Phone Call with Yukie
Yukie: "...I see. It must be tough to get a sudden assignment like this.... Please be careful. Where are you going for the assignment? Are you already there?"
I'm heading out on an assignment, so the questions is "where to?" ...Not just for Yukie, it's a very natural and reasonable question for anyone to ask.
If it's a cold place, then it'd be a good idea to prepare some warm clothings. Or, if it's a far place, then be careful on the way there.
......It's a perfectly normal question that links to those perfectly normal considerations. The fact that I can't even answer that perfectly normal question makes me a little sad.
Yukie: "...I'm sorry. You're not allowed to say, right...? Please be careful."
Akasaka: ".........Sorry, Yukie."
Yukie: "...It's been a while since I've been admitted into the hospital too. Are you getting lonely yet...?"
Yukie: "...*giggle*, well then, what do we think about that? You're really a pampered child, after all.... Without me around, you must be becoming more and more timid around people, right...? *giggle giggle*"
Yukie: "...Don't try to shift the topic. Without my attention, you're feeling so so lonely~, I can hear your tail wagging across the phone receiver telling me that, you know? *giggle giggle*......"
This side of Yukie is unimaginable from her usual ladylike demeanors, and she never shows it to anyone but me. Normally, I would poke her back to hide my embarrassment, and forcibly end the conversation in some way, but that doesn't work over the phone.
......Of course, Yukie is smart. She's teasing me knowing that as well.
Yukie: "...*giggle giggle*. I wonder when was it that I realized just how fun it is to make fun of you...."
I'm phoning Yukie, who's left alone in the hospital, so that she wouldn't feel lonely.
......That's just an excuse made for a shy guy like me. And it looks like Yukie figured that out a long time ago as well.
Akasaka: "...............Yeah." Yukie: "Call me again sometime, ok...? If I can't come to the phone, then dad will talk to you. ...Well, if dad picks up, knowing you, even across the phone you'd probably be standing at full attention while talking him. *giggle giggle giggle*...."
For a short while, Yukie continued to tease without giving me a chance to hang up.......
Guest Greeting Speech Script
Chairman XX-san, and everyone of the XX assembly, I would like use this opportunity to congratuate you all on the 25th anniversary of the XX assembly.
The past twenty-five years can be said to have been the entire history of XX prefecture's developments.
The quiet scenary of whole fields of croplands, through the long-wished opening of the Shinkansen station, as well as highway services, has also been reborn into modern cities filled with young vitality.
The economy and the industries are growing by accepting new and improved ideas one by one.
And through the love for their native land that's unique to the residents of XX prefecture, which places great value on our old and wonderful traditions, our towns have grown to become some of the most wonderful cities in Japan that maintains a perfect balance between tradition and culture, and economy and industry.
And, we can say that the history of XX prefecture's developments has also been the history of the XX assembly's development.
We are required to have executing abilities that's literally as sharp as an arrow, in order for us to constantly enforce our public promises and policies once they have been revealed.
I believe that everyone here in the XX assembly, which treats this arrow as it's organization symbol, are all arrows possessing this arrow-like execution ability, and uses it to pierce through all obstacles for the sake of perpetual happiness of the XX prefecture residents.
However, everyone here are not just simply arrows.
While possessing the integrity and candidness of an arrow, all of you have eyes that's always looking into the future, and never stops researching and exploring for new methods that adapts to the changing times.
A released arrow can only fly towards a pre-determined target.
However, everyone here are not just arrows.
Even after released from the bow, all of you continues to search for newer, more effective methods and policies, as well as possessing a flexible stance that allows for immediate changes in the arrow's trajectory. You are magic arrows.
The times are constantly advancing. Sometimes, it's possible for the times to move on before a policy can be executed.
(Beyond this are parts that were not in the original script. It is believed to be the minister's ad lib)
For example, even regarding to the Hinamizawa Village Electricity Basic Project that has been causing various problems in the recent years within the prefecture, we cannot carry through with the plan simply because we were told to, instead, we must possess the flexibility to always respond to and reflect the constantly changing desires of the next era, the native community, as well as the residents.
The protest movements surrounding the Hinamizawa Dam is also a conscious opinion of the XX prefecture residents. If we don't lend our ears to their pleads simply because the policy has already been determined, then it may very well cast a bad shadow over the democratic government of the postwar Japan.
(Beyond this are the same as the original script)
I will also be thorough with policies that has been determined, for the sake of perpetual happiness for the citizens of Japan, as well as the residents of the XX prefecture.
At the same time, I'm also constantly reminded that I must learn to have the flexibility that everyone here at the XX assembly possesses, who are capable finding new methods while gazing into the future.
It has become a long speech, but with that, I would like to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the XX assembly. Chairman XX-san, as well as everyone of the XX assembly. Congratulations to you all today.
Gears and Fires and the Taste of Honey
Daily lives in the world are run by people's connections with each other. However, that does not mean everyone is connected to each other.
Everyone knows that even if some nameless person crys or laughs on the other side of the planet, it will not effect them in any way. However, if it happened within a very limited small community such as a neighborhood, then it's not an impossibility either.
It's possible that a single significant act within a small community can have a large effect on the entire population afterwards.
If the scale of the act increases to an extremely large size, then ......Well, it's possible that some nameless person's heroic speech on the other side of the planet might affect my life in some way.
But that doesn't mean everything is like that.
Like I said in the beginning, fundamentally speaking, the connections between people are not as obvious as the society would have you believe. Whether the family across the street is having hamburger meat or croquette as their dinner side-dish doesn't affect me in any way. When I put on my shoes, whether I start with my right foot first or left foot first doesn't affect anyone in any way.
......Most people can probably understand everything up to this point.
However, truly practically realistically speaking, the connections between people is actually something that's much more black and white. It is not an issue of distance like "it doesn't matter because it's on the other side of the Earth" or "it affects me because it's near me" or anything.
For example, let's say that the actions of a certain person A affect me. That doesn't mean a certain person B's actions would affect me as well. Same goes for the reverse. Just because my actions affect A does not mean that they will affect B as well.
Let's put it more bluntly.
If we were to describe people's connections or fates as gears, then there will be people who are engaged with my gear, as well as people who aren't. That's what I mean.
Some people will probably object to this, calling it a fallacy.
For those people, I'll refer them to the gears within a clock. The gears within a clock are mostly only engaged with one or two other gears beside themselves.
However, if one gear spins, it moves the gear beside it, and through their connections with each other, it will have moved all the gears in the end.
.........It certainly makes sense, and it also has enough power to persuade most people.
Now then, why does it have persuasive power?
...The answer is simple. Because something as abstract as "connections between people" cannot be explained except as a concept. Because it is impossible to physically explain just exactly which gear connects with which in what way, and how they link and relate to each other, so we can only shroud it in smoke by using such logics.
Now then, for those people who liked that explanation, let me object to it by referring to the clock again.
To begin with, it is a mistake to think of this world as a single clock.
There's more than one clock. In this world, there are lots of clocks, each pointing to their own time. Think about it, to think of this world as having only one clock is an incredibly ignorant thing in itself.
If you think about that way, then while I explain people's connections by using the gear example, it would also explain how there are gears from other clocks that have absolutely no relationship to my gear, right?
The neighbor A and B. Since A is a gear in the same clock as me, I should probably pay more attention to him. Since B is a gear in a different clock from me, his existence doesn't really matter to me.
A clear-cut distinction, just like that.
You want to call that a fallacy?
Then, for an easier understanding, let's use a daily life example that's easier for us to relate to than the clock. You have probably heard of the expression "the fire on the other side of the river", right?
For example, if your neighbor is having a fire, you would obviously help with firefighting effort, right? It'd be troublesome if the fire spreads to your house, after all.
But what if that fire is over at the town across the river from you?
Would you go through the trouble of getting up to go help? You won't, right? No matter what, there's no way it would spread to your house, after all.
What I mean is, even for fires, there are houses that can spread their fires to your own house, and then there are completely irrelevant houses that won't spread their fires to you. With an example as concrete as this, you can probably understand the gear example about the gears that relate to you and the gears that don't, even if only a little bit, right?
......What I'm saying is that there are lots of things like these in the world, even without the rivers.
It's not an issue of distance like "neighbor" or "the other side of the river" or anything, understand?
Chick in the Trunk
The car stopped. However, that's the only thing that I knew. That's because I was blindfolded and put into the trunk.
Oh, how powerless a person when his vision has been restrained. ...I would've never known about this before I experienced it first hand. I realized that resistance was futile. I began to feel dizzy from the trapped air in the trunk. ...All that was left was for my consciousness to go dim as this torture ran its course.
When the car's engine stopped, my consciousness clinged on to the illusion that I was going to be set free. In reality of course, the situation at hand has not changed. Hence, I immediately awoke from that illusion.
I hear the voice of the man that kidnapped me and another older man that I hear for the first time. I concentrate to listen in on their conversation...
Man: "....Good afternoon. The chick is in the trunk. He's a bit worn out for resisting, but I've never hurt him per your orders."
[flash of white light]
Fresh and cool air suddenly engulfs me as they open the trunk. All this time, I wanted out. But once the trunk is opened, now I felt sudden unease on what's about to happen next. ..I even wished to have the trunk shut again to shield me from these men.
Someone suddenly placed its hand on my head. Since I was blindfolded, I didn't know whether the hand touching my head was about to pat me or as a precursor to chopping my head off. I tightened my body as I prepared for the worst...
Older man (in distinct local dialect): "Look at him...all scared and shaken. Don't you worry son, You just stay here for a bit until things cool down..."'
The older man said it in a sympathetic way as he patted my head.
Older man: "I'm sorry for all of this... But your grandpa is a very kind person. I'm sure he'll do everything to save you."
Since I lived in a metro area where regular Japanese is spoken, this old man's regional dialect was very distinctive. However, I wasn't able to decipher what he just said. I finally realized that how he said "yer 'andpa" meant "your grandpa" as I repeated that phrase over and over again in my head...
Then, the hand that was patting my head touched my blindfold.
Man: "...I disagree with taking off the blindfold sir... Things will get complicated if he gets to identify us later on."
The man's hand began to tap my head. His hand was much different from the older man's - thick and strong.
Stay put and we won't lay a finger. But if you start shit...well, you know what's gonna happen right?
...it's as if this man was sending such messages directly into me as he tapped my head.
The sound of the car approaches near, slowly brakes, and shuts off its engine to a complete stop. The relaxing man inside suddenly jumps up, crawls near the window and cautiously peeks through the window...
...It's his partner's car. But he doesn't leave his guard down.
The footsteps began to approach the door, and he knocks with the pre-arranged code, knock, kno-kno-knock.
Man A: "...I'm back. It's me, open it"
The man unlocks it and open the door. Another man holding a two large plastic bags filled with goods from the local supermarket stands in front of the door. "Sevens Mart" is written on the side of the bag filled with bakeries and pints of milk. He dumps them onto the mattress on the floor.
Man A: "I've also bought some Cup Noodles, so can you get me some hot water? ...So how's the kid doing?"
The man tries in vain by turn the knob on the portrable range to see if there's any juice left to get it going.
...The other man who brought the supplies sighs in despair.
The other man decides to put his mind aside of this matter and walks over to the back of the room. ...The child that was kidnapped was laying on the floor mattress.
Man A: ".....Hey kid. ....Feelin' okay?"
Of course, the man didn't expect to have the kid hear what he was saying. That's because the kid was earplugged on both of his ears, and secured tightly with duct tape along with the blindfold. His mouth was covered with a simple gag made out of thin towels. ...The kid's jaw was covered with his own drool as he couldn't get his jaw shut from the gag. Furthermore, his hand were tied on his back tightly with a leaher belt.
Man A: "Good, everything going satisfactory. Don't you worry, we won't take your life or anything. ...If your grandpa refused to budge, we would've had to cut off on of your ears, but it seems we don't have to do that anymore... If it's on the orders of the main household, we have to do it... ...I can't even imagine what kind of cruel things they might've ordered. ...Since the main house is saying not to lay a single scratch to you, then it must mean all's going to satisfaction..."
Man B: "The minister backs down from the dam project. The Hinamizawa Dam Project will be put on indefinite hiatus. ...I wonder when we'll be able to let this kid go. ...I wanna have a nice relaxing smoke already."
Man A: "The main house is looking for the right timing. I don't know when, but it seems it's gonna be soon..."
Man B: "You hear that kid? Seems like you're gonna be released soon. Hehehe..."
No one knows whether the men's voices have reached the child's ears. ...The only way the child was able to protect his mind from this cruel reality was to force himself to go to sleep...
Man A: "In either case, what about the gas, man!! I can't eat ramen without it!! If you knew that we're all out of gas, why didn't you say so!!"
In Love With the Rain Clouds
The weather forecast predicted that there won't be any rain at all this week.
It's not that I dislike sunny days. However, if the dull sunny weather continues on for days after days, then anyone would begin to long for the rain clouds. If the same monotonous sunny sky continues for a whole week, a whole month, a whole year, then anyone would begin to long for the rain clouds.
The weather experts would line up various past data and analyze them carefully before announcing their predictions, so the forecasts don't usually miss their marks. I know that.
......But, that's exactly why I look up at the sunny sky, waiting for that one day where the weather forecast just might miss it's mark.
Does that make me a rebel?
Even as I wait and wait, sometimes the boredom of a fine sunny sky with no rain clouds feels suffocating to me. If people could actually suffocate to death by something like this. ...Then the population on Earth probably wouldn't have grown this large.
Which means, ...I must be the only person who can suffocate by something like this.
That's why. ......I become overjoyed at the sudden evening showers in summer evenings that couldn't be predicted even in the weather forecasts.
How can I explain it, so that you can understand my feelings as well?
For example, let's say tonight's dinner is going to be curry rice. But when I got called to the dinner table, it was actually a dish of fried eggplant and green pepper.
It was just something that mom decided to change on a whim. But I'm really glad for that whim. It's true that I don't really like eggplants or green pepper, but still, I'm glad.
I'm glad to see the collapse of the preestablished arrangement that said "tonight's dinner is going to be curry rice". If we were to repeat this night for a hundred times, decidedly, there's going to be that curry rice that I'll have to eat a hundred times.
...And that curry rice has become fried eggplant and green pepper tonight. There's no reason why I won't enjoy this random happening.
It's been decided that it's going to be sunny for a whole week, starting today. That's what the weather forecast determined, and the god of weather is probably thinking the same too.
But, nobody can say with confidence that, ...by some random chance, ...rain clouds won't come even for just one of those days.
......The fact that there are always elements left in this world which nobody can be certain about, saves living things like me from suffocating.
Tomorrow is probably going to be a pretty hot and sunny day too. But, only I know that a preestablished arrangement like that can be changed every once in a while... by a very slight chance that's probably barely 1%.
Placing hope in that 1% of something, I would hang the teruteru bouzu (weather doll) upside down on the edge of the house eaves on sunny days. In the end, I'm living my life through hoping for such unexpectedness in all things in the world.
Why am I hoping for them? ...The thought popped into my head.
Why am I waiting for the rain clouds?
...That's simple. Because I'm tired of sunny skies.
Then, why is it that I'm waiting for the rain clouds?
...That's simple. Because the tomorrow that's been determined to be sunny is boring.
So, why is it that I'm waiting for the rain clouds?
In the end, it doesn't matter whether it'll be sunny or rainy tomorrow.
In the end, even if it rained, it would only be able to temporarily moisten the boredom that has made my heart barren.
That's why, rather than watching television dramas where the plot has already been determined, ...I prefer looking up in the sky instead.
Barley tea, Black tea, and Stone grinder
Dr. Irie: "Your blood pressure is getting much better. I'm amazed at your vitality, especially a person at such an age as yours. Oryou-san, I wouldn't be surprised if you lived past hundred or even two."
The young doctor smiled as he removed the sphygmomanometer from the elderly ladies' arms.
Oryou: "Dr. Irie is such a good doctor... Old people like us who live past beyond their age need to go away so as not to bother the younger generation... Hohohoho..."
The elderly woman puts on a smile and laughs smoothly.
Then he turns her head towards the fusuma and bellows, "Is Shinko-san or Taeko-san here? Go bring Dr. Irie some cold barley tea!"
The halls echoes with light footsteps. When the fusuma opened there was a young girl there. ...It seems that she was the grandchild of the elderly woman.
Mion: "Shinko-san has already left for the day. ...Do you need anything?"
The girl named Mion turned back to the hallway after listening to her grandma's request.
Oryou: "Remember to bring the doctor's barley tea in the glassware for the guest!! Oh and bring the zabuton cushion too! Don't forget to wipe off the condensation on the glass too, ya hear!?"
Mion's frank voice is heard across the hall. That's just her attitude, nothing new. The elderly woman chuckled.
Oryou: "Sigh, when will she learn. Oh well, I guess that how they are nowadays."
The elderly woman guffawed with that remark. She seems to be enjoying this conversation.
Oryou: "Dr. Irie, I'm sorry. Can you open the shoji? I want to let the cool wind in."
The soothing sounds of cicadas was seeping in through the gaps of the shoji. Dr. Irie stood up to open the shoji. The cool wind began to let the humidity of the room out.
Dr. Irie: "It's been getting very hot lately...but it seems it's still cool during dawn and dusk hours. Last night was even a bit cold for me."
Dr. Irie smiled back, and sat himself on the cusion next to the elderly woman once again. The two calmly just sat there listening to the cries of the cicadas...
Oryou: "...Although I may not live to a hundred, it's not my time to die just yet. ...My coffin will not close until this dam thing gets taken care of."
"Oh no, of course I know what it is," reassured Dr. Irie. He knows that Oryou dislikes it when her conversation gets impeded like this.
Oryou: "The government's stone grinder can grind anything...it's quite impressive, really. But, it's so heavy that it needs lots of people to get it moving. And when it does, it moves very slowly. That's the kind of stone grinder they have."
Irie kept his mouth shut as he listened to what she was saying.
Just then, Mion brought over the tray with the teas. She realized that Oryou was speaking in a good mood, so she silently crouched and handed over the barley and black teas.
Oryou: "...and since it's so heavy, it's hard to stop it's momentum. ...The first shove to get it going is very heavy. Everyone doesn't want to do that first shove once again, so they don't rest and continue to keep it rolling."
When Irie whispered that, the elderly woman and Mion paused suddenly in silence...
Irie realized immediately that he has made the wrong remark, and desperately tried to find a comment to recuperate himself. But he was dumbfounded in silence when he realized the cold smiles on the two's facial expressions.
Dr. Irie: "................."
The air around him seemed to drop several degrees. Irie couldn't think straightfoward. He became afraid that their cold smiles was aimed at his remark he has just uttered.
Dr. Irie: "................"
The silence didn't last that long. Irie caved in from the silent pressure, and chose to laugh his way out to loosen the atmosphere. The laughter passed on to the elderly woman and Mion, and the room began to fill with the three's laughter.
...The cicadas were the only ones that were not laughing, as they incessantly continues to cry their usual sounds...
Kataoka: "...Yeah. I met him at the restaurant in Ginza yesterday. Yeah, that issue was discussed there."
Elite Investigator A: "They're overstepping their authority. They are getting too involved in our Public Safety Commission. This might set a bad precedent for us to seeking opportunities."
Kataoka: "Minister Inukai is highly unimpressed with the how the PSC is moving along. I'm sure that the issue will be brought up by the vice-minister on Monday's Metropolitan Assembly. ....Dang man."
EI A: "We'll have to set a rebuttal by having a our Chief discuss this matter with the vice-minister. That's the responsibility of the person who gets paid more."
Kataoka: "If that's so, then the Chief will ask us to provide us with evidence on the Minister's threat."
EI A: "Yeah, that man sometimes loses track on which side he's supposed to be on. You're supposed to be on our side!"
Kataoka: "I'm sure that's just the pressure coming from the Minister as well. We have to hope the investigation goes along while I sweat and toil inside the vice-minister's room. ...That is if I don't sweat everything I have and turn into pulp, of course. ...So, how's the investigation going along?"
EI A: "All the areas that we've suspected turned up nothing, so basically we have no idea."
Kataoka: "I head that if we look at the recent statements made by the Minister, we see increasing references to the Hinamizawa Dam Project. What about that?"
EI A: "....hmmmm.... It's not like it stands out or anything...it's just this weird sense tied with it. But then, since that speech was done at the XX Prefectural Meeting, it can be said that he brought that up as a local pork-barrel issue."
Kataoka: "This was the one that is being protested highly by the local group, right? The Onigafuchi Defense League. Wasn't Akasaka-kun investigating on them?"
EI A: "In my opinion, I don't think they are capable to carryout such a case like this. However, since all the leads that we followed so far turned up emptyhanded, we can't scratch this one off as a possibility. I've received a small report from Akasaka-kun stating that it has been inconclusive at this time."
Kataoka: "...Then there might be some value in putting our investigation there isn't it? We have nothing as of now, and if that group is the only one that's suspicious, we've gotta do what we've gotta do."
EI A: "Well, that's not the only group that we need to investigate. Ahahaha! If we're to start suspecting groups on the level of Onigafuchi, then there's just too many of them. We don't have the time or the manpower no matter how much overtime we get paid."
Kataoka: "Get in touch with Akasaka-kun to see if he can go a bit more in-depth. ...I'm starting to get suspicious myself on that Defense League."
EI A: "He said he was able to get into close contact with the villagers. He seems to have also made connections with the local police department."
Kataoka: "Keep the contact with Akasaka-kun confidential. And if you think there might be something suspicious going on from the reports he gives, don't hesitate to call in more backup."
EI A: "You got it."
EI B: "...um, excuse me Manager Kataoka~! It's a call from the Chief. Would you like me to transfer it over there?"
Kataoka: "No, no that's fine! I'll go over there. ....Hello! This is Kataoka speaking..."