Birth of a Fighter (Jigoro POV)

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spirizu
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Birth of a Fighter (Jigoro POV)

Post by spirizu » Sat Jul 28, 2012 5:36 pm

I've been thinking about writing a Jigoro POV for a while, but this is the only way I could think of making it work. Am undecided on whether to keep it a one-shot or to try expanding it.

Anyway, hope you enjoy.

__________________________________________

Birth of a Fighter

“Who the hell do you think you are?”

Jigoro Hakamichi looked up shyly from the dog-eared biography of Emperor Komei he was idly leafing through while nibbling delicately on his noodles to see Tenura standing menacingly over him.

“T-Tenura?”

“Well, Hakamichi? Who – the – hell – do – you – think – you – are?”, Tenura repeated, jabbing Jigoro painfully in the shoulder with every word. “Are you trying to make us look stupid or something?”

Jigoro tore his eyes from the older boy’s face to see three other classmates standing close behind Tenura, shielding the confrontation from the rest of the schoolyard. They were big even for ten-year-olds.

“N-no, Tenura”, Jigoro answered quietly. “I’m not trying to do anything. I just answered the questions Teacher asked.”

Tenura only sneered. Jigoro watched his expression, fascinated. For the first time in his six years, he had an opportunity to observe a sneer, a quite uncommon facial expression he had only read about before now. The sneer was perfectly executed, the lip drawing back from the teeth with glorious symmetry, the eyes narrowing in identical proportions, and an almost-tangible air of menace exuding from the whole.

As he watched the sneer take shape on the bigger boy’s face, the various facial muscles working in unison to produce the rare expression, it occurred to Jigoro that even a sneer, when done properly, could be a thing of beauty.

“Well, stop answering from now on, okay? Unless he asks you directly. Otherwise, I’m going to have to kick your ass. Got that?” The final question was accompanied by Tenura’s hand grabbing Jigoro by his knitted sweater vest and lifting him a foot off the ground.

“Yes, Tenura. I understand. I won’t answer any more questions I’m not asked.”

“Good boy. Now, do you have any money for lunch today?”

“N-no, Tenura. I brought my lunch with me today”, Jigoro replied, meekly indicating the barely-touched box of noodles by his feet.

“Well, I’ll just have to take that, then. But see that you have money with you tomorrow. Otherwise, I’m going to have to kick your ass.” With that, the older boy dropped Jigoro to the ground, letting him land roughly in the puddle he had been so careful to step around initially when walking to that secluded corner, and walked off, noodles in hand. The others trailed Tenura, waiting for the next diversion to distract them from the monotony of their purposeless lives. Troglodites.

Jigoro sighed, adjusting his crooked glasses with a delicate flourish. He didn’t try to get people to dislike him, it just seemed to happen. He let his eyes sweep across the yard, watching the other forty or so children while they played. It was a small school, with only two classes. Class 1 was for pupils aged 4 – 8, and Class 2 was intended for those aged 8 – 12. He hadn’t had any friends when he was in Class 1, but his teacher there, Miss Hazaki, had assured him that he would be sure to fit in when he transferred up to Class 2. The other pupils would be older and more mature, easier for him to talk to, so she said.

Of course, it hadn’t worked out that way.

The other pupils had seemed to resent the introduction of an undersized six-year-old to the class, as if it were some sort of adverse reflection on their abilities or lack thereof. His early attempts to initiate conversations with them had met with silence, if he was lucky, so he had resolved to keep his head down and simply concentrate on pleasing Mr Yazuku. Now it seemed he wasn’t even supposed to do that.

Jigoro sighed again and returned to his book.
______________________________________________

The rain was falling heavily as he walked home that afternoon. Mercifully, he had remembered to keep quiet for the afternoon, so Tenura could have no pretext to kick his ass (he blushed slightly, remembering the older boy’s crass language). Not until the next pretext he might concoct, at any rate.

Despite the fact that it was February, Jigoro had neither a coat nor well-soled shoes, so the two-mile walk home, to the simple wooden house on the outskirts of the village, was a wet one. At present, only he and Mother lived there. Father had left for his latest business trip four months ago, and almost nothing had been heard from him since. He had sent them 200 Yen some six weeks previously, but that money was long since spent, mostly on food. Jigoro was bright. He was good at observing people, their words and their actions. He had seen the lines of concern on his mother’s face grow deeper with the passage of weeks, and months. He knew they had no money left in the house, save for the pittance they made selling eggs hatched by their dozen hens. To his mind, this only made it all the more curious that his mother seemed to be gaining weight. She hadn’t even eaten dinner last night, saying she wasn’t hungry and allowing Jigoro to eat it all instead. He supposed he should be happy about that, and he was, a little, but it still worried him. Mother’s stomach seemed to be getting bigger every day. Maybe she had friends to cook for her while he was at school, but, in that case, why had she stopped smiling?

Distracted by this melancholy reverie, he didn’t notice Mother at first when he walked in the front door. Noticing movement out of the corner of his eye, he reversed course and walked into the kitchen, where she sat in the old chair in the corner, staring out the window and rubbing her belly slowly, almost protectively. Did that mean she was hungry, or full? Jigoro stood there in silence for a moment, as if matters would resolve themselves without his intervention.

Mother spotted him after a second. “Jigoro, sweetheart. How was school?”

“It was fine. We learned about division.” There was no need to tell her about Tenura and the stolen lunch. It might just upset her.

A look crossed his mother’s face then, as close as she ever came to smiling. “Good boy. You’re the man of the house unless … until your father comes back. It’s important for men to do well at school.”

That made Jigoro grin. Nobody had ever called him a man before. “Yes, Mother.”

“Good boy. If you don’t mind, after you dry off, could you walk back into the village for me? The Akazawas bought a few eggs earlier and we could do with bread and milk.”

Jigoro was cold and wet. He had hoped to spend the evening reading his book in front of the fire, instead of risking another chest infection in the rain. The last thing he wanted was to have to run errands. But that would not be a manly answer to give. It was important to be manly. So he gave the man’s answer.

“Yes, Mother”.
_______________________________________

Twenty minutes later, the boy clutched the twenty-yen note, the entirety of their remaining cash, tightly in his fist as he walked back out into the lashing rain. The moment he stepped outside, an overly dramatic thunderclap boomed over the landscape, as if directed by some insane deity. Manly or not, he would have much preferred to step back inside, but the shop would be closed if he left it any later. Hunched closely over, shivering involuntarily, he stepped slowly back to the village, reflecting on his mother’s words earlier.

“You’re the man of the house until your father comes back.”

What did that mean? How was he to act like a man? His father was a jolly man, who always seemed to stay out late, visiting his friends. Father had lots of friends, most of them ladies. Was that manly? Some of the books he had read said that things like honour and duty were indications of true manliness, things like protecting the weak and resisting oppressors. That was what the samurai had done. Maybe that was what manliness was. Protecting the weak … well, Mother had certainly been very tired lately. Perhaps he could protect her by doing what he was told and not worrying her too much. He wasn’t too sure about how to resist oppressors, though.

He turned into the village and walked towards Mr Kazuki’s shop on the main square. Everywhere else seemed to be closed, with the odd silhouetted figure rushing home to get out of the rain. As Jigoro turned another corner, he walked into a solid wall of flesh, momentarily stunning him before he could step backwards to see who it was.

Tenura. Oh, no.

The older boy’s porcine eyes glimmered with malign satisfaction as they focused on Jigoro’s tiny frame.

“You hit me, Hakamichi. That’s not fair. I should get to hit you back, now.”

“Tenura, I’m sorry, it was an accident, I’m just going to the shop, I’ll get out of your way, I’m sorry.”

“Oh?” The glimmer intensified. “Well, that’s okay. You can just compensate me for assaulting me and I won’t hit you back after all. That’s fair, isn’t it?”

Jigoro looked up at Tenura in confusion, his thought processes numbed by the sheer terror coursing through his every artery. Tenura smiled vindictively.

“Oh, you can’t understand me, boy genius? Allow me to rephrase: give me your money, or I’ll kick your ass.”

Jigoro couldn’t do that. He knew he couldn’t do that. They needed bread, and he hadn’t drunk milk in a week. Father had told him before that he needed to drink milk if he wanted to grow up big and strong. He needed that money. But Tenura was biiiig. He couldn’t allow him to hit him either. What was the manly thing to do?

Jigoro spun cleanly on his heel and ran, choosing a direction at random and chasing a narrow laneway.

“Hey!” Tenura yelled, before giving chase.

Jigoro’s heart pounded through simple fear. He needed that money. Tenura couldn’t take it. What was the best way to run? Left here, then right, down past the cattle mart, the chase soundtracked all the while by the rain thudding into the dirt laneways and turning them to soft, thick mud underfoot while the older boy pursued him.

After either ten minutes or ten seconds of speed, Jigoro’s chest – weak at the best of times – began to heave. He skidded to a halt, hacking sputum onto the ground and wheezing uncontrollably. Tenura rounded the final bend and advanced slowly, a particularly sadistic predator ensuring his prey had an opportunity to savour the terror of his last moments before experiencing the pain they would bring.

“No, Hakamichi, you shouldn’t have done that. Because you tried to run off on me, I don’t have any alternative now but to take your money and kick your ass.”

Jigoro drew as deep a breath as he could, chest still heaving painfully.

“No, Tenura … I can’t … need to buy food.”

“I’m sorry, Hakamichi, but don’t you remember? I was minding my own business back there when you ran into me. I asked you to compensate me when you just ran off. That wasn’t very fair on me, now, was it?”

Rather than waste precious lung capacity on pointless words, Jigoro kept his silence. Tenura advanced and grabbed Jigoro by the arm, hauling him around to face him head-on.

With no room for manoeuvre, and no options left, Jigoro straightened up and sank his teeth wordlessly into Tenura’s wrist, observing how high-pitched Tenura’s voice became as he screamed in fury.

“You little shit! Just for that, I’m going to kick your ass every day for the rest of the year!”

Jigoro knew now that there was nothing left to do but wait for the beating. The first punch made a nauseating crunch as it connected with his nasal cartilage. Many, many more followed.

Eventually, after a lifetime of pain, Tenura stopped hitting him. He let his left hand – the only means of support Jigoro had had throughout the process – relax, dumping Jigoro to the ground. Finally, he prised open the boy’s left fist and extracted the twenty-yen note, before walking away without another word.

As Jigoro lay on the ground, face down in three inches of mud, tasting blood in his mouth and sobbing quietly to himself, he made a promise to himself, as solemn and unbreakable as the most sacred of religious vows.

This was never going happen to him again.
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Re: Birth of a Fighter (Jigoro POV)

Post by Uhhhhhh » Sat Jul 28, 2012 5:51 pm

Dude, I don't think you know how much 200 yen is :P It's about $2.50.

spirizu
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Re: Birth of a Fighter (Jigoro POV)

Post by spirizu » Sat Jul 28, 2012 6:18 pm

The story is set in the late-fifties/early-sixties. I figured that was as good an assessment as any of monetary worth in Japan at the time. Where I'm from, the equivalent of $2.50 would have been a small fortune back then.

And no, I'm not going to calculate inflationary trends in Japan over the last fifty years just to make sure.
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Mirage_GSM
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Re: Birth of a Fighter (Jigoro POV)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sun Jul 29, 2012 5:30 am

While 200 Yen might be enough to buy a bit of milk, I don't think that 20 Yen would suffice even in the fifties. Not sure if Jigoro is really that old either.
Besides there aren't any 20Yen notes in Japan - nor 200Yen notes. The smallest notes are 1.000 Yen. Probably have been in the fifties as well.
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Megumeru
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Re: Birth of a Fighter (Jigoro POV)

Post by Megumeru » Sun Jul 29, 2012 5:44 am

Mirage_GSM wrote:While 200 Yen might be enough to buy a bit of milk, I don't think that 20 Yen would suffice even in the fifties. Not sure if Jigoro is really that old either.
Besides there aren't any 20Yen notes in Japan - nor 200Yen notes. The smallest notes are 1.000 Yen. Probably have been in the fifties as well.
once it's below 'thousands' its coins, right (and there's only '1000', '5000', '10000')?

Coins are troublesome. Made my wallet look fat but in reality it's filled with 1s, 10s, and 5s.
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Mirage_GSM
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Re: Birth of a Fighter (Jigoro POV)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sun Jul 29, 2012 6:11 am

Yeah, the lack 0f 2, 20 or 200 Yen coins really causes your wallet to swell up at a rapid pace. Especially if you're not used to the coins and don't want to hold up lines for several minutes sorting through your wallet.
And yes, only those three denominations of notes. At least I didn't encounter any others during my stay.
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

spirizu
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Re: Birth of a Fighter (Jigoro POV)

Post by spirizu » Sun Jul 29, 2012 11:22 am

So, no feedback other than critiques of my inability to grasp the exchange rate with the Yen?

Ah hell, I'll take it. :P
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Re: Birth of a Fighter (Jigoro POV)

Post by Uhhhhhh » Sun Jul 29, 2012 11:56 am

I liked it, you should continue it.

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