“Officer Hijiori, as you have pointed out, at present, we have a tendency to overthink things. We arbitrarily make the case convoluted, arbitrarily wandering into the labyrinth. So how about we go and press reset?”
She leisurely made the proposal. As if, to figure out where they had miscalculated, she was going to wipe the blackboard clean and recalculate everything from scratch.
No, it was true they were stuck at the moment, so Officer Hijiori was all up for resetting, but he’d have no trouble if he could do that—he was about to say when it occurred to him that the forgetful detective Kyouko-san could accomplish that with no trouble at all.
Kyouko-san only has today.
Her memory is reset every day—to explain it more precisely, once she sleeps at night and gets up in the morning, she’ll have completely forgotten everything that happened yesterday.
To take that even further, the rule was no restricted to day and night. In short, as long as Kyouko-san slept and woke up, she would forget anything that happened before she slept—whether it was a short nap or siesta, the rule was strictly applied.
Meaning in this case, if she were to fall asleep for even an hour in Unagi’s bedroom here and now, everything that happened that day—the series of events starting from the officer calling her to the police station, would have never happened at all.
It was like losing a ballpoint pen—however, unlike the missing pen, it could never be recovered later.
“But in that case, Kyouko-san, wouldn’t you simultaneously be abdicating all the deductions we’ve piled up to this point?”
“Yes, that’s why, that included I’d like to reset—it does seem the way I have gone at this case has been flawed from the get-go. When my entry point was as the very person meant to back up an alibi, there was no way I could handle the incident with a neutral stance. A detective should never be anything more than a third-party to the incident.”
Kyouko-san said as she crudely patted against the cover and pillow Unagi used. She was checking whether the place was worthy enough for her to sleep. It did seem it got a pass, as after removing her glasses and placing them on the bedside, she flopped right down with flowing movements.
“Well then, good night, Officer Hijiori.”
“Wait a second. You can’t just sleep here—from your point of view, wouldn’t you be being woken up in who knows where by a man you don’t know? If I end up surprising you,”
Officer Hijiori knew himself well. He knew he had a tendency to put pressure on people—that was precisely why he used it to its maximum efficiency while investigating, but he wasn’t suited to waking someone up. Even more so when he was dealing with the forgetful detective. In all actuality, it would be more than a surprise.
“Oh my. You do have a point. Then,”
Kyouko-san got up for a moment, taking a thick magic marker from a nearby pen stand—and rolling up her sleeve, on her left arms, ‘I am Okitegami Kyouko. White Hair. Detective. Currently investigating with Officer Hijiori,’ she wrote.
A succinct message.
I see, then when she was woken up, she’d be able to reason it out easily—it was her own handwriting, she’d have a hard time suspecting it. For a moment, he thought she was going to write a summary of the incident as well, but Kyouko capped and returned the marker.
“When you wake me up, show me your police badge. That should get me to trust you”, she said as she put herself to bed again.
“And give me an outline of the case—but cover up the fact I was meant to back up an alibi.”
It did seem she intended to thoroughly reset everything—but if that fact was to be covered up, weren’t there other things he would have to hide as well.
“Yes, but going off of Kujirai-san’s plan… instead of a plan, it could just be a coincidence, so how about we give him the luck of the draw. Meaning, just tell me that his alibi at three in the afternoon was backed up, make it so that he has a perfect alibi. The woman he met at the café terrace was able to testify without forgetting.”
“… Telling lies isn’t my forte, but I accept. Is there anything else I can do?”
“If I had to say, if you could buy us some dinner. For desert, an adzuki bar would be lovely.”
And with that, Kyouko-san pulled over the covers and shut her eyes. She was already asleep a few seconds later—with a development so sudden, he had lost the chance to say good night on his end.
What was the best way to put it… he had always thought she boasted a brazen mentality unsuited to her soft, mature aura, but for her to actually fall asleep at a crime scene, in someone else’s bed, that went beyond brazen into impudence.
You could call her a crazed daredevil—but rather than impressed, the officer had to wonder if, even if it were to reach the root of the case, did she really have to go so far?
Did Kyouko-san have some sort of circumstances that made her so thorough as a detective—to the end, nothing more than a mere client, Officer Hijiori couldn’t tread in too deep.
All he could do was, at most, go out and buy dinner. Without forgetting the azuki bar, naturally.
“Oh I see. So that’s what happened.”
An hour later.
Woken by Officer Hijiori, the Kyouko-san who opened her eyes naturally—by her own devices—had completely forgotten the conduct of ‘Yesterday’s Kyouko-san’, and was understandably somewhat distraught.
But she immediately looked at her handwritten message on her left arm, and upon seeing the officer’s badge, with her own insight, she grasped the situation—eating the convenience store bento bought while she was out, Hijiori gave an outline of the case. Just as he thought she didn’t have any input, at the very end, she said that with a satisfied nod.
“So what do you see?”
He had given a false explanation for Kujirai’s alibi, so when she said ‘I see,’ it made him feel like he was tricking her… but at the very least, it was Kyouko-san who chose to be deceived for the time being, and he simply did what he was told.
“When I said I see, I mean I get the general idea. While a few points remain that I must confirm with the man himself… the supposed alibi trick set up in the bathroom, the true nature of the alibi fabrication Kujirai schemed, I’ve roughly worked it out.”
He was shocked.
This was an attitude brimming with self-confidence, unimaginable only a short hour ago.
“This is quite rudimentary, officer.”
Kyouko-san, who’d been just as stuck as he was not too long ago was starting to speak like a fictional great detective—well, it was nothing to retort at.
“Do you mean… a remote timer device?”
“Remote timer? Did I describe it like that? Hmm… well, it’s nothing so overblown, but you could call it a fitting depiction. I give myself passing marks.”
Having escaped the labyrinth of thinking too hard, Kyouko-san’s leisure was palpable—she was condescending over her own past self. In the first place, Officer Hijiori who was still trapped in the labyrinth could only say he was struggling to understand this confidence.
“… Then you’re telling me you have already seen through to the truth of this case.”
Not thirty minutes had gone by since she opened her eyes in the bedroom. No, even including from when he had called her to the station in the morning, it hadn’t even been twelve hours—and yet, she had ascertained the truth.
The fastest detective.
Who solves any case in a day—
“Oh no, you think far too highly of me. As things stand, a deduction is no more than a deduction. It’s not like I have any definitive proof.”
“Strictly speaking, what sort of trick do you foresee that he used? How did Kujirai-san construct an alibi?”
“I didn’t get there by a path I can brag about. It’s just seeing what works—no, a leap in thought perhaps.”
“If I had to say, it’s because the suspect Kujirai-san and the victim Unagi-san are both swimmers. That’s why I thought it might be the case.”
What she had to say made it even less comprehensible—Kyouko-san likely didn’t want to carelessly say anything uncertain to an agent of the law, and she wasn’t trying to put on airs with her mystery solving, but it ended up making him impatient.
So what if both Kujira and Unagi were swimmers—he did tell yesterday’s Kyouko-san how ironic it was that a professional swimmer died in the bath.
“As I said, there are a few points I still have to verify with the man himself… those holes really can’t be filled in by deductive reasoning. Where is Kujirai-san right now?”
Kyouko-san asked, pulling the adzuki bar out of its packaging and swiftly biting down on it.
“Err… he did say he planned to swim at the pool tonight. Something about training… it did sound like an excuse to cut off the questioning, but I doubt it was a complete lie. And so, should we try asking him tomorrow morning or so?”
“I don’t have any reason to wait until tomorrow morning—I’ll have forgotten the reasoning I finally reached. Officer Hijiori, I do apologize for dragging you around on my whims, but I have one final request.”
“What could it be? Of course, come so far, I’m up for anything. Say what you will.”
“Thank you. I hoped you would say that. Well then,”
“I’m going to buy a swimsuit, won’t you accompany me?”
Kujirai swam—he wasn’t counting how many laps he had already made around the fifty-meter pool. Ignoring pacing and his muscles’ limits, he devoted himself solely to paddling the water in a crawl.
Swimming was simply his passion, that hadn’t changed even now that he’d retired from active duty. His fondness came from the fact he didn’t have to think anything unnecessary while he was swimming, but today alone, no matter how long he swam, he always ended up thinking.
He thought. About his old friend Unagi—and about the white-haired detective.
While he had succeeded in driving the officer and detective away for the day, it wouldn’t go so well tomorrow—and there was no doubt it would be even more difficult the day after that. While her mouth said something about proving his innocence, everything else about that detective clearly held him in doubt.
At this rate, he could see the situation becoming poorer and poorer.
But be that as it may, Kujirai had no cards to play—from the start, he had constructed nothing but an alibi, and he had no intentions to cover anything up beyond that. By the point he failed to make a perfect alibi—the point he had to choose the forgetful detective of all people to testify, he had made a critical mistake.
Then what should he do? He swam as he thought—he thought in the time he wasn’t supposed to think anything. And he immediately reached his conclusion.
I should run.
Throw everything away and run—for honor.
If he ran, the suspicions might increase, but now wasn’t the time for such rational thoughts—if more seams came out the more he talked, he simply had to reject interaction itself.
Now that it had come to this, he grew thankful of his own present situation where he was practically unemployed—alright, I don’t have to wait for tomorrow’s sun to rise, I’ll pack up as soon as I get back, and go on a journey. Overseas, while I’m at it. I’ve gone to enough meets, back when I competed, I can speak my share of English.
Once he had decided it in his heart, he had actually begun to long for that life on the run—and that’s why, after that, he no longer had to think anything as he swam.
It was all gone and done. But even so, he was a step behind—no, a stroke behind. Perhaps he never should have given up thought—he should have stopped swimming along the way and left the pool already.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Kujirai-san.”
As he had finished his course and was about to climb out of the pool, what awaited him was someone whose impression had changed without their glasses, but be that as it may, there was no way he could mistake them. Wearing a one-piece swimsuit so white it was dazzling, yet her hair even whiter, the forgetful detective—Okitegami Kyouko.