The man sat up and looked around, ascertained that he was in the street, and stood up, looking embarrassed. Slowly he began to walk. I, who had been hiding behind a vending machine, pursued the man. For some reason this time I have been doing a lot of following. The reason that I was paying attention to this man, and not Fujiki Ichikei, was for my own interest. In other words, it was not for work.
I knew that man.
If I say that, it invites the misunderstanding that I was an acquaintance of his, so to explain exactly; I had seen a photo of that man.
It had been in a music magazine that I had recently stood and read. He was the ‘genius’ producer that my colleague had taught me about. Rubbing his hips, he waddled down the backstreet. Amidst this, he took out his mobile phone.
Aware of my own good luck, I fixed my eyes on him and listened out. If a voice is riding a radio wave, we can hear it from afar. It is difficult to pick the desired information from the innumerable radio waves which fly through the air, but it is not impossible. If you know the place of transmission and the timing, it is comparatively simple. With the phone to his ear, he scurried to an office building, and entered the stairwell. I found the sound of the man’s ringing phone.
Before long, a woman’s voice could be heard, “Yes?”
“It’s me” I heard him say bluntly. I could not tell if he did not say his name because he was familiar with the woman, or just because he would be recognised by his phone number.
“How is it?”
“Just wait a bit longer” he said.
“It didn’t go well? I can’t wait any longer.”
“Don’t say that. It’s the real thing, there’s no mistaking. I heard it just a minute ago. That voice is the real thing.” His voice was impassioned, it gave the same impression that I got from the music magazine.
“It’s just, I didn’t manage to explain to her.”
“That her voice is the real thing?”
“It is. Singing is a talent. In other words, it’s the charm of the voice.”
“No matter how good her voice is, she could be tone deaf.”
“I was going to have her sing for me at karaoke, but there was a misunderstanding.”
“Is everything all right?”
“Believe in my instinct.”
“Why didn’t you do as you were told and explain it to her. She must have found you suspicious.”
“If they know I’m a producer, if they know I’m scouting them, most people become tense and expectant, and their performance becomes artificial.”
“You’re over thinking things” perhaps the woman was an old friend working in the same industry as him.
“It really was a good voice.”
“Do you know Catherine Fellia?” she asked.
“Who’s that?” The man asked out load.
“Who’s that?” I asked silently.
“An opera singer. She worked as a telephone operator, and by chance her voice was discovered by someone who called, and in the end she became a big singer. Well, it might just be an anecdote that was made up later, but it is the same as what you are doing. You fell for the voice of the complaints handling girl who happened to take your call.”
“Isn’t it foolish? And, you’ve made countless complaint calls, haven’t you?”
“To make sure. The more I hear it, the better that girls voice is.”
“How are her looks?”
“Nothing to write home about.” He answered at once, then laughed himself. It was a long, warm laugh. “It’s okay. That’s normal for people who haven’t had their talent uncovered. When her talent is uncovered, like skin peeling off, her outer charms will also appear. That’s how it is.”
“Well okay” the woman said in a voice which I could not tell whether it contained expectation or not, “I’ll wait just three more days, so get in touch.”
The phone went dead. The man replaced the mobile phone in to his pocket, and despite dragging his legs, he proceeded with his back straight in a pose fitting someone who moved purposefully, and entered a narrow street. As the roof ran out he nimbly opened his umbrella.
I did not follow him any further. Instead I stopped where I stood, and considered what was happening.
That producer had been attracted to the voice of Fujiki Ichikei, worker in the complaints handling department of an electronics maker. Somehow, this was how it appeared. Fujiki Ichikei had said that he had urged her to sing in a complaint call; was that also for this reason? It was a shambolic way of doing thins. However, I did not think it was a nasty way of doing things.
Well then, I looked up at the sky where I stood, and thought. I thought about what was going to happen to her. Did she really have a singing talent? No matter how the producer raved, I could not be sure she had a singing talent. Even if she had talent, I could not be sure that she would be successful. But it was unmistakably an attachment to the human world. On top of that, I could not judge whether such a thing could really bring happiness to her life.
I asked myself what I should do. At this rate if I gave a report of ‘Satisfactory’, Fujiki Ichikei would leave this world tomorrow. I did not know what sort of accident or event was prepared, but there was no mistaking that she would die.
I am not interested in the deaths of humans. Not concerning myself with anything except for the reason of work, I was not interested in what form the deat of the people I dealt with took.
It’s just that, if on the off chance the producer’s hunch was right, moreover, if on the off chance she successfully became a good singer, and what’s more, if a time came when I heard her song at a listening booth in a CD shop I visited; I thought that would be amusing.
I noticed, perhaps because the rain became stronger, the raindrops that bounced off the ground began to make a noise. It was if it was urging me to decide.
Recalling Fujiki Ichikei’s face; “Right!” I made up my mind.
I took my wallet from my pocket, and took a ten yen coin from it. Without hesitating, I flipped it with my finger. I caught the falling coin on the back of my hand. The coin landed on my hand, which was wet with rain water.
I looked at the coin. It was tails. “Oh!” I tilted my head. I had forgotten whether tails meant I should choose ‘satisfactory’ or ‘forego’. The momentum of the rain had increased considerably. Feeling like I had been nudged, I decided that was enough. I would go with ‘forego’.