Koumyou returned from warming some more sake and fetching more tobacco for his pipe to find that Ukoku was missing. He had become accustomed to the younger man’s abruptness, but it was unlike him to leave without any warning. The faint aroma of rotting flowers that clung to his robes and the smell of his cigarettes lingered in the air, fueling Koumyou’s belief that he had just walked away for a few minutes. Heaven only knew where he‘d gone.
Koumyou heard a raven caw and an owl hoot, obscuring the hum of cicadas in the background. Clouds obscured the moon for a moment until it reappeared, brilliant and silver. Bushes nearby rustled as if some small animal were scampering through them,
As the rustling grew louder, Koumyou left the low wall on which he and his companion had been sitting to investigate, his heavy braid swaying back and forth as he walked away. Perhaps some large predator was prowling nearby, in which case he needed to warn Ukoku.
The rustling became even louder and more distinct as he neared a sycamore tree that marked the boundary between the temple grounds and the property beyond it. He thought he spotted his friend underneath it, bathed in the pale moonlight.
At first he thought Ukoku was relieving himself in the bushes, and chuckled. Raising his voice, he said, “You do know that there are facilities for that inside?“ as he walked toward him.
Ukoku looked up at him and displayed a feral grin. A flash of light reflected in his glasses, obscuring his eyes and almost blinding Koumyou. Now that Koumyou was nearer, he could hear him panting, see him stroking his engorged flesh, and smell the coil of his arousal.
“Welcome, Koumyou,” Ukoku said, spreading his hands wide. “I would very much appreciate you coming and giving me a hand.” He leaned back against the tree and puffed on his cigarette, the open robe moving gently in the wind.
Lost in his enjoyment of his company and quick mind, Koumyou had forgotten that this was the man who found it amusing to write pornography for calligraphy practice and sell it to his fellow novices. Disregarding Ukoku’s seductive tone of voice and his double entendre, Koumyou replied steadily, “It is something every man does and is nothing new or shocking.”
Ukoku grimaced. “In that case, if it is as common as you say it is, you should join me.”
Koumyou shook his head and wondered what game Ukoku was playing that was behind his invitation to what would surely be a dangerous liaison. As Goudai had told him, everything Ukoku did was calculated, yet made to seem open and sincere. What lay behind that sincere insincerity?
“We are only attached to these bodies for this lifetime.”
“All the more reason to indulge them while we still have them,” Ukoku replied, once again wrapping his hand around his arousal.
Koumyou watched silently for a minute as Ukoku writhed and groaned, then said, “I’ll be waiting for you on the terrace. The sake is getting cold.”
Ukoku came as Koumyou turned and walked away, his seed spilling on the ground, seemingly wasted. Above them, a raven flew into the sky from the tree, crossing the moon‘s path.
Koumyou sat carefully on the low wall and examined a torn cuticle. For all his brave words, he might later have to engage in some self-gratification.