• Perspectives

                Takeda Fumito looked at the two guns on the small table that stood only a few feet away from Bashi Channel. The calm, composed and experienced referee could feel the refreshing ocean breeze on his back. It was a humid late summer morning but he didn’t even sweat.

                A luxurious car with dark shades smoothly approached the isolated beach in southern Taiwan on a muddy gravel road. Fumito immediately recognized the model. It belonged to Miyamoto Takeaki’s fleet. The disciplined and principled leader was always on time. Even though Fumito had always been perfectly neutral, objective and professional, he respected the intellectual, philosophical and polite leader. However, he knew that Takeaki could be determined, pitiless and strict when he needed to be. He was a unique gang leader and his authority had never been questioned in four decades. Even Fumito’s father had already organized duels when Takeaki had followed in his father’s footsteps in the late seventies. Takeda had also followed in his father’s footsteps which only increased his respect for the gang leader.

    Fumito had been organizing duels like these for the past three and a half decades. Most of these duels were about turf conflicts related to prostitution rings, drug distribution and casino ownership. This case was slightly different. Fumito hadn’t been given any official details but he had known gang members since his early childhood and had heard that this duel seemed to have a romantic background story.

    The beautiful car stopped and the smooth engine quieted down. A bodyguard dressed in black shoes, black socks, black trousers, black shirt, black vest, black tie and black sunglasses opened the door, attentively looked around, steadily paced around the car and opened the door for his boss. Despite his old age, Miyamoto Takeaki smoothly got out off the car, nodded towards Fumito and waited for the duelist to step out behind him.

    Fumito was surprised when he saw how young the duelist looked. He couldn’t be older than his late twenties but his round baby face almost made him look like a teenager. His long and sweaty hair only underlined this impression. The duelist was sweating profusely which was probably equally due to the humid weather and the difficult task that laid ahead.

    A second car approached the beach from the other side. It was a red, flashy and expensive car without any shaded windows. The car drove rather quickly and the motor roared loudly as it approached its destination. It was obvious to Fumito that this car belonged to Endo Rinsho’s fleet. He was only a few years Miyamoto Takeaki’s junior but a completely different character. He was very dynamic, eloquent and impatient. Rinsho was the kind of boss you didn’t want to disappoint because he would only give you one single chance. Not only opponents but his own colleagues feared him. He had seized power about two decades ago when he had personally murdered his strongest opponent and his wife. Rinsho was often perceived as a tyrant and he seemed to appreciate that reputation. He was fearless and didn’t mind showing off his boundless self-confidence. Even though Fumito personally didn’t like his flashy character traits very much, he still respected the gang leader because he had come from a modest fisherman’s family with nine siblings and had fought his way up to the highest rank. Endo Rinsho’s resilience was second to none.

    The car came to a stop with screeching tires. Two bodyguards quickly opened the doors. They were dressed in red shoes, red socks, red trousers, red shirts, red vests, red ties and red sunglasses. The robust gang leader exited the vehicle as if he stepped onto a red carpet. He had a cigar in his mouth and waved towards Fumito. The duelist got off the other side of the car. He was much older than his opponent and perhaps in his early fifties. He had short gray hair, was very thin and had a pale and motionless face. The duelist was dressed in an old-fashioned grey flannel suit that seemed to come straight out of a film noir of the early fifties.

    The duelist wasn’t alone. A younger lady exited the vehicle behind him. She had beautiful hair, wore heavy make-up, held a white purse in her hands, wore an elegant white dress and her expensive jewels reflected the sunshine. She made a tremendous effort to look thirty-five but was probably about ten years older. Despite her remarkable appearance, her face looked bored as if she didn’t want to be there at all.

    Fumito started to put the pieces of the puzzle together. The disgusted-looking lady seemed to be the wife of the old-fashioned duelist and the nervous youngster who had stepped out of the other vehicle had probably been her lover.

    The referee sighed very quietly. The arrogant lady obviously didn’t seem to care about either man. She had neither looked at the old-fashioned guy nor at the nervous youngster since her arrival and was alternatively staring at her fingernails or verifying her elegant high heels instead. It was quite a waste that one of the men needed to die because of her today. But the rules needed to be respected. The two weapons were ready. One man had to perish today.

    Fumito touched his own gun one last time. There were six bullets in the barrel. In case one of the duelists only got critically injured, it was his job to finish him off. If the duel were to end in a draw, Fumito had to assassinate both of them. The duelists only had one single bullet in their barrels.

    Everything was ready. Fumito didn’t move a muscle as the two parties approached him from different sides. The duel was about to begin.

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                Ueda Reina had just escaped the suffocating silence of the flashy red car only to be welcomed by the suffocating humidity of the late summer morning. She didn’t want to be there at all. Reina would have preferred to go shopping in Taipeh in a flashy new air-conditioned mall to buy some new make-up. She had an appointment with her hairstylist in the late afternoon and hoped that she wouldn’t miss it. If she did miss it, she couldn’t possibly go to the karaoke dinner with her friends. Reina wanted to make sure to have a breathtaking appearance whenever she left her luxurious mansion. Even though she didn’t care about ordinary men, she took their turning heads as compliments for her stunning beauty.

                She understood that she needed to be there this morning because the two duelists had been arguing over her. However, she didn’t feel responsible for this. Sure, she had flirted with the nervous youngster from the other gang when she had met him at the fitness studio two months ago. But nobody had forced him to fall for her even though Reina was perfectly aware that the poor youngster would never ever be able to date a woman like her again. He had succumbed to her charm and now he needed to pay the price for it. The youngster had been a hopeless romantic and his naivete was catching up with him. 

    Reina hadn’t been attracted to him because he was beautiful. It was actually rather the opposite. His sweaty hair was disgusting, he smelled badly and he wasn’t muscular enough to make a great impression on her. Reina had simply been bored with her husband and had felt like having an adventure with a younger and more potent man. He hadn’t even been very good in bed and they had only had sexual intercourse once but she certainly liked being desired. Her husband had provided for her rich lifestyle but he left her emotionally cold and was often on business trips.

    When an acquaintance had reported to him that Reina had been seeing another man, he had not even talked about that to her. Reina knew that he didn’t want to risk losing a beautiful wife like her and would forgive her secret relationship. She didn’t respect her husband very much but as long as she could continue to live the lifestyle she had been living over the past fifteen years since their wedding and he could repair his honour by assassinating the nervous youngster, everything was fine in her opinion. She would have other occasions to meet young men in town and didn’t care about her lover’s fate. He had been an interesting pastime activity for a few weeks but he neither had the wit, nor the style, nor the possessions to impress her.

    Reina wanted her husband to win the duel because it served her own purposes. She really wanted the duel to be over as quickly as possible. And she especially wanted to see her hairstylist.

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                Endo Rinsho looked at Ueda Reina with disdain. She was the most superficial person he had ever met and he had come across plenty of people in the fifty-six years of his life. That fact hadn’t prevented him from making advances to her and sleeping with her occasionally though. He would offer her a new pair of shoes, an expensive handbag or a beautiful diamond ring in return. Rinsho wasn’t even sure if Ueda’ husband knew that she had not only slept with the nervous youngster but also with him and probably with a few other gang members as well. To be honest, Rinsho didn’t even care. He was the boss, he was in charge and he could do anything he wanted to. Yamazaki Namio was a quick-witted accountant but a disillusioned husband who would never speak or stand up.

                The grumpy gang leader didn’t want to lose his loyal accountant who had been working for him for more than twenty-five years. It was increasingly difficult to find reliable, loyal and devoted employees these days. He also wanted him to win the duel because he hated losing in general. Rinsho also liked seeing the other gang being intimidated by his own gang members.

                Yamazaki Namio wasn’t particularly intimidating of course. But he still looked more composed, focused and prepared than the other duelist. Endo Rinsho had already forgotten his name. He was an unimportant third-grade hitman who could barely finish off easy targets like grandmothers in wheelchairs or seniors on their deathbeds. However, he looked so twitchy, excited and confused right now that he would possibly even miss a stranded whale if he stood right in front of it with a gun in his hand. Rinsho wouldn’t have accepted such a nervous youngster in his own gang but Miyamoto Takeaki seemed to be a rather good-hearted senile idiot who would give any amateur a chance. Had such a disgraceful youngster really been part of his own gang, he would have personally assassinated him. The conservative fool Takeaki however had insisted on a fair duel.

    Rinsho knew that Takeaki’s days were numbered and that his potential successors were as soft as he was. Rinsho was ready to declare war against the other clan as soon as Takeaki died in order to take their turfs over. Meanwhile, he enjoyed seeing Takeaki and any member of his gang suffering. Even though he resented seeing this duel through, Rinsho hoped Yamazaki Namio would only wound his opponent so that he needed to be disgracefully finished off by the referee like a bleeding and screaming pig.

    If however his accountant were to lose the duel against all odds, his gang would make sure to have some fun with his widow before forcing her into prostitution. She had taken his gifts for granted and it would serve her a good lesson to pay him back. Since she was incredibly stupid, she only had her body to pay her debts. She was forty-five years old but still had about ten good years in her.

    Endo Rinsho sat down on a chair a few feet away from the referee and the small table with the two guns on it. His bodyguards stood by his side and didn’t move a muscle. Rinsho looked at his watch. He was supposed to meet a businessman at the international airport in a little bit less than six hours. There was no time to waste. He gave the referee an impatiently arrogant sign to proceed with the duel.

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                What a shame! Miyamoto Takeaki felt torn between respecting traditions and applying common sense. A duel was obviously the fairest way to solve the problem implying his hopelessly romantic young hitman Chiba Itsuo and the disillusioned married accountant Yamazaki Namio. On the other hand, Takeaki thought very lowly of the bored housewife Ueda Reina. She had everything of a manipulative maneater from her bored facial expressions over her heavy make-up to her conspicuous dressing style. She was the kind of lady he wouldn’t even approach if they were the last two human beings on the planet.

                In a certain way, he could understand why his hitman had fallen for the femme fatale. Chiba Itsuo had come from a poor family from a small coastal village where his father had worked as a fishmonger and his wife as a violinist. The family had become indebted to Miyamoto Takeaki when they had constructed a bigger house for their six children. In the beginning, the family father had smuggled cocaine on boats and inside whale carcasses but since he had been very handy with knives, he had soon started to work as a hitman and had become known as Budai Blade. He had died on a dangerous mission when he had been killed by pirates hired by an obscure rival gang. Itsuo had followed in his father’s footstep as the eldest son to pay his father’s debts and avenge his death. He had neither succeeded to make enough money nor to track down those who had hired the pirates so far. His siblings had estranged from him as his brothers had emigrated to mainland China while his sister had married a wealthy businessman. His mother had married a business partner of Miyamoto Takeaki and now lived in Macau. Itsuo had become lonely, isolated and desperate. When a woman as beautiful as Ueda Reina had flirted with him as pastime activity, the nervous youngster must have seen a chance to get his first girlfriend since his high school years and escape his gloomy everyday life. The unequal relation had been bound to fail right from the start.

                Takeaki could have fired Itsuo a long time ago because the drooping amateur didn’t have his father’s talent as a hitman. The serene, philosophical and empathic gang leader had however decided to keep Itsuo close for several reasons. First of all, he pitied him and felt partially responsible for his father’s demise. Secondly, he was also interested in discovering who had ordered the hit against Itsuo’s father and who was the leader behind the mysterious group of pirates that had attacked shipments from numerous different gangs. Thirdly, Takeaki wanted to keep Itsuo close because he knew that he was a ticking time bomb thirsting for revenge that needed to be kept under tight surveillance.

                The old gang leader sat down on the chair that had been prepared for him on the beach and sat perfectly still. His bodyguard stood a few feet behind on this left and didn’t move a muscle either. Endo Rinsho on the other side was nervously moving on his chair, exchanging a few words with his bodyguards and lighting another cigar. Takeaki respected his opponent for his longevity and severity but despised his cruelty and narcissism. He was well aware that Endo Rinsho wanted to take over his turf but Miyamoto Takeaki had already taken numerous precautions and set a few traps in case his opponent would force his hand. Takeaki owned several files proving tax evasion and fraud that could put his opponent behind bars for at least ten years. The old leader didn’t plan on destroying his opponent’s career and provoking a turf war as he wanted to keep things fair and simple. However, he was the kind of leader with a lot of foresight who was never unprepared. If he had to describe his greatest strength, he would choose his organizational skills without any doubt.

                His eyes shifted towards the two opponents. Chiba Itsuo wasn’t the best shooter but Miyamoto Takeaki still felt confidently about him. He knew that his protégé could handle stress and had the potential to outdo himself. He wasn’t too sure how to evaluate the disillusioned married accountant however. Yamazaki Namio had never participated in duels, raids or shootings. He kept a very low profile and seemed to be a rather calm, careful and intellectual individual. These were the kinds of persons Takeaki respected most because there were so few of them in gangs these days. Despite his investigations, Takeaki didn’t know anything about Yamazaki Namio’s shooting skills. The old gang leader certainly hoped his protégé would win the duel but it was difficult to predict the outcome. Unpredictability was the element Takeaki feared the most.

                The two duelists slowly approached the experienced referee who waited for them without moving a muscle. Chiba Itsuo walked nervously, turned his head towards his boss and wiped his sweaty hair off his forehead. Takeaki nodded with a confident smile to encourage his hitman but he had already turned around and stumbled hectically across the beach. Yamazaki Namio behaved very differently. He walked slowly but surely, didn’t turn around at all and had a stony poker face.

                The referee started explaining the rules briefly when the two duelists reached him. The two duelists would get the same type of weapon filled with one single bullet. They had to shake hands before the duel and needed to position themselves at a distance of about ten feet from each other. Up next, they would get a signal to turn around, take three big steps, turn around at once, aim and fire at their respective opponent. If one or both duelists died, the duel was over immediately. If one of them got injured, the referee needed to proceed with a mercy kill and award the victory to the unharmed duelist. If both duelists got injured, the duel would end in a draw and both would get executed by the referee. If no one got hit at all, the revolvers would get reloaded with one bullet each for a second or even more rounds. This type of duel had been adapted from European cultures and even though it was very old-fashioned, it had proven to be ceremonial, efficient and fair.

                The tension was slowly rising and even Takeaki was feeling somewhat stiff in his chair. The anticipation was almost unbearable when the two duelists confirmed they had understood the procedures. Even the birds and insects seemed to fall silent when the two duelists faced each other for the ceremonial handshake. Even the sea was suddenly unusually quiet. Takeaki stopped his breath, sensed that his heart was racing and felt sweat slowly running down his cheeks. His guts told him that this duel was going to be unlike anything he had experienced before in his long career. He couldn’t tell whether that was going to be something positive or negative yet.

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                Yamazaki Namio’s muscles barely moved but his thoughts were racing. He had been well aware that his superficial wife had been cheating on him. He also knew that the poor fidgeting youngster hadn’t been her first lover. Namio did neither care about his opponent nor about his wife. He had married Ueda Reina for a specific reason and not because he loved her. She got everyone’s attention with her lavish lifestyle and distracted people from her seemingly boring husband. In return for handing her out his credit cards, Namio secretly operated a lucrative network of pirates that stole shipments from different gangs and sold them to a Filipino gang.

                Nobody had ever suspected the dull accountant to be a manipulative mastermind and he wanted to keep a low profile. He would have liked to avoid this duel. He was supposed to meet a business partner on Itbayat Island at the weekend and had been in the middle of preparing an important deal when an unimportant gang member had officially reported about his wife’s unfaithfulness in delusional hopes of climbing the career ladder and leaving a lasting impression. Namio hadn’t had a choice but to accept this duel.

                He knew precisely who his opponent was. It had been Namio who had ordered to take out Chiba Itsuo’s father because he had investigated, caught and assassinated several pirates associated to Namio. The cunning hitman had to be taken out before he could discover who had set up that network of pirates. Namio didn’t feel any pity for his opponent and had always wanted to get rid of him to cut loose ends and prevent further investigations by the nervous hitman. The married accountant always liked to finish things accurately. Even though he disliked the timing of duel, he could now assassinate a potential opponent who might have disturbed his businesses in the future by trying to avenge his father’s death. Luckily enough, the inexperienced hitman didn’t seem to have the slightest clue how and why his father had to die but Namio didn’t want to take any chances.

                The cold-blooded accountant shook his opponent’s hand. Namio’s hand was cold and dry while Itsuo’s hand was hot and sweaty. Namio looked his opponent in the eyes but the scared youngster looked away and stared at the ground with shaky legs and trembling hands.

                Namio didn’t show any reaction to his opponent’s almost shameful behaviour but he thought the young hitman’s manners were somewhat suspicious. He could understand that his opponent was sensitive, nervous and afraid. On the other side however, the young hitman had been involved in criminal gangs for many years just like his father before him. Namio couldn’t understand why his opponent looked like a completely clueless amateur.

                The accountant with the hidden agenda felt pity and even disdain for his opponent. If the lifestyle of a criminal gang weren’t for him, Namio would gladly take him out. He wasn’t the most experienced shooter but regularly practiced on his small private yacht when no one else was around.

                Namio charged his gun with a metallic clicking and waited for the referee’s signal to start the duel. An uneasy silence surrounded the two duelists. Namio’s opponent was avoiding eye contact which infuriated the accountant. He wanted to analyze, manipulate and scare his opponent. Perhaps, such psychological tactics weren’t even necessary anymore. His opponent seemed to be a mental wreck at this point.

    The referee gave the sign for the duel to proceed. Namio waited for his opponent to make the first movie but Itsuo seemed to be petrified. The accountant rose his eyebrows, fidgeted slightly and cleared his throat. His weird opponent still didn’t move a muscle. Namio realized that he needed to take the lead.

    The accountant smoothly turned around, walked three big steps, stopped carefully, breathed in and turned around in one swift movement. He rose the gun above his head, aimed for his opponent, progressively lowered the weapon, narrowed his eyes and was ready to take a shot.

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                Chiba Itsuo had always liked acting classes since his early childhood. The intellectual young man had already performed in plays by renowned international authors like Molière and Shakespeare. His childhood dream had been to become an actor but that had been an impossible aspiration coming from a poor family with ties to organized crime.

                His acting skills had however come in handy this time around. Chiba Itsuo was a man on a mission. He had been waiting for this day for many years.

                The youngster remembered the devastating moment when the death of his father had been announced as if it had only happened yesterday. Itsuo still felt the shock followed by the pain and an abominable emptiness. The teenager had sworn to take his revenge on all those who were responsible for his father’s gruesome death.

                He had infiltrated Miyamoto Takeaki’s clan and proven his loyalty to him over and over again to gain his confidence. The disciplined and principled leader had introduced Chiba Itsuo’s beloved father to organized crime in the first place. The youngster wanted to see the leader dead but he was always surrounded by numerous associates, family members or gang members. The situation was different today since Miyamoto Takeaki was only accompanied by one single bodyguard that shouldn’t be too difficult to take out.

                The youngster had investigated who was behind the network of pirates by bribing lowly criminals in Endo Rinsho’s gang. Those gang members were even more despicable than Chiba Itsuo’s own colleagues and the cold-blooded youngster couldn’t wait to see that ruthless leader dead and his gang implode.

                He had found out that Yamazaki Namio had been the one who had ordered to assassinate his father. The pirate who had actually killed his father had died in a shootout with the police many years ago which angered Chiba Itsuo since he couldn’t have his revenge on him anymore. On the other side, he could focus entirely on the double-faced accountant. It was quite challenging to approach him. Yamazaki Namio was a very precautious person. He lived in a secluded guarded mansion, the windows of his car were bulletproof and he was either surrounded by dangerous pirates or heavily armed gang members. The sinister youngster had come to the conclusion that he needed to attack the weakest spot in his nemesis’ entourage. That weakest spot was the accountant’s superficial wife Ueda Reina. She was a despicable, egoistic and superficial human being. Chiba Itsuo didn’t even like the way she looked because she reminded him of a soulless puppet with her exaggerated make-up. In addition to that, her kisses were cold, dry and short and she was weirdly passive in bed. Chiba Itsuo hadn’t enjoyed one single second in her presence but she had taken the bait. The youngster had made sure that his relationship to that horrible woman was so obvious that one couldn’t ignore it. The intellectual youngster had gotten exactly what he wanted: a duel with his nemesis.

                Chiba Itsuo only pretended to be a below average assassin. He hit as many targets as necessary to not evoke any suspicions in his clan. However, he also missed as many targets as necessary in order to keep a low profile. In reality, the youngster took shooting practices for two hours every single night in his basement. Nobody knew about this since he had cut his ties with family members, friends and lovers. He had sacrificed everything to get his revenge.

                For the first time in many days, a quick smile appeared on Chiba Itsuo’s face. It wasn’t a happy smile but a sinister one. Now was the moment when all the efforts, patience and time spent on this deadly mission should pay off in one way or another. There were only two options: Chiba Itsuo would either have his revenge or die trying.

                He pretended to be nervous, looked to the ground and had to control himself to not burst out in hysterical laughter. His opponent took the bait yet again, charged his gun and took the lead. Chiba Itsuo was in full control and ready to surprise his opponent and the entire audience for that matter. He breathed in and managed to calm himself down. The grim youngster had practiced yoga for many years and was able to slow his heartbeat down and eliminate all emotions from his mind. He was working analytically like a computer at that point.

                Chiba Itsuo charged his gun, rose his head to observe his opponent’s movements, swiftly turned around, took three big steps with noiseless grace, paced around and shot in one single movement like he had practiced hundreds of times before.

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                Quiet and experienced referee Takeda Fumito could barely process the sheer madness that unfolded right in front of him. He had just given the opponents the signal for the duel to begin. Yamazaki Namio had taken the lead with lots of swagger but barely veiled impatience. It was obvious that he didn’t want to be here and that he wanted the duel to be over as quickly as possible. Chiba Itsuo on the other side was much more difficult to figure out. Even the experienced referee had thought very lowly of him. He seemed to be an inexperienced, nervous and scared youngster who had messed with criminals he shouldn’t have been involved with in the first place. The hesitating wreck had however suddenly transformed into a steady hitman.

                This realization hit the referee like a hammer. Chiba Itsuo wasn’t who he had pretended to be. He was here to win this duel and surprise everyone around him.

                The youngster turned around swiftly, shot his bullet with an almost graceful movement and took his opponent by surprise. Yamazaki Namio had opened his mouth in terrified surprise when the bullet hit him in the jaw, shattered his teeth and exploded right in his face. His twitching hand had pulled the trigger but the sudden impact of the bullet shook his arm to the right side. The accountant’s shot missed the target and hit the referee in the right arm.

                Sharp pain flooded Takeda Fumito’s body as he felt his blood vessels burst and his bone crack. He went down to his knees in surprise and only just suppressed a scream of agony. He wanted to keep his composure, countenance and strength in front of the leaders.

                His head turned towards the accountant who had accidentally fired the bullet in his direction. Yamazaki Namio let his weapon fall like a useless toy, leaned backward and fell to the ground in slow motion. He was dead before he hit the ground. Blood sprayed out of his head like a morbid fountain and turned the light-brownish sand into a shiny red.

                Suddenly, somebody grabbed Takeda Fumito from behind, lift him up and hold him firmly by his side. The referee understood that the youngster had changed position and taken the referee’s weapon. This realization hit the referee like a shockwave but he was too weak to change anything about it.

                The unpredictable youngster used him as a human shield and fired his first bullet. It hit one of Endo Rinsho’s two bodyguards right between the eyes when he attempted to pull his own gun. The heavy bodyguard sank on his knees, his eyes twisted so far to the side that they became all white and a fine line of blood ran out of his open mouth. His body hit the ground like a heavy rock and the referee understood immediately that the bodyguard would never ever stand up again.

                The youngster pushed the referee to the right side as a bullet hit the sand about one foot to their left side. It was Miyamoto Takeaki’s bodyguard who tried to intervene. He was one of the best shooters the referee had ever known but he had been taken by surprise and his first shot had clearly missed the target. Takeda Fumito suspected that his next shot wouldn’t miss by much or even miss at all.

                Chiba Itsuo put his right arm on Takeda Fumito’s right shoulder and took a precise shot. The sound of thunder was so imminent that a high-pitched ringing seemed to paralyze the referee’s entire right body half. He couldn’t hear what happened and tears of pain blurred his sight. Still, he could see how Miyamoto Takeaki’s bodyguard was hit in the forehead and flew back as if he had been crushed by a wrecking ball. The referee had never seen someone who could shoot as precisely as the youngster who used him as a shield. Even though the referee thought that the youngster’s actions were despicable, he also felt a lot of respect for the youngster’s hidden talent. He also felt something else he hadn’t known for many years. The referee was scared of his unpredictable kidnapper.

                Endo Rinsho’s second bodyguard tried to shield his boss from his unexpected opponent and tried to guide the leader towards his flashy car. He had to pay his actions with the highest price as the next bullet hit him in the back of the head. The blood flew on Endo Rinsho’s shiny jacket as the bodyguard fell down with his arms and legs spread to the side. The grumpy leader froze, panicked and turned around in disbelief instead of looking for cover.

                His hesitating reaction cost him his life. The next bullet hit the leader in the chest. Endo Rinsho opened his eyes in disbelief, started to shake and touched his open wound with his hands that turned red within a few seconds. The leader tried to apply pressure on the wound but couldn’t stop the bleeding. This was the end. He stumbled to the side, raised his arms in a desperate attempt at asking for help and fell over his own legs. His body was twisting and twitching on the muddy road that led to the vehicle he couldn’t reach anymore while gallons of his bloody life juice ran out of his suffering body. All he knew was pain until he lost consciousness to never awake from it again.

                Chiba Itsuo pushed the referee forward now and held him with a firm grip. Takeda Fumito wouldn't have been able to walk all this way by himself with his painful injury but the youngster carried him as if he were a little boy. The youngster’s next target was his own boss who had remained surprisingly calm and didn’t attempt to run away. He rose his arms in a gesture of appeasement and seemed to be willing to discuss with his cold-blooded opponent. The referee knew that Miyamoto Takeaki was an excellent speaker and hoped that his strong rhetorical capacities would stop this bloody madness. Takeda Fumito supposed that the leader would try to assure his hitman to solve any problems related to this bloody massacre, to protect him from possible quests for revenge from the other clan and to promote him due to his incredible skills.

                The brutal youngster didn’t even give his leader the chance to explain himself. As soon as Miyamoto Takeaki opened his mouth, the youngster’s hand moved forward, pulled the trigger and shot a bullet into his leader’s face. Miyamoto Takeaki’s face exploded like a ripe water melon and blood spattered the referee’s face and the youngster’s clothes. The disciplined and principled leader was pushed backwards by the impact and fell onto the chair he had still been sitting on a few seconds earlier. The cover of the white chair turned red as the dying leader twisted is agony and pain before his movements slowed down and became still.

                The stunned referee heard a high-pitched scream of terror and couldn’t immediately identify where it had come from. The youngster turned to the right side and the referee could see how Ueda Reina ran towards the forest in front of the isolated beach. She reacted cleverer than the referee would have thought. The passive wife who had now become unexpectedly active was moving forward between the two vehicles of the leaders who had already lost their lives. The youngster pushed the referee to the ground and the experienced veteran could see how the grim madman moved to the side to have a better position to kill his last victim. Ueda Reina had almost reached the forest but couldn’t move quickly enough with her high heels. She realized she couldn’t escape her lover, turned around, fell on her knees and raised her hands in order to beg her opponent to spare her life. Her heavy make-up was now mixed with tears and ran all across her reddened cheeks. The referee could already guess what the young woman was going to say. She would attempt to tell the youngster that she wanted to stay by his side now that her husband was dead, that she loved him and that she would do anything to save her life. The youngster didn’t want to give his former lover the possibility to manipulate him. He moved forward with heavy steps, lowered his weapon as he moved along between the two vehicles and shot the young woman in the head in a way that criminals executed traitors. Ueda Reina’s eyes opened in disbelief as her weakened body fell to her right side. The referee couldn’t see her face that was hidden by Miyamoto Takeaki’s vehicle but he could soon see the bloodstream that ran down the muddy gravel road towards the beach.

                After those moments of madness, the isolated beach turned completely silent. No birds were singing anymore. No insects were chirping either. Even the atmosphere was still and the sea barely moved at this point. Chiba Itsuo seemed to embrace his radical victory by celebrating the silence after the bloodbath. The referee’s arm burnt like fire but he was able to breathe in and out quietly, slow down his heartbeat and calm down for the first time after three brutally intense minutes of madness. His fear was gone and his professionalism was now kicking in again. He was all alone with the young hitman. The referee understood that Chiba Itsuo had killed the members of the two clans and their bodyguards for personal reasons. Takeda Fumito however knew that he had always been neutral and hadn’t done anything wrong to the desperate hitman. Chiba Itsuo had completed his revenge and didn’t have any reason to kill the referee.

                Takeda Fumito had just calmed himself down with those rational thoughts as Chiba Itsuo turned around, put the referee’s weapon into his pocket, grabbed the referee’s shoulders and pulled him up with stunning ease.

                ‘’Let’s go to the car!’’

    The hitman’s voice was so cold that it was almost emotionless. The referee wondered when the hitman would lose his temper. It was impossible to remain perfectly quiet after having just killed six people. Takeda Fumito didn’t want to provoke the hitman by talking to him or disobeying his orders. He decided to wait patiently until the hitman’s emotions would kick in and try to convince him to let him go at that point.

    Chiba Itsuo pointed towards the driver’s seat. Takeda Fumito wanted to protest because he could barely move his aching arm. His eyes met the hitman’s eyes that were bleak, pitiless and sinister. The referee understood that his opponent wouldn’t change his mind. Takeda Fumito slowly opened the front door of Miyamoto Takeaki’s car and sat down on the driver’s seat. The keys were still inside the car and the referee started the engine as the hitman opened the door on the other side and sat down next to him.

    Takeda Fumito drove backwards and felt that the tires of the car were bumping over Ueda Reina’s dead body. The referee felt bad for it as shivers were running down his spine. Chiba Itsuo however had a morbid smile on his face and seemed to enjoy the torturing of his former lover’s dead body. The referee had been in contact with scrupulous criminals all his life but he had never met someone as gruesome as Chiba Itsuo.

    ‘’Let’s drive up to the cliff.’’

    The youngster pointed a cliff that was about five minutes away from the beach. The referee had passed this point when he had walked towards the beach earlier in the morning to prepare the duel. Since his house was only about forty-five minutes away on foot, the referee enjoyed walking to the beach and get mentally prepared for such a duel and appreciated returning home the same way in order to calm down. He never spoke to his wife and children about his job even though they obviously knew what he was doing. They didn’t ask any questions and the referee appreciated separating his professional career from his family life.

                Takeda Fumito took a quick look at the youngster who was still pointing his weapon at him but now lowering the window in order to take a look outside where everything was still morbidly quiet. The referee wondered whether his opponent knew that he had fired all six bullets in his weapon and couldn’t shoot him anymore. Takeda Fumito suspected that his opponent didn’t even care about such trivial details anymore.

                The referee drove quietly and the brutal hitman was calmly observing the sea, forests and beaches around him. They reached the cliff after a few minutes. The muddy road continued with a sharp turn to the right. Takeda Fumito could even see his house from afar. It would take about twenty minutes to walk there but if he could use the car, he would reach it within about five to seven minutes. Takeda Fumito thought about the next hospital that was much further away. It would take him at least one hour and a half to get there. At least, he wasn’t critically injured but the pain started to make his old body feel numb.

                ‘’I’m sorry for your injury.’’

                The referee was surprised by the youngster’s statement, especially since the shot that had hurt him had been fired by the dead accountant. Takeda Fumito nodded quietly as his calm eyes met the youngster’s eyes. They weren’t as cold as they had been five minutes earlier. They were slightly reddish now and the referee knew that this wasn’t because of the wind that was blowing strongly on this cliff and into the car through the open window. The referee realized that the hitman’s emotions now began to kick in. But Takeda Fumito didn’t even need to discuss with Chiba Itsuo anymore. He realized that his life wasn't in danger.

                The youngster opened the door, stepped out of the vehicle and left his weapon behind. He either knew that there were no more bullets inside or didn’t care what the referee could do with it. Takeda Fumito knew what that meant. He wasn’t going to shoot the youngster anyway. He decided to stay behind and wondered whether he should watch the youngster or drive to the next hospital right away. The referee decided to stay because he was still impressed by the youngster’s perfectly executed revenge. He knew that he didn’t need to wait for a long period of time and that he would easily get to the next hospital in time to get his wound healed.

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                Chiba Itsuo had reached the end of the cliff and stood perfectly still. Many thoughts were racing through his mind. On one side, he felt proud to have accomplished his revenge after so many years of investigating, preparing and waiting for the right moment. On the other side, he felt empty now that his life’s purpose had been fulfilled. The young hitman had annihilated two leaders of two opposing gangs today but their successors would go after him until the end of the world to underline their control, influence and leadership. Chiba Itsuo would never have a quiet life again. There was only one way out for him and even if he had apprehended such an ending beforehand, he actually embraced it now as an act of deliverance.

                The young hitman spread his arms like wings and jumped off the cliff like a fallen angel. He felt how his body brutally hit a rock before his senses were shocked by the cold water of the sea. Chiba Itsuo had been able to fight his human opponents but couldn’t stand against nature. His weakened body became a playball of the elements. The pressure of the sea water pushed his head against a sharp rock and Chiba Itsuo felt how the salt burned in the open wound on the backside of his head. The cold water turned red and veiled his weakening senses. Chiba Itsuo felt pain but that feeling of agony quickly vanished and became a feeling of liberating lightness.

                The hitman became one with the stormy elements around him after a stormy life. He had never had any control of what had happened to his father and how he had been brought up. But today he was in perfect control as he had ended his life with a bang and gone out on his own terms. Chiba Itsuo felt pride, relief and satisfaction as he died with a smile upon his face.

    The End

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