It was exactly 9.05 am. when a Japanese boy woke up. That day the weather was really nasty, it was drizzling since the very morning and apparently it wasn’t about to stop.
Big drops of rain were splashing onto the roof so loudly that the boy immediately opened his slanted eyes and looked around. The place that he was in completely knocked him flat. „VIETATO FUMARE” – that was the first thing that attracted his attention. Pretty big, red caption was impossible to be missed on all white wall behind the door with huge glasses.
- „Vietato Fumare?! What?!” – the boy thought – „Where am I?”
- he yelled so loudly that suddenly two nurses ran into the ward which he was lying in.
- „Cristina! Lui si è già svegliato! Dobbiamo chiamare il dottore!” – said one of them.
After a few minutes some quite old doctor entered the ward. He was talking to the nurses in
a language that sounded a bit strange to the frightened and dizzy boy. He didn’t get any of all the words the doctor uttered. Trying to communicate in English, the only words he heard were: ‘No, no English here‘ that one of two nurses said with really weird, Latin accent which the boy didn’t use to hear. One of the nurses with a badge ‘Linda’ on her apron, was checking some papers and fulfilling them while the other one was changing the bandage on his constantly bleeding wound. About three minutes passed when the boy decided to try to say something in Japanese, with hope that he would eventually be understood by the adults. Unluckily, it appeared that it had been probably the last foreign language that the staff could communicate in. What’s worse, he felt very strange after the doctor and nurses looked at him with such a confused sight and didn’t know what to say, they simply left the room talking about something that was obviously completely incomprehensible to the boy. Sitting on the bed and being alone in a ward with just one window overlooking another building next to the local hospital the boy was about to burst out crying. However, he claimed he had to be strong and according to Japanese habits, as already sixteen-year-old man, couldn’t surrender just a moment of sadness and feeling of loneliness. Having decided to fall asleep once again he lay on quite a narrow bed but with a really nice smelling bedding. The teenager was trying to brood about his life but all the memories he had were just moments of being in the hospital and nothing more, as if he forgot all his life and couldn’t recall anything.
- „What’s going on? God, I don’t understand it. Is it just a dream? I’m certainly not drunk and I don’t remember anyone giving me drugs or anything like that.
Oh, I don’t remember anything... apart from those plump nurses and that old fellow they were calling ‘dottore’ which means ‘doctor’, I guess...” – the boy thought and suddenly heard
a sound of opening door. He turned back.
- „Hi Yoshio” – said a really good-looking woman but with definitely too much make up on her face. She looked as if she were roughly 45 years old but she had many wrinkles on her cheeks though, and owing to the makeup she probably wanted to cover them and look younger than she actually was.
- „Good morning...eee..” – the boy looked at the woman.
- „Mrs. Veronica Riguagio, but call me Veronica. I want you to treat me like your friend.”
- „Good morning, Veronica” – the boy said and smiled being certain that he isn’t in Japan because there it would be very rude to call an adult with his or her name. – „I’ve got two questions. Who are you? And the second one: Where am I and why am I here?”
- „Yoshio, I’m your therapist. I am here now to explain to you all the things that have recently happened and talk to you about them.”
- „Therapist? I don’t think I need any therapist. What things? What do you mean? Just tell me why I’m there and let me get out of here. It’s July, isn’t it? I know it is since I saw it in my mobile phone, so let’s talk about all the things that happened as fast as possible and ask somebody to call my mom or dad to pick me up from here, will you? Please, do it. I don’t want to spend all my holidays in hospital in...eee...yeah, where am I?”
- „In Rome. You’re in Italy.” – said Veronica who became way sadder when Yoshio mentioned his father.
- „What? Italy?!” – the boy has probably never been so surprised – „How did I come there? I hope you aren’t pulling my leg.”
- „No, I’m not. And Yoshio please, stop talking, you are constantly interrupting me, while I’m here to explain to you everything and answer all the questions you have just asked.”
The teenager decided to be silent because Mrs. Riguagio looked very serious. The woman grabbed a wooden chair standing in the corner and put it next to Yoshio’s bed. She tightened her short, purple skirt on her knees and buttoned her pink suit. Being ready to start the conversation she said:
- Listen to me, Yoshio. I’m aware that you lost all your memory and that’s why I am here. I’m supposed to explain to you everything what has lately happened and I hope you will let me say all I want to say without disturbing.”
- „Sorry, don’t be cross with me.”
- „It’s okay, Yoshio. Let me start... Frankly speaking, I really don’t know what I should begin with. There are too many things to say but let’s get it over. As you know, your father was one of the most popular directors in the world. Almost every film he recorded was awarded with Oscar or other crucial prize. He and your mom could satisfy all your whims, give you all what you want and desire to have. Really posh and affluent man, I mean your dad, was said to be a high achiever, somebody who can do and handle everything. People thought he hadn’t needed anything more but, as it turned out, he had. After a few years since he had begun his worldwide career, it appeared that he had been involved in drug traffic. He was helping dealers from South Korea to smuggle drugs to Japan through the sea situated between those countries. They were taking advantage of the fact that at nights the old coast guard was completely alone being sure that nothing bad can happen in such a calm part of the coast of Japan and because of that he was simply going to sleep and didn’t know about the smuggling. Unfortunately, one day, when your dad, Yoshio, was supposed to take a box with about hundred packets of cocaine in it, he was caught red-handed. Neither your father nor his partners knew that the old coast guard had died roughly a month before and that the new guard had already been employed. That night, on the 1st of July, your dad as well as the gang he was connected with, were remanded in custody and charged with smuggling which in Asian countries is regarded as extremely serious crime that must be punished really strictly, without any relief. This way your dad, after many hours of questioning and dozens of days spent in the court, was supposed to end up in jail in Tokyo till the end of his life. However, the things of the gang from South Korea that your father was cooperating with went much worse and they were punished with the death penalty. Being under the influence of anger, the boss of the gang ordered one of his workers to kill your dad as well. He was assaulted in the custody two days before the day of the main trial and shot with a gun...”
- „WHAT?! What are you talking about?! Are you crazy?! I can’t believe it. How is it possible that I don’t remember anything?!” – screamed Yoshio with tears in his dark eyes which were accompanying him from the very beginning of the story.
- „Listen to me, Yoshio, I’m completely serious. So is the story I’m telling you, so please, don’t interrupt me and keep listening, will you?” – said Veronica and continued talking -
„ The information about your father’s death and its causes knocked the whole the Japan flat. People couldn’t believe that such a wonderful person could be involved in drug smuggling. Your family rapidly became the main topic from the front pages of every magazine. Your mother, being under the huge society’s pressure, could not cope with the situation. She also couldn’t believe what her husband had done. People were gossiping all the time and journalists were constantly standing in front of your house waiting for more new pieces of information. Trying to protect herself and you, your mom decided to pack all the indispensable stuff and move out from Japan to Italy, the country she comes from. That’s why you are here now, Yoshio. You moved to your grandma’s house who lives near Rome in the countryside...” – said Veronica and Yoshio interrupted her once again.
- „I still can’t believe in what you are saying, it seems impossible but can you tell me why I’m in the hospital with a twisted wrist and so many bruises on my body?”
- „It happened two weeks after you had arrived in Italy with your mom that hoped you would be able to rest here and get rid of nosy people and journalists who apparently weren’t about to stop following her life. Unluckily, she wasn’t right. Even here in Italy people have already known everything and their curiosity was as annoying as in Japan. People in the village were looking at you and your mom very strangely and journalists were coming to that calm place just in order to stare at you and take any photos to show in magazines. Your mom thought that her and your life was already pointless, she didn’t know what to do and was sure that you would never get the calm back...but then the other terrible thing happened. You were kidnapped.
- „Kidnapped?!?” – Yoshio was really flabbergasted.
- „Could you eventually let me finish?! Yoshio, you’re so rude!” – said Veronica that has already got a bit annoyed with Yoshio’s interrupting. The teenager got a bit offended and decided not to disturb Veronica any more. The therapist continued talking:
- „Yes, kidnapped. You dwelt your grandma’s house in the countryside. It was a calm place and the gang that your father was connected with decided to use it. They broke into the house during the night without any noise, tied you up and one of them covered your mouth with his hand to make you quiet. They transported you to some shabby house situated far away from Rome and closed you in a cellar. It was supposed to be something like a revenge for what your father had done. You spent ten days here and then you managed to escape. The police found you lying at a bus station and quickly transported you to Rome, to the hospital we are in at the moment. That’s all the story. As far as your memory is concerned, the doctor said you’d probably get it back but he couldn’t promise that. You’d probably also like to know where your mother is, wouldn’t you? She’s here, not in the hospital but in Rome, she was next to you almost all the time while you were in a coma. She’s not here now because she just didn’t know you would wake up today and she went home. She’s at your grandma’s house now. You don’t have to be concerned since I’ve already phoned her. She’ll be here on Wednesday in the afternoon. I hope you’ll be alright soon and I wish you all the best. Oh, you have probably got lots of questions. Now you can ask me all you want, I’ve already finished.” – said Veronica with a weird smile on her face which attracted Yoshio’s attention.
He wanted to ask her why she was smiling so strangely but at that very moment a nurse entered the ward and started talking to Veronica. Yoshio didn’t know any Italian word so being already tired he turned back and decided to have a nap.
The boy has just been on the point of sleeping when he saw the nurse giving Veronica some papers. She read them, took an old fountain pen from her handbag and signed herself. Then Yoshio woke up. He had a very weird feeling, as if the sound of Veronica signing the documents was well-known to him. He opened his eyes and heard Veronica putting on her leather coat and leaving the ward. She could have thought Yoshio had already been sleeping and therefore she didn’t even say goodbye. Then the boy, being completely alone, started brooding about what the woman had told him. He was astounded and at first he thought it was just a dream: Italy, the hospital, Veronica and the story she told him. Then the thought of Veronica’s signature came back and Yoshio was thinking about it all the time, he couldn’t throw the sound of that sprawling signature away from his head. That night the boy wasn’t able to fall asleep for a really long time and he didn’t know how to overcome the sleeplessness. He decided to go to the toilet. Being in front of the toilet’s door he stopped because he heard some patients talking in English. They were probably the only people here who could speak English, apart from Veronica. Yoshio was very curious what they were talking about because he had heard his name. He approached the wall and started overhearing the two elderly men...
- „Poor boy” – said one of them – „ ...he must have been suffering torment. Who knows what those kidnappers were doing with him. I saw him once through the door, he had so many bruises on his body. Those bandits might have beaten him up or something...”
- „What’s worse I’ve lately read in a newspaper that the police still don’t know how those criminals kidnapped the boy, where he was all that time and how he managed to escape...”
- „The police don’t know? What? So how could Veronica tell me all the story? She told me exactly how I had been kidnapped. That’s weird. So is Veronica. She was a bit nervous, as if she was trying to hide something. God! Who is Veronica? And how did she know how I was kidnapped? And that signature... I still can’t get rid of this sound.” – thought a bit scared Yoshio and rapidly went to his ward in order to go to sleep.
The next day he woke up very early. He knew Veronica would come that day as well to talk to him again. He got dressed, washed himself and was looking forward to seeing the woman that was supposed to visit him at about 10 am., at the same time as the day before. The boy was waiting a bit longer because that day Veronica was late. She was surprised when she entered the ward and saw Yoshio sitting on his bed waiting for her.
- „Aren’t you sleeping?” – said the therapist – „Why did you get up so early?”
- „No, I’m not sleeping. I want to ask you something, can I?”
- „Hmm...Yeees... What do you want to know?”
- „How do you know how I was kidnapped? Yesterday I heard that even the police didn’t know that. Is it possible that the therapist knows more than the police? I don’t think so...” – said Yoshio with really serious face.
- „Yyy, oh...Yoshio, I was just suspecting what happened...you know...I didn’t want to leave your question without any answer...ugh...That was my way to make you calm...”
- „Oh, okaaay. I’ve got the second question. Can I see the papers which the nurse gave you yesterday? What was that?”
- „No Yoshio, you can’t! Why are you so nasty today? Do you have to know everything? No, you don’t so leave me alone.” – shouted Veronica and grabbed the handle of the door wanting to leave the ward.
- „Veronica, I know everything. I know you’re involved in my father’s death and the kidnapping. You were the one that was covering my mouth with „HIS” hand. I know it since you left one sheet of paper here yesterday. I found it under the bed. There was your signature that I won’t probably forget till the end of my life. Do you remember the day of the kidnapping? Oh, you certainly do. I remember that lying in the car trunk I noticed some sheet of paper. It was in Italian, I didn’t comprehend any word but I remember that pretty big signature. It was a letter „V”. Now I know it was the abbreviation of your name. I also remember that when I was imprisoned in that smelly room, the only thing I could hear was that sound, the sound of you signing some papers with your fountain pen that makes that shrill sound which is impossible to be forgotten. – said Yoshio being even more serious than he had been before.
- „It’s impossible. I can’t believe it. How did you come up with it? You’re only 16...” – asked Veronica.
- „I’ve suspected you since we met each other. You were upset all the time and the fragrance of your perfume is the same as the fragrance of the hand which covered my mouth that day. That is the first thing I managed to recall yesterday but I wasn’t sure if it hadn’t been just my delusion so I ignored that. Luckily, I didn’t lose my memory forever. Tonight I got it back.
I remember everything what happened and I’m going to give testimony today. The police will eventually get to know everything and I don’t wish you all the best like you did to me yesterday. I hope you’ll be punished as strictly as the other members of the gang you belong to. I hate you for all you did to my family. I’ll never forgive you blackmailing my dad and abusing his kindness. He was just too good to refuse to help your gang and this way he became your victim. Now I know everything but there is still one thing that I don’t understand... Who are you? And why do you try to be near me?”
- „You’ll never get to know that. Now I’m nobody you’d like to know...” – said Veronica and quickly left the ward failing to say anything more.
Yoshio started brooding about all the things that happened. He didn’t know what to think about it but the biggest mystery was Veronica. ‘Who’s that?!’ – Yoshio was constantly asking himself. Days were passing and the teenager still didn’t know all he would like to know. He went to the police many times, gave testimony and said all he knew. One day Yoshio got
a letter from the court saying about the date of the trial against Veronica. He hoped she would be sentenced to many years in prison. The same day he could finally meet his mother. She burst out crying as soon as she saw her son. Yoshio has already been sick and tired of being in the hospital so he asked his mom to take him home. Unluckily, the doctor didn’t agree and permitted Yoshio just to visit home but he was forced to spend the night at the hospital. Having already come to grandma’s house Yoshio didn’t even eat anything. He quickly went upstairs to his mother’s bedroom and started searching his father’s stuff in boxes standing in the corner. He was about to give up when among many useless things he found some letter.
It was signed ‘Your loving brother’ and on a little sheet of paper there was a writing: ‘ I’m so sorry you have so much trouble. Of course, I will help you despite everything.’ Then Yoshio spent the rest of the day with his mom and granny that was looking after him all the time. It started getting dark so Yoshio had to go back to the hospital but he wasn’t sad because of that. He was even glad because he has already known everything.
- „Bye, mom. Don’t be late tomorrow. The trial is beginning at 12 o’clock.” – said the boy getting out of the car.
- „Bye, dear. Don’t worry, I’ll be on time.” – replied Yoshio’s mom and waved at him leaving the car park next to the hospital.
The following day the boy got up at 10 am. He washed himself, got dressed and ate breakfast. Being a bit stressed before the trial he was waiting for his mother.
Veronica had already been at the court when Yoshio and his mother came. The trial started.
Lots of witnesses had already been questioned before the teenager that repeated all he knew once again and left the courtroom. Waiting for his mother outside he started thinking about his childhood, about all the wonderful moments spent with his parents. Suddenly the door of the court opened and Yoshio noticed Veronica having cuffs on her hands. She looked at him and wanted to say something but then Yoshio said ‘Goodbye, aunt. ‘ and turned back.