I wanted to give Kawamura about three minutes to get his fruit before I came out, so I examined a selection of bandages that gave me a view of the street. The way he had ducked into the store looked like a move calculated to flush surveillance, and I didn't like it. If we hadn't been hooked up the way we were, Harry would have had to stop abruptly to maintain his position behind the target. He might have had to do something ridiculous, like tie his shoe or stop to read a street sign, and Kawamura, probably peering out of the entranceway of the store, could have made him. Instead, I knew Harry would continue past the fruit store; he would stop about twenty meters ahead, give me his location, and fall in behind when I told him the parade was moving again.
The fruit store was a good spot to turn off, all right--too good for someone who knew the route to have chosen it by accident. But Harry and I weren't going to be flushed out by amateur moves out of some government antiterrorist primer. I've had that training, so I know how useful it is.
I left the drugstore and continued down Dogenzaka, more slowly than before because I had to give Kawamura time to come out of the store. Shorthand thoughts shot through my mind: Are there enough people between us to obscure his vision if he turns when he comes out? What shops am I passing if I need to duck off suddenly? Is anyone looking up the street at the people heading toward the station, maybe helping Kawamura spot surveillance? If I had already drawn any countersurveillance attention, they might notice me now, because before I was hurrying to keep up with the target and now I was taking my time, and people on their way to work don't change their pace that way. But Harry had been the one walking point, the more conspicuous position, and I hadn't done anything to arouse attention before stopping in the drugstore.
I heard Harry again: "I'm at one-oh-nine." Meaning he had turned into the landmark 109 Department Store, famous for its collection of 109 restaurants and trendy boutiques.
"No good," I told him. "The first floor is lingerie. You going to blend in with fifty teenage girls in blue sailor school uniforms picking out padded bras?"
"I was planning to wait outside," he replied, and I could imagine him blushing.
The front of 109 is a popular meeting place, typically crowded with a polyglot collection of pedestrians. "Sorry, I thought you were going for the lingerie," I said, suppressing the urge to smile. "Just hang back and wait for my signal as we go past."
The fruit store was only ten meters ahead, and still no sign of Kawamura. I was going to have to slow down. I was on the opposite side of the street, outside Kawamura's probable range of concern, so I could take a chance on just stopping, maybe to fiddle with a cell phone. Still, if he looked, he would spot me standing there, even though, with my father's Japanese features, I don't have a problem blending into the crowds. Harry, a pet name for Haruyoshi, being born of two Japanese parents, has never had to worry about sticking out.
When I returned to Tokyo in the early eighties, my brown hair, a legacy from my mother, worked for me the way a fluorescent vest does for a hunter, and I had to dye it black to develop the anonymity that protects me now. But in the last few years the country has gone mad for chappatsu, or tea-color dyed hair, and I don't have to be so vigilant about the dye anymore. I like to tell Harry he's going to have to go chappatsu if he wants to fit in, but Harry's too much of an otaku, a geek, to give much thought to issues like personal appearance. I guess he doesn't have that much to work with, anyway: an awkward smile that always looks like it's offered in anticipation of a blow, a tendency to blink rapidly when he's excited, a face that's never lost its baby fat, its pudginess accentuated by a shock of thick black hair that on bad days seems almost to float above it. But the same qualities that keep him off magazine covers confer the unobtrusiveness that makes for effective surveillance.
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."
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