So far he hadn't. But I knew Tatsu. In Vietnam he had understood the fundamentals of counterintelligence at a time when even Agency higher-ups couldn't put together a simple wiring diagram of a typical V.C. unit. He had developed operational leads despite his "listen-and-learn-only" purview. He had refused the usual attaché's cushy life of writing reports from a villa, insisting instead on operating in the field.
His superiors had been horrified at his effectiveness, he had once told me bitterly over substantial quantities of sake, and they had studiously ignored the intelligence he had produced. In the end his persistence and courage had been wasted. I wish he could have learned from the experience.
But I supposed that was impossible. Tatsu was true samurai, and would continue serving the same master no matter how many times that master ignored or even abused him. Devoted service was the highest end he knew.
It was unusual for the Keisatsucho to be investigating a simple break-in. Something about Kawamura's death, and what he was doing before it, must have attracted Tatsu's attention. It wouldn't be the first time I had felt my old comrade in arms watching me as though through a one-way mirror, seeing a shape behind the glass but not knowing whose, and I was glad that I'd decided to drop off his radar so many years earlier.
"You don't have to tell me whether you knew about this," Harry said, interrupting my musings. "I know the rules."
I considered how much I should reveal. If I wanted to learn more, his skills would be helpful. On the other hand, I didn't like the idea of his getting any closer to the true nature of my work. He was getting uncomfortably close already. Tatsu's name on that report, for example. I had to assume that Harry would follow it like a link on the Internet, that he would tap into Tatsu's conspiracy theories, that he would sense a connection with me. Hardly proof beyond a reasonable doubt, of course, but between them Harry and Tatsu would have a significant number of puzzle pieces.
Sitting there in Las Chicas, sipping my chai latte, I had to admit that Harry could become a problem. The realization depressed me. Christ, I thought, you're getting sentimental.
Maybe it was time to get out of this shit. Maybe this time it really was.
"I didn't know about it," I said after a moment. "This is an unusual case." I saw no harm in telling him about the stranger on the train, and did so.
"If we were in New York, I'd tell you it was a pickpocket," he said when I was done.
"I thought the same thing when I first saw it. But pickpocket would be a piss-poor career choice for a white boy in Tokyo. You have to blend."
"Target of opportunity?"
I shook my head. "Not too many people are that shameless and cold-blooded. I doubt one of them just happened to be standing next to Kawamura that morning. I think the guy was a Kawamura contact, there for some kind of exchange."
"Why do you suppose the Keisatsucho is investigating a simple break-in in a Tokyo apartment?" he asked.
"That I don't know," I said, although Tatsu's involvement made me wonder. "Maybe Kawamura's position in the government, the recency of his death, something like that. That's the theory I'd go on."
He looked at me. "Are you asking me to dig?"
I should have let it go. But I've been used before. The feeling that it had happened again would keep me awake at night. Had Benny put a B-team on Kawamura? I figured I might as well let Harry provide some clues.
"You will anyway, right?" I asked.
He blinked. "Can't help myself, I guess."
"Dig away, then. Let me know what else you find. And watch your back, hotshot. Don't get sloppy."
The warning was for both of us.
Copyright © 2002 by Barry Eisler. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher, Putnam.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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