11. Blame it on the Fugu

Those who eat fugu soup are stupid.
But those who don’t eat fugu soup are also stupid.
— old Japanese proverb

Ryu was back and I, stupidly, was excited. He’d been gone for a little less than a week, but to me it seemed like forever. Tokyo is a bizarrely beautiful city where every step seems to take you deeper and deeper into a rabbit hole of adventure, but I was so lonely. I felt as if I’d been set adrift like the little shrines that the Japanese carry to the sea and launch. I missed my bodyguard, but when he returned I knew that something had changed. His careless, exquisitely intimate, and possessive manner had disappeared to be replaced by something slick, detached, and extremely professional. He was still attentive and protective, but I sensed that a great and insurmountable wall had risen unaccountably up between us. It was evident at once. I tried hard not to feel hurt by it, and when he asked me to dinner the night after he returned, I was certain that I had been mistaken. I wore a yellow silk dress, silk stockings, orange lipstick, and, because I wasn’t sure how he felt about me, very high heels. The extra height made me feel more secure. We were going to have fugu* in the one restaurant in Tokyo that Ryu believed truly understood how to prepare it. The restaurant was in the Ginza, Tokyo’s elegant, though somewhat old-fashioned “downtown.” Ryu had on a dark teal-blue suit and a silver-gray tie, the French cuffs of his shirt fastened by small ivory castles reminiscent of the pieces one uses in chess.

“Ryu-san, this fish, this fugu, is poison, isn’t it?” I asked in Japanese.

—DEAD LOVE/Chapter 11/Blame it on the Fugu

*Fugu is the Japanese name for all fish of the family Tetraodontidae, class osteichthyes, order Tetraodontiformes, known in English as the blowfish or globefish. Highly poisonous, and at the same time very tasty, it has been the cause of many deaths over the centuries, including that of the famous Kabuki actor Mitsugoro Bando VIII in 1975. Japan consumes approximately 20,000 tons of blowfish yearly. The safest time to eat fugu is in the winter months. This scene takes place in August. Blowfish toxins, which block sodium channels in nerve tissues, paralyze muscles and induce respiratory arrest, have been identified as an ingredient in zombie powders.


photo by Linda Watanabe McFerrin, courtesy of Linda Watanabe McFerrin

  • boldlow

    Another enticing excerpt and a clue of what's going to happen to you, Erin. Keep 'em coming – they're a delightful read even after reading DEAD LOVE! Thanks!