9 April, Akira Shiga

文字数 4,068文字

“Good morning, Tokyo! I’m your host Takeshi Kakishima, broadcasting live on Thursday, April 9th. The time is now 8:00 a.m.”
  Even in a state of emergency, the airwaves cannot fall silent. Upon entering the radio station, the announcers were subjected to a temperature check, and found their studio partitioned by a makeshift acrylic panel. Reminiscent of a detention center visitation booth, the setup was devised as a prudent precaution, meant to shield the female co-host from any errant microscopic bits of phlegm bound to go flying her way.
  “Good morning, everyone. Miho Yamaguchi here with the weather. Today’s forecast: sunny, with a high of 18℃, and a chance of rain showers heading into the evening.”
  Precautionary motives aside, the acrylic barricades only exacerbated the claustrophobically cramped quarters. By design hermetically sealed for soundproofing purposes, an enclosed, crowded radio studio is admittedly not the ideal setting for spending three hours chatting during a pandemic.
  “Much ado has been made about social distancing, and reducing person-to-person contact by 80%. But there’s also been plenty of disconnect in the messaging coming from politicians on the national and Tokyo metropolitan level. Sure, it seems the Tokyo governor is planning to issue concrete stay-at-home guidelines. But just yesterday, I went in one place, and saw a sign posted in the store that read, ‘We will continue to conduct business as usual: our staff gets paid so long as we remain open.’”
  “Store clerks have bills to pay, too.”
  “I mean, it’s really bringing out the worst in people. Those who are making an effort to stay home have been venting their pent-up frustrations on those who aren’t taking the situation seriously. Meanwhile, there’s a generational war brewing on the streets, pitting the old against the young.”
  “We’re living in scary times; it’s like a bad horror movie.”
  Turn on the TV, and there are the usual talking heads, stoking fears. Meanwhile, the Internet is a predictable cesspool of hyperbole. All the more so in times like these, the radio must remain a comforting fireside presence, attuned to the lives of its listeners.
  Kakishima grinned, offering a wryly optimistic segue:
  “Rest assured, we’re going to be up to the same cockamamie antics as always on this program. After all, laughter is the best medicine.”
  An innocent smile beamed from behind the acrylic barrier:
  “That’s the spirit.”
  As the program went off air for a commercial break, Miho leaned over:
  “Honestly, I was worried the emergency declaration would mean that we would have to be super strait-laced and do some serious reporting. But I suppose what the world needs most right now is a hogwash program like ours. It looks like I still have a lot to learn from you about the radio business.”
  Her comment came as a slight surprise. Was the program really all that lowbrow? Granted, the show always had its fair share of cheap puns and bawdy banter. But even so, Kakishima had meant it more as a self-deprecating figure of speech. . . .
  “Well, I suppose there’s nothing like a pandemic to reveal peoples’ true colors.”
  Guffhum!
  As if on cue, Miho let out a wall-rattling cough.
  Kakishima’s eyes opened wide, like a pair of searchlights tracing spirals in the air.
  “If you’ll excuse me, I’m just going to run to the restroom real quick.”


Translated by Daniel González/Arranged by TranNet KK

Akira Shiga
Born in 1963. Graduated from Meiji University. Made his debut in 2017 with

Sumaho

o

otoshita

dake

nanoni

(Even though I just dropped by smartphone), which was selected for special publication as part of the 15th KONOMYS (This mystery novel is amazing!) Award. The novel became a further hit with a film adaptation starring Keiko Kitagawa. His other works include

Chotto

ippai

no

hazu

dattanoni

(It was meant to be just one drink),

Anata

mo

sumaho

ni

korosareru

(You will also be killed by your smartphone), and

Oreore

no

sōkutsu

(The den of swindlers).

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