Taro looked at his wife. There were tears in his eyes. He shook his head.
'No, they want me to eat this, so I must eat.'
Taro placed the food into his mouth. He chewed and then swallowed. He had eaten the fugu. He shut his eyes and opened them again. Nothing happened. The two big men looked as though they had hoped something would happen.
'I've heard the poison works quite slowly,' said Half-Finger. 'Let's wait a bit longer.'
So they waited and watched as Taro sat quietly eating some vegetables. They watched him for ten minutes, maybe longer.
Then suddenly, Taro started breathing quickly. He put his hands to his throat and fell to the floor. His body shook violently for a few seconds and then he lay still.
Anzu was silent, her eyes open wide.
Iku cried, 'He's dead! You've killed him!'
Half-Finger laughed. 'If he's dead, he's killed himself. But I want to make sure first!'
He nodded to the other gangster. The big man bent down and looked closely at Taro's eyes. He turned to Half-Finger and nodded.
'The old man is dead,' said Half-Finger. 'My friend has seen enough dead guys to know that. No need to waste any more of our time. He's useless to us now. We'll tell our boss that his chef wasn't as good as he thought he was.'
Both of the Yakuza men laughed. Half-Finger touched his short finger again. He was hoping his boss would agree with him.
Iku felt his mouth go dry. He looked at Taro as he lay on the floor and tears started falling from his eyes. Anzu began crying loudly as she bent over the still body of her husband.
'We're going now. Please don't call the police or tell anyone about this meeting. Or there will be problems for you and your families. Do you understand?'
The two men left and shut the door.
A few moments passed and then Iku asked, 'Should I call the police, Auntie?'
Anzu lifted up her head and, to Iku's surprise, she was smiling.
'No, Iku. We've got rid of them at last. Now help me carry Taro to a bed. Then we'll call the hospital and wait.'
'Wait?' Iku cried. 'What do you mean?'
'I know my husband very well,' Anzu said. 'He knew exactly what he was doing. Taro is still the best - the very best. We wait...'
- THE END -