Kamisama no Memochou:Volume 8 Chapter 5
Miracles can easily happen anytime, I thought when I was handed the results of the exams in late February, avoiding repeating the year.
“That wasn't a miracle, it was because you diligently studied with me!” Ayaka said in a huff.
It's true that I studied a lot during the two weeks I was suspended from school. I had free time, so I kept going to Hanamaru since morning, and since Ayaka had been suspended too, we piled up textbooks, notebooks and textbook guides on the wooden table in front of the kitchen's door, and started our study meetings that lasted for the whole fourteen days.
“But with this we're both third years, I'm so glad! Now we can relax.” Ayaka smiled broadly.
“Relax? We still have a whole year left. I don't know if my grades will be good enough.”
“It's okay!” Ayaka patted my back. “If you drop out of school during March of next year, it will be almost the same as graduating with me, right?”
“No it won't!”
“But we're both in the same class, do you think we won't be able to graduate together? If you think about it, it's not like I require you to graduate, Fujishima-kun.”
“Because, you see, with your talents you won't need to enter the university. You can become a swindler, a yakuza, a public entertainer...”
The way you're saying it sounds more like I don't have any talent at all.
“We will have a special celebration in March, I'm looking forward to that!”
Special celebration? What on earth is that?
Ever since that incident, Ayaka had been really cheerful and looked like she was having fun everyday, so I didn't ask her anything in particular.
The reason why Ayaka and I were suspended from school was, of course, the Angel Fix case. The eight people we had investigated for offering money to Shushuri were found dead, rotting underground. The uproar that such a shocking incident caused didn't settle down for a month, so the school decided to suspend us to have a cooling-off period. A warm-hearted punishment. The police gave us a sound scolding. When the patrol cars came we were both at the scene, so obviously Hirasaka-gumi couldn't cover for us like they always did.
I don't really know what became of the Iharagi family. The mother, Iharagi Junko, attempted suicide in her kitchen. Yondaime noticed the gas smell and broke in to stop her. After that, he rushed to the elementary school to talk with her son directly.
Hiro-san told me a little theory:
“I think Iharagi Junko didn't know what her son had been doing at all, neither about how Hakamizaka had told him to take care of the flowers nor that he had accepted money from the junkies.”
I remembered my conversation with Iharagi Junko. She was unhinged when her son came and asked me if I was ′Shirou-san's friend′, not because she was afraid that her own crimes were exposed, but because she panicked upon finding out for the first time that her son had been in contact with criminals. When Tomoki-kun said ′Mama scolded me a lot′, it wasn't because she forbid him to speak for her own sake, but for her child's. After that, Iharagi Junko searched his son's bedroom, probably found evidence of his son's interactions with Hakamizaka, Chigasawa, Oshima or the others, and upon conjecturing about her son's crimes, she felt cornered to the point of wanting to commit suicide with gas.
Poor Iharagi Junko was completely innocent after all. Her relationship with Hakamizaka was really just a florist-customer relationship.
But her very young child had became fascinated with Hakamizaka. No—It might be the opposite. Maybe Hakamizaka was the one fascinated with Tomoki-kun. Such a thought was frightening, but it did make sense.
“It seems Tomoki-kun ordered the fertilizers with her mother's password, so it would have probably been discovered even if we didn't do anything.”
“Chigasawa Teruhiko told him how to do it, right?”
“The order was placed under Chigasawa's bank account and with his mobile internet, but...” Hiro-san smiled ironically. “We can't know who told how to do it to whom. Maybe Tomoki-kun planned it all and asked Chigasawa for the things he needed. There are lots of scary children in this world, after all.”
But there's the possibility that it wasn't a sin. That little boy didn't understand death. He apparently thought that Hakamizaka's friends were patiently waiting under the drainage for the flowers to bloom. Right now, to what kind of institution have they transferred him? What kind of adults are surrounding him? What kind of words is he been showered with? I don't know.
“In the end, what was this all about?” Tetsu-senpai spat out by Hiro-san's side. “Toshi... And the other junkies... What the hell did they want to do? Were they waiting for the flowers to bloom? I just don't get it. Were they really waiting for the raw materials of their drug while munching on the rests they had saved up? That's just plain idiotic. Wasn't it obvious that they were going to die if they took that drug again? Who would make the new drug if all the members kicked the bucket together anyway?”
“Because they were stupid, that's why.” Hiro-san said indifferently. “They were drug addicts. You can't understand what went on inside their heads.”
“I'm not satisfied with that!”
Tetsu-senpai hit his own legs over and over again. I felt the same. The questions I couldn't turn into words were like bones stuck in my throat, obstructed forever.
February passed in the midst of a slippery numbness.
Hirasaka-gumi's black-shirted men constantly showed up at Ramen Hanamaru as customers. They would generally eat on credit, making Min-san mad every time. After talking about silly things with Ayaka(-neesan) and me, they would leave. They never said a word about Yondaime. I also felt constrained, so I didn't want to go to the office on the west gate side of the station.
Not even once did I visit Toshi-san at the hospital, either. Ayaka went many times and brought him ice cream from Hanamaru.
“He doesn't talk at all. Well, I don't say anything either.”, Ayaka said.
I didn't ask Ayaka anything, either. Does she still not remember anything about Toshi-san? About the drugs? About the poppy flowers she had grown? My head says that those things don't matter, but being by Ayaka's side meant being engulfed by that silence after all.
I didn't write a journal about the case. Before now, I had recorded every case I had taken part as an assistant detective, but with this case, not a single word about the things I had been involved in would come to mind to begin writing.
What was all this in the end? I thought as I looked up at the ceiling in front of my room's PC. I severed my ties with Yondaime, I dug up Ayaka's painful memories, Toshi-san was cornered on the abyss of the death for a second time, I was even suspended from school, and now that the case was finally over.... I didn't understand too much about it. There wasn't a detestable opponent. Shushuri was a seven-year-old child. It really looked like like the work of an angel.
What on earth was all this? I cursed at the cloudy sky from February slipping from the gaps between the curtains. What was the meaning of all this? Why did we have to get worn out getting involved in all this? I knew that I was thinking like a brat. That which we call ′meaning′ is something that takes form when we wish to convey something from someone and to someone. For that reason, most things in this world have no meaning.
I tried to call Yondaime many times, but I ended up shutting the cellphone closed each time.
I don't know what to say. I don't have any apologizing words, and I haven't done anything wrong in the first place. Yondaime hasn't done anything wrong, either. He's the head of Hirasaka-gumi, and I'm Ayaka's friend, so we would obviously make each other bleed if we collided.
No, it's not like Yondaime bled at all. I was the only one feeling sad. Even if we said we were sworn brothers, he won't feel troubled if I'm not around.
“Seeing you come here with the expression of a cat that got its tail burn bothers me.” Alice said with cold eyes on the bed while tilting her Dr Pepper can. “What's the matter? You can't possibly be expecting me to tell you ′My detective work has been in disuse, so go and bow your head to Yondaime′, or are you?”
That's kinda what I was thinking, actually. I've been seen through. I would have felt more at ease by persuading myself with something like ′They're Alice orders, so it can't be helped′.
“Really, there's a part of you that won't ever change.”
The words Alice spoke while turning her gaze to the ceiling somehow sounded happier than usual. I tilted my head.
“In that case, you have no option but to wait.”
I stared at Alice unusually kind expression.
“...For a miracle or something like that again?”
Alice's black hair swayed.
“It's not that. What you have to wait for is spring.”
“...Spring?” What's up with that?
“I'm also waiting.”
Alice's voice became distant, like the voice of a shepherd calling out for a lost sheep on a hill at sunset.
“Because, for me, the case is not over yet.”
I placed my hands on the edge of the bed and leaned over to Alice. Her black hair scattered over the sheets and my hands.
“Why did Hakamizaka need Ayaka's greenhouse?”
Alice had once wondered that; a mystery that didn't look like one.
“All the answers should be clear now. Moreover, Ayaka probably doesn't know. It's not that she forgot, she didn't know from the start. For that reason, we can only wait.”
And before long, spring finally arrived. The second spring since I came to this city.
The first Sunday of March after the end of the exams, I was called on the phone by Alice, so as soon as I finished my lunch, I took my bicycle and went to the Detective Agency. When I opened the door, I was dumbfounded.
“You're late! What took you so long? Wearing a kimono is really uncomfortable, so I want to finish this as soon as possible!”
Alice jumped down the bed in indignation. That day, she was wearing drop-dead gaudy white Japanese clothes, with a pattern of the mythical Phoenix bird. It suited her really well, and she looked like she was going to attend a photography event.
“...Eh, eehm? Why are you wearing a kimono?”
“Disregard that, let's go.”
Hugging her teddy bear, Alice forcefully pushed me back into the corridor, and we left the Detective Agency.
“Follow me.”, she said, walking in the opposite direction of the emergency stairs.
“Why are we going that way?”
“We're going to the rooftop.”
I went to this building's rooftop just once. When we were going up the stairs that smelled like mold, the fluorescent lights were cut off, and it became so dark that I almost couldn't see my own feet.
“Hey, why are we going to the rooftop? Are we going to pick strawberries again? But it's not the season yet, is it?”
Alice stopped in front of the rooftop's door and turned around. I have seen those eyes many times before. They showed an extremely serious spirit, which looked like a bubble that would burst any moment.
“I understood everything.”
Holding on to the railing, I went up two steps from the landing and regained my breath.
Understood? Is that about the case being over?
“I understood why Hakamizaka used Ayaka's greenhouse.”
I gulped down my saliva that felt rough because of the dust, and waited for the detective's next words.
“Please, remember what Toshi told you. Hakamizaka asked him to go to M High School's greenhouse, fetch a report written by Ayaka, and pick up only the blue flowers.”
“Well... Yeah, he did say that.”
“Didn't you find it strange? Why pick up the blue flowers only?”
“The alkaloid from the poppies were harvested from their fruits, after the flowers withered. If they plucked the flowers as soon as they harvested, they couldn't get the ingredients for the narcotics.”
I gasped. It was indeed as she said. Then, what was the meaning behind what Toshi-san said?
“Then—Then why did he use Ayaka?”
“It was for Shushuri.”
I stared at Alice's face sunk in the very dim light.
“For Shushuri? For Tomoki-kun? What does Tomoki-kun have to do--”
“Shushuri wasn't the name of a person.”, Alice said. I was lost for words. When her hand turned the knob, streaks of light split the darkness. Bright rectangles spread, and Alice's outlines were swallowed by the backlighting. Receiving the fragrant wind in my face, I felt dizzy.
The instant I stepped on the rooftop, I held my breath.
The supernatant greenery all around me were pure white flowers, flowers, flowers--
Poppy flowers, growing thick on the soil of numerous planter cases aligned on the rooftop, looking up at the sun, blooming in profusion. Their fragrance filled my chest. Their petals were big and uneven, and what really stood out about those flowers was that said petals spread widely, dangling left and right.
Just like wings.
The wind boisterously blew on those wings. Light scattered around. In the middle of that dream-like scenery, Alice turned around with a smile.
“Shushuri,” Alice said. “was what Hakamizaka Shirou was looking for, and also what those foolish deceased were waiting for.”
The name of the flower. Alice's whispers slipped into the sounds of the wings and the wind.
Right, I remember seeing those slightly reddish leaves. These are the flowers that Tomoki-kun was growing in his school, although they still hadn't bloomed back then.
So, is this the reason? Is this why Ayaka once grew them in the greenhouse?
“This is yet another mutation of the mutated variety that Hakamizaka Shirou found in Iran.”
Alice said, looking at the dazzling white wrapping up the rooftop.
“Iharagi Tomoki probably made them bloom only once on his school's flowerbeds. That was when everything started. Hakamizaka and the others fixed their eyes on this whiteness. They wanted to make the scenery of these flowers bloom once again someday.”
The reason why Hakamizaka needed yet another greenhouse was to grow different flowers. A really simple reason. And the blue flowers that hadn't mutated were plucked off—Leaving only the white flowers growing on Ayaka's hands.
“They're not narcotics. Major investigated them at his university.” Alice muttered. “They're nothing but beautiful flowers.”
I nodded faintly. My heart was still imprisoned by the pure white light.
“Of course, this is mere speculation. Nobody knows what Hakamizaka was thinking when he was making this selective flower breeding anymore. There are no more words representing the deceased. They just drifted away aimlessly, with no one to accept them, leaving only this beauty behind.”
Is that a bad thing? The detective smiled.
How stupid. For the sake of this beauty, a great number of people died. The only reason they had to live was staring at this beautiful thing....
When I came to my senses, I asked Alice:
“But, what's with these flowers? Why are they here?”
“Hm? I asked Major to pick them up from that elementary school, and we let them bloom.”
At that moment, I heard sounds of footsteps going up the stairs behind me, and then the sound of the door opening.
“Alice! I called Fujishima-kun but--”
Ayaka's voice hit my back.
“Ahh, that's not fair! I wanted to see Fujishima-kun's surprised face!”
“It's okay, Narumi still probably has that stupid look on his face. We still have two whole hours. You can look at him as much as you like.”
“What do you think, Fujishima-kun!? Aren't they pretty!? This is a celebration for your promotion, Fujishima-kun! Congratulations on not repeating the year!”
I gazed at Ayaka who was now by my side, without knowing what face to make.
“Sorry I'm late. Actually, Alice and I wanted to get this started with some party crackers, like bam! But you see, I thought I should show the flowers to onii-chan before the blossoms scattered, so I dashed to the hospital!”
Onii-chan. That word echoed inside me, making me stiff.
So, did Ayaka remember Toshi-san? Her father? Even Hakamizaka Shirou and the drugs? And despite all that, she can still get close to poppy flowers?
Yet Ayaka just smiled, embarrassed.
“Ahh, but since I still can't remember onii-chan's name, it was really awkward. Is was... Toshio, right? Toshio, Toshio...”
A feeling like lukewarm salt water which I didn't know if it was weariness or relief spread inside my chest.
Even after all she has lost, she always lived with a smile. Even now.
“What did Toshi say when he saw Shushuri?”
“'He said ′What? Ain't it just a normal flower.′ How rude, right?”
Alice's shoulders shook as she laughed.
“Don't laugh. Sheesh... I didn't really understand all that you told me, Alice, but we went through lots of trouble for these flowers! They don't grow in Japan's soil at all, so he can't possibly understand how difficult it was to make them bloom.”
“That man has a poor sense of aesthetics. Look, in many ways he's similar to my assistant who's been spacing out for a while now.”
“Yeah? I don't think they're similar at all, though...”
At that casual statement, my consciousness finally returned to my body. My blood and my breathing were connected to my life once again.
Toshi-san and I were similar—Ayaka once said that, but this Ayaka right now thought differently. I have changed, and Ayaka has changed too. It's that simple. That feeling of emptiness we were smeared in would gradually walk away.
What Ayaka was growing weren't raw materials for narcotics. The sin that had crushed Ayaka wasn't a sin after all.
But, what about that? It doesn't matter. She's here, and all that matters is that she can smile. Isn't that right?
“What do you think, Fujishima-kun?”
I inhaled the scent of the flowers, and ascertaining the fact that I was able to breath, I exhaled.
“These flowers sure have a strange shape.”
“You're not going to say something more touching-!?”
Tears appeared on Ayaka's eyes as she grabbed my arm, but when I apologized with a “S-sorry”, her tears quickly disappeared. Oh, crocodile tears.
“But it's frustrating, I thought everyone would cry. This will probably be the last time we see these flowers. I don't have all that money after all.”
That's right, money. Wasn't a lot of money necessary for the fertilizers and medicines?
“...How did you get the money?”
Ayaka was about to speak, but she noticed something and looked at the door over my shoulder, smiling.
“Our sponsor has come, too.”
I turned around.
Yondaime, who had pushed the door open with his knee and stepped on the rooftop, looked at me first and frowned, then he looked at Ayaka and Alice for two seconds with a sullen expression, and after that his eyes returned to me once again. I spontaneously stepped back. Wearing that same Chinese-style embroidered jacket he was wearing that day when I saw him for the first time outside the Agency, he looked scarier than ever. For some reason, he had a convenience store bag on his left hand.
“...Huh? Those flowers sure have a weird shape.” Yondaime said, looking at the fully bloomed Shushuris.
“Now these two are quite similar.” Ayaka whispered to Alice, earning a glare from Yondaime.
I raised my gaze to look at Yondaime's face, but I still didn't have the courage to meet his gaze.
He hasn't done anything wrong, and neither have I—No matter how many times I tried to persuade myself with that, it was useless.
“Beats me. Those two called me.”
Surprised, I looked in Alice's direction. Not only Alice called him, Ayaka too?
“You know, Fujishima-kun...” Ayaka said, sweetly poking one of the poppy flowers with her finger. “I did some cruel things to Yondaime, actually. You didn't have to be angry, Fujishima-kun.”
“He even payed a compensation for damages, and thus this matter ended.”
I looked at Yondaime's face once more. With a sullen expression on his face, he stared at the white angels surrounding us.
“And why did you make me buy this?”
Yondaime thew the convenience store bag in Alice's direction. Ayaka who was by her side caught it in hot haste.
“Don't throw carbonated drinks, you barbarian!”
In a huff, Alice took out dark red cans from the bag in Ayaka's hand and piled them up on the concrete floor. They were Dr Pepper cans, four of them.
Then, Alice looked at me. A burning sensation was prickling my chest. These two girls doing things to this extent made me feel miserable. Meeting with Yondaime now and being unable to look at him or say anything to him made me feel even more miserable, so I stared at the sweating Dr pepper cans and spoke:
“...The first time, we did the Hirasaka ceremony. This time... Can we do it in Alice's style?”
“Do what you want.”
We stood in a circle around the Dr Pepper cans. Yondaime and I faced each other, with Ayaka as the witness on the left and Alice as the go-between on the right.
“I think I said the same thing last time, but I don't know any speech for sake ceremonies. Does anyone want to request a speech in particular?”
“Idiot. Just play house however you like. Sing a song of that bratty hard rock you're so fond of if you want.”
“Bratty? What's your problem with Mr. Big? In the first place, it's not just something I'm fond of--”
“Alice, if we don't hurry, they'll get lukewarm.”
Being admonished by Ayaka, Alice put a sulky look and took the first can.
Taking a deep breath, she began her chant:
“One for love.”
The first can was handed to Ayaka.
“One for truth.”
The next one was pushed into Yondaime's hands.
“One for you.”
I accepted the third one. This—What song is it again?
“One for me.”
Alice, who was holding the teddy bear, took the last can with her left hand.
“Where we once were divided, now we stand united.”
Alice's voice sounded like she was singing a chorus. Ahh, that's right, that song was written by Jon Bon Jovi a year after a plane crashed into a building in New York. A song about new blood.
Alice pulled up the tab. The sound of the carbonated bubbles popping overlapped. The four blood-colored cans were raised and came in contact with each other. Alice's singing voice followed.
“—We stand as one.... Undivided.”
When I took the first sip, the bubbles burnt my mouth cavity. I didn't quite understand the taste. It was like small electric currents were running through my fingertips.
“...Tastes awful as usual.”
Yondaime spoke in a subdued voice, and Alice ruffled up her hair, exasperated.
“Not only you don't have a sense of aesthetics, you don't have a sense of taste either-!? I won't tolerate insults to Dr Pepper, if you think it tastes bad, file your reasons in writing, and it should rival the length of the Ramayana if you expect to win the argument-”
A strong wind suddenly blew on the rooftop, interrupting Alice's voice.
The first to notice was Ayaka, who turned around while muttering an “ah...”. Controlling her unraveled hair, Alice turned her back too, looking windward. Yondaime also looked up at the sky over my shoulder.
When I turned around, I saw the grains of pure white light scattering towards the clouded winter sky. The flower petals coiled in the wind, being released one by one, and flying away. The small wings flapped and fluttered, leaving an afterglow tail.
Ayaka's voice was blown by the wind together with the petals, disappearing into the sky. We bid farewell to fragments of light flying around in this city that no longer had angels. A beauty that no one would receive. It couldn't have been other way.
While looking up at the petals growing wings and flying away into the deep blue sky, the words started taking form inside me, one by one. It's over, I thought. The case is over. And the winter of my seventeenth year has finally disappeared, welcoming the spring.
And of course, after my most tiresome case as an assistant detective, I waited for the brand new page of the notebook to open.
|Back to Chapter 4||Return to Main Page||Forward to Afterword|