Hokkaido part 1

Ken found himself falling back towards the ground. His ears turned deaf though they worked a few seconds ago. It had snowed heavily the night before, making his landing softer yet still unpleasant. Light snow drifted onto his face as he stared at the grey sky. Birds scattered across the space, probably startled by the noise. Definitely because of the noise. This might have been the first time he’s had a lie down in days. Hiking in the middle of the snow with little sleep wore him down even more. He couldn’t get up if he tried. He couldn’t stay awake if he tried. The snow around him slowly turned red as too his white scarf. The breath forming from his mouth looked like it came from an old train. The engine ran out of coal; the steam grew less and less until finally, it stopped. Ken’s eyes, unblinking, looked at the sun peeking behind the clouds. No rays reached him.

***

“I think the coffee machine is broken again.” He stirred the coffee he made with a teaspoon. He looked at the other man who only drank tea.

“It was never fixed to begin with. Besides, I make better coffee than that tin can.” He took a sip from his clay teacup, slightly lapping his lower lip.

“The day you make anything better than anything is the day I name my child Rat.” He took a sip from his aluminium cup. The cup itself was old with stain and dents. Compared to its owner, it was in better shape. He took another sip, this time, wincing at the harsh bitterness.

“Odd name, Kazu. Also, you’d name a child Rat because I improved my skills in cooking?” He shook his head and looked through a window into one of the rooms. “What’s with her?”

Kazu looked at her too and slurped the cup of coffee. “Are we working now?”

“We never stop working.” He shot a glance at Kazu. Raising an eyebrow, he continued. “Report. Who is she?”

Kazu straightened and had put down his cup. “We found her in the middle of the road during one of our patrols. Officer Shin approached the woman, asking what she was doing out alone. She hasn’t responded to any of our questions, but she showed no resistance.” The two looked through the window again. Beautiful. They both thought.

***

A woman with no name sat in a police station’s office. Muffled sounds of walking, talking, and pencil-pushing officers leaked through the gaps of the door. The cluttered noise matched the mess inside. Trash was spilling out the bin, mostly crushed up papers and cartons of milk. The desk was occupied with stacks of paper (one read “Lost Sheep”), which looked like was organised with stress and anxiety, a porcelain mug filled with pens and pencils, a large phone, and a picture of a woman with her baby. The woman in the picture had a straight face though her eyes spoke of sadness. A portrait of a boy rested against the wall behind the desk. There was incense lit.

The woman offered a short prayer for the boy, whatever his name was. She looked at her bare hands. They stopped trembling thanks to the filled teacup she was holding. Tea always tasted bad for some reason. Suppose that’s what makes good traditional tea. The teapot on the sekiyu stove begged to differ. The stoves were too modern to make good tasting traditional tea. Suppose the tea just tasted bad, but it was better than the coffee. She jumped when a man bowed close to her.

“Oh. I’m sorry. I guess you didn’t hear me knock. You still must be under some shock.” No response.

Another man walked up and bowed to her. “Miss. I am Officer Kazu. We picked you up in the middle of the road. Do you remember?” The woman sat, looking at them. She said nothing. Kazu continued. “This is Captain Ryo. He would like to ask some questions.”

“May we know your name, Miss?” Ryo was beginning to feel a little impatient. His son was waiting for him at the grave, but an unknown woman kept Ryo from leaving.

“This is hopeless.” Kazu groaned. He stretched his neck and released some cracks in his back.

“Kazu! Show respect and apologise to this lady.” Ryo turned back to the woman ready to bow in apology. He noticed that she still wasn’t listening to both of them. She had stared out the other window facing the snow and mountains. “Your coffee tastes like cat piss,” Ryo said.

“What?”

“Your coffee tastes like piss,” Ryo repeated only louder. He didn’t turn to Kazu though and kept an eye on the woman.

“That’s pretty harsh, Captain. Even I don’t say that your tea tastes horrible.”

“What?” Ryo finally turned to Kazu, frowning. “I thought you liked my tea? That’s beside the point!”

“The point being that my coffee tastes like cat piss?” Kazu leant at the door frame with his arms folded and lips pressed in annoyance.

“No. Kazu, do you know why our guest is ignoring us?”

“Maybe she wants a lawyer?”

“Then she would have demanded one in the first place.”

“Maybe she’s… I dunno.”

Ryo walked behind her and started clapping like a crazed monkey. Kazu raised his eyebrows, not knowing what to do. The woman didn’t react and continued to drink her tea. “Kazu, she’s deaf.”

***

Part 2 will come within 24 hours


 I started reading Hear the Wind Sing by Haruki Murakami again. His works always inspire me to write.

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