He was wearing a blue kimono. He shifted forward in purposive, steady strides. Kicked up dust trailed behind him, broadening and dissipating lazily in the evening air. His arms moved stiffly back and forth. They were held perhaps a bit too far away from his torso. His face was composed in a strained, serious expression. A rustling came from the green wall of sugercane that lined the road. He tilted his lowered head in its direction. His pupils were held uncomfortably in the corners of his eyes.
“Well, well, well. If it isn’t the KI-MO-NO DRA-GON” The mocking voice over-pronounced every syllable.
The Kimono Dragon didn’t move. Staying in that same visibly uncomfortable position, he raised the ridge where an eyebrow would be. “And who, if I don’t mind asking, which I don’t, uh, who the fuck are you?” His strange drawl seemed to originate from Brooklyn.
“Oh you don’t recognise me? How ‘bout you turn that fucking lizard head of yours around face me. Your neck craned like that with your eye straining, you look so fucking awkward.”
He closed his eyes and let out long breath. He did want to move, but now that this guy had told him to, he couldn’t. He let his eyes rest behind their lids. His peripheral vision wasn’t great due to his slit-like pupils. He sighed another breath out of his nostrils and trained his eyes back on the bozo. But the bozo wasn’t there.
“Oh my God! I’m right here you fuckin-“
He gripped the guy’s throat, swept his legs out from under him with his foot and slammed his head into the ground. Finally he took in his features. Beneath the gurgling and the popping forehead veins, he saw something familiar in his beetroot coloured eyes. He let go of the man’s throat.
“Who are you?”
The man turned onto his stomach, wheezing and coughing. He began to retch violently.
The Kimono Dragon’s expression fell back into that mildly constipated look. He looked up, squinting at nothing in particular.
“My brother…He sent me to tell you something…If you don’t leave Shaolin City tonight, you’re gonna die.”
“Sorry, you’re not ringing any bells here? Who’s your brother?”
“Coco Nut….from the Iron Palm Tree Clan.”
He sighed all the air out through his nostrils. It sounded like icy wind being expelled from an ancient chasm, thinning and thinning until finally there was none…BWWKKK! His hand had split the man’s head in two and had become lodged in his throat.
“Yeah, I got no idea, man.”
The doors of the Umebachi Dive Bar creeked open and he shuffled in. He paused at the entrance and with shifting eyes he assessed the room. Low tables and chairs that occupied the dark wooden floor and a frail banister to his right led upstairs. Everything was cheap and fragile, accustomed to being smashed into splinters. One dim lamp, a globe of white paper blotted with five red circles, glowed above the bar. The place was mainly uninhabited, save for the owner, an old, worn and saggy woman who had served him his first drink many years ago, and a drunkard at the bar with his face pressed deeply into an ashtray.
“You’re in shit again.” The old lady tutted.
“Why’s that” The Kimono Dragon angled his face towards her.
“You don’t come here at this hour unless you are. How deep are you in it this time?”
“Some guy was saying something about a brother called Coco Nut. He showed me great disrespect…” He watched her expression droop into a frown. “Sake, please.”
She hoisted a giant bottle onto her hip and tilted its contents into a ceramic flask. She returned the bottle behind the bar with a grunt and placed the flask in the microwave. A few beeps later and the microwave whirred into life. She set two cups on the counter and using a dry cloth as protection, fetched the heated sake. The Kimono Dragon sat opposite her and watched as she poured the steaming liquid into his cup and then into hers.
She looked at him gravely. “That sounds like the Iron Palm Tree Clan. You stupid motherfucker.”
“Cheers” he smiled wryly as they both nodded towards one another, raised their cups and sipped.
He breathed out a long, satisfying breath. Sake steam rolled amongst the floating dust.
“So who are they? The Ironing Board Bitch Clan?”
“Hmpff. Not a gang you should treat so lightly. They run the marijuana trade here in Shaolin. About a hundred men, Capoeira mixed with iron fist techniques, they train in the petrified palm forest on the east coast. A group of them came here last week. Didn’t have one drink, eyes red as hell, they ordered a bunch of desserts and smoked a lot of weed. I still feel funny from all that smoke.” She giggled.
“Why would they be after me-“ He thought of the man’s face falling apart around his hand. “Initially…”
“How should I know? Did you dick down one of their girlfriends?”
Stifling his wince at her coarseness with another sip, he thought back over the myriad of women he had been with recently. Through the fog of limbs and orgasms a memory bounced into view.
She held his hands into her milk chocolate breasts as she rode him, her dreadlocks danced and twisted. Moaning in a Jamaican accent with what he thought was just poor grammar, “How do you like that coconut! How do you like that COCONUT!”
“I might have.” He said through a smug, post-coital glow.
“Ugh. Well you’re gonna need to get outta here. I don’t need my furniture getting destroyed in one of your exercises in machismo – Thanks.” He topped up her cup before pouring the remaining sake down his gullet.
“Sure.” Steam streamed from his mouth as he spoke. He stood up to leave. “Anything else I should know?”
“Their strikes shatter stone, try not to get hit.”
He smiled and began moving towards the doors.
“And Kimono Dragon!” He turned to back to face her, half-expecting a warm goodbye or a touching expression of concern. “Take this asshole out with ya.” She said, glaring at the collapsed figure wheezing clouds of ash onto the bar.
Squinting, he stepped out of the bar into the morning sunlight. Below the wooden steps stood a gang of about 100 men with varying lengths of dreadlocks. The man at the front stared intensely at him.
“Another one of your victims?” He gestured to the passed out man he was holding by the scruff of his neck. “My petulant brother wasn’t enough to quench your thirst for blood.”
The Kimono Dragon dropped the man on the floor.
“Oww.” He groaned. The Kimono Dragon eyed his supposedly sleeping frame suspiciously.
“Come down here! It’s time for you to face the music!”
A rhythm had begun to be drummed by one of the Iron Palm Tree Clan. The clan shuffled to surround the Kimono Dragon and Coco Nut. From beneath the shading leaves of a palm tree sat Coco Nut’s wife. Dark lines of tears ran down her cheeks. DumDeDeDumDum DumDeDeDum. Coco Nut began shifting from side to side, from one foot to the other. As he lunged onto his left foot, his right leg would sweep behind him and vice versa. His eyes were bloodshot and fierce. The Kimono Dragon thought that perhaps he had been crying but this thought was soon snuffed out as the members in the circle began lighting and smoking palm leaf blunts. This guy was high as fuck. The air was quickly filled with sweet pungent smoke. Dum DeDeDum Dum Dum. He watched the figure dance, his feet left deep imprints in the earth. Left, Right, Left. Coco Nut suddenly leapt off his left foot. He rotated, bringing his right heel around. The Kimono Dragon shifted backwards to avoid the apparent attack. Coco Nut seemed to float. The right heel was merely for torque. From over the top, axing through the haze came the right leg. He had dodged to the side when the leg made a devastating impact in the ground.
“Woooaaaahh…” came the clan’s inebriated slur.
Coco Nut, not missing a beat, sprung off the ground launching a flurry of strikes. He deflected them and getting to the outside of his arms, he aimed a strike at his exposed elbow. Knnn! The Kimono Dragon stepped back clutching his hand. A smile had spread across Coco Nuts bleary face. He held his fists in tight balls, rippling the muscles along his arms. “Our bodies are of iron and stone.”
“Stone…” The Kimono Dragon repeated the word to himself in a sluggish drawl. He listened as it reverberated inside his head and became lost in the thumping haze surrounding him. Yup, he was definitely high. He turned his head. Dum…Dum…The clan members’ laughter seemed disconnected from their convulsing bodies. An ember flared inside a blunt. Further around the circle he saw the old lady peering at him. In her hands was a tray of deserts. The section of the circle she was about to serve stared at the desserts, their faces glazed and dreamy. He looked back at the old lady. She raised her eyebrows and shrugged. De…De…Dum…Dum. Damn… He thought, They do look goo-
“AAAH!” He threw his head to the side as a fist grazed across his cheek. Having gone past him, Coco Nut thrust back a heel kick at his floating rib. Sliding forward past the kick and hooking his foot behind Coco Nut’s grounded leg, the Kimono Dragon scooped his extended leg up and in a circular motion threw Coco Nut backwards. Coco Nut flipped, sprung off his hands and landed, resuming his rhythmic bobbing.
He held out his arm and snapped his fingers. The drumming stopped. The crowd bustled with excited murmurs. A clan member entered into the circle and held out a coconut before Coco Nut. Carvings adorned its shell, a hole had been chiseled into the top of it and out the front sat a small bowl. The clan member placed what appeared to be a greenish rock into the bowl. He then felt at his pockets for a moment before whispering something to Coco Nut. His face trembled with anger.
“Does anyone have a lighter?” He sternly surveyed the clan who was now silent. His eyes flitted at the Kimono Dragon. He gave his head a little shake. “Well?” he shouted.
“I got one.” A member replied. His head was lowered into his chest as he stuffed his hand into his pocket. Finally he raised his arm triumphantly towards his leader. Coco Nut glared at him. The member’s placid face stared back. The Kimono Dragon felt his face tighten. Another agonizing moment passed.
“Well, bring it to me.”
“Oh…Right.” He clambered to his feet and trotted to Coco Nut.
Coco Nut took the lighter and began to touch the flame onto the rock. “Petrified marijuana bud…Now you’ll feel what it’s like to be stoned to death!” He placed his mouth over the hole and as he inhaled, sparks began to crack over the rock. He closed his eyes and handed the coconut back to the one member who shrinked back into the crowd. He opened his eyes. Violent crimson shrouded his black pupils. He held his fists before his face and blew the smoke over them. An emerald sheen began to spread across them and soon they were fully encased in crystal. He looked up at the Kimono Dragon.
“Can I get my lighter back?” The gormless member held out his hand.
Without looking away from the Kimono Dragon, Coco Nut thrust his arm to the side and through the man’s chest. Blood burst out of his back. He slumped forward onto Coco Nut’s arm before he was thrown onto the dirt. His body was dragged from the circle.
Coco Nut began advancing towards the Kimono Dragon. He saw that his right arm was pulled back, close to his ribs, cocked for another deadly blow. He closed the distance, one threatening step after another. Silence creaked across the circle. He lowered his gaze and softly exhaled out of his nostrils. This was not what I bargained for…
“Look out, my Dragon!” Exclaimed a familiar Jamaican accent.
The punch had been launched. Stepping to the side and rotating his torso, he sliced below the crystalized fist with the knife-edge of his palm, drawing it to the ground. The fist cleaved deeply into the earth. The Kimono Dragon, maintaining control of Coco Nut’s wrist, slid his palm to scoop the back of his fist. Turning his whole body and twisting the fist back in on itself, he thrust it back towards Coco Nut, driving it into his jaw. The sound of a boulder splitting cracked through the air. A plume of red and green had shot up from his face and had begun to drift down, engulfing them both. Coco Nut’s jaw hung onto a shred of cartilage, his tongue waggled in blood. He dropped to his knee, and then onto his back.
The Kimono Dragon stood still, his body was flecked with blood, his eyes were lowered. A breeze pulled at his kimono. He wasn’t quite sure what to do. The clan had seemingly forgotten about him, and was busy trying to resuscitate their leader with blunt smoke. He took a breath in, quelling any doubts about his next action. Lifting his head, he turned to the woman beneath the palm tree, gave a sheepish smile and with a slight head shake gestured that they get out of here. She stared at him for a while without blinking, before finally smiling back.