9. Let’s Make a Deal (8)

They all heard it: the terrible popping sound of a joint being pulled from its socket. Clément kept pulling his body to the right until the arm had come completely away from the shoulder. It hung, useless, the skin stretched like a hammock between the yakuza’s grip and his torso. “Oh, no, please don’t hurt me,” he laughed. His pleasure was palpable. He met every man’s eyes and grinned.

The faces of the three old men darkened. The two yakuza lackeys released him and stepped back.

Clément’s hollow eyes narrowed. “Now, keep your goons off me,” he commanded in guttural Osaka-style Japanese.

“So, what have we here? A trickster?” asked the first old man, having regained his composure.

The two stocky yakuza took a step back toward the clerk as if to lay hands on him again.

“Oh, it’s easy to bully an unarmed man,” sneered Clément, contempt in his voice. With the hand on his good right arm, he reached under his right rib and drew a long knife up and out from the fleshy sheath of his abdomen. Ryu recognized the knife. It was his. His mind flashed back on the clerk in front of the mirrors in the dressing room fondly stroking his belly. The five other men in the grotto gasped.

Clément had a terrible smile on his face. “Oh, don’t worry. I’m not going to put up a fight. I am a ghoul of peace. Here,” he teased, handing one of the yakuza the knife, handle first, knowing he’d drawn the trump card—a knife pulled from his own naked body. “Go ahead. Torture me. Martyr me. Kill me . . . if you can.”

“Take it,” shouted the second old man.

Like a man in a trance the yakuza reached for the knife. Ryu’s knife—Ryu felt himself cringe.

Clément didn’t let go of the weapon at once. He held onto the blade tightly so that the steel bit into his palm, and then he released it slowly. One, two, three, four—his fingers fell to the floor. “Kill me,” he said breezily. “Do it now. Otherwise let’s get down to business,” he hissed. He turned to the three robed figures. “Kill me or let’s make a deal.”

—DEAD LOVE/Chapter 9.8/Let’s Make a Deal

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  • boldlow

    Erin, I Dead LOVE this scene … one of many in this story. Makes me want to turn the page and find out what happens next. Guess I gotta wait a week! That's ok – your other posts are just as interesting and compelling. I don't know how you do it, but keep 'em coming! Thanks.

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