So a true Yanki only needed a hella lotta guts.
You don’t need the hair, or the clothes, or even the bike (when you graduated outta being Yanki and go full out Zoku) -- yeah, ok, some of the shirts you see coming in from Jusco’s these days are hella sweet. And gotta say I can’t give up the bike. Or the hair - it took forever to bleach it, and the first few times with the peroxide didn’t work so good. Take it from a pro, peroxide’s shit. You gotta go to the girly section with all the froofy glitter boxes to get your bleaching done the way it should.
Anyway, you get all these wanna be gangbanger posers around, thinking they’re all so tough when they shave their eyebrows and try to push around the littler kids. What’s with that? Total losers.
You just gotta have the right heart and the guts to live like it.
Okay, that’s two things.
Akimi-san, she’ll forever be the woman that changed my whole damn life and the true leader of the Ponytails, no matter what anyone says. I owe Akimi-san. But the other life-changing person I owe so much to was some funny looking girl that dresses in frilly dresses, eats only candy, and picks pachinko machines by how cute they are. Totally crazy, right? Momoko will make faces at me, and I only said it to her face that one time, but that girl? She’s more Yanki than all the Yanki in Shimotsuma.
Now, Momoko liked to call me Ichigo to rile me. And gettin’ real riled one day, I started calling her Princess because, much as I love her, when she’s not throwing bikes and shit -- she’s just real funny looking. Not that she cared, when I tell her that. She just kept wearing those dresses and I respected that.
But I don’t want to be called Ichigo. So one day, I said, “Hey, Princess!”
She turned to me and real snooty, like she is a princess, said, “Yes?”
When I first met her, I was like. Fuck, man. Why’s this frilly 12-year old looking girl got to have a cool name when I get stuck with Ichigo, eh? How’s that fair? Now, with new eyes and being all that much more mature and a little more grown up, I thought it was totally a name that fit. Just not when she’s acting like that.
I said, “So I’m going to start calling you Princess.” She started to say something, but that’s when I ignored her and got back to picking new rims for my ride. If you’re gonna do something that effects other people, it’s only right to give them good warning. That’s why I don’t punch a guy or girl in the face without letting them know I’m going to. It’s only fair. Some people say it’s a threat - but threats are only for people too chickenshit to follow their own words. You say it, you do it.
Anyway, don’t think I don’t notice her buying me things -- and with the modeling and sewing silly little flowers into the inside of my socks -- she’s been trying to doll me up. She’s got good taste, though. She’s just taking me to these swank places and telling me to pick what I like. When everything in the store is awesome, it’s hard to go wrong, right? And don’t think I don’t notice her still dissing my entire life. So when she’s being extra snooty and pissing me off, I’m gonna play like I’m making a Yanki outta her. Just to rile her back.
Yanki have three names. You got your real name, for family and people that know you real close. Then you have nicknames, which is for your friends and the people you ride with. Then you got a reputation name. Now, there are posers out there that try to come with some badass name and get everyone to call them that. But that’s not how rep names work. No one ever chooses their own names unless you’re a total loser. The only way you can become even more of a loser is if you chose your own name, didn’t get hitched and instead of graduating like a proper Yanki or Zoku should, tried to stay in the gang long after your teeth grew past your nose. That’s a three-way fail, if I ever heard one.
The difference between a nickname and a rep name is: with a nickname, your friends name you. With a rep name, your enemies name you. Got that? For a nickname, I dubbed Momoko ‘Princess’.
Come to think of it, it really suited her.
So what happened a few days later is this. Some dude was going around hitting up all the specialty stores in Tokyo, because there wasn’t a lot of them. And maybe they don’t bring in as big money as Jusco, but they still bring a lot because there aren’t many stores to be spreading all that money around. It meant there’s more in one place, right? Also the owners don’t usually have those people standing at the door with the radios or those security cameras at every corner. They’re a lot easier to hit.
The cops were starting to wise up, since he was hitting a string of sexy toy shops and I guess cops like their sexy shops. This bad guy decided to switch targets.
His brilliant idea was to rob these frilly clothing places because (a) lots of money in the till, and (b) frilly girls aren’t known to fight back much, ya know? Unfortunately for him, he hit up the one store protected by the hardcore protector of the city. Well it was accidental protection, not like a protection racket or something, I mean we’re a gang but we’re not gangsters.
Do two people make a gang?
Right, so I was hanging outside the store “Baby the Stars Shine Bright” because they started spraying perfume or something into the air since the last time I was in there and it gave me hives. Momoko -- I mean, Princess, was inside trying on the latest styles. She said they’re the latest. They looked exactly the same as all the other stuff she wears, so I just took her word for it. It’d be cooler if it involved tentacles, but apparently this season it was all about how much lace you could layer before the lace wore you. Momoko’s really hardcore, so the store ladies were bringing it on like it was their life’s greatest challenge.
I have to say, they had great game face. Last I saw a couple girls look at me that way, it was during a scramble after school and they took turns coming at me one on one. Trying real hard to be fair, the way they should. Weakest little things ever, but they had a lot of heart and if it weren’t the proper way, I’d have taken it a little easier on them. But they wanted a fair fight and so I respected that and gave it to them.
It was sorta like that going on in that store, then. So I ducked out and let them have at it.
When I was going back out the door, some guys pushed in and they had this crazy killer aura. I went outside anyway, because, maybe I was getting hives. Also, maybe I was wrong. Maybe they were a couple of really badass fighters shopping for their girlfriend. Or maybe they were pro wrestlers of that type, and wanted to look all pretty and fluttery themselves. Who knows? I’m not gonna judge.
Then I heard screaming and I knew they weren’t there to buy anything. So I ran back in and Princess was there with her shoes in her hand, looking like a cake and hardly moving in a hundred petticoats. One of the other girls were frozen in place too and a guy was holding a knife, yelling at them to give up their money. Now, the nearest guy didn’t have any weapon out, and in cases like these, you don’t need to do much announcing because they start off being unfair assholes. So I screamed, “ORAaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!” in my best voice and head butted the guy in the teeth. Has to be the head, because his chin was like concrete and would have broken my fist without some softening first. While he was going down howling, I headbutted him again between the eyes. Then I start punching him.
The knife guy freaked out by then and started to lunge for the nearest girl who shrieked and dodged away. I jumped over his friend and tried to get between him and Princess, since she couldn’t move, and damn that knife was fuckin’ huge. Aren’t there laws against bigass knives like that? It looked like it could cut a whole cow in half!
So he came at both of us, and I thought, Fuck. This is a real tight pinch. Then suddenly, Princess -- no, Momoko, handed me her shoes. I knew she was serious because these - I think she calls them gallon elephantitis butterflies - were her babies. All her clothes are her babies and she doesn’t let no one touch them. But here she was, handing them to me. I knew what she wanted me to do with them. If the guy’s knife was big, these suckers were easily twice the size, with thick heavy soles that felt like they weighed a whole ton. If anyone says Momoko is weak, I’ll tell you right off they’re lying. These shoes are some heavy fucking training, like crawling in the mountains and wrestling bears, sorta hard core. She wears them every day!
I threw one and hit the guy in the nose. There was a crack and blood spewed out in a spray. I hit him with the other shoe. He hit me back and man, it hurt, but Akimi woulda hit me even harder so I kept at it.
He must’ve been on drugs or something, because he was a lot harder to get down than his buddy, who still lay there. Then he started shrieking like a little girl and he dropped his knife.
I backed off, thinking he’d gone crazy. Then I see why he was screaming. Momoko had ripped the pins out of her cake-dress and stuck them into his hand. They were in almost all the way, still with threads coming out of them. If they were any longer, I expected the points to come out of the other side.
“Man, that’s cold!” I said, impressed. As I said that, the store girl came up behind him and beaned him across the back of his head with the till. Of course the guy went down after a hit like that. This was the second time I saw a frilly girl do something mad, crazy strong. The first was when Momoko threw that bike. Being that frilly must take a serious case of muscle, which makes sense, I guess. All that lace must weigh a lot.
Anyway. Back to the store. The both guys were lying around on the floor, bleeding all over and the skinny owner’d come down to call the cops. They tied the guys up with tape, just in case and Momoko got some free swag for being such a great help. Turned out the store girl used to win wrestling tournaments before she discovered the Lolita lifestyle. Like I said, Lolita takes some serious muscle.
Through out all of this, Momoko barely looked at anyone. She was quiet the entire time the cops were there, and even when we finally were heading on our way home that evening. ‘This is another tight pinch,’ I thought. She’s freaked out. I’ll admit, it was really hairy there and could have gone either way. I was still buzzing from the adrenaline and my head hurt from busting it across the guy’s face. They didn’t think I needed stitches, though.
We were on the train when she finally looked me in the eye and said, “Ichigo is an idiot.”
Which, I took to mean, ’Why did you do that?’.
“Well, it looked really dangerous, but I couldn’t let you alone in there. Not when I didn’t know that other girl had a good pair of fighting arms on her, and you were literally tied up in your fancy stuff. I did what I had to do and the going got rough.” I sounded pretty damn cool, I thought.
Turned out, the speech was for nothing. She wasn’t scared about armed men waving a knife in her face. She wasn’t even scared for me for fighting the guy.
She was angry because I’d taken her shoes and gotten blood on them.
Armed men and she didn’t even look at them sideways, like they were worth nothing. How fucking badass is that?
“I’ll pay you back for the shoes,” I said. “Princess Momoko.”
She looked satisfied at that and settled down.
We both looked out the window as the train pulled away from the station. We were nearing the next station when I finally gave in to the urge. I slung my arm around the back of her seat and gave a good glare at anyone that looked at us funny. Momoko just sat there lookin’ a million trillion yen, ignoring us all like we were all beneath her. I felt like a fucking knight, I did.
I owe her so much, you know? She came after me when I was in trouble. She talked to me for hours and let me drag her to places she didn’t want to go to, because I needed company. Sometimes she was a total, unrepentant bitch - but it was one you could respect, because she’d say it to your face with no lies. She looked crazed killers in the eye without even blinking.
She was the strongest person I’ve ever known and, I’m proud to say, the best friend I’ve ever had.
I’ve said it to her, sort of. But never like that, with those words.
I can imagine her face, if I did. She’d get really quiet and scrunch her nose up like I just farted or something, but I’ll know she heard me and she might even smile a little. Then, I’ll feel warm inside. Probably embarrassed too, but mostly warm. There’s no judgement when you’re with friends.
Yeah, I’ll have to do it.
One of these days.