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June 17, 2024

Geistmann 3: To the Ends of the Earth, Chapter Twenty-one

By Ron Singer

Chapter Twenty-One.

Kyoto, Sunday, March 3rd, 2019;
& Chicago, Monday, March 4th, 2019.

Geistmann was true to his word. On Sunday morning at 4 a.m. Kyoto time (which Yurei knew was 2 p.m. Saturday, in the Central Daylight Time zone of the U.S.), the oyabun received a text with preliminary instructions. These stated the approximate time and general location of the meeting, but warned him to expect detailed further instructions the next day, which the oyabun understood to mean "spycraft": messages in airport lockers; transfers from trains to taxis to buses; and a final "leg" on foot. Wise to the many ploys and dodges of this type of rendezvous, Yurei wondered whether Geistmann might even make a surprise appearance well ahead of the appointed time. Since the madman was obviously clever at arranging and detecting surveillance, the oyabun would have to devise equally clever counter-tactics.

According to the text, the district Geistmann had selected for their meeting included "Little India," a stretch of South Asian emporia and restaurants on Devon Road, a main east-west artery in Chicago's far northwest corner. Yurei's researchers, and his own study of a satellite map, yielded several relevant facts. In a city of high crime, Little India was one of the safest neighborhoods. Factor into that the obvious ethnic differences, and a large contingent of burly yakuza bodyguards would be Oyayubi no yo ni medatsu --they would "stand out like a sore thumb." This might also mean Geistmann intended to abide by his own stricture against bodyguards. Of course, a bodyguard of south-Asian origin might be undetectable.

Two other features of Devon Road were how straight it was, and the absence of tall buildings. As he anticipated jumping through the many hoops that Geistmann would set up, Yurei saw on his detailed map how few places long-distance sharpshooters, or even lookouts, could be stationed. This would cut both ways, of course.

Arriving just after noon, on Monday, March 4th, at Terminal Five of the famous O'Hare Airport, Yurei was on high alert. (He had slept for several hours during the long second leg, from Tokyo.) Among all the pilots, pursers, cleaners, baggage handlers, and wait staff (male and female) that he saw in the terminal, none seemed likely to be Geistmann, for whom Yurei's researchers had not been able to find a single photograph. Using the combination he had been texted during the flight via "What'sapp?" he opened the designated locker, and found a slip of paper, on which was printed:


Neither did Yurei spot anyone who might have been Geistmann among his fellow passengers on the "L" train from the airport to "The Loop," or downtown area. Through the dirty window, he enjoyed the sight of thousands of vehicles stuck in the mid-day highway traffic. The Germans, he knew, had a term for this particular pleasure, the opposite of empathy. Schadenfreude , they called it, or literally, "damage joy." Did the fact that there was no simple Japanese equivalent indicate that the feeling was alien to Japanese culture? Then why was he, who considered himself a strict traditionalist, experiencing schadenfreude?

Having reached The Loop, as per further instructions, which were handed to him by a string of non-uniformed messengers, the oyabun proceded via buses, taxis, and trains on several further "L" lines, to the indicated stop, which was "Arlington Heights Road and Parkchester Road."

As he made his circuitous way toward the rendezvous, Yurei hypothesized about why Geistmann had chosen Chicago. The starting point for the hypothesis was that he must have known the oyabun had never previously been to "the windy city." The reason for this, which Geistmann may also have surmised, was that local mobsters were still so powerful in Chicago, and still so given to territoriality and extreme violence, that it would not have been cost effective for the tagaguchi-gumi to try to establish a beachhead.

As Yurei finally learned from the slip of paper he was handed at a newspaper and refreshment kiosk outside the Arlington-Parkchester station, the rendezvous was set for 14:30 hours. The venue would be the ninth hole of Maple Dale Golf Course, southwest of Devon Road, on North Intel Boulevard. (Was there a nearby computer-chip plant or district office?)

By now, the time was 13:48. Yurei- san 's excellent sense of direction told him that he had made a complete circle, back to within a few miles of the airport. After two more short bus rides, he walked west through Little India, on Devon Road, presumably the final leg of the journey.

Ever since they had left Kyoto, his formidable bodyguard, Kaito, had been the oyabun 's shadow. Yurei understood the risk he was taking, but similar to the admonishment in an advertisement for one of his credit cards, he never left home without "Kate," who now trailed fifty yards behind, catty-cornered, on the south side of Devon Road.

Kaito was the right height to blend into Little India, but double the width, and the wrong race. Nor had it escaped Yurei's notice that the messenger at the Arlington-Parkchester kiosk had been a typical young south Asian -- short, skinny, and obsequious. The vendor had been wearing a single-ear Bluetooth cell phone.

As the two Japanese continued west on Devon, it changed from a crowded commercial artery to a two-lane highway. The number of pedestrians thinned out, which, Yurei realized, made him and Kate even more visible. Concluding that he could not have the bodyguard follow him all the way to the golf course, he decided to "park" him at a wayside bar or eatery.

There were many such places on this section of Devon Road, ranging from donut shops to small ethnic restaurants. Surprisingly, the most strategically located, on an incline about thirty meters up from the north side of the road, was a Polish restaurant, with a prominent sign: JUBILAT PIEROGI. To reach the place, since there were no traffic lights, Kaito had to wait for a break, and then dash across the highway.

"Don't worry, Kate," Yurei said, in Japanese, as they stood outside the simple storefront. A "pierogi" is what we call gyoza . Just go easy on the booze! I'm not sure how long I will be."

Kaito bowed, and strode through the door. The oyabun waited for another traffic break, then darted across Devon, and continued west to the next intersection, Mittel Boulevard, where he turned left, to the south.

From outside the fence, the golf course did not look too bad, although the greens were obviously not up to the standard of the best Japanese courses, where Yurei and his associates played. Like quite a few Japanese executives, Yurei had an extremely small handicap (two to four, depending on the course). Probably because it was a chilly gray day, with Chicago's famously cold wind blowing hard, there was not a single golfer in sight. Pity he had not brought his clubs. A few practice drives would have relieved the tension.

Geistmann must have known the golf course would be deserted today, and must also have known how vulnerable the empty expanse would leave the oyabun . Yurei half-expected to hear the report of a high-velocity weapon. He hoped the first shots would miss. But there were no shots. And no Geistmann! After a twenty-minute wait, he assumed the man had no intention of showing up. Would there be further instructions, or was Geistmann just playing with him? Retracing his steps to the Jubilat, he peered through the plate-glass window. The only diner appeared to be Kaito, who was leaning against the rear wall, and appeared to be asleep. No servers were in sight.

Yurei rapped on the window and gestured to Kate to come out. When there was no response, growing angry, he entered the restaurant. Had his usually reliable bodyguard ignored his instructions and gotten drunk?

As Yurei crossed the empty room and approached the table, Kate remained motionless. His head was propped against the wall. Then, Yurei noticed a thin line of blood across his throat. In front of him were a full dish of dumplings, a glass of water, and a restaurant check, on which was printed, in large black letters:


Yurei was hungry. He had eaten nothing since breakfast at O'Hare, almost three hours before. He was also tired, and realized that, before this day was over, he might be called upon to exert a great deal of additional energy. So he took the other chair at Kate's table, ate all the dumplings (delicious), and drank the water (metallic). During the fifteen minutes he wound up spending at the restaurant, no one appeared. When he had finished the meal, he pocketed the check, left a ten-dollar bill and a five on the table, and began the long journey home.

If readers are interested in Reading Geistmann, it is available as a free PDF from the author. Please visit www.ronsinger.net for contact information.

And Geistmann in Africa (Geistman II):

Article © Ron Singer. All rights reserved.
Published on 2022-09-05
Image(s) are public domain.
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