Population Control – Chapter 12
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 12 is here!
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Anyway, here’s is Chapter 12, I hope you’ll enjoy it!
Chapter 12: So delicious!
While I was preparing dinner, I thought of those three gold bars I made from plaster.
The gold bars have been working great. It’s been two days and two nights since I put my plan into action, but the shootings are still happening here and there. The number of lives lost in the process must be huge.
This reminds me of a small matter from about a year ago. I was the defendant in a civil suit.
Back in the old days, my grandfather and two of his friends lent some money at no interest to a man who lived in the depths of the Yamanashi prefecture. While they didn’t take any interest, they did take the man’s land as mortgage. The man was not able to pay them back, but for some reason, my grandfather and his friends didn’t take the land, and his debt ended up reaching the statute of limitations.
Nearly a century later, I got a letter from some lawyer I’d never met. The letter said he was going to remove the mortgage on that land, and that I’d be heard out in court if I had a complaint about it. There were 240 names on that letter, along with just about as many addresses. This was a list of the heirs of my grandfather and his two friends.
I ignored the letter because I had no complaints, but I did get something else from that story.
‘In 100 years, 3 people turned into 240 people.’
And that’s with two world wars in between.
From what I’ve seen in the news, the gold bars have caused at least 40 deaths so far. It might be a bit of a stretch, but thinking about the impact of this over a century, I’ve basically reduced the world’s future population by 3200 people.
But I can’t use this method forever. Once these disputes blow over, they might settle on a rule that says “For now, if you find a gold bar of unknown origins, you have to pass it to the local boss”, or something to that effect.
There might also be some guys looking for the original owner of the sports-bag where the gold bars were first found.
But I’ve already come up with a simple way to make the conflicts last a little longer, and take some more lives, without having to deal with any kind of mess.
For that, I’ll need some locals to cooperate with me.
“Kageyama, you’ve got a wicked look on your face right now.”
Ichikawa, who came to help me out, did not have good things to say when she saw my face.
“Good evening, mister Kageyama. It’s me, Lucas. I am very thankful for your invitation.”
In order to pass through our combo of a communal entrance and a security gate, Lucas tried to sound as nice and clean as he possibly could when he spoke in the intercom camera.
I opened the gate while holding myself back from bursting out laughing, and I invited him and his sister to come in through the intercom.
They arrived at my place about 2 or 3 minutes later. Lucas and Charlotte were dressed the same way as before. Lucas was wearing a Hawaiian-type shirt and shorts that reached his knees. Both items had a southern feel to them. As for Charlotte, she was wearing a black sleeveless shirt that showed her belly button, and a pair of scants, which is a sort of mix between pants and a skirt.
“Good thing you found your way here. Come in. Oh, and, take off your shoes over there, you can wear these slippers instead. This is a Japanese custom. You see, for us, the floor inside our home is the same as our bed.”
“It was the same back in my house. I heard this was the one thing my mom absolutely refused to budge on.”
Lucas removed his shoes a little cheerfully, and Charlotte followed suit.
“The bus stop is around 2 miles (3km) from here, right? That must have been a long walk. Take a sit on the sofa for now. I’ll bring you some cold drinks.”
“Thank you. To be honest, my throat does feel pretty dry.”
“How about some beers? I heard you have good beers here in Nigeria, but Japanese beers are pretty good, too.”
“Thanks, but I’ll pass. Tomorrow, I’ll have to get back to my research and experiments. Even tonight, I have to plan some stuff out for tomorrow’s experiments. I can’t afford to get drunk.”
I took the siblings to my living room and brought them cold Cola and some chocolates from Japan.
“Charlotte, I’m happy to see that you came to. Welcome to my home.”
“T….thaink you veiry much.”
Hmm. Looks like Charlotte’s Japanese is not great.
“Lucas, you said you’ll get back to your experiments and research tomorrow. Does that mean you’ll no longer try to scam people?”
“Yes… When I saw you guys burst out laughing in the car, I felt like I might not have the talent to scam people. I do think Charlotte is an amazing scammer but…”
Charlotte lightly hit Lucas over his head for this compliment that wasn’t really a compliment.
I see, she can at least understand Japanese conversations.
“Everyone, the rice is ready!”
Ichikawa called us from the dining room. Since I was busy with receiving the siblings, Ichikawa helped me set up the table. Today’s long-awaited menu is a Japanese-style curry, and a salad.
I’ve thought about this long and hard, and in the end, I feel like it’s too early to try to make difficult local dishes like pounded yam or the like. And so, to make up for not making them pepper soup, I went for some spicy Japanese curry instead.
By the way, all the dishes were made by me. In every sense, tonight’s dinner is my personal treat.
“You have some pretty atypical furniture here.”
Lukas looked around the room with interest. Atypical? Of course it is, I spent the money I made in the summer jumbo lottery to make my place look as Japanese as I could. Because of this, I had to take a lot of Japanese goods with me.
The company allowed the employees to transport 100kg of luggage for free, but since I chose to pay for myself, I was able to bring close to 500kg with me. Those 500kg of goods were all made by Japanese manufacturers, and they include some furniture, home appliances, and even washlets and toilet paper. The current interior design is still the same as Ichikawa’s, but I’m also planning to change that eventually.
Speaking of Ichikawa, thanks to this ‘Japanisation’ of my room, she’s been coming every evening to have meals made from Japanese ingredients. She’s still not used to the local cuisine.
Anyway, today’s curry is also made partly from Japanese ingredients.
By the way, since Ichikawa eats here all the time, she’s keeping almost all of her kitchen utensils, plates and cups in my appartement. I bet this would be one hell of a bitter pill to swallow for her ‘fans’ in Japan if they were to find out.
Lukas and Charlotte each put both of their hands together, saying ‘Itadakimasu’, and then picked up their spoons. ‘Itadakimasu’ is sort of the Japanese equivalent of the french ‘Bon appétit’. They both seem to be well versed in Japanese etiquette.
“This is curry, isn’t it? It’s my first time eating it. The flavor is a bit unfamiliar but it’s delicious!”
“It’s so delicious!”
Charlotte spoke in English this time. Then, she proceeded to take one bowl…. then two bowls… then three bowls… Rather than the curry being delicious, I think it’s she’s just very hungry. Was their walk here that tiring?
“I’m glad you like it. And I can see Charlotte is enjoying it, too. Say, what kind of Japanese dishes did your mom used to make? I’ll have Ichikawa practice making it. Who knows, maybe she’ll actually cook something next time.”
“Heh, I’m kidding, relax.”
Ichikawa looked at me with murderous eyes.
“Are you guys lovers? Do Japanese companies send lovers together when they dispatch them overseas? That sounds fun.”
“Yes, your joke sounds very fun indeed.”
Ichikawa turned her murderous eyes towards Lucas this time. Charlotte was about to take a third bowl of curry, but maybe because she felt that killing intent, she quietly retracted her hand before she could reach her wooden spoon.
Our dinner lasted until the rice inside the rice cooker completely ran out. I put almost 5 pounds of rice in there (2.4kg) and it’s all gone. Nigerian appetites can be frightening.
During the meal, the siblings talked about the circumstances that led to them having a mix of Japanese and English in their environment.
I found out about how Lucas’ mother went to Japan, claiming she was going to her parent’s funeral, and never came back, leaving both Lucas and his Father. Then, Charlotte’s mother, a refugee from the riots in Northern Nigeria, got remarried to Lucas’ father, but was later captured by an armed group, and she has yet to return. As Lucas’ father is now dead, Lucas is taking care of Charlotte’s upbringing, in hopes that his step-mother will one day come back to find her home as she left it. After the siblings were done explaining their heavy circumstances, Lucas went to seat in the living room with a pretty grave look on his face.
“So, mister Kageyama, let’s get to the point. Sorry but I’d rather we switch to English now. What’s the reason you called us here?”
“Straightforward, huh. I like that. Then, I’ll just say it; I want to hire you. And that includes Charlotte.”
“I already told you, didn’t I? I’m a grad student, I can’t work full-time. If I start working full-time, they’ll cut off my scholarship. I can’t afford to let that happen. Besides, you look like you’re still in the middle of your twenties. How would you go about hiring us?”
“I might look like I’m in the middle of my twenties, but I’m actually 29 years old. I’m a director in a Japanese company, so I have all the authority I’d need to hire you.
But I want to hire you personally, not in the name of the company. I didn’t intend to hire you full-time in the first place, but if you’re worried about losing your scholarship, I’ll officially employ Charlotte only and write both of your salaries in her name. I intend to pay you 300,000 Naira each, so that’s 600,000 for both. How does that sound?”
300,000 Naira a month is easily three times above the average salary in Nigeria. You could think of it as the equivalent of paying a Japanese employee 750,000 yen a month, or 1.5 million yen for both. But when actually converting those 600,000 Naira to Japanese currency, you only get 180,000 yen.
“How generous of you, mister Kageyama. Are you aiming for Charlotte like those guys from the Chinese mafia?”
“When did I say anything about wanting to take Charlotte as my mistress? Look, if you don’t like making a lot of money, then fine, I’ll give a total of 500,000 Naira a month for both of you.”
“You’re not interested in Charlotte? Then why would you offer so much money for two people you barely know?!”
“400,000 Naira a month now.”
I’m not offering all that money to make Charlotte into my mistress. These two siblings are going to help me decrease the population of this country, be it directly or indirectly. I offered a big amount to atone for making them take part in that, but that’s it. If they’re to going to complain, then I don’t mind giving them less.
“What’s the matter? You want me to reduce it some more?”
“The job you’re offering… Is it a dangerous job?”
“Good question. Lucas, officially, I’ll have you be my personal driver. But you won’t need to stay with the other drivers all day and waste your time playing cards. You can lock yourself up in your lab all you want except for the times when I’ll need you for something and call you. What I actually need right now is not a driver, but a connection to a local with some proven smarts.”
“The east coast and northern part of the country are prohibited for Japanese travelers, save for some limited areas. But there will come times when I’ll have some things to do there, so I’ll need someone to go in my stead. I need that someone to be smart enough to protect himself, to not do any funny business, and to be able to understand my words perfectly.”
“You want me to be your hitman or something…? Mister Kageyama, you would go that far to make money?”
“Since you’re keeping that up, the 400,000 just became 300,000. As for Charlotte, officially, she’ll be my housemaid. This place has a room made specifically for maids; it’s pretty big and even has air-conditioning. She’ll commute to school from here, and I’ll take care of paying her tuition. So, what will you do? If you’d like, I can even thrown in a serving of curry once a week for her.”
Ichikawa watched this exchange with a look of despise.
Oh come on, how bad can this be? I always wanted to try my hand at these kinds of negotiations.
By the way, here in Nigeria, in first-class hotels and in condominiums intended for wealthy foreigners, they generally provide a maid room of about 80 square feet (7.5m2) and a maid bathroom. And the same goes for my place. It’s common practice here to hire housemaids through maid agencies or to be introduced to a good maid by a foreigner who’s about to return to his country, but there can be many other ways to hire them.
Seeing how Lucas wouldn’t give a straight answer and how I kept decreasing my first offer, Charlotte forced her way between us.
“Brother! I’m fine with working here for 300,000 Naira a month. You had to go as far as scamming people to provide for me. I’d much rather become a mistress than make you do these kinds of things! Mister Kageyama! If he doesn’t want to, then please just hire me by myself for 300,000 a month! You said I can have curry so I’ll even accept 100,000!”
With some traces of curry still left on the corner of her mouth, Charlotte eagerly urged me to hire her. Does she like curry that much…
Ichikawa is giving me a look that says ‘Stop rambling and do something already.’
Wait… Am I the bad guy here?
Charlotte is looking at me with desperate eyes but I can’t bring myself to answer her. I wasn’t thinking. I lowered the initial salary way too much.
…Should I just hire Charlotte by herself now? …But wasn’t the main point of hiring them the fact that Lucas is good with Japanese? What should I do? Damn, this is making me dizzy.
While I was lost in my thoughts, Ichikawa intervened like she couldn’t stand watching this any longer.
“Lucas, you know, before he came here, Kageyama won the lottery in Japan. He’s a bit of a millionaire now. The problem is that, since he became a millionaire so suddenly, some people were showing up around him to beg for his money.
He didn’t want to see his close friends begging him for money so he escaped from the country. But lately, it looks like he has found something he wants to do, a purpose, so to say. That’s why he really needs your help.”
Ooh! That’s one hell of a timely assist, Ichikawa! Nice! Captain Ichikawa to the rescue! Saves the small kitties when they’re stuck in a tree, protects the women and children, and pulverizes all your problems with her BFG9000.
“Mister Kageyama… is a millionaire?”
“Well, that’s the gist of it. What will you do, Lucas? How about starting back on a clean slate and going for the price he initially offered?”
I don’t know if Lucas was won over by his sister’s sparkling eyes or by Ichikawa’s explanation, but either way, he presented his right hand to me with a slightly more trusting expression on his face.
“I understand, I accept you help. Since I’m alone now, I can just stay at the institue’s dormitory while my sister stays here. Boss, I’ll be depending on you.”
I grabbed Lucas’ hand and gave him a firm handshake. Hooray! I finally got a local to work with me!
I didn’t show it upfront, but I was making a victory pose in my mind.
“Lucas, why don’t you come live here, too? Wouldn’t that help you improve your Japanese even further?”
“Thank you for the offer. The nights can be scary on the streets, so I’ll be in your care for today.
But I can’t live here. I certainly do want to improve my Japanese, but I’m not a maid, so I’ll be too stressed out going through that super secure entrance every single day as a local. Besides, even if you’re okay with it, the other people living in the condominium will probably be against it. I’d mess up the whole established balance of things.
So, I’ll get the procedures for Charlotte’s school done quick, and I’ll contact you when I’m done. After that, all that will be left to take care of is Charlotte’s luggage, but she doesn’t have much anyway. So, I’m sorry to trouble you boss, but please help her buy some stuff instead.”
I see. I guess he’s right. It’s important in this country to maintain some balance with your surroundings. I’m still not used to that aspect of the culture.
Looking at Ichikawa, she was nodding in agreement with what Lucas was saying.
“By the way, Charlotte, how old are you?”
“I’m 18 years old. I’m a senior high school student. Next year, I’ll become a university student. Best regards!”
18 years old?! What?! She’s only 18? Ichikawa and I both looked at Charlotte in disbelief.
“Are you kidding me… Those mafia guys wanted to take a young 18-years-old girl as a mistress…”
“Are you kidding me… I heard Caucasian girls grow fast but this is something else….”
Lucas gave up his plans for the night and stayed with his sister at my place so they could have proper goodbyes. To reassure her, he told her “We’ll only be apart for a little while, and we can meet anytime” like a good older brother.
The next morning, I handed the keys of the bulletproof Benz to Lucas, I gave him this month’s salary in advance and added some money so he could get himself a phone plan. Now I can call him whenever I need him.
Lucas thanked me many times over, and after asking me to take good care of Charlotte, he rushed to his research institue, in the Yaba district.