The next day, Comrade Yoshio handed me a cell phone.
I tell him that I’ll repay him once I am able to, but he rejects this notion, saying instead that it’s a get well soon gift.


I lost the Fallkniven folding knife Comrade Yoshio gave me as a congratulatory gift for entering high school.
It was something I greatly treasured.

That’s not all.
I lost everything.

Though I never had much possessions in the first place.


… My, I really did not have anything to be had.
The only things I had valued greatly were the folding knife and cell phone.


The things Mari-sama left behind are not mine.
And neither is the piano.

Ah! This can’t be.
Mari-sama’s ashes, they’re buried underneath the rubble.
I have not completed the process of placing them in a crematorium, for Kyoto’s so far!


I tell Comrade Yoshio about this, and he replies that he’ll ask them to find it during the cleaning up of the aftermath.

It is so like Mari-sama to still cause people trouble even after death.

No, this is my fault.
It’s my fault for not completing the process sooner.
And for financial reasons too.


“I’ll steal some money from my father and go to Kyoto to put Mari-sama’s ashes in its proper place.
But first, I need to find out more about my father, so I’ll get in touch with Lawyer Tamaru.”


I promptly start using the cell phone I had just received.


“You remember every phone number?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Is that so… Completely unlike Ruriko.
She’s always absent-minded, with her head in the clouds…”


Though Comrade Yoshio is starting to speak fondly about my mother, looking spellbound, I make a call to Lawyer Tamaru.
I do not much wish to listen to such talks about my mother.
In spite of this, Comrade Yoshio continues his ramblings beside me.


Lawyer Tamaru was at the hospital my father is in, completing some kind of procedure.
When I told them that I have something I want to ask regarding my father, he replied that he’ll come by later today.
Since then, he has been treating me with great consideration.
He told me that he had come to visit me numerous times before, but was always rejected because of a no visitors policy.
He also communicated that he’s glad I have regained consciousness.


Even after I had ended the call, Comrade Yoshio was still continuing on his ramblings about my mother.
Unfortunately, I am able to understand several different audio inputs at once.
Therefore, I had unwillingly heard his fond chatterings of my mother.


“So my mother was someone who often burnt toasts, ruin the yolk in sunny side ups, and fall from beds.
She also liked painting, and often wandered town aimlessly.
On rainy days, she would bring out her favorite red umbrella and go on walks.
She was always without a care in the world, and healed the Comrade Yoshio who was flawed.”


“She’s like Yamashita Kiyoshi…”

“Huh? Why would you think that?”

“They’re both naked painters.
And in a way, their personalities seem alike too.”


And if my mother was like the Naked General, that makes me feel better too.
I can make her lots of onigiri.


I have never seen any photos of her aside from the one from her youth, in which she was stark naked.
I wonder how my mother was like when Comrade Yoshio met her.
When I asked him this, Comrade Yoshio took out his cell phone and showed me a picture of her.
He also said that he has stored all the data he has into his cell phone so that he can look at it anytime he wishes to.
Just how much does he like her?


The mother I saw in that picture was a plump woman in a tank top and shorts.
She’s not particularly beautiful.
If I must say, she perhaps can be described as an adorable middle aged lady.

… Precisely what the female version of the Naked General would look like.
I finally came to the understand that Comrade Yoshio’s taste in women is just peculiar.


“I don’t hate this version of my mother.
I might even say I like her.”


Rather than the young version of my mother, with her distinctive physique and idle face, I prefer this fluffy looking adorable middle aged lady.
And she’s wearing clothes here too, ones that are not obscene in taste.

Once I am done dealing with my father, I should find out more about my mother.
And I would like to go visit her grave too.


An hour after my phone call with Lawyer Tamaru, he came to the hospital.

He’s unchanged, with his long blonde hair, leather jacket, and leather pants.
Though the leather jacket he’s donning now is a sleeveless one.
It’s hot after all.
Though still, I don’t see why he has to force himself to even wear one in the first place.


“Reiko-san, I’m glad you’ve regained consciousness.”


Lawyer Tamaru has tears in his eyes.
This is unexpected.
He’s on my father’s side.


“Thank you for making the tedious journey here.
 As I have communicated, I wish to ask about my father.”


Lawyer Tamaru looks to Comrade Yoshio.


“Comrade Yoshio is one who has always been watching over me.
I would like him to stay.”


Comrade Yoshio greets Lawyer Tamaru.


“Michael Yoshida.”

“Tamaru Tetsuo.
I serve as Kujouin Tooru-shi’s legal advisor.”


Looking at them side by side like this, I notice that since Comrade Yoshio has a quarter of foreign blood in him, he not only has sharp features, but is also tall and masculine, with a refined frame.

On the other hand, Lawyer Tamaru is extremely thin! He’s all skin and bones, like a rocker! He’s a lawyer though.
And he has long blonde hair to add to this.
For a man of 56, his appearance is wild indeed.


“Now then, where shall I start?”

“Please start from your first meeting with my father.”


Lawyer Tamaru starts his tale.


Lawyer Tamaru first met my father when he was 20.

Lawyer Tamaru was studying at Tokyo University back then, which he entered as an undecided major.
He was in his second year, and was set to go into law in his third year.
It was right before he advance into his third year when his father got into a huge debt from being a joint guarantor.
And the surety was one where even more money might be demanded in the future.


Lawyer Tamaru had no choice but to drop out of university.
By then, he had already thrown his youth away to study with everything he had.
He was a young man from the countryside, with glasses as thick as the bottom of glass bins and hair cropped in a crew cut.
The young man Tamaru fell into depression and was locking himself up in his apartment when his parents escaped from the countryside.
The three of them lived in a studio apartment measuring only 11 m2 in size.
They were considering family suicide when the debt collector appeared.


“It somehow sounds like something from a manga.”

But the civil law amendment will bring a change to the system of joint guarantors.”


Lawyer Tamaru continues his story.

The debt collector was a hoodlum.
He threatened them in his peculiar way of speaking, rolling his r’s to seem stronger.


In such a situation, my father made a dashing appearance.


“Kujouin Tooru-sama had an air about him, you can tell he’s a refined elite just by a glance.”


Lawyer Tamaru said this looking nostalgic.
He also somehow tried to speak in a Tokyo accent, but I don’t think that was necessary at all; it rather feels forced.


Back to the story.
My father brushed off the threats the hoodlum was making.
He then gave them a cheque right then and there.


“With this, your debts are gone in an instant.”


A strange story that does not make even the slightest bit of sense.
Why did my father, who had so far had nothing to do with them, appear in such a scene? Would the small fry from the yakuza promptly take the offered cheque, as a businessman would? There is already one too many plot holes in the story so far.


“Tooru-sama told me this, he happened to hear about our situation from the creditor.
He couldn’t let them sacrifice the future of such a promising young man and thus came to see me.
‘In the future, become my legal advisor.
My shouldering your debts this time is an advanced payment made’, so he said, giving me a pat on my shoulder while smiling.”


Thus, the young man Tamaru returned to the life he had previously led.
 Through meeting with my father once in a while, he had the chance to learn about a world different from his own.
One of them was the world of rock music.


“I discovered freedom.”


The young man Tamaru got into heavy metal, letting out all the anger he felt towards the absurdities of the world.
If expressing discontent against society was his goal, punk rock would have better suited.
I wonder why he chose heavy metal instead.
I continue listening to him while wondering about such matters.
The young man who had worn glasses with lenses as thick as glass bins and had a crew cut changed into contacts and grew his hair out, dye his hair blonde.
Perhaps he calmed down after some time, for he eventually got into Yngwie Malmsteen.

He did not neglect his studies.
He passed the bar exam while still in university, and after graduating, he started a legal internship.
After which, owing to his excellence, he would have been able to become a public prosecutor or a judge.
Instead, in order to fulfill his promise with my father, he became a lawyer.


This was set in the asset price bubble period.
People kept him at a distance due to his long blonde hair, leather jacket, and leather pants.
It was a period where young executives donning Armani suits were celebrated.
Despite this, Lawyer Tamaru refused to bend, choosing instead to stay true to himself.


“Wouldn’t it have been fine for you to compromise just your appearance?”

“Nah, rock is my soul itself.”


Though he looked that way, he was capable.
He became independent while in his 20s, and flourished in his work.
He was particularly strong in civil cases.


After the asset bubble burst, my father, who had then not meet Lawyer Tamaru for some time, came to him.

He wanted Lawyer Tamaru to take care of some debts for him.
The debts belonged to Kujouin Mari-sama.
She had lost her assets in investments.


“That’s odd.
Mari-sama does not do investments.
She did not even have her own wallet.
There is no way she was managing her own money.
She does not even have the ability to survive on her own.”

“…… At any rate, we had to sell the principal residence of the Kujouin family, let go of nearly all their fortune, and had her move to the remaining villa.
After which Tooru-sama returned overseas.”


It seems that my father had been in the habit of living abroad.
And they did not meet again for 10 years after that.


“When Reiko-san was born, Tooru-sama entrusted you to Mari-sama, who was living at the villa.
He said that his mother was better qualified to raise you into a fine lady.”


I wonder what that father of mine was thinking.
Entrusting your baby to an old lady in her late 80s is not something an ordinary person would do.

Later, after I had turned 1, Mari-sama again fell into debt.
Mari-sama had once again failed in her investments.


“As I was saying, Mari-sama would not do something like that.
She had no interest in money.”


Instead of addressing what I said, Lawyer Tamaru continues on, relating now our lives after.

The debt was not of an amount we could pay back.
The villa and its furnishings, they were all sold to the highest bidders.
The rented house in Hanaoka town was the final abode Mari-sama got, where she spent her last years.


“Was the piano not sold?”

“The piano was bought by that helper Yamada Fuki-san.”


Which means, that piano was Fuki-san’s.
Which in turn means that what Takanashi-sama had said was right.


“I must say I think it strange for Fuki-san to live in that small rental house in the countryside when she had enough fortune to buy that piano.
Everything going on just feels so out of place.”


Lawyer Tamaru scratches his head, which hair has started to thin, showing the skin underneath, and expresses his agreement.


“I have heard that some kind of agreement had been reached between Tooru-sama and Yamada Fuki-san, but I am not privy to the details.”


It seems that Lawyer Tamaru was going through the motions of enrolling me in school.
My father was still my legal guardian, so though I was living separately from him, I was included in his health and social insurance.
It is thanks to Lawyer Tamaru that I can receive treatment using my health insurance.

Ever since the time I had the mumps, the only time I had seen a doctor for something was with the red beard doctor.

If I had had more instances of going to seek medical treatment, I might have had a look at my health insurance and known about my father.


After relating all this, Lawyer Tamaru bowed his head to me.

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