Maybe Someday: Preview
This is a preview for the impending project for Winter Comiket (Dec 2014) which will be a composite of a novel and manga.
This novella is a Shinohara Kenji backstory and his first assignment. Translation is in progress for it to port into Japanese and Chinese are in progress.
We were going to post this for White Day suprise gift to celebrate Shinohara winning the Valentine’s Day Poll but due to our upp’ed schedule last week, Jo just completed this illustration this afternoon.
They said nothing, from the moment they met in the Administration office and exchanged a quick handshake. He was gestured to follow and he did, a few steps behind the middle-aged man with a neatly trimmed salt-and-pepper hair.
He followed, watching the sway of the long coat and the fabric buckle that dangled from its waist line loops. They walked in silence until they reached the near empty parking lot and paused at a dark blue sedan.
The older man didn’t speak until they were both in the car and the doors closed.
“From this point forward, you are not to introduce yourself by your real name. Do not acknowledge it, even if you ran into your friends. Understand?”
A wallet was pulled out from the glove box and shoved into his hands. He looked at it and instantly, an amused smile grew on his face.
The wallet was his police ID with his picture and his new name.
“A complete and a new profile was created for you under this name,” the old man continued and gestured to the opened glove box. “It’s all in that folder in there. Read it. Memorize it. It’s your new life.
“Shinohara Kenji,” he said his new name out loud. It was strange hearing it.
The old man started the car.
“I’ll brief you the rest later,” he said. “Study your profile. You don’t have a lot of time.”
“This is a sensitive assignment,” he was told as soon as the door shut behind him.
Shinohara pulled out the seat that was tucked into the table and sat down. The man had led him into a small office in a non-descript building in Shibuya, surrounded by the noisy bustling buildings that welcomed the hip and trendy. Although he was within the age range of the crowd that gathered in that part of the City, Shinohara didn’t like being there. It showed.
“I assure you this is really government-owned building,” the man said, catching Shinohara’s frown. He took off his jacket. The man wore a laminated badge on a lanyard with the man’s photo on it. Beneath the headshot, it said “A. Asakawa” and the Tokyo PD Crest under that.
“Sure,” Shinohara said. “Are we waiting on more people for the surprise party or is this it?”
Asakawa laughed. The wrinkles around his kind eyes gathered, making him appear older and more paternal. Shinohara knew Asakawa was a cop at the first look. The kind that spent years on the road and even more years in the office – yet he’d not forgotten his roots. Shinohara guessed Asakawa to be in his late 50s with all of the wisdom and calm of men twice his age. Shinohara liked him.
“Because this is a sensitive assignment,” Asakawa said, pulling up his briefcase that had been underneath the table and placed onto the polished tabletop. “Your contact with the official channels will be limited to just me. I will be your handler.”
“For? I’ve not even graduated from the academy yet.”
Asakawa snapped open the latches to the briefcase but he didn’t open it.
“We have to recruit someone who had not been introduced into the police department yet,” Asakawa said. His fingers tapped the leather surface of the briefcase for a few moments. “Let me start over.”
Asakawa pulled out the seat and sat down in it, angling his chair toward Shinohara.
“The assignment involves a rather big and deeply layered organized crime outfit. As much as it pained me to say it but even the Superintendent do not know how many cops in what offices are on…friendly terms, let’s just say, with them. So we have to use someone whom no one in the active department anywhere, have yet met.”
“It’s quite …” Shinohara said, gesturing to find the right word to finish his sentence. “…bizarre to use a newbie that’s a months short of graduation for something that requires you to brief me in a stuffy little room.”
“I thought so too,” he said. He opened the briefcase and pulled out a thick bundle of papers bound into a manila folder. “We don’t really have very much time to put another plan together or find the person with considerably more experience that fit our requirements. Your instructors assured us that you’re perfect for the job.”
A corner of Shinohara’s mouth pulled up and he laughed.
“I am not one of the best trainees and I annoy most of them. It’s kind of a daily routine that at least one of them reminds me I’d make a shitty patrolman.”
“They told us that too. But they’ve been in the business for as long as I have. They have an eye for people with particular talents,” Asakawa said. “And they are probably right. You don’t have the capacity to write tickets or listen to someone tell you about why they plowed their car into a pole. They see a lot more potential in you than doing those menial things.”
“If you are trying to flatter me, it’s working.”
Asakawa grin widened.
“People gravitate toward you and want to follow you. You have a very strong personality. You test poorly on paper but you are the best they’ve seen in practical situations. You think very fast and can act efficiently and naturally in difficult situations. I can’t send most 20-year veteran patrolman to do this job but I am quite certain I can count on you.”
Shinohara laced his fingers together, laying them on the tabletop.
“I would be blushing now, if I wasn’t too entirely aware of what this assignment might mean.”
“I’m not going to tell you it’s easy,” Asakawa said. He laid down the thick manila folder and opened it. There’s a glossy color photo of a young man posing in front of a water fountain was pinned to the inside cover.
“Cute,” Shinohara said.
“He’s the youngest son of one of the Upper House Parliament members. And reason why this assignment has to be very quiet.”
“The kid did something unbecoming of a son of an important man?”
“Very much so,” Asakawa said. He reached over and turned over a few more pages of the paper in the folder for Shinohara until another photo turned up. An older man this time, perhaps in his 30s – with groomed looks that made him look more like a Host at a ladies club than a salaryman, even in his prim suit and tie.
“The kid’s name is Rei. You don’t need to know the last name or about his father. He turned 19 a month ago. In fact, he met Mitsura,” Asakawa said and tapped at the photo with his finger tip. “…at his birthday party in a club in Shinjuku.”
“And they’ve run off together,” Shinohara surmised.
“If it were just that, this would have been easy,” Asakawa said. “Mitsura’s one of Teraoka Group’s doll collectors.”
“Slick men like him troll the Clubs primarily owned by the yakuza to pick up good looking young men and women. He’d befriend them, become their lovers. Separate them from the existing family or friends then encouraging them to go into a sex trade at the very Clubs they were picked up from. Or worse, they simply disappear. We assume they were tricked into leaving the country with promise of a casual vacation and they never return. Not very much follow-up we can do then, since we end up fighting over jurisdiction whenever we try to investigate the leads.”
Shinohara flipped back to the picture of the young man and studied it. Rei was smiling brilliantly in the picture. He was leaning against an elaborate water fountain with a stack of open clam shells with water sprouting from them. Good looking kid; the kind that a quick look will tell someone of his privileged life.
“He confided to a friend that Mitsura had gifted him a ticket to Hong Kong and had asked the friend to provide him with the alibi for the four days he would be gone.”
“That was a week ago. We believe Mitsura had taken him to one of the hotels Teraoka operated out of. A small place but very elite. We have no doubt most of the trafficking Teraoka did happen at that hotel and where Rei is likely to be at.”
Asakawa opened his briefcase again, this time he pulled out a white plastic binder. He dropped it atop of the papers in front of Shinohara.
“Learn this in one day. While you pack and we’ll get you a passport. We fly out to Hong Kong on the 8AM flight the day after.”
Shinohara opened the binder – his eyebrows furrowed inwards, mystified.
“You have a spot in as one of the bartenders in that hotel. All you have to do is find Rei, snatch him and get him to the nearest American or Japanese Embassy – as fast as you can, in any way.”
“That easy huh?”
“Could be,” Asakawa said. “Impress this old man and I..rather, the Powers that Be can guarantee you any job your heart desires that exist in Tokyo PD.”
“Ah,” Shinohara said. “Nice to know I might want to refrain from telling you what I really think of this half-assed plan.”
“Yes. Please do refrain.”