Chapter 2, by Janet Rosen

Monday morning, like my old boyfriend, always comes too soon. Even when you don't open your eyes 'til past noon. I stagger across the room, rinse the taste of cheap whiskey out of my mouth and try to focus on the reflection in my cracked mirror. Wavy hair in the color de jour. Clairol Creme Cappuccino was it? Laugh lines around the ol' baby blues, except I don't feel much like laughing. Nothing a little lipstick, or a few days at a spa, wouldn't fix.

Matt Burns had spent most of Saturday with me, giving me a crash course in Aikido: not the moves of the martial art, just the lingo and inside dope I might need to crack the case. He hadn't stuck around Saturday evening, saying something about a seminar across the bay. He didn't give details, said it would be safer if I didn't show my face at this particular dojo. Like rival mobs, I guessed, but he said it was more like conflicting philosophies. He looked one part evasive and one part embarrassed; I said "whatever" and left it at that. Never put a paying client on the hot seat; the $100 retainer in my wallet meant I could ward off the wolf under my window for a little while.

I called the weather service. "Fog along the coast with partial afternoon clearing in some areas, areas of sun, highs from the 60s at the coast to the 90s inland, with afternoon winds from 5 to 50 miles an hour." Yeah. Always helps to know what to dress for. A sleeveless sun dress over thermals and a lined raincoat over it all would do nicely, but I settled for my basic street outfit: black tshirt, black stretch jeans, black high heeled boots, black leather jacket. Slicked the hair back with some gel, a streak of red lipstick and its time to "go girl."

First stop was in the Tenderloin. Last known address for the Matt's missing Shihan, a dude by the name of Jun Akiyama. Apparently Shihan is a title of respect to these people. Like a Yakuza, I'd asked; no, more like an esteemed teacher. "Whatever," I'd said and left it at that. I walked up the street, past the hookers standing by their SROs, past the two-bit dope dealers, 'til I found the number I wanted. It was sandwiched between Madame Marvella's Guaranteed Satisfaction Massage Parlor and Pho Number 23 Vietnamese Noodle Soup House. A narrow door; the cracked, gray glass revealed a steep unlit staircase. I jiggled the knob. The door opened...


Let me read that last one again...back to chapter 1
The boss hasn't seen me yet...give me chapter 3!

You people aren't funny any more. I'm leaving now.