This is a translation of a Japanese novel. You can read the Raw here.
This is a work of fiction, with depictions of violence such as death of many people at a time. It is not suitable for readers under 15.
Chapter 10 is here!
I’ve officially moved countries, which means different week-ends, which means I’ll post on saturdays and sundays from now on.
Please consider supporting the novel on Patreon.
Anyway, here’s is Chapter 10, I hope you’ll enjoy it!
Chapter 10: The Siblings’ Scam
My fourth day in Lagos .
On our way back home, the car that took Ichikawa and I to and from work suddenly hit something at an intersection, close to our workplace in the Yaba district. The hit made a dull and heavy sound, and our driver was forced to stop the car.
That ‘something’ didn’t hit the car’s front bumper. It hit the hood of the car and then fell off.
Looking a little troubled by the situation, the middle-aged driver clicked his tongue and stepped out of the car to check what that ‘something’ was, without forgetting to urge us to be careful and stay inside.
Ichikawa and I looked at each other for a moment, and then, we both burst out laughing.
“Did you… Did you see it?”
“Y-…Yeah, I did. How do I say this…”
“Yeah… How should I say this…”
The ‘something’ that hit the car was a young man, a car accident scammer. The thing is that, at the moment of impact, the young man looked ridiculously scared. The teary-eyed look that followed as he somehow overcame his cold feet and bumped into the car ended up making the whole scene seem hilarious.
Even though we were technically the guilty party in a traffic accident, we were holding our bellies laughing at the sight of his facial expressions.
The morons who try to do accident scams on the highway are the equivalent of those elderly people in Japan who seem to just love driving against traffic.
In normal countries, these types of scams usually happen in places where the speed of trafic is relatively low, like at intersections, near trafic lights, in parking lots, etc…
That’s why the young man jumped on our car at a place where we had to drive pretty slow.
While watching us die of laughter in our car, a woman came rushing over to the young man, who was holding his chest on the ground, and started shouting.
“My brother Lucas! This is horrible! My big brother was hit by a car!”
“It hurts! It hurts so much! My bones are broken! Damn it, why-… Even though I finally got a job the other day, I’m going to get fired now! Uh… Charlotte, sister, forgive me…”
“Aah, my poor brother! How are we going to survive from now on?!”
“It hurts, sister! It won’t stop hurting!”
“Brother! Someone! Anyone! Please help my brother! Please!!”
I guess they have a script. They deserve some praise, they’re pretty well coordinated with each other.
It’s hard to believe this is the same young man who jumped so clumsily on the car.
As for the woman who was crying out about her brother Lucas, she was talking about something with our driver. The driver was firmly standing his ground and showed no sign of being willing to give money to her ‘poor brother Lucas’.
Of course he didn’t. If he had to pay for every scammer that came his way, he’d go bankrupt in three days.
“Hmm, that ‘brother Lucas’ sure is hanging in there.”
Looking bored, Ichikawa was watching Lucas, who was still pretending to be hurt.
Taking Japanese people as a reference, I’d say Lucas is about 27 or 28 years. He looks Caucasian, but he also seems to have some mixed blood of other races. His hair is chestnut brown, and he’s about 5’11” feet tall (1m80). He’s big but lanky, which makes him seem like more of a brain than brawl kind of guy. He doesn’t look like the type to go for these sorts of scams.
“Miss Charlotte’s acting is pretty good, too…”
I answered Ichikawa, feeling similarly bored and uninterested.
Unlike her brother, Charlotte’s skin is completely white. She does have a brown tan from the Nigerian sun, but her deeply-carved facial features and her small pupils look very characteristic of Caucasians. She seems to be as tall or maybe a little taller than Ichikawa. Like Lucas, she also seems a bit skinny. They probably don’t get to eat enough.
I can’t tell how hold she is, but she’s probably younger than Lucas.
“Oh, Kageyama, is she your type?”
Ichikawa decided to mess with me to relieve her boredom.
“Nah, no way. Maybe she’s a precious gem that just needs to be polished to really shine, but I don’t have any cloth or skin to polish it with, you know what I mean? What about you, Ichikawa? What do you think of her brother?”
“Well, he might have earned a few points in my eyes if he had glasses. I guess I’d say he looks kind of good for someone doing accident scams?”
I bet the glasses guys back in Japan would have gone crazy if they heard what Ichikawa just said. I’m also just finding out that Ichikawa has a thing for glasses. I wonder if I should wear some, too.
A bit after our little talk, our driver came back and knocked on the back-window on my side of the car. He looks troubled still.
I pressed the ‘open’ button in front of me to open my window and talk to him.
“Hey, what’s taking so long?”
“Boss, it’s alright, these guys are just car accident scammers. But they’re saying they won’t move if they don’t get to talk to you. Should I force them out of the way?”
Thanks to Charlotte’s passionate acting, some curious onlookers have gathered in the surroundings.
“Look, what’s going on over there?”
“Help! My brother was run over by a car!”
“Oh damn, that’s serious.”
This is bad. These onlookers didn’t see Lucas’ comical acting and his awkward bump with the car. They’ll probably say that some Japanese people ran over someone with a car, then they started laughing, hurt the victims to force them out of their way, and proceeded to escape.
Wait, no, it definitely looks like the onlookers know exactly what’s going but are still siding with the scammers.
“I see. No need to force them out of the way. I’ll talk to them.”
“I’m sorry about this. Please go ahead. But don’t give money to these kinds of people, boss. You should just say whatever works to send them away. “
“I know. I didn’t slack off on my crisis management training, I’ll be fine.”
“I’ll leave it to you then.”
The driver called out to Lucas and then pointed at me. The facial expression Lucas was putting on up to now made him look almost like a hoodlum, but when he came towards here, his face suddenly straightened up, as he put his hand on his chest and bowed down. Then, he started talking to me from across the car’s door while I stayed inside.
Oh, that’s Chinese.
Most Asian people in this area are Chinese. He must have assumed we were, too.
“I’m from Japan. I don’t speak Chinese. Lucas, was it? Can you speak English?”
“Oh, you’re Japanese? Okay, whatever. If English’s okay, I’ll speak to you in English.”
Man, this guy is acting way too familiar with me.
Also, he looks too giddy, like he just found the opportunity of a lifetime.
“But if you want to speak in Japanese, that works for me, too, I guess.”
“My Japanese is a bit clumsy though” added Lucas, in Japanese this time, with a complicated expression on his face.
This made him look like one of those so-called ‘tsundere’ girls, who hide their soft side under a tough front.
But tsunderes aren’t my type.
“You can speak Japanese?!”
Surprised, Ichikawa moved from her seat to my window. Her body was coming very close to me.
Wait, hold on, Ichikawa! You’re way too close right now!
“My mother was Japanese, so I can handle Japanese in ordinary conversations. That brought back painful memories. Gimme some money, please.”
I see. So his non-Caucasian blood is from the same country as me? He must have complicated circumstances.
“I can’t give you money. I think you already know why.
Also, if you’re a local and can speak Japanese, you could probably find plenty of Japanese companies more than willing to give you a job. Why bother with accident scams?”
I went for a classic question on this one. I’d say I’m doing pretty well.
“Japanese companies are bad at making money here. Many of them come here only to leave the country after a short while. Also, I’m still a university student. I can’t work full-time. “
Lucas’ Japanese makes him sound somewhat like a child. He probably didn’t get to speak to any Japanese person after he grew up.
Still, he said he’s a university student…? He doesn’t seem like it at all…
“You’re a university student? At which university? Which department?”
“I’m at the university of Nigeria’s Enugu campus. As for my department, I’m in their faculty of medicine. Right now, I’m doing some research for my PHD at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research.”
Lucas showed me his student ID and the ID he uses to enter the NIMR. I took out my smartphone and checked on Wikipedia, and the university of Nigeria is apparently the place where the greatest students of the country gather. They have a faculty of medicine there.
So he’s a great student, at a graduate level, and he can speak Japanese. I might have hit the jackpot.
“I just saw on the internet that your university’s motto is ‘To Restore the Dignity of Man’, but I’m pretty sure faking accidents is not the most dignified thing out there.”
I tried using a little bit of sarcasm to see if his Japanese is good enough for him to notice it. I also want to know if he understands slightly complicated words like ‘dignified’.
“…Don’t use difficult words, okay? I haven’t spoken Japanese in a long time.”
Too bad. Still, since he’s already got the basics down, it’s possible to build upon that. For now, if I don’t keep my Japanese as simple as possible, it might be difficult for us to understand each other.
Then again, I can’t use complicated English either, so I’m not one to talk…
“So, Lucas, why go for car accident scams?”
“I wanted money that I could use right away.”
Lucas let go of his fake, forced smile, and answered with a serious face.
“That explanation isn’t enough. Give me some more details.”
“My dad died, and his shop was taken over by some Chinese person.
After that, some bad guys took every single thing we had, saying they were collecting my dad’s debts.
We also got kicked out of our appartement, and we have no place left to live.
As a university student, I do get enough money from the country to take care of myself, but I need to take care of Charlotte, too…”
Oh, I guess you can find these kinds of stories all over the world…
Charlotte must especially stand out in this country. She would probably catch the eyes of those ‘bad guys’. Looking closer at her, she’s a very beautiful woman. And she could probably become even more beautiful if she ate properly. Maybe they were aiming specifically for her when they took over their dad’s shop.
Or maybe I’m just thinking too much.
After all that happened, I’m guessing Lucas, who was pampered and did not know the harsh ways of the world, had to go out there, and ended up becoming a car accident scammer.
“I get the picture. Then, Lucas, you’re invited to have dinner with me at my place, and you can bring Charlotte along. You can tell me more details there. Here is my address. Can you come now?”
I wrote my current address straight from memory on a post-it, and handed it to Lucas. I’ve written this address on so many different registrations and applications over the last few days that I perfectly remember it.
“Yes. it’s alright. There should be a bus that will take us there right now. I also have just enough money to pay for the tickets.”
Lucas showed a smile of relief, and Charlotte, in the back, struck a triumphant pose.
As for the surrounding onlookers…
“Oooh, these two seem clueless but it looks like they did well!”
“I’m going to jump on that car tomorrow, too!”
“Wait don’t, that car’s mine”
“No way, it’s mine”
I’m hearing some disturbing conversations around me.
“Boss, you were apparently talking to them in Japanese so I didn’t catch any of that, but did you promise to give them money or something?”
The driver spoke with a big frown on his face and understandably so, since this clearly looks like it’s going to hinder his job from tomorrow on.
“No, I didn’t say I’d give them money. Don’t worry, old man. We’re gonna make a bit of a scene right now and fix that up. Lucas, Charlotte, you’re in?”
I gave the driver and siblings some lines that I came up with on the spot, and I then closed my window while giving them the finger. The closing of the window is the start signal I gave them.
Lukas and Charlotte passionately began playing out the small scene I came up with.
Although he was more reluctant about it, the driver also played along.
“What the hell is your problem! So you’re not gonna pay me after all?! So I’ve been flattering you for nothing, you stingy bastard?!”
Lucas roared at me. Then, he kicked the rubber part of my tire while yelling insults in English. Each time the tire was kicked, the driver’s eyebrows twitched a bit.
“Ughhh, and here I was thinking this went well! Damn it! Damn it all!”
Charlotte looked up at the sky while holding her head and then crumbled down to the ground. Such great acting.
“Don’t you dare get involved with my boss ever again! Now you better get out of my way quick!”
Old man, you didn’t have to read the line so monotonously. But it’s okay. That line is so cliche that it carries enough power to work by itself, even with that poor delivery.
The onlookers who witnessed the scene had the same reactions overall. ‘Seriously? What a let down.’ ‘So it was a failure after all?’.
Then they stepped away from the siblings one after the other.
“Just gimme a break, boss… that was too much…”
While grumbling a little, the driver started the car again. Looking at Charlotte and Lucas head towards a bus stop in the distance, I grinned to myself.
“Are you serious about this?”
Ichikawa was perplexed. For the rest of our drive home, she kept pressing me and flooding me with her insecurities. ‘Hey, isn’t this dangerous? Are you sure it’s alright? Aren’t you being too careless? My house is right next to yours, remember?”
That’s not quite like the Ichikawa I know. She’s usually full of confidence. I don’t know, maybe it’s normal for some people to become that uneasy when they’re in a foreign country, outside their element?
“I have a plan, alright?”
I eventually snappishly answered Ichikawa.