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Chef Bryardee

King of Condiments
Jul 6, 2009
Over Yonder


"...Yo," Shimazu greeted his brother impartially.

"...Yo," Murasaku returned just as flatly.

The two men spoke the singular word passing breezily by each other, not in unison but with the same flat and seemingly-disinterested intonation. A curt nod of the head was exchanged between them as well. The chatter of beads could be heard behind the back of the younger of the two, each plastic clipping attached to each end of the many braids hanging down his back clicking against one another. It was a brief and lethargic gesture, one that some would not---and have not---taken kindly to, especially not those outsiders who sought out respect in those around them as desperately as a beggar would search for food and water.

In that quiet household, however, it was as much a sign of respect as the most formal and disciplined bow that the humblest disciple would give to their master. Far more than the simplest acknowledgment of the other's existence as many others might've perceived it to be, the quaint greeting was an accord between two souls, an acknowledgment of one another's strength, an approval of one another's character, an exchange of mutual respect---all of that aloofly delivered in one short word.

To the members of their clan, it was a sign of love---without all of the "mushy shit", as the head of the household would call it, included.

Shimazu---“Maze” by his preferred handle---passed by his older brother, rubbing the crust embedded in the early morning crow’s feet under one eyelid, and headed toward the refrigerator. Without looking, Maze reached out to where he’d left the meal his mother had prepared for him the night before, in a wrinkled brown paper bag on the top shelf. It was right where he’d left it. Fine cuts of grilled white-meat chicken, a small packet of curry sauce, and white rice---his favorite. He grabbed a small bowl out of the adjacent cabinet and closed both quickly.

Maze sat down at the kitchen table with the brown bag, not glancing at or giving a farewell to Murasaku as he left the house. After emptying out its contents, the young boy poured the rice into the bowl and set the cutlets of chicken on top. He took the plastic packet of spicy dressing and shook it rapidly in his fingertips. The thump of heavy footsteps coming down the stairs feebly shook the utensils and tupperware in the cabinets. Not lifting his head or shifting his eyes at all, Maze opened the packet and spread the curry evenly over his breakfast.

“...Yo,” Kennosuke said, his voice deeper than deep and raspy. The tall and lanky man scratched his dark and woolly beard as he yawned, making his way into the kitchen. His afro was flattened on both sides, the top frayed and yet to be groomed as well. A deep crimson Iwagakure headband, sans the metal plate bearing the etched emblem of their village, was set just above his brow.

“...Yo,” Maze replied.

Though his delivery was still withdrawn, there was a certain pitch to his tone that conveyed more emotion than the last time. A mixture of reverence, fear, and love.

The black rubber soles of the head clansmen’s slippers scratched against the wood floor with his lazy stride. The ends of his maroon bathrobe, the softest and most luxuriant Vicuna fabric, floated just a pinky’s length off of the ground. The kanji for “Mochizuki” was emblazoned in gold thread down the back. Both ends of the velvet waist strap hung limply, exposing his gold-trimmed black boxers and the rest of his unadorned and hairy physique. It was a flagrant violation of the in-house code of dress, one instituted by---and often infringed upon by---Kennosuke himself. Not one to heedlessly voice an opinion to, the house was ruled by the former jōnin less with an iron fist than the unpredictability of an emotionless veil.

The long fingers on his broad hands pulled open the same kitchenware cabinet and paused, closing it a moment later.

“...Yo brother ain’t do duh dishes?” he asked his youngest son.

“...Nah,” Maze replied before stuffing another forkful in his mouth.

Kennosuke didn’t sigh or frown, gave no hint of any sort of perturbation. Without a word, he turned and disappeared around the corner, heading toward the living room. The muffled spray of the shower upstairs spilled down the steps---likely the oldest offspring and next heir of the household, Rokurō. The ever-meticulous and “fancy” person, as everyone else in the house called him, he was, Maze wouldn’t see him before he left.

A moment later, a loud drone shook the house, followed by another two a moment later. Every piece of furniture not heavy enough to resist being rattled by the intangible force shook violently. Ceramic cups and plates clattered against one another, the stainless steel pots and pans under the oven chime cacophonously, and the slivers of rice piled in Maze’s dish tumbled down the slope of the bowl. There was no panic from him or his father.

Bump! Tck!---Ba-Bump! Tck! Ba-Bump! Tck! Tck! Ba-Bump! Tck! Ba-Bump!

The sequence repeated again and again, no change in the depth of the bass or the echo of the cymbals. Kennosuke opened the sliding door to the back porch, letting in a sheet of sunlight and allowing the natural sounds of the early morning to stir with the violent strain.

Tck!---Ba-Bump! Tck! Ba-Bump! Tck! Tck! Ba-Bump! Tck! Ba-Bump!

The tuned whine of a saxophone flowed harmoniously in and out near the end of the drumline. The rhythm was dark and shadowy. Maze stood up and made his way to the kitchen sink as he pricked the last bits of rice.

Tck!---Ba-Bump! Tck! Ba-Bump! Tck! Tck! Ba-Bump! Tck! Ba-Bump!

The lyricist made himself known, reciting trademark phrases and further carving his way into the melody with random ad-libs.

Tck!---Ba-Bump! Tck! Ba-Bump! Tck! Tck! Ba-Bump! Tck! Ba-Bump!

His accent was thoroughly embedded into the way he spoke, juvenile, and cursory---much the same as all those in the household. Suddenly, the acoustics and bass paused, inviting a heavy drone that resonated even deeper through everything in the house. The surface of the sink tremored finely, invoking the fork in Maze’s bowl to rattle annoyingly against the edge of the bowl. He reached in and set the piece of silverware in the drain hole.

The lyricist began his verse boldly in the split second of silence, the cry of the saxophone eventually returning and letting him take the lead. He himself was a contrast to the mild beat, his intonation full and his words boastful. The snare and bass drums resurfaced at just the right time, rerunning the drab melody as the artist let his words slice mercilessly into the listener.

“EY, YO!” the heir’s voice carried from the cracked shower room door and down the stairway. For a moment, the volume of the music exploding from the speakers on the counter behind him swelled. “WHO WAS USIN’ MAH DAMN TOWEL?!” Neither Kennosuke nor Maze responded. The latter passed by his father and stepped out to the backyard, grabbing his mesh suit and sleeveless shirt off of the clothes line. “MAN, DAMN!

The sound of Rokurō ferociously slamming the door went unheard amidst the blaring music.

Slipping off his house slippers, a black pair much the same as his father’s, and squeezing into his mesh suit, Maze grabbed his combat sandals on the ground near the door before sliding easily back through the egress.

“...Where you goin’?” Kennosuke asked, his lazy eyes stuck on the broad view of the backyard’s floral landscape.

“...Mission,” the boy responded, fishing through the short wicker basket for his maroon short-sleeved jumpsuit.

The junior shinobi and fresh graduate of the academy stood up and lifted his head to the dark wood plaque on the wall, several nails hammered halfway into its surface in a pattern. A kunai knife was suspended by the ring on each nail, save one. Each blade was different, the wrapping around the handle each a different color and fabric with different designs embroidered through it. There were pouches on each side, all filled with either senbon needles or shuriken. His brown eyes settled on one knife, hanging on the lowest row and relatively plain in comparison to the others---the only difference between it and an ordinary kunai being the black wrapping around its handle and a small chip in the edge near the tip. The sharp and slightly-curved notch was, against popular belief, actually a result of his latest skirmish with Rokurō; it simply looked “cool” by happenstance.

“...Aight,” his father finally responded before getting up and heading to the kitchen.

Maze removed it from the hook and stowed it away in one of the pockets sewn along the lower half of the shirt’s front. He added only a few senbon and shuriken to them as well---the knife was the only thing he cherished. Both black sandals were slipped on easily.

The boy reached into the back pocket and pulled out his headband. No part of it modified or vandalized, Maze tied the maroon band around his braids near the end, its metal plate facing outward and displaying the symbol of his village properly.

“...I’m out,” he bid his father the curt farewell, grabbing his fingerless black gloves off of the table near Kennosuke’s feet as he headed toward the front door.

The head clansmen’s eyes gained a hair-thin layer of life and swiveled toward Maze, tracing his path as he went off. No emotion was evident in the man’s languid brown eyes, not skepticism or love or worry. Nothing. There were no words of encouragement, just as there were no words of praise when the thirteen year-old had graduated from the academy early in the week.

Noadvice or guidance---just one word right before the door closed behind the kid.


[To be continued...]​


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