The unnamed photographer is the narrator of The Rolling Bootlegs. He befriends Firo Prochainezo in the summer of 2002, and acts as a tour guide for Firo and his family when they visit Japan in August of the same year.
Chronology[edit | edit source]
July 2002[edit | edit source]
After winning the grand prize in a lucky draw on a commercial street in Japan, the photographer is given a five-day/three-night trip to New York - though he really only wants the second prize (a game console) so he is rather dismayed. The photographer is given two tickets and sells one for scrap money.
Once he arrives in New York, he realizes it is not as luxurious as he'd imagined, though he admits the fact that New York has Japan's beef gyūdon chain stores is financially quite attractive. The photographer wistfully states that although he hasn't spent even a day in New York, it feels like he hasn't seen kanji in years.
Eventually he overhears a racket in a nearby alleyway. Upon investigating, he is attacked and robbed by a group of young delinquent boys led by Bobby Splot. After coming round, the photographer realizes his high-end expensive camera has been stolen. After suppressing his anger, he goes to the police station for help, accompanied by a hotel employee who knows a little Japanese to act as translator. In a typical movie or TV drama fashion, the photographer is forced to play the role of the 'stereotypical Japanese victim', which he describes as being more depressing than the actual robbery. He realizes there that the police aren't very concerned or invested in finding his camera as they are with preventing murders and more dangerous crimes around the city.
Sergeant Paul Noah takes pity on him and points him in the direction of a young man with round glasses whom he claims will be able to help him. The young man arrives and (speaking in fluent Japanese) leads him to a nearby bar to talk. There, the young man offers to negotiate with the boys for the photographer's stolen belongings in exchange for one tenth of the items' value. Suspicious, the photographer realizes that the man is probably in cahoots with the boys, but in the end he agrees anyway.
During their conversation, they talk about the man's Japanese proficiency, and the differences between the Camorra versus the Mafia. The young man is impressed by the brazenness of some of the photographers questions, and comments on how strange he is, admitting that after hearing about the photographer from Paul he thought he would be more gullible. The photographer criticizes the man for referring to Paul without the honorific -san, as manners are important even if this is America. The young man reacts oddly to those words and reveals that he has been an immortal for over over sixty years. The photographer scoffs it off as an American joke until the man stabs his own hand with a knife. The photographer is surprised but acts undisturbed at the closing of the wound, and he asks if the man intends to kill him. The man assures him that he will not get killed and that again he finds the photographer's reaction unique.
The photographer calls the man a monster and warns him not to frighten people witless with his self-harming trick. The man concludes that the photographer is truly interesting person and decides to share with him the story of his immortality. The photographer says that this had better not be anything religious and the man assures him that it is not—although the story does involve a 'demon'. Ordering breakfast, the young man relays the events of The Rolling Bootlegs.
When the tale is finished, it takes the photographer a moment to remember he is a person from 2002, not someone from the 1930s. The man states that it really is a splendid sort of 'legend' despite the lack of captive princesses and planet-destroying monsters . The photographer agrees that it is splendid, though he is skeptical that such a string of coincidences like those in the story is possible. The man responds that global history is a tangle of coincidences. The photographer doesn't understand but finds putting everything together very persuasive.
The young man asks if the photographer really believed his "preposterous" story. The photographer asks him if it had all been a lie, and the man says it was not. The photographer fails to see the problem, then. The man appears satisfied with his answer and orders dessert, his treat. The photographer asks the fate of those persons from the story, and the man identifies Isaac, Miria, Randy, and Pezzo sitting at nearby tables. Finally, he formally introduces himself as Firo Prochainezo. The photographer is surprised, having assumed that the man was Maiza. Firo explains that Maiza left on a trip back in the 1970s to find his fellow alchemists, though he should be returning soon.
The photographer asks how Ennis is doing. It turns out that she and Firo are married, which makes the photographer envious. An embarrassed Firo elaborates that it took a while for their relationship to develop (given that Ennis was created a sense of love or other emotions); the photographer muses that it's surprising they hadn't gotten sick of each other after living with each other for over fifty years - although maybe that just means they really "hit it off." He then can't help but wonder if Firo is actually a narcissist, given that Ennis is technically a part of him. He refrains from speaking such a meaningless thought out loud.
Ronny returns to the bar soon after, having fetched the photographer's camera bag for him. The photographer is a little shocked that Ronny speaks fluent Japanese, just like Firo. Firo takes the camera bag and disappears into a back room to appraise its value. Ronny grins at the photographer, who remembers that Ronny was a 'demon' in Firo's story. He deliberately thinks to himself, if you're a demon, show me proof.
The photographer states that he does not remember whatever occurred during the next few minutes, although a deep fear of Ronny had been instilled in him - a feeling he hadn't felt ever since he'd been attacked by that bear. Ronny quietly murmurs to him that technically he is not a demon—just "an alchemist who acquired too much knowledge in antiquity."
Firo returns, and the photographer pays him three hundred dollars as per the deal. The photographer asks Firo what he would have done had he ran away, and Firo shamelessly answers that he would have profited off the camera, which is why he didn't give the photographer his name initially. Realizing that his notion that 'good gangsters still exist' is hopelessly naive, the photographer bursts into laughter.
Firo apologizes for attempting to intimidate the photographer and formally thanks him, for as an immortal he wants to meet and connect with others—especially people like the photographer. Firo states that after Maiza returns, he wants to vacation in Japan and asks the photographer if he could show him around. The photographer agrees, and Firo promises to write him a letter. After giving each other simple farewells, the photographer leaves the Alveare.
Walking near Manhattan Bridge, the photographer spots a hat shop. Wondering if it was the one from Firo's story, he meanders into the shop and browses the merchandise. Next to him, a man picks up a pearl-green bandanna. He looks a little like Firo, only ten years older - and the photographer inadvertently cries out, believing him to be Maiza Avaro. Maiza looks his way and says something, but the photographer (not understanding English) ends up apologizing profusely and exits the shop.
The photographer muses on the series of coincidences that led him here - how he'd won a grand prize he didn't even want, managed to get mugged in Martillo Family turf of all places, and out of all New York's police he'd met Paul Noah of all people. And who'd have guessed he'd give the same lecture about addressing one's elders as had Paul Noah and his father Edward Noah? With thoughts on luck and coincidences swirling in his mind, he flies home and lands in Narita Airport in Japan.
Returning to his apartment in Ikebukuro, the photographer checks his souvenirs for family and friends, and his camera case. Inside the film case (which he'd ended up not using) is a note from Firo. In childish hiragana characters, the note reads "thanks for listening to my story all the way to the end" and contains three one-hundred dollar bills enclosed. The photographer bets that Firo's going to have trouble with customs when he travels to Japan (given his passport age) and looks forward to seeing his expression when that happens. While thinking such idle thoughts, he waits for Firo's airmail letter to arrive.
August 2002[edit | edit source]
The photographer wins the lottery for the second month in a row. His prize is a passenger ticket for the luxury ship Exit. However, since he is expecting guests (Firo, Ennis, and Czeslaw Meyer, who are traveling aboard Exit's sister ship Entrance) he sells the ticket to Misao (a friend of his) instead.
Once the Entrance docks, Misao is taken to the hospital (having fallen down the stairs). The photographer visits Misao and Hiroko in the hospital and at some point meets up with Firo, Ennis and Czes. The day after, he giddily prepares his camera back at Firo's hotel, having told Firo that he plans to take a lot of pictures that evening.
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- The Unnamed Photographer is a wildlife photographer and was once almost eaten by a brown bear in Hokkaido.
- As a result of the attack, his sense of fear has been completely numbed...leading people to believe he's either abnormally calm or that he is insensitive. Even Firo noted he was the first to have a somewhat unruffled reaction upon witnessing Firo's immortality in action.
- He has been told that he should become a war photographer thanks to his lack of fear. The photographer did not follow this advice because - as he puts it - he does not have the know-how to survive on the battlefield, and he does not want to die.
- He lives next door to Mikado Ryūgamine from Durarara!!.
- The photographer forked three hundred dollars to Firo - which means that $300 was 10% of the value of his stolen possessions. So the camera - or perhaps the camera as well as the bag - cost the photographer $3000 total.
- He speaks practically no English.