When the train pulled into Yoyogi Station, Kawamura stepped off. Was he getting off here? That would be a problem: the unit's infrared had limited range, and it would be a challenge to operate it and follow him closely at the same time. Damn, just a few more seconds, I thought, bracing to follow him out. But he was only allowing the people behind him to leave the train, and stopped outside the doors. When the Yoyogi passengers had exited he got back on, followed closely by several people who had been waiting on the platform. The doors closed, and we moved off again.
At two volts, the screen warned me that I was nearing minimum output values and it would be dangerous to further decrease output. I overrode the warning and took the unit down another half volt, glancing up at Kawamura as I did so. He hadn't changed his position.
When I reached a single volt and tried to go farther, the screen flashed, "Your command will set the unit at minimum output values. Are you certain that you wish to enter this command?" I entered "Yes." It prompted me one more time anyway: "You have programmed the unit to minimum output values. Please confirm." Again I entered, "Yes." There was a one-second delay, then the screen started flashing bold-faced letters: Unacceptable output values. Unacceptable output values.
I closed the cover, but left the PDA on. It would reset automatically. There was always the chance that the sequence hadn't worked the first time around, and I wanted to be able to try again if I had to.
There wasn't any need. As the train pulled into Shinjuku Station and jerked to a stop, Kawamura stumbled against the woman next to him. The doors opened and the other passengers flowed out, but Kawamura remained, gripping one of the upright bars next to the door with his right hand and clutching his package of fruit with his left, commuters shoving past him. I watched him rotate counterclockwise until his back hit the wall next to the door. His mouth was open; he looked slightly surprised. Then slowly, almost gently, he slid to the floor. I saw one of the passengers who had gotten on at Yoyogi stoop down to assist him. The man, a mid-forties Westerner, tall and thin enough to make me think of a javelin, somehow aristocratic in his wireless glasses, shook Kawamura's shoulders, but Kawamura was past noticing the stranger's efforts at succor.
"Daijoubu desu ka?" I asked, my left hand moving to support Kawamura's back, feeling for the magnet. Is he all right? I used Japanese because it was likely that the Westerner wouldn't understand it and our interaction would be kept to a minimum.
"Wakaranai," the stranger muttered. I don't know. He patted Kawamura's increasingly bluish cheeks and shook him again--a bit roughly, I thought. So he did speak some Japanese. It didn't matter. I pinched the edge of the magnet and pulled it free. Kawamura was done.
I stepped past them onto the platform and the in-flow immediately began surging onto the train behind me. Glancing through the window nearest the door as I walked past, I was stunned to see the stranger going through Kawamura's pockets. My first thought was that Kawamura was being robbed. I moved closer to the window for a better look, but the growing crush of passengers obscured my view.
I had an urge to get back on, but that would have been stupid. Anyway, it was too late. The doors were already sliding shut. I saw them close and catch on something, maybe a handbag or a foot. They opened slightly and closed again. It was an apple, falling to the tracks as the train pulled away.
From Shinjuku I took the Maranouchi subway line to Ogikubo, the extreme west of the city and outside metropolitan Tokyo. I wanted to do a last SDR--surveillance detection run--before contacting my client to report the results of the Kawamura operation, and heading west took me against the incoming rush-hour train traffic, making the job of watching my back easier.
Copyright © 2002 by Barry Eisler. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher, Putnam.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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