I withdrew the magnet from my pocket and protected it from view by cupping it in my hands. I would have to wait for the right moment, when Kawamura's attention was distracted. Mildly distracted would be enough. Maybe as we were boarding the train. I peeled off the wax paper covering the adhesive and crumbled it into my left pants pocket.
The train emerged at the end of the platform and hurtled toward us. Kawamura pulled a cell phone out of his breast pocket. Started to input a number.
Okay, do it now. I brushed past him, placing the magnet on his suit jacket just below the left shoulder blade, and moved several paces down the platform.
Kawamura spoke into the phone for only a few seconds, too softly for me to hear over the screeching brakes of the train slowing to a halt in front of us, and then slipped the phone back in his left breast pocket. I wondered whom he had called. It didn't matter. Two stations ahead, three at the most, and it would be done.
The train stopped and its doors opened, releasing a gush of human effluent. When the outflow slowed to a trickle, the lines waiting on either side of the doors collapsed inward and poured inside, as though someone had hit the reverse switch on a giant vacuum. People kept jamming themselves in despite the warnings that "The doors are closing," and the mass of commuters grew more swollen until we were all held firmly in place, with no need to grip the overhead handles because there was nowhere to fall. The doors shut, the car lurched forward, and we moved off.
I exhaled slowly and rotated my head from side to side, hearing the bones crack in my neck, feeling the last remnants of nervousness drain away as we reached the final moments. It has always been this way for me. When I was a teenager, I lived for a while near a town that had a network of gorges cutting through it, and at some of them you could jump from the cliffs into deep swimming holes. You could see the older kids doing it all the time--it didn't look so far up. The first time I climbed to the top and looked down, though, I couldn't believe how high I was, and I froze. But the other kids were watching. And right then, I knew that no matter how afraid I was, no matter what might happen, I was going to jump, and some instinctive part of me shut down my awareness of everything except the simple, muscular action of running forward. I had no other perceptions, no awareness of any future beyond the taking of those brisk steps. I remember thinking that it didn't even matter if I died.
Kawamura was standing in front of the door at one end of the car, about a meter from where I was positioned, his right hand holding one of the overhead bars. I needed to stay close now.
The word I had gotten was that this had to look natural: my specialty, and the reason my services are always in demand. Harry had obtained Kawamura's medical records from Jikei University Hospital, which showed that he had a condition called complete heart block and owed his continuing existence to a pacemaker installed five years earlier.
I twisted so that my back was to the doors--a slight breach of Tokyo's minimal train etiquette, but I didn't want anyone who might speak English to see the kinds of prompts that were going to appear on the screen of the PDA computer I was carrying. I had downloaded a cardiac interrogation program into it, the kind a doctor uses to adjust a patient's pacemaker. And I had rigged it so that the PDA fed infrared commands to the control magnet. The only difference between my setup and a cardiologist's was that mine was miniaturized and wireless. That, and I hadn't taken the Hippocratic oath.
The PDA was already turned on and in sleep mode, so it powered up instantly. I glanced down at the screen. It was flashing "pacing parameters." I hit the Enter key and the screen changed, giving me an option of "threshold testing" and "sensing testing." I selected the former and was offered a range of parameters: rate, pulse width, amplitude. I chose rate and quickly set the pacemaker at its lowest rate limit of forty beats per minute, then returned to the previous screen and selected pulse width. The screen indicated that the pacemaker was set to deliver current at durations of .48 milliseconds. I decreased the pulse width as far as it would go, then changed to amplitude. The unit was preset at 8.5 volts, and I started dropping it a half volt at a time. When I had taken it down two full volts, the screen flashed, "You have now decreased unit amplitude by two volts. Are you sure you want to continue to decrease unit amplitude?" I entered, "Yes" and went on, repeating the sequence every time I took it down two volts.
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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