11. Blame it on the Fugu (4)

“And you,” he said softly, “ you have no reason to be afraid?”

The sake arrived. Ryu seemed relieved. It was cloud-white and cool. He drank deeply.

“I’m not afraid of powerful men,” I sighed, thinking of the one man this adjective conjured up, the one with the scalpel that had cut up my heart.

“Like your father?” he asked, replacing the cuff link.

“Like him, of course.”

“You should be.”

“There’s no purpose in fear.” My nonchalance was an act, one that I had perfected.

“So Japanese.”

“Why, thank you, Ryu.” I laughed, raising my glass. “Kampai.”

“Kampai,” he responded and drained his cup.

The first of many toasts. Ryu relaxed a bit after that. I felt him thawing. Suddenly it seemed he couldn’t take his eyes off me. He watched me eat: watched me as I swallowed the shimmering hamachi, as my teeth cut into the coral-pink curl of ebi. We drank more sake, chewed on the octopus. Wanting to amuse him, I told him funny stories about my schools and girlfriends. He leaned into the diversion. I wanted to think he was enjoying himself. Then, the fugu arrived, small fillets adrift in a big bowl of liquid. Ryu passed a hand over my bowl.

“No poison, you’re sure?” I asked with a smile, taking a sip of the steaming mixture, not pausing for his response. “Oh, this is delicious.”

—DEAD LOVE/Chapter 11.4/Blame it on the Fugu


  • boldlow

    Wonderful excerpt Erin. In few words you invoke caring, philosophy AND a dining review. I had forgotten this interchange between you and Ryu … touching and ominous at the same time. Thanks for the reminder.