Prelude/Angry Young Man:
What if an author wrote a fan fiction series so powerful, that it infiltrated every non-scholastic thought of his for nearly three years? What if the willpower of the protagonist in this series inspired the author to make the same choice, specifically, losing over sixty pounds and giving up his favorite fleeting joy in the hopes that a permanent joy would come his way? What if the permanent joy never came? What if the author realized that he had achieved a will so powerful, a mentality so intense, that no counterparts from the opposite gender would ever be found? The happy ending wouldn’t sit too well with the author. The only solution would be a sequel series, a more realistic piece of fantasy.
“There's a place in the world for the angry young man,
With his working class ties and his radical plans.
He refuses to bend; he refuses to crawl,
And he's always at home with his back to the wall.
And he's proud of his scars and the battles he's lost.
And he struggles and bleeds as he hangs on his cross.
And he likes to be known as the angry young man.
Give a moment or two to the angry young man,
With his foot in his mouth and his heart in his hand.
He's been stabbed in the back; he's been misunderstood.
It's a comfort to know his intentions are good.
And he sits in a room with a lock on the door,
With his maps and his medals laid out on the floor.
And he likes to be known as the angry young man.
And there's always a place for the angry young man,
With his fist in the air and his head in the sand.
And he's never been able to learn from mistakes,
So he can't understand why his heart always breaks.
And his honor is pure and his courage as well.
And he's fair and he's true and he's boring as hell.
And he'll go to the grave as an angry old man.”
All Seasons: Wisemon’s Actual Ending Series
Digimon is the property of Toei Animation. This series is intended mostly as a release for a burning plot idea, and for an ending that I find far more relatable than that of my Alternate Ending Series. So, the dialogue will be a bit less frequent in this one. To save time, on occasion, there will be some he said/she said type narratives. As is my style, this is all in the past tense, like a fairy tale, a really fucked-up fairy tale. Because I put so much thought into each word, my interests lie mostly in poetry now, which is why I was reluctant to even start this series. Unfortunately, poetry can’t satisfy my love of foreshadowing. This series will be absolutely loaded with foreshadowing, but you’ll have to find it yourself this time around.
While this is labeled under a new series, it is a continuation of my first series and my A-Side (single), “You Don’t Love Me Anymore.” To make this more relatable for American audiences, I’m giving the previously unused characters (the Tamers) their American names. Eventually, the designation of Japanese or American names becomes a plot device. This series continues where the Tamers show left off, a further Americanization, though plans for dubbing the Tamers movies are allegedly underway.
I’m not sure if every story in this series will need a disclaimer, but due to violent content, sexual suggestions, and drug references, this one certainly does. If you’re under 18, just wait a little while. The time will go by before you know it, and you’ll wonder what you’ve done with your life.
“Hey, Kazu, truth or dare?”
“Dude, do you really think I’m moronic enough to let you dare me?” Kazu replied rhetorically. “I’ve been choosing ‘truth’ for the past hour, and I choose it again.”
Kenta’s last question, “Do you have a crush on any of the girls at school?” received a crafty response. His question on this turn, “Which of the girls do you have a crush on?” was the next logical one.
“You know the Stoner girl with the orange ponytail and the red suspenders, the one who dated that kid who disappeared? I think they call her Hazy. I’ve had my eye on her, mostly because she’s in my math class, and that’s when I get my morning wood. She’s a very fuckable piece of ass.”
Jeri whispered into Takato’s ear, and Takato declared their decision. “Kazu, on your next turn, you have to take a dare.”
“How come?” Kazu asked.
Jeri spoke up. “Your ‘truth’ is disgusting.”
Ryo slid his ass closer to Kazu. “Well, I think a dirty mind is a terrible thing to waste. You don’t have to ask; I want you to dare me, and while you’re at it, dare yourself. Dare yourself to experiment a little.” Ryo flashed an implicative smile.
Kazu had the perfect dare. “Dude, I dare you to stay at least a meter away from me for the rest of the night.”
“Ooh, shut down.” Ryo turned to Rika. “Alright pumpkin, truth or dare?”
“Give me a dare, something tough,” Rika demanded.
“Show us all some of those kickboxing moves you’re always bragging about.”
“With pleasure.” Rika stood up. She did a midlevel side kick, and she followed up with jab kicks (quickly bending and straightening the knee joint) at various heights. She performed jab kicks with her other leg, and then she demonstrated a multi-targeted four-punch-per-second combo.
“That was certainly…intimidating,” Takato commented, “but if you had hit something, you would’ve woken my parents. That would’ve been bad.”
Kenta saw an opening. “Rika, I’ve been taking Brazilian Jiu-jitsu lessons. Maybe we could spar sometime.”
“Yeah right, a three-legged hamster would be more of a challenge than you.”
“Gee, dontya think that’s a little unfair? You don’t even know me. I might surprise you.”
“Not when I anticipate every move,” Rika retorted. “Nobody can beat me, not even Henry…and where is that rice fryer? It’s his best friend’s birthday, seems kind of rude.”
“Calling him a ‘rice fryer’ is rude,” Takato shot back. “Henry’s going for his green belt tomorrow, so he wanted to be well-rested.”
“You gotta admire his dedication,” Kenta commented. “I don’t think anything could pull me from a sleepover party.”
“I don’t have to admire shit.” Rika took her seat. “Jeri, truth or dare?”
Jeri was ambivalent. “Oh…I don’t know…I suppose a dare might be fun. Okay Rika, give me a dare.”
For the first time that night, Rika smiled. “Jeri, I dare you to kick Takato in the balls as hard as you can.”
Jeri was appalled. “Absolutely not! I won’t do it. I won’t do anything to hurt Takato or anyone else…never again.”
“You are so lame. I gave you a dare, and you have to do it. Just kick him in the balls. It’s easy, and it’s entertaining.”
“I won’t, and you can’t make me,” Jeri restated.
Rika cracked her knuckles. “The hell I can’t.”
Jeri whispered into Takato’s ear, and Takato declared their decision. “Rika, I think you should leave. I know you’ve been upset since your grandmother died, so the way you’re acting is forgivable. You just need to calm down for a while, and then we can all hang out again.”
“Oh, I see how it is.” Rika stood up and glared down into Jeri’s eyes. “You’re protecting his genitals, aren’t you? You plan on doing something with them later tonight? Why don’t you just admit it? That’s all I wanted from you, a simple, straight answer. On your last turn, you chose ‘truth,’ but you spewed the same old puke. For months you’ve been saying that you two were ‘very good friends.’ Enough with the euphemisms already; just say it! Here we are now, so say it!”
Jeri looked away. “Rika, Takato asked you to leave.”
“Fine, Ryo, we’re leaving,” Rika commanded.
“Missy, just because you’ve overstayed your welcome, doesn’t mean that I have to get thrown out with you. I’m having a good time, and you never know what can happen during a sleepover party.” Ryo gave Kazu a wink. Subsequently, Kazu gave Takato a pleading glance.
Takato didn’t understand too much of academia, but he understood Kazu’s misgivings. “Um, Ryo, I think you’d better go too.”
Rika stepped across the threshold of Takato’s room, but before she left, she stabbed Jeri with a sour taunt:
“Daddy’s little girl ain’t a girl no more. Daddy’s little girl ain’t a girl no more.” Then Rika and Ryo headed downstairs and exited through the Matsuki bakery.
“Chumly, I owe you one. Why don’t we skip Takato’s turn and move on to Kenta?” Kazu suggested.
“Gee, thanks,” Kenta muttered sarcastically. “Takato, I’ll take a truth.”
Takato couldn’t think of anything original. “Kenta, which of the girls at school do you have a crush on?”
“The girls at school?” Kenta mentally cycled through his options. “The girls at school are too ‘girly.’ I want a girl who’s not afraid to wear pants, a girl who’ll stand up for herself, a girl who’ll speak her mind.” As he said the words, Kenta was noticeably staring at the empty spot on the floor next to Jeri.
Starting in late October, once again, the Tamers would stand divided. As with so many of the world’s problems, this one started with parental pressure. Kenta had to get above 80% on his latest chemistry exam; otherwise, he would lose television and video game privileges for two weeks. The exam was handed back, and 78% was clearly indicated as the final grade, but Kenta didn’t see it that way. It seemed to him that his professor, Mr. Akashi, made a mistake. After class, Kenta raised his argument:
“Mr. Akashi, on this multiple choice question, you asked which of the following does not form compounds, and I chose ‘none of the above.’ You marked Radon as the correct answer.” In preparation for the exam, Kenta had the footnote in his chemistry textbook memorized. “Despite being a noble gas, because its valence shell is so far from its nucleus, Radon has been proven to form weak covalent bonds. Therefore, ‘none of the above’ is the correct answer.”
“Great, another punk who thinks he’s smarter than his teacher,” Mr. Akashi grumbled. “Your role is the student, the subordinate, the giver of respect. Your grade remains as is; now get your whiny ass to lunch. You’re late.”
Mr. Akashi was right about one thing; Kenta was late for lunch. He entered his overcrowded school cafeteria to a disappointing scene. The meal line was a kilometer long, and the Tamer table, with Takato, Jeri, Henry, and Kazu, was almost full. Of course, by the time Kenta got his food, the Tamer table was completely full. Though unable to sit at the table, he could still ask its inhabitants an irking question:
“How come you didn’t save me a seat? You know I always sit with you guys.”
As was expected of him, Takato answered on behalf of the Tamers. “Sorry Kenta, it was an honest mistake. You hardly say anything when you’re with us, so it’s hard to notice when you’re not with us. You could try sitting with the Stoners. They’re pretty laidback; they probably won’t mind if you have a seat with them.”
Kenta looked around the cafeteria. Practically every table was designated by its own clique, much like the Tamers table. Kenta knew that he couldn’t sit at any of the girls’ tables, nor the Jocks table, nor the Queers table, nor the Goths table, nor the Macintosh Lovers table, nor the Pimps table, nor the Vegans table, nor the Retards table, nor the Orphans table… “I never realized how many factions there are at this school,” Kenta thought. Per Takato’s suggestion, Kenta checked the Stoners table. There were four kids sitting at the table, picking through the recyclable trays in front of them. There was a boy with spiky blonde hair, lemon-tinted shades, and a red trench coat. There was a girl with long dark hair who wore a black and pink spandex suit and entirely too much eye shadow. There was a boy with Taichi-like green hair dressed in a blue leisure suit with a yellow shirt and a blue tie. The last kid was a girl with orange hair (in a skewed ponytail) wearing jean shorts, a yellow shirt, and red suspenders.
By his nature, Kenta was shy, but at the same time, he craved socialization. Any opportunity to be among peers, even if he didn’t say much, was one that he was likely to take. The toughest part was trying to make new friends. He really only pulled it off once, with Kazu, and then Kazu brought in Takato. Still, he figured that the more friends he made, the less shy he would be—the consolation of a catch-22. He couldn’t hold his lunch tray forever, so he approached the Stoner table, and he offered himself:
“Hey, do you guys mind if I sit here?”
“It’s a free country,” the kid with green hair answered. “If you want to sit here, then have a seat.”
Kenta set his tray down on the table, and he took a seat next to the girl with orange hair. “My name’s Kenta; I’m in the eighth grade. You guys look to be a few years ahead of me, so I apologize in advance if I can’t keep up with your conversation.”
“Take it easy; we just met. It’s too early to say you’re sorry,” the girl in black and pink spandex told Kenta. “Besides, we’re not that much older.” She grabbed the nearer red trench coat sleeve of the boy sitting next to her. “We’re in the eleventh grade, and Joker’s in the twelfth grade, but Hazy’s in the same grade as you. Oh, we should probably say who we are, sorry about that…Ughhn, now you got me doing it!
“Gee, I’m sor–” Kenta wisely cut his reflex answer short. “Why dontya tell me your names?”
“They call me Joker,” the kid with green hair said.
“Like the Batman character, because you have green hair,” Kenta figured.
“No, I got the name from the Steve Miller Band song. They also call me Space Cowboy. Do you want to know what I do at ?”
Kenta knew what was in Joker’s hand, but he wouldn’t call his bluff. “Personally, I’m watching mature-rated anime, and I’m not always wearing pants, and you probably didn’t wanna know that. I guess what I’m trying to say is, unless you’re hurting someone else, what you do in the privacy of your own room is your own business.”
“I like this kid,” Joker assessed (aloud).
The girl in black and pink spandex pushed the process along. “And my name is Bongo.”
“Because you like to play those little drums?” Kenta guessed.
The girl sitting next to Kenta went next. “I’m called Hazy.”
“Because you enjoy the Weather Channel?” This time, Kenta knew it was wishful thinking.
“Actually, I do enjoy the Weather Channel…when I’m high.”
Kenta waited several seconds for the boy with the spiky blonde hair and the red trench coat to volunteer his name. Finally, he pressed him. “Couldya tell me your name?”
“Pass,” the boy behind the shades stated.
“So you don’t wanna tell me your name?”
“No, my name is Pass. It’s short for Pass the Damn Weed! I got the name because that’s what I yell when these guys are bogarting the weed.”
“Yeah, I gathered that.” Somehow, Kenta was disappointed with his met expectations. Nonetheless, he resigned himself to sitting with the Stoners for the remainder of the lunch period.
Joker, the de facto leader of the Stoners, restarted the hot-button conversation topic. Their supplier, Yutaka, was still nowhere to be found. After his brother’s disappearance, he knew that the cops would come to search his residence. Since he didn’t want them to find his large stash, or any of his paraphernalia, he established a method for hiding from the authorities. Like most people who find themselves in tight spots, he relied on his friends, and fellow members of a house band for an odorous business bar, Denaka and Erichi. Denaka gladly accepted the duty of sheltering his leader, and until the police thought to question him, the method was successful. Fortunately, the cops did not come to Denaka’s apartment unannounced. In the nick of time, Yutaka moved in with Erichi (a far more reluctant accomplice). This was how it went. Yutaka’s friends passed him back and forth for several months, playing their own version of monkey in the middle with the police.
In June, somewhere in transition, Yutaka disappeared completely. One theory, though not a readily accepted one, was that Yutaka had joined his parents (sick of the detectives’ accusatory line of questioning, and the distrusting looks of neighbors, Yutaka’s parents had moved away months earlier). Whatever the case, since Yutaka’s disappearance, the Stoners had been forced to conserve their herbal reserves. Joker double-checked the inventory:
“Pass, how many kilos are left at your brother’s place?”
By no coincidence, Pass was Denaka’s younger brother. “Kilos (plural)? We’ve been nursing the last kilo for a month. Either we find a new way to get pot, or we follow the gateway philosophy and move on to harder drugs.”
Kenta saw an opening in the conversation. “Hey, I’ve always called it the Huey Lewis disorder, but if you guys wanna call it the ‘gateway philosophy,’ then go ahead.”
“Okay, who’s Huey Lewis, and how can he hook us up?” Bongo questioned.
“Sorry, I was talking about ‘I Want a New Drug,’ you know, the song that they sped up and turned into the Ghostbusters theme.” As soon as the word “Ghostbusters” exited his mouth, Kenta realized how incredibly lame and out of place he sounded.
“First of all, stop saying you’re sorry; it’s contagious.” Bongo started counting with her fingers, and somehow, she ended up with three extended digits. “Third of all, you’re weird, even for us.”
Hazy had a difference of opinion. “I don’t know; I think he’s kind of funny…but that might just be this joke I heard on the Weather Channel last night.”
The Stoners couldn’t have foreseen; the debate over Kenta’s acceptance would be influenced by another group of drug-dependent teens. The Menthols, a brotherhood of cigarette-promoting bullies, approached the Stoner table, agitated with the Stoners’ apparent increase in membership (Kenta).
All four Menthols were seventeen years old, but because they smoked, they all looked like they were twenty. They all had dark crew cuts. They all wore jeans and windbreakers. They all skipped gym class, but they were allowed to pass anyway because they reached an understanding with their gym teacher. As far as the pulmonary universe was concerned, very little distinguished one member of the Menthols from another. Yes, they had individual names and slight one-dimensional personalities. Carter was the leader. Archie was the most sadistic. Obie was the reluctant member. Emile was the largest member, the designated thug. To be precise, much like the Stoners’ nomenclature, these were all nicknames; neither group wanted the authorities to know their real names. As was expected of the leader, it was Carter who made the Stoners aware that there was a problem:
“It seems you’ve got a new member, a little on the dorky side, but you’re still increasing your numbers. We don’t like that. See, once kids try grass, they never go back to tobacco, and that makes it very tough for us to increase our own membership. I had thought we had reached an agreement to not take new members in our respective gangs, but it seems that you’re breaking that, and…” Carter pounded his right fist into his left palm. “…this displeases me.”
“We never reached any agreement,” Joker told Carter. “If the kid wants to join us, he’s free to do so. There’s plenty of room in this school for both smokers and tokers, so just relax. Everything is copacetic.”
Carter turned to Archie. “Archie, find their weakest link and exploit it.”
Archie spun Hazy around by the back of her chair, and then he stuck his face in uncomfortably close. “So you’re the girl who dated that kid with the goggles? I’d bet you’d like to know what happened to him. I have good news; he’s not lost. I remember it like it was yesterday, but it was about a year ago. He was a nice guy, didn’t mean anyone any harm. So, I tied him up, put him in a garbage bag, and left him to rot somewhere in the mountains.” As was his intention, Archie got Hazy to break into tears.
Though the Stoners
were peaceful and too lazy to vocally reject verbal abuse, Kenta stood up
(literally) for the kids who allowed him to join their table. It wasn’t something that he would’ve done a
year before, but since the battles with the D-Reaper, in his envy for the
Tamers who could Bio-Merge and actively fight, he had taken Brazilian Jiu-jitsu
lessons (or whatever they call the submission side of MMA in
“Hey, you’d better leave her alone.”
Though Archie didn’t feel threatened, he didn’t appreciate someone attempting to make him feel threatened. When Kenta saw a fist being drawn back in response, he smoothly choked out Archie using the bully’s own jacket (a gi choke). Then he allowed Archie’s unconscious body to plop harmlessly onto the crumb-covered tile floor. The rest of the Menthols were ready to finish what Archie started, but they saw that a crowd had gathered, and they knew that a continuation of violence would draw unwanted authoritative attention. So, the Menthols hoisted Archie off of the floor, and they swore revenge as they exited the cafeteria.
Meanwhile, at the Tamer table, Henry was admiring the affection between Takato and Jeri. Henry considered them to be two of his closest friends, but at the same time, there was something nauseating about being around them. After the defeat of the D-Reaper, they were able to admit to each other that they wanted to be more than friends. Over the course of a year, they had developed a gradually progressing relationship.
“Takato, how’d you do on Mr. Iwamoto’s last exam?” Kazu inquired.
“I did okay…not great…better than usual; how did you do?”
“Actually, I didn’t take the exam yet, and I was wondering if you could give me some answers.”
“Kazu, I’ll help you study, but I won’t help you cheat.”
Jeri gave Takato a quick kiss on the cheek. “You’re so noble, the righteousness of Gallantmon.”
Takato blushed. “I just follow my heart.”
Kazu ventured into another mineshaft. “Henry, do you have any extra cups of duck sauce? They overcooked the rice again, and it needs some resuscitation.”
“Why would I have duck sauce?” Henry knew the answer.
“Dude, don’t get all uppity. I just figured you might have some duck sauce because you’re…” Kazu trailed off.
“Because I’m what? Because I’m half Chinese? If you’re going to be a racist, at least have the guts to admit it.” Henry reached into his pocket. “I have a couple of packets of soy sauce on me, and that’s it. They’re yours if you want them.”
“If I wanted soy sauce, I’d get it from the dispenser. I’ll just scarf down my crappily cooked rice.”
Jeri handed Kazu a dinner roll. “Here, Takato gave me a whole bag of these this morning, but I can’t possibly eat them all.”
“Thanks Jeri, you’re really nice,” Kazu glared at Henry, “unlike the duck sauce Nazi.”
Henry didn’t appreciate the nickname, but Kazu was right about one thing; Jeri had been extraordinarily nice, and associatively, extraordinarily happy, over the past several months. When compared to the girl who could only sulk after losing Leomon, it was like night and day. He attributed it to her dating Takato, and it made him want a relationship of his own.
Unfortunately, as a perfectionist, Henry couldn’t accept just any girl. She had to be someone who could at least come close to equaling the intelligence, skill, bravery, determination, and discipline that he saw within himself. Henry knew hardly any girls, but he knew that it wouldn’t matter if he knew a thousand, because none would fit his description, none but Rika. “Today’s the day,” Henry told himself. “It’s a clever plan. Since she’s a kickboxing expert, and since I have a green belt in karate, we’re going to teach each other some moves from our respective styles. It’ll be a great learning experience. Afterward, I’ll say what I have to say.”
Kazu rose from his seat eagerly. “There’s some sort of brouhaha over by the Stoner table. I can’t see it from here, but I’m guessing that Kenta probably said something that pissed off somebody; that’s his trademark.”
For Henry, it was an excuse to get away from Takato and Jeri. “Kenta might need my help.” Henry joined the crowd of spectators just in time to observe the tail end of the conflict.
Kenta’s classmates applauded his demonstration. Then the Stoners thanked him for silencing their buzz killers; Hazy was particularly appreciative. In truth, she was somewhat attracted to Kenta, most likely because his recklessness and nervousness reminded her of Takuya’s memorable traits. She grasped Kenta’s hand:
“I don’t want you thinking that I cry all that much; he just struck a nerve. It was nice to see him get struck back, or whatever you did. That was really…um…brave of you. He was a lot bigger and stronger, but you risked getting turned into mulch anyway.”
“Thanks, but I was just paying you guys back for letting me sit with you.” Kenta searched his mental library for a better superhero line. “I don’t like seeing people cry…not that there’s anything wrong with that…cry if you wanna cry.” Kenta put his free hand in his pocket. “Should’ve quit while I was ahead,” he muttered.
“Kid, I changed my mind about you,” Bongo told Kenta. “Joker already said it was alright, but now you’ve got my approval. I think we’d all like it if you’d come hang out with us after school—right Hazy?” Bongo gave Hazy a nod of comprehension.
Hazy returned Bongo’s nod. “Yes, we’d like that very much.”
Kenta didn’t like it; he didn’t want any part of it. The Stoners were nice, but he knew their habit, and he needed all of his brain cells. Hazy was nice, but she wasn’t his type. He was looking for the strong and independent type, not the type who was likely to escape from reality whenever reality got tough. As he tried to think of a way out, he felt a dinner roll being placed on his head.
“Dude, it’s your crown. I dub you, ‘Duke of the Cafeteria,’” Kazu told his sidekick.
Kenta removed the dinner roll, and he noticed that it was half eaten. “Gee, thanks, but I think I’d prefer knighthood.” Suddenly, the perfect solution drilled its way into Kenta’s brain. Kenta’s free hand grabbed Kazu’s hand and bundled it with the hand that held Hazy’s. Then Kenta removed both of his hands. “Hazy, this is my best friend, Kazu. Most people don’t know there’s a difference between us—because we’re so much alike. When we’re topics of conversation, we’re hardly ever in separate sentences. So if you like me, you’ll really like Kazu.”
Hazy assessed Kazu. His visor reminded her of another piece of unique and unnecessary headgear. Unlike Kenta, Kazu’s facial expressions gave off peaceful vibes. “You’re right; I think I like your friend better. Um, what did you say his name was?”
With his fantasy a reeling away, Kazu attempted to make Hazy feel better about her lack of short-term memory. “I don’t know your real name; you don’t know mine, so what? I think we both know the matterisms.”
“So it’s alright if I call you Visor?”
“As long as you don’t call me collect.”
Hazy gave Kazu her address, phone number, and meeting times, everything she was prepared to give to Kenta minutes earlier. As Kenta looked on, he was happy for his friend, and he knew that he’d made the right choice, but he couldn’t completely talk himself out of his regrets. While lost on this train of thought, he received one last congratulator.
“That was impressive; where did you learn that?” Henry inquired.
For some reason, possibly an inferiority complex, Kenta was surprised that Henry was talking to him. “I’ve been taking Brazilian Jiu-jitsu lessons for the past year.”
“Do you think you
can teach me some of that? Rika and I
are going to exchange some combat strategies in
Kenta’s regrets disappeared (for a few hours). “Rika’s gonna be there? Hey, I’m there; just tell me where in the park and when.”
In an infrequently
visited section of
Rika came out with a flurry of kicks and punches, but they were all rendered ineffective with standard karate blocks. Still, the strikes were threatening, each successive limb baton came closer to creaming Henry’s torso. Henry knew that it was just a matter of time before one connected, as he came to the realization that Rika’s movements were faster than his own. “I have to take the offensive,” Henry told himself, “but Rika’s not giving me any openings…except for her base. As I move backward, she moves forward, which means that her base is shifting, and a shifting base is unstable.” Henry’s left foot stepped in front of his right foot, and a quarter-second later, his right leg toppled Rika with a spinning back sweep across her shins. Actually, the maneuver more closely resembled a warm-up split, and Henry had to support the landing with his hands. Nonetheless, it was effective.
Rika got to her knees and right back on her feet. She was completely uninjured, except for where it counted; her pride was bruised:
“This is stupid anyway. Everyone knows that boys have an unfair advantage in physical sports. If my body didn’t have to have its useless childbearing function, I’d have more room for muscle, and then I’d clobber you. It doesn’t matter; I’m still the best Digi-Battle player in the universe. I think I’m going to focus on being even better at that—with Ryo.”
The stress on Ryo’s name was a cheese grater going across Henry’s brain; he knew the implication. “Damn it all, I knew you were leaning towards Ryo, but I was hoping I could convince you otherwise. Look, Ryo is only interested in one thing, and when you figure out that he doesn’t want anything else, I think you’ll be disappointed. Aside from that, we’re so much alike. We have the same discipline and determination to learn all we can about our fields of interest. It’s a very rare quality, especially among our age group. Rika, I wanted so badly to let you win here, just to stroke your ego, but I couldn’t do it. I knew you wouldn’t want it that way. Neither of us takes the easy way, and that’s why I think we’d be so great together.”
With Renamon gone, and with the recent death of her grandmother, Rika had gained some new perspectives on life, which just happened to be very close to her old perspectives:
“You think you know everything about me? Maybe we do have a lot in common, and let’s say, for the sake of whatever, that we would be perfectly happy together for the rest of our lives. Terrific…but who said that I wanted to be perfectly happy? If living alone means being miserable, then I want to be perfectly miserable. As long as I’m able to support myself, the rest doesn’t matter. I don’t want to have to care about anyone or anything ever again. Because if I care, I can be disappointed; I can get all sad and pathetic, like Jeri after the business with Leomon. I’m done with partners of any kind, and since you can’t even give me the pleasure of whooping your ass, I never want to see you again.”
Though he was quite depressed about how his attempt to start a relationship with Rika turned out, Henry was able to shove it into the back of his mind by remembering some advice that his sensei had given him for dealing with troubled thoughts:
“The power in your roundhouse is amazing, probably your strongest kick. However, your aim is inconsistent, and in my teaching experience, I have found a common root to this problem. Never forget that karate is an art, a discipline. It must be a channel for your focus, not your anger, your fear, or any other emotion. When you enter this makeshift dojo, you must leave your anxieties behind. If you feel incapable of detaching your anxieties, just tell yourself, ‘Everything Zen’—the British version of ‘Hakuna Matata.’ When you paint with this brush, the worries of your life never smear your art; there is no sex in your violence.”
Kenta arrived in the specified park location. Once again, Henry made a plea for simply showing moves without contact, but Kenta said it would not be possible since Brazilian Jiu-jitsu was a grappling form of combat. With his sensei’s advice, Henry shoved his worries so far down that he forgot that he wasn’t supposed to use karate outside of class, and he took the offensive in sparring with Kenta.
Henry used a full power roundhouse that would’ve knocked Kenta unconscious, but Kenta closed the distance, did a single leg takedown on the planted leg, threw on an ankle lock, and made Henry tap out. In the next round, Henry came out punching, and Kenta gave him a hip toss followed by an armbar. Then Henry tried a back kick, and Kenta caught him with a rear naked choke (sleeper hold). Understandably frustrated, Henry abandoned everything that made him a brown-striped green belt, and tried to tackle Kenta.
Kenta snagged a guillotine choke, made Henry tap out again, and told Henry that it was probably best to stop the session there. The boys stood up, Kenta extended his hand, and Henry shook it. It seemed to Kenta that Henry had become a closer friend, and he hoped that they could build on that:
“Hey, maybe sometime we could do some other stuff together, maybe with Kazu.”
“Sure, maybe sometime.” Henry wasn’t really paying attention. He could only think about where he went wrong, in sparring, and of course, with Rika. He turned to leave, and unfortunately, that’s when he started to pay attention.
“So I guess I’ll see you later. I learned a lot today.”
Believing that he detected sarcasm, Henry nailed Kenta with a sudden and very high back kick. Specifically, Henry’s foot met the corner of Kenta’s glasses, and it went straight through them. If Kenta hadn’t been wearing glasses, it would’ve been a knockout shot. As it was, Kenta was knocked down and stunned, his frames were busted, and he had a red mark around his eye that would turn blackish purple. Henry immediately realized that he had just made a huge mistake, and he helped Kenta to the nearest water fountain to wash around his eye, apologizing profusely along the way.
Despite being injured, Kenta knew that guilt was on his side, and he figured that he could exchange it for friendship. “Henry, I know that wasn’t all about me; it’s never about me. You wanna tell me what’s really bugging you?”
Henry was reluctant to share, but he decided that he had nothing to lose by telling Kenta. “I just got rejected by Rika. If I heard her correctly, she has a solitary life already planned out, and I feel almost as bad for her as I do for myself.”
“That does sound kinda sad. I’ve gotta admit; I had a thing for Rika myself. She’s so smart…and strong…and…”
“…And Beautiful,” Henry added with a sigh.
“Yeah, that too. With a little luck, maybe someday we’ll both find a girl like Rika, just hopefully not the same girl.” This time, Kenta quit while he was ahead. He turned his attention to his frames, and tried to bend them back into something resembling glasses. As he stood silently next to Henry, he watched two kids playing catch with a hardball twenty meters away. Broken glasses and a black eye, a trade he would gladly make again—for a friend.
By early December, Takato and Jeri’s relationship had gotten nauseatingly affectionate, and Henry could barely stand to be around them. Takato wasn’t so hard to be around when he was separated from Jeri, but he was hardly ever separated from Jeri.
Henry tried to rectify his jealousy. He observed the girls in his classes, looking for some signs of brain activity. Crossing out the girls with consistently wrong answers to the teachers’ questions, or no answers at all, he eliminated 60%. Crossing out the remaining girls with reputations for enjoying parties that involved drinking and illegal substances, he eliminated another 15%. Crossing out the remaining girls with steady boyfriends, he eliminated another 15%. Crossing out the remaining girls who were so ugly that they should’ve been legally required to wear masks, he eliminated the last 10%.
Kazu was more or less an official Stoner, and he went over to Hazy’s apartment almost every weekday afternoon to “fool around.” He was a Stoner, except for the fact that he was reluctant to smoke his initiation. The Stoners would never force it on him, but under typical circumstances, they would strongly encourage it. Unfortunately for them, their circumstances were atypical. With Yutaka gone, their reserves were just about depleted, and their recreational habit was becoming less and less of a frequent one. They proposed to find a new dealer, but none of them had the motivation.
For what she considered to be the best months of her life, Hazy had relied on the “helper” to get herself into bed with Takuya. After the first few times, deep down, she knew she probably didn’t need it anymore. She still loved Takuya, but it was a fleeting love, as intangible as Takuya himself, and she was still young. Kazu’s pointless visor reminded her so much of Takuya’s pointless goggles. Still, without the aid of an inhibition killer, she wasn’t sure, but Kazu was sure enough for both of them. Despite her preconceived doubts, the sober method proved to be a much more enjoyable experience. Kazu told her that it was because intoxicants decreased performance and sensitivity; he had read it on a website (one that he wasn’t supposed to be on).
Needless to say, Kenta spent less and less time with Kazu. He had hoped to be compensated with some more of Henry’s time, but Henry was a very busy boy. Between his karate lessons, staying in the top 5% of his class, taking care of his little sister, and his envious quest for love, Henry didn’t have too much extra time for Kenta.
Kenta tried to take it with good cheer—every time he wanted to show Kazu a new Digi-Battle card, or show Henry a new submission, and they had other plans. Eventually though, it got to him. He hoped to substitute his missing socialization with one of his school’s extracurricular activities, but he wasn’t athletic enough for any of the sports that involved running, jumping, or throwing (all of them), and he couldn’t join the chess club since the Geeks blacklisted him, ever since he told them that he didn’t find Monty Python to be all that funny.
On occasion, some of the kids still complimented Kenta for his shaming of the Menthol member, but he heard the backlash far more often, in the form of tobacco-breath threats if he were ever caught outside of adult supervision. With nothing better to do, his grades improved slightly, but his mood was drained of optimism. It was quite noticeable to his parents, and they sent him to a psychiatrist. Kenta took the drugs that the doctor prescribed, but he knew that they weren’t making any difference.
Rika spent her afternoons playing Digi-Battle against the only opponent to whom she had ever lost. Since that initial loss, she had reformulated her deck to combat Ryo’s, and she made adjustments whenever Ryo made an adjustment. The results spoke for themselves; she beat Ryo almost every time, though he still managed to win with the occasional surprise card. For instance, on one fateful December afternoon, in their last game:
“SuperStarmon?! You didn’t have SuperStarmon in your deck yesterday!” When Ryo didn’t play into her strategy, Rika practically considered it to be cheating.
“Ooh, you’re so cute when you’re angry.” Ryo flashed a jovial grin. “M-hmm, I changed my deck, and I won, but you can’t expect to win every game.”
“But I do, and I can’t help it. When I set my mind on being the best at something, there’s no turning back.” Unlike Ryo, there was nothing light about Rika’s tone; she spoke with conviction.
Without hesitation, Ryo stood up, sat down beside Rika, and put an arm behind her neck and over her shoulder. “Pumpkin, you have to stop pushing yourself so hard. Otherwise, I see an ulcer in your future. If you’re having some sort of personal crisis, I’ve got an ear to lend.”
Rika wrapped her arm around Ryo’s waist. “Just an ear?”
Ryo raised a suspicious eyebrow, but he discarded the possibility. “You bet; in fact, if you want, I can sleep over. We can stay up eating pints of Ben & Jerry’s and watching dubbed over Sex and the City DVD’s.”
“That sounds pretty lame; I’ve got a better idea.” Rika moved her hand down and grabbed the top of one of Ryo’s butt cheeks.
“Uh…pumpkin…what are you doing?”
“Duh, what do you think I’m doing?”
“You do know that I’m gay, right?”
Rika released her grip and slowly scooted away from Ryo. “You…you can’t be gay! You’ve been flirting with me for over a year! Just a minute ago, you made a move on me, remember?”
Ryo calmly explained the differences. “When a guy flirts with a girl nervously, he’s straight. When a guy flirts with a girl flawlessly, without any concern for her reaction, he’s gay. When a guy awkwardly makes a move, he’s straight. When I put my arm around you, it’s because you’re my friend, and I care about–”
“–Don’t give me that bullshit; you just used me to play cards!”
“Well missy, if ‘using’ is enjoying your company, and being in awe of the best opponent I’ve ever had, then I suppose I used you.”
“There, you admit it!” Rika gathered her cards and stood up. “I just wanted to try it, just once, but never mind…” Perhaps Rika was overreacting, but her misjudgment was exposed, and if there was one thing she couldn’t tolerate, it was looking foolish, but of course, there were many things Rika couldn’t tolerate. “I’m through with men!”
“Then…welcome to the alliance. I’ll get you a rainbow t-shirt. What’s your size?”
“I’m through with people!”
Ryo’s tone became less festive. “Pumpkin, you don’t mean that.” Ryo unsnapped one of the deck holsters on his belt and pulled out a card-sized quote-a-day calendar. “Henry gave me this after we beat the D-Reaper. He called it a going away present, probably because he didn’t want to see me again. I got the vibe that he was jealous of my fashion sense. I mean, the vest works for him, but orange just isn’t his color. Anyhoo, there’s a nice quote for you in here.” Ryo flipped to one of the dog-eared pages. “It was the English poet John Donne who wrote, ‘No man is an island, entire unto itself.’”
“You know, you’re right, but I’m not a man.”
“And nobody’s more disappointed about that than I am.”
On the same fateful December day, Tomoki rode a Trailmon through a digital portal and back into the real world. Upon crossing the threshold to the real world, his ride camouflaged itself as a standard train. Tomoki was unaware of any stowaways, until he decided to take a look inside the adjacent cabin. He found one of the last digimon he expected to see, and certainly one of the last he wanted to see, SlimeBakemon. Tomoki reached for his D-Tector, called for his spirit evolution, and was immediately reminded that he no longer had that ability.
SlimeBakemon told Tomoki to calm down; no attacks were intended. Recollecting his last battle, SlimeBakemon claimed to have learned his lesson about challenging legendary warriors. Tomoki (and his friends) had earned SlimeBakemon’s respect, and the ghost digimon wanted to join Tomoki on his journey. Besides, his home, the fence, was uprooted, and he had nowhere else to go:
“To digimon, the real world is the frontier.”
Before agreeing, Tomoki called Junpei’s D-Tector and asked for his advice. Actually, first he asked Junpei to explain how SlimeBakemon could still exist, considering that he was imploded. Junpei explained that complete implosions were impossible, because matter, even digital matter, cannot be created or destroyed. With SlimeBakemon’s ability to reform himself, it was only a matter of time until the charge in the fence dispersed, and SlimeBakemon expanded back to his usual shape. Junpei advised Tomoki to accept SlimeBakemon as a friend since he made for an annoying enemy.
Tomoki agreed with Junpei’s logic, and he told SlimeBakemon that he was welcome to come home with him, if only to prove to his parents where he’d been. As a peace offering, Tomoki reached into his (Takuya’s) shirt pocket to give SlimeBakemon one of Junpei’s very old chocolate bars, and his fingers grazed Takuya’s picture of Hazy. He checked the address on the back, quickly calculated that it was closer to the station than his own apartment, and told SlimeBakemon that it would be their first stop.
A few weeks after the incident with Kenta, Henry had managed to gather the courage to confess the code violation to his sensei. As punishment, Henry was demoted a rank (the brown stripe was removed from his green belt), and four times per week, he had to spend an hour meditating. Of course, his sensei didn’t consider the meditation to be a punishment:
“You claim that you did not consciously break the rules. This means that you are hosting a mental virus, of sorts. The only way for me to ensure that you are using your lessons responsibly is for me to see that your mind is healthy. Meditation is the only vaccine. It is the only way to expel the negative pressures that plague your actions. How you choose to meditate is up to you. Some believe that the goal of meditation is to clear one’s head of all thoughts, while others believe that the goal is to engage in the deepest possible thoughts. I prefer one of these, but I refuse to tell you which one. You must decide for yourself. Remember, ‘Everything Zen’—external forces are only as strong as you perceive them.”
So, on the same
fateful December afternoon, Henry was sitting beside a tree in
For the same fateful December afternoon, Kazu and Kenta had planned to go browsing together at a consoles and accessories liquidation sale. During school that day, Kazu had told Kenta that he couldn’t make it because he had a test the next day, and his parents really wanted him to start studying. As much as Kenta wanted to trust his longtime friend, he was rightfully cynical. He knew where Kazu would be:
“Gee, what are the chances that his head is down in a textbook? Or maybe that’s where his pen is. Maybe that’s where I’ll be; I can’t take any more of this. If it’s gonna end, then I’m gonna be the one to bring it to a climax.”
stepped off the disguised Trailmon with SlimeBakemon, he realized that
SlimeBakemon would be awfully conspicuous.
He asked the ghost digimon if he could turn invisible (like
The walk between the station that entered the digital world (Shibuya) and Hazy’s apartment was slightly shorter than the walk between the station and Tomoki’s apartment, but that didn’t lead Tomoki to any wild conclusions about Hazy knowing his brother. Tomoki took the elevator to Hazy’s floor, knocked at her door, and tried to remember what Takuya told him to say.
Kazu and Hazy were right in the middle of “studying” when Tomoki knocked. They re-zipped and re-buttoned as quickly as they could, and Hazy checked the peephole to see who it was. Seeing an unknown kid, as opposed to a parent returning from work early, she opened the door without concern for Kazu’s presence. Noticing the outlines of candy bars in his shirt pockets, she was about to ask Tomoki where his scout uniform was, but then she recognized the goggles on his head, and her question was one devoid of playfulness and packed with urgency:
“Who are you and where did you get those goggles?!”
“My name is Tomoki Himi, and these goggles were given to me by Takuya Kanbara.” Knowing that his position was rather awkward, Tomoki got right to his task, though he had to pause occasionally due to vocabulary limitations. Essentially, he said that he and Takuya were comrades in an otherworldly war. Takuya did not survive the war, but before he died, he wanted someone to tell his girlfriend that he loved her, and he wanted her to move on.
Hazy soaked in the closure of Takuya’s death, and then she realized that she’d just heard the more shocking disclosure of Tomoki’s life. She checked to make sure that he was the same Tomoki Himi, the brother of Yutaka. Then she gave him the bad news, informing him that Yutaka was nowhere to be found, and his parents had moved away, either to Hawaii or Taiwan (one of the two, she wasn’t sure which).
Kazu joined Hazy’s side at the doorway, and he tried to console Tomoki by telling him that Hazy had moved on:
“Dude, you might be out of home and family, but at least you did your amigo a solid.”
“Like when I set you up with your ‘studying’ partner.” Kenta had arrived on Hazy’s floor just in time to hear Kazu’s comforting words. “So what’s the test gonna be on? Algebra? History? Lying your ass off?”
“Hazy, I have to step outside for a minute, but for you, I’ll finish in fifty seconds…That didn’t come out right.” Kazu shooed Tomoki back, exited Hazy’s apartment, and shut the door. He didn’t want her to hear what he had to say to Kenta. “Dude, what are you doing here?”
“I could ask you the same thing, but I think I already know the answer,” Kenta retorted.
“I lied to you for your own good. Kenta, take a lesson from me, and grow up. Sell off the Digi-Battle cards, put away the video games, and get a girlfriend of your own. I’m done with the kiddy stuff, and I don’t want to be your friend anymore.” Kazu turned around, gave Hazy’s door his special knock, slipped back in, and helped the door close behind him.
Tomoki resumed his role as a silent witness to a traumatic scene, but this scene was unlike any he had previously witnessed. Kouichi’s ending was horrific, Kouji’s was depressing, and Takuya’s was pathetic, but Kenta’s plutonic dumping was horrific, depressing, and pathetic at the same time. Though Kenta was a stranger, Tomoki had no trouble finding sympathy for him. Most likely, it was because of how much Tomoki relied on his own friends. Tomoki tried to imagine Junpei or Izumi giving him a message like the one Kazu gave Kenta, and it sent a chill throughout his body.
After hearing that Tomoki had lost his home and his family, Kenta was feeling equally sympathetic for Tomoki’s plight:
“Dontya need a new place to stay?”
“As much as you need a new friend,” Tomoki replied.
Back behind the door to Hazy’s apartment, guilty feelings were few and far between. That’s not to say that the mood was completely apathetic. “What did you say to Kenta?” Hazy asked.
“I made a clean break.” Hazy’s (parents’) apartment was rather cramped, not unlike every apartment in the district. Her parents had their own room, and she had to share one with her three older sisters. At the time, in Kazu’s view, it was a shame that no one was sharing the futon with her, so he took a seat.
“You just broke up with your best friend, just like that?” Hazy snapped her fingers to illustrate her point. “Isn’t that kind of harsh?”
“I did Kenta a favor.” Kazu could tell from Hazy’s expression that she was skeptical. Normally, Kazu felt no need to defend his actions, but he realized that not defending his past actions would prevent future actions. “You don’t understand where we’re coming from.” Kazu placed a hand on Hazy’s kneecap. “You’re an attractive girl with standard teenage interests, and that works for you.” Kazu’s hand made its way up to the middle of Hazy’s thigh, right at the edge of her jean shorts. “That really works for you, but Kenta and I, we’ve always been…left behind. We had interests that most kids our age would consider to be immature. You helped me to grow up, and I’ve never been happier.” Kazu snuck his hand up under the leg of Hazy’s shorts and rubbed the inside of her thigh. “For the past few months, I’ve been given circumstances that I thought were reserved for movie stars. I’ve been doing things that I had convinced myself only existed in my dreams.” Kazu’s fingers slipped under Hazy’s panties. “And that’s what I want for my friend. I want him to find his dreams. I want him to be as happy as I am with a girlfriend of his own. He’s told me a thousand times that his type is rare, but he won’t get anywhere if he’s still attached to me. That’s why we had to go our separate ways.”
Tomoki to a very familiar (to a select few) section of
“Don’t tell anybody that I said anything to you about any creature ending with the letters ‘m-o-n;’ it’s something I’m not ‘sposedta talk about.”
“Who would I tell?” Tomoki pulled the “tennis ball” out of his pocket. “Uh, I might know more about digimon than you think. SlimeBakemon, do you feel like stretching out for a bit?” On cue, SlimeBakemon expanded to his regular shape.
“I should’ve known by the goggles…you’re a Digimon Tamer!” Kenta exclaimed. “I had a Digimon of my own, a Mega, but he had to go back to–”
“–I’m not a ‘Tamer;’ I’m a legendary warrior, and SlimeBakemon is his own digimon.” Tomoki realized that a full explanation would be a long story, and he didn’t want to have to tell it all by himself, so he called up Junpei. At first, Junpei complained, claiming that he and Izumi were in the middle of some “royal business.” Of course, Tomoki knew what that business was, and argued that the royal couple could afford to take care of business four times that day instead of the usual five.
About that time, Izumi joined in the conversation on her D-Tector. “Tomoki, you’ve only been gone a few hours, and we miss you already, but not so much that we absolutely have to talk to you. Seriously, the cord is cut; now go find your real mom.”
“Not cool…” Tomoki’s mood, which had just begun to revive, was shot down again. “My real mom is gone, along with my dad and brother.”
Kenta sensed a very sad conversation approaching between Tomoki and his long-distance friends. So, Kenta excused himself, but before he left, he handed Tomoki a piece of paper with his information (name, telephone number, address, and email).
Tomoki related his situation to Junpei and Izumi (his cubbyhole), and naturally, he asked for their advice. Junpei reminded Tomoki of the emergency money, and he advised Tomoki to start by using it to buy himself a toothbrush and toothpaste; even humans in the digital world (Junpei and Izumi) managed to maintain proper oral hygiene. The rest of the necessary supplies, such as food and clothing, had to be initially bought with the sock account, but they could not be continually replaced unless Tomoki found a way to make some money. Also, since Tomoki insisted on continuing his education, he would need some school supplies. About halfway through Junpei’s explanation of the difference between #1 and #2 pencils, Tomoki had a brainstorm:
“Junpei, how much did your parents love you? Let’s suppose that you told them via D-Tector that a nine-year-old kid helped you realize what was most important in your life; would they be willing to adopt that kid?”
“Tomoki, I can’t thank you enough for making me realize that Izumi was more important than food…but you’re not living with my parents.” Junpei gave Tomoki his reasons. “That lifestyle ruined me. Do you really want to be fat, dorky, alone, and pumped full of antidepressants?”
“You’re still a dork,” Izumi chimed in.
The insult reminded Tomoki to try Junpei’s better half. “Izumi, can I stay with your parents?”
“You would be
staying with my mom and her boyfriend, and you’d have to move back to
“Hmm, I think I’ll stick with the cubbyhole.” With the decision made, the call ended, and SlimeBakemon wanted to know how Tomoki planned to make money. Tomoki considered his options, and he gave SlimeBakemon his answer:
“I don’t know yet, but whatever the job is, you’re helping me.”
Kenta crossed into a more frequented section of the park. He was heading home, but he was taking the long way. He wanted the time to ponder exactly what his ex-best friend had said. Kenta was certain that the words were unforgettable, but were they merely excuses for a separation, or did they have some merit? Part of him felt the need to be alone, but another part, perhaps, a larger part, felt the need to find a friendly face. Subconsciously, that was probably why he took his time strolling through the park. Unfortunately, the faces that he found were far from friendly.
More accurately, the Menthols found Kenta. Carter, their leader, said that the gang had heard rumors that Kenta hung out in the park playing cards. They had been wondering what took Kenta so long to show up. Then they labeled him by a series of insulting names in reference to what they considered to be a childish hobby.
Kenta could’ve satisfied their curiosity by telling them that his card partner was too busy for “kiddy stuff.” Then he could’ve told them that he had recently decided to quit playing because collecting cards was too expensive. Kenta realized that it was all irrelevant. Nothing he could say would save him.
The Menthols spread out and surrounded Kenta, preventing any possible escape. Emile, the biggest and strongest Menthol, took the rear. Obie, the reluctant Menthol, took the left. Carter, the leader, took the right. Archie, the cruelest Menthol, approached Kenta from the front, and while he took his intimidating steps, he made the gang’s intentions very clear:
“Punk, you’ve had this coming for a while. We’re going to beat you to within a centimeter of your life, and if you’re stupid enough to come back for more, we’re taking the last centimeter.”
“You wouldn’t hit a guy with glasses, wouldya?” Of course, Kenta knew that they would, so he removed his already bent glasses in preparation for his beat-down, and he tossed them into some bushes. As the Menthols got closer on all sides, Kenta had an important decision to make. Since he was hopelessly outnumbered, neither of his options was very appealing. He could take his beating without resistance, and probably spare himself from any permanent damage, or he could pointlessly attempt to fight back, and risk punctured organs and paralysis. At first, the choice seemed obvious. Then Emile grabbed him by the waist to set up Archie to deliver a kick. Kenta could tell by the trajectory; Archie planned to put his foot…in a very sensitive area. It would not be allowed, not without a fight, but a fight required self-confidence and a strategy. So, Kenta told himself that he might have a chance, if he could manage to quickly make it three against one and work his way down from there.
Kenta suddenly squatted, catching Archie’s kick in his stomach, but with so little power behind it, that he was able to hold onto the foot. Then Kenta tried to apply an ankle lock, but Emile and Carter tackled him. Still, Kenta held onto Archie’s foot, as Carter and Emile began to pour down punches on his body and face. Kenta was forced to release Archie’s foot in order to cover his head and ribs.
Archie used his freedom to kick and stomp Kenta’s thighs as Emile and Carter continued to work on the upper body. Frustrated by an inability to get a clean shot at Kenta’s nuts, Archie told Obie to hold Kenta’s legs open.
Distant voices, something about a “centimeter,” broke Henry’s best attempt at concentration. He opened his eyes, uncrossed his legs, and determined to investigate the source of the commotion. His ears traced it to the other side of some bushes. Henry hopped over and took in the scene. It appeared that two of the Menthols were holding down and punching a kid; another one kicked, and another one watched. There were too many bodies for Henry to tell who their victim was…until he saw something gleaming in the bushes. He immediately recognized the contorted frames of Kenta’s glasses.
Henry desperately wanted to interfere, but he was held back by the rule that he had recently forgotten; technically, it would not be self-defense. This was a matter for the police, but Henry knew that by the time they arrived, it would be too late. Still, he told himself that his only options were calling the police or ignoring the problem entirely. He told himself that if he tried really hard, he could ignore it. He told himself that it was just another worry, another external force. He told himself, “Everything Zen...Everything Zen…I don’t think so.” Then he got ready to break a rule—and possibly some bones.
Obie held Kenta’s legs apart and stared down at Archie’s target. If he wanted to, he could’ve performed the cruel stomp himself, but it wasn’t his place. Archie was higher on the totem pole, and Obie couldn’t go over his head. Certainly, there were times when he wished he had. For example, picking on the fat kid in the jumpsuit proved to be a huge mistake. Nonetheless, hierarchies had their purpose, and all Obie could do was await Archie’s move, but he felt like he was waiting a little too long. Then he felt something else: a shin bone coming in perpendicular to the back of his knees. He fell…just like Archie…a toppled totem pole.
Henry knew that he only had a matter of seconds before the Menthols he tripped got back up, which was plenty of time to disable the two thugs punching Kenta. He started with the bigger one, Emile. Henry estimated that Emile had a height advantage of approximately two decimeters, but that didn’t make any difference when Emile was already off of his feet and preoccupied with trying to get an unblocked punch into Kenta’s face. Henry made a fist with the joint of his middle finger slightly extended, took careful aim, and jammed his protrusion into the base of Emile’s head (where the brain met the spine). It was more than enough to incapacitate Emile, and Henry proceeded to drag the large ruffian off of Kenta.
With Carter obscuring his vision, Kenta couldn’t see why a majority of his adversaries had been taken out of the picture, but he knew how to take out the last one. After blocking another of Carter’s punches, Kenta grabbed the arm and held it to his chest. Then he slid his hips along the ground until he was able to throw out his legs around the captive arm and against Carter’s face and chest. Three seconds later, Carter was on his back, caught in an armbar. Normally, Kenta would immediately release this extraordinarily painful submission, whether or not his sparring partner tapped out, because he knew that it only took seconds to snap the limb. However, Carter wasn’t a sparring partner, and Kenta’s intention was to break the arm. Kenta heard a crack, followed by a piercing scream and a loss of resistance in his hold, and he knew that his goal was met.
Obie attempted to tackle Henry from behind, but as he made his grab, his gut was greeted with Henry’s elbow. Henry wanted to follow-up with a combo or two, but his attention was forced to switch to Archie. The sadist came at Henry with a flurry of punches, and Henry blocked them all without much difficulty, but while he was blocking, Obie recovered from the elbow. Obie slipped on a fairly decent full nelson, and Archie got ready to take some unblocked shots at Henry. As Archie pulled back for the hardest punch in his repertoire, he was ripped to the ground by his neck. Kenta applied a rear naked choke and maintained it until Archie was unconscious.
While the choke was being applied, Kenta poked his head over Archie’s shoulder to get a good look at who had come to his rescue. He wasn’t too surprised to see Henry, but he was surprised to see Henry caught in a full nelson. Kenta was about to advise Henry on the best method of escape, but then he observed Henry squatting suddenly, loading Obie onto his back, and falling forward to drop Obie on his head.
Obie was stunned, but not out. He shook off the bad landing and staggered to his feet. He turned around, and he saw Henry, and then he saw nothing.
Henry caught Obie’s chin with a left roundhouse, and he completed his favorite combo with a right back kick to Obie’s chest. The first kick was the knockout; the second kick was the knockdown—simple, yet effective.
Kenta slipped out from under Archie’s prostrate body, and he stood face-to-face with Henry. He thanked Henry, and he bowed to Henry. Then, of course, Henry returned the bow, but after the formality, there was an awkward silence. Fortunately, Carter was still conscious, and he was willing to break the silence by attempting to punch Kenta with his unbroken arm.
Unacquainted with resistance, the Menthols seemed to have a habit of going for all-or-nothing punches instead of progressive jabs, which gave Kenta plenty of time to duck. While he was down, Kenta pulled off a single leg takedown. Carter landed on his side, so Kenta didn’t have much trouble turning him onto his stomach. Kenta threw his legs around the thigh of the grappled leg, wrapped his arm around the leg at the knee, grabbed the wrist of his wrapping arm, and proceeded to wrench Carter’s knee joint. While he applied the torque, he gave Carter an ultimatum:
“I already broke your arm. Unless you want a broken leg, stop picking on me, the Stoners, or anyone else in the school, and pass the message along to your gang…when they wake up.”
With a few more seconds of persuasion, Carter agreed to Kenta’s terms, and Kenta released the modified kneebar. Kenta stood up and faced Henry again.
“Wow, that was impressive,” Henry commented. “I wasn’t even considering convincing them to quit.”
“I wasn’t either; it just kinda happened. The tactic has its limits; even a broken leg couldn’t get them to quit smoking.” Kenta chuckled to himself. “That’s the only hold that I didn’t learn from the instructor. He said that anything on the knee was too dangerous.”
“No kidding, as it is, I think breaking his arm was going overboard.” Henry realized that he was being somewhat hypocritical. “The move that I used on the big guy, I didn’t learn that from my sensei. I think he was saving it for when I became a brown belt.”
“I learned my forbidden technique from a kid who said he taught himself how to fight. He named it after himself, called it his ‘trap.’ Naming a move after yourself seemed like a kinda stuck-up thing to do, but what wouldya expect from a rich kid with obvious issues?” Kenta got back to his delayed quid pro quo. “So, who taught you yours?”
“Sensei’s best student, I think he was a brown belt with a black stripe at the time, taught me that after class. He told me to only use it in an emergency, and this seemed like an emergency. Still, I was hesitant to get involved because it contradicted with something Sensei told me. Fortunately for you, my dad’s a Taoist. The Taoist philosophy of rejecting unnecessary violence superceded an apathetic Buddhist slogan. By committing violence against those who were committing unnecessary violence, I rejected unnecessary violence.”
“If that’s what it took…” There was another awkward silence. “Henry, I think we made a pretty good team.”
Henry couldn’t deny it. “Sure Kenta, now let’s hope that we never have to do this again.” Henry exited the park while Kenta picked his glasses out of the bushes. Kenta tried to catch up to Henry, but he found that it was impossible.
There was a reason that Henry’s sensei only entrusted the Kokondo pressure point punch to Kouji. Emile was past unconscious, but only four people would ever know the secret. When Carter checked on the muscle of his gang and found that he wasn’t breathing, he had to make a leadership decision. He knew that if the death were reported, everyone involved would end up in jail. So, when Archie and Obie woke up, the gang decided to bury Emile in an infrequently visited section of the park—and to never say a word to anybody. Once the agreement was made official (with a cigarette break), Carter went to the hospital to get a cast for his arm. Around , Archie and Obie stopped telling passersby that their friend was asleep, and they started burying the body.
From inside his cubbyhole, Tomoki was the fourth person in on the secret, not that he would’ve chosen to know. No, he never chose to have the spirits of ice and darkness.
Henry and his sensei: “Everything Zen” by Bush
Kenta and the Stoners: “Faction” by Less Than Jake
Kenta’s plutonic dumping: “Betray” by Minor Threat
Kazu’s “Load” theme: “Ain’t My Bitch” by Metallica
Rika’s main theme: “Stay Away” by Nirvana
Tomoki’s homecoming: “My December”
Carter, Archie, Obie, and Emile are characters from one of my favorite books, The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier.
This should be obvious, but…
Hazy=Misty from Pokėmon
Joker=Spike from Cowboy Bebop
Bongo=Sango from Inuyasha
Pass the Damn Weed=Vash the Stampede from Trigun
Mr. Akashi and Mr. Iwamoto were teachers at Sarayashiki Junior High in Yu Yu Hakusho, though Mr. Iwamoto also appeared in an episode of Digimon, so he’s a “real” teacher.
The best day of my life was at a friend’s ninth birthday party, a sleepover that included true or dare. It was all male, but the truth part was still interesting.
Rika’s speech to Henry was very close to one that I got when I attempted something similar (and very stupid, in retrospect) with a girl who looked a lot like Rika.
I took several semesters of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu lessons.
My best friend “broke up” with me in seventh grade, and he looked a lot like Kazu.
The hand formation that Henry used on Emile was something I learned in Jukido Jujitsu class (not to be confused with Brazilian Jiu-jitsu)…as a debilitating gut punch. It was never meant for the base of the brain.
Kenta’s speech patterns are modeled after my own, and mine are modeled after various cartoon heroes.
©2005 by Benjamin Wiseman
Email comments and criticisms to: