Chapter twenty five: The misery
The moment we bust through the door, Elizabeth shrieks.
With horror thumping in my stomach I find Yobu laying on his side on the floor, grunting and moaning.
His hands are covered in blood as he tries to stuff cotton napkins down the wound.
I call out his name and then drop to my knees beside him. Trying fiercely to ignore the wetness seeping into my socks.
“I’ll go get help,” Elizabeth tells me and I hear the ring of the bell as the door closes behind us.
He says my name in a hoarse little whisper. A watery smile spreads over tear-stained cheeks. His bloodstained hands reach for mine, leading them to the deep, gushing wound on his chest “Push down on here, will you? It’s easier for you.”
His hands look grey against mine, his face ashen. I want to tear away from the blood. Run from the blood but I do as I’m asked. The wound is warm, sticky and it pulses in a slow menacing rhythm.
“What happened?” I ask as my heart is racing. I feel anger flare up inside me. I want someone to pay for this.
Tears well up in the old man’s eyes again, his lip trembling “They took Himowa, I tried to stop them but I failed her I-”
I notice his kitchen knife laying next to him on the floor, the puzzle pieces falling into place inside my head. I try and fail to keep my voice level “I’ll get her back again, I promise.”
“I’m sorry.” His voice is weak and laboured,
At those words, I feel my heart shatter like glass and tears flow freely from my eyes “Don’t apologize, please. I led them here, this is my fault, it’s all my fault but I’ll fix it I swear I-”
“Don’t do anything reckle-” the sentence ends with a soft hiss as he breathes out weakly.
“Yo-yaye? Yaye talk to me! Yaye!” I shake at his shoulder, trying to get him back but he doesn’t respond anymore and I don’t know what to do.
Am I alone?
There’s a loud thud as the door flings open behind me, Elizabeth comes rushing in, a police officer in tow.
“He’s right here but he’s hurt he needs-” Elizabeth points at the man, then stops talking.
The officer walks up to the old man and puts two fingers on his neck. “I’m sorry miss, but right now this man doesn’t need anything anymore besides a casket.”
“I see.” Elizabeth’s voice wavers “Thank you, officer.”
The man leaves again without another word.
The moment he’s gone I crumple over on the body, with a nauseous feeling in the pit of my stomach I notice the warmth slowly fading away. And the pain in my chest comes out of my mouth as incoherent screams and shouts mixed with sobs that feel like they’ll go on forever.
I’m so angry I could punch something but I’m so devastated I can’t bring myself to make a fist and so I crumple over the corpse and wail in the hopes to feel better but I doubt that I will because the old man is dead and he’ll never come back.
The man who gave me a chance to prove myself and become a better man. The man who taught me how to work. How to cook.
To be a man.
The man who raised me nurtured all that’s good inside me.
The closest thing I ever had to a father.
Butchered by the Kashuya.
Elizabeth lets me rave and rage, waiting patiently for me to calm down again.
The moment I stop screaming she takes a tentative step toward me and squats down to whisper my name.
I pull myself up and hug her, squeezing her tightly fearing she might disappear as well. We sit like that for half an eternity as I cry, and she cries as well and the shock has to wear off a bit at a time.
When I feel calm enough to speak I do so in low tones “I need to find Himowa.”
Elizabeth shakes her head “We need to sleep, gather our thoughts, make a plan. We’ll go back to the ship and-”
“No!” I push her off, adrenaline surging in my veins. “If she’s with them she’s in danger I have to go get her now!”
“Hui you’re not thinking clearly. Hui!” Her voice sounds desperate as she calls after me.
But I’m already out the door.
My tear-stained cheeks freeze in the night air, I wipe them down with dirty sleeves.
I have no idea where to start looking so I start to look everywhere. Racing crooked lines through the city without plan or direction. I run and run because I’m sure that if I stop to think I’ll fall apart.
I’d simply crumble and never get up again.
I’m no use to her then.
I’m no use to her now either.
My breath is ragged and my lungs are on fire.
They took her but they didn’t make their demands?
There was no message, no letter, nothing.
Who takes a hostage without demanding anything!?
“Well!? What do you want!? Just tell me!” I yell at the darkness.
There’s a sound, a tiny sound, anyone would have missed it.
Anyone but me.
I step towards it, drag my useless brother out of the shadows and fling him onto the streets.
Takeyo’s face is white as he looks me in the eyes. He tries to stumble backwards, get away from my wrath but.
I drop myself knees-first on his chest to pin him down spitting at him “You did this!”
“Look, I’m sorry about the old man but it wasn’t me, Liang and Houji-”
“You didn’t stop them! The blood is on your hands as well! You just watched them as he died.”
“He tried to stab first, it was self-defence!”
“I don’t have the time or the energy to fight with you tonight Takeyo, so how about you just tell me where you rats hid Himowa and then get out of my sight before I shoot you to a thousand pieces!?” I pull out the gun and point it neatly in between his eyes.
I feel oddly proud with myself as I watch the feigned calm melt away and show the terror underneath.
“I don’t know, they didn’t tell-” He starts but it’s all bullshit.
I flip the gun to the side and pull the trigger, creating a massive dent in the street beside him.
Once the ringing in my ears subsides I tell him “I’m not thinking clearly brother, who knows what I’ll do next?” I place the gun back on his forehead “Tell. Me. Where. She. Is.”
“Hashiro” He lets out in a panic “He brought her to his territory but you can’t go there! You have to go home and tell him you’re ready to join up.” He pleads and begs, holding up his hands in a last-ditch attempt to placate me. “Please, don’t go and play the hero. People die when they oppose the Kashuya.”
A sick smile spreads down my face “Yes, people will die. I will kill every Kashuya rat I can get my hands on, starting with you.” My heart is fire as I pull the lever that sends a fresh bullet into the chamber. I watch with satisfaction as his eyes fill with tears.
“Brother? Bother, please! I’m on your side remember? I offered my help for the restaurant, I got you that meeting with Failao, and I bandaged you up when you were hurt. Please, Hui, we’re family.”
I scoff “Yobu was my family, you’re just a nuisance”
“Please, I beg of you, I don’t want to die.”
My finger wavers over the trigger button. I try to push back the doubt, feed the hatred I’ve been nurturing for years.
Punish the man who kept dragging me back.
End the cat and mouse game once and for all.
But with a start, I find Takeyo doesn’t look like a cat at all.
His eyes look like mine, scared and hurt. It’s like looking into a mirror and this close up I can finally see the scars and cracks we have in common.
I shake my head in confusion. He did bad stuff! I tell myself. He’s kashuya for crying out loud! He joined up at fifteen, it’s his own damn fault he’s like this!
I pull the gun off his forehead, he sighs, relief washing over his face as he whispers “Thank you.”
“You should leave, just like me. Build a real-life elsewhere.”
He shakes his head miserably “You know I can’t.” He wipes his nose on his expensive silken sleeve “The kashuya is my home, my family. There’s no other place for me.”
“You can come with me, we’re gonna fly all the way around the world, they’ll never find us.”
A small smile plays around his lips but his eyes stay downcast “Thank you for the offer, it means a lot to me but-”
“How can you be stubborn about this!?” I growl filled to the brim with frustration. Why can’t he just see things the way I do!?
“I guess it’s a family trait.” he chuckles listlessly then coughs as the tears slink down his throat. Part of me wants to just shoot him and be done with it. He’ll continue to do harm as long as he’s with them.
But I know I can’t.
I pull myself upwards and drag him to his feet again.
I hug him briefly then push him off just as quickly before telling him sternly “Get out of my sight before I change my mind.”
He looks surprised for a moment, then nods in understanding and disappears into the shadows without another word.
I take a deep shuddering breath, put my hands in my pockets.
And head back to the ship.
“Hui!” Elizabeth opens the metal door and flings herself around my neck “I’m so relieved you’re okay.”
“My yaye died and my girlfriend is missing, I’m a lot of things but not okay.”
“Of course, I apologize, please come on in.” She holds the door open for me.
“So he’s the guy that put you up to this?” My shoulders jump as I spot a woman standing at the top of the stairwell.
Her hair is black, short and slicked back with grease. She wears the kind of western clothes I’ve never actually seen a real person wear and her arms are bared showing off muscular arms.
Elizabeth sighs “Oh right, I forgot to mention,
I’m in trouble.”