Anyway, this is Keisuke's introduction scene.
Chapter 3 (A friend locked away)
Keisuke squeezed the bridge of his nose then packed his kickboxing gloves and pads into a long brown duffle bag. I’m glad Ami bolted as soon as class ended.
To Keisuke’s left, Taisei lifted a red, blue and white backpack onto his shoulders.
The gym emptied, and they were left alone with the instructors. Despite that, the stench of worn tube-socks still stuffed the gym from padded wall to padded wall.
Keisuke gagged. “Let’s get out of here.”
Together, they stepped from the gym and into the refreshing night air.
Through his nose, Keisuke inhaled then sighed. No Pain-in-the-ass Ami to be seen or heard? Bliss.
Cars rushed through the traffic light ahead of them. On their left, tires screeched across the bridge over the train tracks while storefront music played on their right. When the light changed, people bustled across the street like a wave of undulating bodies.
Keisuke moved forward. “I’d like to —”
The traffic light changed, and the cars began to flow once more.
“Never mind.” Keisuke shook his head and stopped on the curb. “Anyway, Ami was being such a bitch earlier.”
Taisei chuckled. “You’re only saying that because she knocked you out.”
“I could have beaten her if I wanted to.” Using my collection of bells.
“Sure you could have.” Taisei rolled his eyes. “Honestly, the only one of us who could even challenge her is John.”
“You know it’s true.” Taisei jabbed Keisuke in the shoulder.
Keisuke rubbed at his shoulder. “I guess you’re right?”
“Yeah, yeah. By the way, what happened to John?”
“Your guess is as good as mine. The only thing I’m sure of is that Ami will not like the results.”
Keisuke spat. “Better for John. Do you really think he would want to get roped to that beast?”
“She is cute.”
“And the two of them like a lot of the same things. I don’t think it would be so bad.”
“Then you haven’t known her long enough.”
Before grinning, Taisei narrowed his eyes. “You would know since she’s —”
Keisuke shoved Taisei and pointed at him. “Don’t finish that sentence.”
Taisei winked. He clearly wanted to say something else. It was written across his smug face.
On their way to the HUB — a chain-British pub — they crossed the street and walked over the large bridge. Trains blared their horns while they zipped down the tracks beneath the bridge.
Keisuke pressed a finger into his ear then pulled out his smartphone. He called John over and over again.
All went directly to voicemail.
One inside the HUB, Taisei snatched the table by the bar in the center of the room. Their usual spot.
Alone, Keisuke strolled up to the bar and ordered two pints of beer. Then, he returned to the table. “It feels weird without John here.”
Taisei took his beer and raised it high. “I know. But that’s not going to stop me.”
Keisuke laughed. “Well put. Kanpai.”
For some reason, beer always tasted better after working-out.
The sweet foam caressed Keisuke’s lips and danced across his tongue. The icy, golden liquid that followed sent a jolt of ecstasy from the roof of his mouth to the tips of his toes. By the time the beer had reached his throat, he had already melted. This was wonderful. If only life could be as smooth.
Taisei nodogoshied — a gulping swallow followed by a relaxing sigh.
Keisuke returned the gesture. “Despite the god-like taste, it still doesn’t feel right without John.”
“One, two, three, four!” Taisei’s cellphone said while it rang and played Jpop music. “I want you! I need you! I love you!”
Taisei flipped his cellphone open and answered it.
A muffled voice buzzed on the other end.
Taisei’s eyes bulged.
Keisuke frowned, and his brow furrowed. “What is it?”
Taisei hung up and stood. “John … .”
“Don’t tell me —”
“He … has been arrested.”
Keisuke scrambled to his feet. “That can’t be right!”
Next: Update #22 Painting revised chapter 1