Chapter Seven: Exit from New York:

Hell’s Kitchen, New York, America

Twenty-two-year-old Tai looked out the window of his apartment with a frown.

Man, New York, it just… He shook his head, puffed up his cheeks, and sighed deeply. Being in Hell’s Kitchen was choking the life out of him. The appeal having faded about six months ago. The latest incident three weeks ago only proved him right. He needed to reconnect, to hear a familiar voice. So, Tai pulled out his cell phone, scrolled through his contacts and made a call.

“Hello?” he asked. “It’s me, Grandpa.”

“Taichi-kun?” an old man asked on the other line.

Tai nodded as he looked out at the night landscape. “I’m calling about that job offer.”

“You've made your decision?”

“Yes, but I have a couple of conditions of my own.”

“Go on…”

Tai lowered his left arm. “One, Lenny has to come with me.”


“Two, no favors on the job. I want to be treated like the other workers in the factory.”

“Of course, my boy. That's a given.”

“Three, we go to college for grad school both of us!”

“Your terms seem favorable. You have a deal, Taichi-kun.”

“Good,” Tai said trying to mask his excitement. “I'll take the job.”

“Very good, I already have an apartment set up for you.”

“Thank you, sir.” Tai took in a calm breath after hanging up. First came the preparations.


The next morning, Tai headed to the hospital with a gift bag. He made his way to room 318 and knocked on the door.

“Yes?” answered a muffled voice on the other side.

“You just got up?” Tai asked.

“Yeah,” the patient answered. “Come in.”

Tai opened the door and peeked inside. His roommate, Lenard sat up in bed, eyeing him. Tai gave him a kind smile.

“How are you doing today?” he asked.

“Good,” Lenard answered. Tai stepped into the room and closed the door behind him.

“I got you’re a present,” he said.

“For me?”

“Bought it this morning.” Tai handed him the bag.

“What is it?” Lenard asked as he reached into the bag. His eyes lit up.

“Whoa!” the patient gasped. “English to Japanese phrase books?”

“There’s more,” Tai said.

“Huh?” Leo shrugged as he reached inside the bag again. “Oh, okay. Japanese language tapes too.”

“Yes,” Tai answered. Leonard looked up with a puzzled look on his face.

“What’s all of this for?” he asked.

Tai sat next to the bed. “Do you remember that job grandpa’s been offering me for a year and a half now?”

“The factory job?”


“What about it?”

“I took the job.”


“You’re coming too.”

Leonard’s jaw dropped. “Wow, man… Are you serious?”

“Yeah,” Tai answered. “It was the only way I would say yes.”

“When do we leave?”

“As soon as you get discharged.”

Leonard looked down at the scars on his wrists. “I have two more sessions here.” He gulped, and pressed his lips together. “I've missed you so much.”

Tai pulled him into his arms. “It’s okay. Just a little bit longer.” Leonard nodded. His roommate pulled the English to Japanese phrase book into his lap.

“For now,” he said. “So, get studying! You've got a whole language to learn.”

Leonard smiled weakly and gave a sharp nod. “Yes sir!”

“I’ll quiz you when I come by next week to visit.”

“Cool! Looking forward to it!”


Three weeks after Leonard completed therapy at the hospital and was discharged, the boys touched down in Japan.

Tai held his hand on the flight almost the entire way there.

“This will be a new start for us,” he whispered. Leonard rested his forehead against Tai’s and smiled shyly.

The silence spoke volumes.

“You’re welcome,” said Tai. “You are always welcome, Lenny.”