"Thank you very much for your help the other day with my crazy request. Thanks to you, I was able to save a lot of money."
"No, no, no. We made money from it, too, so it's a mutual benefit for both of us. I am relieved to hear that Masuda-san's trouble has been successfully solved. If the supply had been interrupted because of that trouble, it would have been a huge loss not only for Masuda-san but also for us."
"I am glad to hear you say so. Then, I hope to have a long-lasting business relationship with Yasunaga-san in the future."
"Yes, let's have a good relationship with each other. I'll have the cash ready soon. Please wait a moment. Hey, Takayanagi, take this."
Yasunaga calls a man named Takayanagi and hands him the attached case that I brought.
It seems that this Takayanagi is the president of the company. Although the actual owner is still Yasunaga, it may be just a position for convenience.
Anyway, it is already the middle of November.
I had not contacted Yasunaga for a while and went to his office.
"So, did that Yasu guy help Masuda-san?"
"Yes? What do you mean, did Yasu-san help me?"
"Well, because Masuda-san took the trouble to specify a different place for delivery. Considering the series of circumstances, I think Masuda-san had some other intention than business dealings and called Yasu. I am sorry. Maybe I am mistaken. In this kind of business, whenever something unexpected happens, I have a bad habit of suspecting that there is something behind it."
A slightly grim expression appeared on Yasunaga's face.
"I see. But, Yasunaga-san. I'm a little disappointed that you think I've used you for something. As I told you on the phone, I just happened to be in a situation where I could not go very far from that place. Thanks to you, the trouble has been resolved successfully, and I am grateful to you."
"No, I'm sorry about this too. I apologize if I have offended you. I fully understand that my words were rude to Masuda-san. However, we also have to avoid getting involved in any trouble with other organizations. So, please understand that we may be a little nervous. If not, I don't mind if you use Yasu as much as you like."
He is a very perceptive man.
I thought I did a good job, but there might have been something unnatural in my communication with Yasu.
However, it may have been only minor discomfort.
From Yasunaga's attitude, I got the impression that he was giving me a warning rather than being completely suspicious of me. As he says, he may be seriously worried about getting involved in a war with another organization.
Even Yasunaga must not think that the students whom Yasu saw might be involved in such an organization. I think he was saying this to me for the future, not because of what happened this time.
"Don't worry, Yasunaga-san. I would never do anything that would cause trouble for you."
"Well, I'm really sorry. It's not that I don't trust Masuda-san. It's just that if such a situation should occur, I would have to cut off our trust in Masuda-san with tears in my eyes. I just wanted to ask you to understand our situation and keep that in mind."
Although it is kind advice, it is obvious that it is a threat from Yasunaga.
But that did not give me a bad impression of Yasunaga. At least, it is true that I took advantage of Yasu, and the relationship between me and Yasunaga was always like that.
Considering that, Yasunaga's argument seemed to be quite reasonable.
However, it is not good to remain silent without saying anything back.
It might give the impression that I was implicitly admitting that Yasunaga had hit me where it hurts. But just when I was about to open my mouth to say a few words back, I heard a yell from outside the room.
"What? It's your fault for not returning the money. You were so polite to me when you borrowed the money. Now you want to make a problem out of it? If you don't return my money, I'll deal with you, you son of a bitch!!!"
"But I think the total amount I borrowed is only about 400,000 yen."
"Look... Do you know there's a thing called interest in this world? You didn't even pay the interest and you've been hiding in the shadows all this time. We went all the way to your house, but your family just says they don't know anything and we've wasted many a wasted trip."
"No, I'm willing to pay you back. I'll come back at a later date... at a later date, I'm sure."
"Then... You'll sign this IOU if you're sure you'll pay me back, right?"
"I can't. I can't do it. I can't imagine signing an IOU that says I borrowed 2 million yen from a place like this. The amount is too crazy."
"That's why. I explained it to you earlier. The interest you didn't pay until now is added to the loan. Stop whining and sign it now!"
At the noisy exchange outside the room, I can see Yasunaga's face changing color.
I recognized the voice coming from outside the room.
It's the same thick, raspy voice I had heard at the bar where Sayaka was staying. It must be someone named Akuzawa, whom I had met at the bar where Sayaka was working.
I don't know why this Akuzawa was coming to Yasunaga's place, but from the bitter look on Yasunaga's face, I was sure that he was an unwelcome guest for him.
"Masuda-san, excuse me. It seems like there's a lot of noise out front, so I'm going to check on him for a while."
Yasunaga left the room saying so.
I was also curious about what was going on, but I couldn't just show my face as an onlooker. So, I just sipped the coffee that the clerk had just brewed and waited quietly for Yasunaga's return.
I waited for about 10 minutes. Then, after waiting for a while, Yasunaga finally came back with Takayanagi.
"Sorry to keep you waiting. The cash has just been prepared."
The attached case that I had given to Yasu last time was presented in front of me.
Inside was a stack of bills. It must be the money for this time and the last time.
I check each stack of bills carefully in my hand. Though, I am not suspicious about Yasunaga.
It is because my image of James Masuda is a man who is driven by a profit-and-loss mentality. He is not a money-grubber, but he does not trust others easily either. That is the kind of person I was trying to play.
After spending a lot of time checking the bills, I close the attached case and call out Yasunaga.
"Is the commotion outside settled?"
"Yes, I'm ashamed to say. It seems that that bastard Akuzawa was here. I allow him to use this place for his business, but I have warned him not to make a fuss since there are other customers here."
"Well, I heard something about 2 million yen. I'm just asking a simple layman's question, is it safe to lend such a large amount of money?"
"No, no, usually it's only 50,000 yen or 100,000 yen. Of course, it depends on the ability of the borrower to pay. Most of the people who come to this kind of place are people who have been blacklisted by the bank, except for those who work in the entertainment industry and we can't lend a lot of money to such people."
If I remember correctly, the Money Lending Business Law has just been revised to impose criminal penalties, which should be especially severe for black money lenders.
If they are lending high amounts of money in such a situation, they may be in trouble if they are sued by a desperate person. It would be fine if they only suffer a heavy loss, but if they are not so good, they are likely to be charged with violating the Money Lending Business Act or the Capital Subscription Act.
"Then why did Akuzawa-san do it? He also said that the original amount was 400,000 yen, but even so, it must be quite a large amount. Was the other party a person with a certain amount of assets?
"Well, I don't know. But from what I saw, the other party seemed to be a mere bum. He said he met the other party at a boat race. But he did say that he would make this person do something in exchange for temporarily freezing his previous interest. I don't know what Akuzawa has in mind, but perhaps he has some kind of a plan."
"Did he come to Yasunaga-san's office for that kind of plan?"
"No, he came to my office just to have them sign an IOU. When the amount of money becomes large, he sometimes comes to my office to make an IOU stating that he has lent them not only the original amount but also the amount including interest. That's the way this scumbag does it. He approaches a guy who has been losing at a boat race and makes a sucker out of them. At first, he invites them out for a drink or something, and then he starts asking about them little by little. Where do they live, do they have a family, where is their hometown, and so on. Akuzawa, though he looks like a fool, is good at that kind of acting. If he's a good-natured person despite his tough face, they are easily deceived by him."
"After he has extracted some information from them, he then lends them money little by little. At first, it's a small amount of money like 5,000 yen or 10,000 yen at a low-interest rate. Even a hopeless bum can manage to pay back that amount of money. And as he continues to do so, he gradually increases the amount of money he lends to them, and when they get into a deep financial hole, he refuses to lend them any more money because they are in financial difficulty. And then he asked them to pay back all the money they had lent so far, including interest."
"And what if they don't want to pay back?"
"That's why he keeps the address and everything else of the person he thinks is the right one in his pocket. Well, I don't think Akuzawa himself is doing it, but I think he has some of the guys from the gang he uses to do it. Then, when the other party cannot pay back the money, they start charging a high-interest rate as a condition for not paying back the money immediately. If they try to make some money to pay him back, or if they just pay him the interest, that's fine. But if they don't even pay the interest, they will be left alone for a while."
"I see. So when the amount of money rises, he forces the person to come here. But I don't understand how the other party can sign an IOU for more than the original amount."
"In Akuzawa's case, he forces them. The other party is a person who has gone bankrupt or liquidated his debts and has nothing left to lose. They can't borrow money anywhere else, and if they try to sue us, most lawyers would refuse to sue them because of the fact that they are a certain kind of person. Well, what we are doing is no different from his, but there is a definite difference between us and Akuzawa. In the case of Akuzawa, there are assaults, threats, injuries, rape, and everything else. In our case, we are prepared to get caught if we make a bad move in this kind of business. If that should happen, Takayanagi here will be arrested as the person in charge. Of course, we are taking precautions to avoid such a situation. However, in the case of Akuzawa, he does not care about the jail sentence. That's why he can do such a reckless thing."
"Well, that's something else, isn't it? It's like he's an old-fashioned criminal."
"To put it bluntly, this Akuzawa Hitoshi is nothing but a stupid yakuza. He just can't make money otherwise. Well, I'm sure there's a fear of what he might do."
"I'm sorry for interrupting. Yasunaga-san, I think it's time to go."
Takayanagi interrupts the conversation between Yasunaga and me.
"I'm sorry, Masuda-san, but I have some business to attend to later."
"Ah, no, I'm sorry for keeping you here. Then I'm going to leave. I'll see you in a month."
"Yes, I'll see you next month. I'll look forward to working with you again."
After that, I leave the room with my attached case.
I have a lot of plans for the rest of the night. Although I still have some time left, I remembered that this is not the time to be so carefree.
After shaking hands with Yasunaga lightly, I leave the office.
I went into a public restroom near the station and took out my luggage from the interdimensional storage to meet Sayaka for the first time in two weeks.
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