Read part 1
A Tuesday’s midnight, the airport is quiet. Everyone seems too tired to make a sound. I roll a suitcase behind me, nothing but some clothes and a notebook. I know I will get arrested for helping a serial killer. But no one can arrest a dead man. At least that’s the plan.
Akira sits next to me as she watches the planes move through the window. The white lights make her look paler than usual. She looks more mature than earlier, perhaps five or six years older. Her hair is cut just over her shoulder and a bang falls over her eyes. I almost don’t recognize her except for her eyes. I’d never mistake them. They focus themselves on the lights in the darkness. Her eyebrows scrunch together very slightly and her lower lip tenses. She turns her gaze to the gate for an instant and then down.
“What’s scaring you?” I ask.
She smiles, “I’m not scared.”
I look into her face for a moment. Every single sign of fear disappears as if by command. I hadn’t picked up on that before. It’s incredible “How do you do it?”
“Turn young?” she asks.
“Hide your emotions. Replace them with such ease.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She replies. I shake my head and rub my eyes. This is the girl I met. This is the girl I interviewed and tried to break, but she stared at me with that infuriating smile and acted as if nothing were happening. Her cheeks, her eyes, her lips, they all indicated happiness. But she couldn’t have been happy. “When I yelled at you yesterday, you didn’t even flinch. I’ve never met someone who could hide a reflex.”
“Have you ever thought that you are not the first person to yell at me?” she says. Her voice is calm, unreadable. “I’m an entertainer. I become whatever I need to become and I’ve learnt to adopt whatever emotion I need at the time.” She taps the side of the seat, “It helps me survive too. To do what I’m famous for.”
We both know she mean “murder” but she can’t say it out loud. Not with half of the world looking for her.
“What’s your total number?” I ask.
“Forty-two that I’ve kept count of. But I did do some freelance work. I have bills to pay.”
She looks into my eyes. Her face is deep in thought. “If you’re recording me, you can’t pin me on anything with what I’m saying, because I’m not saying that I did anything.”
I shake my head. She has no reason to trust me anymore than I trust her. But what’s the worst she can to me? She can’t kill me. I have nothing to lose by trusting her. She has a lot to lose. “I’m not.” I reply.
She stares at me for a moment. “When my parents left,” she begins, “I looked through their emails, their letters, their lawsuits, everything I could. I grabbed a notebook and wrote down a list of all the acquaintances that had a bad image of my parents. I took my parents’ money, invested them in classes, tracked down every single one of those names and paid them a visit. I had a total of twenty-nine names when I started, but things got a little out of control during my last visit.” She opens a bottle of water and drinks a long sip, “Perhaps I’ll show you sometime how I used to visit them.”
“I think I’ve already experienced it.” I mutter. Simply recalling the headache after waking up makes me dizzy. Akira lets out a soft laugh.
“I can’t believe no one ever connected the dots to me.” She replied, “It was a little girl that was doing the visits, but everything was crystal clear. Such is luck, I guess.”
“Then why did you turn yourself in?”
“Because I need your help.” She explains, “I want to make sure I paid a visit to the right guy. And no one else was going to so easily accept that I can go from seven to seventy in a heartbeat.” She leans back onto her seat, “If I went to any other detective in the world, do you think they’d be crazy enough to help me?”
“You’re saying I’m crazy?”
She laughs, “You’re the one that’s going to get into a confined space with me thousands of kilometers over the ocean.”
“I have nothing to lose, not even my life.” I reply. Her words echo in my head. I connect them with her expression. “You’re afraid of flying.”
Her face goes blank, and then softly happy again, “I’m not.”
I stare at her. I can’t tell if she’s lying or not.
A woman speaks into a muffled microphone, “Passengers of flight JL009, please prepare for boarding. We will begin the boarding process shortly.” She says something in Japanese I can’t understand. “That’s us.” Akira mutters. She stands up and grabs the handle of her suitcase. Her finger taps on the edge of it. She is afraid of flying, but unwilling to tell me. She turns back at me, “Are you catholic?”
I shake my head, “Not really. Not after all this time.”
“That’s odd. I thought I saw you carry a cross under your shirt.”
“It’s a good luck token.”
“Even odder that after all this time you still believe in luck.” She laughs, “Come on, let’s go.”
I stand up and grab my suitcase. I follow her to the gate and into the white tunnel that follows.