48 Hours a Day - chapter-37
“Your job is simple—Get here by one every morning, drive me to the Tsukiji Fish Market, wait for me while I purchase the stocks, and then you’ll bring me back here. After I’ve sorted the goods, you’ll deliver them to the places they need to go. That’s all the work for the day. Understand, kid?”
“One in the morning?! Then do I still have time to sleep after all that?” Zhang Heng asked, his brows furrowed.
Takeda Tetsuya grinned, revealing a mouthful of yellowed teeth. “That will depend on how fast you deliver the goods! Alright, do you have any other questions?”
“I have one last question.”
“You will help me get a driver’s license first, right?”
Takeda Tetsuya’s face froze. “Repeat what you just said?!”
“I don’t have a driver’s license. If I’m going to deliver goods for you, I will need to get a license first, right?” Zhang Heng answered honestly.
“…. You don’t even have a driver’s license, and you want me to teach you how to race?!” Takeda Tetsuya looked defeated. “Are you messing with me? Why would someone who hasn’t touched a steering wheel in his life be interested in underground drift racing?!”
“Actually, I’m not interested in drift racing at all, but because of reasons I’m disinclined to share, I have to join the race.”
Takeda Tetsuya glared at Zhang Heng, only speaking after a minute through his teeth. “Then, you will have to pray that you can drive faster than the cops.”
Tokyo at midnight and Tokyo in the morning were like chalk and cheese.
In the dead of night at midnight, most people were already asleep at home. Only residential buildings by the streets would occasionally still have a light on. Zhang Heng left the campus and took the last train. It was almost empty except for a few exhausted salarymen and a couple of geisha with heavily painted faces.
He disembarked at the last station, walked a very long way before finally arriving at the seafood supply store at the agreed time.
Takeda Tetsuya had somehow pulled himself together. Instead of snoring away upstairs, he was squatting in the store, sorting the order forms.
When he heard the footsteps behind him, he did not even bother to look up. “Give me 5 more minutes.”
After exactly 5 minutes, he got up and picked up two freshly dead crabs and tied them up with a straw rope. He tossed a set of keys to Zhang Heng and then snorted, “Come with me!”
Zhang Heng followed the man to a small open-air carpark nearby. Takeda Tetsuya gave the metal gate a shake, and after a while, the lights were turned on. Then, a hunched elderly man slipped on a shirt as he came and unlocked the gate.
Takeda Tetsuya smiled at the old man, telling him something in Japanese as he handed the crabs over while pointing at Zhang Heng.
The elderly man looked delighted receiving the crabs—his smile stretching out the wrinkles on his face. He glanced at Zhang Heng and gave the young man a friendly nod.
“Mr. Crab—to be honest, I don’t know what his real name is. It doesn’t matter. Nobody cares about these kinds of things anyway. His old partner passed away a long time ago, and after his children went overseas, they never contacted him anymore. He makes a living for himself with this carpark, and this is also where he lives. We’re old friends. I give him dead crabs that can’t be sold, and he lets me park here for free. Also, I’ve already introduced you to him. From now onward, you can just come here to pick up and return the car.”
“Which one is it?” Zhang Heng looked around at the car park, and finally, his gaze settled on a mustard yellow van parked in the corner.
“Isn’t it beautiful? Mitsubishi’s second-generation L300 (Delica), launched in 1982. It’s the first four-wheel-drive van in Japan!” When talking about cars, it was like Takeda Tetsuya had become a whole different person! That dejected uncle seemed to have vanished. He lit a cigarette and ran his hand along the body of the car. “It runs a 4D56 diesel 2.5 engine and the same chassis as the Pajero, powerful enough to cope with bad weather and terrible road conditions. This van has the performance of an off-road vehicle…”
“1982? Are you sure it still runs?” Zhang Heng asked uncertainly.
“Don’t worry, I found it in a scrapyard, and I’ve refurbished the interior. This 4-wheel-drive is now a 2-wheel-drive. In terms of stability, it’s much better than before. 4-wheel-drive adds to the weight of the car, but a car that is too heavy is not very good for the driver… it uses too much petrol… Most importantly, I fixed the cassette player!” Takeda Tetsuya opened the codriver seat, climbed into the car, and picked a cassette tape.
Zhang Heng climbed into the driver’s seat. After getting home yesterday morning, he quickly looked up on some driving knowledge, especially videos and pictures on the web. On top of that, he even downloaded a driving simulation game on his phone and played it on the subway on his way to the store, which was why right now, he… still had zero confidence.
Zhang Heng pushed the key that Takeda Tetsuya had given to him into the ignition. It took him three tries to get the car going.
Takeda Tetsuya completely ignored him. He waited until the vehicle roared to life and then slipped the Chage and Aska cassette into the player on the dashboard. But before the car could even move 5 meters, the car suddenly jerked and came to a stop. Takeda Tetsuya lurched forward hard, hitting his head on the glove compartment in front of the passenger seat!
Zhang Heng said flatly, “Sorry. Wrong gear!”
As he spoke, he shifted to 5th gear.
“Please inform me when you sign up for a race. I will buy insurance for you. I will be the benefactor, of course. You win!” Takeda Tetsuya stopped the tape player. “Start with the first gear. Press the clutch with your left foot. Push it down all the way. Then slowly, with your right feet, step on the gas pedal as you depress the clutch…”
After about three minutes, the L300 finally wobbled out of the parking lot, and under Mr. Crab’s supervision, it slowly bumped into a fire hydrant.
Luckily, it was very early in the morning, and the road was still quite deserted.
Zhang Heng drove the van onto the open road, lurching every now and then. When he looked over at his passenger, he saw that Takeda Tetsuya had fastened the seat belt like an honest man.
The fifteen-minute journey took Zhang Heng twenty-five minutes. On the way, the engine stalled five more times, and he ran two red lights. He even drove over the curbs! Fortunately, though, they arrived at their destination in one piece.
Tsukiji Fish Market was the biggest seafood market, not only in Tokyo but in the world. Fishermen from all over Japan would deliver all the produce they caught to be sold here. In its heyday, they could sell 3,200 tons of seafood a day worth 3 billion yen. Every single day, over 60,000 wholesalers would come to select and bid for the products they want. To them, this was not just a marketplace, it was a battlefield.
Zhang Heng pulled the handbrake.
Takeda Tetsuya was about to say something, but he blanked out. Finally, all he said was, “Wait here.” Then he jumped out of the van and greeted someone he appeared to know. The man produced a packet of cigarettes, and the pair walked into the market, puffing away.
By the time Takeda Tetsuya returned, it had already been an hour. Following him was a forklift carrying the boxes of seafood he had selected. To the man’s surprise, instead of taking a nap while waiting for him to return, Zhang Heng was practicing his driving skills! Compared to his jerky driving this morning, his skills had now improved noticeably.
Takeda Tetsuya, however, did not comment but instead, grumbled grumpily, “Get down and load the van!”
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