Excerpt from Blue Light Yokohama by Nicolas Obregon, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Blue Light Yokohama

by Nicolas Obregon

Blue Light Yokohama by Nicolas Obregon X
Blue Light Yokohama by Nicolas Obregon
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  • Published:
    Mar 2017, 416 pages

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Gary Presley
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He drove southeast, along the grand, tree-lined avenue of Omotesando, where wealthy housewives browsed designer Italian labels. Iwata turned on to Aoyama-Dori, and fifteen minutes later, he turned off Meguro-Dori. He found space in an empty lot between houses. As Iwata got out, he looked up at the sky. It would rain tonight.

From a hole-in-the-wall, he bought a paper plate of vegetable and shrimp dumplings. The old cook complained about the game last night and Iwata nodded along while he ate. When he was done, he promised the cook he would come back again.

At the end of the street, a short, fat man with a ponytail stood outside a shabby shop, its windows covered in faded newspaper. The man was smoking anxiously as he glanced up and down the street. Seeing Iwata, he pinched his cigarette between his lips and stuck out a hand.

"Are you my guy?" The cigarette bobbled as he spoke.

Iwata nodded and they shook hands.

"Let's open her up for you, then."

Matsumoto stepped over a mound of junk mail. The room was narrow but Iwata liked the gloom. The walls were lined with lockers of varying sizes. At the back, there were also several safe boxes.

"What you thinking, mister? You like it?"

"I like it fine."

"What you using it for?"

"I just have some boxes. I've got about sixteen of them, eighteen by eighteen by twenty."

Matsumoto whistled.

"I can give you the whole back room but it'll cost you."

"How much?"

He looked at Iwata sidelong.

"Mister, if you don't mind me asking, why not just keep them at your place?"

"I do mind you asking. How much?"

"All right. You're looking at thirty-five thousand a month."

Iwata shook his head.

"I'm going to make you an offer instead: eighty thousand for three months. But, for your flexibility, I'll pay you up front."

"Eighty." Matsumoto puffed out smoke and squinted one eye. "Up front?"

"That's right."

"What are you, some kinda loan shark?"

"I just need a space for my boxes."

"So why me, why not just store them at one of the big places for less?"

"I don't like forms."

Matsumoto shrugged. "Fuck it. You got yourself a deal."

At the bank, the cashier politely reminded Iwata how little insurance money would remain but he ignored him. Outside, Matsumoto slipped the fat envelope into his pocket and tossed over a set of keys in return.

"Guess I'll see you in three months." Matsumoto winked.

He turned away, his ponytail swishing down the street. Iwata returned to his car, and in the distance, he heard thunder.

*   *   *

Iwata reached the airport-sized maze of Shinjuku Station a little after 1 P.M. He bought a ticket for the bullet train to Nagano and boarded Asama 573. The seats were clean and the temperature was optimal for human comfort. Staff bowed as they entered and left the carriage. The silent car was absolutely silent.

As the train pulled away, Iwata watched Tokyo recede. He flew past commuter towns of new-build complexes and man-made lakes. Young professionals lived here, eating the right food, getting enough exercise. Iwata had been like them once. Before there was any need to make this journey. He couldn't remember the last time he had taken this train. Nor did he want to.

The lights of the city are so pretty.

When the concrete of Tokyo's sleeper cities finally ended, there were only dead fields and pylons. In the distance, green hills swelled like lovesick sighs.

*   *   *

Arriving at Nagano Station, Iwata bought an evening newspaper and a tasteless lunchbox. He had appetite for neither. He boarded an old train, too ugly for vintage, bound for the mountains. At its own pace, the limited local express passed through green flatlands, then up forest ridges.

Excerpted from Blue Light Yokohama by Nicolas Obregon. Copyright © 2017 by Nicolas Obregon. Excerpted by permission of Minotaur Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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