One Thousand Mornings: Chapter 2: Rebirth
He stepped out of his car and looked up at his house that sat wedged in between two similar homes. Light from the living room shined through the window, and the TV could be heard playing inside. Kawamura closed the car door, and while rubbing his hand against his forehead, he let out a long gust of exhaustion. He then made his way over towards the front door, stopping at the top of the steps. Looking out towards the narrow street in front of his home, the neighborhood was quiet, and the brisk air from earlier in the day had calmed. He slipped his hand inside his coat pocket and pulled out a pack of Mevius cigarettes; then sat down at the top of the steps facing out towards the environment. Where’s the meaning to all of this? Kawamura piteously asked himself. He smacked the box of cigarettes against his palm a few times before pulling out a single stick. He examined it slowly, slightly rolling it in between his index finger and thumb. The sound coming from the TV suddenly stopped, and Kawamura’s own thoughts began to speak louder. He slipped the cigarette in between his lips and got lost within the outdoor atmosphere. The sound of the front door opening behind him didn’t shake his calmed sense of focus. She stepped up quietly and sat beside him. “I thought you quit?” she asked him while staring out into the open just as he was. “I did,” he casually replied. A stark silence filled the rift between them; but somehow, it was warming to the atmosphere. Cupping her hands over her mouth she blew into them and massaged the warm air into her palms. She then glanced over at Kawamura before turning her gaze downwards at the steps below her. In a tranquil tone she whispered, “I can’t stop thinking for a second that. . . I don’t know, maybe this is somehow all a dream, and suddenly I can just—-wake up.”
“I’ve been trying to wake up for two years now; but I guess I haven’t suffered enough yet,” Kawamura replied while sliding the cigarette out of his mouth and placing it back in soon after.
“. . . The world looks different now. It’s just not the same,” she confessed with disappointment.
“Yea. . . I know,” Kawamura followed in an equally despondent manner.
His wife stood up and walked back into the house. Kawamura pulled the unlit cigarette from his mouth once again and began stuffing it back into its box. Caught within the passage of time, Kawamura began aimlessly reading off the labeling on the box of cigarettes when a sudden thought flashed through his head. Stuffing the box back into his pocket, Kawamura stood up and headed back over towards his car. Taking one last good look at himself in the reflection of the car window, Kawamura hopped inside and took off down the road.
As he stepped through the eerie hallway, its corridors spoke of pain and torment. Its walls: decorated with bullet holes and blood splatter, coordinating in unison to paint a descriptive imagery. Doorways ornamented with yellow tape, and the floor ripe with debris, outlines, and labels. Kawamura bypassed the war-torn scenery and made his way directly over to the last door on the right; room 227. As he stepped inside, an uncouth odor funneled its way up his nose and attached itself to the inner linings of his nostrils. It was so strong that he could taste its putridness on the back of his throat. Two years had certainly formulated a lack of tolerance within him and playing catch up always had its consequences. The apartment was already bouncing up and down with forensics personnel and numerous police officers. Lee stood at the far end of the narrow walkway, engulfed in a conversation as two men swabbed up samples and snapped photographs.
“Well, this never gets old,” mentioned a noticeably fatigued Kawamura as he approached Detective Lee from behind.
“If it did, this job would be boring”
“Is that a good or a bad thing?”
“I guess it’s what you make of it. . . You’re a little late to the party today.”
“Yea. . . Needed to clear my head a bit.
“So, you gave Detective Akita a visit?”
“Yea, he’s a sheltered man.”
“Did he have anything to say?”
“Nothing worth mentioning here.
“So, what’s the update? Who do we have here?”
“Those; detective, are our residents. Mr. and Mrs. Sumida. 75 and 73 years of age, respectively.”
Kawamura leaned in closely to the two bodies resting against the kitchen counter just beneath the sink. He scanned up and down the bodies, trying to garner a touch for the atmosphere. “Looks like our guy strapped them up tight” Lee informed. “He duct-taped their entire bodies; even covering their mouths and noses. So far the cause of death is by suffocation; we’ll need an autopsy to know more.”
Kawamura stepped away from the deceased couple, slightly glancing around the space before refocusing his attention on Lee. “Looks like they’re just collateral damage” he stated without a flinch. Slightly nudging his eyebrow, he queried “Now, where’s our golden egg?” Lee gave a slight nod of his chin towards the opposite end of the apartment, “In the bathroom.”
As they walked towards the scene, workers began parting the way like a fan folding into itself; revealing the beauty of the truth hidden behind its obscuring fabric. A profane stench grew thicker bit by bit as the distance between the two detectives and the bathroom closed in tighter. Kawamura placed his hand against the door frame, giving Lee one final glance before taking his leap of faith. Peering through the doorway, the sight was as plain as day. His eyes widened, and his hands slipped to his sides. “Oh, fuck.”
Hanging from the wall like a piñata, was the body of Officer Genki. His eyes had been gouged out and his tongue snipped. Evocative to a bale of incense sticks, he was wrapped around with a rope tied so tight that his shoulders were displaced from their sockets. Blood drained from his body into the tub below as though someone had squeezed him like a lemon. He was stripped of his uniform and left in nothing but his socks and underwear. A desperate cough escaped Kawamura’s throat as he buried his face into his upper sleeve. His eyes squinted, and his brows furled as he looked upon the gruesome imagery. “We found this floating in the tub.” Lee handed Kawamura a piece of paper sealed within a plastic bag. Although a rich material, the paper had already begun to dissolve, and the words written across it were partially faded.
“Heaven over Earth.” He read the words aloud. “Is that what this is supposed to be?” referring to Officer Genki’s deceased body. “Who knows” Lee retorted, “I guess the better question here is, how does any of this tie back to Chiasa?”
“That goes for everything that’s happened thus far” replied Kawamura. Placing the paper down on the sink, he then stepped outside of the bathroom, attempting to escape the impudent scenery. “I’ve been thinking.
“We have someone who snatches a child in broad daylight, leaves Chiasa at the scene. Then later forces themselves through an army of police officers just to get back to her, only for both her and her attacker to be mysteriously found unconscious in the basement. . . It’s weird to say the least.
“And—why would Chiasa go shopping at a drugstore around 2am in the morning?”
Lee slightly jerked his shoulders with his mouth turned sideways.
A ringing tune bellowed, pulling the breaks on Kawamura’s monologue. He glanced down at his cell phone and turned it towards Lee before taking a few steps back to answer the call. Lee dug into his pocket and reached for his phone as well, curling his neck downwards as he swiftly typed in a message. He then passed his eyes across the apartment interior. Traveling from the blood bucket filled bathroom, over towards the carcass littered kitchen.
Glancing over his own shoulder, Lee set his sights on Kawamura who was making his way back towards him.
“Talk about timing. One of the kidnappers from last night, the one we found in the basement, just regained consciousness. They can’t move him from the hospital just yet, so we’re gonna have to get answers from his bedside. Chief’s getting ancy, people are asking questions. With the building collapse, there’s been a sort of ‘red scare’ going around. Now that we’ve got some of our own men dead with no answers, things are starting to get tight.”
“So, what’s the plan, are we going to go in there with some sort of way to twist this guy’s arm?”
“There is none. Just do what we’re supposed to do and let the results speak for themselves.”
“Doesn’t seem like that’s done much good for us so far”
Kawamura stuffed his phone into his pocket and began strolling back towards the entrance. “Yea well, now’s not the time to go above and beyond. We just need to stay smart.”
Chiasa slid her legs through a pair of black denim pants and fitted a grey turtleneck over her head. She then funneled her arms into a black high collared coat. She grabbed a bundle of clothes and hurriedly stuffed it into a backpack; pausing only for a moment at the sight of splatters of blood stained across a shirt. Feeling a rush of apprehension, Chiasa pushed the shirt to the bottom of the bag and zipped it closed.
“Did you try getting in touch with your mother yet?”
Chiasa tossed the backpack onto a chair and plopped herself at the edge of the hospital bed. “No,” Chiasa responded. Yuhna crept over and joined her by the bedside. “Are you sure she’ll be alright? I mean, with everything that’s happened in the past few days…” Chiasa fondled her coat collar as she traversed her thoughts. “She’s laying down in a hospital bed, while Yuki is god knows where.” With a break in her speech, Chiasa glanced over at Yuhna; eyes lacking any true emotion, “I wouldn’t be surprised if she thought her situation was convenient.”
“Convenient?” Yuhna iterated. Chiasa raised up from her seat, body language dejecting and cold. Entreating Chiasa, Yuhna continued, “you say these things all the time; but is that how you really feel about your own mother?” Chiasa rolled her eyes and faced Yuhna like a hawk surveilling the horizons. “Would it be a problem if it was?” Chiasa bayed. Yuhna pulled away from Chiasa’s clawing aura; trying to find reason within the hollow pupils of her eyes. “I guess that all depends on you.”
Chiasa walked over to a nearby window, stuck her hands deep into her pockets and wrapped her fingers around a familiar butterfly hairclip. She made not a single sound as she glanced up at the slow-moving clouds in the sky.
“Aren’t you cold?” a voice called out from behind. Chiasa turned to find her father standing by her side with a red wool scarf in his hands. “Okaa-san wa? Didn’t she say she was stopping by today?” Chiasa asked. Her father then joined her on the bench outside in the garden behind the hospital. He placed the scarf on her lap and the two of them looked out at the pond that stretched across the horizon. “Yea, she couldn’t make it. So, I came in her place.” Chiasa slowly lifted the scarf up and laid it over the back of her shoulders. “How do you feel?” her father asked in a concerned tone. “How do you expect me to feel?” Chiasa replied. “Everyone thinks I’m crazy, and reasonably so.” She took a moment to glance at her father, who was always able to somehow calm her nerves. “They say that everything I saw yesterday never happened. That I was never at a press conference, there was never any explosion, and that I’d collapsed at home on the bathroom floor.”
“Well. . . what do you think?”
“I… I don’t really know what to think.”
“Neither do I. But what I do know, is that you are not crazy. I’m sure that a sensible explanation will come to light soon enough. Just don’t fight yourself too hard.”
He placed his hand on top of her head and shuffled her hair around into a frizz. “Me and your mother will always be there to help you, no matter what.” A warm smile grew on Chiasa’s face. Her father then stood up as a cool breeze shuffled the leaves in the surrounding trees. The sound was therapeutic. “You should go back inside before you catch a cold. If everything checks out, then the doctor said that we could take you back home tonight. Maybe we’ll even head back to Kyoto over the weekend. Take a break from the city for a while.” Chiasa looked up towards her father and nodded her head calmly. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d felt so relaxed.
She closed her eyes and opened them back to the same view of clouds outside of her hospital room window. Still gripping the hairclip tightly in her hand, while Yuhna sat quietly behind her.