International Mystery, Part III: Japan--Land of the Rising...SKULL of DEATH?
(IMPORTANT: If you've missed any of the previous installments of Bill Prendergast in: "International Mystery: Tokyo Takedown", you can still read them below on this blog, in the original sequence. Start with Part One, continue on to Part Two, etc.)
(THE STORY SO FAR: American journalist-for-hire Bill Prendergast finishes a piece exposing Congressional candidate Michele Bachmann's Republican campaign staff as a bunch of "chickenhawks" (supposed supporters of the war in Iraq who are eligible for combat duty but won't volunteer for military service to take the place of soldiers who've already done two or three tours of duty over there.) Prendergast mysteriously lapses into unconsciousness and awakes in a strange foreign land where very few people speak English, and those who do, speak it with an atrocious accent.
He quickly deduces that he has somehow been transported to Japan--more specifically, to Tokyo, the vast metropolis that is the capital of that Far Eastern archipelago. Attempting to "orient" himself, Prendergast turns to go into a nearby Starbucks--and spots his arch-enemy: international terrorist Osama bin Laden. (Though the Bush Administration has just closed the government bureau charged with finding bin Laden, Prendergast continues his own four year search for the murderous mastermind, with just as much success and far less cost to the taxpayer.)
Before Prendergast can strike out and snap the bastard's neck, he is struck from behind and regains consciousness in some forgotten back alley. We now rejoin the story...)
They'd made one mistake...They hadn't killed me. But the question now was: what was my next move? I improvised a native disguise, hopped into a cab, and began to think things over.
The answer was obvious: I had to find bin Laden again. This was the closest I'd gotten to him in years, and I wasn't about to give up the scent now. I hopped in the next rickshaw and told the driver to take me to the nearest hotel favored by terrorists. But I'd picked the wrong rickshaw--this guy was clearly more interested in mugging for the camera than in following a few simple instructions.
Instead of taking me to bin Laden, he steered me into his brother's noodle shop with a long story about how all the terrorists ate there. There was nothing to do but sit down and order--and when my soba noodles arrived (FINALLY) I was confronted with this:
A pickled herring, laid neatly across the top of the bowl. An old Yakuza message: "Keep messing here around in the Orient, white man, and you'll sleep with the herring." Needless to say, I sent it back.
Now the trail was getting colder than that kipper. So I took a room at the nearest reasonably priced ryokan, slipped into my after-dinner kimono, and headed for the hot baths, hoping to pick up a few clues from some naked Japanese businessmen--when suddenly:
Ninja! Japanese assassins, masters of stealth. If I hadn't been on my guard, I would have ended up as part of that night's sukiyaki special. But a squeaky floorboard tipped me off--I spun around on my heels and taught him a lesson, adding a new word to this thug's English vocabulary: "Ass-kicking!" Sayonara, punk.
Not that it did me much good. Three hours later I woke up in that same back alley again, can you believe it? Jet lag, this time. I would just have to lay there until my biological clock caught up with Tokyo time. Then--watch out, Osama.