As he ate breakfast, Ohkawa's eyes turned countless times towards the second floor--towards the ceiling. Kazuko watched her husband in suspense.
Her husband was in a foul mood. It was because Atsushi hadn't woken up and come down. Seeing her husband's gradually mounting anger, Kazuko spoke up in a deliberately bright tone.
"That Atsushi, I wonder what could be wrong? He said that he was sick before, I wonder if he still isn't feeling well? Mizue, go take a little peek in on him, would you?"
Mizue, in her school uniform, nodded. As she moved to stand, Ohkawa himself stood up.
"You keep eating your breakfast. I'm gonna get him up."
"It's fine. I'll go. I think Onii-chan probably really doesn't feel good."
I've got it, Ohkawa spit back as he left the tea room. Whatever the case, saying he didn't feel good or whatever was obviously just Atsushi's excuse. He'd always been lazy, coming up with whatever excuse it took to skip out on work. Lately, he'd seen misfortunes and illnesses were continuing throughout the village, no doubt that he thought that if he said he was feeling sick too that they'd be easier on him.
Ohkawa went up to the second floor and opened the sliding door to Atsushi's room. Far from being in his futon, Atsushi was on the laundry hanging balcony outside of his room sprawled out like the kanji for big (大).
"Atsushi, how long you gonna just laze around sleeping?!" Ohkawa screamed in outrage as he stormed into the room, but his son showed no signs of being flustered or of moving. Going through the wide opened window, he went out onto the laundry balcony.
(Sleeping without a damn care in the world!)
That's what Ohkawa thought when he saw his son's face. Seeing that he showed no signs of waking when he called out to him, he gave him a violent kick. He thought that'd send him flying awake, but Atsushi remained sprawled out even as kicked.
Weird, he thought immediately. Ohkawa leaned over his son's side. Instead of his night clothes, he was in a jersey, heavy with the morning dew that it absorbed. He lightly tapped his cheek and found it chilled.
"Oi, Atsushi," Ohkawa called out, shaking his son. After holding his hand out in front of his nose, grabbing him by the nape of his neck and shook up, he finally realized that his son was dead.
---At last, it's come.
Ohkawa thought promptly. Spreading through the nearby houses, "that" had wiled its way in to plunder into the Ohkawa's family home, at long last.
Ohkawa went downstairs. An uneasy looking Kazuko and his mother looked at Ohkawa.
"Kazuko, have a look at Atsushi for me. ......It looks like he's dead."
Kazuko let out a shriek. Mizue and Yutaka all but fought to see who could step out of the room first. Namie followed after the both of them, flustered.
Ohkawa was overwhelmed with a bitter feeling as he took up the phone. He was so irritated it was as if his insides were going to boil over. Things that weren't supposed to happen, that something that went against the rules could happen to him was unforgivable. It was cowardly and unfair, said the resentment burning in his throat, but he didn't know who to unleash it towards.
Through his upset he called the Ozaki clinic. There was an answer right away, but when he heard a woman's voice he didn't recognize, he knew it meant they were closed today.
"Actually, it seems like our little punk's died. Could I have the doctor come by?"
That's just, the woman's voice on the other end of the phone said, bewildered. "The truth is we've had a misfortune here, too. The Young Madame has died. Today is the vigil......"
Ohkawa clicked his tongue. Saying his thanks to the one who conveyed their condolences, he hung up. Should he call for the emergency hospital in Mizobe or should he call an ambulance? Come to think of it, there was talk of a clinic in Shimo-Sotoba, wasn't there?
Thinking about it, he suddenly became uneasy. The Young Madame of the Ozakis---which meant the same Kyouko who had a shop in Mizobe. If Ozaki Kyouko was dead, the funeral service was going to be large scale. When the predecessor had died it was a very fine funeral too. It was possible the temple would have their hands full with it.
After some hesitation, he tried calling the temple. A man's voice that sounded like Mitsuo answered but when he conveyed that his son had died, he seemed similarly at a loss.
"Boss, I'm sorry to say this, but......"
"About Ozaki's Young Madame dying?"
"That's right. After all, it is the Ozaki family, and the Junior Monk really must go, which means......"
"Aa, that's true enough."
"There are also other memorial services. If we can shift the day, then I think that we can somehow make things work out, but."
"Naw, it's fine. Can't be helped since it's the Ozakis. They're a Parish Family Representative there and all too."
That's what Ohkawa said as he hung up the phone but the heat broiling over his insides was choking up his breath. He formed and raised a fist to let out his anger on something, anything, but unfortunately there was nothing to take that for him.
He knew the connection between the temple and Ozaki. Even so, Ohkawa couldn't escape the feeling that he was being made light of. Unable to let out his resentment, he called the Mourning Crew Regional Manager for the Sotoba community, Murasako Munehide. Munehide listened to the circumstances and was at a loss for words.
"It is the Ozaki's, isn't it?"
"You said it. That said, I can't just leave my son out here all pitiful like this forever, you know? And it ain't like the Temple's the only ones who can do a mourning service."
"That's true enough. ..... Now that you say that, a funeral parlor's been built in Kami Sotoba. Their director came around before giving his greetings, I've got his business card. You want to try giving them a call?"
"Aa, there was some talk about that. I'll give it a try. Sorry to be puttin' virtue aside like this 'n all but we can't really wait for the Temple to have an opening, you know?"
That's right, Munehide said, telling him the phone number to the Sotoba Funeral Parlor. At the parlor they answered the phone immediately. When he conveyed the situation, the man on the other end responded in a somewhat shrill voice.
"Are you certain that he is dead? You have not yet called for an ambulance?"
"No need to call 'em, no doubt about it that he's dead. He ain't been seen by a doctor, we don't got a death certificate yet but."
"Is that so, I understand. We will be right over to see about tending to your most honorable son. Oh no, don't you worry. We will also tend to washing and preparing the body for the service. At that time we will also discuss the particulars. ---Ah, there is also no need to worry about having a death certificate written. We will send out the Ebuchi Clinic. When he has the time, we will have the doctor come out to write down a few lines as needed. We will take care of every step including delivering it to the Town Hall, so please do not worry at all."
"That right. That's helpful," Ohkawa said, throwing down the phone to hang it up. He could hear the women's crying voices on the second floor.
"I knew my son was no good," Ohkawa said, his mouth twisting. "......But now it's gonna be done no good to the end with him."