Adachi hands back the police documents to me, warning that, no matter how interested he may be in the case, he is swamped at the moment. “I’m going to argue a case before the High Court in Tōkyō.”
“The High Court?”
Maybe this Adachi isn’t a buffoon after all.
“Yes, they’ve finally agreed to review an appeal I lodged years ago.”
I’m feeling somewhat better when I leave Adachi’s law office. The anvil is still creaking above my head, but at least now there is someone who might push me out of the way before it all comes crashing down.
The next order of business is to call my girlfriend Azami and arrange a time and place to meet.
I ride the rest of the way into town and park the bicycle at an underground parking garage below the Iwataya Department Store. From there, I make my way through a passage to Mitsukoshi, another department store. I take an elevator to the fifth floor where a little used overhead passage connects Mitsukoshi with an adjacent office building. It is there that I find a bank of green pay phones.
Azami picks up on the fifth ring.
Hearing her voice, I nearly break down and cry.
“Azami . . .” I say, my voice wavering. “Where are you now?”
“I’m at my grandfather’s.”
“I’m in Kagoshima.”
“Dammit . . .” She is literally on the other side of the island of Kyūshū, a four-hours’ drive away. She might as well as be on the dark side of the moon for what I need her to do.
“When are you coming back?”
“Tomorrow. In the afternoon, I think. Why?”
“I need to talk to you about something.”
“What is it?”
Paranoia has taken a firm grip on me ever since this morning’s raid. While discretion has never been my strong point, I now err on the side of caution: I don’t want to tell my girlfriend what has happened over the phone in the off chance that the police happen to be listening in. Who knows what they are capable of? They have my cell phones and can see the history of incoming and outgoing calls. It doesn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to deduce which numbers belong to the people closest to me. It’s elementary: Azami will be identified as a person of interest, and her calls monitored accordingly. At least that’s what I would do if I were a cop.
“I can’t tell you,” I reply, then curse myself for not having better tact.
“I just can’t. Not now. Not over the phone.” I’m starting to lose it.
“Tell me,” she demands, her voice moving up a register.
“Goddamn it, Azami! If I say I can’t tell you, then I can’t tell you.”
There, now I’ve done it. I have just succeeded in doing precisely what I hoped to avoid. “Sorry, Azami. I didn’t mean to snap.”
“Are you okay?”
“Yes, yes. I’m fine. Everything’s fine.” Fine and fucking dandy. “Listen, I’ll explain everything tomorrow evening.”
“I’ll call you tonight.”
“No, no, no! Don’t call me tonight.”
“Why not?” There is no stopping the meltdown now. “Are you having an affair?”
“Good God, Azami! No, I am not having an affair.” Oh, if only that were the problem! “Azami, I don’t have my cell phone on me.”
“I’ve lost it.”
“I don’t know! If I knew it wouldn’t be lost.”
“I’ll call your cell phone.”
“Don’t call my cell phone!” I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and count to ten. “Azami, I’ll explain everything tomorrow. Just don’t call my cell phone, okay?”
“I mean it. Do not call my cell phone.”
I hoped that talking to my girlfriend would ground me; that the sound of her voice would reassure me that everything was going to be all right. Calling her has only made things worse.
The first posting/chapter in this series can be found here.
Rokuban: Too Close to the Sun and other works are available in e-book form and paperback at Amazon.