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Authors: Shichiri Nakayama

Nocturne of Remembrance

BOOK: Nocturne of Remembrance
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Tsuioku no Nocturn
© 2013 Shichiri Nakayama. All rights reserved.
Publication rights for this English edition arranged through Kodansha Ltd., Tokyo.

Published by Vertical, Inc., New York, 2016

Originally published in Japanese as
Tsuioku no Nokutaan
in 2013 and reissued in paperback in 2016

eISBN 978-1-942993-53-7

Vertical, Inc.
451 Park Avenue South, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10016
www.​vertical-inc.​com

v3.1

Contents

chapter one
The Defense’s Strategy

chapter two
The Prosecution’s Doubts

chapter three
The Guardian’s Anguish

chapter four
The Sinner’s Cloak

chapter one
The Defense’s Strategy


1

He plunged the knife barely an inch into the scruff of the victim’s neck, and was surprised that it felt as soft as butter. Then the point of the blade hit bone. Even poking and twisting it, the point would not go any further.

But this was anticipated. And without panicking, Reiji Mikoshiba changed his tool to a fine-tooth saw that he had purchased at a DIY home center about a week prior. It was small but quite sharp, similar to the one he had used at school in the home-repair class.

With each slice of the saw, blood flowed out. Nothing near spewing out, but more like liquid from a squeezed tube. Mikoshiba thought it was probably like a post-mortem autopsy. The difficulty was not so much with the blood but more so with the fat which would suddenly clog the teeth of the saw and made cutting difficult. Each time the saw clogged, it had to be withdrawn and the teeth cleaned with a rag before cutting through more meat and bone. This made Mikoshiba think that he should have prepared several saws.

The time of the year was summer’s end, just before fall.

Signs of late summer—a pale afterglow and the sound of a cricket—crept into even this abandoned plating factory that had gone bankrupt three years prior. But the only other intruder was Mikoshiba. Even though it had been closed, the smell of organic plating solvent and rust still came to his nostrils. So much so that it covered up the smell of flesh, blood, and organs that flowed up from his hands.

In this setting, Mikoshiba continued to pull the saw.

The primary reason that he was trying to dismantle the corpse
of Midori Sahara was ease of transportation. When he carried it on his shoulder a little while ago, even such a small girl was heavier than expected as a corpse. He realized that to discard the body as is and carrying something this big was far too difficult. He did not particularly want to cut up the corpse. Of course, when he put the knife in her, a shiver similar to pleasure ran down his spine. But he soon no longer felt it. Compared to the instant he strangled her thin neck with all the force in his whole body squeezing the breath of life out of her, cutting up the body was merely work to be done.

When after three hours he had finished the neck and limbs, the saw and his fingertips were filthy with gore. And even though he washed them well in the bucket of water he had brought along, the surface of his hands was still coated in slime that didn’t wash off.

For now, he hid the dismantled corpse in a corner of the abandoned factory. It was already dinnertime. And if he did not return home, his family would be suspicious.

When he got home, his mother and little sister were watching a variety show on TV, laughing and enjoying themselves.

“Oh, you’re home, huh? Wait a little bit until this program ends. Then I’ll warm up dinner in the microwave right away.”

“Wow, this guy’s jokes are the greatest.”

Oh yeah?
Laughing at some comedian’s silly antics.
Do you really know what funny is? I’m completely different from my sister. I also feel great, but even if you took a lifetime you’d never understand
.

Dinner was frozen-food fried rice. He raked it in like he was chewing sand, then jumped into the bath and carefully washed the slime off his fingertips.

Ensconced in his second-floor room, he heard the muffled sound of the clock turning 10:00 p.m., after which his father came home. His father’s lifestyle was as precise and never-changing as the class schedule at school. After finishing dinner and a bath, he always watched the late-night sports news and then hurriedly went off to bed.

It was past two o’clock. Mikoshiba made sure everyone was asleep,
and then changed into his clothes. Opening the window, there was a utility pole within his reach. By climbing down it, he could get outside. He quietly headed back to the abandoned factory on his bicycle. Yes, by bike. He could not carry the corpse in the basket on the back of the bike unless the body was cut into pieces that would fit.

At the abandoned factory, Midori was quietly awaiting his return.

First, he thought about doing something with the head that night; either keep it until he tired of it, or crush it finely before throwing it away. But he dropped both ideas. The unusual and cute little thing had completely lost its charm now. The eyes that had been like pretty glass balls were beginning to turn cloudy white. But worst of all, it was becoming grotesque. Full of vitality when she was still alive, once Midori became a corpse she suddenly looked like a suspicious monster. The cloudy pupils seemed to stare at him, and, perhaps because rigor mortis was setting in, no matter how many times he forcibly closed her eyelids they immediately snapped back open.

He put the head on top of the mailbox in front of the community center of a nearby neighborhood.

Once Midori’s head was found, for sure the whole world, starting with the police, would go crazy. But even with such worries, it was because he wanted to publicly announce his doings as soon as possible that he put it on the mailbox and left the scene.

Now, he had really set off a time bomb.

It was detonated by a milk-delivery lady who discovered the head while on her route. At first she was not sure whether it was a mannequin or a human body. But when she realized that it was the latter, her scream echoed through the neighborhood and resulted in the police and onlookers rushing to the scene.

The first report of the incident reached Mikoshiba’s ears immediately after leaving school.

“The way that little girl from the Aioi neighborhood was killed is outrageous,” a mother with fear in her face but clearly some curiosity, too, excitedly reported.

Mikoshiba desperately suppressed his urge to blurt out to her, “Hey, it was me that killed Midori.”

That evening after the light dimmed, Mikoshiba headed back to the abandoned factory. The investigation had not yet gotten that far. And he put the right leg in a baguette-size nylon bag that he helped himself to from the kitchen. With the discovery of the head, he thought that the glowing eyes of vigilance would be prevalent as he wandered in the night. But it was still not yet so. And the bag containing the right leg appeared to be only a loaf of French bread that he had just run an errand for.

Dusk had approached the kindergarten, it was already closed, and there were no human figures around. It was not the kindergarten that Midori had gone to, and there were no reporters hanging around. Mikoshiba looked around the neighborhood, then placed the contents of the bag in front of the entrance and ran away from the spot immediately.

Two bombs were beautifully set off. Newspapers and television gave the Midori Sahara killing more coverage than any political matters. Police doubled the number of investigation personnel on the case. And kindergartens and elementary schools all over held emergency meetings to set up ways for parents and guardians to watch the students on their way to and from school.

This was very enjoyable for Mikoshiba. The adult world was now feverishly in confusion because of the bombs that he had set off.

Be glad, little Midori. Our joint effort is being lauded by the whole world
.

Early morning of the third day: in the midst of a morning mist, Mikoshiba placed the left leg in the same bag, left it on top of the offertory box at a nearby shrine, and then went directly to school.

The third bomb gave a brilliant title to the criminal: the Corpse Delivery Man. Mikoshiba liked it exceedingly. It was a meticulously honest one, which he thought was perfect for him.

But with this third delivery, the neighborhood truly became flooded with police officers and firefighters on a constant lookout, and it became difficult for him to head for the abandoned factory. There was increased interest from the curiosity seekers, too, and it became difficult for him to go there on the way to and from school.

Next were the arms which, fortunately, he’d brought back previously and hidden in the attic. Not as troublesome as the bulky head and legs, once he was able to carry them out it was easy to leave one in the parking lot of an unwatched supermarket and the other one in front of the entrance to a private residence.

And finally when it came time to deliver the torso, the most difficult part, they came to get him.

“Reiji Mikoshiba, you are arrested on suspicion of killing Midori Sahara.”

At that moment, Mikoshiba bounced out of bed.

He was in the bedroom of his condo, and outside it was still dark. Although the air conditioner timer was on and the room temperature should have been low, there was an unpleasant sweat around his forehead. He tried to wipe it away with the back of his hand, but the unpleasant feeling did not go away even a bit. He checked the time on the mobile phone placed at his bedside. The digital display showed that it was 4:24 a.m.

Mikoshiba snorted. Normally it wouldn’t particularly affect his physical condition if he woke up at this time. But the annoying nightmare had prevented him from getting a good night’s sleep. The old memory of killing Midori Sahara still remained clear in his head, as did the feeling in his hands when he plunged the knife into her neck. He certainly did not need to be chased by this old dream.

As he got out of bed and stood up, a sharp pain rained down his left thigh. The wound was not open but reflexively he pressed on the affected area. Two months had already passed since the stitches had been removed. He had been in immense pain right after the surgery,
but it only felt like a mosquito bite now.

Now that he had gotten up so early, he really wanted to put the time to good use. He left his condo and got the morning paper from the row of mailboxes. His way to read the newspaper was to focus on the business pages and the local news section. Conflict in the business world and tragedies that occurred in the community were always good seed for a legal practice.

Currently, the Mikoshiba law firm had advisory contracts with three companies. Those fees alone easily covered the office rent, but of course that alone was not enough income. Given the current economic situation, there was no guarantee that these three client agreements would go on indefinitely, so of course he had to develop new business. In that case, Mikoshiba’s condition for picking clients hinged on their pocket book and predicament. The ideal client was wealthy and shady. The shadier the person, the harder he or she clung to fame and status. It was the same logic that applied to organizations that wanted to hide their suspicious origins by covering them up with flashy events. And that kind of person or organization would dish out plenty of money for their own protection.

At the top of the local news page was an article about the verdict the previous day at the trial of a woman accused of killing her husband.

“November 16th. The ruling of the lay-judge (quasi-jury) trial for the murder of Shingo Tsuda was announced by the Tokyo District Court. The accused is the victim’s wife, Akiko Tsuda (35 years of age), who was sentenced by the district court to sixteen years imprisonment. The defendant Akiko had admitted to the killing from the beginning, and the focus of the trial was on the sentencing. The presiding judge Toshihiko Otsuka said that his reasoning for the sentence was that it was extremely selfish for the accused to want to marry another man because her husband was not a good provider. And basically he went with the prosecution’s request. The defendant’s attorney Kaneto Horai filed an appeal on the same day on the grounds that the sentencing was unfair. The accused Akiko, arrested on suspicion of killing her husband
Shingo on May 5th of this year because of a blind-love entanglement, had been held at the Tokyo Detention Center.”

BOOK: Nocturne of Remembrance
13.1Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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