I have always wanted to write a biographical novel based on random flashbacks of the life of a character. This format has almost never been attempted before, since chronological order is essential for readers to maintain a sense of rational order. However, I feel that a story based on random sequences of events will grant readers the satisfaction of piecing the pieces together like a jigsaw puzzle and in the process, interpret the story on their own using their own unique perspectives.
After all, we are all subjected to our own subjective realities.
In addition, the novel will also be interactive, in the sense that hyperlinks will be inserted to enrich readers with further information on certain areas of interest mentioned in the novel.
The blog posts for this “blog novel” will not be continuous as I will intermittently blog about other topics that I find of interest at times. However, I will always include the hyperlink of the first part of this “blog novel”at the top of every blog post for this “blog novel”, as well as a hyperlink at the end of these blog entries to enable readers to continue reading them. If you chance upon a blog entry of this novel with no hyperlink to the next chapter, that means that this novel has been written only up to that point.
Thank you for your patience. 🙂
If you love this novel, please subscribe to my subsequent blog posts via email on the right frame (or just click the “WordPress sign up” button if you are a WordPress user), thanks much for your support!
If you have missed the first chapter, here it is.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
The currents were fast and merciless, pushing rocks and fallen branches along the riverbank. A limp body could be seen hidden by the greyish waters, with its head bobbing up and down the surface, and its body being flung in whatever directions the furious river would like to take it . At times, it seemed that the body had collided head on with a few boulders littered haphazardly along the river bank.
Panic began to grab Hirotomi. Fear was also beginning to creep up on him. He was the one who had invited his childhood friend to the lakeside for an afternoon stroll. Who would have thought that the currents would be that strong in the middle of the afternoon? After all, it wasn’t like this the day before, when he has accompanied his sister Rumi to collect her clothes left to dry on the riverbank earlier in the morning.
Furthermore, their outing weren’t supposed to end like this. He has invited Saito to spend a leisure afternoon at the shallow end of the lake. They were dining there with what Saito has brought – a basket of apples and bananas prepared with care by Saito’s mother when he mentioned that he saw something in the lake and dived into the deep end of the water to retrieve it. Hirotomi did not figure out what it was that Saito saw. Should Saito drown in the water now, he knew he would never know. Nevertheless, at this moment, it was his friend’s life that Hirotomi was more concerned about. The mysterious item that must be lying at the bottom of the lake by now was the least of his concern.
Hirotomi looked around the vicinity for anyone to help. There wasn’t any. He looked desperately for any items to get his friend to shore – ropes, large branches, vines. But there were none in sight. This was not surprising, considering that the lake is neither a tourist attraction nor a popular spot among locals. Well, it was just a lake which only two school boys of eight would find it enchanting (which, ironically, would become the renowned Lake Saiko in the years to come).
Tears began to flow down his face. Hirotomi has almost never shed a tear in his life, not when his pet cat died several years ago, not when he was bullied in school in his earlier years, not when he had to work eleven hours a day selling takoyaki in Osaka during the weekends to support his aging parents and sister, and definitely not when he piggybacked Rumi to the nearby hospital when she came down with a high fever in the early hours of the night.
But this time was different.
Saito was one of his best friends who has been through thick and thin with him. They have been through several years of school together in the same class, often sharing a joke or two each day in the canteen, elbowing and teasing each other about their romantic love interests and more importantly, teaching each other to stay strong in the midst of life’s challenges – with Saito having to deal with the loss of his entire family to an Earthquake and Hirotomi aspiring to make a name for himself out in the world. It was Hirotomi’s ambition and perseverance that got him this far, but Saito’s subtle love for nature and his meekness have somewhat tempered his aggression and gave him a more balanced view of the world. Hirotomi was always grateful to Saito for this. He always thought Saito was gift that Life gave him, to counter his aggressiveness and unstable temperaments.
But now, he was about to lose him.
“You know, Hirotomi, ” Saito cast him a knowing grin. “You have always been too brash, too hard on yourself.”
“Oh yeah? How is that?” Hirotomi asked as he used a chopstick to flip several takoyaki octopus balls on the grill plate.
It was pouring outside and they were at a popular eatery outlet in Osaka, huddled together along a bench with other customers – some finding an excuse to shelter themselves from the weather by patronising the eatery, and others taking this opportunity to have a meal. After all, the sun is setting and the peak hour traffic would prevent them from boarding the packed trains anyway.
If not for the fact that the pelleting noise from the raindrops and Hirotomi’s hunger was drowning out his rage, Saito would never take the risk of directing such a brunt remark at him. Even for a best friend, it was risky. Hirotomi was notorious for his mood swings and crazy temperaments. Nevertheless, Hirotomi has toned down his temper over the years somehow, and Saito knew that much of their friendship has come into play to allow this interaction to take place now.
“Yeah, you know, we got to have more control over our emotions and our bodies. Meditation would do you good. “
Hirotomi pondered for a minute for his friend’s words to sink in. Then he sneered.
‘Saito, Saito,” he smiled as he continued to flip the octopus balls on the grill. “Do you always speak this way to people? “
Saito chuckled. He know what was coming.
Hirotomi gestured to a young lady agilely and happily dancing on the “Just Dance” arcade machine opposite the eatery while her friends watched on while awaiting her turn to take to the stage. A crowd was already forming.
“You go and tell her that, all right?”
Both of them burst out laughing.
Saito slowly opened his eyes and as his sights gradually cleared, he saw his friend staring down at him. He saw a figure standing behind his friend, a strange figure in a sleeveless fisherman tunic, and an unfamiliar face. He looked to be a man in his thirties, with a tattoo of a plunging dragon in streaks of red and green running down his right arm, beads of water droplets adding more realism to the oriental creature.
I thought dragons do not swim? Saito thought to himself.
But his focus soon shifted to the tattoo itself.
Even for a child his age, Saito recognised – almost instantaneously – the significance of the tattoo. People bearing this mark could be seen everywhere in his town or even the country through the years, varying only in the types of tattoo they chose to bear, and the degree that the tattoos covered their bodies.
Much have been said about them, but much about them also remains a mystery.
It is the mark of the Yakuza.