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Killer Roll

Chapter Four — Maki vs. the BGWAAM

Up to now, I’ve never felt that a group that I belonged to believed in me. When I left for America, my family thought that I would come running back home. That didn’t happen. My classmates thought that I was peculiar, too clever for our fishing village in Wakayama. They predicted that I would end up a hostess girl in the red-light district in Tokyo. That didn’t happen, either.

But as I’m sharing my current troubles to my coworkers at Yudai’s Corner, it occurs to me that I’ve finally found my people. They don’t look like me. My boss, Yudai, has a round face and a round belly to match. Hector is tall with hooded eyes that only fully open for his baby daughter. Som is small and wiry with arms and legs usually positioned for a quick and unexpected getaway. And there’s Carrie, the blonde and blue-eyed beauty, the Stanford coed and daughter of demanding German immigrants.

As soon as I tell them that my life may be in danger because of what my dead ex-husband did, I half-expect them to flee or tell me to resign my position as sushi chef. Instead, they all start speaking simultaneously on what I need to do to protect myself.

“Hold on, hold on!” Carrie gets our attention. She then gestures that we should go outside and continue our conversation there. We file out and Yudai locks the door behind us.

“If this is about stolen high-tech secrets, the feds might have bugged the restaurant,” she says as we walk past the bus station.

“That’s pretty paranoid thinking,” Yudai says. “I like it.”

“And everyone turn off their phones.” Carrie almost snatches Hector’s Android from his hands.

“Hey, I’m talking to my daughter.”

“She’s four months old. She doesn’t know the difference between you and a Muppet,” Som says.

“There are ways that they can monitor us through our cell phones.”

“Who are they?” Hector asks. Good question. I was wondering the same thing.

“I don’t know. The FBI. The Russians. The Bad Guys Who Are After Maki.”

I worried especially about the last ones, BGWAAM.

“So your ex was some kind of spy?” Som asks me.

“I am not sure about anything anymore. When I met him, he was working for Oxford Strategies in something related to computer programming. I know nothing about computers—I don’t even have a computer at home. We never talked about his work, which seemed to suit him just fine.”

“These guys don’t sound like they are playing around.” Som’s gait is quick; he probably takes two steps to every one of Yudai’s. “Maybe you should go back to your family in Japan?”

“No, that is impossible,” I say.

“Impossible,” Yudai repeats. He understands.

“I’m not going to change my life because of something my ex-husband has done.”

Carrie pulls off a dead leaf from the bottom of her Toms shoes. “I’m pretty good with a pistol.”

“What? No weapons,” I say.

“My father used to take us kids shooting every weekend. Too bad I don’t own a gun.”

Our group walks in silence for a while down a picturesque block of ranch-style homes.

“I have a gun,” Hector says. “My wife has been asking me to get rid of it for a while because of the baby.”

“Bring it to work then,” Carrie says. “Maybe we can go to a shooting range during our break.”

“Yudai, stop them. I don’t want to be responsible for someone getting hurt.”

Yudai clears his throat. “Yes, we can’t deal with this through firepower. So, Oxford Strategies, huh? You got it, Carrie?”

Carrie seems to understand what Yudai is getting at. “Yup, Boss.” Carrie starts scribbling Kurt’s company name on her order pad.

“And our mystery customer and undercover officer, Ray DiPietro, who wants to take him on?”

“I have a cousin in the San Jose PD,” Hector says.

Orai, maybe find out more about this REACT unit.”

“Through my library card, I can also get digital access to all the newspapers in the area. I can track all the high-tech crimes in Silicon Valley over the past year or so,” Som says.

I stop on the sidewalk. “What are you all doing?”

“We are starting our own detective agency, Yudai Investigations,” my boss announces. “Our first case is yours, Maki. We’ll be meeting everyday except Monday during our break between lunch and dinner.”

I am dumbfounded and humbled. I can’t believe that this group of people truly has my back.

That night, work takes on a completely different tone. Som, who’s planning to install some security cameras all over our property, sneaks some photos of our customers. Carrie tries to small talk more than usual. I take some mental notes as I serve Mr. Linkedin, Mr. Facebook, and Mr. Hewlett Packard. Could any of these people be doing surveillance work for the BGWAAM? Working as a team empowers me. No matter what threats I face, I am not alone.

Som even offers to drive my car to my apartment. I tell him it’s too much. I’m alright. The BGWAAM wouldn’t dare come to my apartment after killing Kurt there.

“Just go and call your Lyft,” I tell Som after he parks the car in our lot. He shakes his head and walks me over to my front door. So silly, I think, as I take my keys from him, but then I notice that Mochiko doesn’t appear in my living room window to greet me. Something is definitely wrong. As I unlock and open the door, I don’t even have to turn on the light to see what has happened. It’s like a tornado has hit inside. All my earthly belongings in America are turned over, scattered, shattered. The BGWAAM has hit.

Chapter Five >>


© 2018 Naomi Hirahara

fiction Killer Roll maki mitchell mystery naomi hirahara restaurant sushi

About this series

Maki Mitchell, one of the few female Japanese chefs in the world, works at Yudai’s Corner, a sushi bar in California’s Silicon Valley. Still bruised from her divorce to an American man, she uncharacteristically lets down her guard to a male customer one evening. That seemingly random encounter leads her down dark paths involving high-tech hijinks and international espionage. Soon Yudai’s Corner becomes a full-fledged detective agency and all the employees ban together to not only solve murders but to also support and protect the life of their female sushi chef.

Read Chapter One