“Prisoner 259360,” pointed the supervisor of the guards, Kudo Fuyuki, of the Tokyo Metropolitan Correctional Facility as he stopped in front of cell 11. He was walking his newest recruit, a young, muscular guard in his mid-twenties by the name of Morishige, through cell block 5.
“259360…” Morishige checked his clipboard roster.
“Ohno Satoshi,” Kudo said staring at the sullen man sitting with his back leaning against the wall, hugging his knees as he faced the opposite wall. The cell was lined with tatami mats, contained a futon, toilet, sink, a cushion to sit on, and a small bookshelf anchored to the floor filled with notebooks.
“Ohno Satoshi,” repeated Morishige. “What’s he in for?”
“The violent murder of his lover,” Kudo replied, his eyes narrowing into slits as he peered into the barred cell. “Ohno,” he called to the prisoner.
The prisoner slowly turned to the barred door. Morishige could see that he was thin and worn out from being incarcerated. He did not appear to be a criminal, much less dangerous.
“Ohno, this is Morishige. He’s going to be in charge of cell block 5, 6 and 7,” Kudo explained. “Behave yourself for him."
Ohno nodded and then turned back to face his wall.
“I guess you really can’t judge a book by its cover,” Morishige mumbled to himself.
“He hasn’t spoken since he’s been incarcerated,” Kudo continued. “We think that he talks to his therapist during his one-to-one sessions, but his therapist has never confirmed or denied this. Ohno is fairly docile and compliant. A model prisoner considering he’s on death row.”
“He’s on death row?!” Morishige gasped in surprise.
“Yes, the trial was all over the news 9 years ago and the prosecutor’s office was very keen to make an example of him. He used to be a famous artist,” Kudo shook his head in disappointment. “But even the rich and famous are not above the law. That’s why the judge at the time gave him the death penalty. But of all the prisoners in cell block 5—and remember, everyone in cell block 5 is on death row—he’s the one you probably don’t need to worry about. He won’t say a word to you, so if you have any questions, ask them in a format that he can nod or point. During his free time, he will bring his notebook out and draw. The little money he makes here working he will spend only on buying new notebooks.”
“Notebooks?” Morishige asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Notebooks,” confirmed Kudo, moving them along towards the next cell block. “When the others are writing letters or journaling for their therapy, Ohno only draws. You don’t have to worry about him stealing the supplies or hurting himself or others. He will just borrow a pencil and draw during the time that he has access to pencils. The other prisoners will stay away from him for the most part. They say that Ohno gives them the creeps.”
“The creeps, sir?”
“Not my words, theirs. They say that Ohno’s eyes are dead and he doesn’t have any fear towards anyone or anything. The fact that he doesn’t ever talk is eerie and while they don’t mind doing chores or working with him, they say they can’t figure out what he is thinking—Hold on. I’m getting a call.”
Kudo touched his earpiece to answer the call. “Kudo here…yes, alright.” Kudo put his hand down to his side and turned to Morishige. “You have your first escort job.”
Kudo led them back to Ohno’s cell.
“Ohno, you got a visitor,” Kudo called. “It’s Sakurai-san.”
Ohno stood up and walked over to the barred cell door. Kudo placed his palm over the touch pad and the bars slid down to make way for a small opening in the middle of the door. Ohno placed his hands at the opening and Kudo handcuffed his wrists. Once he was satisfied that Ohno was secured, he touched his earpiece.
“This is Kudo. Open cell 11,” he ordered.
Ohno stepped back and pulled his hands back just in time for the door to his cell to slide open.
“Morishige, escort him to visitor room 14,” Kudo directed as Ohno walked out and stood outside his cell awaiting instruction. “Close cell 11.”
“Sakurai Sho, here to see Ohno Satoshi,” Talent and financial manager/agent Sakurai Sho took out his driver’s license and handed it to the clerk. While the female clerk checked his license, Sho wrote his name on the log.
“Go ahead. Interrogation room 14,” she said without emotion, handing his driver’s license back, unfazed by the rather handsome gentleman in the suit before her.
Sho bowed and walked down the long quiet corridor that echoed the sound of his shoes tapping the tiled floor. He opened the door and saw a sleepy-eyed short man sitting on an uncomfortable squeaky folding chair in a sterile white room separated by a clear plexiglass. The man was looking down but acknowledged Sho’s presence when he looked up.
“Hey,” Sho waved, sitting down on the other side of the plexiglass.
The short man nodded in acknowledgment. He brought his hands up to his forehead to brush his outgrown bangs out of his face and Sho could see that as usual, he was handcuffed at the wrists.
“How are things going? You feeling okay?” Sho asked, opening his briefcase.
Ohno shrugged and nodded twice.
“Umm, so I don’t know if you heard, but your lawyer, Yazaki-sensei, passed away yesterday,” Sho pulled out a newspaper clipping that was protected in a clear file and placed it against the glass partition.
The man’s eyes widened slightly in surprise, the most emotion he had displayed in recent years, and he leaned in to look at the article.
“He was on a business trip in Nagoya when he suddenly collapsed,” Sho explained. “He had an underlying condition, but it was supposed to be under control. He didn’t make it to the hospital in time.”
Ohno’s face contorted in what Sho could only begin to deduce as a complex set of emotions.
“Would you like me to send condolences to his family on your behalf?” Sho offered, knowing full well that Ohno would not speak. His friend and client had not spoken a word since he had been incarcerated.
Looking down, Ohno nodded.
“Very well. I’ll do that as soon as I get back to the office,” Sho confirmed. “Also about your case…”
Ohno focused his attention back towards the man in front of him, but instead of giving him eye contact, he simply stared at the door behind Sho that represented freedom.
“I received a call from Yazaki-sensei’s law office and they sent me a list of recommendations and some referrals to other law firms that might be able to take on your case. May I have your permission to contact them?”
“Very well, I’ll work on this today,” Sho stood up and placed the article back into his briefcase.
Ohno knocked on the glass as Sho closed his briefcase and began to take his leave.
“Yes?” Sho looked back to see Ohno had risen. Ohno bowed and then turned to knock back on his own door to signal that he was done with his business.