The writing is a lot slower, more intricate, than what most people have time for on the Internet. But the print publishing world won't touch my stuff. Thanks for checking it out, on track to get there by the time I reach the venerable almost-retired Tokyo detective's age.
The real interest of this book for me, and ultimately the root of its complexity, is the layers of experience interlaced. Some passages I wrote 10 years ago, nearly unchanged. Other entire sections were composed just a week ago.
Note that Arisugawa Park 1.24 - Peach, featuring David at a swank Roppongi Hills hostess club, went live a couple weeks ago. This section of new material took a little longer to work into shape. And (gulp) there must be one more, Hayao swimming in a dark city that knows how to keep its secrets.
Hayao walked the streets without apparent purpose, avoiding all easy lines to nightlife hubs. He crisscrossed the hills in search of traces, scents––lingering here and there to read a street sign, check a house or convenience store––gaze shifting to landmarks edging the sky. He did not need to orient, he was familiar with these streets to his bones––but the habit remained, offering its own small pleasures. As Hayao passed a semi-rundown house with unkempt garden, owner occasionally glimpsed through cloudy window, a cat he half-recognized crept out from under the hedge, a narrow den between two houses. The cat had never come near enough for him to pet and never would, he thought. Yet it gave a nod and flick of the tale before stretching out its leg and sandpapering its tongue luxuriantly up and down––they were familiar.
Up until five years ago the house adjacent had been of a similar era, inhabited by owners of the same resilient, trauma-defined generation. The carefully trimmed hedges and acacias a buffer against an indelibly seared world in which lines of demarkation were in constant flux. Some cosmic fold––a coincidence of altitude, wind, course, and thumb-to-button twitch––repeated hundreds of times, over moon-blotted skies––had determined that this particular swatch would pass unscathed. Others in close vicinity had not had it so easy––in the tightly packed flats half a kilometer away, smoky conflagration spread along wooden houses, tatami and shoji turned to kindling, fanned by tree path, electricity line, and spark. Somehow these houses and a few above and below, extending to the Buddhist temple at the top of the hill, had survived.
Hayao wondered whether even those tasked with arial destruction had recognized the presence here of something worth preserving, hesitated to unload. No… that sort of exactness was not built into bombers of the era, even had the intention been there. Those who had opposed Japan’s military expansion, those who had seen vows against war insidiously picked apart, turned against them by war-drunk citizens, kempai tai––windows broken and bicycle wheels pricked, followed by actual disappearances––had perished just the same as those responsible for the city’s burning. All had accepted culpability equally under the Emperor on that day of shellshocked surrender.
Hayao, born just after this trauma and vividly able to remember its aftermath in much more local––yet equally hard hit––Niigata, had taken time over the years to visualize the patterns of commerce that flowed in second-growth progression. Those patches that had survived intact in Azabu were not unscathed by the subsequent needs of scarcity-driven generations and eventually succumbed to an even more permanent, creeping damnation––bubble era subdivision, to-the-property-line development. Once unleashed, these forces were almost impossible to unwind––there was nowhere to go but up. Even the iconic 1930s Bauhaus buildings on Omote-Sando, the only of their kind, had had to go. The only real guard against wanton crimes against gross national happiness the long lifespans of those who remembered and cared.
And so the process of diminishment had continued, property surveyed and sold, house and garden demolished in a jarringly short time. One more fold of “borrowed” landscape lost for however long humans were around to define eternity. Hayao shrugged and the cat seemed to shrug with him––at least a high-rise had not taken its place, the architecture as soothingly minimalist as the 10-foot slate grey wall around the urban compound-cum-villa. With a noted dot-com entrepreneur the owner, the property had taken taking on a digitally rendered aspect of high gates and hard steel, a boxy, glass-stretched minimalist’s wet dream, its primary message one of discreet ostentation.
His feet carrying him further, Hayao half turned and looked back and the cat seemed to nod in shared apprehension that its habitat might be gone, just like that––the fate of one of the last havens for native tricksters hanging by one blood soaked cough or senile lapse. And yet, as the cat’s sudden shift in demeanor indicated, hope persisted––it was now fully engrossed on a padded approach to an infant bird fallen out of nest lodged in a crease in the slate-grey wall. Parents flying over its head, chirping to no avail, the cat took the crippled bird by the neck and carried it in its mouth, trophy-like to its den. Life and death always found a way.
Hayao shook his head, forward focused. The point of the wandering became clear as he let the core questions settle. Local was how you defined it, native an evolving process. Though Eve was not from here that did not mean she did not know the area––perpetrator or victim, she might just have enough of the trickster in her to adapt.
The question was––Eve having last been caught on camera at the Hyatt, a couple hundred meters from Roppongi Crossing––what were the chances of her subsequent route to major transportation hubs going undetected? There were cameras littering this area, yet they were not quite pervasive––the narrow lanes offered some respite from the digital grid, despite the billion yen residential compounds. There was still an innate appreciation among many for the value of discretion, an unwillingness to pin down the unknowable. Eve could certainly have ditched the cameras at the Hyatt and passed unobserved to Azabu station, blended into turnstile queue at the right moment, when the crowds were at their most intense.
Yet Hayao was not convinced that his quarry could have stitched together a maze-like path to Azabu-Juban at just the right time, without some sort of intimate topographic knowledge. She could have hopped in a taxi––though why she would not have done that earlier was not clear. Hayao blinked––there was one other possibility of course––she had not been headed to the station. A safe haven, the home of a well-connected friend or lover––maybe she even had the money to rent here––or had her journey had been unwilling truncated? The latter possibility, strangely, he could not quite shake. Looking up at the darkening sky and emerging lights of nearby buildings, Hayao decided it was time to head in to Roppongi, where a whole other definition of tricks prevailed.