Prisoner 19720 mins 253 20 mins 253
When you intertwine your fingers, do you put the right thumb over left or the opposite? It’s a theory that- right over left depicts a more rational person and left over right shows a more creative person. As for me, I place my left thumb over right. It’s not something I’m that proud of, since I am, after all, a doctor. A rational mind is what I’d want more. Maybe if I had that, I wouldn’t be sitting here, in Kokuhyo, with my fingers intertwined. However, if I wasn’t here, where the hell would I be?
I sighed. I’ve already paced the room several times, yet I still have a lot of energy left. I believe I feel reckless. A man like me sits behind desks made of pure mahogany. Clean, rimless spectacles with shiny silver temples. The years granted me many strands of hair streaked grey. I’ve always been complimented for my sturdy, calm, yet somehow caring face. Looking back, I haven’t done anything special in life, but then again, is it absolutely necessary to do something special? Despite my sober choice of colours, my tranquil study, a place like Kokuhyo, surrounded by death, distress, agony, hatred, inexplicably seems homely and welcoming to me. Well, according to what I’ve seen and what I’ve done, isn’t that obvious?
Since the result is inevitable, I wonder, what’s taking so long? The sentence, I mean. A case like this shouldn’t take that long. Couple of weeks, for something like this, is highly unusual.Being an impatient man, I went up to the bars that captivated me and saw a guard standing to the right.
“Pardon my disturbance, do you perhaps have any idea when my case might be closed?” It’s unlikely for him to know, but it’s worth a try.
“I apologise, sir, I don’t think the date has been set yet, but it should be tomorrow or the day after” the guard replies. Ah well, at least it ends soon.
“I see. Despite my crimes, you refer to me as ‘Sir’. I’d appreciate it, if you didn’t. Kaishi, will do just fine.”
“Yes, sir. Sorry,Kaishi-san.”He seemed a bit agitated, but that’s to be expected, after all, how often do you see a doctor, currently professor, inside a cell of Kokuhyo. Not very often, I suppose.
He hasn’t seen such a face in a place like this, on the contrary, I’ve had countless experiences with death. Not deaths that common doctors see, lifeless patients, lying on ghostly white beds. Expensive equipment. Sterilized scalpels. Fresh, ironed, white coats. Tons of files with almost a hundred reports on the patients. That’s what doctors who are here in the city see. That’s not what I saw.
I sat on the bed, my fingers locked back together. It’s a recent change, but I’ll enjoy it as long as I can. A month back, when my fingers joined, they couldn’t stop shaking. I guess, you can learn all sorts of things from a Tragedy.
Kaishi Tokugawa. I’ve stained the name now, but those who know me, know that my name has been tarnished long ago. Initially, I was a successful surgeon. I spent 11 years for my education after school. In the medical field, this is rather short. I started practice at the age of 30. I did well at attaching partially severed limbs and amputation, because of which I decided to serve in the army. A military doctor is compelled to see a lot more than those who serve civilians. I have seen lives been saved on dirty bed sheets, stained with dry blood, which continue to be tarnished by the fresh injury being treated. Anastasia no longer remains a common drug, it’s a privilege to people during war, one that most do not receive. The unwavering determination I had to save lives, I stitched up wounds of soldiers who threw their remaining limbs into air. I have heard shrieks, desperate cries of agony. Do common doctors know what goes on inside one’s mind, when their patient grabs their shoulder with their free arm while you’re amputating the other? The sudden shock you’re pulled into when the white of their eyes is all you see, their veins, a bright-blood red, pupils, dilated with agony. When you can barely see their irises. When those eyes glare into your eye balls, glisten, eventually well up, and as they shake your shoulders, they beg you. They beg you to kill them. To not save them. To allow them to leave this world and transcend to the other. When you see humans, desperate to live, you feel inspired. However, when you see one begging to die, it scars your existence, ruins you, eats away at you. And while you debate what to do, whether to save a life you easily can or to spare a fellow human the suffering, the false hope you give them as they heal and then throw them back to fields of war as soon as they can fight, precious time ticks away.
Death has glared at me. I have saved countless lives. Yet, when I saved a life that begged to me for death, I failed to touch a scalpel again. At the age of 42, I returned from the army. In fact I was unable to touch my tools again. During my medical studies, I excelled more in the practical aspect of it than the theoretical, but I took it on myself to repay the medical world for what it had given to me. I went back to the books and after a year of delving into the studies, I became a professor at the General Hospital and Institute of Medicine. It was difficult at first, to reach out to younger souls. They were so pure, determined to learn about life, I pitied them. I only hoped, that none of them would have to see what I did. I prayed, that their journey does not resemble mine.
Yet you had to see things worse than that, isn’t that right, Kayano?
“Kaishi-san!” called out the guard. I raised my head, I hadn’t realised that I had opened my shoes, pulled up my knees on the bed and buried my head between them. “It’s decided, its tomorrow.”
I was clueless for a moment, remembering about my life, the stained bed sheets, Kayano, had taken me to a different realm entirely. It took me a while to process the words, to comprehend their meaning. My vision had become blurry, owing to my tears, I wiped them. The faded yellow light was attacking the cores of my blue eyes. After my eyes adjusted to the light once again, I responded “Oh, is that so, thank you for conveying the message to me.”
“Umm sir, are you alright? You look a bit dazed.”
“I’m fine, you need not worry yourself over me.”I lost my composure there. I need to say something to make him less anxious. “By the way, where’s the infamous dinner that’s served here? The world has all sorts of stories about the food served at Kokuhyo.”
He grinned. Thank god, he’s calmed down.
“I’ll bring it to you very soon, you can tell me your suggestions when you’re done.” Cheery and in high spirits as always, I wonder why you picked a job here, Hiroshi.
Hiroshi, his mother was a patient of mine in my early years. He was able to recognize me immediately. It took me some time though. My memory isn’t as good as it was, I’m not growing any younger.
Personally, I couldn’t believe someone would agree to fight my case. It would be a huge blotch on their record. I didn’t bother calling one, surprisingly, someone volunteered. I stand corrected, lawyers aren’t always concerned about cases they can win. Sadly, I doubt he has a chance of winning.
“Kaishi-san, dinner’s here.”
“Ah thank you, do you mind if I comment?” My last day, I want to be cheery and happy. After all, I’m not the wrong doer here. I’m not the one who’s right either. I’m the one who did it, because someone had to, might as well be me.
“Not at all. Oh and Kaishi-san, before you go, the lawyer will need to have a word with you” added Hiroshi.
“Very well.”I suppose I don’t have a choice. I would prefer not showing too many people from my face, but I owe this man a lot.
Back to my teaching career, I spent my time trying to better students. I gave my best to better them. They began connecting to me too, but there’s always exceptions in this world , aren’t there? I found mine a few years back. Kayano, a young woman of 19. During her first years, she drove me insane. All the professors had a regular meeting about the insanity of this child. Throwing notes at professors, screaming unimaginable comments on them, mixing laxatives in their coffees. And all of this is the better half of it. Regardless of this, I happened to like her imaginative pranks, her unique manner of living life. Most youths who take up medicine, assume their lives are difficult, and this suppressed pressure ruins them. Seeing a young woman, boldly living her life and balancing her studies, impressed me. Which is why, after every Council of Complains on Kayano ended, I spent 3 extra hours with her as punishment. Like me, she excelled in the practical aspect of medicine, but like me she was barely average in the theory. Medicine is largely based on theory, and so, despite her remarkable marks in practical examinations, her achievements were overshadowed by the theoretical exams. My daily scolding, the extra hours that were for punishment converted into extra lessons, were bringing up her marks. All of this was before the accident.
I wished that it was me, not her, but it was her, not me. An injury that left three of her limbs paralyzed. Luckily, a miracle had spared her dominant hand, thus she could speak and write, but walking was no longer available to her. I visited her in the hospital, every weekend. When she was taken home, she called me once in a while. Little conversations about work, books to read and cafes to visit. The latter were suggestions I took from her. Initially, I thought such things would depress her, remembering her previous life that is, but it didn’t. She liked recommending me cafes and I in turn recommended her books. Almost a year and half after the accident, I received a call from her, stating that she wants to continue her studies. I was at a loss of words, I told her it was not possible. However, she contradicted me, she said that she intended to become a professor after her studies ended. I couldn’t come up with excuses after that.
A year back, Kayano returned to the Institute of Medicine. Being one of the top universities in the country, the competitive exam is one of the toughest. Not to mention, the number of people appearing for it. When she came to my office, a day after the results, I saw resolve in those eyes. A kind of resolve that wished to struggle through the pain. The begging of that soldier that haunted me for so long, faded away. I felt her resolve penetrating inside me.
I couldn’t stop this child, in fact I wanted to help her. Her condition limited her movement, but Kayano knew how to play that to her advantage. She spent her hours, sharpening her theory. My shaking hands that couldn’t hold glasses of water, started becoming steadier. I fought my past to teach her whatever I could. She was given special aid for her practical classes. I personally taught her everything I knew. It took us a year to accept, acknowledge and defeat our difficulties. The final examination of the third year, we won. Kayano aced her batch and I was able to perform stitches and an amputation.
Not everyone took this well, the other students began calling me biased and spread all sorts of rumours about us. One, went far enough to question my relationship with Kayano. I wasn’t one to be affected by the whining of sore losers, and Kayano, she may have lost three of her limbs but her tongue was as sharp as ever. Little by little, her fellow batch mates began to accept her, they began to respect her. Countless times, I saw her clarifying doubts of her peers. My previous job of after class clarifications was taken over by her. The ones that made it to me, were questions she couldn’t answer.
Finally that fateful day came, when this year’s Semester Exams ended. Kayano aced her batch once again. The day the results were declared, I had to leave early. They did it then. That evening I received a call from Kayano’s mother. I ran through the spears of falling rain, each drop washing away my tears, my spectacles fell and I smashed them as I ran towards my destination. The honking of traffic, remarks of people I bumped into failed to affect my pace. When I reached her house, my coat drenched, my hair soaked. I requested to be shown to her room immediately. And she sat there, fixed on her wheelchair. Her head lowered before the window that flashed lightning which was followed my thunder. I feared to breathe if that would disturb the calm silence she had gone to. As thunder broke me out of my thoughts, I gulped and stepped in. She didn’t move, she didn’t welcome me with her bright smile, she didn’t say “Tokugawa-sensei, are you always working? ” But then again, how could she.
I found a letter gripped between her fist. I took it out gently so I didn’t tear it up. Kayano didn’t explain to us why she ended her life. She thanked us all respectively and said that realisation had struck her and that she didn’t want to live her life as it was. The letter was contradictory to her fortitude and resolute determination. I couldn’t bring myself to believe it, but as time passed I began to realise that it was possible. People who smile at the world, wink at their problems, oftensuppress a lot of feelings. It was a possibility, but the fact that it was on the day she aced her examination didn’t match up. Kayano wasn’t a very emotionally led character, at least not by negative emotions. A day that symbolises all her hard work, resolution, weren’t for naught is not a day she would elect to end her life.
A month back, it all added up. Three students didn’t show up the day after her suicide, I checked this after I heard something horrendous. Her batch mates couldn’t forget her, they treasured her memories, I could see the shadow engulf their faces when they said, “Yes sir, Kayano taught us that.”After the day’s lessons ended, I walked back to class to check if I left my spectacles there. I had a habit of taking them off while teaching. Before the door, I bent down to tie my loose laces when I heard them talking. The first voice I identified was Tono, a familiar face. He often came all the way to my apartment to clear his doubts, he was second in class, consecutively. The remaining two were Haruto and Kenji. The latter two were rebels, their families were famous in the medical world. Pressured and subdued by what their families achieved, these two had given up on life. They barely passed and lived their lives squandering money. Tono wasn’t a boy I expected to be talking with this lot. However, they spoke. Spoke as if no one heard and I sat listening, anxiously, to their conversation.
My dinner had gone cold, my memories left me without an appetite. It was hard to know Kayano and not imagine her smiling brightly. The smile wasn’t naive, it was brave and it was embedded into the mind of those who saw it. I believe that was the first image that flashed when they thought of her. I reluctantly ate my dinner and made a few jokes about it to Hiroshi. After that, I laid down on the bed. Hiroshi and I tried our best to avoid the reason I was here, the things I did in the past few months. I felt blessed having such a light-hearted conversation with him. I didn’t think it was possible to have such a conversation after what I did. I felt the heaviness in my heart, Kayano could have been alive if I hadn’t left early that day. I do not regret being here, but I regret not being there, that day.
Kayano, you poor, poor child. I apologise for not being there. I’m so very sorry.
I cried myself to sleep after screaming voicelessly and sobbing continuously. Hiroshi might’ve heard them but he did not comment. His job must have taught him to ignore such sounds a night before people, who’ve mercilessly taken the lives of others, die.
The following morning, I was woken by Hiroshi. His cheery face had faded and a man I did not know had risen. He leadme to a room where a man awaited. The room was different from the cell. It had steel walls and was lit up by three white tube lights. Not a very large room, neither a very small one. Before me was a huge glass. A partition. A visitor’s room.However, it’s practically impossible for someone to come visit me. Rather, it’s unlikely of anyone to come visit me. Across the screen of clear glass sat a man. A man contradictory to his surroundings, far from dull. This man must be my lawyer, the one I’m yet to pay.
Black suit. Black tie. Piercing jet black eyes. If you needed a modern day Reaper, this would be it. He was around myheight, sharp features in all. A few strands of his hair were white. However, these were most likely highlights as he looked far too young to have grey strands. He rose as soon as I entered and bowed. I nodded in response.
“Kaishi Tokugawa, Prisoner 190. It’s an honour ”he started. A deep, mellifluous voice. I’ve rarely heard such a voice in civilian life. “Yes, that is indeed my name.”
“I’ll get to the point. Although the sentence has been made, I would like to ask you a few things, for curiosity’s sake. Any chance of defence, came from your service and character. You’re a well respected man, Tokugawa-san, what would lead you to commit such horrendous crimes I do not know. Which is where I’d like to begin. Why such a despicable manner of murder? Why only three? And that too your own students?”
I sighed. I don’t wish to narrate my reasons, they haunted me the very night before, I’d like to avoid thinking about it.
“Am I bound to answer? And who are you, a journalist?” I replied. I knew the answer to both questions, yet I wanted to make it clear that there are certain things I intended to keep private.
“Of course not, you may elect to not answer any of my questions. There is no compulsion. As for who I am, I am your lawyer, Sir. Was. Was your lawyer. I defended you in court.” He responded. Whether it was intentional or not, I don’t know, but I felt indebted to this man and I don’t like being in debt to someone.
“Is there perhaps any other question you wish to ask? Not related to my crimes?” I may have asked that but obviously he wouldn’t.
“Actually, yes. One of your fountain pens that was found at your apartment, slightly stained with the blood from the scalpel that lay beside it. The one with the piston system of refilling ink. May I keep it?”His eyes lit up with expectation as he asked. I was silent for a moment. To be absolutely honest, I wanted to laugh at his face. I shut my eyes and smiled,
“You may, but are you allowed to? Isn’t it part of the evidence?”
“Luckily, no. You see when you wish to hide something in the darkness, you need only highlight its surroundings, the scalpel beside it, did the same. Plus, it’s barely a drop. Your meticulous job acts against your intention of getting caught.”He smirked. Normally, someone would see the childish smile and jolly eyes, but lawyers are liars, I did not fail to notice the sharpness behind it. Neither did he, it’s unexpected, but I guess there are those who can notice it.
“And anything else?” I asked bluntly.
The childish grinning faded and a strong face took over. No smile, no feelings, a straight face.
“My apologies, but my list really does end there. I would be eternally grateful if you would tell me your reasons for murder of three young boys and taking part in organ smuggling, to be exact the vital organ that pumps blood, the heart, of your victims.”
The man didn’t even flinch while he narrated those grotesque acts in a baritone. I felt pressed by this sudden change of method and decided that I might as well tell him. I sighed and began, “ Before I begin, I ask that whatever you learn from the following conversation is not used for my defence by you or anyone else while I am alive or not. Secondly, a man like you must have some reason for conversing with me and a theory as to why I did it. I’d like to hear that”
“Very well. I vow that I won’t use the contents of the following conversation for your defence in any manner, not even public sympathy.”Cheeky man, noticed my wording well, didn’t you? Well you’re paid for doing that. “And as for a theory, I do have one. You’re so called senseless murder of three students by removing their hearts, surgically has a strong motive. As far as I could piece back about your life and incidents that push people to such acts, the most recent one is the suicide of one of your students, Yanagisawa Kayano. I assume they’re related. I read up her results, her accident and I spoke to her family, they’re the only family I’ve met who thanked me for defending you. I heard about the day she took her life as well, my condolences.”
My eyes widened, I was shocked. Before me sat a man who read me like a book. Tracing back all the way there, did you really intend to save me? Weren’t you simply obligated to? Whatever composure I had put up was shattered like glass, I might have been gawking. I coughed followed by a sigh and...began.
“ Yanagisawa Kayano, was a victim of rape. You may not be aware but the life of a civilian doctor is hectic. The medical world is cruel. Competition runs through its veins. Factions develop. Some people perform heinous sins to get to the top, Tono did the same. He lost his consciousness to his ambition. As for those other nameless bastards, they were never strong enough to handle this life. Broken souls who couldn’t bear to see someone physically weaker than them soar so high. After the results were declared, Kayano was waiting in Hall 4 for me. Her detentions were conducted there, but I had to leave early that day and had asked Tono to tell her that. I misjudged the boy, my focus on Kayano’s development had blinded me from seeing him breaking. I didn’t realise that frustration of defeat had led him to the clutches of those heartless demons. As I’ve heard from Tono himself, those three returned together to the hall and after giving her my message performed the act.”
I paused. I remember those two conversing about all they said and all of Kayano’s screams. Tono had asked them to stop but they reminded him of how he was so consumed by pleasure that day as well.
“I’ll refrain from sharing the details. However, the three blabbered on about how they gagged her and took turns to rape her. Once they were done, they intended to force her to swallow a suicide pill and leave, but apparently they were too tired. They assumed after such suffering Kayano’s body wouldn’t move. But it did. She made it home and took her life using that pill.
As to how I did it, I started with those two good-for-nothings. An alleyway after 3am, I collected them using chloroform. It was Saturday, well technically Sunday. The surgery I conducted on my garage table. After removing the heart, I stuffed the bodies with small rocks. After stitching those up, they were placed in my van. The hearts were stored carefully in the refrigerator. I contacted the organ smuggler then, an old contact from my time back at the army. By the time he arrived, I dumped the bodies in the ocean after placing them in sleeping bags and further stuffing with rocks. By 7am the organs were collected and my job for the day was done. Those two were imbeciles and often took off without telling anyone, their parents only started looking after a week and half. During which time I studied Tono. Tono-kun was the perfect example of unpredictable. Some days he went to libraries, then to cafes and out of the blue, to the gym. It took me some time to successfully trace and pinpoint his ideas. I grabbed him on a Friday, snooping around the same alley I got those. He wasn’t drunk like those two, neither was he lanky. If nothing, Tono-kun was actually very agile. He didn’t compete but once he had defeated the three time champion in Karate. But he didn’t put up much of a fight, I grabbed him from the back and he barely fought back. Almost as if... ”I trailed off. Something struck me, something I hadn’t considered previously. Did he.....? “The same procedure. Only, his body I dumped in a nearby lake. After the deal was done, I donated all the money to an orphanage and burnt my garage table in my backyard. Two days later, I walked into the police station and told them about the body in the lake. After retrieving it, they fumbled around for a couple of days. And a few days back, I went in and confessed about it and the other two bodies.”
“That was a week back, yes?” he asked.
“That’s a foolish thing to ask.”
“Tokugawa-san, what was the name of those two, so called good-for-nothings?”
I glared at him and then answered “Yusa Haruto and Yamamoto Kenji.”At the end of that speech, you’re taking a test of humanity. You’re cruel, Mr.Lawyer. You truly are.
The man sighed and I looked down. A moment of silence prevailed.
“I understand. I am very sorry.”He spoke as he rose. When our eyes levelled, I could tell he was hiding something. Then his eyes changed to sympathy and he bowed and walked away. He turned the knob and looked back to say,
“Kaishi-san, I’m sorry you had to lose such a precious student. You aren’t right, and I’m definitely not saying you were justified, but you sure did what you had to. What only you could.”