They had figured him out. Saburo had been screwing the local pachinko parlour out of money for three and a half years and now the local yakuza knew. It had been an accident at first, but once he had become aware of how to win, he had refused to stop winning for one thousand and ninety-two days. Now that they knew, he was banned from playing pachinko throughout the country for the rest of his life. This was a bullshit punishment and Saburo would have gone to the police with these false accusations had what he done not actually been illegal. He had a plan. There was no way those yakuza bastards, who he suspected of being North Korean, were going to stop him from winning.
He’d kept his wife’s clothes for such an occasion. Others had been mistaken when they had thought that his refusal to throw out Satomi’s clothes came from the desire to keep something of hers in the house. She had been dead for ten years and no one had yet asked Saburo what he was going to do with them. For all they knew he was still grieving. He never spoke to many people and spent most of his time gambling. The truth was he had kept the clothes in case he had needed to disguise himself as a woman. Today was that day. He picked out a floral dress but ripped it across the back when he flexed in front of the mirror in an attempt to confirm his masculinity. He then chose a stylish navy coloured skirt with a white blouse. He looked at himself again but did not flex this time. His dick and balls felt unprotected in the skirt and he wondered what kind of idiot invented it. Overall he looked pretty good. He wasn’t a beautiful woman, but if thrown into a group of ninety year olds, he’d be the most fuckable. He was certain of this. He needed some hair though. There was none about, so he wrapped his head in a handkerchief.
He got back into the pachinko parlour. People stared at him but no one seemed to recognise him. The winning had started again and Saburo decided there and then that he was going to bankrupt those motherfuckers. Someone tapped him on the shoulder. “We know it’s you, you old bastard,” said a security guard.
“No you don’t,” said Saburo.
“There are no women in the town as ugly as you.”
“That’s hurtful and untrue.”
“Get out. You’re not welcome here,” said the security guard.
“HOW ABOUT YOU FUCK YOURSELF?!” said Saburo and the security guard grabbed him by the arm. They struggled and fought all the way to the door. Saburo landed half a punch on the guard’s shoulder, but in return was pummelled with twenty-eight jabs to the face, a right hook to the side of the head and a kick in the guts. He landed on his arse outside the pachinko parlour. The skirt was up over his stomach and everyone could see his genitals. “Don’t come back here. In fact, leave town. You’re not welcome here,” said the guard. Saburo pulled the middle finger, stood up and started walking home.
He watched the blood that came off his face wash down the drain. The water had thinned it out and it left small pink splash marks on the white basin. He looked at himself in the mirror. The white blouse was ruined and it was the second item of women’s clothing he had wrecked that day. The blood had dried on the blouse and it now resembled the failed makeup application of a retarded or drunk clown. He had lost the handkerchief and had had to walk home in the sun, bald and exposed. A voice came from the drain. “TURN THE FUCKING WATER OFF!,” it said. Saburo frozen in fright. He had never heard the drain talk before. He turned the water off. “Do you have AIDS? Your blood tastes off,” said the drain.
“Um, no. I do not have AIDS,” said Saburo leaning over the drain like he was talking into a microphone.
“Well, there’s something wrong with you,” said the voice.
“Who are you?”
“You can’t tell?”
“No. I’ve never spoken to a drain before.”
“Think of it like a telephone.”
“Yeah, to other dimensions,” said the drain.
“WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU?!” said Saburo.
“OH MY GOD DON’T YELL I AM RIGHT HERE!!” said the drain and bits of water spat up into Saburo’s face.
“Tell me who you are or I will clog you with this Yanagiya pomade shit that I’ve had since the 60s.”
“It’s your grandfather.”
“Look, I did some bad shit. After I died I came back as a drain.”
“Just this drain?”
“How long have you been this drain?”
“About thirty years. There was talk of moving me. I haven’t heard much more about that. Typical beauracratic bullshit.”
“This is unbelievable.”
“I know, right? All this for a couple of dead hookers.”
“Just leave it. It hurts me to remember,” said Saburo’s grandfather who was now a drain in his house. Surprisingly the old man knew all about Saburo’s pachinko problem. They both agreed that no man had the right to stop another man from winning. It was Saburo’s right to win for as long as he wanted. Not included in the discussion was the fact that he had cheated in order to win. Neither of them thought that that mattered.
The drains advice was to call for backup and backup was always a phone call away. He rang his cousin in Niigata. A young woman answered the phone. “Hello, I’d like to speak to Motojiro,” he said.
“Oh, I’m sorry. He’s no longer with us,” said the young woman.
“FUCK! When did this happen,” said Saburo.
“1976,” said the young woman and Saburo hung up in disgust. His cousins selfishness was only adding to an already fucked up day. Like all heroes before him though, he realised that if he wanted something done right, he would have to do it himself.
He kept a machete in his room. Out of the box, he could see his reflection in the blade. It had never been used so there was no need to sharpen it. He swung it around in such a fashion that he resembled a windmill chopping through the air. This warmed up his arm for the coming battle. A picture of Satomi sat on the dressing table. At a distance he looked at the portrait. It had not been a good marriage. Arranged by a distant relative, it had been a bag of dicks from the start. The fact that they had had no children was not due to any known medical reason. They had simply been incompatible. They had stayed together though. It didn’t make sense to him then and it didn’t make sense to him now. He hacked the photo in half with a backhanded slice. The bottom half of the picture lay on the table. Everything from the nose up was now on the floor. The frame had offered no resistance. A bird flew in through the open window and he instinctively sliced at it with the machete and severed its wing. It crashed to the ground like a damaged plane. It flapped about on the floor as if it were having a seizure. Blood was being smeared all over the tatami. “YOU PRICK!” said the bird.
“What?” said Saburo holding the severed wing.
“YOU CUT ME!”
“You scared me!”
“I’m one tenth your size!”
“Well, shit. Don’t sneak up on people.”
“I was here to help but now I’m fucking dying thanks to you.”
“Have we met?”
“I’m Motojiro,” said the bird and then he died. Outraged, Saburo threw the severed wing at Motojiro’s avian carcass as hard as he could. He picked out another outfit from Satomi’s wardrobe and with machete in hand he headed out to the car.
He drove like a raving lunatic all the way to the pachinko parlour. Enka music boomed from the speakers and he drove with one hand. The machete hand dangled out of the car window like a large penis between the legs of a giant. He parked the car out the front where there was no parking because he was there to win. Inside, the cool air of the airconditioners hit him in the face like the icy kiss of of a woman that really isn’t into you that much. It didn’t take long for the security guards to see him. “You old bastard. Get out!” said the security guard.
“NO! YOU GET OUT!!” said Saburo and with a single swipe decapitated the guard. The head rolled down the aisle between the rows of the pachinko machines. Saburo chased after it and kicked it with all his might. The head flew through the air and hit an attendant who was working behind the back counter. “I AM HERE TO WIN!!” said Saburo.
“Is all this shit necessary?” said an old lady playing on a machine.
“Yes.” said Saburo.
“Bitch, you got the boot because you cheated. We know who you are.”
“Shut up you old slut.”
“I can deal with random decapitations, but no one, NO ONE calls me a slut!” said the old woman. She jumped down from her stool and approached Saburo. They squared off against each other like two old dogs fighting over a bone. She reached into her suit pants pocket and pulled out a pocket knife. Saburo moved in with a downward hacking motion but the old lady stepped to the side and stabbed him in the ribs. “YOU BITCH!” said Saburo and in a rage he charged the old lady again while spinning his machete arm like a windmill. In the confusion, he was able to cut off her left arm at the shoulder but the force of the impact spun her to the right and she took the opportunity to stab Saburo in the ribs again. The whole contest resembled the heavy hitter against the precision puncher until the old woman lost too much blood and collapsed. Saburo stood over her and told her he was there to win.
Intent on winning, Saburo sat down at a machine and started playing. He was bleeding quite badly from the wounds the old lady had inflicted on him and in between the push of the buttons he repeatedly muttered, “Ninja bitch”, and then grunted. Five minutes into winning and he felt a presence behind him. He turned on the stool and before him stood five yakuza goons. They were all suited up and armed with hand guns. “We can’t let you leave now, old man,” said the leader.
“I’m here to win,” said Saburo.
“Well, I can’t let that happen,” said the leader.
“Look, it’s been a rough day. I found out my grandfather is a drain and I killed my cousin because I accidentally cut off his wing,” said Saburo.
“Put the machete down,” said the leader.
“Are you even listening to me?”
“PUT THE FUCKING MACHETE DOWN!”
“OH OK TOUGH GUY. HOW ABOUT I PUT IT UP YOUR ARSE?!?” said Saburo and threw the machete at the leader. He ducked and the machete hit the goon standing behind him, lodging in his chest. The goon pulled it out and a jet of blood shot out with any life that was still in him. The leader looked at the dead goon and back to Saburo and then shot him between the eyes. Saburo’s body fell to the floor. The pachinko machine coughed up ¥1000 worth of balls.
Months later, the leader watched some of his goons wheel in a new machine. Guaranteed to restrict winnings, it was placed in the main aisle of the parlour. The leader looked at the machine once it had been plugged in. He grabbed a handful of steel balls from nearby and put them into the machine and pushed a button. Every time he pushed the button, he won more balls. He got up and called out to one of his goons behind the back counter. “This new one is fucked. Turn it off. It’ll bankrupt us,” he said. He looked at the machine again and shook his head and walked away. When he was out of earshot, the machine said, “I’m here to win,” and then exploded.