Kindred of the East: the Song of Lanterns
He is thin and stylish. His hair color changes from week to week from one bizarre style to another and the only pattern to his sense of style is that he always wears clothes that display his chaotic sense of fassion
He is thin and unusually tall for a Japanese man. From looking at him you would think he was in his early 20’s but upon closer examination an onlooker gets the impression that he is much older. He seems to regard some things with a kind of boredom and dismissive attitude that reminds some of an elderly person. But when asked he never declines a new and/or "interesting” excuse to occupy his time.
His sense of fashion seems to change with each drifting cloud on the sky. At times he will dress as a prim a popper business man, and at others he would be indistinguishable from a raver kid on the streets of Tokyo on a Saturday night, although, he does prefer clothes that help showcase his body, and though he may be seen with piercings on his face from time to time he never hides it. Because no matter what he is wearing he can always be identified by his wicked smile and his old eyes.
He sat quietly drinking scotch on the rocks in the hotel lobby bar. He was sitting on a stool, his shoulders slumped forward, his elbows flat on the polished wooden surface of the bar, his head slumped forward and hanging on his shoulders as though his entire body was trying to protect the beverage from some outside force.
He had been there before, in another life. It was this other life where he had acquired a taste for this drink. One of the few pleasures he allowed himself to indulge, in that old life. And as he looked up to catch the gaze of his eyes in the reflection of the mirror behind the bar his mind wandered back to those times before. His demon snatched at his thoughts and dragged them back kicking and screaming to the beginning.
His father was not rich, but he also was not poor. His father was a well known member of the the community in a small fishing village in China. And he grew up relatively happy and without want or need for more. His mother was Japanese and though always considered something of an outsider by the village she was always near her husband, supporting obeying and quietly raising her son. His father worked very hard and one day came to his son with news that he would be sending his son away for a better education. That was the last time he ever saw his parents alive. The next summer a violent storm came in and destroyed most of the village, those who survived were relocated by the government and forgotten. Most died due to illness within a year after the storm.
The years seemed to slip away and the boy grew to be a man. A man with a keen mind and a sense for business that others couldn’t seem to grasp. He worked out of a small office in Hong Kong, and over the years he carved a place for himself. At every hurdle he encountered he forged forward, the ghosts of his parents memory urging him forward towards success, ever spurning him onward. In time he stopped and realized that his efforts had taken him to the top of a vast empire. The company he had forged was one of three of the most powerful import export companies in Asia. From his office his view oversaw large stretches of docks in the China harbor, and sometimes he would just sit and marvel at the massive ships moving into and out of view. The reality of his impact on this place and all the people working for him was intoxicating. But when he reflected on his journey to where he was now he felt something was missing.
In his rise to power he never married, never had children. Women, were nothing more then a sometimes necessary distraction of the flesh. He always thought of himself as being in control and rarely allowed himself the luxury of entertaining any notion that did not directly help him secure his base of power. But now he was old, well into his 60’s with no children to follow in his steps, no widow to mourn his impending death.
It didn’t take long for him to find a wife. News that one of the most powerful business men in China was looking for a wife spread quickly through the inner circles of the powerful and affluent of Asia.
Her name was Toshiko. She was beautiful young and full of fire. Within her he saw the world in a way he had overlooked for the last 40 years. Everything seemed special and new, like when his father took him fishing for the first time. There was a mix of fear and excitement with everything he did with her. And some whispered that it didn’t hurt that she was Japanese, and had many of the features of his mother.
They courted for only 6 months and married in the spring. But in the fall things changed. She became distant and difficult to talk to. She was always gone, off to some party, or event, traveling to Europe or America, always buying, always spending, always staining his reputation with her obscene behavior. Then when she was spending more time away on her “trips” then at home he decided to cut her off.
Toshiko was furious, she raged for days, disappearing into the night only to be returned by his employees, disheveled and more often the naught too stoned or drunk to even understand where she was. But, through all this he was firm. He would not have his wife behave like a child. For days he locked her in her lavish bed room. Not allowing her to leave until she behaved more respectably. And after 2 weeks she emerged a different person, quiet and respectful.
For a time his life was comfortable. Though she had lost much of the fire he was originally attracted to, he was still deeply in love with her. Soon they would try to have a child. The prospect brought him joy. Though he know he would probably not live to see any future son grow to be a man he was just relieved that his legacy would live on.
So, you can imagine his surprise when he felt a powerful poison curse through his veins, seizing up his body with spasms of pain as he sat across his wife at a private dinner. He clutched at his breast as the pain spread from his chest to his limbs like the warmth of heavy blanket on a cold Autumn night. As he tried to stand he looked to his wife Toshiko, his cry for help trapped in burning lungs, in a throat that didn’t want to expand to allow for him to scream out his dieing words. His eyes locked with hers and found no reprieve from his assault. But, the fire in her eyes had returned, and a smile spread across her lips. And though not a word escaped her mouth as she quietly pushed away from the table and left the room, in his mind he understood. In that moment he truly understood her for what she was. He could feel her repulsion for him like cold fingers tightening around his neck as his world darkened at the edges and death, dragged him down to hell.
The man at the bar tried to squeeze his eyes shut. The thought of the butchers hell a mix of pain an terror he still couldn’t overcome. Images of blood and depraved acts flooded his mind. And the memory of the the smell of that terrible place fought to the surface of his mind. His daemon cheered in glee at this newest torture of the man.
When he had returned, his body was not his own. Though this new body was young and strong compared to the one he left behind it was like wearing someone else’s shoes. Nothing responded like it was supposed to. His mind and soul were shattered, and he was nothing more then a beast thrashing around against bonds no one else could see. Some died. Though he did not know them they died nonetheless as he was birthed back into the world. If not for the intervention of his master he would have been lost forever. But his master had saved him and showed him the way of the Kuei-jin.
And the man had learned well from his teachers. His body relaxed and he recalled the months of training and study after returning to the living world. Mantras and lessons about the nature of what he was now, helped guide him in those early days. And as he applied those lessons now at the bar in the hotel lobby somewhere in Tokyo, the demon began to grudgingly fall back. Once again under the leash of his Hun.
He remembered his purpose again. This distraction only to help him more vividly focus on his goal for being here. This was the hotel Toshiko used to visit when she would come to Japan. Joy jumped from his chest to his throat. But it wasn’t the joy of a man being reunited with a lost love, it was something else. Something darker. What would he do if he saw her? He thought. In the past year he had indulged almost every desire, every whim. He meant to even the scales of his karma and feel everything, and show the world what it truly means to live! But to see Toshiko again. What fun would that be. Would he embrace her, forgive her for what she had done and thank her for giving him this opportunity to experience life in this new way? Would he take her to bed, and make love to her as only a young vibrant man could and fulfill her wildest desires as a woman? Or would he simply tear her limbs from her torso like a child would pluck the wings off a dragonfly? Would he sing when she cried out in pain? Would he bathe in her still warm blood, and defile her flesh while humming the quiet tune his mother used to use to send him to sleep as a child.
Why not do both? The daemon slid into his thoughts and swam with the images of carnage and lust that permeated the mans mind. Once again the man scolded the daemon and took control. He realized this wouldn’t get any easier if he did not feed soon. He picked up the glass and tipped the contents back into his mouth. A warm rush spread through his chest, but the liquor never reached his mind.
A plan was forming when a young woman sat next to him at the bar. He was sitting alone with plenty of seats to either side of him, the bar was practically empty when he arrived. The woman could have chosen to sit anywhere but decided to sit next to him. He glanced up to see her reflection in the mirror. She was young, barely in her twenties, American, that was obvious by her clothes and air of confidence and bravado. Her hair was long and dark with streaks of brown scattered throughout. Her skin was unnaturally tan, and she had large dark sunglasses in her hair above her forehead. She reminded him of one of those Jersey shore girls he had seen on television. She placed two shopping bags at the feet of the stool she now occupied and lazily rested her head in her open palm as she shot an expectant glance at the man sitting next to her. She smiled at him as he turned to meet her gaze, her eyes betraying her state of mind. She was either drunk or high, or a combination of the two, he didn’t care. She was new, interesting and pretty. She would be a lovely diversion.
“Watashi nonamae ha ashurī desu?” Her Japanese was broken and unrefined. He almost winced as she spoke. (My name is Ashley) He smiled at her and spoke with a hint of amusement. He knew that if she tried to muddle through his native tongue with the same level of competence as her Japanese he may have to rip her jaw off just to remain composed.
“Hello Ashley.” he said in perfect English. He waited for her look of feigned surprise to leave her face. Excitedly, she quickly turned to face the man.
“Omigosh! Thank god you speak English.” she was suddenly full of energy she leaned forward toward the man, her hands on her knees, her face not more then 2 inches from his shoulder, then she arched her head back pressing her obviously fake breasts against her somewhat revealing blouse and let out a shrill cry of laughter.
She then placed the temple of her head back into the palm of her hand and pressed the weight of her head into her elbow as she leaned on the bar top, this time sliding up in front of the man.
“You look like fun” she said with a giggle as she stared up at him.
“What makes you say that?” His gaze falling to her legs fallowing the lines of her body up to her waist and hips, tracing the curves of her breasts up her neck to fall upon her blue eyes.
She blushed slightly, and turned away from the man when she turned to meet his gaze again she was playfully chewing on a small cocktail straw, a smile stretching across her face. The man, shifted in his seat to turn ever so slightly to meet her gaze.
“”well I guess I figured a guy who dressed like that…” she gestures to the mans clothes.
He follows her gesture and grins as he nods in agreement. He is wearing his Tyler Durden outfit, A large white fur coat, some tight leather pants, and a yellow tank top underneath. Large clunky leather boots cover his feet. The only difference is that the man is Japanese and his hair is long, covering his forehead and partially obscuring his eyes.
She inches closer to the man, the heat of her body penetrating his flesh to his bones and stirring his hunger. “I love Japanese men, they just seem so, exotic” she reaches out to caress the mans forearm.
“What’s your name?” she says, as the man turns to meet her gaze.
“Kaji” he says with a wicked grin.
“Doesn’t that mean fire?” She says full of unrealized expectation. Lost in the depths of his eyes.
“Yes, it does”
The demon smiles…