“Kobayashi, what happened out there?” MacGyver
asked quietly, watching as the paramedic patched up the
worst of the strong-style wrestler's cuts and bruises. Both
of them were sitting in the storage space-turned-locker
room after Kobayashi had been attacked by his fellow performers
in the ring---for real. Jack was pacing the room like he
couldn't sit still as Kobayashi gave his answer.
happened so quickly. I never knew anything was wrong. I
was thinking about how to set up for the first spot, just
like usual, but then they started coming after me, and I
had no idea what was going on. It's a good thing that I
was too shocked to react, because if I had gotten angry…”
He trailed off. “I don't know why they did this. Sakamoto-kun
is my best friend, and Hayato and I have always gotten along.”
have anything to do with the yakuza?”
stiffened abruptly. “Who told you that?”
“I only know a handful of words in Japanese, but I
do know that your best friend mentioned them as he ran past
us just a few minutes ago. And your reaction just now makes
me think that those tattoos you're covering up are something
more than a fashion choice---especially since you're missing
more than half of the pinky finger on your left hand.”
his left hand and looked away in shame. “It's true.
In Japan, I was a yakuza.”
Jack finally drifted
over to them, pulling up a steel folding chair and listening
intently. “I still don't get it. What's a yakuza?”
Japanese gangster,” MacGyver said grimly.
“What? A gangster?” Jack stared at Kobayashi.
“A gangster? You're a gangster? How can this be happening?
Why are you here?”
Jack-san, don't fire me,” Kobayashi said, distressed.
“I can explain.”
“Start with the pinky finger thing,” Jack said.
The wrestler took a deep breath. “I joined the yakuza
when I was sixteen. I---was a very disrespectful child.
About two years into my time with them, I made one of my
superiors very upset, and he sent two yakuza to teach me
a lesson. That was when I knew I had to apologize. So---so
I cut it off and took it to him. After that, I was a very
Jack blinked, staring
at Kobayashi with a mixture of shock and horror. “You
cut off your own--- Mac. Mac, he cut off his own finger.
Did you hear that? He cut off his own finger!”
heard,” MacGyver replied with a grimace. “These
are serious people. How did you end up here in the States?”
time I wasn't with the yakuza, I was wrestling. All the
yakuza in my gang loved to watch, and the people who own
the wrestling promotions in Japan will invite the yakuza
to the shows, out of respect. So I was always in and out
of the arena. I started trying to talk to the wrestlers
and pick up some moves. I would spend hours in gyms practicing
on my own. And then finally, I tried out to be a wrestler
myself. That was when I wanted to leave the yakuza and go
through the wrestling dojos, just like the real wrestlers
in Japan have been doing for decades. But the boss didn't
want me to leave. That's why my oyabun---”
Kobayashi paused for a second as he struggled to think of
an English word that would fit. “My mentor in the
yakuza, he arranged for me to come to the United States.
But now it looks like the yakuza have followed me here.”
He touched a patch of purple bruise that was spreading across
his chest. “And now it looks like they want more than
my finger, if they managed to scare my friends into attacking
got to do something about this,” Jack said.
“I agree,” MacGyver replied. “We need
a plan, and we start by talking to Sakamoto and Hayato.
Do you have any ideas where they might be?”
Jack shrugged. “All of the wrestlers tend to stay
at the same hotel. We could check there first.”
Mac nodded. “Let's go.” Kobayashi stood to go
with them. MacGyver shook his head. “You should stay
here and finish getting yourself checked out.”
took a step toward Jack. “With all due respect, I
don't let other people solve my problems for me. If this
is a yakuza problem, then I'll be the one to stop them.
I'm coming with you.”
slowly nodded. “All right. Let's go.”
* * * *
short time later, Mac's Jeep rolled into the hotel parking
“Do you know what room they'll be in?” MacGyver
it's the one next to mine and Frank's,” Kobayashi
replied, leading them upstairs. He knocked quietly on the
white-painted wooden door. When that didn't work, he rolled
up his sleeves and pounded on it hard, shouting, “Sakamoto-kun!
Hayato! Kono doa o ima aite kudasai!”
could hear Tanaka protesting as Kiryu unlatched the door
and opened it. “Konban wa,” he said
in a shaking voice, stepping backward as his eyes fell on
the intricate tattoos covering Kobayashi's exposed arms.
“Hikaru-kun… I'm sorry.”
pushed past his best friend and stood in the center of the
room, glowering at the two wrestlers. MacGyver and Jack
followed quietly inside and Kiryu shut and latched the door.
did they say to you?” Kobayashi said in a low voice,
speaking in English for the benefit of the two Americans.
“What did they say to you that would make you beat
up your own friend? Uragirimono!” His voice
escalated to a shout.
said nothing, eyes downcast.
Kiryu did the same for a moment, until finally he sank into
a deep bow in front of Kobayashi. “Gomen'nasai.”
“I forgive you. I know you were afraid.”
to tell us everything that happened,” MacGyver broke
in quietly. “We have to get to the bottom of this.”
straightened up and nodded. “They came two nights
ago, when we first arrived back here in Los Angeles. They
told us that they knew you were here, and they told us to
attack you in the ring at the next show.”
Tanaka nodded and added something in Japanese.
carefully. “Hayato says that there were two yakuza
and a gaijin, he thinks an American. The yakuza were waiting
in the audience tonight to be sure that they followed through
and attacked me, no tricks.”
Kiryu nodded. “Yes.
They threatened to kill both of us and harm our families
back home if we didn't do what they told us.”
of you identify these men if you saw them again?”
answered yes, and after Kiryu quickly translated for Tanaka,
he nodded yes as well.
to talk to the police. All of you should tell them everything
you told me,” said MacGyver.
his head vehemently. “You can take those two to the
police, but I'm not going anywhere near them. No way! I'm
ex-yakuza! They'll arrest me on sight.”
they won't. You haven't committed any crimes in America
so far, have you?”
“Then you should be fine. Either way, you need to
tell the police everything. They can help you.”
Tanaka broke into
the conversation with a couple of phrases in quiet Japanese,
and both Kiryu and Kobayashi stilled, exchanging a serious
it?” Jack asked. “What's wrong?”
bit his lip. “Hayato-kun says that he recognized the
gaijin's voice. We couldn't see his face because he wore
a hooded jacket and a mask, but we could hear his voice
well. And now that I'm thinking about it, I've heard it
“Who was it?” MacGyver asked.
Kiryu shook his head. “Neither of us know. But Hayato-kun
is right---the voice belongs to someone backstage.”
Jack echoed. “You mean---”
Kiryu nodded. “Yes.
We believe that the American working with the yakuza is
one of your wrestlers.”