Early the next morning.
In the morning mist, Takeru and Mori were waiting for the gate to open.
“What’s his name?” Takeru asked, looking at Mori’s dog.
“Did you name him?”
“My sister did.”
The night before, Takeru had attached a letter to Riki’s collar. It only had a few lines of necessary information. “Mori lives. He wants to see you.”
“All right! We’re counting on you, Riki. Remember what the girl who took care of you smells like? You want to see her?” Takeru whispered as he rubbed Riki’s neck.
The gate opened, and the guards came out as always with the monitor.
The battle was about to begin.
Takeru jumped in front of the monitor. The guns were pointed at him immediately.
“Excuse me! I’m sorry!”
Even in the line of fire, Takeru spoke to the guards cheerfully.
“Stand aside! If you don’t get out of the way, we’ll shoot,” a guard shouted through the speaker.
Not discouraged, Takeru kept blabbering. Then he glanced at the dog. As planned, while Takeru drew the attention of the guards, Mori let Riki free. “Go! Riki!”
But this did not escape the attention of the guards. “A dog! Catch it!”
The guards started firing towards Riki. But the clever dog dodged as he ran, and in no time at all he was out of sight.
“Riki!” Mori yelled.
“He’s fine. Riki definitely didn’t get shot. He’s absolutely going to run to your sister,” Takeru said, and pulling a game-boy out of his pocket he handed it to Mori.
Mori smiled. It was the first time Takeru had seen such a hopeful smile on him.
The sun was going down. The sky was dyed gold.
All day long, Yamato struggled with the piece-of-junk car. Opening and closing the top, tinkering here and there. But in the end, it was no good. He sighed, and closed the top with oil-stained hands
“He’s actually doing it, the idiot. Friend of yours?” Akira and Makoto spoke to Kiichi, who was watching Yamato from a distance.
“We told him we’d exchange the car for the brat’s shoes.”
Surprise spread across Kiichi’s face. Was that what was going on...
Takeru was doing laundry when Yamato returned covered in oil. Takeru was taken aback at the filthiness.
“Crap, and you said you liked to be clean?”
Yuuri came along.
“I was wondering where you two had been staying.” Her gaze was as sharp as always.
Takeru pointed at Yamato, his tone fed-up. “Yuuri, I’m telling you, this guy is way too much trouble.”
“I guess you weren’t particularly worried about us,” Yamato said, looking daggers at Yuuri.
“Then, why are you here?”
“I heard the gunfire, Takeru. You let out Mori’s dog?”
Surprised, Yamato turned to Takeru.
“Why did you do that?” Yuuri said in a scolding voice.
“Because Mori wanted to see his sister.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. You think the dog is going to bring his sister here?
She laughed scornfully, but Takeru maintained his serious look.
“A long time ago, I went on a drive with my family once. Our dog got lost, and we searched for him until night. We couldn’t find him, and finally went home. Three days later, he came home. He followed the smell of his owners."
“But Mori’s dog won’t necessarily come back.”
“Well, yeah, that might be.”
“And even if he does return, and if he brings Mori’s sister, what then? Did you think she’d live with Mori?”
“I hadn’t really thought about it, but still, he just wanted to see her once.”
“You’re a cruel guy.” She glared at Takeru.
He narrowed his eyes back at her, anger appearing on his face. “Cruel?”
“Summoned to see her cute little brother to a place like this, where death is waiting patiently for her. You think she’s going to be happy when she finds that out?”
“You think she’s going to be happy thinking he’s dead?” Now Takeru flared up.
Yuuri silently shook her head.
“It would have been better if you give up. Besides, the dog could have been shot.”
“That’s possible, but Mori is still alive. Think about what if you could meet your family. If your father and mother were still alive...”
“I don’t want to see them!”
Yuuri’s tone became suddenly harsh. Her thin shoulders trembled.
“Things like fathers and mothers, I don’t need them! Don’t talk like you’re a brat.”
Watching her leave, Takeru and Yamato kept silent. The realistic weight of Yuuri’s words pressed down on them.
At the same time, an underling was making a report about the runaway dog to the Makuhara area Director of Countermeasures Shibazaki.
“What was their purpose in setting the dog free?”
“We don’t know. So they wouldn’t have to use rations on it?”
“If they don’t even have enough to feet a puppy, is the situation that dire in there?”
“It shouldn’t be...”
After a moment of silence, the underling continued.
“At any rate, the Makuhara T-type is carried by the human body. There’s no danger of the dog spreading it.”
“Are you saying we should let it go?” Shibazaki’s eyes glittered.
“...No, that’s not what I meant.”
“That dog may be some sort of messenger.”
“It is only speculation, but we must prepare for the worst case scenario. I can’t think of any reason they would let the dog run away. That is, unless they needed it to carry something. Put all energy into searching for it. When you find it, kill it!”
Today again, Yamato went to the car. But something was strange. There was a pair of work gloves on the seat. Not only that, his tools had been neatly laid out.
“It’s impossible for you,” he heard as he opened the top.
It was Kiichi. He carried a battery, and Yamato grinned to see him.
“You’re so clumsy, you can’t even put together a plastic model. Leave it to me. You don’t remember? My dad used to run a repair shop.”
“...I remember,” Yamato answered.
“I stole this battery out of a car in the junkyard. You have a problem with that?”
Yamato shook his head.
“Sorry,” Kiichi said. “But! That time, the one who said hey let’s steal Suzuko’s underwear? Was you, Yamato.”
The two of them laughed. If nothing else was OK, at least the two of them were back to being friends who trusted each the same - no, more than before.”
Later, Yamato filched gasoline from a guard’s truck to put in the car.
While Kiichi watched, Yamato nervously tried to jumpstart it.
In an instant, the sound of the engine echoed into the blue sky. Looking at each other’s oil-stained faces, the two burst into delighted laughter.
Mori sat in front of the gate, playing a game by himself.
“Waiting for your sister?”
Mori raised his face. There Yamato stood holding a basketball.
“It’s fine. She’ll definitely come. So cheer up.”
Seeing Yamato’s smile, Mori smiled back. Holding the ball up to the sky, Yamato said brightly, “C’mon. Let’s play.”
Passing the ball back and forth, the boys walked to the schoolyard. Yamato, Kiichi, Mori, and the boy now wearing the shoes that had been traded for the car. Even he looked like he was having fun. The four of them were more cheerful than they’d been in a long time.
Watching them by herself, Yuuri’s hard expression did not alter.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Our Courage, Chapter Two (part c)
Early the next morning.