فصل 02

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Chapter two

Death follows death

Back home in my sixth floor Brixton flat I turned the lights down low and listened to the guy who lived upstairs, Tim, playing the saxophone. He was playing a Ben Webster tune, one of my favourites. The long notes of the sax came through the ceiling. I was in the mood for jazz, as usual. I lay back on my sofa and looked out of the window - London by night, the sweetest sight in the whole world. It was a clear, bright October evening and I took in a view that stretched from the dark streets of Brixton to Docklands.

Brixton was not the best area of London to live in. For me, though, there were some very good reasons for living there. First of all, it was a lot cheaper than some other places in the city. I also had my own private saxophonist living upstairs and this fantastic view over London. What more did I need?

I looked now at that view. The sky was deep blue and the stars looked like tiny jewels all over it. The moon would be full in a few days and it was already big and beautiful. I let the music wash over me. The tune coming from upstairs was sad, full of lost dreams and lost love. I thought about Kawaguchi, dying so far away from his real home and I suddenly felt bad. I took the “Who’s Who in the Martial Arts” off the bookshelf and opened it at Kawaguchi. It read: Kawaguchi, Takehiko, 8th Dan, born 1925, Osaka, Japan. Student of the great Ohtsuka, 10th Dan, Japan National Team 1950-58. World Champion fighter 1954-56. Started Zanshin School of Karate, London, 1960.

Not much there. Not much for a whole lifetime. I decided to get some sleep. Tomorrow I would have to go to the Anshan dojo and I was going to need all my strength.

I went to bed and dreamt that I was in the dojo again, with Sanjay. We were fighting but we were both smiling. I was woken by a loud ringing noise next to my left ear. It felt like it was the middle of the night. I came back to life, realised it was the phone and picked it up. It was Jonty.

‘What do you want? What time is it?’ I asked crossly, reaching for my watch on the bedside table.

‘Get down to the Kawaguchi training hall, Kate. We’ve found another body.’

By the time I got to Waterloo Station it was 6.30 am. I had some difficulty keeping my eyes open. I had planned to go to the Zanshin dojo today, but not quite this early. I ran from the station to the dojo, a few minutes away. It was already busy down there. The shape of a man was drawn on the changing-room floor and there were a lot of police. Only a couple of reporters though. Brampton from the Standard newspaper and some new guy from The Observer. Jonty, wearing a purple tie with yellow flowers, was smoking nervously.

‘Same story,’ Jonty said through the smoke. ‘Looks like one punch - to the stomach this time - right on the solar plexus. No sign of a struggle. The guy had just showered and changed after a training session. The cleaner found him this morning. It was Ito, Kawaguchi’s number two. We’re telling the rest of the club to stay at home and closing the dojo for the moment.’

The Zanshin dojo has not only lost its sensei, Kawaguchi, but now Ito was also gone. I wondered what effect it would have on the dojo, on the students. I turned my cassette recorder on and did a brief two-minute description of the scene. I kept to the facts. Balzano is keen on facts.

A punch to the solar plexus could be deadly and on this occasion it had been. I had once seen someone hit like that in a competition. He fell to the floor, unable to get up; they had to carry him off. He didn’t die, of course, because his opponent wasn’t using full force. Hiromitsu Ito hadn’t been so lucky. It must have happened about the time I met Sanjay last night. While we were sitting in the pub having a beer, somebody waited until everyone had gone, went into the training hall, then into the changing room and killed yet another top fighter with one punch.

3rd October 1960

Brixton Prison

Dear Paddy

Well, little brother, I hope that you are looking after Mum and Dad properly while I am not around. You’re the eldest now - at least until I get home.

Things are all right here. They are treating me pretty well under the circumstances. The prison officers are OK - we manage to have a laugh and joke together. It’s not like home though! I just keep hoping that if I carry on telling the truth, telling everyone that I didn’t do it, someone will believe me.

The only thing keeping me going at the moment is the fact that I’ve got my solicitor, Mr Jeffreys and my barrister, Mr Johnston on my side. Mr Johnston’s the one that’s going to deal with my case at the trial. That starts next week and I don’t mind telling you that I’ll be happy when it starts. At least I’ll have a chance to tell everyone the truth, that I was in Manchester that day.

Look after yourself, Paddy, and look after Mum and Dad and Ian. When I get out of here, we’ll go and have a drink or two together like we used to.

Love

Brendan

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