Kamisama no Memochou:Volume 4 Chapter 6
When I reached the hospital, almost all of the members of Hirasaka-gumi were present, and occupied the corridor filled with the smell of anesthetic.
Pole noticed me first and ran over immediately. The bandage on his head was still seeping fresh blood.
The tough juvenile delinquents were like mice that had their nest trampled on, and were all looking quite haggard. I think my face might have looked even more terrible. When I thought about that, I couldn’t even answer.
“Ojiki is here as well!?”
Tetsu-senpai and the others’ footsteps rang behind me. Hiro-san drove and came over while chasing my bike.
“How is Yondaime right now!?” Tetsu-senpai questioned Pole while almost clutching on him.
“He’s in the ICU right now.”
“I heard he was hurt by a baseball bat!” “He’s still unconscious.”
“Blast, it’s all because of us……” “If only we were by his side—“
My balance disappeared as though it fell into a quagmire, and I nearly collapsed. If not for Hiro-san supporting me from behind, I probably would have fallen straight onto the corridor. I was brought to sit on a sofa made of synthetic leather. The chilly sense of the wall touching my back made me feel strangely comfortable.
Major frantically consoled the gang members so that they would calm down, and I could faintly hear him inquiring about the case. When Pole and Rocky returned to the office, they saw that the entrance was wide open, while the interior of the office was utterly trashed as well. On the other hand, Yondaime was being assaulted in the study. According to them, it seemed like there were about five or six assailants. The injury on Pole’s head was caused by a blow with a baseball bat when the opposing party was retreating.
“Hirasaka-san wasn’t there. He ordered his lackeys to ambush him together.”
“Those trash, if I were there, how could I have let them touch Sou-san!”
“If there wasn’t an order……”
The voices of the gang members repeatedly sprang away from the borders of my inner consciousness and outer senses.
That’s right. Yondaime stayed in the office alone, because all of the gang members were out to stay guard at the concert venues. This— would be Renji-san’s motive.
Why didn’t I realize this? Even though it was just a simple matter. Renji-san once said so as well, that he came back just to kill Yondaime. However, some part in our hearts— including me, and probably Yonadime as well— we underestimated him too much.
Thinking that Renji-san probably wouldn’t directly assault Yondaime.
Actually, it was only an illusion reflected in a glass of wine. The ones who believed in that were the idiots. Renji-san probably took this point in consideration as well. I, who could not find out about this, am really a huge, incurable idiot.
We kept staying at the hospital until the sun set. Although the doctors and nurses told us to hurry back, not one of us was willing to leave. When we heard that the treatment had ended, although he was still in a state where visitors were prohibited, Pole and Rocky still insisted on visiting Yondaime, so we were just allowed to see him for two short minutes. His whole body was hurt, and there were a few bone fractures as well. There were hemorrhages in his organs as well. His head was harmed as well, so he still hadn’t regained consciousness. The doctor just coldly explained that he was still unable to speak, and still wasn’t out of danger.
The Yondaime lying down on a single bed made me recall Ayaka from that time. His pallid face covered with an oxygen mask, his head wrapped in elastic bandages, his eyes tightly shut without moving. The aura of a wild wolf couldn’t be seen at all.
As some of the gang members behind me were calling Yondaime, while some were agitatedly saying that they won’t forgive them, they’ll kill them and the like, we were thus chased out of the hospital.
“Tetsu-san, haven’t you already found out the location of their hideout?”
At the dark hospital entrance, Rocky approached Tetsu-senpai and asked in agitation.
“Kill them all!” “Don’t think you can live on after touching Sou-san!”
“Oi, calm down, you all.”
“It’s already come to this, and you tell us to calm down!?” “We won’t hold back even if our opponent is Hirasaka-san!”
The angry roars of the gang members sounded exceptionally piercing. With heavy footsteps, I walked on the asphalt road that was still hot while I headed towards the place where I parked my bike. I stood up straight after clutching the handle with some effort, and I took out my phone after that. While muttering ‘Report’, I sent a message to Mika-san. To myself, who could still worry about the event at these times, I couldn’t help but feel that it was laughable. However, Yondaime was the person in charge. I had an obligation to inform her of this. After that, I called Alice.
’…… Nnn. I heard of it. How is the situation?’
Even Alice’s businesslike tone made me feel warm at these times.
“He still hasn’t regained consciousness…… The doctor said that he’s still in danger.”
’Is that so…… We were too foolish. I feel like vomiting when I see my own actions.’
After conversing simply for a while, she hung up.
But the miraculous thing was, I did not even feel a shred of anger towards Renji-san. That person just did what he should have done— That was what I thought in my heart. My anger was directed at myself. Kicking up the bicycle stand, my feet stepping on the pedals ached so much that it was as though they were going to fall off.
Where should I go?
I tried imagining myself holding a baseball bat, rushing to Renji-san’s place, and swing it directly on his head, but the warm wind dispersed such a scene. It’s impossible. I don’t know where he is, and I don’t have such power in me as well.
Or should I return to Alice’s place? Why not? Then I’ll become a true scum. Even though I’ve long decided that I’m staying by her side just to help shoulder a tiny bit of her pain. If so, how could I bring back the pain that I am unable to bear back, because of my own meagerness?
Think by myself, and decide by myself! While forcefully stepping on the pedals, I told myself that.
The first thing I did when I went home was to update the blog. It’s on this weekend! The debut will be at Akasaka! For the audiences who cannot come to the scene, we shall update the blog straight from the venue, providing the wildest on-the-scene situation! The words of advertisement that continue to flow out from my fingers felt disgusting. But this is my job, so I can’t just quit doing it. I couldn’t pick up the phone from Mika-san, while Hiro-san and Major called as well, but I could only pretend as though I didn’t see them. After all, if I speak to someone right now, I don’t know what kind of things I would shout out.
As there was coincidentally a large number of requests for interviews on the day of the concerts, I sent timetables and various other data to them, and rearranged the schedule as well. Just like that, the date changed to that of the next day very quickly. When I finished dealing with all the work on hand, I stood up from the chair before the computer, and was finally aware of the stifling heat filling the room.
I opened the windows. A cold breeze suddenly came into the room, causing my eyelids to feel a prickle of pain.
Even though there wasn’t even one star in the skies, the ground was bathed in light. Probably, at the other side of the globe, the sun is still illuminating the earth while pretending that nothing happened, allowing days to pass just like that.
The odd jobs done to evade the pain in my heart were all completed. Thus, I clearly understood that there was an agitation that was about to explode before my eyes.
Yondaime’s face that was as lifeless as soil surface in my eyelids, and it was the same even if I didn’t think of it deliberately. My stomach was in pain as though I swallowed mercury.
Finally, I realized the true identity of the heat. It couldn’t be described by the emotions fear or dissatisfaction. The me right now is very clear that Renji-san was the one who caused Yondaime to turn out like this— Hating him, hoping for him to get a treatment similar to what Yondaime went through. Clenching my fists that were lacking in energy, I still continued to shudder.
It was the very first time I felt like killing someone.
Renji-san once said, in the seeable future, our friendship would be destroyed as well. He was absolutely right. As he said, it was instead in such a pathetic form.
I’ll kill you the next time I see you. That should be my line. I’m killing you! You actually did this to my bro…… My fists recovered their energy. It felt as though blood was going to seep out from my fingers. I must kill you. Renji-san—
Kill him? How?
The trembling continued to rise to my lips. I frantically bit it.
Am I out of my mind? What am I thinking? Having strength on par with Yondaime’s, and owning violence that Yondaime does not have, facing such a person, what in the world can I do?
In my palms that my fingers were sinking into, the hate fell after being melted by heat.
The night wind that entered through the windows caused my ears to gradually cool down. Even my own heartbeat felt unfriendly.
I have never known that the emotion known as ‘hate’ can be so strongly glued in one’s heart. So Renji-san kept such an emotion these five years? Even though washing it away with tears would make people feel much better.
I definitely can’t do it.
Maintaining such a hate, using it as a blade.
I don’t have any need to think of what I should do anymore. I am just a high schooler, and shared sake with Yondaime just because we have some connections. When the world over there shows its violent side, I can only cower, at a loss.
I sank my body onto the bed.
If there really is something I can do……
I think it should be staying by his side in the ward. I already came in contact with various ways of death, so I have already gotten used to it. The so-called getting used to death means that one is dying little by little as well. If Yondaime is really unable to come back after this, can the spacious room in my heart be forever locked up in its empty state?
Even so, I should keep staying by Yondaime’s side.
After all, I have already gotten used to pain.
When I woke up the next day, it was already near noon. My mood was terrible. I even felt like throwing up, while my vision was still hazy.
With some effort, I picked up the incoming call from Mika-san.
’Is Sou-san okay!? Which hospital is he in!? H- Hello……!’
Oh yeah, I forgot to tell her which hospital he was in. As Hirasaka-gumi sank into confusion, Mika-san is probably worried to death as she couldn’t get in contact with anyone, huh? I feel bad for her.
“He…… Doesn’t seem to be too well.”
'’’How can this be?’
“I’m not too sure as well.”
’What about you, Fujishima-san? Are you okay?’
Am I okay? What sort of question is this? However, I couldn’t give any response. I’m fine— The depths of my throat moaned faintly. I’m completely fine, as I wasn’t the one who was beaten up. If I never realized it at all, everything would have already ended.
’Well…… In any case, I’ll ask our boss about the planning of the event that day. Fujishima-san, don’t you push yourself, and please keep me informed of Sou-san’s condition in detail!’
After hanging up, I suddenly felt relieved. I felt that I had already done everything that I can. So can you temporarily not bother me? Everyone seemed to have forgotten that I’m just a high schooler on vacation.
I’m already really exhausted, so can you let me sleep for awhile?
However, my phone continued to ring non-stop.
’’I heard that we successfully tracked Renji’s phone. He called the Hirasaka-gumi office before the assault. Confirming whether Yonadime was there, perhaps?’
’Alice is currently analyzing his phone log and the GPS location. We can find out where Renji is within toda—’
“…… Is that so.”
His hiding spot had been found out. Why at such a time? After all, that person had been really careful, and repeatedly changed his phone, while the power source wasn’t always on as well—
Whatever, this doesn’t matter anymore.
’Are you okay? You don’t sound so good.’
“I wasn’t feeling good in the first place.”
’About Yondaime…… I think that isn’t your fault, Narumi-kun.’
Hiro-san’s words passed through the differently colored stove in my heart, turning into irrational emotions in the end. Although I gripped the phone forcefully, I still couldn’t suppress the words in my heart.
“Although I only lived for ten over years, I’ve already heard these same words for about five hundred times and above.”
I could clearly feel Hiro-san’s expression change drastically at the other side of the phone.
“This isn’t your problem, you’re not wrong. My dad often said that to me. However, that doesn’t matter anymore. It can’t help at all. We’re not undergoing a trial right now, so even if one says such words, will Yondaime wake up? Can we pretend he never got hurt? If I’m just a bit more clever—”
I used my fingers to forcefully clutch my thigh, and stemmed the flow of words after some effort.
What am I doing? Is there any use if I complain about this to Hiro-san? These are the true words. I really can’t be cured anymore.
My words were full of stutters.
“I don’t know what came over me.”
After saying that, I suddenly felt so ashamed that it was as though hot water was about to spurt out from my eyeballs. What to do? I should…… I should have asked something more meaningful.
“…… After that, how’s the situation?”
Hiro-san seemed to be somewhat hesitant, but he finally spoke after struggling for some time.
’Everyone in the gang stayed in the hospital. I heard that they slept at the parking lot. What a bunch of idiots, right?’
Laughter that sounded full of bitterness.
’This morning, I went over to the hospital, and they were still there. And since they were arguing with the doctor that they want to visit, I went over to stop them. Just at that moment, Alice called. When they found out that they might be able to find out Renji’s location, only a few people were left there, while the others all squeezed over to the detective agency.’
I adjusted my breathing. The gang that lost their leader and was continuing to struggle. Most probably, nobody knows what to do, huh?
’But there’s a troublesome problem. If those guys know where Renji is hiding at, they might really kill him.’
To be frank, I’m helpless if you tell me all this right now as well. The members of Hirasaka-gumi are workers for the event as well. If they make trouble at such a critical moment, it will definitely affect the event. Even though I knew that it would turn out like that, I did not have the energy to stop them anymore.
Just let them do as they like. After all, blood had already been spilled. No matter wheter the smell on the body is washed off with rainwater or with more blood, the injury will not disappear.
Hiro-san told me that he would call me if he had more developments, and hung up after that. I prepared to clamber into my bed again. When I noticed a message from the advertising company, it was just when I was about to throw my cellphone back onto the bed.
— Please send over the bills. Things like the newest version of the time schedules, the duties of the workers and the like can probably be gotten only from Hinaura-san. Very sorry, but can you please send the above data over?
I sighed. Yondaime kept handling such matters alone. After all, he’s always very obstinate with money, so he didn’t dare to allow the others to handle them, I suppose? Apart from that, quite a lot of information was only in his hands as well. It was just because of that that the people around him would have a headache when such an incident occurs.
It can’t be helped then. I could only pick it up at the office. After that, I’ll treat it as though my job has already been done. As for the solution for the interviews and the blog, asking Mika-san to deal with it would be fine.
There was a small bloodstain at the entrance of the Hirasaka-gumi office. The black stains of blood even splattered on the stairs. Most probably, those would be Yondaime’s blood dripping down from the weapon of the escaped suspect. I spaced out while supporting myself on the railing for a moment, and could even feel as though I could smell the odor of rust as well.
How long had he been beaten up? Even that person only has a body made of flesh and blood, so he couldn’t do anything if he was surrounded by a large crowd of armed opponents. If the opposing party did an ambush, it would be even harder for him to escape.
It’s possible that I might turn out like that as well. Such a thought suddenly surfaced as I stared at the bloodstains.
I should stop this job. After sending the paperwork to the workroom, I’ll tell them this. Since the matter had already developed to this state, my presence doesn’t matter at all. Yondaime can just stay in the hospital as well. If so, he won’t be beaten up by a crowd of people anymore as well.
The steel door wasn’t locked up. When I stepped into the office, I found that the electric lights were still on, while the air conditioner wasn’t turned off as well. From the time the incident occurred, not one gang member returned. The sofa was toppled, while documents were scattered on the ground. The doors inside were open as well.
The condition of the study was even more terrible. The bookshelves in the pitch-black room were toppled and stacked together, squashing the cardboard boxes. The sheets on the bed were splattered with blood as well.
Only the computer on the desk was still unaffected, its monitor glowing in the darkness. An unsent email was shown on the screen. When I saw the familiar email of the recipient, I felt surprised from the bottom of my heart.
It was my email address.
Not even one word was contained in the email, whereas a large amount of files were attached to it. Account books, organizational charts, timetables, contact information and a table of things to do in emergencies.
I extended my trembling hand to the keyboard.
I felt heat on my chest, making me unable to breathe properly.
Of course, backing up important data is common sense. That was why he planned to mail the files to me, and he was assaulted right that moment. That’s all, isn’t that right?
I clicked the send button. Yondaime’s last will flowed into my body with the speed of light through the electronic circuit. Such a pain was different from the one that I previously shouldered. It felt like it would expand in my innards if I don’t touch it, and would explode in my body in the end.
I rushed out of the office and ran down the stairs. When I reached the steel door of the third floor, I stopped. The scene, the sounds in my memories vividly surfaced. That’s right, this is the place. The gang members were here as well. And then Yondaime said—
’If anything happens to me—’
Those words should have been a joke.
However, now that they are clearly resounding by my ears, I cannot abandon them anymore.
’— I’m counting on you to take care of these idiots.’
He picked up the phone when the waiting tone rang for the second time.
’…… Aniki? Is this Aniki?’
A voice as rough as a telephone pole immediately rang by my ear.
’I was really worried of you for suddenly disappearing yesterday! Hiro-ojiki said that you looked sick. Are you okay? Where are you right now?’
“I’m in the office. Where are you?”
’At Ane-san’s place, of course!’ That would refer to Alice. So they’re still at Alice’s place? ’Now that we’ve almost located Hirasaka’s den, we’re preparing to rush over there!’
“That won’t do. This is not the time to do such a thing.”
’What are you talking about! Sou-san was beaten up like that, how can we stay put!?’
I could hear the gang members roaring behind Pole even through the phone. We must kill him! Make him pay five times over! Send them all into the hospital! How can we stop just by beating them up!
My body heated up.
“You shut up!”
I roared furiously at the phone.
’— A- Aniki?’
Pole’s flustered voice.
“I’m heading over right away, and you all just stay put over there!” Without even listening to his answer, I stuffed my phone back into my pocket and dashed down the stairs.
I rode into the alley almost without braking. I saw about twenty burly men gathered in front of Hamaru Ramen. I jumped down from my bike, pushed it down immediately and ran over.
I was clamped in between Pole and Rocky, while the gang members around me gradually increased.
“Aniki, what’s wrong? Ane-san and Major are searching for Hirasaka’s hideout right no—“
“War! This can only be war!”
“Beat them up so much they’ll turn up like Sou-san!”
“We’re already prepared for the police to arrest us!”
“I’m telling you that you can’t do this! You’re all workers for the event, so if you’re arrested for acts of violence, the security that day will be—“
“We must let them know what’ll happen if they dare to touch Sou-san!”
“We can’t wait anymore, and we definitely won’t forgive them!”
“WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU!”
I screamed, unable to suppress my emotions anymore. The gang members were all startled at the same time, giving me sharp looks without reserve. However, I did not cower, and continued:
“Don’t you know Yondaime gambled his all for this job!? Starting a company, recruiting employees, thinking of a way to gather funds, bowing down to people everywhere— It’s- It’s nearly bearing fruit, and you’re actually thinking of destroying all his efforts just for meaningless matters!?”
The gang members surrounding me paled, and my critiques continued.
“Why do you think Renji-san’s phone could be tracked at such a critical moment? You were all deliberately baited. You didn’t even realize this!? Think about it, if you make trouble while wearing the emblem, the event will definitely be cancelled! Why can’t you understand even such a simple matter!?”
I used my shouts to cover Rocky’s moans.
“Aren’t you all bearing Hinamura Souichirou’s name?! It’s the same for me! You can’t have forgotten about this, can you?!”
The faces of the burly men gathered around me gradually twisted, but I don’t know if it was because of me scolding them or if it was because of their inability to suppress their surging emotions. However, I still finished my words.
“I am that person’s sworn brother. That is why—“
Ahh, it’s indeed because of the tears. My voice was engulfed by the surging emotions.
“Before he comes back, I’m taking charge of the gang. Stand out if you have anything to say about this!”
My voice spread with a sense of swollenness. My fists and lips continued to shake, while tears filled my eyes. I used all of my energy to stand in the center of a crowd of burly men, trying to glare back at the angry gazes of over forty men in bravado.
Sweat that felt strangely cold trickled down my back.
When I was stating my thoughts, a strange pulse flowed in my limbs. Now that I already spoke out all of them, I lost all my energy, and felt as though I was going to be crushed by the silence.
Did I say anything inaccurate? Even if it’s true, do I even have the right to say all this? After all, I’m just a powerless—
Pole’s body bent into half. It gave me a huge fright, almost making me puff out all of the breath in my body, escaping from the scene.
However, Pole was not walking forward. He bowed down on the spot, his legs the width of his shoulders, his elbows on his knees, and he lowered his head after that.
Standing by his side, Rocky made the same pose as well. Like receding waves, the surrounding gang members bent down with their heads lowered as well.
It was a rite of men.
“— My apologies. I didn’t know Aniki thought for us so much.”
Pole’s deep voice.
“We were too dumb.”
“We nearly let Sou-san down.”
“We believe in Aniki.”
“As long as Aniki is here.”
“We’ll follow you forever.”
After that, the gang members raised their heads, flames of vigor burning in each of their eyes.
“…… We’re leaving our lives in Aniki’s hands.”
“Understood, in Aniki’s hands.”
“In Aniki’s hands.”
The voices spread.
The energy supporting my body nearly flowed out along with my sweat and tears, from my ears, from my lips, from my eyes. I supported my fists on my thigh, trying hard not to let myself collapse. That won’t do. My bravado must continue.
“…… Nnn. I understand.”
The voice that came from my parched throat did not even sound like my voice anymore.
“Leave them all to me. Thank you.”
“I saw it all from the surveillance cameras. Your display was not bad.”
Alice showed a speechless expression while sitting on her bed. Around the building where the detective agency is at, a few surveillance cameras that are able to inspect the surroundings were installed, allowing the detective to check out the situation outside on her bed.
Which means, the idiotic game of loyalty was clearly seen by her from head to toe.
“You are really a very special man. As long as your brain is filled with blood, you can reach the truth in the shortest distance for some reason. Why can you not do it usually?”
“No…… I didn’t realize it myself……”
I hugged my knees while sitting before the bed, feeling the cold air from the air conditioner on my head. As I was too nosy, and forced myself too much, I was completely lacking in energy. When I think about it, it was actually quite scary. Facing Hirasaka-gumi that was somewhat famous as juvenile delinquents in the past, I could actually still criticize them like that. As Alice said, when my blood fills my brain, even I, myself, don’t know what I will do.
No, actually, I know it. Like just now, I can only resort to such ways. It’s just that sometimes, the worries of ’What should I do if I fail?’ would disappear to goodness knows where.
“That is a power that you can take pride on.”
Alice responded expressionlessly. But I don’t need such a thing. It’s not like I can save anyone, it’s just that I can act quicker on decisive moments— No matter if it would end in happiness or despair.
“You are quite impressive, actually knowing that being able to track the phone signal is actually a trap by Hirasaka.”
Alice’s voice melded with the sounds of typing.
“I just thought of it all of a sudden, just to convince the gang members.”
“You really got me. Are you seriously listing fraud syndicate as a choice for your future?”
“I’ll think about it……”
I hugged my knees even harder.
“But that was really a trap.”
I raised my head.
“Major contacted me just now. The location we found out from the GPS satellite signal was a short-term apartment. Over ten armed men were waiting there, but Hirasaka was not among them. What a devious man.”
Which means, he planted his phone in the room, while he hid somewhere else?
I really couldn’t connect such a despicable action with the smiling face that I was familiar with. Just because of that, I wished even more for a chance to speak with him once more.
“Thus, Hirasaka’s true aim is probably this.”
“The thing that Yondaime accumulated, the whole Hirasaka-gumi.”
In the past, Renji-san started the gang with Yondaime, and it grew so much that it had an influence on the city after five years— their companions and the gang emblem.
“I am thinking, he was probably planning to make them lose the head of the gang, dissolving it while it is truly decapitated. In truth, it should have turned out like this as well. The only miscalculation that Hirasaka made was— you are here.”
I….. am here.
Even though I couldn’t do anything, and could only stay here.
“But I think Hirasaka will probably not stop. He knows that Hirasaka-gumi is taking charge of the security of the concerts, so if he cannot bait them to attack, he will probably attack actively. It is impossible for him to lose the great chance of causing confusion on the day of the event, because we must still maintain our pride.”
I hope to talk things out with Renji-san once again. Telling him not to do this anymore. Even though I know his number, it couldn’t get through at all. What on earth should I do?
“It is unknown if he, himself, will be present on the day of the event itself. It is possible that he plans to allow his underlings to take action after this no matter if they are continuing their harassment or not, because it has been so up till now.”
I breathed out with my mouth, a long, faint puff.
“How can we allow him to do so? I will definitely drag him out.”
“…… Alice, what do you want to tell Renji-san?”
The detective still had her black, silky hair facing me. The light on her hair gently fluttered along with her voice.
“The words of the deceased, of course. Words that were accidentally eradicated.”
“You’re not planning to tell me now?”
“I wish to be pained only once as well.”
I thought in my heart, what sort of expression was Alice’s face that was facing the screen wearing? Hoping to be pained only once. Even if she tells me right now, I still cannot reduce her pain. Is that what she means?
Is that really that deep of a scar? Or is it because I’m completely usele—
I shook my head, flinging away the useless self-deprecating words.
“If you tell him…… It would mean even Renji-san would be in pain as well, right?”
“That should be so. And it includes you, and includes Yondaime.”
Even so, you still have to dig such a grave?
“The Hirasaka right now is like a rat in a hole, being unable to go anywhere. The request that I have taken is, bringing him before Yondaime. It is the same even if my skin might be scorched by sun, even if my eyes might get blind because of this. I must pull him back from the dark ignorance.”
The black hair finally shifted to a side. Alice turned around. In the eyes filled with sorrow, a luster, like soft moss covering old wells, was accumulated.
“That is why I am planning to unhesitatingly use despicable tricks as well.”
“After all, there is still a captive in my hands.”
Alice’s hand extended towards the hill of dolls, pulling out that thing. It was a white T-shirt tidily folded. Hirasaka-gumi’s unfinished mental trademark. The important thing that was left by Hison.
“…… Can we really bait him out just by using this?”
“We are not going to use this directly. The bait must first be manipulated.”
“But…… The main thing is, how are you planning to contact Renji-san?”
Alice kneeled down, her eyes at the same height as me, and she pressed my chest with her small hand. As though she was confirming something.
After that, she spoke again:
“What is your current job? You are not just an assistant detective, are you?”
The words spread through my body, along the chilly air, along the fingers that had the warmth of a body.
My current job.
Originally, I was just planning to accept Yondaime’s request, helping him manage things related to the internet. But unknowingly, it got the support of numerous people, and in the end, I focused almost all of my attention on this matter, up till now.
I took out my cellphone and called Mika-san.
“…… Yes. Fujishima speaking. Sorry for yesterday…… Yes, okay. I’ll send it to you together. No, the condition is still bad…… Yes, and then……”
As Mika-san still seemed to want to say something, I halted her words with a forceful tone.
“On the day of the event, I’ll be in charge of the coordination. Yondaime told me to do so…… Yes. That’s right. Anyway, I’ll go for the meeting. Yes…… I’m counting on you. Yes. Including the updates of the website up till the big day, yes, that’s right…… Every day, right? I’ll be in charge of them all. No. That’s fine. Please allow me to do so. Because—“
I continued after gulping.
“…… I’m in charge of the advertising.”
After ending the conversation with Mika-san, I looked at Alice. We just nodded, as no words are required between a detective and an assistant detective.
“…… Is this Major? Nnn, that is correct. My apologies, but we still need you to continue the surveillance and spying up till the day of the concert. How many people are needed for the shifts? …… Three? I understand, I shall tell Narumi to arrange for this.”
While listening to Alice converse with Major through the phone, I dialed Pole’s phone number.
“Yes, it’s me. That’s right, please send three men to Major’s place. And about the security that day…… I’m guessing that Renji-san will probably take action that day. Nnn. I’m going over to inspect things again. We’ll need to rearrange areas for security…… I’m counting on you.”
With our backs to each other, Alice and I hung up at the same time, and started moving towards our goal.
Only four days were left before the celebration.
Even in the evening, the heat of the summer day was still present. A colossal quadrilateral silhouette surfaced in the darkness, blocking the rays of light from the large building behind. Steel could be seen exposed from various positions of the building. This strange-looking building would be the famous live house largest in Akasaka, Tokyo.
Illuminated by lightings, all that could be seen before the entrance were people, people and people. The workers shouted their voices hoarse just to inform the guests at the very end. It felt as though the heat of the crowd was going to form a cloud. Among the gathering guests, T-shirts with the band logo that I made could be seen on an indefinite basis.
I touched my chest. The T-shirt specially embroidered by Yoshiki-san for me and the other shirts, they were all connected.
The large screen at the entrance was playing a video of rehearsals on the stage. Although there was no sound accompanying the screen, it showed the sharp beauty of the Gibson Los Paul guitar that the main female vocal was strumming even more. The long black hair with two plaits that were like the tail feathers of flying birds danced under the light that was full of vigor.
The internet should be playing video clips similar to this as well. I wonder if Renji-san is watching, the trap that Alice set up.
The clothing that the main female vocal was wearing was just a white T-shirt that had a collar and cuffs with black material.
While feeling that it was unbelievable, I stared at the picture on the shoulder and side abdominal part of the T-shirt. Alice said that she would manipulate the bait. I wasn’t told even till today as well. What did those words mean?
Why can she do such a thing?
However, I did not have the time to solve the question. It was starting. I clutched the leather box in my pocket and ran towards the backdoor for workers. What was kept in my pocket was Major’s specially made multi-functional walkie-talkie. It was connected to the gang members positioned elsewhere and the NEET detective squad.
“It’s starting.” I reported into the headset microphone.
I saw the guests starting to move slowly with the corner of my eye, and I rushed into the door. When I entered the pitch-black corridor, I suddenly heard my own heartbeat.
’I found three enemies mixed into the guests.’
Major’s voice came from the headset. After that, Rocky’s voice overlapped.
’I am currently at the entrance of the hall. There are some familiar faces, including the ones who attacked Sou-san. Do we need to catch them?’
“No, you can only tail them. Don’t make trouble at places where guests are present. I’m guessing that a few more of them came as well, and will probably gather at the restrooms or somewhere else. Anyway, we already knew that they would come, so just let them wander around.”
’What if they make trouble as soon as they get in?’
“If it turns into a situation when guests are harmed, you don’t need to hold back. You’re among the security, after all.”
My voice would still tremble. They won’t do things that are so dumb, will they?
“I’ve already said that those people’s target is very clear. They are not here to destroy the event. They are preparing to use the confusion of the concert to defeat the members of Hirasaka-gumi positioned elsewhere in the venue one by one.”
Even so, we must still use them. In any case, in such a large event, security guards are absolutely needed.
“That’s why we need to bait them up, surround them and defeat them all. Do not attack actively.” ’Understood.’ Rocky firmly cut off the signal.
Hiro-san spoke. He should be with the band members right now.
’Can I walk out of the lounge now?’
“No problem. Sorry for the trouble.”
A row of people passed by the short passage for business use that was filled with heat. The uproar of the audience was not with their voice, but in the form of vibrations. Just by touching the cement wall with one finger made one feel as though the whole building was a balloon that was about to break. Closely after that, clear cheers spread to us from below.
The ensemble of dazzling guitars , jazz drums and bass whirled the commotion together and stepped away after that. The opening song kicked off. My footsteps quickened as well. It felt as though boiling blood was directly filled into my heart. I opened the lock of the door at the innermost of the corridor. The person in charge of the live house reminded me a few times to lock the lock for the passage for business use, and the workers were asked to follow it completely as well. Because of that, I must do this job by myself.
Following my footsteps— he would probably appear. If he got the secret message.
I opened the last door. Pale rays of light, band music loudly played, a vigorous chorus, all of them assaulted me from the front. It was the side of the stage. Quite a few thick cables were fixed on the ground. Colorful spotlights were shone from the stage, causing ProAudio machines and guitars placed next together to form differently shaped shadows. There was a short ladder on the left, while in front of that would be another door connected to the audience seats.
No workers could be seen over there. I asked the party in charge to keep this place empty.
My gaze shifted to the rays of light. The cymbals of the jazz drums kit was dancing repeatedly, shattering the neon lights into fragments counted by ten thousands. And somewhere over there, the tall main vocal could be seen. With the white T-shirt, her long hair looked like the tail feathers of a flying bird.
“Major, I’ll have to bother you for a moment.”
I spoke into the headset microphone.
’Roger. Good luck for your battle.’
I removed the headset. Along with the song and the vigorous rhythm, blood filled my mind. I felt like crying. The illumination lit up at the same time as the song reached the interlude, and the surrounding turned into the South China Sea in an instant. The lingering aftertaste of the rhythm was continued by the cheers of the overwhelmingly enthusiastic audience.
I placed the headset unit on the amplifier by my side. I could even feel the slight virations in the air. I stood alone in the darkness, awaiting the cheers to descend onto the sand, turning in to sand, changing to mud.
— Everyone, thank you for coming today.
The unexpectedly gentle voice of the main female vocal spread through the silent air.
— I could only be here because of many people’s help. Thank you very much.
Just at that moment, I heard the sound of the door handle behind me turning.
I stopped breathing, closed my eyes and counted to three silently in my heart.
— Songs can be spread no matter how far it is, it’s great. It’s the same even for that person who is no longer by our sides.
I breathed out and turned around.
Before the open door and the long, slender ray of blue light extended from the stage, there stood a silhouette. Step by step, he slowly approached. His goggles-styled sunglasses reflected the light over.
“What? Yer specially waitin’ for me over here?”
Renji-san stood at the dead center of the pillar of light.
“I invited you here after all.”
My answering voice was still indeed unsteady.
“I saw it on the net. The shirt that woman’s wearin’.”
Renji-san gestured behind me with his chin.
“I thought that it’s a careless invitation, but that thing is my important belonging. And I have somethin’ to ask ya as well.”
“Glad you can come.”
“Ya can actually say something like this when it’s already come to this. The extent of yer foolish kindness is quite scary.”
That’s true. I’m thinking if I’m a fool as well. Even though my companions and I were so terribly tortured.
“The matter that you want to ask— It’s regarding the emblem on the T-shirt, right?”
I took a step forward.
“Why is it complete?”
I glanced at the stage. The main female vocal was in a silent explanation to the audience. The logo on her shoulder and side abdomen wasn’t an incomplete picture that was like fireworks.
It was a swallowtail butterfly with a few layers that was full of vibrant colors.
That which should have already been lost—
“To be frank, even I don’t know, because nobody told me about this at all.”
“The person who asked you out actually isn’t me.”
“What are ya talkin’ abou—“
Renji-san stopped in the middle of his words, as a small silhouette hidden in the shadow of the neighboring amplifier stood up from the side of my feet, into the light.
Her long black hair slid down from her shoulders. A silhouette donning a furisode with patterns of pine dyed with black Edo Yuzen while holding a large stuffed teddy who surfaced against the light was reflected in Renji-san’s sunglasses.
I was still quite doubtful about that. Isn’t that a kimono?
As I recall, this petite detective wears clothes for mourning when she is preparing to tell the opposing party the truth when the case ends, isn’t that right?
“First, I must erase your worries.”
While holding my belt, Alice spoke to Renji-san.
“That T-shirt is a fake. It is not embroidered, the picture was printed on. I think you probably could not realize that from afar. At the end of the concert, the main vocal might take it off and throw it to the audience, but no worries. I have kept your most precious real one very properly.
In the darkness, Renji-san’s expression that was blocked by the sunglasses couldn’t be seen at all.
“Who are ya—“ Renji-san hesitated. “So yer the detective. I just heard of it, yer a nasty kid with strange skills.”
“I am not an ordinary detective. I am a NEET detective, the messenger for the deceased.”
Alice’s voice was extremely steady.
“Doing everything just to harm the living to uphold the honor of the dead, or to shame the deceased to console the living.”
“Ya don’t need to explain your identity. Where did ya get that picture from? That is—“
“I have told you, those are the words of the dead.”
Being interrupted by Alice, Renji-san’s face started to twist as he finally saw through it.
“I obtained it from the female most important to you.”
“How!? Hison was long dead—“
“She is still alive.”
The air that was supposed to be full of heat froze in an instant and cracked.
I bated my breath and stared at Alice, who was by my side. Her gaze raised, and met mine. Her hand that was gripping my belt loosened, and she touched my chest instead. Touching the embroidery of the band logo on my chest.
“This thing is the last key.”
Alice’s voice resounded.
“This web-shaped embroidery that looks like tatami is called chasu. It is a traditional embroidering skill that exists only in Korea.”
I gulped. Alice’s gaze returned to Renji-san once more.
“On the day of the incident five years ago, Hison was severely hurt due to her being stabbed on her abdomen. She was sent to a tight-lipped surgeon, and the surgery was successful as well.”
“What….. did ya say?”
Renji-san moaned. I unconsciously clenched my hand on Alice’s shoulder.
“Hison was saved. However, a few of her innards were taken out because of the sever injury. I am guessing that her uterus and ovaries were all taken out. Hison lost her bodily functions as a female, and her body could not move like before as well, while Gotouda paid a large sum of money to shut people up. The said ten million yen that Yondaime allowed you to see was that sum of money. The target of the deposit was a person familiar to Yondaime, a real estate agent at Adachi, and the ten million were used to rent a certain building before the Kita-Senju station, and also as the deposit of one of the floors.”
It was not hard for me to imagine the transparent smile that did not last long below the glasses.
“Hison could not continue her job as a pub lady anymore, but she obtained the shop that she dreamt of. She abandoned everything in her past, even herself as a female, and hid all of the memories that existed between you and Yondaime. Switching the order of the two kanji of her name, now— she is living on with the identity of a male.”
Renji-san pulled his goggles sunglasses onto his forehead. In his eyes with light shining on it, I cannot find out what sort of emotions were contained in them, as my gaze was covered with something that was about to spill out.
Under the gentle smile, the true name hidden under wounds. Hison.
“She is still alive. You already know it now. Therefore—“
Renji-san’s voice pierced through the night.
“Why……? Then Sou, why—“
The end of his sentence was swallowed up by sharp intakes of breaths.
“Why, you say? All of it was for you and Hison. Hison’s sole wish is for you not to know. Including the fact that she was someone’s mistress…… And the fact that she was pregnant.”
Don’t say anymore. I used my voice that was barely formed to warn her. So what if you tell him about this? Nobody will attain happiness, isn’t that right?
“However, such a thought is just too disappointing.”
Alice stated in a chilly tone.
“I am planning to break the taboo of a detective. Words of the deceased, you say? Rubbish! Tarnishing the power that mankind chose just for a miniscule part of consolation, such a matter is not allowed. After all, we are still alive. Living on in the real world. If so, meaning in words can be transmitted any time. Should you reclaim your connection? Or should you continue to break your relationship? Those can all be chosen. No matter how painful it is, humans can probably accept and choose. No one has the power to erase those choices. Is that not right?”
I was suddenly aware of the pain in my throat and gulped, raising my head after that, because I noticed that Alice’s last words were not directed at Renji-san.
The door that was opened blocked the side of the extending light.
Renji-san, who turned around to look, saw the silhouette. The hair bleached white, the swallowtail butterfly tattooed on the bare shoulder, all of that froze at the point of intersection of the blue lights.
I was planning to run over, but Alice hugged me from behind, and halted me.
“Do not go. This is not the time for you to show up.”
Even though his body shouldn’t be able to move, as he was in a coma.
Renji-san softly called the name, taking off his goggles sunglasses and tossing it on the floor. Yondaime slowly stepped into the light with his back towards the door. How on earth did he manage to escape the hospital in this condition? The shirt bloodied by blood was worn when he was assaulted. It should have been placed by his bed. Which means, he came directly here from the hospital?
In the darkness, I heard the sounds of Yondaime gnashing his teeth.
“You told him everything?”
The voice fell onto the floor full of cables. The wild wolf’s ferocious gaze that still wasn’t lost passed through Renji-san’s shoulders, glaring at Alice.
“That is correct…… You are too late.”
All of a sudden, heated cheers rang behind us again. Perhaps the time for comments from the band had ended? Yondaime closed his eyes. After shaking his head, he raised his gaze and looked directly at Renji-san’s face this time. Among this, the two did not converse at all. Only charred air was left.
“…… It’s really miraculous.”
Renji-san spoke. Although he had his back to me, I could clearly see the sorrow in his smile.
“I thought that more things would fly over if we meet, like complaints, grudges, roars or the like. I wanted to live more tastefully, so I didn’t wanna meet ya. Haha. But well, how should I say this? Ca—n’t think of anything at all.”
“If I take away your foul mouth, what’s left? Won’t there be only your bad habit of fighting be left?”
“That’s true. No money, no women, no friends.”
I thought, why are things so peaceful? Even though screams of the audience, sounds of feet stepping on the floor, applause and whistles kept ringing behind us. Why does the conversation of the two make my ears hurt so much, why is it so peaceful? Why doesn’t the band hurry up and sing the next song? Singing a song that can sweep this loneliness away. I could only pray.
“…… I’m really jealous of ya. Will ya laugh at me if I say something like this?”
“It’s not funny at all.”
“That ain’t wrong, but it’s true. I don’t have anythin’ at all.”
“My sworn brother standing blankly over there…… Didn’t you meet him as soon as you came to Tokyo? Seems like you still have luck the size of a pea left, huh?”
“That ain’t wrong.”
While listening to the conversation of the two, I almost cried out in Alice’s clutch.
“Why don’cha buy a lottery ticket? If ya win a hundred million yen, yer rotten life might turn for the better.”
“I’ll consider it. Can you tell me which betting centre I should go to, by the way? Which numbers should I buy?”
“Buy all of the numbers at the betting center, ya’ll definitely win like this.”
“Why are you still so smart?”
The words after that dried up completely.
Renji-san and Yondaime approached each other step by step.
“What should we do? I’ve already been too careless. It’s fine as long as I can get back my thing.”
“Even though it’s a gang that you founded yourself, the rules that you set. You, yourself, should stick to it more closely.”
“True. God, who will He support?”
I struggled in Alice’s clutch. Why? Why is it that only at these times, I cannot slip away from these slender hands?
“P- Please don’t do this! Yondaime is badly hurt!”
The roar of a wolf. The both of them raised their fists to face-height at the same time. Just at that moment, a smooth, explosive guitar solo rang. Lighting up turbulence that was released, it vigorously spread mine, Alice’s, Renji-san’s and Yondaime’s shadows on the floor and the walls. The rhythm of the music and the bass accompaniment overlapped, heating up the air together.
A clarion singing voice rang. Two shadows jumped at the same time and interweaved. I flung away Alice’s hands and was planning to run over, but my knees were hugged from behind, and I fell down on my face. In my blurry vision, I saw one of the shadows falling slowly onto the floor.
The song rained down even more vigorously, slapping on my back and shoulders. The continuous beats of the drums that were like thunder, the bass movements that pounded on my whole body, the guitar music that was intertwining like a snake with flaming scales, all of them combined with the voice, corroding my world drop by drop to the finish.
After that, the standing silhouette shakily approached the collapsed party. However, he did not stop, and headed in the direction of the door after walking over the other’s body. The silhouette on the floor asked:
“How many feints did you make just now? Two?”
The silhouette standing by the door answered without turning back.
“Haven’t you got worse at this or anything? How boring.”
“Ya were too lacking in practice yerself.”
“Is that so?”
I thought, who were they? My vision was long immersed in water, and was unable to determine who won.
After all, the two reunited. Only at this moment, they can return the most important thing that they exchanged together when they shared sake to each other— their words, and reaffirming it once again.
“Yer really an idiot.”
“I know…… But there’s no other choice. You probably won’t understand.”
“Of course I understand, idiot.”
The door connecting to the corridor opened.
“I’m seriously hopeless.”
Swallowing up the shadow and his unsteady footsteps, the door closed.
In the darkness, another shadow stood up, and picked up the goggles sunglasses lying on the ground. I wanted to say something to him. However, Alice tightly held on my hand, interrupting my voice.
Footsteps rang along the short ladder next to the audience seats. The door was opened, and loud cheers flowed inside.
When that sound was halted by the darkness once more, only the vigorous ensemble of music that rang on the stage remained by my side, as well as the temperature of Alice behind me.
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