There was an explosion in the second section of the Beika district of Tokyo. It wasn’t life-threatening or anything, but it shook windows. And it generated a lot of smoke.
A young woman, barely 27 years old, with light brown hair that hung in a few large curls, put on a large-lens pair of sunglasses and went to ring her neighbor’s doorbell.
The man who opened the door was not who she expected. She read his nameplate – Agasa. She thought he would be scrawny and bookish, with coke-bottle glasses and carrying chemistry lab glassware. She had the glasses part right, but he wore them with a pair of welder’s goggles, and he was carrying a box with at least a dozen wires coming out of it. He was a large man, with a bushy moustache, but not a lot of hair on top. What he did have was already starting to turn gray.
“Excuse me, Mr Agasa,” the woman called out to him as he approached the gate.
He grinned at her, and then remembered that he was still wearing the goggles. He slid them up to his forehead. “Yes? Can I help you?” He couldn’t see her eyes, but her mouth and posture already looked apologetic.
“I’m sorry sir, but my husband is very busy, and the noise and smoke from your work is very distracting.”
“I’ll try to keep it better contained,” he replied.
He thought about what she said. “Your husband is at home?”
“Yes, he’s a writer, and he’s close to a deadline.”
“A writer? Anything I might recognize?”
“I don’t know, do you like mysteries? His Night Baron character is gaining some traction.”
Agasa’s eyes widened at the dawning realization of who he was talking to. She responded by sliding her big sunglasses part way down and winking at him.
He blushed. “Excuse me, Mrs Kudo, I didn’t realize…”
She brushed it off. “That was the point. I occasionally still get a little too much attention from my fans.”
“I see. Would you like to come in and see what I’ve been working on?”
“Not today, I’m afraid. I should really get back and check on the baby.”
Agasa tried to take it in stride. “Well, the three of you are welcome to stop over any time.”
Yukiko looked genuinely happy, much to Agasa’s relief. “Thanks, I’ll let Yuusaku know!”
Yukiko returned home. She slowly entered the room they had designated as the library. Shelves lined the walls, but only about half of them held any books. Near one wall was a tall wing-back chair with a round wooden side table, but the chair was empty. Of the two occupants of the room, one was typing away on an old typewriter at the large desk which sat off-centered facing the doorway. The other was curled up asleep in a playpen that was set to his father’s side.
She knelt next to the makeshift crib and stroked the top of her son’s head. “I met the neighbor,” she said in a quiet voice.
Yuusaku looked up from his work. “Oh? Is he nice?”
Yukiko stood up and gave half a shrug. “He’s a little crazy, and is apparently a fan of both of us… but he seems nice enough. He said he’d try to keep his work from being so disruptive. I’m not sure how long that’ll last, but I have a feeling he’s the type that’ll turn into a good friend, so it might not matter.”
“That’s good,” Yuusaku said with a smile. “Maybe he’ll let me use him as a technical resource.”
“I bet he’d love that. Just now, he invited me in to see his current project.”
“I’ll call him when I finish this chapter.”
Two days later, Yukiko found herself back at her neighbor’s front gate. This time she was holding her son while her husband rang the doorbell. They could faintly hear the last notes of the chime over the intercom. “Please come in, the gate should be open,” the voice said. Yuusaku turned the handle, and they went in.
When they reached the door, there was no one there to greet them. Yuusaku looked at his wife with an expression that said “Is this guy for real?” She replied with a sympathetic smile, and reached up to knock on the door.
It opened after the first knock. “Sorry about that, I didn’t realize how long it would take to tidy up. Allow me to properly introduce myself – Agasa Hiroshi, PhD.”
“Nice to meet you, Dr Agasa, I’m Kudo Yuusaku. You met my wife Yukiko the other day, and this little guy is Shinichi.”
Agasa leaned down to say hi to the baby, who in turn reached out to grab the older man’s nose. He narrowly missed wrapping his fingers around the bridge of Agasa’s glasses, before Yukiko rotated him out of reach.
“Sorry about that,” she said.
He tried to smile while he gripped the tip of his nose. “Don’t worry about it. Please come in." He turned and went back inside, Yuusaku, Yukiko, and baby Shinichi in tow.
He led them into the room he had recently designated as his work space. There was a combination of tables and work benches around the room, including an aluminum desk with a computer near the window, and a table with chairs in the center of the room. On every surface rested either a project or an assortment of tools.
The men started to move about the room, the inventor showing off his ideas one by one. Yukiko watched and listened from the door, afraid that Shinichi’s wandering hands could end up damaging something.
The tour finished, and they went to sit in the living room.
“Hakase, how would you like to be my technical advisor,” Yuusaku asked. Agasa glanced back at the lab door in an attempt to contain his excitement. The budding author Kudo Yuusaku wanted to work with him!
The writer interpreted it as hesitation. “Don’t worry about the time commitment, I won’t ask you to do anything you don’t want to. Of course, you’ll be compensated for your services.”
Agasa shook his head. “That’s not it at all. It would be an honor to work with you.”
Both men smiled, and they shook hands. “I should warn you, though. I do some actual detective work on the side, and I won’t always be able to tell you which cases are which.”
Yuusaku’s smile turned a little mischievous. “I look forward to working with you.”
The Kudo family returned home. “Are you sure this will be okay,” Yukiko asked her husband.
“I wouldn’t have asked him, if I didn’t. That was basically the interview – it takes a certain type of person to be successful at what either of us is doing, and I do believe you found me another kindred spirit. It’s like you said the other day, he’s a little eccentric, but definitely someone who will become a very good friend.”
He kissed the top of his son’s head, and then he kissed his wife.