Now I have neither happiness nor unhappiness.
That is the one and only thing that I have thought resembled a truth in the society of human beings where I have dwelled up to now as in a burning hell.
Osamu Dazai, No Longer Human
“Tsushima-kun, dinner is ready!” A female voice rang.
“Coming okaa-san!” A small boy shouted from another room.
They were in an apartment, a small, closed off and yet welcoming apartment that felt quite homey. The furniture and decoration that laid around the place were far from lavish, and expensive, looking more like they were bought at the cheapest thrift shops in the city, not to mention that the whole apartment smelled like dust. The walls were white, and bare, with the exception of a few old, and worn paintings that hung on the walls, and the space -despite its small size- was quite empty. With just a room that served as both a living room and dining room, as well as a small kitchen with just a stove and one or two appliances, the apartment was clearly designed to house a single man or woman, or perhaps even a young couple, but by the looks of it that didn’t seem the case. All throughout the apartment, there were signs that not just one or two people lived here, but rather three. On the bathroom’s counters there were three toothbrushes, and seating by the door there were three pairs of shoes, one small and two bigger ones, all of them tucked neatly in the corner. Atop the plastic, foldable dining table there were three worn out plates that had very little food on them. Overall the place was worn, old, and dusty, but it made up for it with its welcoming aura.
Small, running footsteps resonated from one of the rooms, as a young boy ran into the hallway and headed to the dining area.
The boy whose name was Tsushima was a skinny lad, and a bit lanky, but his height was greater than most kids his age. He had medium size brown hair that flopped down on his face, and his eyes were a dark tone of brown. His face was filled with baby fat, giving him an adorable look. On his body, he wore a long, yellow raincoat with a white polo shirt underneath it. He also wore brown dress pants and black dress shoes that seemed a size too large for him. His choice of clothes, as well as his overall appearance, made him look quite adorable, not to mention the wide smile on his lips as well as his eyes that seemed to spark with energy, and a hunger for adventure.
Tsushima ran to the dining room and jumped on one of the worn out chairs that creaked a little in protest. He grabbed the chopsticks, and practically licked his lips as he looked down at his food.
“Oh no, I’ll have none of that.” A clear female voice said, from the kitchen.
With disappointment in his eyes, he looked up from his food.
From the archway leading to the kitchen, a woman walked through it and made her way to the boy. She -much like him- had medium sized brown hair that was swept back with a simple clip. She was also, quite tall and was quite skinny. Her eyes were a set of clear blue, and her face was oval with a bit of sharpness to her jaws. For clothes, she wore a blue shirt and dark pants with a white worn apron tied to her waist. Overall she was quite pretty, despite her tired expression and the dark bags under her eyes.
She walked to Tsushima’s spot on the table and removed the plate in front of him, with a disapproving frown.
“You know the rules, no eating before your father gets home.” She scolded and took her place across from him, setting his plate beside hers.
“Then why call me for dinner?” He drawled, slumping his head back on the backrest and looking at the ceiling in boredom, his stomach grumbling in protest.
Every day was the same, dinner would be done and set out and he and his mom would seat at the dinner table, waiting for his dad who would arrive home late. He worked at a factory packaging fish, and despite the late hours he got home his mom insisted they’d wait, even though they barely ate anything all day and he was near starvation. If he was perfectly honest though, he was used to having an empty belly. His mom often told him that he needed to eat whenever the opportunity presented itself because one never knows when their last meal will be. After all there have been days when he hadn’t eaten anything at all.
Suddenly the door to the apartment opened, and through it walked a man.
Walking out of the darkness, and inside the apartment, the lights spilled on him, revealing him. He was quite tall, taller than Tsushima’s mom, and his raven black hair was cut short. He had sharp square jaws, and a strong chin, making him quite handsome. His eyes were dark brown, the same hue as Tsushima’s. He wore a tattered shirt and jeans that were torn in several places. His boots had holes in them, and he had a dark coat draped over his shoulder. His overall appearance was quite handsome, despite his torn, and dirty clothes, as well as his hair that was drenched in sweat.
“Otou-san!” Tsushima shouted, his voice cheerful as the man looked up and smiled in return at his son. His tired expression gone as Tsushima ran to him and practically caused him to tumble back from the force.
“Hey! Here’s my little man” He said, pulling the small child into a hug.
Tsushima smiled and gave out a sharp laugh as his father grabbed him and threw him in the air a couple of times with a laugh, the boy not at all minding the horrible smell of fish as he brought him into a hug.
“Oh, and how’s my fine lady doing tonight?” asked his father, as his mother walked to them and gave his father a peck on the lips that had Tsushima practically gag from disgust. Adults were so disgusting.
“Well dinner’s ready, we're just waiting for you,” she said, taking his coat and hanging it on a worn hanger.
“You didn’t have to, you should really just eat without me,” he said trying to sound like he didn't like it when they waited for him, but by his wide smile, he wasn’t fooling any of them.
Neither of them said anything in response as they all walked to the kitchen, his father still holding him in his arms as he walked.
After they had their dinner, and after his father had told them about his day, and then Tsushima told him about his day at school in return, they had cleared out their plates and his mom went into the room, leaving the both of them to their nightly hobby, reading a book.
Ever since he could remember really, his father had put him on his lap and read to him whatever book he was reading. His father is an avid reader after all, and that’s a trait he got from him. According to his dad, when he was still in diapers, he would always come to him every time he saw him reading, to which he would grab him and read to him even though it wasn’t an infant’s book. His father had a liking to mystery, and crime novels which he would read aloud to him every night. From the adventures of Sherlock Holmes to The spy who came in from the cold, as well as the cage, he’d grown up reading about these incredibly intelligent inspectors and the crimes they solved, hoping that one day he’d be like them. It was odd really, most kids his age wanted to be things like astronauts when they grow up.
“What do you mean Eiichi is gone, he was just here a few minutes ago? Asked Haruna, looking around the room in worry.” his father read, and that’s when it clicked in Tsushima’s mind like a light bulb.
“Ei- Eiichish Did it, didn’t he Otou-san!” he asked cheerfully, distracting his father from his reading as he looked down at him with a bemused smile.
“It’s pronounced Eiichi, and that’s actually a pretty good deduction Tsushima, but I don’t think he committed the crime,” he answered.
Tsushima looked at his father with a confused expression, his little brows furrowed, and his nose scrunched up giving him an adorable look to him.
“Who then?” he asked, sounding every bit the innocent five year old he is.
His father’s smile turned to a cocky one, as he looked at him almost triumphantly and tapped his temple with his index finger. This was a game they played, trying to figure out who the killer or criminal is before the end of the book. It was his father who’d win all the time, but lately, he’s gotten closer and closer to winning, last time he managed to deduce who the accomplice was!
“I could be wrong but I think it was Haruna who did it,” he suggested.
Tsushima’s brows shoot up, his face one of utter confusion, and almost wonder. He never would have guessed that, Haruna was just so nice. Nice people like her wouldn’t do that.
“But how Otou-san, Haruna wasn’t even in the crime scene how could she be the bad guy?” he asked, confused, and sounding incredibly adorable to which his father chuckled.
“I’m not going to tell you! What would be the point of reading if I spoiled it? And besides, leaving you to figure it out before the ending comes is a good exercise. Especially since I see you still got much to learn my young pupil.” He said smugly, and giving out a sharp laugh when Tsushima pouted his lips in annoyance.
He hated it, when his father outsmarted him, or when people treated him like a child. He’s five and a half thank you very much, he doesn’t need to be treated like a baby. And besides, he will figure out who the criminal is before the end of the book, he never really manage to do it before but this time he knew he would, this time he’ll beat him.
His father snorted and ruffled his hair, causing Tsushima to look up at him in more annoyance which only amused the man further. He put his hand down, leaving Tsushima’s hair rumpled and sticking out at various points.
“Come on, let’s keep reading. And remember Tsushima, the real criminals are always the ones you least expect” he said, all smugness is gone as he tried to teach his son a valuable life lesson.
Nodding his little head, they both looked down at the open book, and continued to read.
“Eiichi left, he went to save the child. We tried to warn him bu-”
Suddenly loud bang reverberated across the apartment, as someone kicked the door open.
From shock, Tsushima jumped on the spot and nearly fell when his father quickly put him down an jumped to his feet, his posture rigid and tense as he stood in front of him, and meeting the intruder, or should he say, intruders head on.
Three men, all of them bigger in muscle than his father bulldozed their way into their little apartment, not at all caring for the things they broke along the way. The sounds of pictures crashing to the floor frightened Tsushima and he felt himself tear up, but he didn’t look away.
The three men were all wearing the same purple suit and black vest, with dress pants and shiny black boots, all of them looking at his father with cold and uncaring expressions.
“Who the fuck are you, and what the hell are you doing in my house?” his father asked, and Tsushima flinched when he heard his father swear, and looked up at him. His father always said swearing was bad, and he’d often scold him whenever he said a swear word, so it was shocking to hear him say one of those forbidden words, especially since his dad is so nice.
Hearing all the commotion, his mother popped her head through the doorway and gave out a loud shriek when she saw the men and ran to Tsushima with incredible speed. The bad men didn’t pay any attention to her as she passed them and knelt by Tsushima and pulled him into a breath-stopping hug. Her fingers were hurting his little form, but he didn’t really care, he was much too scared.
“Listen, I don’t give a fuck who any of you think you are, but I will call the police if you don le-”
Before his father could complete his sentence, one of the men took a step closer and wound up his fist. What happened next is something he’ll never forget.
The man punched his father on the nose, pushing him down on the floor as his mother gave out a loud shriek and began to shake on the spot. After that everything happened so fast. The men approached his father and lifted him up to his feet, only to hit his dad in a manner he had never seen before. He had seen other boys in his class stick out their tongue at the girls, and sometimes he’d even seen one push another boy, but this was different. The men were punching his dad with so much force that blood flew from his mouth, coating the torn carpet in crimson liquid, only to proceed to push him against the wall and kick him in the stomach several times with so much force that even he could hear the loud crack of bones with his tiny ears.
As he watched Tsushima could do nothing more but freeze on the spot, all he could hear was his mother's screams, and his father pained groans, as well as his bones breaking, the sound the same as when one of the bullies pushed him down the stairs and broke his arm.
It was after five whole minutes of punching and kicking, and of watching his father bleed on to every corner of the house that the men finally stopped, none of them saying anything as they grabbed him by the arms and forced him to his feet to face the opened door.
As if the intruders knew, Tsushima watched through his mother’s hair as a man wearing a bowler hat walked in, the one intruder who stood in front of him and his mother as he watched them, moved out of the man’s way.
As the man got closer, revealing himself, Tsushima looked up at him, really having to exert himself to do so, as he looked in shock at how tall the man was. He was at least two heads taller than his dad, and his dad wasn’t a short man, he was above average for sure, but this man, well he was a giant, to say the least, not to mention his large muscle build, as well as how intimidating he looked
The man had a short beard, with his hair buzzed short, and his beady eyes looked around the house with disgust, only to settle on them causing all of them to shiver from the intensity of his frightening deranged eyes. For clothes he wore a red shirt, with a silver vest and on his body a black trench coat was draped over him, but his arms didn’t go through the sleeves. Upon his lips, he had a lit cigar, which he was biting down at the corner of his lips and puffing out smoke without having to remove the cigar from his mouth. In all his young life, Tsushima had never met such a frightening man before.
The man stopped in front of his dad, who was now being held but the two-man by the shoulders. His father no longer had the strength to even stand, not to mention that his knees were angled differently than they should.
The man looked at his father over and puffed out a large cloud of smoke.
“So you’re Gen’emon Tsushima eh?” he mused, putting his hands inside his pant pockets.
“Name’s Iwao, I’m boss Kichiro’s right-hand man, he asked me to come here and deal with a misunderstanding.” He grumbled, his lips pulling up into a smile as he grasped Gen’emon ’s hair in one hand and pulled his head closer to his so that they were eye to eye.
“He asked me to deal with a low life and his family who apparently took out a large loan a few years back but didn’t pay it, and who have apparently been avoiding us. Now Gen’emon , do you know of such a man?” he asked sarcastically.
Gen’emon -his father- glared at the men in front of him but didn't say anything, which didn’t sit well with the large men.
Giving out an annoyed huff, he let go of his hair, took a step back and punched his father on the stomach, causing him to yell and spit out blood into the floor, barely missing Iwao’s shiny shoes.
The men grinned sadistically as he watched Gen’emon’s heaving form, his head slumped down and blood dripping down his mouth and into a pool of blood.
“If there's one thing I hate in this world, is people with no manners. Bring him up.” he barked at his men, who grabbed Gen’emon’s hair and pulled his head up, forcing him to look at Iwao.
“You were real good at evading us. Took us four years to find you. Boss had to put me in cause the others were running around in circles trying to catch their own tails. And let me tell you it was hard at first, but in the end, I found you didn’t I?” he said triumphantly.
Gurgling out blood, Gen’emon took in several deep, laboured breaths before he spoke.
“Please, I’ll return the money, just please-” he stopped, the pain stopping him from continuing, as he coughed out blood into the floor.
Iwao didn’t show any pity, instead, he smirked and pat Gen’emon’s head, much like his father did whenever he’d done something good.
“Oh, Gen’emon-san no amount of money can bring back all those months wasted looking for you.” he sang and from beside him, his mother whimpered in fear.
After several breaths, and fighting to remain conscious, Gen’emon looked up, his eyes filled with fear and tears, a look he had never seen on his father’s face. He was always such a brave men, always protecting, and encouraging to stand up for himself, so seeing him so defeated shocked him more than anything else.
“Then please, do anything you want to me, but let them go. They’re innocent,” he begged, his eyes meeting his as he said those words, and though Tsushima’s young mind couldn’t really process what was happening he could feel all the despair his father was feeling through that one gaze.
Iwao huffed and took a step back, as he grabbed his cigar and puffed out another cloud of smoke, Tsushima’s nose wrinkling from the awful smell.
“You know, I love these low life apartments, you know why?” he asked, puffing out a cloud of smoke on his father’s barely conscious face, pretending, or overall not caring what his father just said.
He shook his head, unable to say anything, and Iwao grinned like a shark who smelled blood.
“Because of the low lives that live in them. Me and my men have beaten you half to death across this apartment, and I don’t hear no police sirens. That's because no one cares, no one is coming to save you Gen’emon -san.” he said with a chuckle.
The men around Iwao laughed, but it sounded forced even to him, like when one of the bullies in the playground forced the other ones to laugh at their jokes or else. Iwoa chuckled as he reached out his hand and grabbed a fistful of Gen’emon’s hair, and pulled his head forward so that they were nose to nose.
“It’s because of that Gen’emon-san, that no one will even bat an eye when I put a pretty bullet through that pretty skull of yours.”
As those words left the giant man’s mouth, everything seemed to freeze.
What happened next was so fast he couldn’t even follow what had happened until it passed. Gen’emon ’s eyes widened in fear, and he opened his mouth to say something but before he could, Iwao pulled out a gun almost out of thin air and shot his father between the eyes, blood, and pieces of flesh spluttering all over the room and on to the man’s face.
For a brief moment, everything seemed to freeze, as his fast beating heart deafened everything happening in the room. He couldn’t hear his mother’s screams, nor the man screaming at her to shut up, nor did he look at the men who were now looking at them. All he was looking at was the lifeless body of his father -no- not his father, more like a thing now, looking a lot more like one of his beaten up toys than his father.
Just as his shook came it went, as one of the man approached them and grabbed his mom by the hair, her frightened shrieks enough to snap him out of his trance, as he looked up at the men who was pointing a gun at his mother’s temple, and was about to pull the trigger. Forcing the boy to watch yet another death however, before he could the voice of the giant men stopped him.
“No, no, no not her, not yet at least.” Iwao snickered and he looked up at him.
The giant men looked down at his mother with a look that he could only describe as disgustingly sadistic, and bone-chilling. A look he’ll have nightmares of for the rest of his life.
“No, no, please!” his mother begged, holding even tighter on to him as one of the men approached her and ripped him from his mother’s arms with barely any effort.
“OKAA-SAN!” he screamed, and began to squirm, and kick back at the man. Who didn't even pay him any mind, until he managed to hit his shin, causing the man to yelp and let go of him.
As fast as his little feet could carry him, Tsushima ran to his mother who was being hauled by one of the man. However, just when he was about to reach her, a set of strong arms hauled him off the ground with barely any effort. He squirmed once more and tried to kick, but then he stopped when he came eye to eye with the gigantic man.
Iwao grinned and looked him over just like he’d done with his father, and all he could do was freeze on the spot, the memories of the man putting a bullet between his father’s eyes coming back to him. His eyes didn’t even so much as blink, even as the man puffed out clouds of burning smoke into his face.
“You got spirit boy, let’s see how long that'll last.” he huffed, dropping him to the ground where two of the men quickly grabbed him and pinned him to the ground, pulling his little arms painfully behind his back, and forcing his face to the floor.
From across the room, his mother screamed, but then her screams were suddenly muffled, and as Tsushima turned to look at her he saw she now had a rag in her mouth, and her hands were tied behind her back, but that didn’t stop her from squirming and fighting the men holding her. Seeing his mother’s will to continue fighting, as well as her fear, he tried to shake of the men off, but they simply put more pressure on his back to the point that he could barely breath.
Iwao grinned and turned to her, his steps slow as he approached her, and the men that were holding him began to lift him off the floor to take him away but stopped when Iwao put up his hand.
“No let him watch, he’ll be my little pet project.” he mused, and the men didn’t say anything as they pressed him back to the floor, forcing his head to look ahead of him.
What happened next he would try to erase from his mind, but no matter how much he’ll try he will never forget it. His innocent mind didn't really understand what was going on, but he knew his mother was in pain and he was hopeless to do anything.
After what felt like ages, his mother -much like his father- laid dead on the carpet, and after screaming and crying through the whole thing, Tsushima felt tired. He didn’t have any energy left, all he wanted was for it to end, for everything to end. He just wanted to go to sleep and realize this was all a dream.
Dishevelled the large man stood up and fixed his clothe, with a satisfied grin on his lips.
“What do we do with the kid? Should we kill him?” asked one of the men holding him.
As if he had forgotten he was there, the man turned on the spot and look down at him, his eyes cold and calculating as he thought about his fate, and Tsushima met his eyes no longer scared.
He had no need to be scared. If the man choose to kill him like he did his mom and dad, then he would be with them once more. His mother always said death is a natural part of life. However, he was unfortunately not so lucky.
Iwao grinned, took his cigar from his mouth dropped it to the ground and stepped on it, crushing it into little pieces.
“Nah, this one’s a pretty thing. I think boss will love him.” he said, his expression the same terrifying one he had given his mother.
Dazai’s eyes flew open, and a sharp breath left his lips, as he jolted on his spot and rose to seat up, his eyes wild as they looked around the dark room as if looking for a monster lurking in the shadows. His heart was pounding, threatening to rip out of his chest, and his fear remained even as his eyes didn’t find anyone in the dark room. His breathing was laboured, as his chest rose up and down quickly, even though he was trying to calm himself down through sheer will power, but with no luck.
Forming his hands into fists he looked at the empty wall ahead in anger.
He hated dreaming about his memories.