Both sweat and tears were blurring his vision. His hand was trying to stop the blood to gush out of his abdomen. He ran through the dark, in the quieter alleys of Tokyo. It was almost half past three. Even the usually busy and crowded city was fast asleep. He tried to scream but nothing came out except for the sound of him gasping for air. He’s running out of blood. Still, though he knew impossible, he tried to escape his attacker
Dead end. He turned back, hoping to go a different way but the perpetrator was just a few meters away. The end is coming for him. He slumped down in defeat and tried for the last time, hold on to the sight of the dramatic glistening night sky. He was very close to him now. Slowly, the man raised his knife. The full moon casted its gentle light on the blade and for the first time, despite the dizziness that’s slowly overcoming him, he saw the face of the man who will conclude his life. At that moment he knew that even justice on his meaningless death wouldn’t be achieved. Nobody will bother for a homeless beggar like him. And, no one will ever suspect the man before his very eyes
In just a split second, the knife pierced his heart. He took his last breath and the last face he saw was that of a famous idol.
I do not believe that he is a bad person. In fact, I don’t think anyone will. That’s why it’s almost impossible for me to believe that he’s like that. I just couldn’t. He’s one of those few people I can definitely trust
I don’t know if he’s aware that I know his secret. I haven’t really talked to him about it, and I don’t really know how. I am not scared of him but I am afraid to ask. I am sure he wouldn’t lie to me – and that’s what I am afraid of. I am afraid to hear him admit all of it. I am afraid that when it’s out of his mouth, then it will all be so real to me and I don’t know how to handle that. Right now I can say that no matter what, he’s still my friend – a brother even. But I just can’t know for sure. I might end up distancing myself from him. He might distance himself from me. He might ask for my help, and I do want to help him, but I don’t know how I can do that. I do not know how I can help him. I don’t even know if any of us is capable of helping him
I am usually not hesitant if I think I’m right. But now I don’t even know what’s right.
I sensed that there’s something different going on with him. There were nights wherein we would hang out together and suddenly he’d look so tense. He would leave with a weird excuse like “I think I forgot to turn off the stove” or “I’m not feeling well, must be something I ate for lunch”. Really weird. But that happened rarely that I didn’t really notice how weird it was back then. The instances that bothered me, though, were the late night or early morning phone calls. At times he sounded scared, sometimes exhausted. There was a time, too, wherein he didn’t really talk except for saying sorry before ending the call. I thought if something is troubling him, sooner or later he would talk to me about it. I wasn’t bit wrong. Though, sometimes, I wish I wasn’t right – I wish he hadn’t told me because I will never be prepared enough for what I heard him say.
One night he knocked on my door. “Can I talk to you?” He looked sick. I was really worried then. “Of course,” I told him, and I let him in. I made us tea. He didn’t take a single sip. “Please,” he said, “don’t be scared of me”. Damn, I just nodded even if at that moment, I am totally fearing the next statements he is about to tell me. I ended up drinking all the tea.
I want to somehow make an excuse for what I am doing but then I just can’t find one. I am sorry, I have-I don’t- I’m sorry. I hate how that’s the only thing I can say right now. But even that does not seem sincere enough. Is it still okay to say sorry even if I intended to do such things? But still, I want to say sorry even if I know I cannot and will never be forgiven. I am sorry for the way that I am, and I am sorry that I just can’t stop myself. I should probably stop talking. But I feel worse if I shut up. I’m making excuses, I’m sorry. No, that’s not right. I can’t come up with an excuse and even if I’m forced to explain, I’m sorry but I cannot do it. Or, at least, I cannot say anything to make all of these make sense. I do not even understand myself right now. I’m probably just insane.
No, I don’t really think he’s crazy. He probably has certain needs different from the most of us. No, I’m not saying it’s okay. I don’t really want to say that I’m defending him, but he’s my friend you see, and I want to understand him as well. I want to help him out.
If I didn’t see it, I wouldn’t believe it. I did have my suspicions but I didn’t really want to investigate or something. I thought that maybe I’m just sensing it wrong. And, when I learned that I’m right, I was worried because the first thing I thought was “Do they know? Who else knows?” Then I wondered whether I should ask him directly or talk it out to someone else. Either would be hard and might not end well. I don’t want anything to go bad. I want everything to remain the same. Though, at this point, I doubt it.
One night, we were all hanging out in his house. It was our rest period then – no work for a few days. We were watching a DVD then, eating and having some drinks. I had more than what I can handle and my slight drunkenness made me a bit confused. I had to pee so I stood up and headed – probably wobbled- to the toilet. It was a bit on the far end of the house and I can remember struggling just to make it there without losing my balance or pissing myself. It was all hazy. When I opened the door, it took me some time to find the light switch. I felt blind for a split second that the room was illuminated. When I slowly regained my vision, I was confused. I slowly searched for the toilet bowl but then, slowly, I realized I got inside the wrong room. Moreover, there was blood on the floor. The sight of that washed away my drunkenness. I traced its source and I had to hold back myself from screaming at the sight of a dead woman on the corner
I slowly got out, quickly went to the toilet, and went back to the living room. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t ask a thing. I just kept on drinking. If they weren’t also drunk at that moment, they would’ve seen me shivering.
It was early morning. We were having rehearsal for the concert. There were revisions in the dance steps and so we had to practice again and again. My shirt was getting soaking wet so I headed to the dressing room to change clothes. Our stuff was just crammed together on a table and as I was rummaging through my things, I accidentally hit his bag and it fell. Some of the contents scattered a bit on the floor. Of course, I picked them up and tried to arrange them properly in his bag. I was almost done when I felt a prick on my finger. I got a little cut so I wondered what caused that. I did a quick check on his things and I found a small knife. I’m not sure if it was a regular knife or a Swiss knife. I just saw half of the blade. Also, there was blood. There was enough blood to convince me it’s not mine.
There’s this one time when I was having a late-night stroll with Tegoshi. Actually it was past midnight. We were just passing time and enjoyed the city. There were open food stalls so we also had some takoyaki. It was a tiring day after all and sometimes it’s just nice to relax and breathe some fresh air, or eat out or something like that. After that, we were walking to the more prominent parts of the city where taxis usually still pass by frequently even if it’s almost two am. But then we saw some paparazzi that, basing on the news that following morning, were following a married actress and a politician who is rumored to be her lover. We didn’t want any attention then so we decided to go a different way. Tegoshi was being too adventurous that he wanted us to go through the shadier parts of the city. I was totally against it but he was just so persistent. And, I just didn’t want to go alone.
It was really dark and unsettling. Tegoshi was walking really fast. Suddenly he stopped and signaled me to not make a sound. I silently walked to where he is, and looked at the direction of his stare. At first I was shocked to see a man stabbing another with what looked like an ice pick. Then I was even more shocked to recognize the attacker. Yes, the scene was meters away from us and it was dark but I cannot possibly not recognize that face. But I hesitated to believe my eyes. Tegoshi then said, very softly “let’s get out of here”. We silently walked fast for a few meters before we ran until we got close to a convenience store. “Was that – “but before I can finish my question, he was already shaking his head. But I knew he didn’t mean that as a no; he just didn’t want to talk about it. I shared the same feelings.
It started with a frog. I was young then and I can barely remember the details. All I know is that I killed that frog with my bare hands. I don’t know if I felt guilty or not but it was the beginning. It was followed by mice and, I hate to admit, stray dogs and cats. I know something’s wrong with me. Nobody did anything because nobody knew. Not until my mother found out anyway. I killed with poison, drowning, knife - those horrible things. I hid them, threw them away. My mother found me one time. She dragged me home, washed me. I was 13 then. She didn’t shout at me. She didn’t even hurt me. She made me sit and she sat by my side. She held my hand and she was crying. “Do you need anything?” She kept on saying. That’s all she said and yet I also started crying. I didn’t say anything. That was the last time I killed an animal
And, it was probably some sort of guilt or self-loathing that I took care of a cat.
I was already in the jimusho when I first killed a man. I felt my body tremble. There’s a strong longing. I didn’t know what to do. It was already late. Right now, I still wish I didn’t get out of the house that night. I wish I didn’t get out of the house with a knife that night. I didn’t even think. I was like an animal acting on instinct. The victim was random; I don’t even know how he looks like or what he wore. I just knew then that I wanted to plunge that knife into someone’s flesh until they become a corpse. There was no one around; not even a bird. He was homeless, I assume. Nobody claimed him. It was just assumed he got into a fight. He reeked of alcohol, they said. But I couldn’t remember. When I was done, I just left him there, near the garbage. I was smart enough though. I didn’t leave a print and I buried my clothes the next night. I didn’t want to get caught because I wanted to do it again.
Lately, there were rumors of a serial killer in Japan. Within a month or two, three bodies were found. There is no suspect yet. In fact, it is unknown if three of the cases are related. The police are not disclosing any information apparently. So, as I said, the serial killer thing is just a rumor. But I am worried. I don’t think it’s him. He can’t be that careless right? Not now when we are all over the place. The thing is, even if I’m saying this, I’m not confident. I don’t know when he does those things
I’m scared. Even if it’s not him, and even if those deaths were just a coincidence, that it’s not a serial killing, I’m scared. With all these rumors going around, the police will surely investigate and who knows what they’ll uncover? He might be careless after all and then something points to him and-
I’m so confused. I don’t want them to take him. I don’t want him to get caught. But when I feel this way, I feel like I’m siding with the bad guy. He killed people; he probably is a bad guy. But he’s not. If it’s him, I can never say he’s a bad person. Or am I just refusing to believe it so? I believe in him but what do I believe in him? I already know he is a murderer – and I hate to call him that. I know, but maybe I haven’t accepted it yet. I couldn’t. I feel like I’m contradicting myself. I am confused and the truth is somehow painful. Thus, I can only think of one thing to do: talk to Shige.
“What should we do,” I asked him. “What do you mean,” he said, avoiding my eyes. “Shige,” I said firmly, calling his attention. “Don’t act like you have no idea on what I’m talking about.” He sighed as he sat down. I sat down across Shige, carefully watching him. He was silent for a moment. He kept on rubbing his palms staring at the floor. Whenever I ask for something, Shige always knew what to say. At times, he would even go give me those slightly annoying lectures. But Shige always knew. Heck, he –no matter how annoying sometimes – would always make us feel he knew better. And he does, almost all the time. But this long silence is unsettling. “I don’t know,” he said. I felt restless. Shige, you can’t not know, I thought. Right now if there’s someone who knows what to do, it’s you, Shige. You can’t not know. You can’t not know. I didn’t notice the tears forming until I felt something warm trickle down my cheek. Shige was trying to keep a straight face but his eyes are getting moist and red. I wanted to tell him that it’s okay if he cries right now. But deep inside I know I needed someone to act tough when I’m supposed to be the tough one. “I’m sorry but I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe we should talk this out together”
If I try to understand why he’s doing what he’s doing, I realized it will take me a lifetime. Actually, there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to understand at all. I want to forget, even. I want to erase those memories. I just want to remember him and look at him as who he is to us for so long – that warm, gentle, thoughtful guy who brings us all together and loves us no matter what. That’s why it’s so hard to accept he’s, you know, like that, because he’s still, and I assume, will always be that guy who’s all bright and sunny
When we were all on the way to a concert rehearsal, we passed by a lady with her son and their little dog. He spotted them and asked the driver to stop. He greeted them and kept saying how cute the dog and the little boy are, even asking if he could pet the puppy a bit, which the lady allowed. Just that and he was happy for the rest of the day
On our birthdays, he always tries to be the first one who sends us a birthday greeting. The messages are always so full of warmth and emoticons. When we’re together, he always laughs even if we are bullying him and even if he’s been the unfortunate victim of Tegoshi’s pranks. He sees the good in everything and in everyone. He always does his job with all his heart and he makes us want to go on despite of all the complications
I wonder if he wants to talk to us. If it’s hard for us to grasp all this, he is probably suffering more. We don’t know what to tell him and he probably doesn’t know how or what to tell us. Maybe he feels it too – that we know about that. He’s probably scared too. And even though I feel uncertain, at least I want him to know that even if we know that about him, we are not scared of him. We will always be there for him just like how he was always there when we are troubled
I know it’s weird. I am against what he’s done, but, at the end of the day, I want to be the one who believes that he is not a bad person
The cruelest thing I probably done was to leave a family fatherless. All of those I had killed were people whom I thought are homeless or those whom I think don’t really have a life. Except for one. I technically did not touch that person. No, I didn’t shoot him as well. I didn’t kill him. But, I did drive him to his death
I was doing coverage of the lives of some people on this small fishing community. I, together with the crew, stayed there for the night so that we can follow the people’s lives from early morning. The crew slept early. I couldn’t sleep. It was one of those nights but I know I shouldn’t be doing anything stupid or careless. I decided to go out and just watch over the sea. It was chilly and silent. But it was beautiful. The dark sky was filled with stars and I can hear the waves and the breeze. I sat down by the sea wall, my feet dangling down towards the water. I closed my eyes and took deep breaths, hoping to calm whatever evil is stirring inside me. But the devil was taunting me. When I opened my eyes, I saw a man sitting just a few meters from me. I couldn’t calm down at all. I felt excitement rush through me
I approached the man. “Good evening,” I said. His voice was almost inaudible but he did greet me back. He looked old but I could somehow tell he’s only in his late forties
“It’s cold huh?” I said. He didn’t respond. Instead, “I haven’t seen you here. Are you new?”
“No, no. I’m just here for a TV coverage,” I told him. We talked a bit more. He asked about my job and I asked about his. He was a fisherman but things weren’t going well, he said. He had debts before he got married and now they are haunting him. He might have to sell his boat, he told me. But then if he did that, he couldn’t go on fishing anymore and it will make his wife and kids live in poverty because of him. He wasn’t crying but he was deeply troubled. He told me he couldn’t sleep for days
“Is your wife beautiful?” I asked him. His face started to light up to a point where I could see a faint smile forming in his lips.
“Yes,” he said. “She’s very beautiful. She’s very kind and understanding too. I loved her from the start.”
On normal circumstances, I would’ve told him that everything will be okay as long as they have each other. I would’ve told him to do his best and never to give up for his family. But, I didn’t. I wanted him to drown in depression. I wanted him to kill himself
“Don’t you think it’s better if you’re gone?” He was shocked of what I said. I paused to let my words get very well inside of him and get him thinking.
“You’re wife is beautiful,” I said. “You said she’s nice too but don’t you think it’s better if she can find someone who can truly take care of her and your kids? But she can’t do that because you’re still here.” He wasn’t responding. He wasn’t even looking at me. But I know he heard every word I said. I continued. “She’s probably just putting up with you for the sake of your children. But a hopeless guy like you - what can you give your family? Nothing. You have nothing to offer them but problems. If you could just disappear then your wife can find a much better guy for her who will give her and your kids a bright future. If you really love them, then you’ll know that they’re better off without a stupid useless husband and father as yourself.”
I left him at that. When morning came, I didn’t see him. But, there was this lady, a lovely one, who was asking around if anyone saw her husband. His name was Sakito. I doubt they’ll ever find him alive
I did leave him a newly bought, unopened, unused, and untouched knife
As much as I don’t want to do it, I felt that I have no other choice. I came into Johnny’s office.
“I have something to ask about Koyama,” I said, as I got through the door. I didn’t even greet him
“Lock the door,” he ordered, and I did just that.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been there. The walls are blue now, I thought. I’m not even sure if they were blue before. He directed me towards the chair opposite him. I couldn’t remember Johnny Kitagawa as someone so serious but somehow the atmosphere was so tense. I felt like wanting to get out of there but then I had to take the chance
“Yes,”I said. I couldn’t look at him
“When did you know?” he asked before I even asked him if he knew. But he did ask me to lock the door, I thought
“He told me probably a year ago. But before that I already had a strange feeling I just couldn’t tell what exactly.”
“What did he tell you?”
“He told me that he-“ I couldn’t finish it. I don’t want to say it
I was the one who’s supposed to have come here to ask questions but the tables definitely turned around
“that he-“ still, I couldn’t say it.
“Shige,” he called out. It forced me to look at him. I can’t tell if that’s concern on his face. “He told you that he kills people?”
For some reason, I can only nod as my tears started flowing. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I just don’t know anymore.” He didn’t say anything. I want to believe that he’s letting me cry it all out and I probably did just that. There are just so many emotions wanting to come out that I just couldn’t hold it any longer. “When did you know?” I asked him, choking up on my words.
“since his first”
“Why did you still let him-“
“Because just like you, I believe in him. I also did want him to see things in a newer light hoping that he would stop. I wanted the best for him even if in actuality, I knew he would continue what he does. “
I thought about what he’s telling me. “How many times have you tried to cover for his deeds?”
“Does he know you’re covering for him?”
“Maybe, maybe not”
“When will you stop?”
“If he does”
“Are you kidding me?” I didn’t notice my voice rise. I was already shouting at him. “What if he never stops?!”
“Shige, calm down. Do you want me to stop?”
I wiped the tears off my face. “Yes,” I said, looking straight at his eyes. “Yes, because I want him to stop.”
“Even if that means he may end up getting caught?”
I closed my eyes. I don’t want to think about it – him being dragged by the authorities, calling him names, people judging him and hating him – but I said “Yes” and without any other word, I left
It always has this nice warm feeling – that place. I can’t help but smile when I look at the pictures and photos on the wall. There were NEWS posters of course and many Koyama Keiichiro photos all around. ‘Konbanwa,’ I greeted as I entered the ramen shop. The smell of ramen and gyouza made me feel even hungrier. There were two men on the counter talking and enjoying their beer. “Ah! Konbanwa,” Koyama’s mother greeted back, smiling as always. Not only does she resemble him, she has this loving feeling all around her too. “It’s been a while. Gyoza?&rdquo
I nodded. “and a cha-shu mein also,” I said. I took a seat by the counter
“How are the others?” She asked, as she fried the gyoza
“Doing great. We were doing some recording earlier. Did Koyama come home?”
“Ah, I think he’s in the radio station right now.”
“Is he taking care of himself?"
Out of all our mothers, Koyama’s worries the most. She never fails to remind him to eat through mail every day. Koyama is like that too – he always makes sure we are all okay. “Yes, “I said. “He also takes care of us.”
Mrs. Koyama gave a sweet laughter. “He does, huh? That’s good then. Here’s your gyoza and cha-shu mein.”
“Thank you.” As always, the food looks perfect. It tasted perfect as well. I ate it slowly, savoring every burst of flavor in my mouth. The two men beside me paid, and made their way out
“That boy worries me a lot,” Mrs. Koyama suddenly said. “He might be tiring himself a lot lately. But I’m really happy that you guys are having a lot of things going on at the moment.” Then she added, in almost a whisper “it’s good that he’s busy, it distracts him”.
“You shouldn’t worry so much. Koyama’s doing well. As I said, he even takes care of us.” I tried to say that cheerfully. I don’t want her to see that I am worried about Koyama, too. We are all worried. But it will always be true when I say that he takes care of us. And, I honestly do feel that he’s doing well. We talked a bit more about work, Koyama, food, and a few trivial things. I didn’t notice it was getting really late. I paid and bid goodbye
“Masuda-kun,” she said, before I leave. “Please watch over Kei.”
Way past noon, the sun was a bit too painful. I already changed clothes from soccer practice yet I feel my shirt already soaking with sweat. Still, I prefer to walk on days like this one where everything seems to be brimming with life. As expected, many young ladies are wearing their sundresses again. The vivid colors add to the summer feeling of the city. There were children too, happily eating ice cream. Ah, I thought I wanted an ice cream too so I went looking for one
When I looked back, it was Koyama. With the bags he’s carrying, I assumed he went out to buy groceries. But with his outfit, I swear he could’ve come from photo shoot or something. He’s always been like that
“Yo,” I greeted, waving at him. He ran to where I am
“Yup. Just finished practicing”
“I want to eat ice cream first”
He grinned. “There’s a good place just a few blocks away!”
As expected, he knows where the sweets are. “Your treat?”
He mustered a defeated look on his face and then laughed. “I have no choice, huh?”
The store was bigger than I expected. The walls were white with pastel colored stripes. The tables were round, arranged in such a way that the green ones alternate with the yellow ones. It smelled like caramelized fruits and vanilla all over. And, with the customers’ and waitresses’ happy faces, it was almost too sweet. Koyama seems to frequent the place as he was very casual to the people working there. Either that or he’s just really warm towards everyone
We sat on a yellow table, joking that when it comes to food, it should be Massu. He got a strawberry ice cream with strawberry bits and chocolate chips. Mine was vanilla with caramel and fruits. Surprisingly, it was just the perfect sweetness and it tastes so refreshing. We were in chorus as we praised the delicious ice creams. He was really happy then. Well, he’s probably the guy who loves sweets the most in the world. Every after spoonful, he would state how good it was. I found it really amusing that I couldn’t hold myself from laughing. He laughed too. In fact, he smiled and laughed the entire time. Lately, I have been thinking too much, worrying too much, that I, for a moment, have forgotten that this is who he is since ever. It’s always so light to be with him. It always seems like the world was suddenly erased of its troubles. During our lives, he would always be the one to lighten up the mood, and get us all to talk to entertain the fans. He’s smart, I think, but he really says stupid things a lot. He messes up a lot. But he isn’t afraid to laugh at himself. He’s really kind, too. He’s a really funny guy, and a very interesting one.
“Tegoshi!” I snapped out of my thoughts. “Were you even listening?”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“Ah, you didn’t hear a thing did you? Nyanta’s birthday I said but never mind”
I grinned. That too, he loves his cat so much. “Oh. I’m really sorry. Maybe I should pay for all these this time?”
He was surprised. “Eh?! Are you serious?” I just nodded and laughed
I scattered the photographs I took all over the bed. I don’t know exactly what I want to do with them. For a long time, I just piled them in a box. I thought of putting them in a photo album but I realized that I have to group them for that. I don’t want to group them. They just happened to exist in different times, but they all belong to this continuing lifespan.
There was one picture from when NEWS was still six. We were eating all together, big grins on our faces. I actually have forgotten about the existence of the picture.
hotographs are interesting aren’t they? Sometimes it doesn’t matter if one cannot remember where and when that picture was taken or what have happened before and after it was taken. But, at least, upon seeing it, it reminds you of a split-second fragment of your life; it reminds you that there was a time you were happy – just like this photograph. Or, this photograph I took some weeks after the Tsunami. I actually remembered taking this one because I was in awe of the scenery. This photograph is reminders that ‘hope’ can be realized – that there was a moment of serenity some time after a horrendous disaster. It doesn’t matter if you faked that smile on your photograph, because to me, that was you truly wishing for happiness or wanting to remember that no matter what came before or after, there was this second you can still put up a smile.
I’ve already taken hundreds of photographs – hundreds of fragments in time- of places I’ve seen, of people important to me, and of people I have never met. I have photographs of happiness and photographs of uncertainty. I have photographs of reality and photographs of my make-belief. I have taken stunning shots, and I have taken blurs as well. I kept them all without intending to. Maybe because that’s really how it is. In this life, we just can’t throw away something just because we didn’t like it. Maybe it’s a test of our understanding? A test on how we view things? A reminder that everything is not what we assume them to be
I glance to the right and a picture caught my eye. It was a candid photo of Koyama – peaceful, with a faint smile on his face
Perhaps some bad pictures are just waiting for me to have the courage to make a stand that they are not bad pictures after all…
I followed him through the alley. He was a bit lanky and probably barely in his 20s. He could even be a senior in high school. His clothes were tattered and he reeked of cigarette smoke and alcohol. He even carried an almost empty bottle with him. This wasn’t those times wherein my body trembles and craves for a kill. No. This time I was in a bad mood, angry even. I was ignoring my screaming conscience - Apparently, I still have one. I ignored my rational mind and let myself be driven by my scheming emotions. I wanted to let it all out and I wanted to let it all out on him. I didn’t even think whether someone would look for him or cry for him when he’s gone. I slipped my fingers into my leather gloves. That night, I let myself become a monster.
When it was almost too dark to see save for occasional flickers from street lights, and the only sound came from our footsteps, I ran up to him and hit him hard on the head. The sound of the bottle shattering to pieces echoed throughout. I paused for a while and sensed if there was another presence. When I felt it was safe to proceed, I stooped over him. He was trying to get up but then he was too drunk and in pain. He probably had some drugs too. I didn’t have any weapon with me. I didn’t care. I let him stare into my eyes as I clasped my hands around his neck and attempted to squeeze the life out of him. He tried to kick me and take my hands off of him but he was too weak. There was so much horror in his eyes and I just kept a straight face. I did enjoy looking at him that I didn’t notice he wasn’t moving any longer. I checked for a pulse and found none. My anger – it was gone as well. I took a deep breath as I got up. When I turned around, I felt like I was shaken awake from a nightmare. Too bad, I knew what happened was just too real
He was standing beneath one of the flickering street lights several meters from me; his blonde hair glistened. I can feel him staring through me. I wasn’t sure but that was probably anger in his eyes
“Why?” is all I could come up.
“Why what?” His voice was cold.
“Why didn’t you stop me?”
“What for? So he can run away and report you to the police?”
“Why not?!” I shouted. “Won’t you tell the authorities?! Why are you just standing there?! Why are you just watching me kill?!”
He turned his back at me. He said, almost inaudibly “Are you fucking kidding me” and left.
That night, I didn’t sleep. I couldn’t. I just let my tears fall until there’s nothing left.
“Are you free today?” I asked Massu
“I think we need to talk – the four of us”
“I’ll meet up with a friend today, but I’m free tomorrow and maybe the day after that.”
“Ok, I’ll call the others. Bye.”
I called Tegoshi, and then called Massu again to inform him that it was decided to be tomorrow. I called Koyama last. He would be there no matter what if I tell him it’s about NEWS. It is about NEWS if I think about it. Koyama has a somehow regular schedule so I made it so that the only possible time he could come would be two hours after the designated meeting time with Tegoshi and Massu. Besides, Massu will be late. Before Koyama arrives, I want the three of us to talk seriously. Though, right now, in all honesty, I don’t know what to say or whether we really need to talk about it. I guess I just need to let out what I really think and feel about the matter. I know they know about it. We know that we all know. We just never had the chance to discuss about it. Not in a more open manner. We were all probably scared to talk. Once it’s out, we can never pretend it’s not happening anymore. We couldn’t pretend that this is none of our concern
We – and by we- I mean Tegoshi, Massu, and I – were probably debating ourselves whether we should just let it be or do something. Or if we do something, then what could that something be? We were also probably thinking that that’s just who he is and we should accept that fact, thinking that despite that, he’s not an evil person. But deep inside we are severely disturbed. We probably, even for a just a second, doubted Koyama – hated him even. That flow of thought disturbs me too, thus, I suppose, before everything gets worse, we all needed to talk
Tegoshi and Shige were in the middle of an argument when I got inside our usual ‘conference room’. They didn’t even notice me come in
“Why the fuck did you not do anything?!” Shige shouted at Tegoshi. His face was getting red and his fists were trembling like he’s stopping himself from hitting something or someone. I was shocked to see him that way. Shige gets annoyed but I’ve never seen him seriously angry. I could’ve sworn I thought he was going to really explode.
“Then what should’ve I done? Call the police?!” Tegoshi screamed back, his voice was cracking that I wasn’t sure if he was holding back tears. He glared at Shige like he was going to attack him soon.
“Maybe you should!”
“Mayb-“ Tegoshi didn’t even get to finish word and Shige shouted again. This time he got up and slammed the table. “You do realize what you’ve done, huh, Tegoshi? You just watched him choke that man to death. You’re a fucking accessory to that murder”
I was confused. Did Tegoshi tell him about what we saw? Or worse, did he see him kill again?
Tegoshi got up too; with so much force that the chair he was on fell on the ground. “Would calling the police make things better?”
“Yes it would! Damn, it would.”
“Then what? They’d get him and everything falls apart! We will all crumble along with that and everything we have been protecting and working hard for will just vanish in a snap.”
That may sound selfish, but that’s what I have been thinking as well. We are a group and whatever it is that one of us gets himself into, we all get involved as well. That goes for both the positive and the negative. If one of us gets a project, we get more attention to the group. But if something as serious as one of us getting caught for murder, I can’t imagine how we’ll ever get back up. Actually I do, but it would be too painful to think about. Surely, we can never continue with all of us. And chances are, we cannot continue as three. What are we to tell the people? In truth, this is still our job and nobody likes losing their job especially one they love. We are not talking not just because we love our leader but also because we love ourselves. We don’t want to go through all the trouble. It’s tiring and it hurts.
“But look Tegoshi,” Shige lowered his voice. More than angry, he was tired. He’s tired of not being able to do anything.”Do you understand what we’re doing when we’re not doing anything?” Tegoshi averted his eyes. “Can you live like this? Can you bear to go through every night worrying that he might’ve done something again? Can you stand the fact that when we let him be like this, we are putting other people’s lives at risk? Is it okay that we let people die?”
Tegoshi lifted up his chin, trying to stop the tears from falling. “But, Shige, we…Koyama…”
“I still believe in Koyama. We all do. I will forever believe that he is a good person. But that doesn’t change the fact that hurting – killing people is just not right. We contradict ourselves this way, I know. But maybe it’s enough that we believe in him. Though by calling the police, we are sacrificing –heck- everything, but maybe this is the right way to go”
Shige, I thought, even though he said all that, he’s still half-hearted. But Tegoshi understood. I understood. At night, whenever I look out to the streets, I pray he’s not out there. Whenever I read the newspaper, I hope no one was murdered. If someone was killed, I pray it’s not him who did it; that his name is not written as the murdered or in the suspect list. I know he knows it’s not right. I thought ‘if he could stop himself, he would have done it a long time ago’. I don’t know what’s going on inside him and I don’t know what to tell him. I feel useless like this. And in truth, Shige may just be right. I couldn’t stand it. I want to get this over with even if it will be hell
“I can’t…I don’t…” Tegoshi’s words were incomplete yet Shige and I understood completely.
“Enough,” I said. They were actually surprised to see me. “Enough. Let’s just wait for Ko-“
Before I could even finish talking, Koyama entered, walked straight to the front. We were all speechless when he dropped to the floor on his knees, and bowed down as flat as he could.
So many times I wanted to stop but I never did. It would be a lie if I say that I didn’t like what I was doing because I did. The act of killing – I did enjoy it. There was pleasure that I couldn’t find anywhere else. It’s exhilarating and sometimes even orgasmic. It’s a need and a desire. I cannot understand too why of all things, I seek pleasure in taking the lives of other people. I do not want to hurt anyone but there’s really those days where I crave for it and that craving is just so strong that every bone and flesh in me quivers – unstoppable and uncontrollable until I give in. But when it’s over, when I reach my bed, I pray for it all to be undone. I start to hate myself. I couldn’t sleep and when I do, I’m just haunted by nightmares
When day comes, I try to forget how monstrous I have been. I try to create a dream out of my life – I laugh, meet with friends, keep myself busy through work – those normal things. That’s how I escape. That’s how I try to convince myself that I am still human
But I was selfish. I didn’t think about the people around me. I thought I was on my own with this condition – or sickness if you may. Every time I act on my craving, I forget that in everything I do, it’s not just my victim’s life which is at risk – I also put the lives of the people who looks up to me, cares for me, and works with me on the line. With my job, I should’ve been more responsible. I should’ve been in control
I tried- but I didn’t try hard enough because, as I said, I liked doing it. Even if I hate myself after, I still don’t want to give up those moments where I feel my blood rushing through my veins and the world disappears as it is replaced by euphoria. In this happiness-seeking nature of human beings, how am I to make that sacrifice?
I kept making excuses to cover for my selfishness
Can you live like this
Shige’s words echoed inside of me. Even if I, too, feel suffering, there is pleasure. But the suffering I am causing them - there’s no joy in that. They just endure all of it. They bear it because they think about me. How about me? How much have I thought of them? Not once did I hesitate to plunge that knife because I thought of those three. I just went on. I have always thought that when I get caught one day, I’ll just accept it. I didn’t think that along with that, some dreams will just have to be wrecked
I can’t live with this, and neither should they. But maybe it’s too late…
I was mad that night. I was mad at him, mad at me, and mad at the world. Mad at him for not telling us what he’s going through though I couldn’t blame him; it’s just so sick. Mad at me for being of no use; I couldn’t do anything right because I don’t know what the right thing to do is. Mad at the world for all its contradictions
I can’t take watching it all take place. It was horrible that I wanted to run away. But I couldn’t move. No matter how much I wanted to close my eyes, they just won’t. I saw everything. I wanted to scream “STOP!” I wanted to help that boy. But I thought about Kei-chan. Surely, if that boy gets out, word also gets out that NEWS has some horrible members. But if I won’t do anything, then I’m tolerating this murder. Still, Kei-chan…
More than fear, I pitied him. It’s all a mess impossible to get out of. As they say, the damage was done. The fact is irreversible
I was glad to have received Shige’s call. I needed the talk. We needed the talk. I did not expect it to go smoothly. Surely, I was right. I ended up in an argument with him. It wasn’t the best way to talk things out, but we did release the emotions and thoughts that we’ve been holding back for so long. What I didn’t expect though was Kei-chan coming in and bowing down to all of us. He wasn’t supposed to come yet. He was about an hour early
He didn’t cry. But, his face was pale like he’s been drained of life. His eyes tell he hasn’t been sleeping. They were red though, from crying I believe
“I’m so sorry,” he said, very softly that it was almost inaudible. He was breathing heavily. I felt like he would break any second. “I’m really sorry,” he said, now a little louder. “Even if you don’t forgive me, I want you to know that I’m sorry.”
“Kei-chan,” Massu called out. It was affectionate – no sound of anger or disappointment
“I can withdraw from this work entirely, I can-“
“Stop,” Shige said out loud. “It’s enough.”
I approached him and offered him a hand. He looked at me, probably searching for any signs of anger on my face. But I was calm then. The least I wanted to do was to make him feel worse. I smiled and nodded. “Get up, leader,” I said. Slowly, he took my hand and stood up. Massu came up and hugged him to his surprise. “Kei-chan, kei-chan,” he muttered repeatedly like a kid. Shige looked at me and grinned. Simultaneously, we put our arms around him as well. “Withdraw? What are you talking about,” asked Shige. “Come on. Let’s take a seat and talk.”
He asked us when and how we knew about him. We hesitated but answered anyway. He listened intently, not saying anything. I told him about the corpse in his house which shocked Massu and Shige. I also talked about that instance wherein Massu and I ran after seeing him stab someone in a dark alley. I have no idea why but I seem to see a lot of things I’m not supposed to. We weren’t sure if we should ask him about the things he did as well but we kind of thought that if we want to know the truth, feed our curiosity, and get our questions answered, then the time was then and we should take advantage. It was also agreed that after that, we are not supposed to speak of any of it
Never should I kill again. If I feel myself heading that direction, maybe I’ll just call one of you guys. This is troublesome but when that happens, can you hurry and come to my house and make sure I don’t get out
That’s what he said. It was a plan we all gladly comply
Also, in the case that others find out and I am to be taken by the police, please consider me as an ex-member of the group. I have to face the punishment no matter what. Please do not speak of it. Do not even try to defend me. I don’t want any of you involved.
He wasn’t convinced with our YES that he made us promise
We did. Though, we wish we didn’t…
There’s something I didn’t tell them when we had our talk. Well, Koyama and I didn’t tell them. Maybe because we both avoided things to get worse and we didn’t want to worry Shige and Tegoshi even more.
The truth is Koyama called me late at night. It was the same day Shige called to set up a meeting
"Massu,” I hear him say. No greetings. It was plain and serious. This is really bad, I thought. Something is wrong. “Are you home?”He was panting and I can hear his footsteps. He’s running – worse, he’s running away.
“What happened? What’s wrong?”
That night he killed someone. But then right after, he was surprised by a strong flash of light. When he turned around, it was a man holding a camera. In panic, he ran away. He didn't know what to do so he called me. Well, I didn't know what to do it. I wanted to call Shige but he insisted that I do not call anyone else. Of all people he would ask for help, I wasn't sure if I should feel happy or not that I’m the one he called
“Why me?” I asked.
“Shige thinks well but he worries a lot. He’s very pessimistic,” he said. I thought: of course Shige would be worried! Who wouldn't? You just killed someone and somebody took a photograph.”Also,” he added, “Tegoshi probably hates me. “ I wanted to ask why but then I thought it doesn't matter right now. We are facing one thing we've dreaded to happen for so long
We stayed up all night checking at blogs and news sites waiting for an article to come out. There wasn't any. If there was, we didn't have a plan anyway- at least, none that I know of. I didn't ask him. 24 hours had passed and yet there was nothing. It was weird but it was a relief. That’s probably why we didn't say a word about it. We probably should have.
A week has passed and except for the guy who took the photo, Koyama, and me, it seems like nobody knew about the incident. NEWS was closer than before and it’s as if nothing happened. It’s as if we all went through a reset. The tension was gone. There were no late night phone calls from Kei-chan which relieves us all. It seems like we have let the past alone, let it fade and we focused on the present and the future
The thing I actually fear about happiness is the fact that the world balances things on its own – something of the opposite shall follow. But aren't we all stressed out before that maybe this happiness is the balancing factor
We were recording and discussing in the studio for hours. We all had our phones either on silent or turned off. We were all determined to do something that will disappoint no one and shall please everyone. We put our hearts and minds into it. We decided to eat out after.
When we got out, we were all unprepared for what awaits us
It was blinding – the flashes of the cameras. One shot after another – I thought it wouldn't stop. Then there was so much noise; everyone surrounding us was talking and asking us questions. We all just stood there and froze for a few seconds. We have no idea what’s going on. I panicked when I realized there’s just the four of us who will face them. Our manager, the staff, I can’t seem to find them. We’re alone. And, we can’t seem to understand what’s happening. I looked around, searching for a possible clue and an escape path when something caught my attention. Someone held a newspaper. I couldn't make out all the words but two in bold print was enough to make me shudder: JOHNNY’S and MURDER.
“Wait,” Kei-chan said out loud. The noise stopped. “What’s this all about?"
“Is it true,” a female reporter started as she stepped closer. “Is it true that you’re responsible for numerous murders?”
There was silence. My heart was pounding so hard and so fast I feared I would die. I looked at everyone and they’re all sweating, looking probably as shocked and nervous as I am. The reporter spoke again. Now she looked threatening. “Are you a murderer?”
Kei-chan looked calm. The thing he made us promise echoed in my head. I glanced at Massu and he was just still, looking at Kei-chan. Shige was staring at me; he wanted to say something but I wasn’t sure what it was exactly. Kei-chan took a deep breath. He was going to tell them and I was not to interrupt. I wanted everything to freeze right then. I don’t want to hear it.
“Nonsense,” Shige said. I understood what he was trying to tell me. Quickly, I reached for Kei-chan’s arm. “Don’t,” I ordered. He resisted but I held on tighter. The attention was now on Shige.
“That’s nonsense. Koyama Keichiiro is a murderer?” He laughed. “Isn’t it too late for April Fools?”
“But this is him no doubt,” another reporter said, holding out a photograph. It was Kei-chan’s photograph caught in the act.
“Come on, how can you be so sure?” Shige went on. “We can‘t trust photographs these days. This is enough, let’s go”
With that, we forced ourselves out of the commotion. We didn't say a word. We ignored them as they follow us and bombard us with more questions. I don’t know what’s to happen but I’ll stand with what Shige decided even if I’m breaking promises.
“What the fuck was that?!” Koyama was angry. At me. If there was enough room in the car, I wonder if he would've punched me. “You promised me!”
“I’m sorry but I’ll just have to eat my words. I realized I couldn't let it happen”
“Koyama,” Massu said. “We’re sorry but Shige seemed to have done the right thing even if it’s wrong.”
“It’s wrong, all wrong,” Koyama said. “Why couldn't you just let me-“
“This isn't just about you,” Tegoshi interrupted which was followed by silence – a very lengthy silence
I should know well that the law applied to everyone and no one should be exempted. Every crime has a punishment. But I also believe in chances because our wrongdoings should not define us. I believe in reasons even if they are absurd. I also believe that I shouldn't let go of those which are and who are important to me
What Koyama have done cannot be justified. At all. It was against morals and ethics. If it’s a stranger, I’d push for him to be punished. But it’s Koyama…
As unfair, unjust, and wrong as it is - I apologize but I will defend him. I know I asked Johnny-san not to defend him again – I really am eating all my words
I question myself right now. It’s just absurd. But I don’t care. Whatever Koyama did, I believe, is in his nature – a nature which the world will not understand and will never tolerate. But it is also in his nature to bring people happiness – the one thing people keep on seeking no matter what. It’s all a contradiction, but really, what isn’t?
I never did it again
I cannot tell what exactly happened or what we did, but it was all forgotten. It became a past which was burried in a way it almost didn’t exist
But it did
And I hope never again.
It was a quiet night in Japan. The stars sparkled until they are dominated by the rising sun.