Satsukawa: "That's quite a confusing set up, isn't it? Everything seems to be connected somehow, but it's hard to make head or tail of this mess."
Erika: "Oda, from the time Baba and Kubota left the student council room to the time Nagaoka-san answered your calls, nobody saw you. Is that right?"
Erika: "Nobody can testify where you've been."
Erika: "You claim that you've found a message from Hitomi in your locker when it was about 6:25 pm. Right?"
Erika: "Have you ever received messages like that before?"
Meito: "Yes and no... She used to write a lot of those messages... but she never put one inside my locker and she never asked me to meet her in front of the P.E. shed."
Erika: "So you've never seen that message before."
Meito: "Uh? Of course not..."
Erika: "Didn't you think that it was strange?"
Meito: "I did... but I couldn't imagine... that..."
Erika: "When you arrived to your destination, did you see anyone around?"
Meito: "No one, the school was completely empty as far as I could tell, and it was dark already."
Erika: "Are you sure nobody was there beside you?"
Meito: "I haven't seen anyone! Uh..."
Meito: "No, nothing..."
He's hiding something.
Erika: "Go on, what happened then?"
Meito: "I noticed that the door of the shed was opened. That was unusual, I thought that Hitomi might have opened it and that she might have been waiting for me inside. So I went in..."
Erika: "You said it was dark, how did you see what was inside?"
Meito: "The lights from the courtyard were bright enough for me to discern that. It took a little while for my eyesight to adapt, but in the end... I saw it..."
Erika: "Go on."
Meito: "I don't quite remember what I did then... I was shocked... I think I screamed... I'm not sure how long it took me before I decided to find help... So I ran back to the main building, I was still panicking... I started calling for help, I was yelling, but no one answered..."
Interesting... Nagaoka is tapping his left foot nervously.
Meito: "I ran to the stairs while keep yelling and finally I found Nagaoka-sensei..."
Nagaoka: "I heard him screaming from quite afar. It took me a while before I managed to calm him down."
Erika: "You didn't think it was serious?"
Nagaoka: "I couldn't imagine..."
Erika: "Even after he told you that Gotsuji died?"
Nagaoka: "Obviously I thought that he was pranking me or that he had been pranked."
Erika: "Nagaoka-san, how come you were the first teacher that answered Oda's calls?"
Nagaoka: "I was on my way home, I happened to meet him midway. When that happened I told him to keep quiet."
Meito: "That was the first thing he told me! Like that was his only concern, really."
Nagaoka: "Oda! Mind your words!"
Erika: "Then you both went to the P.E. shed."
Meito: "Right, Nagaoka-sensei said he wanted to check the situation with his own eyes before calling the police..."
Nagaoka: "I had to make sure..."
Erika: "You didn't happen to see Kagami Hibari or Yuu Azuma on your way there?"
Meito: "No... why?"
Nagaoka: "I haven't seen them."
Erika: "Then when you arrived at the scene..."
Meito: "It was closed..."
Erika: "I imagine Nagaoka-san became even more convinced that it was just a prank."
Nagaoka: "It goes without saying!"
Meito: "Dammit, I'm not telling lies! That door was opened before! How many times do I need to repeat myself?!"
Nagaoka: "Of course I tried to open the door, but it wouldn't budge. We later discovered that it was closed from inside..."
Erika: "Satsukawa-san, what would you say about the possibility that someone was inside the room other than the victim?"
Satsukawa: "I'd say almost none. Sure there are a few places there where someone could effectively hide, but when the local police broke inside they took care to check every corner and any possible hiding place."
Nagaoka: "I was there and I can confirm this. I'm quite certain they checked every possible place."
Erika: "Is there no other way someone could have passed through?"
Satsukawa: "It's solid concrete all around: floor, roof, walls, there's absolutely no other passage."
Erika: "The door was still closed before the police broke it?"
Nagaoka: "They tried to open it and push it for a while before resorting to harsher measures."
Am I really the only one that notices the obvious problem with this closed room? Is it possible that not even Satsukawa realizes it? Does that mean that the whole investigation team is accepting without questioning a particular that makes absolutely no sense? And yet once you realize that this particular isn't even supposed to exist, it is easy to imagine that the trick must lie there. If I am right, this is a pretty stupid fake closed room scenario, certainly not something that is worth being reasoned about. I will probably be able to confirm it later. And yet there is a piece of the puzzle that I am probably missing.
The real question, anyway, is not how this closed room was created, the real question is: why. It makes absolutely no sense, it seems to be just a random element put there without any real reason. That is what intrigues me the most, because this apparent nonsense in the construction of the crime scene... reminds me of that witch...
Erika: "Oda, do you know anyone that had a reason to hate Gotsuji?"
Oda: "No... I can't really think of anyone that would hate her so much to wish her dead..."
I am kind of disappointed, I can't say this guy had been helpful in providing informations regarding the crime. I didn't learn much more than what Satsukawa told me, and yet between him and Nagaoka a few interesting facts have emerged. Oh well, it's not like Oda is going to run away, I can always interrogate him later, if I need him.
Erika: "I have no other questions, you can go."
This story is a giant puzzle. Right now I have several pieces in front of me, some are in place, some are still roaming around uncertain to where they should go. I don't have enough to understand the image that they are supposed to form, but I can tell there's something strange. Maybe what's wrong is that there isn't just a single picture in this puzzle, maybe there are many of them, and they are all superimposed. So, in other words...
The flow of my thoughts is abruptly interrupted by the realization that Meito Oda is still in front of me.
Erika: "Is something the matter?"
Meito: "Who are you?"
Maybe this guy isn't as stupid as I thought.
Meito: "I don't understand... you aren't with the police, right? Then who are you?"
Good. If he wants to know, then I'll tell him.
Erika: "My name is Erika Furudo, I'm a great detective."
Meito: "Hah... is this... is this some kind of joke?"
Nagaoka: "Oda, show more respect! This isn't the way you're supposed to address those who are older than you!"
Hypocrite to the core, you are even more distrustful of me than he his.
Meito: "My friend died, Nagaoka-sensei. It wasn't even a week ago. I wasn't even granted the time to properly mourn her, I wasn't even given the time to recover from the shock. A squadron of investigators took me by force to a room where I've been interrogated for six hours straight! And they kept making the same damn questions over and over again. And for all that time I was haunted by the vision of the lifeless face of a girl that has always been part of my life. My mind was and still is filled with questions: why did she die? How did she die? Who did this to her? And yet you keep questioning me as if I had all the answers! As if I was the one who did it! Because that's what you think, isn't it? You think that I did it! And now what? You bring this woman who claims to be a great detective, as if this was some kind of mystery novel meant for the entertainment of the masses, as if this was a game! I've had enough of this! I don't even know what's going on anymore! I just know I'm tired... I should be angry, I should be sad, but after all this I just wish I could lay down somewhere and don't think about anything."
This guy is really something.
Satsukawa: "Oda-kun, I understand how you feel. You're confused, it's normal, these past days must have been hell for you, but I want you to know this: we're taking this very seriously and we're doing all that's in our power in order to find the truth. We're taking every single path that we can follow, we're trying even unconventional methods. The presence of Erika Furudo here is just the proof of our determination, it just proves that we're welcoming any kind of help that we can get. We'll get to the end of this story, in a way or another, I promise you!"
And this other guy isn't joking either.
Nagaoka: "Go home, Oda, and rest. The do-it-yourself club can go on without you for while. You just worry about your studies and nothing else."
Meito: "Aah... I'll do that... I'm sorry..."
Nagaoka: "Don't worry, I'll consider this whole conversation off the records. Just don't let those thoughts overwhelm you. Let the experts deal with this case, it's their job, you can only put your trust in them."
Oda nods, but he's still as confused as before. He stands up and bow.
Meito: "Then... If you'll excuse me..."
He walks away. He opens the door. He's about to leave.
He stops. The other two men look at me quizzically.
Erika: "What did Nagaoka-san just call your club?"
Meito: "... It's the do-it-yourself club..."
Erika: "I've never heard of a club like that before, you sure are crafty in this school! What exactly do you do in this club?"
Meito: "As the name implies... we do a lot of everything. We repair stuff, appliances mainly. We specialize in every little work that might be needed in a house."
Erika: "Doesn't that requires specific tools and materials?"
Meito: "It does... we have workshop, we call it 'the lab'. There's all that we need there... we're very organized..."
Erika: "A workshop... inside this school?"
Nagaoka: "It's in a separate structure. There are many of those inside the school grounds."
Erika: "This seems to be the stuff that would usually attract boys. Does this club have any female members?"
Meito: "... We have one..."
Erika: "What's her name?"
Meito: "Junko Andou... but... why?"
Erika: "Just curious. You can go, you've been very helpful. It was a pleasant conversation, rather instructive. *giggle* *giggle*"
Oda isn't satisfied with my answer and he knows that I'm not telling him the truth, but he had enough of me already. He turns around and leaves the room.
I wait a few seconds, until I'm sure the boy can't overhear us anymore.
Erika: "Well, what do you think, Dlanor?"
Dlanor: "I don't think Mister Oda is lying, the culprit must have used him."
Erika: "Go on, I want to know your perspective."
Dlanor: "The culprit probably left the message inside Mister Oda's locker so he could witness the crime scene."
Erika: "How come, Dlanor?"
Dlanor: "Maybe he wanted to frame him. We don't have enough data, it's not possible to explain it with certainty."
Erika: "Then, what happened?"
Dlanor: "The culprit must have been following Mister Oda. He waited until he found the corpse, and when Mister Oda left, he created the closed room."
Erika: "But why would culprit-san do something this pointless?"
Dlanor: "We don't have enough data, it's not possible to explain it with certainty."
Satsukawa: "I'm more curious regarding how he did it."
Nagaoka: "A-hem... I'm sorry to interrupt this... conversation... If you don't have any other business here..."
Erika: "Ah, thank you, Nagaoka-san, I think we're done here for the moment. I'd like to see this famous shed now."
Nagaoka: "In that case I'll excuse myself. I presume Satsukawa-san knows his ways in this school already."
Satsukawa: "Yes, thank you, Nagaoka-san."
Erika: "It was a pleasure, Nagaoka-san, I'm sure we'll have many chances to repeat the experience."
Oh, we sure will. And you still haven't any idea how much pleasurable it will be for me. Not so much for you, probably. I will have my chance to dig out the dirt that you are concealing under that hypocritical coat of inflexibility, my dear perfect teacher. I know you are hiding something, and when I will find out what it is, you will wish you treated me with more respect. But it will be too late then, and I will enjoy every single moment of it.