brown and white ceramic bowl

Joru Tanaka quietly ate his breakfast. He always ate quietly. He didn’t need to add to the noise in the room.

“I have a project due next week, mom. Will you help me this weekend?” Ishi was in sixth grade.

“Of course I will. What is the subject?” Kameko had her long black hair in a traditional bun, but otherwise looked a lot like other moms in San Diego, if a little bit thinner than many.

“Serial killers. This stuff on the news about the guy killing all those business people and politicians is a big deal, so we’re researching it.”

Joru grunted.

“Oh yah. That’s so crazy, right dad? Can you believe it?” Kado was in fourth grade. “Lance said he’s only killing bad people so all my friends are like, is this guy a hero or what? That’s almost twenty now. Is he a hero, dad?” He looked at his dad without movement. Joru wasn’t prone to commenting on the news, especially murders and gossip. He thought they were pretty much the same. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

“What do you think, Kado? What does your heart say?” Joru preferred to have his children think and respond for themselves. He never wanted his kids going to school with, “My dad said…”

“I don’t know. We don’t know any of these people, so maybe I should not have an opinion on if he’s a hero.” Kado was a very smart kid. “I think it’s possible, though. The first two guys were really awful, they said on the news. I’m glad we don’t know them.”

Joru made a deep growling sound of approval.

“Everybody at school says he’s like a batman with a hammer.” Ishi stayed tuned in to prevailing opinion at the Middle School. “I just can’t believe he’s leaving all these guys with a huge nail in their head.”

“Eating. We’re eating now. This is not a time for gory details, Ishi.” Kameko wasn’t going to let the ban on gross meal conversation slip without a comment. Joru looked at her with a stern glare.

“Sorry mom — dad. Still he’s a vigilante isn’t he? We don’t have anything to worry about, do we?” She looked across the table at her parents with a subtle concerned look.

“Of course not. As long as your company hasn’t exploited people or destroyed nature lately.” Kameko gave a wink at her daughter, then glanced at Kado with a subtle smile.

Joru’s phone started vibrating on the table.

“Right, mom. I’ll make sure my sixth grade class doesn’t do any of that today.” Her eyes rolled around her head exaggeratedly.

Kado looked at his dad with confusion and shame. “You need a real phone, dad. This old flip-phone is embarrassing. Really.”

Joru looked at Kado with a raised eyebrow and a smile, then grabbed the phone and walked toward the living room to answer.

“Moshi moshi.” He stood perfectly still with his back to his family for a minute. “Hai. Domo.”

Kameko finished chewing the bite of food in her mouth. Ishi and Kado got up and headed toward the door. Kameko asked, “You’re dropping them off on the way to the office then?”

“Yes. I have the time this morning.” Joru headed toward the door, stopping to straighten his tie in the mirror by the door. He checked his teeth for food. He pulled his hair to the side to make sure it stayed put.

“You look great, my love,” Kameko said.

“Yeah, dad. You look like Kato, from the Green Hornet.” Kado winked. “Hey, did you name me after him?”

“No. He was a sidekick. You’ll be a leading man. I’m sure of that.”

“Thanks, dad,” Kado said with a grin.

“Hey maybe you’re a hero, dad.” Ishi looked at him seriously.

“No. I’m no hero. I just look like one on TV,” Joru said with a big smile and a wink. “Let’s go.”

Kado opened the door to head to the garage. Ishi grabbed Joru’s briefcase and lifted it quickly to hand to him. There was a clinking sound inside. “Wow, they gave you a clunker of a laptop, dad. You should ask for one without a hand-crank on it.”

Joru chuckled a bit and took it from her.

“Hand crank. That’s funny. I’ll tell them you two think they should get me out of the 1970s with my old phone and computer.”

“Or maybe not.” Ishi said. “Maybe you should just stop carrying big spikes and a hammer around. People might get the wrong idea.”

“Ha. Yeah. They might.”

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