Chapter 3: Block It Out (3)
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.
“Oh, hold on, this shot here.”
Shitara was in the editing suite previewing a video piece when he directed his hand at the monitor.
“Seat belts need to be present for shots inside a car.”
“They’re properly fastened,” Sakae retorted.
“Yeah, that’s why they need to be shown in the footage that they’re properly fastened. That’s what the review guidelines say. With this closeup shot, you don’t see the seat belt.”
“What? I’ve never heard of that before.”
“I only learned about it in a meeting yesterday. Sorry, the information probably hasn’t gone out to everyone yet. If you just replace this one shot, it should be fine.”
“But I want to show a closeup of the profile here.”
“Hmm, how about adding another 2 or 3 seconds?”
“That’ll mess with the rhythm… Whatever, I’ll take a look at everything and start over.”
“Hey, you don’t have to expend that many calories to fix it.”
“I’ll do it.”
Shitara knew that when Sakae insisted on something, there was no changing his mind. That was why he said, “Thank you, I will count on you, Sensei,” and gave a slight bow of his head.
“But remember, it’s airing the day after tomorrow.”
“I know. I’ll finish the fine cut by tomorrow night.”
Sakae was glad that it was still at the stage where they hadn’t locked anything down yet, before he started adding captions to the cut. But he still thought that it was a stupid guideline, so he said so.
“It’s so dumb. Who’s going to even see it and care?”
“I wholly agree with you, but you never know when things will crop up out of nowhere to bite you for it, so we need to eliminate any of those possibilities beforehand. You’ve put in all this work into this piece; you wouldn’t want someone with an agenda to come pick it apart for something stupid, right? In the past, we would remove headrests and film out of the sunroof by sticking our arms out from it—and that was considered normal, but now it would never be tolerated. It will only get more fussy and restrictive in the future, but we just have to work with it. Play this back for me.”
“I said I’d redo it.”
“Yeah, but you’ll change everything around completely, knowing you. It’s a waste. I want to see what it looks like now.”
“You have strange tastes.”
“It’s my privilege as the producer.”
Shitara had said that he liked Sakae’s videos. When Sakae watched other people’s videos, he thought they were mostly shit, but he didn’t know how to describe what made his own videos good. He simply wrote the scripts and scenarios that he liked, edited the footage in the way that he liked it, and added anything that was needed (like captions, effects, and music). Those were the only feelings that he felt. After finishing the final package, he didn’t care about what aired on TV. It was disposable; people consumed it and forgot about it—so what? That was fine. But Shitara watched Sakae’s videos with the same gaze he used when watching a movie. He would check that the video conformed to all of the network’s broadcast guidelines and point anything out, of course, but he was generally very relaxed. He never showed any intentions to criticize Sakae’s work, and he didn’t.
“This shot’s really nice. Did you work with someone from the technical team?”
“I shot it myself.”
And sometimes he would innocently admire the videos like a child.
“It’s such a long shot, but you did a great job. It doesn’t get rocky at all. The editing’s great too. How come you can do everything so well?”
There was no other answer.
“I’m the only one who knows what I want to do, so I just have to do it.”
“But even if you know what you want, it doesn’t mean you can execute it.”
“Aren’t there plenty of manuals around that explain how to use the cameras and editing equipment?”
“That’s not what I meant.” Shitara smiled wryly. He seemed much older than his actual age of 33 years old. Being responsible for a TV show was like becoming a president of a small-to-medium company, but Sakae wondered if that responsibility made people age faster.
“Oh, right, I emailed two proposals for you to look over. And the script for the next shoot.”
“Again? You keep sending new ones to me; I can’t even review everything properly.”
“You’re the one who said that the new guys should submit all the ideas they can.”
“I did say that, yeah… But what makes it hard is that they’re all great ideas, but a lot of them are too expensive to shoot. Can’t you give a little more consideration for the show’s budget?”
“It’s not my job to think about it.”
“It’s something everyone has to think about some day. Even you.”
That was something Sakae never wanted to do. He didn’t want to have to guess what others were thinking or have any of the final responsibilities pushed onto him. He just wanted to make videos and direct the broadcasts however he liked. It wasn’t worth it to get a higher position, and it was a pain in the ass. And most of all, he couldn’t do the things needed to run a show like Shitara did. A television show was like a gigantic living creature; the individual functions that made up the show and the arrangement of the resources were the most critical aspects for keeping it alive. The heart couldn’t break down alcohol, and the stomach couldn’t supply oxygen. And if everything wasn’t connected together correctly, it couldn’t go about its normal life. Shitara very deftly put all these complicated parts together. Talent and usefulness weren’t necessarily the same. Even a person with poor specs from the beginning, with some adjustments to the workflow and their required duties, could slot right in place into a well-oiled machine. And if they could demonstrate their contributions, it would motivate them further and make them even more effective. Shitara had the ability to perceive a person’s potential that they might not even be aware of and to draw it out to its fullest. Sakae seriously thought that Shitara should be a scout for a talent agency or a professional baseball team.
“Which reminds me, Morooka did a great job on the special feature I assigned him. He panics too much on breaking news stories that require quick thinking. I can’t really use him there, but on stories where he can take his time to think through things and write up a script, that’s where he shines. He also does solid work to collect the facts. Just a single story like that on the show can really give it depth.”
Shitara wasn’t the type to boast about his accomplishments, but he would champion the different parts of the show that he oversaw and relate them back to Sakae. Shitara was persistent; if he decided to pursue something, he would get something incredible. He knew how to charge people up; his praise was almost over the top. And because it made the environment more comfortable and friendly, he would try to communicate with the presenters as much as possible… Sakae didn’t care one whit about what he had to say and never paid attention to him—and he would clearly show it. Sometimes Sakae would stand up and leave in the middle of his spiel, but it never discouraged Shitara.
“Don’t you think so, Sakae?”
“No idea. Why are you even telling me this? Is this some kind of roundabout lecture? You telling me to take my head out of my ass and look harder at my work?”
“Why would I do that? I’d just say it directly. Anyway, it’s not like I want you to change.”
“Then why are you saying it? It’s boring listening to you.”
“You can be pretty stupid for how smart you are, Sakae.”
“This is pretty much the only thing that I can teach you.”
Shitara smiled. It was the smile of a person watching someone leave for a faraway place.
“Because you’re light years better than me at videos and filming. It’s a lot of trouble having someone like that work for me. At the very least I’m desperately trying to keep my dignity as a fussy producer here, you know.”
You’re the one who’s stupid, Sakae thought. Even with a terrible sense for filming or editing, with practice and experience and some self-awareness, there was still room to improve. But the things that Shitara did were things that only he could do.
Even after the 6 minute 40 second video was over, Shitara continued to stare at the final frame of the video—as if there were credits rolling in front of his eyes. And after some amount of time, though he didn’t know what, Shitara suddenly turned his eyes away, satisfied, and nodded. “It was great,” he said. Maybe he had been watching the final credit line—Produced by: Souma Sakae.
“I’ll look at your scripts by the end of today and your proposals by early next week. …Hey, I keep telling you this, but you really need to show them to Oda-san at the news desk first.”
“It’s just a waste of time getting someone so useless to look at them.”
The producer gave the final approval to move on the stories, so what was wrong with skipping the guy?
“Plus he wrote ‘Triumphant homecoming return to the country’ for a caption the other day. It was embarrassing.”
What did he think the term ‘homecoming’ meant? He could have used a dictionary to figure it out, but when Sakae pointed it out, he just gave a blank stare and said, “Huh? What’s wrong with it?” God, he wanted to stab his thumb into the moron’s eyeballs, he looked so stupid. It irritated him every time he remembered it.
“But still, there’s a protocol you need to follow when working in an organization. I mean, you don’t want people calling you my protege, do you?”
“I already know they’re saying it.”
The fucking idiots were fucking idiots. Maybe they hated that there was a producer who was younger than them, but malicious gossip about Shitara was everywhere, and one of them included talk about him pampering a new kid with a huge attitude and making him even more insufferable. Even though Shitara had brushed off the attacks and treated his senior colleagues with the utmost respect due to them for their seniority. It pissed Sakae off, and he wanted to yell, Are you stupid? Not at goons, but at Shitara. Like those imbeciles would ever feel grateful for all the courtesies that Shitara had accorded them. It was an exercise in futility. It was futile for Sakae to work up an anger like this, but for some reason he couldn’t quell his resentment.
“…I forgot to stop by to see Oku.” Sakae turned off the computer and rose to his feet. “We’re previewing this again tomorrow night, so don’t make any plans.”
“Roger. You going to ask Oku-sama for another unreasonable demand?” Shitara asked, looking amused.
“He’s always exaggerating. Saying that I work him like a dog.”
“No, no, it’s good that you’re passionate about your work, but more importantly, you’re going home to rest, right?”
“Don’t worry, I work at home too.”
Rampant accumulation of overtime hours naturally raised labor expenses, and it wasn’t great in terms of labor management—plus it affected a producer’s performance evaluation. That was why Sakae had tried to reassure Shitara that he wouldn’t make such a blunder, but Shitara said in a hard tone of voice, “What are you even saying,” and reprimanded him.
“I’m talking about your body. Are you sleeping every day?”
“Well, I’ll die if I don’t sleep.”
“You’re exactly the type to do that, you know.”
“You’re exaggerating,” Sakae retorted and breezed out of the editing suite.
Most news stories had a short shelf life. That meant that the team had to hurry to make arrangements in order to go to air with them, and if they missed the window for a story, they couldn’t even film it. He couldn’t do anything about it if the piece he made was boring and therefore rejected, but he couldn’t stand for it if he had missed out on a story because he didn’t have the hands or brain space for it. He wanted to keep pumping out his ideas. If he didn’t, his brain would stagnate.
Sakae headed for the design team office. He already knew when Mutsuto had his shifts. He called out, “Oi,” and as soon as Mutsuto turned his head from the monitor, he already had a look of revulsion on his face.
“I need the materials listed here. The graphics are going into tomorrow’s show.”
Sakae placed the materials request document (several sheets of it) on the desk. Mutsuto gave it a quick glance and turned his back on him.
“You gotta be freaking kidding me. You’re bringing something this elaborate to me the day before you need it? I have other work I need to do.”
“So move your hands instead of your mouth, contractor.”
“You call me a contractor again, and I’m seriously through with you.” Mutsuto slapped his hand down on the documents and continued irritably, “I’ll let you know when I’m done,” accepting the work. “But in return, I’m not making any corrections except for typos.”
“That all depends on how good a job you do.”
“Argh, you piss me off! I’m so pissed off I’m wide awake now!”
“Good for you.”
Mutsuto wasn’t an employee of the network. Like most of the outsourced staff, he had been dispatched to Asahi TV from a design agency that employed him. There were always several designers that worked the different shifts, but Mutsuto was heads and shoulders above the rest of them, and fast too. It could be graphics, captions, or simple illustrations, if Sakae left the work to one of the incompetents, it would never meet the image and expectations that he had in his head. He could make a template for them, specify the typeface, colors, and other elements in full detail, but there was always something off that he wasn’t satisfied with. Whenever Sakae brought his requests to Mutsuto—diagrams illustrating the people involved in incidents, floor plans of buildings, simple animations for video pieces—he generally never needed corrections from him and used the materials as-is. Even without detailed explanations, Mutsuto delivered a degree of workmanship that exceeded his expectations.
It wasn’t that Mutsuto possessed mind-blowing techniques that he used in his work, but Sakae was surprised by how different a frame could look just by paying attention to the balance of the text, the arrangement of colors, and the trimming around images. Mutsuto often said that he just used his own sense of balance and made whatever he felt looked good. According to Shitara, that was what made Sakae and Mutsuto very similar in a sense, apparently. Mutsuto had graduated from a technical school, and after he found his job, he had been immediately dispatched to Asahi TV. He had worked in the industry two years longer than Sakae, but he had already designed logos and promotional items for several TV programs.
“If they use my work, I’m mainly hoping for prize money. They pay upfront for all the rights, so it’s not really profitable work.”
Mutsuto was outstanding. He endlessly complained, You’re going to kill me from overwork one day, but he never refused Sakae’s requests. Sakae had been told that their stubbornness also made them very similar. The big difference between them was that people liked and relied on Mutsuto. Even if people came to him with rush jobs, begging “Oku-sama, sorry, please help me out here,” Mutsuto would accept them with an “I’ll do my best” and never complained (except at Sakae). He never forgot to smile, and he never felt like he was forcing himself to be polite either.
Around 11:30 pm, Sakae received an email from Mutsuto.
“Meet me at the terrace. Bring food.”
Sakae went out to the wooden deck terrace connected to the staff cafeteria, and Mutsuto was already waiting for him on a bench. “Here,” he said, handing him a plastic sleeve filled with papers. They were printouts of all the graphics that Sakae had requested. Sakae reviewed every single printout, and as usual, the work was excellent, and he had nothing to complain about. It was extreme to accept someone’s design work as long as there were no glaring mistakes. If typos and mistakes from the designer were disregarded for argument’s sake, then all that remained was the designer’s personal take and interpretation, which might or might not align with the commissioner—but there was a persuasiveness to Mutsuto’s work that always made Sakae think, This is perfect for what I want.
“What do you think?”
“I’ll email you if I need corrections.”
“That’s all you have to say?” Mutsuto said in disbelief. “You could say, ‘Sorry for the last minute notice’ or ‘Thanks for the great work.’ Can’t you even lie if you have to?”
“I’m better off not saying anything if I have to lie.”
“It’s a harmless white lie! Everyone does it! Anyway, I’m telling you to say something from the heart!”
“Good job sticking it out. You get paid by the hour, so even with the extra work, your net income’s the same.”
“That’s not the ‘good job’ I wanted! And you dare say that to me!? Did you notice that everyone ducked their heads down all at once the moment you entered our office? Everyone thinks you’re an angry demon.”
Well, he didn’t have any use for those nameless extras either.
“Our office doesn’t want any more victims from Souma Sakae’s diabolic requests, so I’ve been made the sacrificial lamb.”
“So you’re a masochist.”
“What did you call me!? Anyway, did you bring food?”
Sakae held out a box of cigarettes.
“That’s not food! But I’ll take one. Light me up.”
Sakae took out the lighter from his jeans pocket and tossed it. Mutsuto took a slow, deep drag of his cigarette and breathed out a long, thin trail of smoke.
There was no smoking allowed anywhere on the terrace, but there were no fire alarms out here unlike inside the building. The bench was in a small garden hidden by trees. They didn’t stand out, and security wouldn’t be making their rounds until much later—they’d be able to get away with it.
“Oh right, last week I went drinking with Shitara-san, and it was crazy.”
“I felt like talking to some girls, so for our second stop of the night, we stumbled into a girls bar. And it happened to be an underboob bar.”
“What the hell is that?” Sakae laughed at the disparity between Mutsuto’s strangely serious expression and the stupidity of the term.
“The girls wear these really short tank tops, and the beer dispensers are located really high up, so every time you order a beer, they have to raise their arms up to fill the mugs. So it’s like, you think you can see, but maybe you don’t…? You get what I mean?”
“So you’ve got no problems going to adult venues like that.”
“We didn’t know what it was until we got inside! In the end, we had 3 or 4 beers, maybe? And when we asked for the bill, guess how much the total turned out to be? 60,000 yen!1 We didn’t even drink 10 beers between the two of us, and it cost 60,000 yen! They like added an extra zero!”
“That’s what you get for walking into a strange place.”
“I said that we didn’t know what it was… I was totally panicking and wondering what to do, but Shitara-san just smoothly put down 20,000 yen and said, ‘Let’s run.’”
“And after that?”
“…We ran like hell. God, I was dying with all of the alcohol I’d already had. I was so worried that they’d send some scary dude after us, and my heart was beating out of my chest.”
“What, so you each paid 10,000 yen? That’s a pretty expensive lesson.”
“No, Shitara-san wouldn’t let me pay him back, and I feel really bad about it.”
“Why not? It’s fine. And bring me along next time. Don’t ditch me and keep all the fun to yourselves.”
“It was a day you turned us down because you needed to work on edits. But like, Shitara-san had no hesitation whatsoever when he made the decision to run. It was crazy. It was like, no wonder he’s a producer with those snap decision-making skills.”
“Even though you were completely ripped off.”
“It’s funny if that’s the case.”
Mutsuto snuffed out his cigarette on the ground and sat back up to ask him a question.
“When you’re walking around the city, do you ever catch a glimpse of yourself in a mirror and jump a little?”
Sakae saw no connection in the sudden change of subject and thought, What the hell’s he saying, but Mutsuto continued with a serious look on his face.
“It’s different from standing in front of a mirror to look at yourself. It’s like you catch a glimpse of yourself in your natural state. Like a ‘who the hell’s that, oh, it’s me’ kind of thing. And then you notice things like your hair’s sticking up in the back, or your bag doesn’t match your clothes today, or you slouch a lot. That’s the feeling I get sometimes when I’m around Shitara-san. It’s scary, like everything’s reflected to him in full, true-to-life scale, and he can even see all the little flaws. I wonder if it’s because he’s a producer. Are you fine around him, Souma?”
“Dunno. Never thought about it.”
That was a lie, of course, but saying that he agreed with him like Mutsuto had precisely captured his thoughts, it made him want to deny it. He was stupidly stubborn and a contrarian. On the flip side, he couldn’t say anything that he didn’t think. There was no middle ground for him. If Shitara were there, he would probably see through his lie and laugh it off with an “Ohhh, boy.” Now that Sakae thought about it, he had been hanging out with this man who made him queasy.
“That attitude of yours makes me think you could be a producer too.”
“You gotta be kidding me.”
“You’ve got a lot to work on in terms of social skills and building relationships with people, but when it comes to the work, you never lie and you never cut corners. I think you could be a producer who leads by bulldozing ahead. You’d be like, ‘Yeah, I’m the producer, so what? No one else will take responsibility for the ratings or budget.’ I’d love to see what show you make once you make it to the top.”
“And I don’t. It sounds like a pain in the ass.”
Just as he thought, What the hell is he saying all of a sudden, Mutsuto suddenly grabbed the front of his own T-shirt and started fanning himself with it.
“I thought I’d praise you once in a while, and now I’m all sweaty. Ahh, I’m burning up.”
“Whatever. You were just running your mouth.”
“Because I’m all sleep-deprived thanks to someone’s fault here~”
Mutsuto looked up at the night sky for a while like he was searching for some wind, but he soon gave up and bummed a second cigarette.
“I want to go see fireworks~”
“Aren’t you hot?”
“I’ll bear with it for the fireworks. Will the evening news cover any live firework shows? If I don’t have a shift at the time, I want to tag along and watch the fireworks from the back somewhere.”
Mutsuto suddenly froze when Sakae gave his disinterested answer. Then he snatched the cigarette that Sakae was smoking and trampled it under his sneaker with his own.
Mutsuto clamped his hand over Sakae’s mouth.
At the same time as Mutsuto’s whisper, there was the sound of plants rustling, and then footsteps. They exchanged looks with each other. It would be fine as long as they weren’t found out for smoking, but the smell lingered around, and it would be a hassle if the person turned out to be fussy. Should they run? Let them walk past? He couldn’t decide, and then Shitara appeared at the end of the meandering path.
“Hey, I figured you’d be here.”
“What the hell, it’s just you, Shitara-san…”
Mutsuto quickly let go of Sakae and pressed his hand to his chest, releasing a deep breath. The bitter smell of smoke that had stuck to his fingers was cloying to Sakae’s nose.
“If you’re that apprehensive, you must have been smoking out here.”
“Heh heh… Oh right, I still have work to do, I should get going. Have a good night~”
Mutsuto clutched the cigarette ends in his hand as he left, and Shitara took the empty seat next to Sakae and picked up the plastic sleeve with the printouts.
“Is this Oku-sama’s work?”
He flipped through the contents, made a complicated face, and let out a deep sigh.
“Did you make him draw this map from scratch?”
“I mean, I needed it.”
“Geez… Oku-sama should really refuse your requests from time to time.”
“Tell that to him.”
“I have… Give me a cigarette too.”
“What? Well, that’s disappointing.”
“I’m not a cigarette dispenser. …Did you come out here just to get a cigarette?”
It’d be faster to go to a smoking area and find a chump if he needed to ask for one.
“No, no, I came to tell you that the late night news had to air a trouble filler just now, a first in a while.”
Late at night after the networks finished the broadcast of their shows, they would air a filler screen, which was a lot like a screen saver (generally so-called beauty shots of oceans or fields). There wasn’t a problem with that, but trouble fillers were shown if the broadcast ran into difficulties for whatever reason. The master control room would override the production control room and put up a screen that said, Please wait and pardon the interruption. It would not appear for slight issues with the picture or stumbles over words from the presenters. Now that he thought about it, Sakae had never seen it happen the entire time he was here.
“What did they screw up?”
“They came out of commercial and aired the wrong tape. Apparently it wasn’t related to what they aired before the commercial.”
“It’s not still up, is it?”
“It’d be a calamity if it were.”
“Then why come all the way out here to tell me?”
“Just giving you the latest news that happened. Oh, right, Oku-sama made the filler screen for us. Did you know that?”
“Last year, the network decided to make a new one. I liked the old one too; it had a lot of nostalgia, but upper management really liked the one that Oku-sama made.”
“I want to see it too, so let’s screw up on our show.”
“Don’t even joke about that… Oku-sama should really go independent. He’d get more compensation for his services if he did.”
“But if you go independent, the networks are always looking to cut back. It’s a pain if anything happens.”
“Yeah, it’s a tough world out there. If anything happens, the network can only think about protecting itself first. But Oku-sama can do anything. If he wanted to, he could get onscreen credit like the show writers and negotiate his own commissions. But he said that he likes where he is right now. That it might inconvenience his agency.”
“He’s a moron.”
“Call it a strong sense of duty.”
“And I’m saying that’s moronic. By the way, what does the term ‘filler’ mean?”
“Burying something, plugging something, filling something in. The injections used in cosmetic surgery procedures are also called fillers.”
“Geh, that’s gross.”
“Hey, you haven’t submitted your top department choices to HR yet.”
“I forgot about it.”
HR had requested his top department choices to use as a reference for the personnel assignment and transfers that would occur in October, but how much his answers would matter was all a black box. Maybe the people at HR had Shitara’s judgement skills, and they were testing out the pieces of a human puzzle.
“I’m pretty sure they’ll never give me any of my top choices if I submit them. Maybe I’ll write down the places I don’t want instead.”
“I don’t disagree with the first part of your statement, but I’d recommend against trying to game the system,” Shitara warned with a laugh. He leaned over his lap, resting his chin in his hand, and peered over at Sakae. “I personally think you’d do well in entertainment production.”
“You have this loose, vibrant energy that’s so much funnier than the stiff news pieces that we put out. I mean, in that recent story about the Metropolitan assemblyman accused of sexual harassment who suddenly cried during his interview, you wrote in the script, ‘His tear ducts were affected.’ Who writes that normally? Everyone in the control room was laughing.”
“It’s just the difference in source material.”
There weren’t many people who thought that hard news was very enjoyable to watch.
“It’s not just that. We’re a news show, so you’ve been restraining yourself to stay just under the time limits for your pieces, right? You have a lot more restraint than people give you credit for. I’m interested in what you’ll make once you remove the stopper.”
Entertainment production. Sakae had never thought about it before. Just like he had never thought about going to the accounting, human resources, or programming departments, Sakae didn’t care about anything except for the reality at this very moment. He would find out when he found out, and he thought that it was useless to think about it.
“Oku-sama mentioned it too. That you can make some surprisingly funny videos. I think you’ll come into your own at a fresh, exciting variety show with that unique sense for rhythm and color that you have.”
“I don’t get it.”
“There you go again, giving me another halfhearted response.”
The air of the calm night clung to him all sticky. The lights of the city buildings seemed to raise the temperature, and it irritated him. It would be nice if the buildings in the area could lose power all at once. An interruption without any filler. The shadows of the leaves cast by the lights were a deeper green than the darkness. The summer plants were unabashedly lush and thick.
“You’re the producer. Don’t you assess your staff?”
“Well, yeah, that’s my job.”
“Why don’t you write something on my assessment? I can’t handle him anymore, so please take him off my hands and put him into entertainment production.”
Your figure reflected in the mirror is just way too warped.
“Hmm, who knows.” Shitara made a show of playing dumb. “Well, if you go to entertainment production, there are plenty of strong personalities and misfits like you there, so you should fit right in. Especially TV personalities from outside agencies, now they really have no common sense.”
“Not chance in hell,” Sakae said. “Do you think someone like me can tolerate other people’s lack of sense?”
“Well, that’s a good argument.” Shitara raised his voice and laughed.
“Oi, keep it down. I don’t want to be caught here.”
Sakae pulled out two cigarettes that he had put away and shoved one into Shitara’s mouth.
“…I thought you said you were out.” Shitara said, holding the cigarette lightly between his teeth, his pronunciation not entirely clear.
“I changed my mind.”
“It’s all good, I’m sharing with you, aren’t I? Here, I’m lighting up.”
Two cigarette sticks tilted into the small flame of the lighter. The orange light flickered and made whitish dots in the centers of Shitara’s eyes. Sakae wondered what was reflected there now. Was it himself, satisfied that he had gone to entertainment production, having found his calling like Shitara had thought? He wanted to cloud over the mirror and erase his reflection from it, and he opened his mouth.
“…Oku said he wants to go see fireworks.”
“He’s going? When?”
“He’s not going. He asked to tag along if we were going to cover one live.”
“I don’t have any plans for it now. Even if I did, the evening news is too early for fireworks. The highlight is much later in the night.”
Shitara let smoke waft into the night air. “I like fireworks better in the winter,” he murmured. “In the summer, it lingers and sticks around, whether it’s the smoke or the sound. But in the winter, the air is cold and dry, and when it explodes, it leaves nothing behind. That’s what I like about it. What about you, Sakae?”
“I don’t care either way. A minute of fireworks is enough for me. Then I lose interest.”
“You say that, but in a movie theater, you can sit and watch the credits long enough to circumnavigate the earth.”
It wasn’t an issue of interest; it was just an ingrained habit. He thought to say, My hometown shoots fireworks all year round, but it sounded like an invitation to go there, and it made him change his mind.
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.