Still, a first novel coming out in drips and drabs at age 42, is inexcusable. Maybe I have engineered it myself. Obscurity is great, as long as you have enough to eat and are not tied to a partner with conventional expectations. And then there is the music. Another portal of expression opened up to me in 2015, on the wings of picking up a (now departed) agent and expecting that I could survive on my own terms, as an artist. Faced with the question of what I really wanted to do, I gravitated toward creating music that got people smiling, bopping, collaborating, dreaming.
I am juggling these two artistic balls (nevermind the ink sketches), which is why you get a rare "twofer" here: the latest AP episode and the 7th video from the "tribal flute deluxe" concept album Fabric - Chasing Sun. I'll write an entire post about the 9 minute mini-epic in a day or two.. or thirty.
Vestiges of her dream not quite gone, Kaori put herself into a defiantly upbeat mood as she left the apartment, humming The Suburbs by Arcade Fire—- a nominally depressing tune that somehow had the opposite effect on her. Walking the five minutes to train station, nodding at neighbors she vaguely recognized, avoiding the glances of sulky teenagers, Kaori’s mood lifted enough for her to feel genuinely at ease. Her father had always commented on her sunny disposition and perhaps, despite everything, it was true–––the expected winds had not materialized off the Tokyo Bay and real casework awaited. Her dream of Kazuhiro was no accident, past experience had taught her––she was treading deepening waters, channeling her father at a time that mattered.
The birds were singing, the train ride seemed shorter than usual, everything was humming along until Kaori reached the police station. Yamahito sat on her desk, arms folded, a stain forming around his hot mug of coffee. His brow furrowed as he squinted at her with impatient gaze. Despite outward gravity, there was an almost imperceptible turn to his lip that gave Kaori the sense he was relishing what was to come.
“We received a call this morning. You could not resolve a complaint that the Iseharas brought against a couple of––Indian men,” he spat out the words with the same distaste with which Mizota had phrased “foreign teacher” on the phone last night–– I’m not in the habit of giving my card out to gaijin sensei.
Yamahito glared at Kaori intently, the hint of a smirk forming. He caught himself, as if aware of her appraisal, inching taller in his shoes and tightening his grip on the coffee mug. “The Iseharas are upset. They wonder how a member of the Chiba police force is unable to take decisive action in resolving such a simple matter. They are at a loss––to be honest, I am at a loss. Are you sure you are cut out for this job?”
Yamahito’s eyes narrowed and trailed pointedly past Kaori to the parking officers sitting at surrounding desks––eyes averted, pretending they weren’t hanging onto his every word. There it was again, that quiver running across the upper lip, a satisfaction he could not quite conceal. “I’m going to have to send someone else to take care of this, someone capable of righting the ship, resolving matters in a decisive way.”
Decisive. Kaori knew by now that––by the logic Trump had reinvoked and was now having its ripple effect across the pond––that meant listening only to the Japanese side in such disputes. Fair and impartial was on its way out as a value that mattered much, in its place a kneejerk playbook of bogeyman methods long discredited. What the department wanted was all foreigner-related unpleasantness swept under the rug, things kept the way they had always been. One thing was certain––the Iseharas and their type represented the hard-working Chiba families whose vote would decide whether Yamahito’s golfing buddies got reelected or not.
“I suggest you get to work on these immediately Officer Inoue,” Yamahito said, setting a heavy sheaf of papers on her desk. He turned back as he exited the room, giving her a sharp look, “Remember, these supersede any ongoing investigations.” Kaori glanced at the forms, stomach sinking. Tax and employment documents. Alien registration forms that had, for one reason or another, raised question marks at city hall and now required another set of eyes to look them over. Such a cruel, unusual punishment far outweighed whatever infraction she had committed.
Realizing that any chance of interviewing Jonathan Wales that afternoon had gone, Kaori grasped for a reason for Yamahito’s behavior beyond general dislike. There was something she could not shake, a feeling that he had a hidden motive––Yamahito did know her schedule after all. She had assumed he was too busy to care, but he must have checked––the meeting with Yuki, even the scheduled appointment with Jonathan Wales––follow-up work related to Steve Loewe’s disappearance all neatly logged in the departmental database. Kaori shrugged and tried to shake it off. There was no logical reason for Yamahito to keep her from her investigation––punishment meted out for handling an altercation beyond the strict lines of rank and position fit his vindictive personality to a tee. Yet….
Kaori took a deep breath and started in on the first excruciatingly detailed paper. She had to rewrite everything by hand, amending all errors and noting whether further police action was required. This would take her a week, if she focused on nothing else. She glanced enviously at the officers shuffling papers beside her––filling out parking violations seemed a breeze in comparison.