I had no idea Hoshige would have said something like that. He could have talked about his marriage to a good wife, recent developments with his only son, either of those would have been fine. Hell, he could have even brought up the idea of going on a wild drinking binge and I would have knew how to respond. But not to something like this.

A minute or two of silence passed between us, both of us keeping an eye on one another. I could tell that Hoshige was anxiously awaiting for me to say something, but I was still stuck from what he had just told me. Even though I clearly understood what he said, I was struggling to find an appropriate response.

Hoshige shifted to a disappointed look, shaking his head, “You think I’m crazy too, don’t you?”

“What? No, no, Shige,” I answered gravely, “I believe you. I’m just… stuck. I’m just trying to think about why somebody would want you dead.”

“I don’t know. I really have no idea. All I know is, somebody tried to kill me over already, and failed.”

All this new information Hoshige was telling me left me in a mix of shock and confusion. Hoshige may have been known for taking risks, but it never drew any heat or resentment towards himself. The most heat he’s told me about was when he tried to sneak out of a gambling table, but he quickly paid off his dues in a few days.

Keeping on topic I asked him how he first knew about the attempt on his life. Hoshige talked about coming home one night and finding the front door unlocked. “My family was home at the time, so I assumed they had forgot to lock it before going to sleep. I didn’t think anything of it.”

“What did you do then?”

“My usual nightly routine: kissed Mizue, took a shower, grabbed a beer, and watched television for a little bit in the living room. As I was drifting off in my recliner, that’s when Junko attacked.”

I focused on the new bit of information, “Junko? Who is that and why the hell did she try to kill you?”

As if he expected me to ask that question, Hoshige took out a folded piece of paper and handed it to me. I looked at it for a moment before opening it up. The entire front side was covered in various scribbles and writing. Much if it was written in pencil, but a small amount of it was done in black pen ink. My eyes scanned all over the page, trying to find a foothold for me to begin piecing together the page.

“What is this, Hoshige?” I asked with curiosity, not taking my eyes off of the paper.

“It’s not much, but it’s all I have so far. Remember overhearing the rumor about that woman who people summon to kill people they hate?”

“You mean that ‘Hannya Woman’ the high-school students were talking about? Don’t tell me you a really believe that stuff?”

Hoshige immediately put his hand up, trying to stop me from going any further, “Hear me out first before you made a decision. Just read the paper—start off at the circle in the top right and follow the trail.”

Copyright © 2019 by Luka Tatsujo

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