Tadashi was coughing loudly when a gust of smoke entered his mouth. He turned to the source of the smoke. He glared at his bandmate as he was smoking his joint. The bandmate raised his eyebrow but shrugged and continued smoking. Tadashi shook his head and resumed writing. Tadashi Hamada is a guitarist and lyricist for the six-piece band, Something Stinks. He has been part of the ensemble since its inception when he was in high school. At first, it was a hobby, something to pass the time. He was attending college at SFIT and working at the robotics lab.
It was after they performed at the House of Blues when they were gaining notice from representatives of indie labels. Most of which were able to take them on after hearing a demo. So, all of his concentration has been spent on making the demo with his band. However, it seemed that Tadashi was the only one that was taking it seriously.
He took a sip of beer and tapped his pen to think about what he should write. His thoughts were on old material, but he wanted something to gander their attention. He didn't want anything to sound like he was covering for Nirvana, Hole, Janitor Joe, Dead Kennedys, Sublime, and the like. Admittedly, he couldn't quite describe their own style. He concluded it as a combination of grunge, ska, and small elements of alternative rock and hip hop.
He tapped the pen loudly, trying to give his other bandmates attention on when they were going to do their part. They were acting as if they have already been signed to a label, Tadashi thought to himself. He watched them take turns with the joint while laughing and looking at television. As much Tadashi wanted to protest, he couldn't. Those members were an important part of the team. They were talented but lazy. He didn't have much connect with other players, or at least he couldn't afford to hire other members. With the lack of concentration and watching his source of distraction, he decided to put the song on hold. He sighed loudly with defeat.
"You need to take it easy."
Tadashi turned and smiled to the familiar person who said that to him. He watched his girlfriend, GoGo Tomago, approached him with a cigarette. She returned his smile before kissing him on his cheek.
"Ow," she cried. "You need to work on shaving that stubble."
"I thought you like my stubble," he retorted.
"Yeah," she said. "Like in November or whenever that no-shave holiday began."
He giggled as he wrapped around his tomboyish girlfriend. He kissed her on the neck before pulling her on his lap. He grabbed her hips before resuming kissing on her neck. She sighed loudly before taking a gasp. "Easy, easy," she said. "You know I am sensitive around there. I bruise easily."
He stopped. "Sorry, babe. Sometimes seeing your pretty neck gives me such lecherous thoughts."
"Have you been reading your brother's dictionary again," she asked him while turning around and gave him another kiss.
"I took a gander or two," he said admittedly. "At least, the dictionary has more lines written than I have."
"Don't beat yourself up," said GoGo while lighting a cigarette. She took a few puffs before blowing it into the air. "Even the greatest of lyricist hit a roadblock in their lifetime."
"That's the thing. I am not famous," he replied. "Not yet at least."
"Give it time," she said while putting her hands on his waist. "How soon do you have to turn in your demo?"
"A few days," said Tadashi. "One of the labels want an advance on at least a song in a couple of days." He looked at the other bandmates. "It would help if my mates wouldn't spend so much time smoking a spliff, we can get real progress done. You guys act like we have made it big time."
A few of them laughed while they continued smoking. Tadashi shook his head in disappointment before returning to his girlfriend. "See what I mean? Can't wait to make a start so I can blow them away. They are holding me back."
GoGo rubbed her hand on his hair. "Chill, babe. You are way too stressed. You need to take your time and relax. All things will be done in time. Just not tonight."
Tadashi smiled. "You're right." He took another sip of his beer before setting his eyes on GoGo. "You feel like fooling around?"
She giggled. "I wish we could, but we have to pick up Hiro, don't we?"
Tadashi put his palm against his forehead. "God, you're right. I do remember we have to pick him up."
"I bet it sucks sometimes that you guys don't live together?"
"Yeah, but he loves his big bro. And I don't get to see him as much."
"Where did he say to pick him up?"
"Earlier in the day, he told me that he was going to the arcade. Knowing for him, he is going to be there quite awhile."
"Give him a call."
"I will as soon as we get to the car." Tadashi grabbed the keys but stumbled a bit. He remembered that he had a couple of bottles of beer. He looked at GoGo. "Could you drive for me, please?"
GoGo and Tadashi were driving to the arcade where they were going to pick up Hiro. Hiro doesn't live with his brother. Their parents split when they were children. Tadashi went to live his father. Hiro went to live his mother. Both Tadashi and Hiro were reflective of their parents. Their father was stern, serious, and absolute. Their mother was gentle, sweet, and caring. Often, Hiro wanted to spend time with his brother. So on weekends, Hiro went to spend time with Tadashi. Tadashi is very caring of Hiro but often wished that Hiro wasn't as clingy. However, he knew that it was their mother in him.
Tadashi reached into his cell phone to call Hiro. However, it went straight to voicemail.
"No answer," questioned GoGo as she was switching lanes.
"No," he said. "Maybe it is too loud at the arcade. We will see if he is there."
As they continued driving, Tadashi picked up the phone again. Again, it went straight to voicemail. This time, Tadashi responded. "Hey, bro. This is Tadashi. I am trying to reach you, but don't know where you are at. Please pick up! Peace!"
He put the phone back in his pocket. He pulled a cigarette. He placed it in his mouth but left his matches at practice. "Damn," he said aloud. He asked GoGo. "Do you have a lite?"
"No," she said. "And the one of the console doesn't work either."
"Damn," he said. "No matter. Hopefully, Hiro has one I can use. Or at least somebody at the arcade does."
"Our little Hiro smoking? I doubt that."
"He wants to be like his big bro. But I pray to God that he doesn't pick up on my bad points." He laughed as he pulled out his phone to reach Hiro. "I am not Brother of the Year."
"At least he has a brother to care," said GoGo. "I don't know that feeling. I grew up as an only child. And as a loner."
Tadashi kissed GoGo on the neck. She shivered by the contact. "Not a loner anymore. Not anymore."
It wasn't long before they pulled into the parking lot of the arcade. GoGo pulled into a parking space before turning the car engine off. "Do you want me to get Hiro since you are not in the condition of being in the public?"
"Would you please," asked Tadashi as he adjusted his seat to lean back. "And thank you."
GoGo kissed him on the lips before getting out of the car. Tadashi watched as the tomboy went to the arcade. He was admiring on how beautiful she was. Seeing her figure and her personality reminded him of how unchanged she was. She was the very same person when they met during freshman orientation. Whereas Tadashi had his parents, GoGo came from nothing. Born as it were on the wrong side of the tracks. GoGo was self-made. She doesn't like talking about her past. However, he was one of few people who knows about her background. It was at a party during their spring semester of their freshman year when they have connected. It may have started as a one-night stand, but they have many nights and many dates before they became an item.
Tadashi smiled as he thought about his girlfriend. It was until GoGo returned to the car alone.
"Hiro wasn't there," she said.
"What," replied Tadashi.
"Hiro wasn't there. According to some of his friends, Hiro left about an hour ago."
"An hour ago," questioned Tadashi as his tone of voice displayed worriedness. "That isn't like him. Did any of them say where he was going?"
"One of them mentioned that he was headed to your house," she said.
"My house," he questioned. "That is a far walk. Thirty minutes."
"Do you think we need to call your dad or your mom," questioned GoGo. She as well was displaying worry in her eyes.
"Not yet. Especially not my mom," he said. "She will freak if someone had their hands on her boy."
"Alright, alright," she said. "What should we do?"
He put his finger to his lip. "Let's head to my house. It has been an hour, so he should be at my doorstep."
"If that were the case, then why doesn't he call?"
"I don't know. Maybe his phone is out of juice. Either way, let's go."
GoGo put the car into drive as they exited the parking lot of the arcade. Tadashi looked at his surroundings to see if Hiro was around. He continued watching as they were making their way back to his house.
As they continued to his house, his cell phone was ringing. However, it wasn't from Hiro. It was from an unknown number. He answered the phone.
"Hello," answered Tadashi.
"Yes, I am looking for a Tadashi Hamada," said the deep-voiced gentleman
"Speaking," answered Tadashi.
"Hello, this is Officer Fukuda from the San Fransokyo Police Department. I am calling from San Fransokyo General."
Tadashi gripped the phone tightly. "And what reason do you have for me this evening."
"You see, you see," said the officer before taking a breath. "There has been an incident this evening and I would like for you to come down to the hospital."
"For who? Mom? Dad? Hiro?" Tadashi's lips began quivering when hearing this.
"It will be best if we explain when we get there."
"Is it about Mom? Dad? Or Hiro?" He was becoming frantic.
"It is about your brother, Hiro."
Tadashi dropped the phone. His hands started rattling. He was becoming pale. He was in disbelief that he was hearing something like that. "Go to the hospital," he panicked to GoGo "Go, push it. Now!"
GoGo gripped the steering wheel as she was making her way to the hospital. The entire time his only thought was his brother and his brother alone.
A/N: I have decided to delete the next chapter. I didn't feel satisfied with it. Once I return from writer's block hell, then I will produce a better chapter. For those who have remained, thank you for your undying support.
Chapter 2: Act Two: Tadashi
Hiro wanted to attend Tadashi's band session, but he was able to. Tadashi told him that he didn't want to allow his drunken, pot-smoking buddies giving him any type of influence. And partially because he did not want Hiro to be in the way. It was adorable; a brother who vied for the affections of his older brother. A man who seeks a thrill for a chance to become adventurous. By the time Hiro turned fourteen, he wanted to be under his image. He didn't mind behind Tadashi's shadow.
It rattled Tadashi's brain as GoGo pushed the gas to the hospital that he did not invite his brother. His brother got on his knees to beg to attend his session. He even told him that he did not mind being a helper. If they had marijuana, he would rolled the blunts. If they have alcohol, he would serviced them. If they have girlfriends, he would keep them entertained with a magic trick. All paths to attend his sessions was block. Like always, he rubbed his brother's forehead and told him, "Next time, perhaps. When the sessions get better and my pot-smoking buddies can focus."
Those painstaking words are now venom to his brain, lacerating him with regret. If I would allowed him to come to this session. If I would told him to not go to the arcade at that particular evening. No matter what problem he could have solved, the solution led to the fact that his kid brother was his trouble.
Tadashi took all of the blame to himself.
GoGo pulled into the parking lot of San Fransokyo General. Instantly, Tadashi jumped from the vehicle while GoGo have yet to stop. He rushed into the ER, bypassing any obstacle to get in his way to find his brother.
He went to the front desk. He was sweating, panting from the panic and alcohol that he had consumed prior to the phone call. The receptionist gave him a stare, a familiar stare that she gave to patients or relatives of patients. She pressed her nail and gave her a strong, but rugged introduction.
"Can I help you?"
He shook his head. "Yes, can you tell me the information for Hiro Hamada."
Just a second. Calmly, she type into the database of her computer. Slowly, she typed out his name. "Let me see, let me see." She paused, clearing her throat. "Hamada, Hiro?"
"Yes," replied Tadashi frantically. "Is he here? Where is he? I need to find him."
"Hiro just left out of surgery, he will be out…"
Tadashi was getting out of breath. What or who did something to his brother that made him go into surgery. He was panting hard, which was noticeable by the receptionist. Fortunately, GoGo made her entrance and moved Tadashi aside.
The look on the receptionist displayed gratefulness for Tadashi. From GoGo's angle, the receptionist had her head on the panic button.
"Yes," said GoGo clearly. "I am Leiko Tanaka and I am Hiro's sister. I want to know what is going on with Hiro?" Her eyes displayed concern, worried for her boyfriend's brother. However, she had to remain calm. Her eyes instructed Tadashi to wait on her until she can gather information. Tadashi left, but remain close. Nothing in the world was going to deter him from seeing his brother.
"Yes, your brother just left out of surgery," the receptionist said. "He is getting a room set up. He should be ready in the matter of minutes."
"Good," replied GoGo smoothly. "Plus, I was given word from the police that they have spoken with us about Hiro." She peered closer to the receptionist. Although she showed disdain, GoGo kept her calm demeanor. One of them have to represent cordially. "Are the officers still there to speak with us about Hiro?"
The woman scanned for a phone. She dialed a few numbers to get in contact. After a few moments, she hung up. "The police are here and at standby. Do you want them to know you are here?"
GoGo shook her head in disagreement. "No, ma'am. We will make our way to them. One more thing, where is Hiro located?"
She looked at the screen. She responded dryly. "Fourth floor."
"Thanks," replied GoGo. She turned around, giving the dry receptionist a smug look, and made her way to Tadashi. Unlike her boyfriend, GoGo can handle stress better. That was why Tadashi valued his relationship with her. She kept him balanced.
She pointed to the elevator. "Hiro is going to be on the fourth floor."
Instead of taking her advice of the elevator, Tadashi took the stairs. With his ragged breath, the worrisome brother took four flights of stairs to his destination. GoGo, on the other hand, took the elevator. She was not a vindictive person, she knew how to handle pressure better. They don't even know what was wrong until they find out. She prayed that it wasn't anything serious. She definitely prayed on that.
GoGo got out of the elevator in search of her boyfriend. She passed a few nurses as she was looking for the room where Hiro was to be placed. She walked through the hall before making her way near her destination. However, she saw two police officers standing and next to them was Tadashi. He was sitting on the floor with his head tucked between his knees. Even from her position, she knew he was crying. She took a sharp breath. One of them had to stay strong, she thought as she priss her way to the boys in blue.
She straightened her voice. "Hi, I am Leiko Tanaka," she said to the police. She looked at Tadashi. "I am his boyfriend and we are here for Hiro Hamada."
One of the officers, a male took a breath. He removes his glasses, wiping the sweat from his face. He looked into the eyes of GoGo with the look of he has a story to tell. "I am glad you all are here. Hiro has yet to arrive yet. But, we would like to wait for his parents to show up."
GoGo was taken aba , but kept her composure. "You guys called us about him. We would like to know what is going on." Her voice was high pitched, refusing to stand down at any request. "Hiro is special to me and I am engaged to this man sitting right before me. He is my family and I want to know what is going on."
The female officer came around and tapped GoGo on her shoulder. "Officer Fukuda, I got it from here."
The officer nodded his head. The female officer took GoGo further down the hall, away from the panicked Tadashi and the other police officer.
"Hi, I am Officer Hwang and I am here for Hiro's investigation," replied the police officer.
Police investigation, GoGo thought. The only way police were involved in an investigation if something happened to someone.
"First, I want to let you know that we are sorry that you are here under these circumstances." Officer Hwang took a breath. "Second, I am glad that Hiro is going to be okay." She took another breath. Each breath felt like the moment was getting more intense. "We are here to investigate the incident that happened with Hiro earlier this evening."
"What happened," questioned GoGo.
Officer Hwang nodded her head. "I still think it will be best if family hears this."
GoGo put her hand to the wall. Her veins were exposed, giving the officer a stern look. "Officer, I have known this kid since he was young. He looks to me like a big sister. Please, I must know. Keeping me out of the loop is like telling me I don't matter. He is my little brother. So, I am begging you. Please tell me what happened to my little brother."
Officer Hwang sighed heavily, knowing what risk she might take of taking this route. "Okay. Earlier this evening, we get a call of a disturbance a few blocks from the arcade. Officer Fukuda and I go to the scene. As we approach the alleyway, we found a boy, I mean Hiro, unconscious. We paged for an ambulance and we had him sent to the hospital."
GoGo interjected. "Why did he require surgery?"
The officer's eyes began watering. She rubbed her eyes before returning them back to GoGo. "There was injury around his back. He received some serious lacerations there. Also, there was an injury at his rectal cavity."
"What are you telling me, Officer?"
The officer sighed. "I don't know. But we are not going to know until Hiro is stable and gives us time to talk to him."
"Thank you, Officer," replied GoGo. The officer patted her back before returning to her partner. She covered her mouth as the thought of someone wanting to take advantage of an innocent boy. Hiro didn't have any quarrels with anyone, nothing that serious. Every now and again, the young genius gambled in bot-fighting competitions. Sometimes, he participated. He was a kid, thought GoGo. All kids made mistakes.
As she returned to her boyfriend, she was met with commotion. She stood as she saw Tadashi's father picking up his son by his collar and pushing him against the wall.
"You insolent bastard," he screamed to his son. "You did this! You did this!"
Tadashi was straining, trying to apologize but his father had his hand around his throat.
"This is your damned fault, Tadashi," screamed his father. "You made him weak like a woman. Rape? Rape?" He threw Tadashi to the wall. It wasn't long until the police officers returned to calm the commotion.
Upon seeing the officers, Tadashi's father moved away from his son and back against the wall. He pointed his finger at his son.
"Your fault," he screamed. "Your damned fault that my son was raped. Your damn fault he turned into a pussy."
GoGo stood defenseless. Seeing her boyfriend getting attacked. Seeing her boyfriend's mother crying in the corner. Hearing the words that finally impacted her ears.
"Rape," she said aloud. "Hiro was raped?"
Chapter 3: Act Three: Tadashi/GoGo
A compromise was established between the dueling parties. GoGo found it ridiculous when the police called the father and son a dueling party. The compromise was that Tadashi's parents were to visit Hiro first. Once the parents were escorted from the hospital, then she and Tadashi can visit Hiro. Visiting hours were drawing near to a close, so the couple only had fifteen minutes to check on Hiro. For the meantime, the couple was outside. The rain was coming down hard, pelting the smoking area where Tadashi was on his last cigarette.
He flicked the lighter and inhaled the smoke to blow it in the night sky. GoGo stood there, agitated that she wanted to be in a better position of consoling all parties. That was her kindred nature, now at least. She did not have loving parents to speak of; or relatives that claimed the name of Leiko Tanaka. Tadashi and Hiro were the closest she could call family. Of course she had the others at SFIT, but it was not the same. Tadashi and Hiro were people she could actually say she loved. So watching her boyfriend in this paradigm and her friend who she called her brother was upstairs recovering from his own paradigm. Here she sat holding onto a cigarette that she honestly wasn't in the mood to smoke. She need something to numb the feeling, but instead she watching the fire burn the tobacco.
"Babe." Tadashi broke the silence, interrupting GoGo's thoughts. "You can go back home if you want." He took another smoke. "I can call one of the guys to pick me up. You have class in the morning and I want you to have your rest. I give you a call tomorrow if anything changes."
She gave him a stern no. She stubbed the cigarette onto the concrete and sat beside Tadashi. She took his hand and wrapped it tightly around hers, intertwining their fingers. "I am not going anywhere, Tadashi. Your problem is my problem. Your brother is my brother. Thick and thin, no matter what."
Tadashi looked away, combating the tears. He knew her decision was final, just like the end of the cigarette he finished smoking. It made him think of the day when he and his crew were pulled over by the cops. What should have been a failure to signal turned into a investigation of their vehicle. The police suspected the members of the vehicle were under the influence. Admittedly. Tadashi knew that only one of them was under the influence, but the others received a contact high. All of them were searched with the exception of GoGo. The police believed her story. How she convinced the officer not to check was unbelievable. The smug look on the cop's face when the search resulted in nothing made the cop made a sly remark about them being Asian.
Before Tadashi could spit a vowel, GoGo hit him, promoting silence. The cop gave them a ticket and left the crew. GoGo reached into her pants and threw the marijuana back at one of the crew. Since then, Tadashi knew that GoGo looked out for people, even those who should have gotten into trouble. GoGo was a rebel, but a woman with a purpose. And tonight, her purpose was to be with her man.
"Sorry you had to see that with Dad," said Tadashi. He was shaking his leg. He watched another car entered the parking lot. Another couple was passing through the area. They nodded at each other before going their separate ways. "Knowing for him, he have went gambling at the Indian casino again and lost. Or maybe somebody at work pissed him off."
GoGo hated when Tadashi gave his father excuses for his abuse on him. This incident was not the first time he had put his hands on Tadashi. Tadashi's father was described by close friends and family as "night and day." He could love at dinner and kill at dessert. His father works at a meatpacking plant as a supervisor. He worked day and night. A hardworking man, no matter what shift, he took it. He worked at the plant prior to meeting their mother. According to Tadashi, he was happier before meeting their mother.
"You don't have to explain yourself about your father," replied GoGo, still holding his hand. "He still had no right of putting your hands on you. Couldn't he see that you were hurt as well." She scoffed, disgusted on what she was going to say next. "He had no right of calling Hiro a pussy."
Tadashi was frozen. Stunned as he was about produce something else. He nodded his head. He wiped his eyes with his arm. GoGo can see tears around his arm from the streetlamp above them.
"Hiro has always been a gentle child," said Tadashi. "Very kindred in nature. I can't say one bad thing about the kid." He reached into his pocket to retrieve his lighter. GoGo gave him another cigarette from her pocket. "Hiro was the kid who prefer peace over war. A child that always, I mean always, wanted to do the right thing. He was a people pleaser." He shook his head. "And it often worked with or against his favor." He spat at the ground. "Dad never liked Hiro like that. Pussy is more subtle than any other discouraging remark. I have heard worse. That was a paper cut compared to other wounds."
"Still, this is not the time. Who knows what remarks is that man is telling Hiro right now." GoGo spat in disgust. "No matter how sensitive he is, he is a good man. A good man, Tadashi."
"With Mom being there, I hope he doesn't," said Tadashi. "If so, then Hiro can decipher the difference. I just hope to God he is not awake. The last thing he needs to hear is being called a sissy or a punk." He sighed. "It is just not right. Not right at all."
GoGo could never understand on his defending his father. Her earliest memory of Tadashi's father was the day she came over and studied at his house. They were working on a project for their Thermodynamics class. They were sitting in the living room listening to music and drinking some beer he got from one of his crew members. It was late in the evening when his father returned. Immediately, he turned off the music as he saw the stern and aggressive father. His father's face was flushed, redder than a tomato. His eyes displayed anger. For who, GoGo didn't want to know. The moment he opened his mouth, the duo detected a heavy stench of alcohol.
Tadashi's father walked into the kitchen. Silence was evident in there. They heard the heavy slamming of the refrigerator, followed by the shattering of glasses. He cursed loudly before heading back to the living room. He headed for Tadashi and hit him with the broken plate.
His father's reasoning was why didn't he closed the deep freezer properly. He proceeded in insulting him before exchanging sexist remarks with GoGo. He told Tadashi to clean up the kitchen and for GoGo to leave.
Not once did Tadashi flinch or react. He just did his father's orders. He kissed GoGo and told her that he would see her in the morning. Since then, GoGo never wanted to be in his house.
GoGo's thought was interrupted when she saw Tadashi's parents exited the hospital. The father kept his smug look and the mother remained silent. The sound of heavy walking was making the tempo until she saw both parties entered separate cars and departed. She was grateful that they didn't see either of them. She looked at her clock.
"C'mon, babe," said GoGo. "We have a few minutes left before visiting hours end. Let's go."
Tadashi and GoGo took the elevator that led them to Hiro's floor. They held hands as the moment they saw Hiro's room in front of them. Each of them took a breath before entering the room.
The hospital room was a sharp contrast from the rest of the hospital. It appeared more of a luxurious hotel than a hospital room. There were flowers, beautiful paintings, leather chairs, and soft music emitting from the ceiling. On the wall was a plasma screen and there was a large, comfortable leather sofa that could seat two, maybe three. It had a small coffee table with a lamp and coffee maker along with complimentary coffee. There was a window that gave a view of the San Fransokyo skyline. In front of them, on the comfortable bed, was Hiro.
Hiro was sleeping as the doctor explained that he was heavily sedated. The orderlies placed a quilt over him to ensure comfort. There was an IV attached to Hiro's skin. There was a heart monitor beside him that kept with his heart rate. Both were upset to see him in that position, but relieved that he was still with them.
His right eye was swollen and had a purplish-blue tint to it. There was a slight cut on his right cheek. His breathing was irregular as he sounded like a congested heavy smoker. There was bruising around his neck and lower mandible. GoGo hoped that at some point in the attack he had lost consciousness because nobody deserved what happened to him. She wouldn't wish it on her worst enemy.
Tadashi dropped his knees. He let out a crackled cry before resting his face on Hiro's chest. The sound of the heart monitor and his sobbing coincided with each other. He kept saying he was sorry for not being there. He kept saying it repetitively.
GoGo kneeled beside Tadashi. She took his hand and rested on his shoulder. She, too, wanted to cry, but she needed to stay strong. One of them had to, so it might as well be her.