11. Blame it on the Fug...

I had never eaten fugu, but I did like to follow Ryu’s lead. It was fun doing things with the yakuza. He was dangerous, too, like the fugu. That excited me. But this particular blowfish dinner had it in for me, and I passed out as I sipped at my cool, milk-colored sake, as I prepared to...

11. Blame it on the Fug...

Ryu was especially fond of fugu. He loved the flush that suffused his body as his heart went into overdrive, the slight mist of perspiration that formed on his upper lip and brow, the gentle numbing of his extremities and the way the world around him seemed to soften and bend as he...

11. Blame it on the Fug...

“To throw away life, eat blowfish.” That is what the Japanese say. Fugu, blowfish, puffer fish, globefish, swellfish, river pig, Sphoeroides testudineus–whatever you call it—it contains in its skin, liver, ovaries, and intestine a neurotoxin that is 160,000 times more powerful than...

11. Blame it on the Fug...

Unlike me, Ryu did not drink deeply. He merely dipped his lips in the broth. His mouth was glistening, and I wanted to lean toward him and kiss him. Then the noise in the restaurant began to sound like water, like water running, like a brook or a stream. Musical. Hypnotic. And my heart...

11. Blame it on the Fug...

“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...

11. Blame it on the Fug...

Then I pushed the thought aside. Ryu sighed. His white teeth flashed for an instant, then the smile disappeared. “Ahhh, so we’re in a mood tonight, are we? What’s wrong Ryu? Are you sad?” Ryu did look sad. True, I hadn’t known him long, but I had never seen him that way. “What are you...