David made his way towards Eve's apartment from Osaki station, following the bright blue pinpoint on Google Maps. Reaching the street, he slowed and scanned it up and down. The apartment was located in an unremarkable neighborhood that, having taken Tokyo past pre-war contours, lacked sorely in trees and open space. Nothing struck him as particularly out of place as he strolled the street’s length. David was tempted to simply enter Eve’s apartment through the front door––the scene was so humdrum that for anyone to be actively scoping out the building seemed unreal. He fought back the urge as he passed––he was in no hurry, he had nowhere to be.
Ducking into a convenience store at the corner, David picked up a manga from the magazine rack and leafed through it, glancing obliquely out the window, scanning for anything even slightly off. Nothing, just the usual cars and pedestrians drifting by. David’s gaze finally settled on the only two cars that did not grudgingly move on a street with strictly enforced one-hour parking. Both were well-positioned to observe the comings and goings in Eve's apartment and could conceivably have officers on a stake out––it was impossible to tell at this distance, with the glare of the sun on the windows.
Setting the hefty tome of cheap newsprint back on the rack and purchasing a bottle of genmai cha, David strolled down the street, taking an oblique glance at the cars. The first was empty and had what looked like an official parking permit on the windshield. The second was dark tinted, the side window rolled down half an inch. In the quick glance he allowed himself, David could not make out if anyone was inside. Something caught his eye…manufacturing a cough, he brought cupped hand to mouth, and turned and stole a glance at the pavement behind. That was enough to confirmi a grey imprint of tapped-out cigarette ashes on the pavement. Pricks up his spine––a classic sign of waiting, the necessity of the nicotine fix.
David continued down the street without breaking stride, eventually finding a park, little more than an empty lot with one stunted tree, a seesaw, and a bench. Brushing off bench with a quick swipe, he sat down, checking the latest Mainichi and Asahi Shimbun articles on his phone.
David tried to shrug it off, accept that Eve would inevitably take risks––yet somehow he could not stomach the idea of her walking out on her own.“Returning to your apartment doesn't seem advisable––if the police suspect you are in any way involved in a murder they’ll be watching the place.”
“If they were after me, wouldn’t there have been some report of it on the news by now?” They had been scanning Japanese websites and no mention of a foreign woman in connection with murder had popped up. Then again, their combined Japanese reading ability was low elementary school level––there was a good chance they had simply missed it.
“Not necessarily. A homicide in Tokyo gets only one mention in the news, if that, unless the wide shows decide it’s juicy enough to pick up and run with. There is an element of sensationalism in a crime involving a Japanese man and a foreign woman, but––”
“I’m not so sure he was Japanese.”
“He wasn’t? His name….” Ken could be short for any number of Japanese names––Kentaro, Kennichi, Kensuke, a few he was forgetting.
“He spoke fluent Japanese but I think his family was Korean.” Eve shrugged, “Some offhand comment he made about craving kimchee, instead of the usual pistachios on offer at Peach. He may have adopted a Japanese surname, but I’m not so sure he was a Japanese citizen.”
David nodded. Gaining Japanese citizenship was a circuitous process that often took generations of family residence to achieve. This was particularly true for Koreans, who were looked on with innate suspicion by many Japanese––at least those of the older generation, who hadn’t succumbed to the vanguard of Korean leading men with moppish haircuts and an unabashed romanticism their Japanese counterparts seemed to lack. “In any case, your name not appearing in the news implies only that the police are keeping the investigation low-profile. It doesn't mean that they haven’t identified you, or that they don’t have an interest in bringing you in.”
Eve leaned back, a certain coolness entering her gaze. “Care to tell me what I should do, Hercule Poirot?” The challenge was implicit and her voice had turned to something sultry, demanding. She dropped her eyes, as if catching herself in a role that she had promised herself she would not revisit. Softer now, more measured. “I mean... if you have any ideas––” Her curves were uncomfortably evident, even under loose boxers.
“Just give me your key and I'll go there myself, pick up your stuff,” David said in a tone that had no room for rebuttal. He caught a flash of relief in Eve’s eyes, despite the obligatory pursed lips and frown. “Make a list of what you need and I’ll see what I can gather.”
Eve considered for a moment, not quite ready to admit that this was what she had been angling for. With a final protesting shake of the head, “It’s really too much, what you are offering…” She squeezed his arm impulsively. “ I owe you many times over… the only question is how to approach the building if the police are––as you say––staking out my apartment. Only five other tenants live there and they are all Japanese. Any foreigner entering the building will certainly stand out.” Her voice trailed off. “There is one possibility….”