3. Ashes to Ashes (2)

He held the front door for me and we stepped from the sidewalk into the cool, marble lobby. We took the elevator to the third floor. The chauffeur brought up my bags. The walls on the third floor were covered in ash-colored silk. At #3 Homat Higashi, Ryu pulled out a platinum key ring with two keys upon it. He took off one of the keys and handed me the ring with only one key upon it.

“There,” he said. “Go ahead. Open it.”

“My father is here?”

Ryu nodded toward the door.

The apartment, grand by any standards, was enormous for Tokyo where space is at a premium. From the vestibule, two steps led down into a sweeping double chamber. Two huge windows, through which sunlight streamed, stretched across the living room and dining room walls. The carpet was white, the furniture dark, the sofas a rough bronze silk. Door-sized abstract canvases by well-known painters covered vast expanses of wall. I recognized Pollock, de Koonig, Diebenkorn. To the left of the entrance, on higher ground, a long hall reached past a guestroom and bath toward a cavernous master bedroom. To the right of the vestibule was the kitchen entrance through which I could see a room full of gleaming black granite counters and stainless steel. Perfectly appointed, spotlessly clean. Just the kind of soulless environment I’d expect from my father. I stepped down into the living room, examined the books that had been so carefully placed on the tables. My father, framed and caught under the glass in a series of photos, looked very much like the man in my mother’s old pictures. There he stood with heads of state, with Presidents past, present and possibly future. Much heavier now, his hair not blond but gray, he still had the arrogant look, though time had hardened his smirk.

Ryu watched me coolly. He took out a cigarette, lit it and leaned back against the front door. “Put the bags in the first room,” he instructed the chauffeur.

I stood by the window, gazing down at the children racing around in the park below. “Ryu,” I asked cautiously, “where is my dad?”

“Oh,” said Ryu. “He’s not here. He told me to give you this.” He reached into his suit jacket and held out an envelope with my name on it. The note inside was handwritten in the same scrawl that appeared on my father’s checks.


This will cover your needs for as long as you are in Tokyo. I leave you to Ryu. He will take care of you. Just do as he says.


There was, of course, a check. That, at least, I could count on. I glanced at the photos of my father again. His face had the pinched look of a man with a mean little heart.

Ryu sensed my mood.

“Look,” he said, taking the note and holding his cigarette to it until the corner caught fire. I watched as it writhed under the lash of heat, curled into flaky gray cinders. Ryu laughed as the note fell apart, the bits of ash fluttering toward the floor. “Look,” he began again, “you can’t just sit here.” He looked at his watch. “Come with me. I’m going to introduce you to Tokyo.”

  • Just finished reading the “Dead Love” book excerpts. Excellent writing, but scary stuff. Love it!

  • Right. Laughing and crying, living and dying … you know, it’s the same release. Living is scary stuff.