One Thousand Mornings: Chapter 2: Rebirth
“Mr. Akita, you have a guest.” The employee glanced over at Kawamura, sliding the door open as she stepped to the side. Kawamura stepped into the lowly lit room. It was fitted with fully packed bookshelves that reached the ceiling and covered the entire wall on the right-hand side. An assortment of rare ornaments sat upon a shelf right beside the doorway, and the left side of the room was reserved for the bed, nightstand, and wardrobe. Directly opposite of the door were two large windows facing the riverside where you could see the local fishermen pass by on their small boats whenever they were out catching a day’s meal. Just in front of the window sat a well-kept desk that stretched about a meter and a half long. A voice called out from behind a backwards facing chair just on the opposite side of the desk. Most of his figure was covered in shadow, save for the rim of light passing through the window that carved out his outer contour.
Kawamura casually walked forward, slightly limping on his right foot as he made his way towards the front of the desk and pulled himself up a seat. The room had a very calm and open atmosphere despite the rather enclosed setup. Mr. Akita slowly appeared as he turned his chair around to face Kawamura. He seemed very comfortably seated with one foot lying across his opposite thigh. “You knew I would be coming to see you today?” Kawamura solemnly questioned. “I know a lot of things, detective,” Mr. Akita replied.
Mr. Akita had a seasoned look to his appearance. His eyes held a natural squint and his posture was very stern, but at the same time very laid back. He came off as certain and assertive, but at the age of only 55, something must have steered him towards a direction of social dysconnectivity. Rather than pursuing higher ranks within the police force that he once thought he could lay his life down on the line for, or even starting his own detective agency, he instead, stepped down from enforcement and moved away from Tokyo entirely. But why go so far as to hunker down in a retirement home? After all, he wasn’t sick or in need of help. Not to mention, cutting all ties with the force also seemed suspicious. Could he possibly be running away from something? Kawamura took a moment to glance around the room once more, it was only then that he’d noticed the lack of both a computer and a television set. Resting his sights back on Mr. Akita, Kawamura then sat more firmly in his chair and stated, “Then you should know why I’m here”.
“Sure,” he replied.
Kawamura tapped his finger repeatedly against the hinoki desk before asking “Do you know about anything that’s been going on lately in Tokyo, Mr. Akita?”
“Should I care to?” Mr. Akita followed.
They exchanged looks for a moment. Something about Mr. Akita’s approach tickled Kawamura’s senses. There was a defensive touch to his statements; one of which at the same time felt as though it was simultaneously building a profile of Kawamura. Even now, Mr. Akita was playing detective.
“Then let’s get straight to it. What happened the night you responded to an incident at the Fukumori residence on April 14th, 2006?”
Mr. Akita reached over for a small Buddha statue sitting on his desk. He rotated it slightly so that the face of the Buddha was barely visible from where Kawamura sat. The light from the window bounced off the statue’s shiny surface, creating a glimmer of light that reflected onto Kawamura’s face. “You want a cup of coffee, detective? You seem a little drained,” Mr. Akita asked.
“Coffee makes me antsy, so I’d rather not for the time being; but thank you.”
“Good choice. You’re certainly going to need a calm and collective mindset if you don’t want to lose yourself in this nonsensical case you’re chasing around.”
“Nonsensical. . .?”
Mr. Akita clasped his hands together and rested it comfortably in his lap. “Listen carefully, detective. A lot of things happened that night. Unfortunately, there’s no feasible way of making sense of any of it.
Kawamura’s chain of thought fell empty after hearing Mr. Akita’s response. “. . . I’m not following,” he stated firmly.
“Ever felt like you’ve been somewhere before? As if somehow you were walking the same path all over again. Doing the same thing, all over again?”
“You mean like Déjà vu?”
“No—it’s nothing like Déjà vu.”
Mr. Akita got up from his chair and turned to face the massive windows behind him. He gazed at the calm waters of the river, watching as it flowed endlessly. “You know, life was very simple at one point in time. By simple, I don’t necessarily mean easy, but simple. People only worried about the necessities in life. Food, water, family. Of course, to obtain and secure these necessities we humans developed the need to be more capable than our opponents. To ensure our subsistence… and for the sake of greed as well. Thus, the idea of survival of the fittest was born; and with it, a superiority complex. With that, we eventually decided that we had the right not only to the amount that we required to sustain ourselves, but our enemies’ portions as well. Eventually, we gave birth to war, and thus proceeded to kill each other off for centuries. At that point, it was all about control; no longer about necessity.”
“Is that why you came all the way out here? To separate yourself from those who only wanted control, in favor of a more ‘simpler’ life?”
“No . . . Today, life is as it comes, simple times are just a figment of the past now. No point in chasing behind a utopia. I came here; detective, to make sure that I would live to see the day you showed up at my door.”
Mr. Akita walked away from the window and over towards the bookshelf. He slipped his finger in between two books; one was the Baghavatgitta, and the other the Kojiki, and pulled out a thin notebook. He then turned around to face Kawamura once again as he took a seat in a small chair seated in front of the large bookshelf.
“The night that I arrived at the Fukumori household, there was nothing to be found. No one was there. At least when I first walked through the door.
“We responded to reports of gunshots followed by sightings of a fire. As we arrived, yea sure there was a fire, but it didn’t live on for long. The fire fighters put it out in a matter of minutes. It hadn’t even spread far from the front end of the building. They arrived before I did and were able to take down most of the flames from the outside. I ordered the firefighters not to enter the house any further, and me and my guys went in instead. Like I said, when we stepped inside, there was nobody there. It was possible that there was a perpetrator holding the family hostage somewhere else throughout the house, so of course, we scoured the place up and down. We were informed that the house had a lower level, so I made sure to check there as well. We walked out empty handed. The first time, that is.”
“So, you went back in afterwards?”
“Not by choice, no”
“. . .”
“As I walked away from the front door, and headed down the front pathway, I specifically looked for the fire chief to ask him whether he’d seen someone in the house when he’d arrived. I remember it like it was yesterday, the image is so clear in my mind. As soon as I placed my foot outside of the front gate, my foot touched down right at the bottom of the basement stairs.
“Just like that, I was back inside again.”
Kawamura sketched a questionable look on his face; unsure if what Mr. Akita was saying had been a dance he was trying to get him to idiotically move along with, or if Mr. Akita had truly believed what he was saying. “Okay, what happened the second time you ended up in the basement?” Kawamura asked, willing to see how his story played out.
“Nothing, or everything. I have no idea.” Mr. Akita bewilderingly answered.
“When I’d appeared at the bottom of the basement steps, I was confused; but not enough to question what had just happened or why I’d suddenly teleported back inside. It was more like, I forgot why I was there, without even bringing into question how I got down there in the first place. Nevertheless, I peeked around the empty basement, saw nothing, then made my way back upstairs and outside the door. Just for it to happen all over again. Still, I didn’t lose my mind just yet. I kept repeatedly going through the same motions. The entire time I couldn’t pinpoint anything strange, until eventually I was walking out of that building with a young girl in my arms. Which turned out to be Chiasa.
“At some point after that night was over, it slowly started to hit me. My memories of repeatedly appearing inside the basement began returning to me in a more vivid nature. That’s when I took notice. Every time I went back down in that basement, something was different. Something certainly was off. But till this day I can never isolate what it was. It’s almost like I was dreaming. There was one time where I remember seeing someone sitting on the couch in the living area as I was walking back outside the house. I don’t know if I clearly looked at the person or not, but regardless I can’t remember the person’s face. That’s to say, if I’d even seen a face.”
“That’s quite the mystical bullshit you’re feeding me here.”
“Hahaha! But aren’t you the one chasing after ghosts, detective?
“You really expect me to believe this stupid story? Sorry, Mr. Akita but maybe you ought to lay off the 24-hour fishermen marathon you got going on outside of your window there. Or maybe the sea breeze is messing with you head. This is a real case that requires real information. A ton of my men are already dead for the sake of some girl with a backstory more back and forth than a game of ping pong. Give me something that makes sense!”
“I did say you would need a collective mind for this case. You already seem to be falling to pieces. Even so, detective, I do expect you to at some point consider everything I’ve told you here today.
“Yes, things no longer add up anymore, and most of my colleagues don’t even remember most of the details of the incident to begin with. But there’s a pattern amongst all of this somewhere. Within what I just told you, and amongst everything that’s going on now. To be honest you may never solve this case, but once you’ve become a part of it, there’s no way out, detective. You’ve already become a pawn as is.”
“It seems like I made a mistake coming here after all. If you would excu—-"
“Let me ask you detective; is this the first time we’ve met?”
Kawamura caught himself indulged with the retired detective once more.
“Look around you, Shinji Kawamura, you’re already walking around in circles. Keep this up and you’ll lose just like I did. You’ll lose . . . just like I did.”
Kawamura turned away from Mr. Akita and made his way out the door; but there was one thing sinking deep into his skin the entire time. How did he know his name?