فصل 08

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Chapter eight

Destination Tokyo

At five o’clock that afternoon I was sitting on the British Airways flight from Heathrow to Tokyo, thinking. It wasn’t easy with such an awful headache. Somebody was obviously warning me to stay away from the Murphy case. OK. Let’s start with the simple questions. How did they know that I was investigating it? Mmm… that was already a difficult one. They could have found out from anywhere. If the attacker was a karate person, and it seemed like they were, it could have been at Kawaguchi’s funeral. I’d talked to a lot of people and made it clear that I wanted to talk to Mrs Ito. I tried to remember the people at the church but all I could see was just lots of black suits. Perhaps I would think about that later, when I felt better. If I ever did feel better.

I had a sleep, and woke later to find the air hostess offering me something to eat. I ate the cold meat and salad and stared out of the window. Nothing but blackness. We must have been somewhere over Siberia. I decided to try to finish “Who Killed Murphy?” - the book Dad had given me. There were another seven hours to go - plenty of time.

I wondered about this guy Benson. At the time the book was written, the late 1980s, he was living in London. Was he still alive now, I wondered? If so, I would try to find him when I got back from Tokyo. But I would have to start being a bit more careful; whoever was trying to warn me off was pretty serious about it.

We landed at Narita Airport at about two in the afternoon. I wasn’t feeling great, what with the aching head and the time difference. The journey from Narita to the centre didn’t help. Though not a long journey, it was too much after such a long flight. Tokyo looked very much like I remembered it - busy. It was the kind of city that buzzed twenty-four hours a day. I had been there three years before with my karate club, but we had stayed in a part of the city called Asakusa, and we had trained in a dojo in that area too.

I didn’t know the Waseda area, where The Daily Echo’s personnel department had booked me into the Hotel Rhiga. Knowing the personnel department as I did, I had expected it would be a cheap hotel in a bad part of town. I was pleasantly surprised to find quite a reasonable hotel in a respectable part of town. Not luxury by Tokyo standards, but OK. Thank you, personnel department.

I went to my room, had a quick shower and changed my clothes. I didn’t have much time to waste. I had got Naoko Kawaguchi’s address from her brother. He said he would ring her and tell her I was coming. I wondered how she would react to my visit. Jun had not been very happy about me wanting to see his sister, but I found it hard to work out why. Naoko Kawaguchi had returned to Japan twenty years ago. Perhaps they just didn’t really know each other or perhaps they didn’t get on. Maybe he was upset that she wasn’t going back for her father’s funeral, though it was hardly her fault if she was ill.

I took a taxi to Miss Kawaguchi’s house from the hotel. I have never been able to figure out Japanese addresses and didn’t think I would have much of a chance in my present state. Anyway, I love Japanese taxis with their white-gloved drivers and automatic doors. I showed the driver the address and he smiled and said ‘hai’ in a friendly kind of way. I sat back and relaxed in the back seat and looked out of the window. We”’ drove out through the spreading suburbs of Tokyo through what seemed like a million sets of traffic lights. London had looked grey and rainy when I had left. The Tokyo sky was clear and bright and it was a few degrees warmer than back home. Even my head had stopped aching. It seemed like life might improve.

As we drove through Tokyo I wondered if Naoko Kawaguchi would talk to me, a stranger - and a foreign stranger - about her terrible experience so many years ago. Everything I knew about Japan and the Japanese people told me that it would be difficult for her. I would have to be very careful.

She lived out in the suburbs at Tachikawa in a traditional little house with tatami mats on the floors. Jun had told me that his sister was a writer and translator which meant that she could work from home and from her wheelchair. A tiny, smiling housekeeper came to the door and showed me into the study, with much running around and hands waving. Naoko Kawaguchi was sitting there in her wheelchair. She was surrounded by books and newspapers and on her desk was a computer.

Jun’s sister was a middle-aged woman with greying hair who had obviously been pretty once. Now she looked ill and tired, but was as polite as her brother.

‘Come in, come in. I’ve been expecting you,’ she said, smiling and moving her wheelchair towards me. ‘My brother said you were a journalist looking into my father’s death, Miss Jensen. Please have a seat.’

I sat in the traditional way, at floor level. She said something in Japanese to the happy housekeeper, who ran out of the room and appeared a few moments later with green tea and some strange-tasting little cakes. I tried the cakes but decided to just drink the tea.

‘Yes, that’s right,’ I said. ‘First of all, I’m sorry about your father’s death, Miss Kawaguchi. I knew about him from his students and I once saw him give a demonstration. He was a great karateka. A great man.’

I thought this was a pretty good start. Diplomatic and polite, if I say so myself. To my surprise, Naoko just looked at me with no expression on her pale face.

‘Yes…’ she said, ‘but Miss Jensen, how can I help? I don’t know anything about my father’s murder.’ Her voice was flat, without feeling.

‘No, I know that, but I’m particularly interested in the connection with Murphy’s hanging,’ I said. I had tried the polite way and it hadn’t worked. I decided to come straight to the point. I wouldn’t be in Tokyo long and I had a lot to find out.

Naoko went even paler and looked away. ‘It was all so long ago, Miss Jensen,’ she said.

That phrase again! The pain from my head suddenly returned. I was beginning to lose my patience with this woman.

‘Miss Kawaguchi,’ I said firmly, ‘it may have been a long time ago but your father has just been murdered and so has Hiromitsu Ito. Last night someone tried to threaten me with violence.’ I was pointing to my bruise which by now was a dramatic purple with yellow edges. ‘This is not a game. Something is going on and I intend to find out what.’

‘What can I tell you?’ she said. ‘Murphy killed John - Mr Blakeston - and he shot me. I was sixteen years old. From that day I’ve been in a wheelchair. He killed a man and he was hanged. It was the law. What more can I say?’ Her voice was cold, without feeling, but I noticed that her hands were shaking.

‘When you gave the police a description of the killer, you said his hair was black. But then at the police station you picked out Murphy, whose hair was light brown. Couldn’t you have made a mistake? Are you sure it was him, Miss Kawaguchi?’

I knew that this approach was risky, that she might just tell me to go away. I was right.

‘Miss Jensen, it is over thirty years ago. Brendan Murphy is dead… what’s the point in bringing it all up again? Please leave me alone, Miss Jensen. I am not well… I feel very tired.’

‘Why did you come back to Japan, Miss Kawaguchi?’ I asked. ‘It can’t be easy for you here. All your family are in England. Why didn’t you stay near your brother?’

‘Please go, Miss Jensen,’ she said, starting to cry. She called for the housekeeper and I was asked to leave. The housekeeper was still smiling but it was clear that I had no choice but to go.

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