Finding little of interest, Kaori flipped through the magazines from under the futon, mildly curious to see what he read. She came upon a business card tucked firmly into the magazine’s spine, a bookmark of sorts. Pocketing the card it occurred to her that, along with the soy sauce soaked business card Yamahito had found in the kitchen, there were now two leads. She took a closer look at the bed sheet and its faint stain, fighting the urge to exceed protocol and send it to the lab for testing––far too early, if it ever came to that.
Setting the boxes heavily on the counter, Kaori headed upstairs. Back in the office, she lined up the cards along the edge of her desk. The one Yamahito had found in the kitchen read Kennichi Mizota, Triangle Biotechnology, Tokyo. The card from under the futon, Jonathan Wales, Sales Representative, Edu-Act Publishing, Tokyo. Kennichi Mizota and Jonathan Wales. Textbooks and biotech––not much of a connection there, unless the fact that both had jobs in the world’s largest metropolis counted.
Kaori glanced at the officers beside her, mostly female, busying themselves with parking tickets, traffic violations, and the like––the type of work that actually filled the departmental coffers. She felt an uncomfortable distance, though they still shared the same long desk and earned about the same salary.
Recent trends in TV programming notwithstanding, Kaori was the only female detective on the force. Not that “detective” meant much––she might as well be in parking enforcement for all the action she’d seen her first four months on the job. With passable English mustered during a year abroad in Australia, Kaori was responsible for cases involving English-speaking nationals––a category that included everyone from English teachers to South Asian software programmers. Yamahito had the higher profile job of investigating cases involving Asian foreign nationals, mostly Chinese and Korean, and he made clear––in ways subtle and direct––his dislike for her and her newly created position.
Not that Kaori’s position had been anything less than necessary. Yamahito had been involved in an embarrassing incident involving a foreigner suspected of marijuana possession the year before. Lacking tangible evidence beyond a distinctive reek on the man’s clothes and a hastily flushed toilet, the detective squad––under Yamahito’s orders––had coerced a confession out of him and, during the course of a weeks’ detainment, refused him access to counsel or lawyer. Once released, the man had not only refused to pay the $5,000 fine assessed, but had called an old friend, a journalist, with all the details of his arrest and subsequent ill treatment. For whatever reason––it had been a slow news week, perhaps––the story had gone straight to the front page of the Manchester Times. British consul had been called in to investigate, and apologies and reparations from the Chiba Police extracted. Top brass, upset at having their twice-weekly golf game disrupted, handed out stern reprimands across the board. An investigative committee was formed which, after four months of aggressively doing nothing, came up with a creative way of saving face and claiming progress. Instill cultural awareness through hiring a detective with the requisite English language skills––and basic manners––to work with, not against, the international community. Better yet, hire a female detective and quell feminist murmurings that were felt, even here in suburban Chiba Prefecture.
The resistance she had encountered from Yamahito her first day on the job had been an unfortunate taste of life to come. He and his colleagues held their faces in a uniform sneer, intent on extinguishing any light in her eyes through a coordinated strategy of stonewalling and attrition. When Kaori had proven herself useful, even competent, Yamahito’s smugness had turned to visible dislike––an aggrieved sense that her position was being forced on him from above, that what she did was less than real police work. Refusing, above all, to admit the institutional––and personal––shortcomings that had necessitated her hiring. To be fair, it was not only Yamahito––it was half the force. Kaori felt she was still on trial, her colleagues unwilling to accept her into their ranks––half expecting that she would fall back into the kind of casework women typically did. Still, a few––mostly those old enough to have known her father––looked at her with a mixture of sympathy and respect as they passed her in the hallway.