Extra 11: Untitled Document 2
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.
Translator Note: Part 1 can be read here.
“This place is safe. This is the house of my mother’s friend.”
His mother had pulled his hand along and led him to a beautiful estate that he had never seen before.
“Do you remember seeing the lady at Grandma’s funeral? She was kind enough to attend… She gave us the address to her house and said to come see her if we ever needed help.”
The streets were dark at night, and they followed a wall that seemed to extend forever, but then he saw that the walls enclosed a house inside. They went around to the service entrance through the back gate, and his mother knocked on the door and called out, “Excuse us for the late night intrusion.” A middle-aged woman appeared before them, and he only learned later that she was one of the three housekeepers at the estate. The woman said that she would announce their arrival to the grand madam of the house, and they waited there for a while until eventually an elderly lady appeared, dressed in a kimono that clearly signified her position. With one look, she widened her eyes and said, “Oh my.” She did look familiar to him. Because every single one of her gestures—from the neat and proper mourning dress that had been mismatched with the simple, well, more like shabby funeral service, her perfectly straight posture, the lustrous gray hair in a coiffed updo without a single hair out of place, to the way that she bowed her head, the way that she offered her condolence gift, and the way that she presented the incense—had appeared to be prim and precise like she had attended 10,000 funerals before.
Despite the circumstances, Ritsu certainly had concerns whether they should show up uninvited at the dead of night with just the clothing on their backs; however, his mother didn’t seem to realize this as she choked up with tears in an instant and mumbled, “Madam Wakamiya, I-…” Ritsu was left alone to himself for a while in a Japanese-style parlor room, but then another woman appeared and asked if he was cold. She was the wife of the elderly lady’s son, and she suggested that he warm himself up in the bath. When the chill from the cold started to dissolve in the warm water along with the pain that covered his body and the exhaustion from walking for over an hour, the tension that had built up in his mind relaxed, and the stiffness that had wrapped up his heart like a thin candy shell peeled away and turned into tears. The warmth of the bath water awakened all the misery and bitterness within him, and suddenly he couldn’t stop. He wished that he didn’t have a heart, that he didn’t feel any emotions.
As he cried, that was when he first met them—the brothers Wakamiya Nami and Homare. With just a glimpse, he knew that they were people who had everything. They both had handsome features, and from the looks of the sweater that Nami wore and the cardigan that draped over Homare’s shoulders, Ritsu could see a quiet luxurious sheen to the smooth fibers that showed no signs of pilling or fraying. But he felt no jealousy or prejudice against them, he just squinted his eyes at the dazzling brightness that was very much out of the ordinary—like gazing at the lights of an amusement park from a distance far, far away.
“Hmm? Did your dad fly into a rage again?”
It was the late afternoon of one of their countless visits (but they showed up every time without the common courtesy of one), and Nami suddenly walked in and asked such a thing. Ritsu’s father had been in a terrible mood since morning, and it had been his day off that day. Naturally, everyone in the Wakamiya household was aware of the situation that Ritsu’s mother was in. When Ritsu imagined how the news circulated around and what they must have thought about them, it made him overwhelmingly embarrassed, and he cowered in on his body as he sat on his knees on the tatami flooring. It was a daily occurrence that his father would drink and act violently, and at times when it became dangerously excessive, his mother would flee to the Wakamiya residence. The grand madam and the madam of the house never appeared as if they were bothered by it, and every time it happened, they would kindly stay with his mother until her tears subsided. This place was nice and safe. They gave them a place to take a bath, bedding for them to sleep, and warm food to eat. It was like heaven and earth between this place and his home. But the bigger the difference between them, the less at ease that Ritsu felt here. He could only sit motionless in the corner of the room, holding back his breath more than he ever did at home. Generally, Nami or Homare would walk in and announce that they were watching TV or asked if he wanted to read comics. The grand madam had probably said something to the two of them, but they never said anything that seemed like they were ordered to entertain him.
“How many times do you have to come here before you learn how to use the floor cushions?”
Nami jerked his chin over at the floor cushion that was next to Ritsu. He probably asked the question with the full understanding that Ritsu’s indebtedness to the family didn’t allow him to act presumptuously as an uninvited guest at the house. Nami picked up the floor cushion and spun it skillfully on the tip of his finger, and then he threw it over at Ritsu. Although Ritsu had caught it, he couldn’t bring himself to sit on top of it, and as he fidgeted with the cushion, folding and unfolding it, he asked, “Is Homare-san not here today?”
“He has his painting class today. He’s painting the usual boring things.”
The words seemed like an insult, but Ritsu felt no hint of any malice in them. Nami was always like that. That was why Ritsu never knew how to react with him, unable to object or agree with the things that he said.
“Do you need Homare for something?”
He only asked because he had nothing else to talk about. Ritsu felt a little—no, he felt very uncomfortable around Nami. Nami shot his mouth off at everything and was never cowed by anything, and that behavior of his blinded Ritsu. It wasn’t something that he wanted to see. And yet he could never guess what Nami was thinking deep inside that brain of his. Ritsu secretly thought that the name Nami, like the waves of the ocean, didn’t suit him. He was a beautiful calmness like a mirror that never turned into waves no matter how stormy it was around him. But Ritsu couldn’t see anything that breathed underneath the surface of the water despite how closely he stared. But he couldn’t possibly jump in to take a closer look. That kind of courage didn’t exist in him. Ritsu was more comfortable around Homare, maybe because they were closer in age. And yet these two brothers got along extremely well with each other. They didn’t really stick together all that much, but when they were around each other, they created a special atmosphere between them that only they understood as if they shared the same breath.
“Okay, let’s go pick up Homare at the station.”
Ritsu just said that he didn’t need him for anything, but Nami made the executive decision to go, and he promptly left the room. His strides left no doubt that Ritsu would follow after him.
They went down to the first floor, and when they proceeded to the hallway that led to the front door, Nami suddenly stopped in his tracks. He turned to Ritsu and gently raised his index finger. They could hear the sounds of women’s voices from behind the sliding doors.
“I feel terrible for Ritsu for all of my shortcomings…”
“It is a very difficult situation. Perhaps someone here could have a word with your husband?”
“Oh, no, I couldn’t impose on the Representative. And besides, he really isn’t a bad person. He is always remorseful and cries about it afterwards… Just why does alcohol have to exist in this world?”
Nami smiled with the index finger hovering in front of his lips. Ritsu didn’t know what sorts of feelings were behind the smile. Maybe it was pity. Maybe it was ridicule. He couldn’t perceive its true colors—like the feathers of a bird or the wings of an insect that changed colors depending on the angle.
They quietly went out the front door, and as they headed for the gate, Nami stopped in his tracks again. This time he tugged on the long-sleeved shirt that Ritsu wore, pulling it out from his pants and exposing his stomach. It had happened so quickly that Ritsu wasn’t able to react in time, even though he was used to guarding himself or dodging the movements from people who reached out for him. As soon as the marks faded, new ones were made in their place again. This wasn’t the first time that Nami had seen the bruises where he had been hit, but still, Ritsu rushed to brush his hand away.
“You’re like a new species of animal with this pattern,” Nami said in a voice that was too bright, one that didn’t let him feel any cruelty in it.
Ritsu tucked his shirt back into his pants, and somehow he was too scared to lift his head. Nami didn’t hit or kick him, but Ritsu felt like he was more frightening than his father.
“Apparently he has enough awareness to avoid hitting your face when he beats you, but what about your health checkups or your gym classes? Doesn’t anyone at your school say a thing about it?”
His classmates and his teachers blatantly looked away from him, or if they did interact with him, they used an attitude that said that they saw nothing, to the point that it was unnatural.
“Well, I guess that it’s no surprise. It’s not like my granddad or dad are able to do anything about a single alcoholic either. Their power as a member of the Diet has no real importance. Show the member badge to a dog, and it has no clue what it even means.”
It didn’t seem like Nami was upset about it. His tone of voice was rather detached and disinterested.
“Do you know what the oldest promise between humans is?”
Ritsu didn’t understand the meaning of the question and shook his head with his gaze still directed at the ground.
“It’s that they won’t kill each other. Basically, it’s the end of the species if we destroy ourselves. But well, the string of people who’ll break it anyway is endless though.”
It was a spring day, and the sun was beginning to set. The chill of the air was still fresh beneath his shirt. Ritsu looked at Nami’s shadow that stretched out on the pavement and thought, He has one too. Nami had a shadow as well; he was a human just like Ritsu. But why was this person so different from the others?
“What would you do if someone tries to break the promise with you?”
“…I don’t know.”
“Don’t be dumb, it’s so obvious. You break the promise first. Tell me, why don’t you kill him?”
Ritsu couldn’t believe his ears and looked up. He thought that he must have misheard him. Nami’s eyes pierced him with the same question—why don’t you kill him?
“You can’t count on that mother of yours to do it, so you have to do it yourself. Fortunately, the law against parricide was declared unconstitutional.”1
“What? You didn’t know? Article 200 of the Criminal Code states that the murder of one’s lineal ascendants or their spouse’s ascendants shall be sentenced to the death penalty or life imprisonment. In other words, it’s a heavy crime to murder a parent.”2
Ritsu shuddered when Nami clearly used the words to murder a parent. He couldn’t imagine himself murdering his father, but Nami continued, “It’s easy enough to do if you wait for him to pass out when he’s drunk.”
It was said in a very light tone of voice, but Nami was probably serious about it. Nami wasn’t one to lie.
“I can’t,” Ritsu replied in a feeble voice.
“It’s obvious that I can’t…”
They were talking at cross purposes. Ritsu squinted his eyes without thinking, and with Nami backlit by the setting sun behind him, he looked like a darkness that was cut into the shape of a person.
“So you’re just living without any wit, power, or determination. That’s something that’s far more impossible for me.”
They headed to the train station as they were, and Nami said nothing more until they ran into Homare on his way home. Nami told Homare, “Welcome back,” and continued walking past him. Wasn’t Nami supposed to pick him up?
“Where are you going?”
“Out to have fun. I don’t need dinner, but leave the back door unlocked for me.”
When Nami left, Homare very naturally said to Ritsu, “Let’s go home.” Ritsu was relieved, but he also felt uneasy about Nami’s figure as he walked away without a glance. Maybe Nami was disappointed in him because he was weak. But if Ritsu were to face Nami directly, it scared him that just a single gaze from Nami could condense the air around them and crush him.
“What color do you think he is? Um, Nami-san, that is.”
“Are you asking if he’s red?”3
“I guess that you wouldn’t ask something like that. Never mind, it’s nothing. What color do you see him to be, Ritsu?” Homare asked with curiosity.
When Ritsu told him about the sense of the feathers or the insect wings that he felt earlier, Homare smiled at him.
“Oh? That’s something called structural coloration. Like soap bubbles or laser discs. Depending on the angle, the surface creates interference with visible light and produces all sorts of colors to the eye, but it doesn’t have the pigment. Yeah, that seems a lot like Nami. He might seem like the colors that you see, but he’s not.”
A dark blue slowly descended from the zenith of the sky. Ritsu had no idea where Nami had gone. He didn’t tell Homare about the conversation that they had where he asked if he would kill his father.
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.
- This is a real ruling that came out in 1973, so this reference hints at the time period when this story takes place.
- The unconstitutionality of the article means that parricide is treated the same as regular homicide in Japan.
- Red refers to a communist.