Monday, August 27, 2012

Chapter 3 (j)

Rokudou: "Hu hu hu, this sounds very interesting, Milady. How do you intend to prove Hibari's innocence?"

Erika: "Oh, Rokudou, you were listening. At any rate I don't think I'm required to prove her innocence. It will suffice to provide logical arguments against any attempts to incriminate her."

Meito: "And now who's this strange man?"

Erika: "Why? He's Rokudou, my butler."

Meito: "Your... butler...?"

Sumomo: "There's no way that's true..."

Satsukawa: "Erika!"

Uh oh, Satsukawa is coming back. He is walking toward me with a very stern look. Just like I thought, he is mad at me.

Satsukawa: "I can't leave you alone for a single second!"

Rokudou: "Hu hu hu hu..."

Satsukawa: "This is no laughing matter! Damn it!"

Erika: "What's the problem? In the end we caught the suspect. All's well that ends well."

Satsukawa: "It won't end well for me!"

Erika: "More importantly, Satsukawa-san, I think you should give the order to collect all of Hibari's possessions. Her schoolbag, her textbooks, anything that might be inside her locker and so on. Tell your men to look carefully for hidden places too."

Satsukawa: "Hmmm... that sounds like a sensible suggestion... Okay, don't move! Stay here! Seriously!"

Erika: "It's all right, Rokudou will keep watch over me. Now go, quickly!"

Rokudou: "Hu hu hu..."

Satsukawa: "Sigh..."

I think I have mastered the ability to keep Satsukawa under control. I just need to tell him something relevant about the murder case, and he suddenly overlooks my misdeeds. He quickly decided to follow my suggestion, even though he knows I might take this chance to do something wrong again.
But in the end he doesn't even need to walk that far from me. He found a police officer already, and he is giving him instructions.

Nagaoka: "What's happening here?! Why are this many students gathered in this place?"

That bothersome man! Why does he have to yell constantly? He is giving me a headache.
The students must think the same and they start dispersing, including Takamiya and Oda. Nagaoka keeps shouting at them as they go, until he spots me. That was inevitable, the crowd that was concealing my presence is no longer here.

Nagaoka: "You! There you are!"

Erika: "Of course I'm here, where else were you looking? Nagaoka-san, are you really that bad at following people?"

Nagaoka: "Ugh! This is the last straw!"

Rokudou: "Nagaoka-san, if I may, I believe that what Milady did was indeed something reckless and devoid of common sense, your anger is certainly understandable. However, even if you disagree with her means, you must admit that the result was positive."

Nagaoka: "You are..."

Rokudou: "Gorou Rokudou, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance Nagaoka-san. You must have heard about me from Satsukawa-san already."

Nagaoka: "Yes... he told me about you... But then, are you claiming that what that girl just did was acceptable?! Even after seeing by yourself all the chaos that it caused?"

Rokudou: "I believe that critical situations call for drastic measures, and that's why reckless individual are required in order to take reckless decisions. A society entirely made of persons that think and act alike is bound to stagnate and slowly die. Even if there's a price to it, the exceptional results that only unconventional minds can bring are worth beyond measure."

That's my butler!

Nagaoka: "Ridiculous! I won't believe that anything good will come out of this until I'll see it with my own eyes!"

Rokudou: "Indeed, it is decidedly a good practice to be skeptical about unproven theories. I'll look forward to day you'll recognize the truth of my words."

Nagaoka: "Hmph!"

Satsukawa: "All right, all done. Oh... Nagaoka-san..."

Nagaoka: "I'm heading back. You'd better not follow me! You've already exceeded your allowed daily quota of damage!"

Satsukawa: "Hmmm..."

The obnoxious teacher leaves. Only the four of us are left, Me, Rokudou, Satsukawa and Dlanor.

Erika: "So? What are we waiting for? We need to go where they brought Hibari."

Satsukawa: "Wait a moment! I'm not supposed to bring you there!"

Erika: "Don't tell me that you don't want to witness her interrogation."

Satsukawa: "Well... I do... In fact I was thinking about bringing you back to the hotel and..."

Erika: "That's out of the question!"

Rokudou: "By the way, Milady, your tea..."

Erika: "My tea can wait! I must be there! I can't let Oosugi do as he pleases! Listen, Satsukawa-san, I have reasons to believe Hibari is innocent, and I have reasons to believe Oosugi will try to make her confess that she killed Gotsuji nonetheless!"

Satsukawa: "That's..."

Erika: "Are you really fine with that? Don't you want to expose the real culprit? Would you really be satisfied if the case was closed when there are still so many unanswered questions? It's up to you! This is a turning point. The outcome will change depending on your decision, now!"

Satsukawa: "Ugh..."

Rokudou: "Hu hu hu. I'll come with you, this looks pretty interesting."

Satsukawa: "Rokudou-san..."

Rokudou: "If Milady says she must be there, I believe her presence is actually important. I have complete faith on her intuitions and deductions."

Satsukawa: "Aaah, damn it! Okay, you won!"

Erika: "Good! Then let's not waste any more time. You'd better drive fast, Satsukawa-san, we need to catch up no matter what."

Satsukawa: "Hey..."

Erika: "Are you still there? Let's move!"

Satsukawa: "That girl! She could at least thank me!"

Rokudou: "Hu hu hu hu!"


The car runs through the many trafficked streets of Tokyo; sometimes fast, sometimes slowly, and sometimes it just doesn't move at all for minutes. Various buildings, lights, and colors keep passing by and disappear, like the frames of a film. The sounds coming from outside are muffled and almost feel unreal, as if they weren't part of this world. In the end it's all pretty boring. Living in a huge metropolis has its perks, but getting from one place to another can take literally hours. It doesn't help the fact that our travel started from suburbs.
I suggested that we use the emergency light, but Satsukawa refused, and I couldn't change his mind no matter how much I tried. Apparently you cannot use emergency lights whenever you want even if you are a police officer, there actually need to be an emergency. Where the hell are all those cops who don't give a damn about rules that I am used to see on TV? I even tried to convince him that this is in fact an emergency, but I failed. Incredible!
So now I am here, trapped inside this car, and I am supposed to patiently wait for the hundredth traffic light to turn green! My only comfort is that the vehicle Hibari is traveling inside is probably in the same conditions. I don't think we will be able to catch up at this point, but I doubt the interrogation will start right away. I don't exactly need to be there since the very beginning, but I would really hate to miss it.

Satsukawa: "Well, Erika, since we've nothing better to do, why don't you share with us your thoughts about how Hibari is implicated in this case?"

Rokudou: "A wonderful suggestion, I approve."

Erika: "You guys are really curious, aren't you?"

Satsukawa: "Well... yes."

Rokudou: "Indeed! Hu hu hu hu."

Erika: "I'd rather talk about something slightly related instead."

Satsukawa: "Slightly related?"

Erika: "It's one of my favorite topics: locked rooms."

Rokudou: "That sounds interesting."

Satsukawa: "Locked rooms, uh? In other words, crime scenes that no culprit could have left or entered."

Erika: "Good, I see that you already understand the basics. Some mistakenly believe that the definition is exclusively restricted to actual rooms; that's not always true. It's a murder mystery concept and what you just said is a good way to put it, however just the appearance of that is required. A locked room doesn't necessarily need to be a truly inaccessible place, and in many cases it isn't."

Satsukawa: "In other words what's truly important is that it must have the appearance of an impossible crime while in reality it isn't."

Erika: "Yes, an impossible crime, and that's why it becomes a riddle that the reader is challenged to solve. But a murder mystery is in the first place a novel. Ridiculous set ups might be acceptable in a riddle, but not so much in a story that's meant to be realistic."

Satsukawa: "Ah, I completely agree with that."

Erika: "I think the question that you should ask yourself is: why a particularly brilliant mind would opt for an impossible crime rather than a plausible accident?"

Satsukawa: "He!"

Rokudou: "Impossible crimes and plausible accidents..."

Erika: "I obviously assume that a typical murderer has two objectives that he wants to reach. The first is to eliminate his chosen victim. The second is to get away with it."

Dlanor: "Typically."

Erika: "Killing a person isn't that hard, if you have the right means. Humans devised all sort of tools, instruments and substances to easily perform the task, and if the victim is weaker than the culprit, even bare hands work. The real problem is reaching the second objective. It was a lot easier in the past, but since the invention of forensic science, it became increasingly more difficult. Now, what do you think would be the most effective way to minimize the risk of being caught? Just tell me the general method, no need to be specific."

Rokudou: "A crime where the body is never found?"

Erika: "Oh please, Rokudou, stop joking! I know you've already figured out the right answer."

Rokudou: "Hu hu hu, it isn't fun if everyone always says the right thing."

Satsukawa: "What Rokudou suggested is still better than leaving a corpse around, that's why many criminals try to hide the corpses of their victims. But that usually happens when there isn't any premeditation. In other words in those cases where the murder occurs in places that are connected to the culprit, or where the culprit left signs that are likely to incriminate him."

Erika: "Good, then tell me, Satsukawa-san, why this isn't exactly the best idea?"

Satsukawa: "In the first place, just because there's no corpse, it doesn't mean that investigations won't be made. A person mysteriously vanishing all of a sudden is pretty suspicious. The police will most likely look for a corpse and inquire about possible culprits even before finding anything."

Erika: "If they are competent. What else?"

Satsukawa: "Hiding a corpse isn't easy, and many people underestimate how hard it is to move a body. But the main problem, if you ask me, is the fact that you increase the exposure to risk. Killing someone might take just a few seconds, meaning that the chance of being seen by random witnesses will be pretty slim. Hiding a corpse will take hours. Not only you drastically increase the time of exposure to risk, you're also more likely to leave traces, and you also increase the time you need to provide an alibi about. Too many variables. I'd rather kill quickly and leave the scene as fast as possible."

Erika: "Good! Not bad, Satsukawa-san. Then what's the ideal method?"

Satsukawa: "You just mentioned it earlier: a plausible accident."

Erika: "Right, if it's plausible enough, that's the situation that will cause less people to care and to inquire. If you want to get away with it, you want to reduce at minimum all of that. Accidents happen all the time, far more frequently than murders. In addition, those who cared about that person will be able to accept the demise more easily. If you become the murder of a crime that remain unsolved, there might be someone that will keep inquiring about it even many years later. I've read of cases that have been solved decades after the facts. But if it's just an accident, the case will be closed and everyone will forget about it."

Satsukawa: "Clever, but is it really so easy to make it look like an accident?"

Erika: "Well, nothing is really easy in a murder, but if you have a good mind and you're trying to come up with the perfect plan, is there a reason to aim for something different? I don't think so."

Rokudou: "I see, that's where we return to your original question, Milady. How come someone that is so smart to come up with an impossible crime, doesn't try to create a plausible accident instead?"

Erika: "Exactly! Whatever is thinking this genius murder? Doesn't he know that impossible crimes are making people try their best to solve them? He should aim for the opposite, he should aim to make it so nobody would want to waste their time on it."

Satsukawa: "So in other words, locked rooms make no sense in a realistic scenario."

Erika: "No! Quite the opposite!"

Satsukawa: "Huh?"

Erika: "Let's say you find a man that appears to have died because of an accident. If he was inside a locked room, wouldn't that make the accident theory even more plausible?"

Satsukawa: "Oh..."

Erika: "Of course this works not only for constructed accidents, but also for constructed suicides. But the suicide theory doesn't work in every case. Not everyone would kill himself, however anyone can have an accident."

Satsukawa: "Okay, so in other words, a locked room mystery that wanted to be perfectly plausible should have a murder that appears like an accident or a suicide."

Erika: "Exactly. Why would the culprit want to make it look like an impossible crime? Locked rooms do not really help the murderer in his endeavor to avoid being found, except for the cases I mentioned."

Dlanor: "Then, what if the culprit wants to be found?"

Erika: "And why would the culprit want that? When the story is so messed up, I call it a third-rate mystery."

Dlanor: "Then, what if the culprit does not care about the first objective either?"

Erika: "Ha ha ha! That wouldn't even be a murder mystery at all! The culprit must want to kill someone, else why would he kill? At any rate, Satsukawa-san, now that I've explained my thoughts on locked room mysteries, you should understand my reaction when you first described the situation concerning the crime scene of this case."

Satsukawa: "Hmmm... I guess it could be considered a locked room case."

Erika: "With a corpse that was clearly murdered! Absolutely impossible! It makes no sense whatsoever!"

Satsukawa: "After what we've heard this morning, I think we can conclude that someone tried to make it look as if the demon was the culprit. Don't you agree?"

Erika: "The demon! How clever Teramoto was by never mentioning his name! Call him Pazuzu! I didn't know you were that suggestible."

Satsukawa: "But... you also didn't mention his name..."

Erika: "That's part of my strategy, it wasn't the right time for that. But here there's no need to respect Teramoto's taboos. Anyway, yes, it looks like the person that created that locked room scenario wanted to incriminate Pazuzu! And how stupid is that? She even made Oda witness the scene with the door wide open first, so that he could see the body, and then she closed that very door with a system that she already knew well."

Satsukawa: "Wait a moment, Erika, you're talking about a specific person here."

Erika: "Satsukawa-san, is there really any other logic explanations? We've found Hibari's fingerprints on the message that was placed inside Oda's locker, and she was stupid enough to tell us that she was worrying about those very fingerprints. So it was her, there's no point in denying the obvious by coming up with implausible strange theories. So it follows that she's also the one that closed the door after Oda saw what she made him witness. Hibari is very close to Teramoto and therefore she most likely knows the trick. I say, she's probably the one that closes and opens the door every time! She almost admitted it the first time that we talked! As if all of that wasn't enough, we have tangible proof that she left school only after Oda discovered the body."

Satsukawa: "But then..."

Erika: "Another thing. There's a certain mystery novel detective that claims that rather than with evidences and facts you should try to figure out who's the culprit by analyzing the murder as if it was the work of an artist. If you can tell who's the author of a painting, then you should also be able to understand the author of a murder."

Satsukawa: "That's a messed up logic... I need to see other paintings from the same artist to really be sure. Just knowing the artist wouldn't work."

Erika: "Well, it's not like I disagree, but there's some merit in that logic. I've already demonstrated that impossible crime scenarios are pretty stupid in the real world. Then the question should be: who can be so stupid to do it?"

Satsukawa: "Kagami Hibari..."

Erika: "See? Maybe all the pieces of the puzzle aren't conclusive enough by themselves, but when you put all of them together, I think the chances that I'm wrong become pretty slim."

Satsukawa: "But... but... you said that she isn't the culprit!"

Erika: "Of course!"


  1. Hibari is the accomplice then, or the red herring I mentioned earlier, Teramoto either doesn't want her to talk because it will implicate her or due to them actually being friends. Juuko, Baba and Kuon still have some role to play in this story while Sumomo is someone who may know more then she's saying.

  2. Loved the Vance reference!