29 April, Tokuro Nukui

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I rubbed a lamp that I’d bought at a flea market, and out came a genie.
  In the 2070s, the sight of a genie popping out of a lamp seemed antiquated, but there he was—what’re you going to do? He offered to grant me any wish I wanted, so after some thought, I asked him to kill X. X was a colleague at work. He was taller than I was, good looking, the most capable and successful among us, and he married the most beautiful woman in the company. No one would complain if the guy died an untimely death.
  But then, the genie told me to do it myself. He’d rather not, he said, because murder always left a bad aftertaste in his mouth. I pointed out that he was the one who offered to grant me any wish, but the genie would not listen. Instead, he imparted a fascinating bit of information.
  Apparently, I would not be held responsible for anything that I did on Greenery Day, 2004. When I pressed him about it, he insisted that a genie did not lie. I decided to take him at his word.
  In the first half of the twenty-first century, time travel became possible, and now tours to the past aren’t uncommon. I decided to go back in time to the year 2004. X hadn’t been born yet, of course, so my target was his grandfather.
  Every little thing about Japan in 2004 was a marvel, as I took in the sights, led by a flag-waving tour guide. On a scheduled free day of the tour, I hunted down the man who was X’s grandfather and stabbed him to death with a knife. I’d deliberately booked a tour with a free day scheduled on May 4. Since I wasn’t going to get caught anyway, I didn’t pay any mind to there being witnesses or leaving behind evidence.
  No sooner had I done it than the police came rushing to the scene and arrested me. What was going on? The genie in the lamp couldn’t have told a lie!
  Wait, isn’t today Greenery Day? I asked.
  The policeman pinning me down on the ground answered suspiciously, What are you talking about? Today’s a national day of rest.
  Of course it is! May 4—today is Greenery Day.
  Greenery Day is April 29. Don’t be stupid.
  I was struck dumb. At the same time, I remembered hearing how Greenery Day* used to be celebrated on April 29, a day which was now designated Showa Day. Since this was long before I was born, I’d completely forgotten about it.
  The genie in the lamp must have known this fact, and had chosen Greenery Day by design. I realized too late that the genie was not a genie at all, but the Devil.

(*Note: Greenery Day is a national holiday celebrated on April 29 between 1989 to 2006. In 2007, Greenery Day was moved to May 4, and April 29 was changed to Showa Day. Showa Day commemorates the birthday of Emperor Hirohito, known as the Showa Emperor.)


Translated Takami Nieda/Arranged by TranNet KK

Tokurō Nukui
Born in Tokyo, 1968. Graduated from Waseda University. Made his debut with

Dōkoku

(Wail) in 1993, for which he was a finalist of the 4th Ayukawa Tetsuya Award. Won the 63rd Mystery Writers of Japan Award for

Ranhansha

(Diffused reflection) in 2010, and the 23rd Yamamoto Shūgorō Prize for

Kōkai

to

shinjitsu

no

iro

(The color of truth and regret) in the same year. His recent works include

Waga

kokoro

no

soko

no

hikari

(The light at the bottom of my heart),

Kabe

no

otoko

(The man and the walls),

Shukumei

to

shinjitsu

no

honō

(The fire of truth and fate), and

Tsumi

to

inori

(Sin and prayer).

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