The sound reverberates throughout the room as the door is opened. Burning sandalwood barely covers the stench of cigar smoke, combining together in a musty haze that wafts throughout the dojo.
“Ah! Randall-San!” greets Sensei Abe Lincoln from a table at the back of the room where he sits with a small group. Randall Schwartz steps towards the woven tatami mats that cover the dojo floor, before Lincoln interrupts in his coarse Engrish. “Come! Take off shoes!”
Schwartz looks around uncomfortably, but after an urging gesture from Lincoln, he slips his shoes off and leaves them neatly at the entrance.
Something rumbles, causing Schwartz to jump. At Lincoln’s beckon, he shakes it off and makes his way across the dojo floor in his socks. Sensei Lincoln leans back from the table and he places his arms around a ravishing woman on either side; one blonde and one red-headed.
“Can I interest Randall-San in… mmhmm… traditional Japanese delicacy?” With his arms around the shoulders of the buxom maids, his hands gesture to the table in front. Upon it are plates full of rice and fried vegetables, bowls of miso soup, platters of sashimi and nigiri, and more! A banquet fit for an emperor.
“Uh… no thanks,” Schwartz says.
“Pity,” Lincoln replies. “The Italian was… inferior.”
He nods towards the corner of the room where a pizza box can be seen sticking out of a trash can. In red font on the side of the box, Schwartz can see ‘Valentino’s Pizza’ written on the side.
“Where it belongs, mmhmm…” Lincoln chuckles.
Schwartz jumps and Lincoln eyes him seedily.
“Perhaps American… food… will help?” With a pat on the shoulder, the red-head gets up and glides around the table. As she approaches Schwartz, she runs her finger seductively across his chest.
“GULP!” Schwartz audibly vocalises. Lincoln still studies him through perfectly rounded spectacles.
“Or maybe Mexican, mmhmm…?” Lincoln clicks his fingers and the red-headed woman struts across the mats towards a paper door. On the top of the wooden frame, the words ‘Carlos Ruiz Suite’ are scrawled in black. The woman raps on the edge of the door with her knuckles
A donkey brays back.
“No… I uh… I just… ate,” he says, coming up with an excuse.
“Ah, yes, yes… mmhmm. If not hungry…” Lincoln winks at the blonde he is still draped over, “Let me then take you to… Him.”
The sensei rises, dusting off his suit and adjusting his bowler hat in the process.
Again, Schwartz jumps. Lincoln ignores him and Schwartz is forced to power walk to catch up as they head down a small passageway. He follows Lincoln around several corners and then up a flight of steps to another shinjo door.
“He is here,” Lincoln says in a hushed tone. “He has been in… foul mood… mmhmm… ever since JAYYY ESSSSSSSSSSSS EN proved us right about honour of America. Randall-San… meet your destiny.”
The door slides open and Schwartz is pushed inside. Lincoln slides the door shut behind them, leaving the guest alone in a large, open room. A massive pile of cinder blocks is stacked near the middle of the space with several similar piles of rubble littering the ground around it. And then there’s Him.
Sneering, Yama looks up. Schwartz panics as the heaving steps of the human monolith grow closer.
But there is no escape.
“You?” Yama growls. Schwartz nods. “You’re even more of a pipsqueak than that Metro punk and Spanish gnat are. Know this Mr. ‘Entertainer’, that Ruiz cockroach may not ever wish for anybody to be hurt or sad. But me? I don’t just wish for it. I make it happen. And Valentino? There isn’t enough cab fare in the world to pay for his hospital trip after I’m through with him. Lord knows he can’t afford an ambulance, why do you think he has to work two jobs? See, I’m not some silent, stereotypic ogre. I’m tired of playing kid games. Just do what you’re told and stay behind me, and we’ll get along just fine.”
Schwartz swears he sees smoke coming out of Yama’s nostrils as the hulk stomps back towards the remaining cinder blocks. Yama looks back towards his ‘partner’, oni eyes sending a message to Ruiz, Valentino, and perhaps even Schwartz himself.
And he drives his palm down into the concrete.
Just like the hopes and dreams of Carlos and Vito.