Ogata’s eyes widened when he heard a loud bumping sound coming close at an alarming speed. His head turned just in time to see a beat up 2001 Toyota Corolla LE four-door sedan covered in stickers with the paint flaking off barreling at him. He didn’t have time to react to how obnoxious the driver was for subjecting his ears and eyes to torture like this before he felt the impact. Everything went dark.
At first Sugimoto didn’t know what happened. He was too distracted by digging around in the passenger floorboard for the burger he dropped on accident. Surprisingly he heard the loud thud of the car hitting a man over the obnoxiously loud music he was playing. Two of the speakers were blown, and the other two struggled to make up for their fallen comrades. Sugimoto is one of those people who has to have the music as loud as possible to try to drown at the anxious thoughts running through their mind while driving. Not that it mattered because he was a bad driver with or without drowning out his thoughts. The only music he could listen to was a Britney Spears cd stuck in the player. It was definitely not his first choice when it came to music, but he was convinced that he couldn’t drive in silence so it had to do. Not that he didn’t think Britney made some total bangers, he just thought it made him look less cool somehow being seen driving around bumping “Oops!...I Did It Again”. It was something he would listen to with his headphones in but still be paranoid that others could hear it.
“Are you okay?” he shouted and jumped out of the beat-up car. He did the opposite of what you should do in a situation like this. While a normal person who knew basic information about first aid and what to do after accidents like this occurred would not jostle the patient due to the possibility of furthering their injuries if there was an injury to the spine or neck, Sugimoto grabbed the man by his shoulders and started shaking him roughly. If Ogata had an injury, then oh well I guess because Sugimoto was not being gentle.
Ogata obviously didn’t respond, he was unconscious.
Sugimoto gripped his messy hair and tugged at it in frustration,” Oh god, I just killed a man.” Another realization washed over him, “Even worse, I wrecked Shiraishi’s car.” Shiraishi loves his car more than anything, and he wouldn’t be okay if anything ever happened to it. In reality, things always happened to Shiraishi’s car. The car was practically a magnet for accidents. This would probably be accident #78 if anybody was keeping track. Shiraishi’s insurance rates would be incredibly high if he actually paid for car insurance, but car insurance is a scam. Scammers don’t get scammed according to Shiraishi, so he refused to pay for insurance. If he hit another car or a light pole, he simply kept driving and prayed nobody caught his license plate number.
The shaken Sugimoto dialed Shiraishi’s number, crying, ”Shiraishi, I just killed a man.”
“Haha fuck, dude. No need to get upset while playing video games. It’s part of the game,” Shirashi’s obnoxiously loud voice sounded over the phone. Sugimoto had to turn the volume on his phone down to save his ears.
“No, irl! I ran him over,” Sugimoto sobbed with his face in his hand that wasn’t gripping his phone excessively hard.
“What the fuck, man!” Shiraishi’s voice jumped, “In my car?!”
“Yeah,” Sugimoto sniffled and gazed sadly down at the unconscious man at his feet. If he wasn’t bleeding and bruised, he would be really attractive. He might even be Sugimoto’s type.
There was shuffling on the other end of the line as Shiraishi paused the game he was playing,“ You better get out of there! I don’t want my car to be impounded or something.”
“Do they do that?” Sugimoto asked.
“I don’t know. Maybe! It’s a weapon used in a crime now, permanently stained with blood. They don’t just let things like that go. Plus, I don’t have a title or insurance so good luck explaining that to the cops.”
“I think my driver’s license is expired also,” Sugimoto murmured and got out his wallet to check. It was indeed expired.
Sugimoto now faced a moral dilemma.
The muffler dragged behind the car as Sugimoto drove away from the crime scene.
Did he do the right thing?
Shiraishi took the keys from Sugimoto and smiled down at his precious baby,” Thanks for returning her in one piece.”
Sugimoto blinked slowly,” What?”
“I was sure you had totally wrecked her because you’re somehow a worse driver than I am, but you managed to not get a scratch or a dent on her even though you killed a man.”
“Shiraishi, your car is a dent.”
“Don’t say that about her! She’s just well loved.”
“Well hated by everyone on the block because ‘she’s’ so loud and a huge eyesore.”
“They’re just jealous. Their beamers and Mercedes could never,” Shiraishi grinned and slapped the hood of the car. The metallic clanking sound like something fell off wasn’t reassuring to Sugimoto, but he didn’t try to argue further about how shitty he actually thought Shiraishi’s car was.
Did he do the right thing?
The guilt was gnawing at him. He couldn’t sleep, and he was finding it hard to eat. The difficulty eating part wasn’t helped by him and his roommate’s lack of cooking skills and the burnt rice he had for dinner last night. The guilt of killing a man also factored into his inability to eat.
He found it easier to sleep at night when Shiraishi heard news somehow that the man Sugimoto ran over wasn’t actually dead, he was just in critical condition at the hospital. What a relief.
“How did you even find out about him?” Sugimoto stared at the burnt rice in front of him, it was his night to cook and he fucked it up like usual. He had been hoping that Asirpa would drop by with food for him and his roommate. The young granddaughter of the elderly lady next door felt bad for them and would bring them food occasionally. It was truly a sad little arrangement they had going on. They were two adults who couldn’t take care of themselves, so a middle schooler had to take care of them.
Shiraishi spoke through a mouthful of bad food, “I told you, my friend knows a guy who recognized my car fleeing the crime scene. Everybody thought I was the asshole who did a hit and run. I had to tell them it wasn’t me.”
“You didn’t say it was me, right?” Sugimoto panicked.
“Of course not. They wouldn’t have known who you are anyways, despite being locally well known and having that stupid nickname. I told them it was Boutarou.”
“Hey, I didn’t pick the nickname,” Sugimoto pouted and reluctantly took another bite of his food before Shiraishi could finish his and stare at Sugimoto’s food like a begging dog.
“I didn’t say you did, I just said that it was a bad nickname. Anyways, Boutarou is looking for me so if a tall long-haired dude shows up looking for me, tell him I died.”
“That’s not believable,” Sugimoto complained.
“Trust me, I know. What else are you supposed to say? I went out to buy milk? He’ll invite himself in and kick up his nasty, massive feet on the coffee table until I show my face.”
“Maybe you should just face the guy and get it over with. What’s the worst he could do? Kick your ass?”
“He’d for sure kick my ass,” Shirashi whined then changed the subject, “Anyways, Ogata is in room 306 if you actually want to go visit him. I personally don’t recommend it, because I heard from Tanigaki that he’s a real asshole.”
“Wow, that’s pretty bad if Tanigaki is talking trash about him,” Sugimoto’s eyes widened slightly thinking about what the man must have done to make the world’s biggest and strongest teddy bear angry.
“That’s what I’m saying. I dropped a plate of spaghetti on his brand-new white sneakers once and he just smiled and apologized to me,” Shirashi snorted.
“I personally would have beat your ass with the plate of spaghetti, but Tanigaki is different I guess,” Sugimoto pushed his chair away from the table so he could get up.
“Yeah, he’s actually a decent guy. He’s super strong and super nice too,” Shiraishi said,” He also gives the best hugs. You can’t compete.”
“I didn’t think it was a competition.”
Shirashi snorted and side-eyed his best friend,“ It’s always a competition for you.”
Sugimoto started to regret skipping lunch when his stomach started to growl, and his head started swimming. If he went to the hospital now, he could stop at a fine fast food establishment and pick up a greasy burger on his way.
“I’m going to the hospital now!” Sugimoto yelled from the doorway, which was unnecessary because Shiraishi was surprisingly right behind him.
Shiraishi wiggled his toes, “It’s raining. Flipflop weather.”
“I don’t-“ Suigmoto stopped himself from arguing with his roommate about this. If Shirashi wanted to freeze his toes off by going out in hideous flipflops in the middle of winter when it’s raining, that’s his business. Sugimoto would not be listening to Shiraishi’s complaining later though. “Have fun with that, dude.”
“Thanks, I will,” Shiraishi gave him a dumb smile and double thumbs up then walked out ahead of him. His feet instantly got soaked when he exited the apartment complex and stepped in a water puddle. His feet squelched as he slid around in his wet flipflops. The scene disturbed Sugimoto to the core, but he refrained from commenting on it. After all, Shiraishi was allowing him to use his car again after everything that happened.
Do men buy each other flowers? Would it be weird if he showed up to the hospital room with a bouquet of fresh flowers? He imaged all of the romcoms he’s seen on tv and how delighted the women were when the man showed up with a bouquet of flowers. Life is basically a movie, so fuck it. He grabbed a bouquet of roses because he didn’t know any better than to buy red roses for a man he didn’t know past the fact that he ran him over with his roommate’s car.
He started to second guess himself as he set the flowers on the counter and looked at the bored cashier. Maybe this girl with heavy kohl eyeliner, chipped black fingernail polish, and an emo band tee mostly hidden by their work assigned apron would know.
“Is it gay to buy flowers for another man?” Sugimoto blurted out.
“I’d say so,” the florist said hesitantly.
“What if I ran him over with my car?” Sugimoto added.
“Sir, I don’t know what you want me to say,” the cashier looked uncomfortable. Maybe Sugimoto was being a little intense as he leaned against the counter, gripping the edge with his hands until his knuckles turned white.
He released his death grip on the counter and rubbed the back of his neck, “Oh sorry, I’m just nervous. I’ve never done this before.”
“Never been on a date?” the cashier asked, not seeming too interested in the conversation now.
“It’s not a date. It’s my first time buying flowers for a man I almost killed,” Sugimoto corrected her a little too proudly.
“Oh, uh,” the cashier handed Sugimoto his change and smiled slightly,” Good luck with that?”
Sugimoto pocketed his change and headed for the door, “Thanks!”
“I’m here to visit Ogata,” he said shyly and adjusted his grip on the bouquet of flowers.
“Oh, non-relatives aren’t allowed to visit currently,” the nurse said sadly. Sugimoto wondered why, but didn’t verbally question it because he didn’t want to sound like an idiot because he didn’t know how hospitals work.
“Uhhh,” he tried to think of a way to get past the rule,” I’m his husband.”
The nurse looked shocked,” Oh! I apologize, Mr. Ogata! I didn’t realize somebody would marry him. I mean... I didn’t realize he was married.”
“Most people don’t know, but he’s my sweet little kitty cat meow meow meow. I love him so much,” Sugimoto lied through his teeth. He was really trying to sell this lie. He’s a terrible liar, but the nurse went with it. Maybe she actually just thought he was a weird gay dude there to see his bitchy husband who terrorized the hospital staff nonstop, but Sugimoto was paranoid that she knew he wasn’t actually related to Ogata in any way.
“Who are you?” Ogata barely had the strength to open his eyes. The small glimpse he managed to get of the man before him was not disappointing though. Hopefully he was the hot new nurse here to change his catheter. Ogata’s eyes fluttered open to get a better look at the man and he realized the man was dressed too poorly to be a nurse, maybe he was the janitor.
“Sugimoto Saichi,” Sugimoto cleared his throat as he stepped further into the room.
“I didn’t ask your name, I asked who you are,” Ogata snapped, using his remaining energy,” How did you get back here?”
“Oh, I’m your husband. Or at least that’s what I told the nurse. I’m actually just the guy who ran you over.”
He was no longer attractive to Ogata.
“Just the guy who ran me over?” he said incredulously, “I should sue you for everything you have.”
Sugimoto thought of his net worth and decided it would be more embarrassing if the man knew how little assets he actually owned than if he took all of Sugimoto’s things. “All I have is the welcome mat in front of Shiraishi’s apartment and like $7.35 in my bank account.”
“Fine, I’ll take your shitty car. Maybe I could sell it for scrap. Do you know the current scrap prices?” Ogata stared aggressively at Sugimoto, making him shrink away.
“It’s actually my roommate’s car. He let me borrow it.”
“You don’t even own a car?” Ogata closed his eyes in frustration, “How old are you?”
“24,” Sugimoto pouted,” I’ve been saving my money to buy one, but then my ps4 exploded and I had to buy a new one. I didn’t want to buy an old model when the new console just came out, so I bought the PS5 instead. Long story short, I overpaid.”
“What you’re telling me is that if I took you to court, it would cost me more in fees than I would even come close to getting from you?”
“Yeah, that sounds about right,” Sugimoto nodded.
“At least explain how the hell you didn’t see me crossing the street?” He wasn’t at a crosswalk when he crossed the street because fuck the law, but that still didn’t mean he deserved to get ran over. Well, he did technically deserve to get ran over, but that’s a different story.
“How didn’t you see me coming towards you?” Sugimoto argued poorly.
“I sure as hell didn’t see you coming, I heard you coming. It was too late though because your dumbass drove over me like a speed bump.”
“I was texting,” Sugimoto lied.
“You can’t text and drive simultaneously?” Ogata scoffed. He always texted while he was driving, he just never ran anyone over while doing it. Sure, he would swerve into the other lane fairly often, but he also did that when he drove while intoxicated.
“No, I guess you’re proof that I’m not that talented,” Sugimoto chuckled slightly.
“I’m tired. Leave,” Ogata finally said. He wanted the torture to end.
Sugimoto nodded sadly, “See you when you get out of the hospital?”
Ogata didn’t respond, he just closed his eyes and pretended to sleep. Sugimoto wrote his number on a napkin and placed it gingerly on the bedstand next to Ogata’s hospital bed.
“Bye, Mr. Ogata!” the nurse said cheerfully as he walked out, “Hopefully he’ll be in a better mood now that you visited him.”
“Hopefully,” Sugimoto’s laugh was tinged with uncertainty as he scurried away and left the hospital.
“Shiraishi, man,” Sugimoto plopped down on the couch on top of his best friend/roommate, who was eating a bag of chips and playing video games, “You suck at this.” Sugimoto snatched the bag away, rummaging around with his dirty paws until he found some crumbs in the bottom corner of the bag. He tossed his head back and emptied the crumbs into his mouth. “They’re stale,” he frowned, “Also, what flavor is this supposed to be?”
“Don’t know, can’t read,” Shiraishi continued to focus on his game.
Sugimoto turned the bag around. The words were in a different language, one he didn’t understand, “Where did you get these?”
“You know that guy I work with?”
“The middle-aged dude who acts like a 12 year old horse girl?”
“The one that’s Russian and really good at gaming,” Shiraishi yawned.
“So, these are Russian chips?”
“I don’t know,” Shiraishi shrugged.
“Well he’s Russian so I assumed-“
“Just because he’s Russian doesn’t mean the chips are,” Shiraishi said pointedly.
“It would make sense though,” Sugimoto argued.
Shiraishi could tell this was about to turn into another stupid argument about absolutely nothing between them. Then they’d get drunk and be best friends again within hours. Sugimoto never surrendered when it came to these arguments, even if he realized he was wrong in the end. Shiraishi usually had to try to change the topic and hope Sugimoto’s ADHD would kick in and he’d fall for it.
“So how was your date today?” Shiraishi asked.
“What date? I went to see the asshole I ran over,” Sugimoto was still seething from the Russian chips argument that Shirashi ended too soon.
“Oh, I thought it was a date. He wasn’t cool about the whole thing?” he stood up and walked to the refrigerator in the kitchen they rarely cooked in.
“I almost killed him so of course he was in a bad mood and wasn’t cool about the whole thing, but still, did he have to be in that bad of a mood?” Sugimoto complained,” I think if we would have met during different circumstances, we could have been bros.” Sugimoto thought they could have gone to the gym and he could have impressed Ogata with how much he can deadlift.
“He’s hot?” Shiraishi said without the faintest shred of interest in the conversation as he rummaged through the various questionably dated takeout containers. Food was his top priority currently.
“Yeah,” Sugimoto hung his head in shame,” Like, really hot.”
“So, he’s out of your league,” Shiraishi pulled out a container and sniffed it.
“I didn’t say that. Anyways, I invited him over when he gets out of the hospital so we can settle the matter.”
“If you two hate fuck, do it quietly. It’s embarrassing when the guys can hear you moaning in the background while I’m voice chatting during a game. Asirpa asked last time what the sound was and Kiroranke freaked out. That guy is way too serious.” Shirashi often played games online with his older coworker and the middle schooler they were neighbors with.
“I’ll try to remember that for Asirpa’s sake.”
Shirashi ended up eating the takeout he found. He later had a near death experience with food poisoning and Sugimoto just laughed at his pain.
Sugimoto made sure he had condoms and lube, just in case. It’s been a while since he got laid. There just seemed to be something about him being broke and not having his own car that turned guys off, so he would take advantage of it if the opportunity to fuck came up.
He had invited Ogata over with a little more on his mind than reconciling by talking things out. He doubted trying to talk things out would be something Ogata would be into anyways.
Ogata pulled up in a sleek, extremely expensive sports car. He knew it would impress Sugimoto, who never got to experience the finer things in life because he was poor. Ogata wanted to rub his faux wealth in Sugimoto’s face. In reality, the car wasn’t his. He didn’t even own a car, he usually walked everywhere he needed to go. It was his brother’s car that he “borrowed” without asking. His brother wouldn’t mind Ogata borrowing his car if he asked, but Ogata didn’t want his permission. Sugimoto was very impressed by the expensive car, making his infatuation with Ogata grow.
Ogata stepped into Sugimoto and Shiraishi’s apartment and scowled,” You live like this? You really are poor.”
Sugimoto frowned, but tried his best to still be a good host, “Do you want anything to drink?”
“I’m afraid I might get lead poisoning or something from the water,” Ogata mumbled and made his way to the kitchen to further judge Sugimoto’s living conditions.
“Condoms and lube?” Ogata dug through the shopping bag on the counter as Sugimoto rummaged around in the refrigerator for the least cheap beer he had. Kiroranke had forgotten some decent beer at their place once, and Sugimoto was saving it for special occasions like this.
Sugimoto snatched the shopping bag away and lied, “That’s my roommates!” Once again, Sugimoto is a terrible liar.
“Oh,” Ogata acted disappointed,” What a shame.”
Sugimoto fumbled with his words, “Well, if you want, I don’t think he’ll mind if I take some… If you want.”
“You plan to borrow condoms and lube from your roommate?”
“It’s not weird,” Sugimoto defended himself.
“Mmmm it is weird,” Ogata leaned into Sugimoto’s personal space,” I like weird though.”
“I’ll go get ready,” Sugimoto lingered awkwardly in the entrance of the hallway, looking expectantly at Ogata.
Ogata gave him a saccharine smile, “Take your time.”
When Sugimoto went to the bathroom, Ogata stood up from the couch and silently made his way over to where the brand new PS5 sat on the dirty ground. He yanked the cords out and tucked the console under his arm. Before he exited the tiny apartment, he grabbed the car keys from the hook next to the door and threw them out. A genuine smile crossed his face when he imagined Sugimoto searching for the keys. Technically he could say he didn’t steal the keys this way.