(Title – 迷子の少年 – Maigo no Shōnen – The Lost Boy)
“I taught that kid well. You don’t have to worry about him,” Akihiko casually said.
Fumiko was furious when she heard her husband say this. Even her sister and brother-in-law’s eyes opened wide when they heard Akihiko. Fumiko stood up and bellowed: “I don’t have to be worried?!? Are you serious? He’s just a kid! What if he was kidnapped? What if he got hit by a car? He’s your son!”
Shūichirō looked at his mother and pursed his lips. He lightly tugged on Fumiko’s sleeve, then softly said: “Okāsan, I’m sure Onīchan knows what to do. Besides, Aniki’s (Ryū) looking for him, too.”
Akihiko confidently smiled at his wife. He stood up and dusted his pants off. “Okay, I’ll go find him. Don’t worry. Shūichirō is right. Ryū is already looking for him, but for your own peace of mind, I’ll go look for him, too. I’m leaving,” with a calm face, he said these words then he left the room.
At dusk, the sky was getting darker and darker as its blue canvass was painted with hues of purple and red. Tiny silver stars started to embellish the heavens as they prepared to welcome the silver moon. The world was getting colder and colder with every minute the glorious sun went further and further down into the mountains of unfathomable measure — and yet — Kichirō was still unable to decide on what to do next. He walked aimlessly. He was already tired and hungry so that he wanted to stop, but he could not do so because he was determined to find his way home.
“… Chou harahetta (I’m starving)…” he groaned as he rubbed his tummy. He could hear his stomach growling. The last time he ate was when they were still in Kyoto, and that was before lunch time. It was almost night time and he had not eaten yet. He was cold, tired, and hungry and felt like almost giving up. He could not recall when was the last time he starved like this, since he started dating Ryū. He did not expect that he would perceive this awkward feeling again wherein he was desperate to nourish himself.
As he continued to walk, he saw a family of three having a hearty meal inside a restaurant. They were near the window. The kid, who was around seven years old, was happily eating a bowl of Kitsune Udon. Kichirō stopped in front of the window and pasted his face to it. “… Are? That’s the one that Shi-kun and I ate during that night !” Kichirō exclaimed with his eyes opened wide. He looked like he was about to drool.
( Refer to chapter 37. “Are?” means “Huh?” or “Eh?”)
The kid who was eating the Kitsune Udon noticed Kichirō. He glanced at him and innocently offered his bowl of udon to Kichirō. Seeing this, Kichirō’s stomach began to growl again. It was like his tummy was having a heated battle with his brain about whether Kichirō should accept the kid’s offer or not, although it was clear to him that the kid was just doing this out of courtesy. The father of the kid saw Kichirō and their son looking at each other. He immediately exchanged seats with the kid and pushed the kid’s bowl away from the window. Eh? As if I can get in from here! Do I look like a beggar?!? Kichirō sneered as he thought to himself.
Dejected, Kichirō left and continued with his so-called journey. He could not think clearly right now since his mind was muddled. Suddenly, he frowned when he thought that Ryū might have been cursing him again right now. With his chest out, he tapped on it with his right arm, and with a warrior’s countenance, he growled: “I can do this! Faito~!”
He went on marching like a brave soldier who was about to be deployed into a war zone. In the end, he found a kōban  after asking directions from people he met on the way. He was relived in his heart. It was a good thing that he remembered all of the things he learned from his father when he was young. He was already an adult and he knew that he should be responsible for himself. This way, he could slowly show his mother that he could live on his own and perhaps — she would be able to accept him and Ryū in the future, once they would confess about their relationship. After thinking of this, he shook his head. He realized that it was too early for him to think far into the future. What was important right now was to find Ryū and his family. Without further ado, he went inside to ask help from the police. Why did he not think of this earlier?
(「交番」This is a small neighborhood police station in Japan wherein you can ask for directions, lost and founds, emergency and crime reports, etc.)
In another kōban, Ryū had a worried look on his face, which deviated from his usual indifference. He was really helplessly worried about where Kichirō could have gone. He was more than willing to turn a blind eye to what happened earlier, as long as he would be able to find Kichirō and know that he was all right.
Ryū pounded on the desktop with his hands. Frustration and worry were evident on his face as he knitted his brows. “What do you mean you don’t know? Mr. Officer, you’re the one in authority. Please do something,” he begged at the police officer at the help desk.
The police officer stood up from where he was seated. While facing Ryū, he held on the boy’s shoulders with both of his hands, and with a solemn look on his face, he earnestly said: “Don’t worry. We will do our best to look for him. Please have a seat and calm down for a bit. I’ll contact our other kōbans to see if they have any information about your friend.” After that, he picked up the telephone to contact the other police.
Ryū sat on the chair in front of the police help desk and heaved a deep sigh. He leaned forward and rubbed his temples. “Idiot, where could you have gone? Can’t you see I’m worried sick? Please contact me soon,” he muttered. Ryū took out his phone from his pocket to see if there was a text message or at least a missed call coming from Kichirō — but there were none from him. Instead, he received a call from Kichirō’s father, Akihiko. He answered the call and said “Hello?”
“Ah, Ryū, son, I’m on my way out. I’m going to help you look for my son. Where are you now? Have you been to the police to inquire?” Akihiko asked.
Ryū pursed his lips, then responded: “Yes, Otōsan, I’m actually in a kōban right now. The police haven’t received any information yet about his whereabouts but they’re working with their other branches.”
“Okay. I’ll go to another kōban to see. At least if the two of us look for him separately, we’ll get better results. Don’t worry. I know he’ll go to the police. That’s how I’ve taught him since he was young. My son might be slow at times, but I trust his intelligence. It hasn’t been a day since he went missing so everything should be alright,” Akihiko said.
Ryū sighed then replied: “I really do hope we find him soon…”
Akihiko chuckled, then responded: “I see you really care about my son. I guess I made the right decision to let you be.”
Ryū frowned then asked: “What do you mean?”
“Ha ha. I know what’s going on between the two of you. Ever since I met you, I can tell from Kichirō’s eyes that he doesn’t see you as just a friend. I was able to prove this when you even stayed in our house for Christmas. I’m not against it. You’ve come a long way for him, I know your intentions are good and I know that he will be happy to be with you. Now that his past came back, I hope you’d be able to extend your patience and let my son finish his unfinished business with Shirō. I’m sure in the future, he would choose you. You can trust my words…”
Ryū was stunned when he heard these words coming from Kichirō’s father. Somehow, he unexpectedly smiled and said: “I’ll do my best and I trust your words, Otōsan.”
“Ho ho ho, look at that. Now I have three sons. I hope I get to see a grandson or daughter from you two soon. Ha ha ha. Well it’s too early to think about that. Finish your studies first and please keep this as a secret from my wife for now. You know her temper.”
Ryū smirked then said: “I’ll do my best to earn her trust and yes, I’m looking forward to that as well, Otōsan.”
“You sound confident, eh? Very well, let’s talk again soon. For now, let’s look for my son. Oho ~ by the way, I’m pretty sure my son is the one who’s ‘receiving,’ am I right? Ha ha. Well you don’t have to answer that. I’m hanging up.”
In the other kōban where Kichirō was located in, he inquired: “Mr. Policeman, I’m lost. I’m really not that familiar with this city and I forgot where my relatives live. By any chance, can you lend me your phone so that I can give my family a call?” He was like an innocent child at the moment with his glimmering puppy eyes.
The police officer’s heart skipped a beat when he saw the boy’s pitiful face. Without hesitation, he allowed Kichirō to use their telephone for him to be able to contact his family. As soon as he was about to pick up the handset to give it to Kichirō, the telephone suddenly rang: “Hello? Oh ~ yes.” He paused for a while. It seemed that he was listening to what the caller was saying. Then he said: There’s a boy here who just came in.” He looked at Kichirō and asked him: “What’s your name?”
Kichirō did not hesitate so he immediately told the police his complete name.
“Kichirō Ishikawa. His name is Kichirō Ishikawa. Is that the one they’re looking for?” The policeman asked the other one over the phone. He nodded and flashed a smile at Kichirō. “Okay, I’ll let him know. Thank you.” After hanging up the call, the policeman was all smiles at Kichirō as he said: “Son, I received a report that someone was looking for you. I believe he’s your friend. Just wait here for now since he’s coming over.”
After hearing that, Kichirō almost jumped for joy. He knew it in his heart that it was Ryū who was looking for him. He bowed to the policeman and thanked him for the help then sat down again. When the policeman was about to turn around to go somewhere, he looked back at Kichirō and said: “Oh, by the way. My cousin will be here any moment now to deliver food for me. Please let him know that I’m just in the restroom. You can use the phone if you still need to contact someone. You can also eat some of the food that he’ll be bringing. I can tell you’re hungry now.”
Hearing the word food made Kichirō’s tummy growl again. Kichirō nodded and watched the policeman’s back as he walked away to go to the restroom. Kichirō stood up and picked up the handset to dial his father’s number. It was a good thing that he memorized his family’s personal numbers, so he did not have to worry about that.
When he was dialing his father’s number, someone suddenly entered the kōban. He was met with a familiar charming visage who was holding a bentō. This person was surprised to see him, and so was he… It was something unexpected — to the point that he had his mouth agape and his eyes opened wide. He even accidentally dropped the handset on the table. Was this what they called fate or was it a comedy with a tragic ending?
To be continued…