I didn’t want to go to the play centre, so I headed home.
When I got to my room, looking through a soft-covered book I bought on the way, the clock on the wall showed 7 pm. Should I go get some dinner? As soon as this thought crossed my mind, the intercom buzzed, and I lifted the receiver with a bad premonition.
“Idzono-kun, open up. Why do you even bother locking yourself up at all?”
I hung up. Seriously? She came again? The intercom rang again. I took the phone.
“Why’d you hang up?”
I hung up. It just can’t be. Another ring. Phone.
I returned it to its place. The intercom wouldn’t shut up. If you show your opponent that you’re ready to defend yourself until the very end, he will certainly back down.
Finally the intercom shut up. I quietly crept to the front door and peeked into the peephole. The world narrowed to its size was blocked with the huge creepily smiling face of Minato. Next moment, there was a loud knock on the door. Many hits followed one another, the door was pounded again and again.
“Hey! Hey! Open up!” Minato’s desperate voice gradually turned into a cry, “Open up!... Come on, open up...come...come on…”
I heard sobs. From the thought that the neighbours can hear this, my back got covered in sweat. The situation became lousy. So lousy, that there’s nowhere else to go. I hurriedly opened the door.
“Here I am.” Minato smiled to her ears. She brought with her a huge bag and a suitcase on wheels.
“I’ll cook dinner,” Minato announced, having taken over my surrendered possessions.
The bag from the supermarket almost burst from the many products inside of it. Carrots, potatoes, peas, noodles, miso, things like that. Having laid out the food in the kitchen, Minato took out an apron from her suitcase, put it on and began to cook. She washed the plates, which already managed to get covered with a thin layer of dust and turned on the unused rice cooker. Humming quietly to herself, she cleaned the carrots.
“W-wait!” I involuntarily yelled. What was I thinking of at the moment - I don’t know.
“Well it’s just strange. Why are you cooking dinner?”
“What do you mean why? I’m hungry.”
“Then you can just buy something instead.”
“But I’ll cook better than some bento from the grocery.”
“No, no, not that.” For a moment I was confused on what to say next. “It’s just too much.”
“As in… In short, why do you even have to cook? Of course, I understand that my appearance is just begging for feeding. But still. Have I done anything for you? I did nothing.”
I can’t stand it, when someone helps me for no reason.
From other people I can only get something if my right hand was taking money out of their pockets. And other options disgusted me. I couldn’t bear, when someone did something for me out of their own good will. I immediately began to wait for some dirty trick, and my thoughts twisted into something like anger.
“No, nothing, I just decided to cook.”
I was powerless. On the stolen money I bought ready food, and then threw away the disposable chopsticks, spoons, and containers. I already got used to this life, so these actions actually frightened me.
“Then let me buy some food and eat calmly.”
“Oh don’t worry. I’m almost done.”
“Then I’ll pay you. The groceries cost money.”
“Forget it, you know I’m also eating. Cooking for one person, or for two - what’s the difference.”
I wanted to tell her to stop, to not do anything for me. But if I would say something like that, I would be called touchy. Don’t you think of yourself too much? It seemed that this is what I would be asked. I was getting scared. I couldn’t squeeze out a word, meanwhile, Minato continued her work, rattling the dishes. In a moment, the kitchen was filled with an appetizing smell, which incidentally, didn’t interest me.
Minato skillfully used the tools. The lit of the pot began to bound, announcing the readiness of the rice. And I just stood in the living-room as if dead, not even able to open my mouth. I lost count of the amount of times a plate clattered.
Ten, twenty, thirty minutes, time passed unnoticed. I barely noticed how the table was filled with dishes. Steam rose from the stewed vegetables with meat, miso-soup, and boiled rice.
“Well, shall we eat?”
Minato took out two pairs of chopsticks. Next to her, she lay the chopsticks belonging to my disappeared mother.
“Bon appetit.” Minato said, when I timidly sat at the table, and I wished her the same. I couldn’t even remember the last time I said something like this. I slowly put the stewed meat and vegetables in my mouth, and the potato practically melted in my mouth. The taste couldn’t be compared to the warmed up store food.
Suddenly some emotions began to burn inside of me, ready to burst any moment, and I turned away. Strange. What are these feelings?
“Huh? Something happened?” Minato asked about my state.
“No everything’s fine. Really, there are no problems… Oh, right. Your cooking is amazing.”
Forgetting about the entire world, I began to quickly swallow the food, almost paying no attention to the taste.
“Awesome, I pleased you.”
From Minato’s smile, something hesitated inside me.
“Thanks for the treat.”
Having put the chopsticks into the empty dishes, I rushed to the washroom, where, without taking off my pants, I sat on the toilet seat and put my hand on my forehead. It’s not that I was feeling bad, no. A whirlwind of different emotions flew at me, and my mind turned into a mess.
Once I got back from the washroom, all the dishes were already washed and put back in their places. Minato acted on her own again, with which she caused me to have a feeling resembling guilt.
“Idzono-kun, listen. What are you doing tomorrow?” Minato asked me from the couch, on which she lay down without changing her school uniform.
“Why do you care about tomorrow? And you’ll ruin your uniform like that.”
“I’ve already decided. Fushimi-kun. And I really don’t care about the uniform.”
“And.. something will happen tomorrow?”
“They typically do it everyday, altogether.”
“I would not say altogether.”
“Well, they seem to be hiding out in the sports equipment warehouse. Somewhere in the second one.”
My school had two sports equipment warehouses: The first stored ordinary equipment, and the second had equipments for the athletics festival. Needless to say, people rarely went into the second warehouse.
“Right. Then let’s go,” I agreed in a surprisingly light tone.
“Then tomorrow… Oh, right. I have a present for you, Idzono-kun,” With these words Minato jumped from the couch, rummaged in her suitcase left at the entrance, and in a few minutes placed something long and narrow into my hand.
The object was a little longer than a measuring ruler and can be placed into a box of pencils, about fifteen centimetres, black and smooth to the touch. A black strap was attached to it, so that it can be worn on a wrist.
At first I thought it was a laser pointer, but when I pressed some button on the side, to my surprise the object lengthened almost threefold. It looked too rough for a simple school pointer.
“What is this?”
“A telescopic baton,” Minato said firmly, and before I understood, some time passed. And when I thought a little, I said just two words:
After deciding to put away the baton into my pant pocket, I went to my room and checked the present again. I grabbed it more tightly, lengthened it and then folded, pressing against the opposite ends with both hands. I then pressed the button and flicked my wrist. There was a muffled click, and the baton returned to its working position, forty or fifty centimetres. After this I decided to measure its length. I folded it again, flicked my wrist and lengthened it. I seized with my backhand, forehand, folded, got ready to strike. In general, I just repeated the same thing over and over again.
“Right now, you resemble a child who had just bought a wand to become a superhero,” Minato said, who had been watching my training for a while now, and giggled.
The deep pockets of the pants seemed to be specifically made for this, the club fully fitted.
That day, I couldn’t wait until the end of school. The bruises from Fushimi’s kicks (I already ripped off the compress) ached, Fushimi looked at me unkindly, Hara looked at me scared, and the lesson was tiring, everything looked completely alien. I couldn’t understand whether my consciousness was floating or sinking, and I tried to distract myself by remembering some memories. From time to time, I checked on the object in my pocket. This was how I spent the day.
The lesson started, the lesson finished, started, finished, started, finished.
Bell. Bell. Bell.
I barely noticed how today’s lessons ended, and, the second the order to go home was heard, I grabbed Hara and headed towards the literature club. There, we just waited until enough time went by.
“W-we’re really going to do this?” Hara asked me.
“If we don’t, nothing will change.”
Time passed slowly, and the participants of the club began to arrive at around five. Almost all of them were in my class, and I didn’t see anyone unexpected. Simply speaking, they just made this a place to get-together or something like that. These guys studied me, so I pretended that I was just looking around, and began to walk around the room. There was nothing here except the long table, pipe chairs, and the bookcase which had faded-from-the-sun books, so I just took the club journal from the shelf. There was a fairly good image on the rough-looking cover. Turning the first page, I saw a list of names of all the people that just arrived here. As if someone was going to write a story about them.
“S-stop, don’t look!...” When I tried to turn the next page, the journal was snatched from my hands.
It was taken by Uchida, who, in our class, and not just in our class, never stood out with anything.
“What’s with you? Was the cover not decorated for it to be looked at?”
“No, not for that. We must be doing something, otherwise we won’t get credit for the club activities. I only write them for this.”
“Are you trying so hard, that you don’t want to show me?”
“Then why are you even in the literature club? Are you a moron or something?”
Uchida hesitated, with which he confirmed my thoughts on all this. Simply speaking, the kids liked to gather here, just to forget about the troubles of the world. The weaklings and the failures got together and complained to each other about their lives, and getting distracted from the pain and suffering. A bunch of excrement, not a club.
“You only come here to lick your wounds. What a literature club, there are only bottoms like you here. It’s already enough you’re like that in class.”
I felt a growing anger.
“I-Idzono-kun, that’s too much…”
Before me stood the garbage, that could only look away and dream of who knows what. I just wanted to trample them. And here my phone vibrated. Minato’s message, which already got delivered, said that it was time.
“At five hours and seven minutes in the afternoon, the second sports equipment warehouse.”
The message called. The corners of my mouth lifted by themselves.
“We’re going.” I grabbed Hara by his collar and dragged him behind me. Hara, shaking, followed me.
Leaving the building where the literature club was, we walked between a hedge and the gloomy school building, rounded it, and reached the second sports equipment warehouse.
Minato wrote another message: “Look inside through the window.”
All she did was send orders, the girl was nowhere close. But this didn’t bother me. Silencing my steps, I crept up to the white painted warehouse wall, and found a small window near the corner.
There was about two metres to it. Even if I stood on tiptoe, it would be difficult to look inside, but fortunately, there was a desk nearby. Did Minato bring it from the furniture warehouse?
I ordered Hara to hold the desk, and without taking my shoes off, I got on top of it and glanced into the window covered in a thin layer of dust. Hara crossed his feet nervously and blinked quickly.
Through the dusty window, I discovered a ridiculous scene. Two four-legged animals had merged together. The stuck out and connected their tongues. Unclothed. Licked each other. One of them stayed standing, while the other knelt down. There was a chomping sound, as if crumpling a scarf. The two animals merged into one.
The chain of their actions seemed amusing. The face of the guy strained absurdly. The symptoms of moronism. My shoulders shook from laughter.
Wait a second. And why am I supposed to try and stay hidden, are they scaring me? Are they forcing me to hide? It’s funny. My stomach might burst. From the laughter. It’s funny. It’s funny. It’s funny. It’s funny. Hara, who I dragged along with me, was dumbfounded. I was laughing. I glanced into the window again. The couple was dumbfounded, fully and completely, and not just in the casual places. And they looked at the dusty window, at my face through it. I was laughing. Jumped off the desk and pulled Hara towards me, he almost fell over. I took out the telescopic baton from my pocket. A piece of reinforced plastic, twenty four centimetres long. I kicked the door of the warehouse, and it opened with a thud.
Fushimi looked at us. Tanabe looked at us. Both of them almost completely naked. They looked like fools. Incredible fools. My belly will burst.
Fushimi was shouting something at me. He was shouting something at Hara. What are you staring at, perverts? Probably something like that. From these screams, Hara shrank. But I was laughing. Fushimi raised his voice some more, carrying illegible nonsense. Tanabe stayed silent, and I was laughing. The sound of my shoes on the floor sounded like a melody. There was the smell of sweat, dust, and bodily fluids in the dim lighting. I raised the rod made of reinforced plastic, and Fushimi finally noticed it. I was laughing. I waved the club. On his right hand. Right hand. Right hand. Left leg. Left leg. Left leg. The screams turned into whines. My hearing cleared. The way Fushimi bent over, covering the lower part of his body, looked very amusing. There was a laugh. My vocal chords shook the air, the skull, the eardrums. I was laughing. I tossed the club to Hara’s hand, who was stupefied, and pointed a finger at Fushimi. Go on. Repay him with all that he did you to you. Hara stared at me with rounded eyes. The stiff lips twisted into something of a smile.
Come on, I said to Hara.
Come on, now, I said to Hara.
Take it quickly and do it, I said to Hara.
The weeping Hara squeezed out a smile.
Well at least he stopped blinking.
He looked at me. And I repeated, “Go ahead.”
The shaking hand waved the club. The first hit was on the shoulder. I encouraged him with enthusiasm again. Hara waved the club again. He was scared, but he striked. He hit so hard, Fushimi, shocked to the depths of his soul, wasn’t able to answer.
Scared, that someday he is going to be bullied again, Hara struck with the club, not holding back. Before, Hara defended himself just by being silent and enduring the pain. Now, everything turned upside down. In some way, this was revenge.
Hara paid for all the humiliation he received until now. He was used like a punching bag. Was forced to undress and crawl around the class. His pride, dignity, and self-esteem were trampled into dust. They were torn out with their roots.
Payback. The return of the debts. The debts must be demanded back.
Hara changed into squeals, yelled something, but what - it was unknown.
“Stop beating me!” Fushimi pleaded through tears.
Hara didn’t stop. He simply couldn’t stop.
I was laughing. Hara was laughing. And waved around the baton. Again. Again. Our echo-deformed laughter was carried around the warehouse. Hara hit again and again. No one would come in here, and Hara knew this. He knew this from his own experience and so continued striking blow after blow, blow after blow.
Naked to the waist, Tanabe covered herself with a blouse and stared at Fushimi’s beating in shock. I closed the warehouse door tightly.
Hara said something to Fushimi, after which he threw off his remaining clothes. Hara took out his smartphone and pointed it at the guy. The crying Fushimi, with a swollen, reddened hand, began to rub his c*ck, the condom still dangling on its end as Hara recorded it all on his phone.
Hara was doing the same that was done to him. So I didn’t feel any sympathy for the victim. I just laughed the whole time, watching the action.
Fushimi screamed as he continued to touch himself.
Complete nonsense. If I hadn’t seen this with my own eyes, I would have never believed it.
Every time Fushimi’s hand stopped, Hara struck him with the club, and his bruises grew.
“Did you go crazy?!” Finally, Tanabe yelled, looking at her reddened, and in some places blued boyfriend.
Distracted from his fascinating business, Hara looked into Tanabe’s face. He said something, he did nothing - he just looked at her. So what if went crazy? That’s what his look said. Tanabe looked at me. I lifted my index finger and pointed it at Hara and Fushimi, showing her to silently watch.
That pale b*tch closed her mouth.
Fushimi didn’t stop masturbating with his right hand, discolored from the blows.
I began to whistle the melody from yesterday “Amazing Grace.”
These are the words of the song:
“Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!”
The atmosphere in the sports equipment warehouse became even more amusing. The sound of blows shook the body powerfully.
“I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.”
The unfolding action before me was challenging the usual situation. And because of this, emotions raged in me. Laughter poured out all by itself. Hara whipped Fushimi. The weak defeated the strong.
The events seemed like a well-known drama with sudden twists of the plot.
Laughter and the sounds of strikes provoked a flurry of emotions in my hardened heart.
The storming emotions, which stayed locked up in me for a long time, were intoxicated.
A hit. A strike. A blow.
As if enchanted, I didn’t take my eyes off the scene before me. The sounds of clapping hands were heard inside my head, and they blessed us.
“See you tomorrow, in class. Be sure to come.” We said to Fushimi and left the warehouse.
We didn’t have time to notice how it began to darken. Wiping off sweat, Hara and I crossed the schoolyard together. A little rain was falling, invisible in the darkness. When we went into the room of the literature club, to take our bags, there were still people left there. Uchida, who we met before going to the warehouse, looked at us. Without saying a word to him, I grabbed my bag and left, Hara following me.
“But…” Uchida called Hara, as the door closed.
His call reached my ears, which means it reached Hara as well. However, he gave the appearance that he hadn’t heard, and closed the door. We walked down the dark hallway. We left without any greetings or farewell. The literature club was a place of gathering for useless, worthless waste, who crawled here to lick their wounds and close their eyes on everything that was happening around them. They used this room, with a battered table, rusty chairs, and a ruined book cabinet as a haven for their worthless souls. There was no other use for this club.
Isn’t that right, Hara?
Without talking, I changed shoes and went home by my usual route. Hara seemed to be getting to his house on foot, so we parted on the corner, and I headed for the station. When we parted, Hara said only one word.
I waved my hand slightly, but Hara responded with enthusiastic waving.
I took the train home. Today, the carriages were packed again. Someone staggered and flew at me. Someone behind me clicked his tongue flashily. Turning and looking back, I saw an employee with a tired face and a crumpled t-shirt.
Our eyes met, and to my surprise, I saw something frivolous in his face. This got me interested. This man, showing fatigue with all his body, who was almost falling into pieces, was defiantly clucking his tongue at the person he flew at. What’s there to think, nothing can be more amusing.
Is he trying to provoke me? You crashed into me, hurt me. Because of you, I started raging. Maybe, with his clicking, he was trying to tell me just that. Or maybe with this sound he was trying to attract attention to himself?
I am angry! Look at that!
Unexpectedly for myself, I began to laugh. I was not angry at the impact, I didn’t lower my shoulders guiltily, nothing like that - I met the man’s look and started laughing. This man, this hopeless, pitiful man, amused me. He clearly heard my contemptuous laugh.
He could have easily barked out something like, “Hey, what are you snickering about?”
The man turned away and looked down at the floor, on which a piece of chewing gum was stuck.
As he pleases.
When I got out on the station, I didn’t head home right away, but walked a long uneven route around. It was still drizzling. There was darkness all around me, but I could still make out the falling droplets in the headlights when cars rushed by. Ignoring the fact that my wet shirt stuck to my skin, I walked serenely through the rain. Walking, I thoughtlessly kicked the weeds that grew in the crack-covered asphalt.
The pedestrian flow was not impressive. Streetlights here were rare, one of them was blinking, as if counting its remaining years. Soon it will also stop working, and the surroundings would plunge into the darkness. The lamps gave off a weak, pale-orange light. Looking up at it, I continued walking. The streetlight went out with a bang, and darkness enveloped me.
“What are you doing here?” Came from my side. I turned in that direction and saw the figure of Minato standing in the white light of a streetlight in a dress with a green umbrella in her hands. I answered her:
Minato asked another question:
“Without an umbrella?”
“You didn’t return for a long time, and I went to meet you at the station.”
I didn’t go to my house, the complete other way, that’s why we missed each other.
“Meet?” Raindrops fell from Minato’s umbrella. “Why do you need to meet me?”
Hearing my question, Minato was dumbfounded.
“Why?” Minato got closer to me and offered the umbrella raised above her head. “Are we not partners?”
That’s how it is.
“It’s time to cook dinner. Let’s just go home quickly and eat,” Minato smiled. “How about curry for today? What boys don’t like curry, am I right?”
I got under the offered umbrella not fully, and the rain continued to hit the uncovered part of my body.
“Thanks,” I whispered softly.
“Huh? No need to thank me,” Minato answered and reached up to make is easier to stand under the umbrella. I took it away and raised it even higher, so that we both could stand under it. But then I later thought that if she came to meet me, she could have taken two umbrellas.
The next morning, we went to school together and went on the train. I didn’t have the time to blink, when Minato already got a duplicate of the key to my house and settled down in it. I didn’t understand her motives. But I wasn’t going to kick her out either. The train approached a turn with a screech and the crowd shook. Leaving the carriage, we walked side by side. Passed the school gate, changed shoes, climbed the stairs. Walked down the hall.
Today, in the class of 2-4, there was no habitual hubbub. When we opened the door, by my desk in the back of the class, stood Fushimi. Before him was Hara. He wasn’t twitching or blinking, his shoulders rose steadily to the beat of his deep breaths. He was no longer afraid of Fushimi, who didn’t even move from his place. But Tanabe wasn’t here yet.
“You’re in my way.” I put my bag on my desk and told Fushimi, “Get out of here.”
To my surprise, my voice echoed through the class. Everyone was looking at me. When Minato walked in behind me, Fushimi’s face showed horror, and everyone froze immediately. But the girl calmly walked to her spot.
I exchanged glances with Shibata: he looked up from his laptop and looked at me. He behaved himself like a simple observer, just like me a few days ago. Though we were classmates, we barely communicated, but our most important conversation happened yesterday.
I looked into his eyes.
Didn’t I tell you?
I’ll be able to do it.
“Yeah… Idzono-kun… well, t-thank you… for yesterday,” Hara said, sitting on a bench in a park and tossing bread to some pigeons. The light of the evening sun sparkled in the fountain droplets. It was half past five. Classes have ended, and Hara brought me here. It looked like he constantly fed the local pigeons.
“Yeah it’s fine, forget it. I wanted it myself, so I set everything up,” I answered. Minato would say that I was completely forced.
Hara nodded. The pigeons flew to the scattered bread crumbs and pecked their beaks on the road surface. Hurriedly, as if squeezing out words, Hara asked:
“That… and what’s next… what do we do?”
Next. With Fushimi. With Tanabe. Asking these question for Hara was only reasonable. Most of my class got together, like a herd of sheep, and bullied Hara. It’s not enough to just deal with Fushimi and Tanabe. If you were to look from Hara’s point of view, there was an abundance of candidates for the following showdown.
“What do we do?” I repeated. Hara lowered his gaze to his feet, by which the pigeons gathered. They were stomping around in anticipation for the next set of crumbs. Hara didn’t answer. Maybe he was thinking?
After a short while, Hara seemed to suddenly remember and announced:
“Right… Idzono-kun, you uh, have you ever fed pigeons before?”
Hara opened up his bag and took out a transparent plastic bag, and out of that - a piece of bread. It seemed that Hara took some pieces of toast with him, slightly over toasted in appearance.
“What do you mean, have you ever?” I asked, pointing at the bread.
“Have you ever thrown a full piece?”
When would I do such things? And anyway, what a strange question to ask, have I given pigeons food.
As if reading my mind by the expression on my face, Hara smiled and threw a hunk of bread, not some crumbs, into the crowd of birds. The pigeons didn’t keep themselves waiting, and immediately attacked the food. They clung to the unfortunate piece of bread from all sides and began to peck at it. Seven, eight, nine pigeons, there were more and more coming. New birds tried to fit their beaks in between the others. A few pigeons broke off little pieces and waved their wings, attempting to fly off, giving off dancing fluff. In exchange, new pigeons flew in, who were keeping their distance at first, and were now almost landing on the heads of their relatives gathered around the bread.The tight birds, trying to get back in, pushed around everyone around them. Into the grey crowd, some ten to twenty birds got in, who all moved as one. The spectacle of a bunch of independent organisms, who got together in a heap and acted like a whole, struck me with its absurdity.
Hara stared at the scene, fascinated. Without taking his eyes off, he folded his index finger, middle finger, and thumb on his right hand into a gun and pointed it at the grey mass.
“Bam,” Hara yelled, like in a children’s game.
If only he had a real gun. It wouldn’t hurt to shoot a couple of pigeons, I thought.
The gray heap continued to sway in the cloud of small fluff. The crumbs, that Hara threw, were flying because of the flutter of the wings.
“Kiyama… How about him… next,” Hara said.
The next. Let’s choose him. We’ll change the target, and method.
Let’s choose him.
Minato, Hara, and I.
Maybe, one more person can be added to us.
I quickly looked through the underground parking lot, lit by fluorescent lamps. It was half past ten in the evening. The underground floor of a love hotel on the outskirts of the business district. The bottom of the building, where people enthusiastically reproduced. I watched one passenger car from afar, hiding between parked cars by an automatic ticket machine. The body of the needed car was covered with the most unimaginable colours: pale-fawn, pearl-metallic, and even pink.
Then a familiar couple exited the love hotel and got into the car. I knew these two. The girl was named Katai, and the guy - Kiyama. Katai was the teacher, who showed her smile every day at the school gate. She taught the neighboring class and oversaw the teaching process. Kiyama was in the same class as me - a stubborn piece of garbage who often made Hara crawl on his knees naked.
Katai turned the ignition key and the car moved from the parking spot. She slowly rolled over to the yellow parking machine. “Please insert your parking ticket”. Katai, sitting at the driver’s seat, said something to Kiyama in the passenger’s. I rushed to the car, in my hands, squeezing a rubber black plate about thirty by thirty centimetres and with a thickness of about two. One of its sides was covered with a sticky substance, and there was a rope attached to it, at both ends of which hung tin cans. They would surely make a terrible noise if they were to be thrown on the ground.
Having caught up to the already escaping car, I stuck the plate onto the rear left wheel.
“Thank you for using,” said the ticket machine.
I ducked and rushed away.
The car drove out of the underground parking slowly, and with a low rumble. The wheels began to spin, and the empty cans on the rope rattled along the asphalt. I already managed to climb up the emergency ladder and meet with Minato.
“Everything worked out?”
“Yeah. But will this really be of use?”
“It’s ok. That’s how it’s done. <Car, empty cans, theft>, if you search up these words, you’ll get the right video, right? People aren’t as smart as you, Idzono-kun, they’re far more stupid than you think.”
Out of the gates of the underground parking came out a powerful beam of light, cutting through the night street.
“Idzono-kun, do you know how to drive?” Minato asked.
“Well, I don’t have my licence.”
With my seventeen years, I was in the second year of highschool and, of course, I didn’t have a driver’s licence yet.
“Why’d you start talking about it? Do you know how to drive?”
“If it’s automatic.”
“Wow. Where did you learn?”
“Stole keys a few times.”
The wheels of the exiting car spun faster. The empty cans, attached to the rubber plate, crashed with clatters on the asphalt. From surprise, the girl-driver stopped the car and got out of her seat.
Katai, who even now looked like an innocent and inexperienced teacher, walked around the car in search for the source of the sounds. If she hadn’t been leaving the parking of love-hotel, she could have kept her usual image, but unfortunately, we noticed her right here. A depraved teacher, abandoning her purity. That’s the stupid stigma I put on her in my mind.
Meanwhile, she is circling the car. Front right wheel. Walked around the front and to the left wheel. We ran up to the car from the right, so we wouldn’t be noticed.
Katai passed on to the back left wheel and interested herself in something.
Minato and I ran out from the darkness, and when Katai squatted down and reached for the cans, we climbed into the car’s interior. I got into the driver’s seat, and Minato, into the back seat. The doors were shut loudly. We looked at Kiyama, sitting on the passenger’s seat. He wasn’t moving, his thoughts didn’t catch up to what was happening outside his head. I made sure, that the key was put into the ignition lock, changed the gear and slammed on the gas pedal.
I wasn’t able to speed up sharply, but I started with a speed sufficient enough so we wouldn’t be overtaken by running. Not minding the clatter of the empty cans, I slowly sped up. The keychain-mascot on the keys swayed slightly from side to side.
“Hello, Kiyama,” I said. It finally began to dawn on him.
Classes ended six hours ago, it was now ten thirty. Having remembered everything I knew about driving, I grabbed the steering wheel, not letting the car sway from left to right, and caught Kiyama’s stunned look at me. He finally opened his mouth:
“W-w-what are you doing?”
“We were just thinking, who should we deal with after Fushimi.” I turned the wheel sharply. “We decided, it would be you.”
Kiyama was thrown to the window, and Minato didn’t make herself wait from the back seat. The guy didn’t have time to react, as the girl threw a bike lock on his neck, which forced him to cling to the headrest.
Minato crouched in a way so that Kiyama wouldn’t be able to reach her from his spot; his fingers could only grab air. Minato closed the bicycle lock.
“Turn left in fifty metres”, the car navigator announced, and I touched the touch panel to cut it off. Not planning on driving fifty metres, I turned the wheel to the left. The car skidded more than I expected, and it made an arc - it was lucky that the highway was empty. Since I wasn’t use to driving a car, it was difficult for me to coordinate my hands and legs.
“You sh*t, unchain me!...” Kiyama shouted, tugging at the wired lock, which was keeping his head pressed to the headrest. He also tried to hit me, but wasn’t able to reach, and I only got a sluggish punch from his right hand. And all of this was happening with the roar of the empty dangling cans on the wheel. Noticing a grocery store, I hit the brakes sharply. I didn’t move to the side of the road, but no one signaled me. I waited a bit, and out of the grocery came out two people: a shining Hara and a bewildered Shibata.
Hara held a knife that was obtained from who know where, rough in appearance, well sharpened. With it, he cut the rope from which the open cans dangled, and removed them so they wouldn’t make noise. After that, the pair of them got into the back seat. Minato moved to the right, and they took the remaining seats.
“Ooh, Shibata-kun, hello.”
“Hey… new one.”
I glanced back, remaining on the driver’s seat, I met gazes with Shibata.
“What do you think?”
Shibata didn’t answer. Not immediately, not in a few seconds, so I turned back. Adjusted my seat belt, sat more comfortably, and grabbed the steering wheel and switched gears. And here, Shibata opened his mouth.
“You know how to drive?”
“Yeah. But I don’t have a licence.”
“And how do you know how to then?”
I pressed on the gas pedal and set the car in motion again. I didn’t have nearly enough practice, and yet, I still managed to drive with theoretical knowledge. When turning around a corner, I wanted to turn on the side signals but forgot where to press. I touched the lever near the wheel. Windshield wipers. Wrong. Headlights. Wrong. The side signals turned out. There we go. After waiting for the green light, I turned right. Well, if we crash, nothing bad will happen. The car isn’t ours, after all.
“Hey, why is Shibata here, huh?!” Kiyama snapped.
“I asked him to come,” I answered. And Kiyama spoke to Shibata.
“Enough staring, pull this sh*t off!..”
Kiyama tried to turn around, but the chain held his neck tightly, and he was only able to twitch.
“Don’t unchain him,” I said, looking at the windshield. Shibata didn’t answer anything. I started to wonder whether I am still on the right path. Shibata nodded.
“What’s with you all?” Kiyama groaned. “Why me?”
Why? What for? Why Kiyama?
Minato and I also answered:
“It just so happened.”
“Yeah, that’s just how it happened.”
Unlike Tanabe, who was stabbed by Minato, and Fushimi, whom I lowered, Kiyama wasn’t going to get immediate retribution. If we were to talk about whether I like him or not, then probably it would be the second. However, there’s a bunch of those guys. That’s why, this time I was guided by something else. It just so happened. And we’re also tired.
“I…” Shibata began, putting his hand on his forehead.
Just say something already. If you listen to these a*sholes, you just want to die. At least say something that we suggested you. It would already be enough. In the end, Shibata didn’t finish. Well, thanks for that too. Shibata’s silence didn’t stop us from moving forward.
“What are you up to, demons?! F*ck off already…” Kiyama grabbed the chain on his neck and tried to get someone’s attention with his screams, but Hara pulled on the chain from behind. Kiyama wasn’t suicidal and didn’t want to die of suffocation, and ended up groaning desperately.
“H-he did such things to me.”
The said brought out pity, but at the same time justified what we were about to do. Having stopped the car at a red light, I took out the smartphone from the tightly held Kiyama, and squeezed it in my hand. I squeezed it tight, and with all my might smacked Kiyama in the head.
Just like I read in a book recently, it’s not that hard to pierce the skin on the forehead, and after a direct blow, a scarlet stream trickled from Kiyama’s forehead. In panic, Kiyama screwed up his eyes and began to run his wound. However, he didn’t have time to wipe the blood off before new blood appeared.
“S-stop. I will die like this.”
“Shut it. Such blood loss does not kill.”
“I will die… from blood loss.”
The screaming with closed eyes Kiyama was turning pale.
“Then what, should we stop the blood?”
“Please, let me go!..” The involuntary passenger whimpered.
When Kiyama was the bully, he was having fun with all his heart, but appearing in the place of the victim, he completely lost all hope. How disgusting.
“Hara, what shall we do?”
“We won’t let him go.”
I noticed a button under the GPS with a cigarette sign and opened it with a click. With the same click, the button popped out. After that, I pulled out the car cigarette lighter with a colourful head. The size of it was somewhat like a stamp, its end was glowing red.
“I’ll stop the blood, but don’t twitch.”
As if putting a stamp, I pressed the cigarette lighter to Kiyama’s forehead, to the place where the blood streamed out of.
Shut up, rooster. It smelled of burnt hair.
The traffic light turned green.
“You burn it next.” I handed over the cigarette burner to the back seat, to Hara.
“U-understood.” Hara leaned forward and burned Kiyama’s forehead. He moved the cigarette lighter slightly to the side and led it back and forth, smearing the dry blood on his forehead.
“He-he-he…” A strange laugh came from Shibata’s side.
“What?” I asked, but Shibata did not answer. It seemed as though he hadn’t heard me.
Glancing into the rearview mirror, I turned the steering wheel a bit late and scratched the hull with the roadside. Hara was still rubbing Kiyama’s forehead with the cigarette lighter, and blood started to flow again.
In the rearview mirror, Minato was playing with her smartphone with a cold expression, and the dog keychain from the game centre swayed slowly.
I looked in the rear-view mirror. Kiyama looked here through the back window, his hands tied. When I pressed on the gas pedal, the rope that connected Kiyama’s legs with the car’s bumper, stretched sharply. His soles tore from the ground and he fell, after which he jumped back up in confusion. After making sure that he got up, I smoothly pressed on the gas pedal again.
The car slowly moved from its place, at a speed of approximately twenty kilometres an hour. Setting my direction, I began to maintain my speed. I calmly crossed an abandoned building site, and when I got to its edge, I simply turned back. From time to time, the car touched some of the objects around, and the box in which we were travelling began to shake. However, it was only Kiyama who was using his strength here. If he would suddenly fall, I would just slow down. As soon as he would stand back up, I would again speed up to twenty kilometres an hour, but if he wouldn’t stand back up, then a strip of his sweat, saliva, and snot would appear on the pavement. Just like a child, waiting for an interesting show on a TV, I waited until Kiyama’s legs wouldn’t be able to take it any longer, and then would crush his face with wild yelps.
Turned around. Drove in a straight line. Turned around. Drove in a straight line. Kiyama fell. Screamed through tears. Turned around. Straight line. Turned. Straight line. Took a short break. Waited until he got up. He got up. I drove in a straight line. Turned around. He fell. I drove in a straight line. Short break. Straight line.
We shaked Kiyama to such an extent that his face started to look like an eraser, which was worn out to disgrace, but wasn’t thrown out. Chased him with no end to and fro.
I downed the gas pedal, and the arrow of the speedometer jumped up sharply. I immediately hit the brakes and stopped the car. Having looked at the rear-view mirror, I saw Kiyama pressed to the back window. Repeating this action a few times, I told Hara to get out of the car,
“Go talk to Kiyama.”
I leaned back on my chair, and enjoying the spectacle, looked up at the rearview mirror. In it appeared Hara, who disappeared from view for a moment. Holding a knife, which was initially taken to cut the ropes with the cans, the guy stood across from Kiyama.
Then the door was opened by Shibata. He too left the car and appeared by Hara. Without saying anything, they lowered their gazes to Kiyama’s legs. Minato put down the smartphone, with which she spent some time playing around with, and also looking back, stood on her knees on the back seat. Through the open window, she heard a howl:
“Hey, Hara-a, forgive me already… I apologize…”
“Take your clothes off.”
“You have to apologize naked, am I wrong?”
Silence. Shibata wanted to say something, but stopped himself.
“My hands and feet are tied, how am I supposed to undress, huh?... I apologize, I’m sorry…”
“It’s good that they are tied.”
To take off his clothes, he raised both his hands - if only someone yelled “banzai”. The crumpled T-shirt hung on his wrists.
“Well, isn’t this enough?”
“You’re only half naked.”
“But Hara, I was stupid. Please, forgive me.”
“How many times do I tell you? If you want to apologize - take off your clothes.”
Kiyama whimpered. He knelt down, and I lost sight of him. But Minato probably had a wonderful view from the backseat.
“I was wrong. Forgive me. I beg you…”
Silence. Silence. A very long silence.
“Oh, well yes.”
The sound of a fly getting unzipped was heard. And then - a gurgling noise.
“Ew, s-stop! I… I apologized normally!”
“I’ll just fill it in.”
Minato turned to me and looked away. The voices of the tormentors on the other side of the glass sounded extremely naive.
“Whoa, what a reaction.”
“What are you talking about?! How else?! What filth, Idzono-kun.”
“What… You don’t like it?”
“It’s somewhat straining…”
“I’m actually not that dumbfounded, don’t worry… I mean it’s not that visible from me.”
She got something in mind. This can’t be it.
“Anyways, I’ve already seen you, Idzono-kun. When you slept and all that.”
I sharply dropped in my seat and with all my might drove into the horn with my elbow. The beep struck my ears. Were the three behind the car alright?
“Are you serious?”
“Er, you heard.”
“I didn’t see, I didn’t see.”
It sounded incredibly suspicious, and seemed more as if she did see. But. Such a confession from her would be the same as from an icy soul. Honestly, it was like my brain was hit by a sledgehammer. So, I decided not to press anymore.
“And… before we leave this place, I need to sit up front.”
Minato swiftly left the back seat and appeared on the front passenger’s. We looked through the rearview mirror at the abandoned construction place, where in the dim lighting, Kiyama’s massacre was happening. Having changed seats, Minato closed the window, so we didn’t know what was happening outside.
“It’s fun right?”
“Yep, it’s fun.”
“Who will it be, when we’re done with him?”
“Who knows… I mean, there’s a bunch of candidates who bullied or ignored Hara.”
“Right, and this is a teacher’s car.”
“What a mess we made.”
“A complete mess.”
“I don’t even feel guilty.”
From all that was said, I was amused, and began to laugh. We should have done this earlier. Whatever you say, I didn’t dream of anything and didn’t expect anything. I had nothing to lose, and because of this, I didn’t hold on to anything. I especially wasn’t afraid to face the consequences. That’s why we could smash everything to pieces.
“Let’s go home.”
Rushed by Hara, Shibata settled himself in the backseat, after which Hara himself got in and closed the door. I, who was already used to the controls, took the car off the handbrake and it rolled forward. Kiyama shouted something out there, but what it was remained unknown. When Minato connected her phone to the car stereo, western techno began to play - I never heard this before.
“You… are so broken,” Shibata announced, lowering his head.
“What do you mean broken?”
“I’m saying that you are overdoing it...”
“Then I will ask, what is the norm for you.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You say, that we’re insane, and broken? Then, what is “normal” for you? Where does the boundary line of the normal pass?”
“What are you on about..?”
“All we did was let Hara avenge himself for all the torture and humiliations, for the times when he was forced to stand on his knees naked. What doesn’t suit you?”
Hara looked at me through the rearview mirror. And I looked at him.
“Well damn it, there’s nothing to understand here.”
“But what if.” We flew through a swarm of vehicles going the opposite way, their headlights lavishly coloured our faces in different colours. Red. Blue. Green. “Minato, Hara, and I, we are normal, and the strange one here, it turns out, is you alone? You are used to your oddities, so you see us, normal people, as broken, that’s how it turns out?”
For a short time we stayed silent, and then Shibata said:
“You’re still broken.”
I let this pass through my ears and continued to silently drive the car. On the way, we dropped off Hara and Shibata, and then returned the car to its original place - the underground parking lot of the love hotel.
I pulled out Katai’s documents from the purse she left in the salon. Originally, we wanted to go to her address, but this idea seemed dubious and we rejected it. We wouldn’t want to bump into the owner there.
Scared to park backwards, I drove into the parking spot front. I muffled the engine and pulled out the key. The clock showed forty minutes past midnight. The law, regulating night entertaining establishments, said that visitors must be kicked out from the game centers by ten in the evening, therefore I never wandered the streets this late yet. Opening the doors, Minato and I got out of the car. And we both yawned unintentionally.
“Well, Idzono-kun, what will we do now?”
“Return home on a taxi.”
“What do you think of the idea of staying here?”
It was as if a hand took off my drowsiness.
Minato headed for the elevator, leading to the love hotel.
Minato’s words disturbed me, forcing my thoughts to spin at a terrible speed.
“Listen, we’ll just rest.”
“What? Drop it, are you not a man or something? I know all you guys and your secret desires.”
“Okay, let’s say it’s too late for us to return, it’ll be one in the morning soon, maybe even two. I guess we can sleep here, fine.”
“Ugh, damn you. Just come on.”
What does she want me to do?
I began to panic.
“Well, I’ve never been to such places either.”
“I’m talking about something else.”
I was taken by my hand. Minato’s cool, smooth fingers touched my hand. Her thin, white fingers squeezed between mine. Her small pale hand wrapped around my right hand, that was able to pull anything out of anyone. From the unexpectedness, my head began to spin.
Minato dragged me behind her. My mind was concentrated on my right hand, and my heart trembled restlessly. As if it obtained its own life, my hand began to furiously pulse, and Minato definitely felt it. The girl turned towards me with a silent question in her eyes.
My face was on fire. With no strength to look into her eyes, I tried to look away. I outlined the wallet in my right pocket with my fingers. The money sat tightly in it - a large bundle that I collected for today. How else, I was planning on getting home on a taxi. I don’t have my own money, so I have no other options.
With a shaky gait, following the hand holding me, I walked into the elevator. It climbed to the first floor, and we saw detailed information at the reception, that we couldn’t see from the outside. There was no doorman here unlike in a normal hotel. Instead, the reception had a machine, similar to an ice machine from the game center, and on it were pictures of the hotel rooms.
I used to think that you could only find rooms with a vulgar pink theme here, but a large number of the rooms looked quite normal. The panels with free rooms, glowed faintly. Minato chose one, pressed on the button, and after a short beep the check came out. Minato quickly glanced at the sheet and crumpled it in her hand.
My heart was pounding wildly - the pulse rattled in my head. Having made a few steps in the hallway, we walked back into the elevator. Third floor. The elevator rose up so quickly, that the blood fell to my legs, and it seemed as if I was swimming in water.
In grave silence, we walked down the dimly lit corridor. Rows of doors lined up on the left and right. Minato was still leading me by her hand, and after walking by a few of the rooms, we walked into one of them.
The room didn’t stand out in any way, it was completely normal. Except for that fact that the automatic cash machine that looked like it was from a parking lot for cars or bikes, spoiled the picture. The interior was exactly the same as it was on the picture by the reception. For some reason, there was a microwave and fridge here, which weren’t even in some normal hotels. To the side of the entrance there was something like a kitchen, straight forward a shower was seen, and a bit further was a double bed, intended for the sleep of a man and a woman together.
Minato and me.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.
“Let’s take a shower first?...” Minato turned to me, still holding onto my hand. Things were getting worse.
Looking away and staying silent, I nodded a few times, after which I let go of Minato and stuffed my hand in my pocket. My palm sweated heavily, I had to wipe it on the fabric. I turned towards the bed, away from the girl, and a rustling of clothes was heard straight away.
“Hey,” I muttered without turning around. “Why are you changing here?”
“There’s no changeroom here.”
From the unexpected information, my head almost popped. I stepped to the side so as not to block the girl’s path, and sat on the floor there, where I wouldn’t see Minato without clothes. The floor turned out to be covered with a cheap carpet.
Sitting on the floor, I waited until the shower lock clicked, and scratching my head, began to loiter around the room, without the strength to calm down. My gaze rushed back and forth. The fridge had the most normal drinks, but with sky-high price tags. By it were toys with horrible forms. In the closet hung costumes for cosplay, which could be taken in rent.
When I turned on the tv, a porn star was breathing heavily on it. Out of the shower door, the sounds of water were heard. I felt uneasy.
I laid out a futon on the bed and lay down on the edge. I took out the belt from my jeans, pulled out my wallet and mobile phone from the pockets, took off my hoodie and threw them off the bed.
What for? Why? What will happen next?
A great question mark pushed out all thoughts from my head.
Why is Minato doing all this?
Because she wanted to destroy the class, and here I turned up, who is so easy to control? If it’s only this, she wouldn’t have to do what she’s doing now. And there is nothing to love me for. For such an unfriendly, perverted garbage like me, she was “too perfect”. Minato fulfilled my wishes, treated me carefully, perfectly complemented me, in short, she “behaved too well”.
If we suddenly hook-up, what will happen to us next?
We will take it together, fully and completely. In some way, we will have a love. For me, it will become the symbol of end. And I wouldn’t be able to live through it.
Silence during dinners with my parents in my now empty house. This image, firmly stuck in my head, gave way to another, foreshadowing an early end.
Hearing Minato’s voice by the bed, I tore my head from the futon. Minato was in her undergarments, and I turned away at once.
“There’s nothing to get dressed in.”
“There’s some costumes for rental there. Choose whatever you want.”
Minato ignored me and climbed under the futon as she was. I moved to the edge of the bed, but since I was already there from the very beginning, I risked to fall down.
“Idzono-kun, you don’t like me?”
“I wouldn’t say so…”
Her voice came from right behind me, but I didn’t turn around. The switch near the head of the bed clicked, and the lights turned off.
“Then, you like me?”
“I wouldn’t say so…”
I was afraid to shorten the distance between us. I was afraid to reach the target. The further away the target, the calmer I became. Even in the drop into the abyss, I would find something pleasant.
“I want to be loved. And you seem to love me very much, Idzono-kun.”
“How erotic,” I joked, unable to withstand such a straightforward statement.
“In any case you will love me very soon. You will love me, think only of me, go crazy because of me. You wouldn’t be able to live without my love, you will want me. And then you will certainly become happy.”
And here I was embraced by a girl’s hand. My muscles weren’t very good, so I felt the thin fingers touching my bulging ribs. And then - a soft touch to my back. How awkward.
My strength left me. When I looked at the headboard, the electronic clock showed almost two am.
The girl’s palm warmed me pleasantly.
I didn’t have the time to notice, as I fell asleep.
Early in the morning I woke up from a deep sleep. Seeing that the electronic dial only showed six o’clock, I carefully got out from the futon, so as not to crumple it. The shower seemed to wash away all the unpleasant things - what a wonderful feeling. But it instantly disappeared when I put on dirty clothes.
Minato was still sleeping, and her face was completely undisturbed, closed eyes, a slightly open mouth. I put an alarm clock on my phone for the time in ten minutes and put it by head of the bed. So I wouldn’t see Minato getting out in just her undergarments, I left to the shower, and ran the water for no reason. The impossibility to leave the room due to the automatic cash register was depressing.
From the shower head, stuffed into the bath, rose a white waft, filling the already stuffy shower with new steam. Because of the noise of the water, I didn’t know what was going on in the room, and decided to wait ten more minutes. I tore up the packaging and took out a toothbrush, squeezed out some toothpaste from a miniature tube, and brushed my teeth. I then washed my face, squeezing out some liquid soap from a small bad.Everything was specially made in disposable packs. Short-haired, mustacheless, and beardless, I didn’t touch the plastic comb and the machine with shaving foam. Especially all sorts of women’s hygiene items.
Deciding that I can already leave, I closed the tap valve, and when I opened the door to the bath, I ran into Minato, who had already changed into yesterday’s hoodie.
“If you pretend to take a shower, try harder.”
And who thought of building this hotel without change rooms?
The automatic cash register swallowed a denomination of ten thousand yen and gave out three thousand in change. The hotel cost us seven thousand. Minato glanced at the bill in her hand: seven thousand for one night. Whether this was expensive or cheap, I couldn’t say. The door opened after the pay and we exited through it and walked down the corridor, dimly lit by weak lamps. The street light barely went through the small obscure windows. It was early, and because of this my brain was confused.
We went out into the hall, and then into the street. Under the morning sun, the decorative lights were no longer as bright for some reason brought grief upon me. People on the streets were going home after bustling nights, and I didn’t fail to snitch from a person, busy in babbling about beauties, three thousand.
We then caught a taxi and by seven returned home. We ate bread from the grocery store, changed into the fresh school uniform and began to look like normal high school students. And then we went to school together, just like a couple. Here I suddenly realized the one thing that is keeping us together. But I couldn’t do anything about it.
It’s been awhile since I opened the door to the teacher’s room. Just when we allegedly walked towards our class teacher, Bizon, who was absent right now, a young woman rose from the neighboring seat and looked at me.
“U-u-uh, Idzono-kun? Good morning. If you need Imamura-sensei, he’s not here yet,” said Katai, the teacher in charge of the neighboring class. She succeeded with her face, so all men, whether student or teacher, loved her. I knew that this complicated everything. The clothes on her corresponded to the image of a teacher more or else, but what did she do last night?
“No, it just so happens that I need you, Katai-sensei.”
Personally I was distorted from her eternal good nature and willingness to help. Perhaps it was because I myself lacked these qualities.
“What, me? What is it?”
“It’s uncomfortable to say here, could we go to the consultation room?”
“I think we shouldn’t talk without your class teacher.”
“Please, I ask you,” I insisted, and Katai went to the room for student consultations. The lock on her door clicked, right when I exited into the corridor and turned in the right direction.
“Come on in.”
I entered and sat on a couch. Katai sat across from me, on the other side of a low table. Lunch break started after the fourth lesson, and in the distance, in the hallways, the screams of the running degenerates were heard.
“Well, what did you want to talk about?”
I hesitated for just one moment, and then decided to go right ahead.
“This belongs to you doesn’t it, sensei?”
I stuffed my hand in my pocket and took out car keys. The mascot keychain hanging on them swayed slowly.
“It’s not a good idea to leave your car who knows where with the keys inserted.”
Silence in response.
“For example, at a parking lot.”
I propped myself up on my elbow from my knees and shook the keychain in my right hand, as if it was a bait on a fishing hook. The fish sat right in front of me.
“In a love-hotel,” I sharply interrupted her.
She tried to hide her confusion from me, unsuccessfully. What to answer, what card to play - she got confused and tried to go with the flow.
I named the district, street, and the hotel, where I left Katai’s car. Or, more precisely, where I slept with Minato yesterday.
“I see… That means I should probably go and get it.” With this Katai stared at the keys in my hand.
Between us, sitting right in front of each other, was a heavy silence, from which the air in the room seemed to harden. The racket in the hallway only emphasized the silence around us, and we were forced to endure it. However, I didn’t push out any words from me. About twenty seconds passed like this. And only after that did Katai open her mouth.
“Idzono-kun, why did you…”
“I noticed Kiyama.”
“Is there something you want to say?”
Bullseye. I unwound the ball of events and tied my trophy with the resulting thread. I didn’t just tie it, I tightly knotted it, I struck a crushing blow to the victim. With such a strength, that the inner organs could’ve burst. And I didn’t hesitate one bit.
“You and Kiyama hooked up once didn’t you? Oh, sorry, once. I mean, you f*ck with him all the time?”
Katai’s face turned pale. I checked to see if we were really alone in the consultation room and whether anyone could interfere.
“Don’t pretend like you don’t know anything.”
Katai wouldn’t want to go to the police now. She left her purse with her mobile phone in the car, and the existence of Kiyama in her life could ruin her reputation. If she would contact the police, the recording of surveillance cameras would be looked through. And here, most certainly, they will find out that the teacher comes to the love-hotel with a student.
I grabbed Katai by her shoulders, and sat her down by me on the couch. I said something so quietly that no one standing half a metre away from us would hear:
“I’m not going to tell anyone. But I would like for you to fulfill a few of my requests. I will even return the keys.”
“This.. is blackmail…”
“In a way - yes.”
“And if I don’t listen?”
“Several interesting photos and videos will be sent to a person, who only I know.”
I understood that I crossed a certain line. In the hanging silence, Katai’s heavy sigh was heard, her shoulders trembled slightly.
“Have you been following me from the very beginning?”
“ ‘Course not. Everything happened by chance.”
“What a bastard.”
“Well not to that extent. You’re just strange.”
Not very good.
“I’ll ask just in case: what did you want to ask of me?”
“Well, how do I say this, for access to the class log and personal data of my classmates.”
“You… you do understand, that if this comes up, I too will suffer?”
“If you can’t, I’ll just look for a different teacher.”
Obviously, right after I finish with Katai.
“Do you realize that we won’t always close our eyes on you?”
Judging by her behaviour, Katai didn’t give in to panic, and she held herself confident. Moreover, she showed no sign of owing me something.
“In what way, close your eyes?”
“If someone digs into this matter deeper, then they will uncover a lot of interesting things. They can even be hinted that some anxious kids from the back desks wanted to fool around and went to a love-hotel. Look a lot like you, doesn’t it?” Katai striked confidently. “Like you and Minato-san.”
The conversation clearly went the wrong way.
“What if something can be found, with which you yourself can be threatened? That’s why, if you want to split up on friendly terms, quit threatening me.”
This phrase betrayed the true degree of Katai’s desperation. As you please, I said to myself, although I could’ve just laughed in her face.
“Not at all, Minato is not at all like that,” I corrected her.
“How not. Is she not your girlfriend, with which you fool around in class, and then lick each other’s wounds?”
Katai was obviously trying to provoke me. It was as if a black beetle crawled out of the depths of my mind, and embodying my feelings, spread out his low-humming wings.
“You two are like a pair of boots, after all”
“If I will be uncovered, I will hand you over to the police and to your parents.”
And a roar echoed through my head.
“If you come at me, I will call the police and your parents and explain to them that their children are f*cking in some hotel. That’s all…” Katai got worked up. What low and disgusting statement she made.
I must shut her mouth, shut her up. That’s what I thought.
Stupid garbage, come here.
The hum, emitted by the black beetle, filled my head, and all thoughts disappeared. My consciousness hissed and gave out an error.
An incomprehensible sound came from my mouth. I didn’t have the time to notice, how my index and middle finger, which were usually cleaning out other’ pockets, rushed to Katai’s neck. I felt a thick vessel twitching on her neck.
If you stick your finger into a human neck with enough force…
Hooking a blood vessel with the tips of your fingers, is the same as a thin rubber tube…
Pulling, as if stealing a wallet…
Even a human life…
Can be pulled out with your fingers, right?
Now my head, free from the black beetle, was filled with this thought.
“You will either fulfill my request, or go down with me, I ask you, choose.”
There were no other options.
She chose the first.
That morning Kiyama didn’t turn up, and I endlessly called him. I called him from my phone, then made Fushimi call him, and Kiyama finally answered. He yelled something into the phone, but I forced him to come to school. Kiyama, who wore a uniform with long sleeves today, to cover his skin, was completely different from his normal self and seemed like a different person. Without saying anything heartbreaking, he simply sat on his chair and was quiet all day long.The very fact that he appeared in such an unattractive form, said a lot.
I examined the whole class. It became a board for playing “reverse”. The stoned, originally coloured in one colour, began to turn over. We turned the white stones - first, second, third - into black. If we continue, the surrounding stones will start to turn over by themselves.
The people around us were getting slightly nervous and showed a restrained curiosity. For the classmates, who only knew what they were supposed to, the situation looked very strange. And I was the one who made it like this. Having looked around the class, I glanced at the nervous junk, which was only able to bully tohers and save their own skins.
Minato led Tanabe somewhere, ask her about this or that. Such a clever girl.
Looking at Minato’s desk, I imagined how after turning over absolutely all the stones on the game board, I break the board itself.