Yakuza Dynasty—Excerpt

One of the best books I’ve ever read!Online Book Club official review

CHAPTER 4: KKANGPAE SHANGHAI

 

cnd-4-bk-cover-front-loA jolt. Then another. And another.

With each bump, every muscle in my body screamed for mercy. My head felt like a leprechaun was inside it, mining with a pickaxe.

I forced my eyes to open. Crusted over with eye boogers, they barely complied. Through slits, I saw a blurry picture. A man sitting sideways.

I opened wider, and he came into focus.

I was lying on my side, on a couch. From another couch opposite me, the Korean thug Smileyboy scowled back, still staring as if I was an insect. A bandage now patched his nose and cheek wound.

“Where . . . where are we?” I croaked, looking around.

Still staring, he continued to ignore me.

I looked around. We sat in a plush, tan tube, with wood paneling, bucket seats and carpeted floor. A soft whoosh hummed in my ears. Then I knew.

A business jet. A Gulfstream 650, by the look of it. Probably an ER. One of the largest private jets, and with the longest range. The same type plane in which ITA had whisked Bob and me to Europe. But I had a feeling that, on this flight, there was no stunning Swedish redhead named Ingrid waiting to serve me filet mignon.

I peered down at my legs. I was strapped on the couch by two seatbelts. If I could manage to stand, I thought, maybe I could ignore all my owies long enough to take him.

Then, I realized, my left hand was cuffed to the armrest.

More turbulence. I bounced along on the spongy couch. As soft as it was, every jolt still tortured my pummeled body.

I looked out the side window next to Smiley, but it was pitch black and socked in. The plane’s beacon bathed the clouds in an eerie red glow, accentuated by blinding flashes from its white strobes.

I pointed at the seatbelt strapping my ankles.

“May I?” I asked.

Expressionless, he continued to stare.

I took that as a Yes.

I popped loose the belt and slowly sat upright, every move shooting daggers of pain through my body. The leprechaun went ballistic with the pickaxe.

“Ohhh,” I moaned, holding my head.

Forward, to my right, I spied a water bottle in a cup holder, built into a serving area complete with glasses, wine and liquor bottles, bags of snacks, napkins and stuff. With my free hand, I reached across and snagged the water bottle, then opened it with my teeth. I gulped down the entire thing.

The cool liquid helped to get the gears in my brain whizzing again.

“So, where are we off to, Smiley?” I asked. “Seoul? Or Pyongyang? Are you guys North or South, anyway?”

Staring me down, he continued to ignore my words.

He’d changed from the dorky fake street clothes into a dark business suit. His jacket lay draped over a chair, and his white sleeves were rolled up, revealing a jungle of tattoos writhing up his limbs. From behind his loosened, wildly gaudy tie peeked more tatts on his neck and chest. The Ocho’s infinité tattoo had nothing on this clown.

“You’re kkangpae, right?”

Silence.

I stared at the artwork on his arm, a bizarre mosaic of violent scenes, weapons, bloody hearts skewered on a blade, topless ladies and skulls. Down his forearm rippled a string of five bullets, which I took to be the body count of those he’d killed. A sixth bullet tatt with my name on it, I knew, would be etched there next.

The plane pitched down. The hum of the engines lowered to a soft thrum.

“Top of Descent,” as pilots call it. Twenty or thirty minutes out from Korea.

I peered outside. Through breaks in the overcast, the early dawn of a new morning bathed the Korean landscape in dark, dull grey.

Leaving me to my misery, Smily joined his buddy up in the first row. Buckled in, both stared out their side windows. Apparently, neither thought me enough of a threat to babysit for landing.

Time to hijack an airplane.

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