The Fall of Prince Hayashi
Friendships were never easy in high school. In a small town like ours, everyone already had their friendships solidified before they could even spell. Trying to squeeze yourself in was impossible. Trying to renew yourself was even harder. I knew this, Satomi knew this, and I think it was safe to say that Hayashi knew this the most.
I can sit here and say that Hayashi faced no struggles in high school, and that would be a huge lie. With his good looks and his appearance, he was a huge threat to the high school boys who spent all summer trying to make themselves popular. To them seeing someone just pop out of nowhere and take all their hard earned popularity was something they couldn’t handle. He had a lot of enemies. Something that I didn’t really think about until Imai told me the reason why she thought Hayashi was blackmailed.
It only took a couple weeks for Hayashi‘s enemies to become friends. Something I would’ve killed for to happen to me. Hayashi was the most popular guy with boys and girls by the time his first month was over. At that point he was already dating Imai, solidifying his place in popularity. But how? How did these people who hated Hayashi suddenly decide that he was worthy of being the most popular guy at school?
It’s all because of one person: Kuro Mori.
Mori was the most popular guy before Hayashi came in. Just as his name would suggest, he had black hair that seemed to almost absorb light. He was tall, lanky, and slightly threatening. He had almost no charm in comparison to Kota. Once we were in high school, Mori’s face almost seemed evil with high cheekbones, bold features, and rough words. He lacked any warmth. But, whatever he lacked in he made up for with his cleverness.
Hayashi‘s arrival to high school sent Mori into the background. It wasn’t like he was sent to the bottom of the popularity charts. Rather he was sent to the back row of the highest shelf. Everyone who heard his name knew him. It’s just that in comparison to Hayashi, Kuro Mori was just not enough anymore.
“Let me get this straight,” I brought my hands up to my face. “You’re telling me that you think Mori threatened Hayashi in exchange for money?”
“And for popularity,” Imai was now sitting on the couch again, food completely gone.
As much as I hated the idea, everything that Imai said made sense. Just because everyone seem to love Kota, didn’t mean everyone did. Out of all the people to possibly hate him, the top person on that list would probably have been Mori. Mori lost it all to Hayashi. It only made sense that he felt like blackmail was his final resort.
“It would also explain why he didn’t ask his parents for money,” I said. “Hayashi had an ego, and if he was threatened, he would probably want the least amount of people to know.”
“From what I remember after Hayashi‘s death, it seems like Mori jumped back into the space of popularity. Like he was waiting the whole time.”
I got up and took a seat next to Imai on the couch. “If this is all true, then we definitely need to find Mori next.”
Imai laid her head back. “We can search him up on Winkstagram later.”
She stretched her arms up in the air. “Right now, I’m going to take a nap.“
A nap? We just found out that Hayashi could’ve been threatened, and Imai wanted to take a nap? “Are you… Are you out of your mind?”
Imai yawned, closing her eyes. “I thought we both agreed that we were both equally insane. With me slightly a level above you. Besides, I have a feeling that finding Mori won’t be that difficult.”
While Imai took her nap, I ate the rest of my food in true silence. I wanted to put the TV on behind me, but decided against it since I didn’t wanna wake Imai. Instead, I decided to go through Ustube videos and clean up my Winkstagram account. Every now and then, I would look up at her to make sure that she was actually still asleep. So she wouldn’t see me eat my food in complete silence like a total weirdo. Or at least so that she wasn’t staring at me while I ate.
I didn’t know who Mori was in high school, besides the fact that he was someone with black hair. To be fair I didn’t know anyone in high school unless they bullied me. The names I knew were the names of the people who bullied me, featuring Kota Hayashi, the one person who I considered a friend. It was upsetting back then, to not have anyone to rely on. But now it felt like it didn’t even matter. No one really ever knew each other in high school anyways. The moment I moved away, those people faded away into the distance. I never got the experience of friendship in my new high school either, but at least I wasn’t being bullied. It didn’t bother me that I didn’t make any friends in my new school. After all, one year of silence was ten times better than spending the rest of high school getting bullied twenty-four-seven.
I heard shift next to me. My eyes flickered over to check if she was awake, yet, her eyes were still closed. I felt myself relax, turning back to eating my food in silence. Imai must’ve known all these people back then. Mori, Hayashi, Kageyama. She was popular back then. I remember seeing her and her girl friends all talk in the hallway. Back then, she seemed so irrelevant to me because of her status. How could a loser like me ever be friends with someone like her? Who would have thought the girl with the auburn hair and an amazing figure was now just Satomi Imai to me.
These past two weeks seemed to pass by in seconds in my mind. The message that Hayashi left on my account remains there, a constant reminder of what I was doing here in Kumano. Maybe I was just doomed to always hate social media. I know everyone on it hated it, so why couldn’t I be off social media and hate it at the same time?
I pulled out my phone from my pocket and looked up a Satomi in front of me. Did she have a Winkstagram account? I decided to open up my phone again, and the first thing that pops up on my homepage what is the Winkstagram app. I like it was a patient dog waiting at home for his owner to come back. Except my dog wasn’t a simple shiba but rather a huge guard dog. Waiting for me to enter so it could attack.
Welcome back, to Winkstagram!
My feed page loaded, filled with old post from almost three years ago that I missed out on. In the corner the red number one on the message center teased me. I knew the only message there was Hayashi‘s. The one where he asked me for help. The one that reminded me that I abandoned him to run to an Onomichi. Abandon my only friend for temporary peace.
I shook my head a little bit, as my fingers guided me to Hayashi‘s profile. It was blank still. But that wasn’t what I was looking for right now. The thing I was looking at was who followed him. And who still followed him till this day. I went into the followers and typed in:
0 results. Try another name
I looked up from where I was typing, and found in my fast asleep. Thank goodness she couldn’t see me right now. She would probably freak out that I was even searching of her name on the Internet or some other bizarre reason to get mad at me and kick me. At least now I knew that she didn’t follow Hayashi anymore. I don’t know why I thought she would still follow him. After everything she went through after his death, the most reasonable thing for her to do was separate herself from anything that could connect her back to Kota. That was the same thing I did to Kumano as a whole. Separating yourself made it easier to lie to yourself.
But I wasn’t here just to search up her name.
There it was. Mori’s account still followed Hayashi. There were only a handful of people who still followed at this point, his close friends and those who just simply forgot they were following him. It was safe to say that Mori was following him from the first category. Or based on Imai’s hypothesis earlier, Mori could’ve still followed Hayashi‘s account to make sure that no one found out about his past connections with Hayashi.
I ate the rest of my food quickly, and once it was done I threw the container out into the trash. Imai was right. Everything she was saying made sense and I couldn’t even deny it. Mori must’ve known something about Hayashi to use against him for money. If he couldn’t get his popularity back, the least that he could’ve gotten was some cash. But what did he know? And why was Hayashi willing to have two jobs just to pay them off?
I needed answers now. Imai’s nap could wait later.
“Imai!“ I shook her awake with my free hand.
Her eyes opened slowly, the weight of her nap lingering on her eyes.
“What’s going on?” she yawned a bit, stretching her arms up.
“Imai, I found Mori’s account!” I shouted. “You were right. We need to find him, now!”
The moment I mentioned Mori, Imai finally woke up from her sleepy coma. It was like I pressed the power on button and now regular Satomi was back. She grabbed my phone out of my hand and took a look at the account I was talking about. She pressed on the account profile and our excitement flattened immediately.
Mori was on private, which meant we weren’t going to find much on his account about him. The only things we could see on the account was a profile picture, the small blurb he had underneath his profile picture, the number of people he followed and was followed by. But wasn’t that strange? There we’re only a couple reasons I can imagine he would be private for. Either he really respected his private life, or he didn’t want unwanted people prying into his business.
“Looks like we’re not gonna find out much from his account,” I said, looking over Imai’s shoulder.
I went to grab my phone back and to think about what to do next, when Imai grabbed my shoulder and held it tight. She was pointing at the small blurb underneath Mori’s profile picture. Her eyes widened and she bolted to the table in front of us to grab the homework assignment.
“Look at this Souta!” She pointed to the last sentence of the homework assignment.
I grabbed the paper out of her hand and saw the exact line she was pointing at.
Fear is only as deep as the mind allows it.
I looked back from the paper to the blurb multiple times. Mori had this quote as his profile blurb, and the assignment we found had this quote at the very end of it. It could be a coincidence, but I highly doubt it was. Using a random quote on the internet would mean that he wouldn’t have used the same one twice. If I learned anything, It’s that most things are done on purpose. Even if the people who are doing it don’t realize it.
“Both assignments have the same quote,” Imai handed me back my phone. “I’ve never heard Hayashi say that quote, much less ever reference it. It must be from Mori.”
“Maybe Mori had Hayashi do his homework,“ I closed my phone and put it back in my pocket. “Hayashi could’ve sold his homework and done his homework at the same time.”
“I would explain how little time he had after school the month before we broke up,“ Imai said. “He was probably busy doing all those things for money all for Mori.”
“Then it’s simple,” I got up from the couch. “All we have to do is find Mori, confront him about what happened, and find out the real reason why I Kota chose to end his life.”
Imai stared down on her hands, wiggling her fingers. “I think that may be Mori’s threat could’ve been the reason why he actually ended his life.”
I thought for a second, and took in the weight of Imai‘s words. If Mori threat was really that serious enough to cause Hayashi to only see death as an option… That meant Mori thought the secret was a super huge deal or the amount of money he was asking for was insane. Complicant in a death either way, which meant that Mori was a criminal. A criminal who is running free right now, after ending our dear friends life.
“Imai,” I went to the front of the living room and grabbed my shoes, slipping them on. “Come on we’re going to the shopping center.”
“Give me a minute, OK?! I have to put my shoes on!”
Imai got up, grabbing the other pair of shoes at the front of the living room. Instead of slipping them on like me, she sat back on the couch and put them on like a normal human.
“What are we even doing in the shopping center anyway?” Imai shouted, her shoes now on. I opened the front door and nodded for her to get out first.
“We’re going to find Kuro Mori today,” I said, “And end this all tonight.”
Notes from Zen:
A new character has arrived: Kuro Mori! But what threat did he hold against Hayashi? And what's up with that weird quote he has in his bio? And did Imai enjoy her quick ten minute nap???
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