Once again, I found myself visiting Sakurazaka’s house. Today, I didn’t have her(Diya) pick me up. Instead, I drove my own truck carefully loaded with a complete set of solar panels. They were expensive and high-performance, so I couldn’t afford to break them.
“When most people see the price, they hesitate before making a purchase… I’m surprised you made the decision so quickly,” I remarked.
Sakurazaka only glanced at the estimate before deciding without any hesitation. He must be really wealthy, having already given Diya a large sum of money upfront. As I drove through a dimly lit tunnel, I couldn’t help but think about various things, feeling idle while driving.
“His house is like a fortress from the start. No, what really caught my attention was… the fence.”
Three days ago, Diya gestured me over by the fence in her yard and whispered to me, her voice hushed.
“Iwarou, what do you think of this wall?”
“What do you mean? It looks like a white-painted wooden wall,” I replied.
I touched it and confirmed that the material was definitely wood, with a surface coated in white paint.
“Yeah, but come over here,” she said, glancing around the area as if checking for Jin’s presence.
She grabbed my arm and pulled me towards the corner of the wall.
“What are you trying to do by taking me to this deserted place?”
“I’m not trying to do anything! It’s the opposite, actually. Anyway, seriously, take a look at this,” she said.
She stopped me from backing away while covering her chest with both arms and pointed to a corner of the wall. There was a small fist-sized hole in that wall. As I looked into the hole as instructed, I noticed that the inside of the wall was hollow. I thought it was a thick wall made of wood, but it turned out to be a fence made up of two wooden walls side by side.
“Wait, what’s that?”
“It seems like you can see it.”
It was not just a simple two-wall structure. The space between the boards was filled with a network of vertical and horizontal steel bars.
“Probably, all the walls inside this fence have vertical and horizontal bars.”
As someone who worked in wiring, she had a certain amount of knowledge about buildings, but this was beyond her expertise.
“Does it have any meaning?”
“Well, of course it does. With so many sturdy steel bars inside, this wall is certainly strong. But normally, you wouldn’t do something like this with a wooden wall. More importantly, this is probably… “
Diya fell silent and looked up at the white wall, groaning. She had been lightly tapping the wall and then took a deep breath before speaking again.
“It looks like a formwork for making a concrete wall. All you have to do is pour concrete in here and you have a strong wall.”
“So, was the plan originally to build a concrete wall?”
“Yeah, that’s probably it.”
As I recalled that conversation, a frown formed on my forehead. A wall taller than me, and a sturdy concrete wall that would surround the spacious yard.
“There’s no shortage of homes with that kind of design. There are plenty of buildings out there that are even more unconventional and unique, where the designer’s personality shines through.
Originally, Sakura-zaka’s parents had planned to build such a home with a high level of crime prevention in mind. Unfortunately, due to an unforeseen accident, the construction was left unfinished.
Alternatively, due to budgetary constraints, they may have left it untouched with plans to complete it later.”
“That’s a reasonable assumption,” said the speaker, but something was nagging at them.
The client had asked Diya to finish the project by the end of March. He lived with her older sister and they were wealthy, considerate, and had a gentle demeanor. They seemed like really nice people.
However, sometimes he would show expressions and gazes that were not exactly gratitude, but more like reservation, or apology? It felt like the sympathetic looks people used to give Diya when she was a child, similar to the ones she was receiving now.
Diya’s parents were what is commonly known as “toxic parents”, and she was neglected as a child. They only provided the minimum care and showed no interest in their child. Therefore, to protect herself, Diya had been trying to please others and avoid making anyone dislike her since she was a child. This habit had caused her to unconsciously observe people even now.
“It’s not good to have doubts. Perhaps you’re overthinking things…”
When you have a sense of distrust, everything can seem suspicious due to your preconceptions.
When I asked Sakurazaka-san if it would be okay to collaborate with Diya-san for a video, she agreed readily.
However, there was one condition.
“Why can’t we do it until April?”
It seems that Diya-san was also told not to post any videos until March was over, but after April, she could do as she pleased.
A feeling of discomfort, as if a small bone were stuck in my throat.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. It’s my fault… General Shogun.”
For a moment, an unpleasant image and voice surfaced in my head.
My mother’s repeated apologies and confessions. Her eyes stained with the guilt of apologizing for turning a blind eye to my stepfather’s violence.
It reminded me of those eyes.
“But why? Are you deceiving me? What for? I’m not even dodging payments, I paid in advance.”
No, I can’t shake off this suspicion.
Even though I have no concrete evidence or information.
It’s all just unfounded speculation.
I heard a ringtone from the pocket of my work pants and took out my phone, seeing the name of a senior who I still kept in touch with since college displayed on the screen.
As I was driving, I pulled over at the nearest service area and called him back.
“Sorry, I was driving. It’s been a while.”
“Oh, long time no see. Gen… no, wait, it’s Iwaro now, right?”
“Yes, that feels more fitting now.”
He’s one of the few people who knows my real name. He has always treated me casually without giving special treatment based on my name or appearance.
Iwaro, huh… When I became a video creator, the first thing I did was to give myself a different name, not the dreaded name given by my parents.
“Are you busy?”
“No, I was just on the move, but I’m fine now.”
“Sorry for the sudden request, but could you accompany me for a bit starting the day after tomorrow? It’s a two-day-one-night investigative trip.”
“An investigative trip?”
The investigative trip that the senior mentioned is a common method when investigating something as a detective, pretending to be a journalist. And asking me to accompany him means…
“Is it a dangerous job?”
He sometimes seeks my help as a bodyguard, considering my physical build from practicing judo. Though, in reality, there are very few instances where we end up in danger. However, as my senior puts it, “Your presence is like a talisman.”
“It’s a little fishy, and I thought twice about asking you to come with me, but I decided that it was destiny.”
“Destiny, huh? That doesn’t sound like you, Senior.”
“Don’t jump to conclusions. First, let’s gather information and reason from there,” my senior’s favorite saying from our college days. It was unexpected to hear such words from someone who hated vague things like fortune telling and luck.
“Heh, I know. But, after hearing this story, you might agree with me,” he said.
“I’m intrigued now. Please tell me more,” I replied.