Chapter Six: Don't Cry:
I stood at the crosswalk this morning. I have a job today. The person who lost their mother to cancer replied back in an instant message.
"Hi, my name is Ueno Hiromi," she wrote. "I wrote to you about my mother. She and I used to be on good terms. We fought during my teen years. I hadn't talked to her in long time. I selfishly refused to see her when she was sick. I am regretting it even more when I didn't make it to the funeral."
"And you want to apologize to her?" I typed.
"Alright. Where do you work?"
"Okay then, meet me at the crosswalk to where your office building is. We will head to the park from there. Don't forget the picture so I will know who exactly I am summoning."
"I'll give you the map."
I received the directions through e-mail. "I will meet you at noon."
"Understood," Hiromi-san typed. One phone call to Ju-Oh-Cho later and here I was at the crosswalk.
I looked among the crowd of people. Noga-san stood behind me, watching and taking notes, but only I could see him. To be honest, it's creepy. He doesn't speak and he never smiles. I tried to stay focused. If my attention went back to him every five minutes, the clients will think I'm crazy. I leapt back when I heard my phone ringing. It took me a minute to calm down and answer.
"Hello?" I asked.
"Niwa-san?" a woman asked.
"This is Ueno-san."
I looked through the busy crowd for her. "Where are you?"
"I'm down the street." I turned and looked up to see a pale, fat hand waving me down.
"Oh, I see you!" I said. "Come over towards me!"
"Yes ma'am," she said. I watched and waited as she made her way over to me. By the time the sign changed to walk, I got a good look at my client. Her grey suit hugged her cute, chubby frame. Her short, black hair shaped her face. I have never seen such rosy cheeks before in my life.
"Nice to meet you," she said with a bow. I bowed back.
"Nice to meet you too," I replied. "Shall we go?"
"Yes ma'am," she replied. I rolled my shoulders.
"Alright," I said. "Stay by me." We began our walk across the street and ended up at the park. We came to a rest on a bench. Hiromi-san handed me a bright pink bag.
"What's this for?" I asked.
"Payment," she said. "They are chocolate and red bean taiyaki. My husband baked them fresh this morning. He works with my niece in a bakery downtown."
"You didn't have to…" I said.
"I know you don't accept money," Hiromi-sand said. "Please take this instead." I laughed in a sheepish way. I could feel Noga-san's eyes on my back as he took notes. The higher-ups won't let me take money. So, I ended up with gifts as an exchange for work instead. It's strange and it feels like they are pandering to my kitsune instead of me.
"Uh… thanks…" I said as I as took the bag. I'll have to fix this later. I cleared my throat. "Do you have a picture of the deceased with you?"
"Yes, I do. Hang on," Hiromi-san replied. She reached her bag and dug around. "Here you go." I took the picture in question and studied the contents. Her mother reminded me of Kyoko-san from Kato-san's neighborhood. The old lady's hair and kimono looked like something out of ancient Edo. I handed Hiromi-san back the photo.
"Thank you," I said. I rose to my feet and held out my hand. "I beseech the twelve gods before me. Bring forth your innocent to me." The heated wind blew past my body as my fingertips tingled. A numbing sensation ran down my spine. I opened my eyes to see Hiromi-san's mother sitting before her daughter. The younger woman's eyes welled up with tears.
"Mother!" she whimpered. "I'm sorry!" Hiromi-san bowed her head. "I know I've not been a good daughter to you. All I did was make you sad and worried about me. When you died, I didn't realize how much I loved you." Tears trailed down her cheeks. "I never got to say, but I love you and I'm so sorry! Can you forgive me?" Her mother's soul put her hand on her head. Hiromi-san looked up to see her smiling.
"I forgive you," her mother said. "You grew up well and made me proud. Please don't cry anymore. Live your life for me."
"Yes," Hiromi-san said. "I love you, mother." Mother and daughter embraced each other in a heart-warming hug.
"I love you too, Hiromi-chan," she said. Her mother vanished into thin air. Hiromi-chan looked around.
"Mother?" she asked.
"She's gone to rest in peace," I said. My client looked at me with tears in her eyes.
"What?" she asked. I broke into a calm smile.
"You told her how you felt," I told her. "She's happy to hear you say those things to her and now she can rest in peace."
"Thank you," Hiromi-san said, bowing.
The taiyaki actually tasted good later on that evening. I might even let Asato-kun have a taste when he's done with the case. I didn't grasp what happened while writing my report of today's job, but I ended up deleting all of the Smiths songs I had on iTunes and my iPod. Like calling Angie to check on Henry, it just sort of happened and I didn't stop until I saw it through.