Detective X: Part 1 by Shirley Pesto
Noriko Komori was a seamstress from Hokkaido. Her husband, Takeshi Komori, was a construction worker. Komori was the type of person who worked a lot and mostly kept to himself. It was by chance that he and Noriko met. They literally ran into each other on the street. While they collected themselves after their collision, Noriko boldly asked Komori if he wanted to get lunch. The happenstance blossomed into a loving and simple relationship and they married soon thereafter. Noriko never talked about her past and Komori took that as a cue to not ask about it. Honestly, he didn’t much feel the need to talk about his past either. The fact that they never asked each other about their pasts gave them both solace. They were the perfect pairing and didn’t find the need to make other friends. They only needed each other.
After eighteen years of marriage, Noriko was given a terminal diagnosis. After receiving the diagnosis, Noriko expressed that she was actually pleased she was given the gift of foresight. She said it gave her time to make arrangements and to say all the things that she wanted to say before her departure. Komori did not agree with Noriko in that regard, but he considered any time with her a gift. He cherished the final year that he had with her.
During Noriko’s final months, she made Komori promise to lay her to rest in Tokyo. As always, he didn’t ask questions; he promised to follow her wishes. After she died, it took a little time to figure out the logistics of scheduling the cremation in Hokkaido and reserving a plot in Tokyo. It wasn’t a traditional way of doing things, but Komori got through it.
There was a definitive moment when Komori was making Noriko’s preparations that he decided he would make a permanent move to Tokyo. If that’s where Noriko wanted to be, that’s where he would reside. Soon after making the decision to move, he found a studio apartment for which he put down a deposit and first month’s rent. He sold most of his belongings and had the remaining items shipped ahead of him. His possessions were waiting for him at the apartment complex’s rental office.
The day came when Komori arrived in Tokyo with his wife’s cremains in tow.
Komori looked down at his phone and pulled up one of the many confirmation emails from the cemetery that Noriko had selected. He contacted the arrangements director and mentioned that he was ready to hand off his wife’s ashes for enclosing in her final resting place. When he arrived at the cemetery, there weren’t any other arrangements to tend do since everything else was handled in Hokkaido. They took Komori to the cubicle that was reserved for Noriko. It was in a serene and calm setting. The engraved wooden plank for his wife was set next to her niche and everything was in its place. He took a quick peek around and lingered on one of Noriko’s neighboring graves. He read the name to himself: Fumie Takabe. She died twenty years ago. That was the same year that Komori met Noriko. All the memories of his life with Noriko flooded over him and he allowed himself to cry. He was content with Noriko’s new resting place and started the journey back to his new home.
He made sure to get in a quick bite to eat before he made it to the rental office of his new apartment. He made it in time to retrieve his keys, his shipped belongings, and to do the walk-through. The previous renter left behind a refrigerator, bed, nightstand with drawers, folding chair, and television. This was convenient for Komori. It was all he needed, really. He unpacked his clothes, bedding, and toiletries. He then situated the nightstand in front of the bed so he could place the television on top of it. It had been a busy and emotional day. Exhaustion came over him and he crawled into bed.
The next day he made his way to the employment office. Komori had some money saved, but being a single widower in his sixties, he needed to find a job to support himself in the long-term. The office was busy and it was late in the day by the time it was finally his turn. He approached the desk of an employment officer and sat in the provided chair. Komori was a hardened looking man, yet still pleasant in the face and in his demeanor. He smiled at the employment officer.
While motioning towards a piece of paper, the employment officer asked, “This says here that you worked in, uh, construction in Hokkaido, Mr. Komori?”
“Yes,” he answered with a sharp nod and a smile.
“Well, I’m not sure what you’re looking for, or willing to do, but we do have an opening for a, uh, security guard at the local Flower Mart,” she had a complex look on her face that was a combination of pity, powerlessness in the choice of jobs, and just wanting to go home soon.
The Flower Mart was an all-in-one type of store that had knick-knacks, quick food, cigarettes, and some other daily grocery items. Komori suspected there wasn’t much security that needed guarding there, but he was thankful there was a job opening for him.
“I’ll take it,” he said with a grateful nod of his head.
The employment officer smiled with relief. She tugged down on her tight-fitting, maroon vest, and collected the necessary details to finish up the paperwork. Most importantly, after she was finished dealing with Komori, she could go home.
He was to start his new job the very next morning, which was good for him. Komori was at his best when he was working and busy.
On his way home, he stopped by a store to pick up a few packs of single-serving dehydrated noodles, some green onions, and a six pack of beer. When he arrived back at his apartment, he put on a pot of water and readied a styrofoam bowl of dehydrated noodles for dinner. As he waited for the water to boil, he plucked a beer from the plastic rings and grabbed the green onions to chop off a few pieces to put in his noodles. Bending down slightly, he opened the door to the miniature fridge. He placed the remaining beers from the six pack on the bottom, then rested the bulb of green onions on the top shelf. After an uneventful dinner and some channel surfing, he set his alarm for 5 AM and went to sleep.
The next morning was met with pouring rain. Komori put on the same outfit he wore to the employment office. They were his best clothes: a black suit, button down shirt, a striped black and white tie, a dark blue overcoat, and a pair of brown loafers. He didn’t have an umbrella, so he decided to poke a viewing hole into a plastic garbage bag and drape it over himself. Even though he looked a little silly, it mostly served its purpose. By the time he got to his destination, only the front of his pant legs and his loafers got wet. His new employers at Flower Mart didn’t seem to mind about his somewhat disheveled appearance.
Upon his arrival he met a coworker, named Shunichi, who was in the middle of stocking shelves. Shunichi had stick straight hair that pointed down and around his ears. He petted his hair further downward before walking over to greet Komori. They exchanged pleasantries and Shunichi gave Komori a smock to wear over his clothes. The shirt-length smock was dark blue with light blue lining, and there were two pockets sewn on the front. A big, pink, screen printed flower was displayed prominently across the chest. After he gave Komori his smock, Shunichi went back about his business and continued to stock the shelves.
“Mr. Takeshi Komori?” another young man, seemingly one-third of Komori’s age, came up from behind him. He had a tidy haircut and a lanky build. He was also wearing the Flower Mart smock.
“Yes,” Komori answered and slightly nodded.
“Hello, Mr. Komori. My name’s Ichiro, but you can just call me Boss. Not because I’m ‘the boss’,” he put his hands up to make air quotes and put a goofy look on his face, “just because that’s my nickname. Welcome to your first day!”
“Yes. Thank you, Boss.”
“You’ll stand up here, near the front entrance. This is where you’ll greet the guests when they come in, and bid them farewell when they leave.”
“Yes, sir, Boss.” This confirmed Komori’s suspicions that this was more of a greeter job than a security guard job, but it didn’t bother him.
“Ha! No need to call me ‘sir’. Also, you don’t need to dress up formally for this job. Feel free to wear sneakers tomorrow. Oh! And umbrellas are on aisle three,” he said as he winked. “They’re on sale this week.”
Komori nodded. A customer wandered in and shook off their umbrella. With a smile and a slight bow, Komori said, “Hello and welcome to Flower Mart.”