June Chapter 2 : Red Light
June Chapter Two:
The beer was as cold as my demeanour.
Seeing him after all these years left me with a chill.
This was too much.
‘June, I’ve come a goddamn long way, so I’m going to be straight with you.’
I wanted to quip ‘yeah, like that’ll ever happen’ but I stayed silent.
He looked haggard, I hadn’t seen him like this since the night I got those scars.
Staring at me across the top of his pint, eyes blood shot ‘I think I know where Manya went.’
Emotion, raw, hard, jagged. ‘Where!, tell me’ I barked without thinking.
The buzzing background hum of the bar stopped for a minute, and then continued.
Malcolm brought his eyes up to meet mine, with a sigh he responded ‘it’s not that easy June’.
‘with you it never is.’ I grumbled.
‘well that may be true, but like I said I only think I know where she went.’
He suddenly turned serious, the lines at the corner of his eyes instantly visible.
‘June, I need you for a job. I know you can get things, that ‘software’ that you sell.’
‘fuck you, I knew there was a catch. This is just like last time, you show up out of the blue promise me the world in exchange for services rendered. well not this time, Last time I did something for you as a friend I got spiked and my jack sent 2000 volts into my shoulder.’
All of sudden my face slammed into the table and I felt his arm press into my neck.
That boyish cambridge accent was now that of a man with lost hope ‘Listen to me June. you will do this for me.’
‘fuck you, fine okay jesus just get the hell off me fuck!’
I felt the pressure release, I pressed at my cheek. yep thats gonna bruise.
Lifting my head off the table, I looked at Malcolm.
Serene as ever, like he was about to go grab a cup of tea.
‘what is it you want?’
‘well okay it’s more than drugs, you know I can’t jack anymore since the change, plus you’ve always been one of the best.’
‘malcolm, I deal in illegal software and pseudodrugs. I’m not a console jockey.’
‘yeah well you’re the closest thing I’ve got to one, and at the end of the day despite the way I treat you, I trust you.’
‘okay fine, so where does Manya come into all this.’ my voice was rough, but Malcolm was right.
He did trust me, and I suppose I trusted him.
He may be a bastard, but at one time he was the closest thing I had to a friend and a mentor.
I owed him. And I hate owing anyone.
‘She’s defected to Mitsubishi-Sendai.’ He said with a note of finality.
And theres the drop. It had to come sooner or later.
‘okay Malcolm, fine I’m in.’
‘Good, but I’m not comfortable talking about it here anymore. Plus I think some of the patrons are beginning to question your allegiances.’
‘what?’ I spun my head around, and there was Julz glaring at me, her ocular implants flaring blue.
‘oho yeah okay umm, fine. Let’s blow this place. But if we’re going to do this, We’ll need to come back later. We’re gonna need help.’
Malcolm smiled and for the first time since he arrived I saw him relax, a weight had obviously been lifted.
We stepped out of the bar, the first thing I felt was my exhilaration at finally having a change to prove myself.
The second thing I felt was the humidity, mumbling under my breath I swore.
I look over at malcolm, ‘mind if we grab a bite, i’m hungry as hell. plus there is a great sushi place down the street.’
‘hey I haven’t been here in 5 years, everything changed in this part of town. well cept Julie’s.’
‘Oh man I found it hilarious that you and Julez were fighting!’
‘yeah I know, I just didn’t have the heart to tell her about the whole change business.’
as we walked through the crowds and sweating heat, we chatted back and forth.
Friendly insults , barbs the whole deal. Was like old times.
Cept..she was a he now, not that it mattered I suppose.
At the end of the day Malcolm was Malcolm, and he’s always gonna be the guy who was there for me when nobody else was.
Who raised me up and taught me how to be a jockey.
Like I said earlier, I owed him.
As we left the bar the crowds were increasing the neon coming out to play.
Together we wandered further through Ninsei keeping clear of the people.
‘Come On, I know this place up ahead where we can get a bite to eat after all that booze’
Malcolm smiled and said nothing.
Bastard is always thinking. Lost in his head.
I lead malcolm up to the sushi stand a few blocks from red light.
I try to stay clear of the district, but hey and knowing the way things were going I knew I wasn’t gonna see Chiba in awhile.
At least this part of it anyway.
Just before I sat down Malcolm touched my shoulder.
I span around and stepped back, ‘get the fu.. sorry, just you know the way I am, after what happened.’
He breathed deep, ‘sorry..I totally forgot, I apologise.’
‘yeah, It’s okay’. I sighed. That feeling that I can never quite shake.
Men don’t touch me they just don’t, and thats the way I like it.
‘Listen, I’ve decided I’m not going to accompany you tonight.
I need to head back to my hotel to plan a few things, plus I’m just not the age for this crap anymore.
‘Fine, whatever you stuffy old bastard.’
Malcolm disappeared into the darkness to find a cab and once more it was me against the lights.
The fluorescent blue of the the sushi stand called to me in the darkness.
I don’t know how long I sat there watching the old sushi man ply his trade with a skill befitting a tailor.
His hands were ancient. Had this guy been around since before the domes…
Pushing the last of my nigri into my mouth I stood.
Missing her felt like another dinner alone.
I gotta find her.
I gotta follow Malcolm.
While later I found myself in red light, which seems like it goes up forever.
Red is backed with tourist dollars, the thrill seekers all wanting their piece of the action.
Girls, boys and everything in between line the balconies above advertising pretty much pleasure you could desire.
And even a few nobody would. If you had the cash, you could find some fun here.
Red light and I go way back.
When I first came to Chiba, It’s where I started hustling whatever I could get my hands on.
Sold cheap getter-uppers to tourists boys, claimed they could go all night on that shit.
Made enough new yen to get out of the coffin hotel and into a real joint.
But I wasn’t here to hustle, not tonight anyway.
The stress of seeing Malcolm, of being told that he knew where Manya was.
It had crept up on me, then promptly punched me in the face.
Tonights forecast calls for happiness and excitement with a sense of overhanging dread.
Time to go to ‘Burn Ward’
Time to see Aleph.
Walking under the balconies through the haze of smoke and the bright lights.
I pushed my way through the crowds and made my way up the street.
I keep to myself around here, you don’t want to be noticed.
Biz was everywhere.
Voices out of door ways, ‘hey lady, anything you want 1500!’
After putting up with a few blocks of constant buzz and the sound of laughing, I turned into the alley.
Time to go up. Walking past decaying trash my feet crackling on the gravel, I ventured into the dark silence of the back alley.
There at the end of the alley a single light, the old bulb kind.
It hung there in the dark projecting pale light across a steel double door.
On the door a single button. Lit up red.
Just begging you to press it.
Oh man I forgot how much this place loves the drama of it all.
I pressed the button, the pushed sideways into their recessions.
Most people who come here for the first time are freaked up by the lift.
It’s old. Like that sushi man. I pushed the metal screen door sideways and stepped in.
The lift rose, creaking and shuddering. ‘fuck guys, again with the drama…’
Eventually the lift got to its destination after about 15 minutes of slow creaking dramatics.
It’s all a show, most people if they weren’t freaked out enough to have bailed and taken the lift back down should know what they are in for.
‘Burn Ward’ wasn’t your ordinary club.
Pushing the screen door aside again, another pair of steel doors slammed open in front of me.
Slick black tiles,empty steel reception desk,
Waiting chairs in shining stainless steel.
Everything immaculate, like dirt was something that didn’t exist.
A couple of fat business men sat around waiting for appointments.
They were sweating hard, and desperately avoiding eye contact.
First timers by the looks of them.
I slinked on over to the empty desk.
‘yo denise’, I cried. Then pinged on the old school bell buzzer they had and leant back on the desk and waited.
Took about two minutes for the woman to slide round the corner the giant black partition behind the desk.
And fitting the place, she was in full bondage gear.
Tight black corset, shoes, metal buckles, the whole works.
Polished to, classy.
‘how may I help you?’
‘well for a start you could spank the hell out of me I really have been very naughty.’ I replied sarcastically as I
Turned on rough heels of my combat boots.
‘oh, its you.’ came the dour reply. ‘suppose you want Aleph, she’s with a client in the back.’
‘Denise, why are you NEVER happy to see me. no wait don’t answer.’ I said as I pushed past her and into the back.
The corridor behind reception is a long row of steel doored cells.
Everything in that same black and silver thing they have going on.
Striding up the corridor I could hear the muffled screams and moans coming from the doors.
Chiba really does have it all.
I went to the last door at the end and pressed another tiny inset red button.
The door slid open.
I closed my eyes and braced for the slap in the face.
‘stop being a baby June, i’m not going to slap you’
Opening my eyes I saw Aleph dressed as a milk maid.
‘so, thats what hookers are wearing this season huh?’ I smirked.
‘im not a hooker june I’m a mistress. There is a big difference.’
‘whatever, anyway can I come in for a second, we need to talk. It’s big.’
Stealing a glance past her I saw a comatose woman starkers, attached to what looked like some sort of milking machine.
‘…actually you know what why don’t you come out here. I don’t think I even WANT to know’
Aleph laughed and rolled her eyes. Bright green, with freckles.
You’d think she was so innocent. I knew better.
‘Wot you want June, you’re in my club, on my time. It better be good.’
‘..since when did you have an english accent.’
‘..oh shit sorry, yeah for the client.’ she continued in her boston-sprawl native.
‘I’ve got news Aleph, Kristen’s back. Oh but his name is Malcolm now.’
‘…that rat bastard.’