It’s the evening now and I was out looking for some clothes and anything else that could be useful before Alex gets here. I’ve had to wash my clothes in the Hirogawa river lately, but I don’t like being outside too long. I managed a good haul at this slightly tired looking shop.
On the way back, I was driving over the bridge and saw some of my junior high school students fishing by the river. I parked the truck and went down to talk to them. When the noticed me approaching, they stopped what they were doing and formed a kind of semicircle. I didn’t notice at first, but they were all holding baseball bats. Some of them were stained red. I called out and asked them if they were alright. They looked at me stoney-eyed, but they didn’t look infected.
“Don’t worry, I’m not sick,” I called out trying to reassure them. As I got closer, they started to spread out and ended up surrounding me. They didn’t answer.
“Drop the crowbar” one of them shouted.
“I-I, I’m alright. I just wanted to talk. I haven’t seen anyone for a long time,” I stammered. I dropped the crowbar, and a lanky second grader darted forward and picked it up.
“What’s in the truck?” someone asked from behind me.
“Just some clothes and food,” I replied. Three of the kids ran over to where it sat parked on the bridge and began unloading things. The others watched me, holding their bats menacingly.
When the three returned to the circle, the lanky one shouted “Go!” at me in English, and the kids behind me stepped to the side to let me pass.
“You can have all of that stuff, I just want to talk,” I blurted out in Japanese.
“No,” he said back, and began tapping his baseball bat against the side of his shoe. “Go!”
I backed away slowly through the gap in the circle, and then turned and trudged back to the car. From the looks on some of the children’s faces, they didn’t really want me to go. They looked frightened and I really wanted to comfort them or look after them in some way. As I went up to the stairs beneath the bridge, I faced them again and shouted, “Take care!” No one answered me though. They just watched me walk up the stairs.
When I got back to the truck, I found that they had taken my fishing rod, machete, a few water bottles and about ten bowls of instant ramen that I had been looking forward to. They left the clothes though, which I guess wouldn’t have fit them anyway.
When I looked back, the kids had disappeared from the side of the river. I sighed and drove home in silence. I know they are only kids, but it we could have been so much more help to each other. This evening there has been almost no wind, which has meant the power has been off and on. That just added to my frustration. I can’t wait for Alex to get here…