loudly, noticing Barbaydas' sadistic grin. Sansuke laid on the floor unconscious in a pool of his own blood, but still breathing.

"Grab your clothes and we're out of here," Musashi told Nik.

Nik picked up his clothing in a huff, walking out pissed. He slammed the door behind him, not caring he strolled through the dojo naked without any shame.

"Don't worry, I'll teach them the importance of teamwork."

Musashi didn't reply, leaving without further words. Barbaydas crossed his arms, his smile never dipping a centimeter.

"So what are we going to learn today, boys?" he asked.

"Tuh...Teamwork, sensei!" they replied in unison.

"Get that sorry excuse of a yakuza to the doctor and then come back here for special training. I already caught syphilis twice this week. I can spare one evening for the personal touch."

X

Nik stood outside the dojo, getting dressed in the cool, evening breeze. He huffed and puffed, controlling his emotions while trying not to break down in tears.

"Well, that could have gone better," Musashi commented, stepping outside. "Feel good braining a low-level punk?"

"I'm sorry, okay? I don't know what came over me."

"Do I look angry? What are you apologizing for? You know exactly what came over you. All that internal, emotional turmoil oozing out and BAM! I've got more medical bills to pay."

"I'll take a lot of shit and live with it, from you, Ryuji, even one of those snot nosed pissants, but I won't let them talk ill of Anri. I don't care if they know the situation or not."

"Good. Take that anger and use it. I'm far from angry. I'm bloody ecstatic. Sansuke is a punk. He thinks by being a gangster he'll get pussy. The kid thinks with his cock. If this doesn't wake him the fuck up, one of Ueno's men will brain him permanently."

"Is it wrong that it felt good?"

"Talking to the wrong man, Nikki. I'm a murderer. Come on, I'm hungry. Want to talk philosophy, go to college and date a flower chaser."

X

The next day Nik took the subway to Muramune's house as instructed. The entire day he booked solely for the tattooing. Inside, he heard the TV play sumo wrestling.

"Muramune-sama, are you home?" Nik called out.

"Come in, come in, yes, home I am. You're on time, good, good. I'm nearly done the ink," he replied from a different room. "Go to the living room, strip, and lay on the mat."

Nik followed orders. No turning back now. Once the first needle pierced his skin, the deal would be struck. Lying down, face on his forearms, he waited patiently.

"Hold still. The first few pricks are going to hurt the most."

Nik heard him put something on the table. No doubt whatever created mixture from his blood. Cold fingers massaged his lower back, feeling around like a surveyor. Muramune examined for any bumps or indents that would mutilate his design. Happy with the inspection, he stuck the needle into the perfect, ivory skin. Nik couldn't prevent a hard gasp leaking out then sucked in air from the pain.

"Tell me about your week," Muramune asked.

"My week?"

"Yes, tell me what you've been accomplishing."

"Nothing. Ruined a woman's life by fucking her on camera, and turned her into a whore. I got my butt handed to me at a dojo and then half-killed a goon when he talked shit about my dead lover."

"You've accomplished a lot this week."

"If you say so. I don't call that...ow...much of an accomplishment. I'm lashing out wildly without direction."

"You're adjusting your sails to your new destination. Much pain and suffering on this journey, yes, much pain."

"Mine or theirs?"

"Everyone will suffer when they embrace someone who has nothing to lose. Your eyes are soulless. I see the void when I look at you. You'll become a vortex."

"Thanks for the advice, Dr. Phil."

"I know not this Dr. Phil. Each design tells its own story."

"Will this design be your greatest regret?" Nik asked.

"I don't regret, I simply do. You seek revenge. You will do it or you won't. It matters not to me if you accomplish the task. I will continue the design until the journey is complete."

"It could take years. It might never happen. Ueno could get shot tomorrow, or hit by a car randomly."

"And would you regret not killing him?"

Nik paused for a moment to think about the answer.

"Yes."

"A dark path to journey. There is a saying, poison kills poison. To combat darkness, one must embrace darkness."

"I know."

"No, you don't know. You think you know, but you don't know. You wallow in self-pity, a broken record, lusting to avenge a wrong, and you perceive it as darkness. Self-pity is simply pity. Murder is murder. Darkness is darkness."

"I don't understand."

"Because you are lost."

Nik felt confused, not knowing how to react to the eccentric Irezumi artist. He spoke like a wise sage but nothing made sense to him. The only benefit his confusion granted was ignoring the pain from the needle.

"Today I'll outline the body before we fill it in. I'll wait a month before we fill in the character."

"Why a month?" Nik asked.

"You'll understand eventually," Muramune answered.

It took hours to complete the outline. As discussed previously, a European knight holding his sword valiantly in battle. No coloring or background additions, simply the lone knight. Nik thanked Muramune, accepting medicinal supplies to treat the tattoo, before departing from the small home. His back felt sore all over, and he leaned forward the entire subway ride home, not allowing his back to rub against the seats.

Back in his tiny apartment, he went straight for the washroom, doing exactly as Muramune ordered to treat the skin. Opening up the mirror cabinet, the bottle of pills stared at him, an easy way out of the situation, something physical instead of metaphorical to swallow and wallow in.

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