9 May, Tokuya Higashigawa

文字数 4,294文字

A Lie in the Face of Bright Red Evidence


The moment I stepped out the door, I felt the comfortable sensation of the evening air fill my lungs. I put my hand to my mouth and noticed the feel of my lips on my fingertips. It appears that I’m not wearing a face mask. Damn, no wonder it’s so easy to breathe!
  Frustrated with myself, I headed back inside and saw the lifeless form of my aunt lying face-up. The knife in her back must have hurt like hell. Her face was so terribly skewed that I worried that cracks might appear in the heavy makeup that caked her face. My mask was clutched in her right hand, soaked in blood. She had ripped it from my face when we got into a bit of a scuffle. I nearly left evidence behind.
  I plucked my mask from her hand, put it in the same bag in which I had placed my blood-stained knife, and tucked it away in my bag. But there was still a problem. Now without my mask, my face was fully exposed. I couldn’t leave the apartment like this. Particularly in these times, I would stand out too much. I needed a replacement mask. While pondering this, my gaze drifted to the mask that covered my aunt’s mouth. I guess I’ll borrow that for now. But however indirectly, I don’t want to kiss my aunt. Besides, what if she’s infected with the virus?
  I was arguing with myself when I suddenly heard the sound of the doorbell. It was followed by a male voice. “Hello! Hōdansha Editorial at your service!”
  Shit. Someone from the publishing house was here to see my aunt. He appeared to have an appointment, as he didn’t seem the least bit inclined to leave. There was no time to lose. Forgetting about my concerns, I put on my aunt’s mask and quickly came up with a plan. I opened the door to the washroom next to the front door and slipped inside.
  I heard the front door click open. The man from Hōdansha must have rudely opened the door and was now looking inside, in which case I was sure he could see the dead body in the living room. Sure enough, I heard him scream.

Aaahh!

It was followed by the loud noise of his footsteps as he ran inside. “Ma’am! Ma’am!” The sound of his voice rang hollow as he called out to my aunt.
  I used that as my cue to quietly tiptoe out of my hiding place, then intentionally opened and closed the front door, making sure to make a lot of noise. I then pretended to take my shoes off in a rush and called out to him; “Wh-what’s going on?” I pretended to be the good nephew who had just heard someone scream, rushing inside with concern for his aunt’s well-being.
  “Oh! Auntie! Wh-who. . . who did this to you?”
  “I don’t know,” the man said as he looked from me to my aunt’s pale face and back to me again.
  The next moment, he frowned. “Hmm? Wait, aren’t you the one who killed her?”
  “Huh?” Is this guy a genius? A born detective. . . ? “Wh-why do you say that?”
  “Your mask. It’s inside out.”
  “. . . .”
  Damn, that’s right. I’d put it on inside out because I didn’t want to kiss my aunt indirectly and it concerned me that she might be infected with the virus. “So?”
  The man from Hōdansha pointed to my face as I tilted my head, looking puzzled.
  “Your mask. You have lipstick on it. Bright red lipstick, your aunt’s favorite.”


Translated by Eriko Sugita/Arranged by TranNet KK

Tokuya Higashigawa
Born in Onomichi City, Hiroshima Prefecture, in 1968. Graduated from Okayama University’s Faculty of Law. Made his literary debut with “Misshitsu no kagi kashimasu” (I will lend you the key to the locked-room) in 2002, which was selected to be the first entry in the new talent scouting project Kappa-One Tōryūmon. Placed first in the 8th Japan Booksellers’ Award with

Nazotoki

wa

dinā

no

atode

(The mystery will be solved after dinner) in 2011, which became a massive hit. His other series include Ikagawashi (Ikagawa City), Koigakubo gakuen tanteibu (Koigakubo school detective club), Mahōtsukai Marī (Mari the witch), Hiratsuka onna tantei no jikenbo (The casebook of Hiratsuka’s female detective), among others. Many of his works have also been adapted for film. His recent work includes

Isezakichō

tantei

burūsu

(Isezakichō detective blues). He is contributing “Izakaya ‘Ippuku-tei’ no shiki” (The four seasons of the izakaya Ippuku-tei) to

Mephisto

magazine.

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