Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino

Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino

Author:Natsuo Kirino
Language: eng
Format: epub, mobi
ISBN: 9781400096596
Publisher: Random House, Inc.

Zhang Zhezhong

2 8 8

S I X • F E R M E N T A T I O N A N D D E C AY

• 1 •

was so determined to attend the first public hearing in the Apartment Serial Murders trial that I asked to take a leave from my job at the ward office. Do you find that surprising? The courtroom looked like any other courtroom, but it was the largest one in the courthouse, and I was astounded to learn that they had had to dispense spectator tickets by lottery to those who wanted to view the proceedings. Nearly two hundred people lined up for a chance at a ticket. That just goes to show you how fascinated people were with Yuriko and Kazue. A lot of reporters and people from the media came to cover the case, but I heard they wouldn’t let the cameras in. When I asked my boss to let me have the time off, his lips twitched. I knew he was dying to ask me about it.

Earlier, I noted that I had absolutely no interest in whether or not that Chinese man named Zhang had actually murdered Yuriko and Kazue. I still feel the same way. I mean, those two were streetwalkers. They met freaks and perverts all the time. They had to know they might be killed if they weren’t lucky; it was precisely because they knew this, I assume, that they found what they did so thrilling. Moving from customer to customer, never knowing if this day might be their last; when they left 2 8 9


home, they couldn’t be sure that they’d ever return. And then when the night was done and they did make it home in one piece, they must have felt such relief as they counted the money they’d earned. Whatever danger they might have faced, that night and others, they stored away in their memory to draw on again and again as they learned to survive by their wits.

The reason I went to court in the first place was because I had read the copy of Zhang’s deposition that Detective Takahashi gave me. “My Crimes,” he titled it. What a ridiculously long and tedious piece of work.

Zhang goes on and on about completely irrelevant matters: the hardships he faced in China, all the things his darling little sister did, and so on. I skipped over most of it.

But throughout the report Zhang repeatedly refers to himself as “smart and attractive,” noting at one point that he looks like Takashi Kashiwabara. When I read this I began to feel curious about what kind of man he was. According to Zhang, on the day he killed her, Yuriko told him, “You have a nice face.” All her life, Yuriko was praised for her own beauty. If she thought Zhang had a nice face, I had to get a look at him.

You see, I’ve never been able to forget little Yuriko, back in the mountain cabin, snuggling up to Johnson’s knees.


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