Kansai Cowboy Chapter 19
I sped up my walk to catch up with her. I couldn’t let her get away. Not now! I turned the same corner she did. I saw her in the distance. She walked with her eyes focused on the ground, not even glancing at her surroundings. Perfect. I picked up my walking speed, muscles aching like nobody’s business but not enough to stop me. I didn’t want her to hear my boots. They were loud enough at a normal pace. I got closer, about two arm lengths away. She couldn’t see my shadow approaching her because we were in some sort of covered shopping bazaar. But I was old and my breathing was getting a little heavy. Just what I needed. Then, the stares from pedestrians started — they had to start now of all times. Guess it wasn’t every day that people in Japan saw a cowboy tailing an old faux boho. Cheyenne must have seen the stares, too. She noticed them as soon as she exited the bazaar and was about to turn the corner. As soon as she noticed the stares, she noticed my shadow because I was in the morning light with her.
She then turned and noticed me.
She was more shocked than anything. “Bow…” she mumbled as I grabbed her arm. Adrenaline was flowing; I didn’t want to let her go.
“Where you off to Cheyenne?” I asked. Wish I had a cleverer retort but there more pressing matters at hand. I had my visual confirmation. It was Cheyenne but more haggard than I remember her looking. I got a good look at her; wanted to make sure I wasn’t causing an international incident. She looked like she’d been put through the wash, hung out to dry and abandoned to sit in the sun.
“Bowie?” she asked again. Her expression was like that of a fugitive who just got caught; a mixture of shock and incredulity. “Steven Bowie? Is that really you?”
“What are you doing here?”
“To get you…make sure you’re okay. Are you — ”
“You came here — how’d you…”
“How’d you find me?”
“I’ll tell you later.”
“I mean, this country is full of people and here…”
“That doesn’t matter right…”
“Oh my, God. I can’t believe…”
“This is just…”
I let go of her arm. Her choice of words put me into brief shock.
Her body language changed as well. Gone was the surprise, the incredulity. Now she looked like she’d unwrapped some present.
“It’s serendipitous. You know, an act of fate?”
“Yeah, whatever. Look, now that I’ve found you — ”
“I thought I’d never say this…”
“I’d never thought I’d be happy to see you.”
“I’m so happy to see you.”
“That makes two of us.” For once.
I’d never thought I’d hear those words from Cheyenne, and I’d never thought I’d say something in agreement with her (except maybe, “Go to hell,” or something like that).
We started our walk back to the hotel. At first, I took her arm to get her going in my direction but soon she just followed along without any coercion (suggestive or otherwise). Given what I heard about Ozawa and the business he was caught up in, it only made sense she would be happy to see a familiar face. But given our history, I expected her to run away upon sight of me. “You really don’t know how grateful I am to see you,” she said.
“I’m glad you’re glad,” I said.
She held her hands together like it was an answer to prayer. “I really am glad. I’m so happy. It’s been — it’s just…”
“I can’t believe Bruce cared…”
I said, “Bruce cares. He cares…” then stopped walking. We were in the middle of Chinatown with foot traffic beginning to pick up. That meant we began to gather more than a few stares. I even saw Takeshi the hawker. He was putting out a sign in front of his restaurant. Before I could broach the subject of Bruce’s money with Cheyenne, Takeshi looked up and ran over to us. He started talking in Japanese, obviously elated I had found her. We shook hands and I gave my thanks in English.
Cheyenne looked at me worried. “What’s he talking about Bowie?”
“Don’t know — actually, I have an idea what he’s talking about…” I said, pulling some cash out of my wallet. I offered the notes to Takeshi put his hands up in protest. I kept saying please but he didn’t take the cash.
“Why are you waving cash at him Bowie?” she asked.
“Don’t worry about it,” I said. Figuring the boy was saying the Japanese version of “Your money’s no good here,” I returned the cash to my wallet and just offered my hand. It looks like my finding Cheyenne was payment enough for him.
“What was that all about?”
I explained it to her.
“You had a dragnet looking for me.”
“I wouldn’t call it that a dragnet…”
“Like I’m some fugitive on the run…”
“Cheyenne, we — well, Bruce was worried about you. We heard some things.”
Cheyenne began looking around, like she had just become more aware of the world around her. Outside the entrance to Chinatown, under the big Chinese gate I walked to up to a taxi. Her body stiffened. “Wait — where are we going?”
“To my hotel.”
“Hotel…” she thought for a moment, took a deep breath and entered with me following. As soon as I said the name of the hotel to the driver she turned to me in shock. “Did you just say ‘Hotel Okra’?”
“Actually, it’s Oh-ku-ra. My guide Jason told me…”
She shook her head in a panic. “We can’t go there!” she said.
“Why? I have a room there.”
“I had a room there too! With Keiji! But he’s gone and…” she stopped.
“The room…it was ransacked…”
“Okay…” I said and started to think. The taxi started moving.
“’Okay’? That’s it? ‘Okay’?”
“What do you want me to say?”
“I don’t know — just sound so…insouciant.”
“I’m not even gonna ask what that means. I’m just processing. It’s what I do.”
“Ah, the Texas Ranger here to the rescue. You’ll save us all, right?” She sat with her head against the window and her arms crossed. I’ve seen children less petulant. Her voice, her accent, flat but high pitched…and grating as hell. She tried to sound high toned and intellectual; above the common folk
“Yeah, that’s right,” I said. “My affectation as you called it. But I just call it ‘doing my damn job.’”
“You’re still smarting from that? Still holding a grudge, huh? Figures.”
“Look — I didn’t come to Japan to argue with you, Cheyenne.”
“Why did you come? To get the money I took from Bruce?”
“No. I came to make sure — obviously you don’t have the money.”
“How do you know? What makes you so sure?”
“Your damn room’s been ransacked. You look one level above homeless…”
“You’re right. You’re right. No, I don’t have it. I don’t have the money. At all.”
“Then who does?”
“Probably Keiji. I think…”
“The artist Keiji Ozawa?”
“What does that mean? What do you know?”
“Well, word on the street is he’s a conman.”
Cheyenne started shaking her head. “No. It’s just…” She paused in mid-thought. Started processing. I then recounted what Bruce told me and my talk with the agent, the lawyer, and the Yakuza connection with Kansai Petroleum. She started shaking her head. I saw tears coming out of her eyes. She just said, “No…” I’d seen the look before. Someone finally figures out they’ve been conned, they immediately put all the cruel puzzle pieces together of manipulated emotions and broken promises.
I’d let her have her moment. It was time to try and put my own puzzle together. “So he left before the room was ransacked?” Cheyenne just shook her head in agreement.
“Can you tell me what happened?” I asked.
With her eyes closed, she nodded her head and gave herself a moment, trying to trace the step of events. “He just disappeared after I gave him the money. He left me. He left me at the hotel. It was so expensive, I had to put it all on my credit cards…and then I come in one day and the room is trashed…”
“Was this before or after you were making your rounds at the 7–11s?”
“You knew about that?”
“That’s how I found you. We live in the information age. I had the information. Start from the beginning.”
“Well, Keiji lives closer to Kyoto. I wanted to see Kyoto. It looks so spiritual, you know? But Keiji just wanted — he insisted we go to Osaka, then here in Kobe. Every time we came near a 7–11 I made withdrawals and put the cash in a Louis Vuitton purse he bought for me. Not quite my style but very kind of him, don’t you think?”
“You still have the purse?”
“No but — will you just stop and let me talk? Please?”
I rolled my eyes and said, “Go ahead.”
“We slowly put cash in the bag and then one day…he was gone. The next day, the room is ransacked and…and…” her mouth was moving, the muscles twitching, but the pain of events and emotion overwhelmed her.
“I’ve been adrift, like a boat lost at sea. I was hoping he’d contact me but he just left the hotel one day and never came back. My clothes are dirty, I’ve been buying cheap, horrible breakfasts from 7–11.”
“What’s wrong with 7–11?”
“If eating at 7–11 is the height of your problems I don’t think you’re that bad off.”
“It’s been horrible Bowie. Horrible! And now you show up. I thought Bruce might have sent you to rescue me…”
“But he just sent you for the money!”
“Come on now…”
“Well, that’s a whole different rodeo…”
“Don’t try to charm your way out of it with the redneck idioms.”
“You mean my ‘affectation’?”
“That again! Listen — Since when was everything his?”
“Cheyenne, I ain’t gonna argue with you.”
“We were married for five years. I am entitled to…”
“Now ain’t the time nor the place…”
“He was always so greedy…”
“Just like a lawyer.”
“You married him. I didn’t. The two of ya’ll can work it out in court.” The taxi had stopped. I gave the driver his money in the tray and got out. Cheyenne stayed seated. Arms still crossed like she was petulant. “Are you coming or not?”
“Can I trust you?”
I nearly slammed the door and walked away. Bullshit question. Instead, I said: “You can trust me more than that artiste you ran off with.”
“‘Ran off’? Really? Like Bruce is the victim?”
“In this case he is.”
“Please. He’s so bourgeois he makes the bourgeois look proletariat.”
“I don’t even know what that means.”
“I don’t want to know either.”
“Of course you don’t.”
“Just because someone is bougie — or whatever you said — just because someone is that don’t mean you can take all their cash.”
“You weren’t married to him. And it was our cash. It was co-signed.”
“No I wasn’t, thank God. But you were.”
“It was a moment of passion, alright? I felt a moment of ecstasy. I hadn’t felt that in years. Bruce was so boring. He had no imagination. Keiji did. It was exhilarating. Haven’t you ever felt that way?”
“Really? Maybe not in love but maybe in another…”
“When I was a little boy, I caught a fish — for the first time. I was pretty ecstatic then.”
“You see. That’s what I felt!”
“I doubt it.”
“I did. It was magical and you just don’t want the moment to end…”
“Don’t even compare a boy catching his first fish to adultery.”
“’Adultery’. It’s been awhile since I heard that word — adultery!”
“Maybe if you heard it more, you wouldn’t have committed it.”
“And who says it’s wrong? Adultery?”
“Well, I don’t know. It’s in the Bible.”
“So. Well, if scripture can’t convince you, I don’t know what can.”
“I guess I’m just a lost cause,” she said but she got out of the car and started walking towards the lobby with me. I looked towards the driver and rolled my eyes. He shook his head and laughed. I doubt he could understand what we were talking about but he could get the general drift. One didn’t need a translator to understand batshit crazy women.
She was a lost cause in my book, but I didn’t say to her because it might have hurt her feelings. I’m not a Bible thumper, but someone’s got to have codes, right? We need a guide of some sort. We don’t need to hit people over the head with the book, but still. This woman.
I saw a man in a black suit and tie walk out of the lobby, past Cheyenne. She was ahead of me. He gave her the once over. I ran up to her and locked her arm with mine. And smiled. “What are you doing?” She asked.
“Just trying to throw a dog off the scent,” I said.
She stopped and looked back at the guy.
I realized something.
I yanked her and pulled her forward. “Keep moving and don’t worry about it,” I said. I started walking faster towards the elevator. My pace seemed to concern her. “Why are you walking so fast, Bowie?” she asked.
As the elevator doors closed I said, “Because, I’m worried about Jason.”
“Jason? Who’s Jason again?”
“Hopefully alive and or at least in one piece.”
Continued in Chapter 20