Main Story 31

In the end, I decided to continue attending the academy as a scholarship student.

After Sara-sama had gone home, Comrade Yoshi – now Michael-san – stopped by the house.
I wanted to know how he found out that the twins had gone home, so I asked him to come in, but he refused and remained at the door.

As a compromise, I lead him to the veranda and prepared some tea.
I put out sweet pickled turnip together with the tea.

For starters, I rescinded what I had told him that morning about finding work and told him that I would be continuing to attend the academy as I had hitherto done instead.
He seemed relieved to hear it.
I feel sorry that I had caused him to worry.

Continuing on, although it may be late to inquire of this now, I asked how he knew when I would go to the mountain.

“It’s hard to admit but, I have set up security cameras and sensors around your house.
I had meant to protect you.
But, when that lot from Sakurada Online came soon after you entered high school, Takaoka Kanae had saved you before I could…”

I looked around the premises of the house; there does not seem to be anything of the like.

“I wouldn’t place them in places easily spotted.
Sorry that I monitored you without permission.
You were in grave danger.”

Michael-san munched on the turnips.
I ate some too.
They might have been a tad too sweet.

“Have you been protecting me until now?”

“… Yeah.
It got particularly bad once you became alone.
There were a lot of bad guys.
The Tanaka-san you referred to as Mossad is also dangerous in a different way.
It would be better for you to leave here fast.”

“I actually plan on moving by the summer vacation.
I have no reason to be here, after all.”

I wonder what Michael-san is going to do once I’m gone.
It might just be my imagination, but he seems to be enjoying his life at the mountain even without me to consider.
He’s a master at charcoal grilling and he makes pottery in kilns.
He seems to me to be living a contented life.

Even so, it’s not easy to scorn Tanaka-san!

“If you’re not here, I’ll no longer have any reason to stay here either.
Let’s see, maybe I should go travelling for a while… You have people who will protect you even if I’m not here, after all.
So I’m not worried.
Of course, I’ll still stay here until you leave.”

“Thank you.”

While it is true that I owe it to my mother that I have Michael-san to protect me, I’m still not sure how to feel about it.
He is my mother’s former love, after all.

“Ruriko was 10 years older than me.
She was a gentle woman full of warmth, and simple.
She always smiled a childlike smile… You are way more of an adult and a beauty than your mother.”

Ah, Michael-san has started again.
Was my mother just an airhead?

“Why did my mother become an avant-garde artist?”

Michael-san seems shocked that I know of this fact regarding my mother.
I confessed that I had searched her up and found pictures on a foreign website.

“It must have been shocking, wasn’t it?”

I nodded to indicate that it’s obvious that’s the case.

“From what I heard, Ruriko did that to raise attention to the damages caused by Agent Orange.”

“Do you mean the chemical weapon used in the Vietnam War? Damages on which side? The American military? The people of Vietnam?”

“That, I don’t know.”

The lawsuit filed by Vietnam veterans against the manufacturer of Agent Orange has reached a settlement.
However, the class-action lawsuit filed by Vietnamese NGOs was dismissed.

The reason why I know about Agent Orange is because for some reason, there was an extraordinarily large number of books regarding the Vietnam War at Hanaoka Town Public Library.
There were also a lot more books regarding the youth anti-war movement as compared to other kinds of literature.
When I was a child, I loved the heroic tales of the Viet Cong and would cry reading about the guerilla warfare.
Now, owing to having studied history, I no longer read and accept them as they are, nor do I use such contemptuous terms as the Viet Cong.

“The time when my mother painted naked, am I right in saying that it was when the effects Agent Orange has on the human body has yet to be fully understood? I believe it was not proven scientifically until a later date.
I fail to understand what she hopes to achieve.”

Wouldn’t you normally obtain scientific proof first? It is only after that should you start acting.
Why did she take such hasty measures? I can only say that she was foolish.

“I don’t know what she was thinking at that time.
I only know that she wanted to act with her own power.
So she took her clothes off in order to garner attention.”

“It was much too thoughtless a move.
Something only those of the upper classes would do.
It is something that can only be done because one has the freedom to.
The proletarians have their hands full just trying to live that they have not the facility to do such foolish things as my mother did.
The lumpenproletariat were still better than my mother.
I would much prefer them!”

I had strongly rejected the mother who Michael-san had loved so dearly.

“I loved even that foolish part of hers.”

Michael-san, are you truly saying that? Are you perhaps on drugs?

“Hey! I am serious, and I’m not on drugs either.”

“Ah, I apologize.
My inner thoughts have slipped out once again.
So hard to believe were your words that I thought you might be insane.”

“Are you under some weird spell? Even for my generation, people don’t usually know such words as the lumpenproletariat.”

Souju-sama asked me earlier if I had been brainwashed, and now even Michael-san is asking me if I’m under some weird spell.
Perhaps without my realizing it, strange thoughts had been planted in my head.
Is it maybe like those alien abductions I had read about where they implant a chip through your nose?

“Ruriko was truly charming and simple.
She was like a maiden.”

“This is unrelated but, wasn’t my mother already past 40 when you met her?”

“That’s right.
But age does not matter.”

Woah, to have lived 40 years and still be like a maiden, is it not that she simply lacks the capacity to learn? That’s just a peculiar species not fit to be let out into the open world.

My mother, who would be turning 60 if she was still alive, was raised as a lady and probably had a strong sense of justice.
But I maintain that becoming a naked artist for the sake of righteous indignation was a hasty decision.
To be honest, I am disappointed to hear such a reasoning.

Had she come to paint naked as a result of sincerely pursuing art, I would have accepted it; though I must own I would still recoil.
However if it was but a performance to induce the masses to listen to what she had to say, I must condemn her.
It was a foolish act.

“You sure are harsh.”

“Ah, did my inner thoughts slip out again? But she used her parents’ money to go study in America only to shed her clothes.
I cannot imagine how pained her parents must have been.
She should have at least done so after becoming independent.
Moreover, was anything brought about by her painting naked? I dare say she had brought about no impact.
The other party consists of the government and a huge manufacturing company.
To add to this, the effects Agent Orange had were yet to be made clear.
She must have been led to do it by someone else.
For example, the man she was seeing at the time.
The copyright of the picture I saw had belonged to a man’s name.
We might be able to find out if we try searching from there.”

Michael-san had on a hurt expression.

“I have went too far.
However, I do believe my mother was used by someone else, however foolish it may have been.
I am immeasurably disappointed by my mother, for she was not a true artist.
Do you not glorify my mother too much? I suggest you find out more about what had actually taken place.
There might have been a man who held a grudge against the manufacturing company behind it all.
In which case my mother would have been shedding her clothes solely for the sake of one man’s personal grudge.”

It was all but my own speculations, with no conclusive evidence backing it.
But I hope that with this, Michael-san might be freed from my mother’s grasp.
No matter how much I think about it, I cannot believe that my mother was a smart woman.
Rather than taking the place of her friend in an auction, there must been some other way she could have tried.
She was probably the type of person to become intoxicated with self-sacrifice.

“You will meet a better woman, Michael-san.
I respect you as Comrade Yoshio.
What do you think about keeping my mother as a memory and moving on?”

Michael-san became quiet.
A young girl of 15 is lecturing a middle-aged man.
It’s a given that he not be pleased about it.

“Heh, it’s just as you said.
I’m fainthearted and hated being hurt.
A coward.”

Stretching his palms out, Michael-san looked up to the sky and laughed, raising his voice.
The view of Michael-san in this way really seemed like an American.

“Although I may not know much, I wish you to be happy, Michael-san.
I will also try to do so.”

“Comrade Yoshio…”


“You can call me Comrade Yoshio.”


Comrade Yoshio has given me permission to call him Comrade Yoshio! How pleased I am!

“Comrade Yoshio! Let’s each do our best!”

We exchanged a firm handshake.

After which, Comrade Yoshio returned to the mountain.

While watching over his retreating back, I thought to myself that the difference between my and the Hongou twins’ worlds was nothing compared to my parents’.

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