He shouldn't have seen anything besides darkness from the veranda. There was Atsushi, in the corner of what was half a balcony half a laundry drying area with a can in hand. He smoked a cigarette that didn't even taste that good and dropped the ashes into a beer can he'd swiped from the store.
He didn't remember when he'd started smoking tabacco in this usual style. He hid on the veranda at night, ashing into a beer can. Now that he was past twenty, there probably wasn't any need for him to hide his smoking anymore like he'd used to but since his grandmother Namie hated tobacco, he continued his habit of hiding it like this.
That he was so pathetic was something he thought of with annoyance. It was like he couldn't handle his grandma's angry face. But Namie was noisy. It wasn't going to be any fun to get a sermon and it wasn't pleasant when she went into shrill hysterics about them being victims whose health was sacrificed in the end either. Ultimately then his father would be called and his ass would go off on him about his rebellion, asking if he didn't have any consideration for other people, fault finding and all. Then the programme would become one where his dad hit him.
Atsushi didn't get a taste of anything that should be a part of life. Ever since he was born it'd all gone down hill, and it was still rolling. These days there were a lot of funerals in the village. People he knew died, or they moved out. The delivery guy had changed and the village wouldn't calm down. So what, Atsushi thought, but his dad didn't seem to like that. There's rules in this world, he'd been grumbling a lot lately. And they're being trampled under foot, his dad screamed. And the one to eat his left-over rage was always Atsushi.
Whatever was going on with the village wasn't any business of Atsushi's. That got his father angry, and thanks to that Atsushi would take the rage. Atsushi kept getting the short end of the stick like that. Whenever in the course of things his dad was angry, Matsumura would make a blunder. The blowback from that came to Atsushi too. At least at those times his mother would complain to his father, then his grandmother would decide to run her mouth. She would flaunt his little brother and little sister like they were perfect, compare him to them, and then once again he'd be yelling at Atsushi. Everyone was forcing all kinds of bad luck onto him.
(If people're gonna be dyin' anyway, the hell can't it take care of those assholes?)
His dad, his mom, his grandma and his siblings, how refreshing it'd be if they were all gone. If that happened, Atsushi would have the store's money, then he'd get out of this sickening village. Fantasizing about that was fun. Not being able to do anything but fantasize was annoying. When one consented to imagining something impossible, then beneath that image was always the hidden fact that it was impossible. ......Should he clear them all out with his own hand?
While riding the fence on that issue, he felt something swirling in his stomach and giving him goosebumps. His head felt pretty good when he pursued the thought, and then his stomach squirmed with fear. Maybe Atsushi enjoyed playing around with that strange feeling that seemed to be snapping his body apart.
With that strange feeling, he looked out into the night without really seeing. Beneath the veranda was the alleyway beside the store, and the store warehouse faced the alleyway. Within that alleyway was a back stairway that went up directly to the second story. There wasn't anything to see from there. Sometimes a stray cat would come through and that was about it. Even those stray cats he hadn't seen lately.
And yet something made a noise. Something like a woman's high heels, thin and hard. Atsushi slightly turned his body, peeking down between the hand railings. A single woman's figure was there in the alleyway entrance, peering up as if peeking into the alleyway.
The woman smiled. She was older than Atsushi, and a woman he hadn't seen before. She was dressed flashily, with an air of importance to her mannerisms. She wasn't like the women in the village. He could easily guess who she was.
"It's been quite some time since I've seen anybody out at night," the woman said approaching the area directly beneath the veranda and looking straight up at him. "......What are you doing?"
"Nothin'," Atsushi answered with a mumble.
"Bed time comes early in this village, doesn't it?"
"They're all a bunch of cowards. They say the nights're scary or some shit."
My, the woman laughed. "But you don't mind it do you? You're a brave one."
Damn right, Atsushi said showing a smile.
"I wonder if you would come down and give me someone to talk to perhaps?"
"You come on up. There's a staircase further back."
Atsushi nodded. A warped smile rose up. Yes, Atsushi wasn't afraid of the night. There shouldn't be anything dangerous in the night. And a woman definitely wasn't dangerous. She seemed like a particularly weak woman of luxiry.
---That's right, there shouldn't be anything dangerous.
"Might be more dangerous for a woman," Atsushi mumbled with a smile to himself.