In my previous books I have talked several times about holidays for the "city".
Today I'm going to make a bit of a change and talk about holidays for humans instead.
People, of course, take breaks in order to rest their bodies.
But in fact, they do not do that.
On a holiday, people actually take the trouble to go far away and play until they exhaust themselves. They become so obsessed with having the fun they are afraid there is not a second chance to have that they tire themselves more than usual.
You remember doing that yourself, don't you?
You do, right?
It's okay if you don't.
I admit defeat.
I didn't know enough about humans.
I underestimated humans.
Forgive me...! Forgive me...!
...Anyway, now that I've done enough apologizing, let me continue to talk to those who nodded and said "Exactly."
Those who tire themselves on holidays -- I wonder if they are looking for things that do not belong in everyday life. Even if what they do runs contrary to the original meaning of the phrase, it could be that getting away from their everyday routines, even momentarily, is "taking a break" for them.
Their bodies do not take a break.
Their hearts do not take a break, either.
What does take a break is not the heart or body...but the everyday routine itself.
They do it in order to return in high spirits and ready to swallow the pill named everyday life again.
See? It's just like that.
Like drinking water to wash out the taste in-between bites while you are eating.
So what are holidays like for those who do not belong in everyday lives themselves?
Do holidays even exist for urban legends like the Black Motorbike?
That's a hard question.
If a person usually eats only heavily-flavored food goes on a holiday, will he only drink water, or will he gobble up some even more heavily flavored sauce along with soy sauce? Oops, that was only an analogy. Do not attempt that or you will be in serious trouble.
To be more exact, you will die.
Well, those who absorb everything non-everyday life like a sponge will become more terrifying than the non-everyday life objects themselves. They might even be committing de facto suicide.
I wonder if there is such a thing called a holiday for those people to begin with. Or is every day a holiday for them?
This you will have to ask them yourself.
Either way, the city does not distinguish between everyday lives and non-everyday lives, nor between workdays and holidays.
From that we can draw the conclusion that it is all about the people.
The city does not differentiate between people. It accepts all human behavior as part of itself.
Even though it is not the most healthy thing to do, just like how drinking too much soy sauce makes you ill.
Well, I guess that just means the city has a more toughened stomach than what people assume.
From Ikebukuro Attacks Back III, A Pedestrian's Guide to Ikebukuro published by Media Works, Foreword by the author Tsukumoya Shinichi
Non-Everyday Life α
May 5th, a hospital in Northeastern Japan
“Orihara-san, time for your inspection!"
The voice of a young nurse rang throughout the room.
The pungent smell of several types of medication was floating in the room's general whiteness. However, a slight flowery or fruity aroma also made its way into his olfactory organs.
Since this was a single's ward, the patients in the neighboring room must have had visitors.
Orihara Izaya slowly regained his consciousness once his brain was able to correctly identify the source of this sweet smell.
- Ahh, right.
- I'm in a hospital.
Looking at that nurse whom he had never seen before, Izaya began to try to make sense of the situation.
"What time is it, Miss?"
"Hmm, let's see, it's 9 p.m. already. Here, let me change your IV bag for you..."
The nurse had already rolled down the blanket and inspected the injection needle once she had rolled up one sleeve of Izaya's patient pajamas. She then proceeded to change the IV bag.
Izaya, who watched her as she did her job, suddenly felt a convulsion of pain from his side.
But he made no sound; instead he narrowed his eyes and waited for the pain to cease.
Thanks to the pain he was by now completely awake.
And was able to recall how he had wound up in such a state.
It all happened 24 hours ago.
He was stabbed by someone and fell on one of the many streets in this Northeastern town.
By the time he had come to, he was already lying in this hospital bed.
Was this the third inspection? Or the fourth?
Before it went dark, several cops had come to talk to him.
The victim of a stabbing incident watched the nurse change his IV bag as his thoughts went back to focus on the dialogue he had with those cops.
No matter what the inquiry, Izaya had given the uniform answer: "Someone bumped into me, and then my side started bleeding." Of course, the cops also asked about his identity; since they addressed him as "Orihara-san" from the very start, it was probably safe to assume that they knew where he lived and all that.
- He had traveled to this town on his whim, and it turned out there was a madman waiting to stab him on the road.
Izaya made the story sound as true as he could, not forgetting to add:
"Please find out the culprit as soon as you can, not only for me, but also for the peace of mind of every other person living in this town!"
In fact, Orihara Izaya knew better than anyone that the identity of the culprit was far from "unknown"; it was a man named Yodogiri Jinnai.
That man had even bothered to called him right before he stabbed him.
However, the last thing Orihara Izaya needed was to be asked what ties he had with that man, which would only have spelled greater trouble -
- Not to mention, that Yodogiri guy was not someone to be caught by the police that easily.
Of course, he could have made up stuff about the facial features of the culprit and whatnot. But he didn't know if there had been a surveillance camera on that crowded street, the exact location of it if there had been one, and still less if there had been eyewitnesses or not.
A hurriedly concocted lie would just land him in deeper trouble if people found out.
- But it was still too late, wasn't it?
Izaya couldn't suppress a bitter smile as he thought of the eyes the cops had given him.
Those were definitely not the kind of eyes you would give an unfortunate victim. If anything, they were unrelentingly sharp and predatory like a hunter's.
- They had probably found my switchblade in my coat. That would be a good reason.
The cops hadn't really mentioned anything about it, but if anything else were to happen, chances were that they'd just arrest Izaya for carrying illegal sharp objects on him. Though he was presently still in the "victim" position, he was nevertheless sort of a suspect for the police as well.
- I probably should just get out of here tonight.
He had asked for medical details on his injury at the time of the first inspection.
His insides remained miraculously intact; he had no idea though as for whether the perpetrator had intended it so on purpose.
- Looks like after all these years it's time to owe Shinra a favor again.
He pictured his underground doctor friend attending to his wounds and sighed with a bitter laugh.
- That Yodogiri guy sure isn't one to play by the rules, either......
The nurse was finishing up her job as Izaya's thoughts stopped there.
"All changing's done! You're looking better already, I think you have a pretty good chance of getting out of here early."
Izaya returned the young nurse's professional smile with his own professional smile.
"That would be a pity. I'm actually quite fond of it here and I won't object to staying a few more days."
"Sweet talk won't get you anywhere in this place. Speaking of which, your recovery has been remarkably fast. Is it because you're young? You're looking really lively or someone who had just been stabbed yesterday."
"Thanks to all you good doctors and nurses here."
Izaya smiled peacefully as his heart began to race in a way furthest from peaceful.
Part of the reason was of course the persistent pain - but the most important reason was the face of a certain male that came to his mind upon hearing the nurse's words.
- There are monsters in this world whom even with a knife you can only stab as far as 5 millimeters into.
As he was thinking about that certain acquaintance who always wore his bartender suit, Izaya suddenly had a question.
"That reminds me. Was my stabbing on TV or in the newspapers or anything like that?
"......Ah...right, looks like it was mentioned a little in 'My Camera! Morning Star' on King Television. I think I heard Orihara-san's name come up. What's the matter? Are you in some kind of trouble?"
"......Was it really. Nothing, just thinking my friends might be worried about me."
- King Television.
If he recalled correctly, that was just a regional channel under Daiou Television.
As for "My Camera! Morning Star", that was a news program aired nationwide on Daiou Television.
As soon as he confirmed that the news of his stabbing had reached the entire area around Tokyo, Izaya's anxiety suddenly had one single focus.
- If the news had been aired this morning......
Considering how fast the guy usually moved, it was about time that he found this hospital.
May 6th, 2 a.m.
The hospital was eerily quiet after the lights went out.
Izaya waited in his bed in silence in the eerie quietness.
- Is anybody coming? ......Or was I just thinking too much?
Izaya reflected upon the web of consequences he had woven before he was stabbed.
He had given the Russian duo information and worked to get two certain "monsters" - who had stood in his way on several occasions - out of his way. He had pitted that beast in a bartender suit against Awakusu-kai and excluded the girl who hosted a demon blade in her body from the "stage".
He had also been quite the double-crosser between several yakuza organizations like Awakusu-kai and Asuki Group. Chances were that the fact he had been using the granddaughter of the head of Awakusu-kai had already come to light.
Not to mention in his numerous past deals in information he had already made himself a decent number of enemies and known by heart the weaknesses of countless individuals.
Basically speaking, Izaya didn't produce.
The usual types of informants the police and yakuza made use of were nightclub waiters or bodyguards. Or the likes of procurers targeting girls who ran away from their homes, or prostitutes and bar hostesses - in short, those who naturally obtain a lot of underground information on their jobs and choose to sell such information for some extra income.
But Izaya was different. He established a network of connections with these "part-time informants" and wove these scattered channels into a huge spider web of information, at the center of which he held all the loose ends in his hand.
By playing expertly with the flow of information on this spider web, he exerted his influence on the entire atmosphere of the city.
He didn't have to produce anything.
Yet he made money.
Izaya was aware of it himself.
He was, in essence, a complete asshole who used gossipy information to extract money from people.
Those who gladly paid him to get to know the weakness of others were bigger assholes still. He was also aware that this society was overflowing with such people and that they outnumbered the grains of sand on the seaside beach.
Though this was the way he made his living, it was not the goal of his life.
Orihara Izaya had only one goal in his life - to love humans.
In his own way, which nobody other than himself would understand.
- So. Who's gonna come?
The room was illuminated by only the pitiful light that came from the corridor and the stars outside the window. In the silence that was almost complete, Izaya involuntarily raised his face.
- If it's "him", he'd probably have come charging all the way here without a second thought.
The corner of Izaya's mouth relaxed ever-so-slightly despite his anxiety as he thought about the monster in the bartender suit.
Wouldn't it be just gratifying to watch him become the criminal who rampaged the hospital for no reason and finally get to serve the time he deserves in a prison cell?
- Assuming I survive, of course.
- If not him, then maybe Sonohara Anri?
- She would definitely be able to slice and dice me when I'm like this.
- Or should I expect Kida Masaomi or Yagiri Namie instead?
- Or the Russian duo?
- Or bullets of revenge from Awakusu-kai? ......Can't really rule that out.
- Maybe no one's gonna come. But that's OK. I'll just drink to my luck then.
Like a kid sleeping on the thought of an outing tomorrow, Izaya's heart was pounding with slight excitement.
Of course, that was also accompanied by severe pain from his wounds. But for Izaya all that only added spice to the joy he was experiencing.
Another hour had passed; just as Izaya's brain was finding it hard to suppress a yawn, a strange noise awakened his eardrums.
Light footsteps, apparently belonging to someone trying to conceal him or herself, sounded from the corridor. It was a very different sound from the footsteps of the nurses that patrolled the rooms.
But the person was not entirely successful; instead the footsteps were caught as an enjoyable rhythm by Izaya's ear.
- Who could that be?
- There was no way "he" would sneak in like this. The Russian duo would never have let their footsteps be heard.
So was it a goon from Awakusu-kai after all? Or someone like Masaomi?
The door was slowly pushed open as such thoughts raced in Izaya's mind.
Then a black shadow slipped into the room.
It was a young woman with a dark expression on her face.
However, she pierced Izaya under the dim starlight with an extremely intense stare that contrasted interestingly with her dark expression.
"Found you......AT LAST......"
Hatred and overwhelming glee upon finally meeting her mortal enemy made the woman's expression difficult to interpret.
Izaya tilted his head as he murmured as if taken completely by surprise.
"......Who are you?"