48 Hours a Day
Chapter 45: Tokyo Drift XV
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
“What did you do after that?” Zhang Heng asked.
“I… did nothing.” There was a look of remorse in Takeda Tetsuya’s eyes. “I should not have left him there. I wanted to… get down the car to check on him, but I heard police sirens coming from the opposite. I was scared, so I didn’t stay. I turned the car around and left the highway.”
“What happened to the two of them?” Ameko asked, disturbed.
“I only found out about what happened to them in the news. The reporter said that two juvenile delinquents were racing against the traffic on the highway and hit an oncoming truck. One died, and the other was injured. The wounded driver was receiving first aid in the emergency room… but he passed away three days later.”
“Was the wounded person Kobayashi or…”
“It was Asano Naoto. Other than being known for being the best racing driver Nerima, he also had another identity—his uncle was the vice president of Tokyo’s largest yakuza clan, Oni Hitomi 1.”
“Oh, no wonder! Is that why you quit the racing world and changed your name?”
“Yes. That was not a public race. No one else other than the three of us knew about it. Even though there were other eye-witnesses on that highway, the visibility was abysmal, and we were driving against traffic. With all that fuzzy testimonies, the police were unable to determine if there was a third vehicle. Afraid that I would be imprisoned and that Oni Hitomi would take revenge, I… chose to keep quiet again.
“There was no joy in my heart to escape punishment. Every day after that day, I have been living in guilt for Kobayashi. If I hadn’t let my emotions affect my decision, and stick to my decision that the race that should never have started in the first place, all these would not have happened! I was the one who had one foot in the grave! But the irony is that the first person to die among the three of us was the only person who voted against having the race… I went to his home secretly after that. His father passed away when he was younger, and he only had his mother and a sister. After what happened, they moved away from Tokyo.”
“You met mum after that, right? If that’s the case, why didn’t you stay?” Ameko asked.
“I was always anxious after that accident; I couldn’t even sleep at all, and I also kept a suicide note by my pillow. But as time passed, when I realized that neither the police nor the Oni Hitomi found me, I thought that it was all over. So, I resumed my healthy life. It was then that I met the woman I loved. We were like every other happy couple—we became a family. A year and a half later, we had you. I swore that I would never drive again and opened a seafood shop.
“After initial struggles, the shop did pretty well. At first, it seemed like I was heading on the right path; it had been 6 years since the incident, enough time to forget many things. I never thought that one day, that year, my nightmare would find me again.”
“What do you mean?” Ameko asked.
“One night, while I was sorting out the orders alone in the shop, a stone suddenly flew in through the window, shattering the glass! I thought it was some prankster, but when I ran out to chase him away, I didn’t see anyone. When I returned to the shop after that, I realized that the stone was wrapped in old newspapers. The front-page article was about the highway accident that year. Next to the headline, there were words written in blood—Did you really think you could escape?”
Takeda Tetsuya flicked off the ashes on his cigarette. “No one else other than the three of us knew what actually happened that day. Kobayashi… died at the scene that day. Asano Naoto was in the ICU for three days. His injuries were severe. The papers said that he was unconscious, but that did not eliminate the possibility that he might have woken up for some time… Anyway, from the moment the newspaper article appeared, my life was over.”
“So, you weren’t actually addicted to gambling—you just wanted to make mum divorce you?”
“I made a mistake 6 years ago, involving Kobayashi in the race. I will not make the same mistake again.” Takeda Tetsuya said quietly. “I’m not afraid of death—it’s the ending that I deserve! The real Yosuke Tsuchiya died with Kobayashi on that road. The Takeda Tetsuya that lived on was just his guilt and weakness.”
“I’m actually more curious about how you were able to escape Oni Hitomi again and again,” said Zhang Heng.
“If you were asking about that time many years ago, maybe they were hoping to see me miserable, or perhaps they wanted to prolong my torment. The thing was, they did not come looking for me until nine months ago when I received a mysterious phone call saying that the Oni Hitomi would be coming for me soon. He told me to get ready, also telling me about what happened last night.” Takeda Tetsuya paused. “Alright. I’ve finished telling my story. As I’ve said, this has nothing to do with any of you! That tragedy happened because of me, so it’s only right that I end it myself.”
“You don’t even believe that,” Zhang Heng noted. “Or else, you wouldn’t have pretended to be a gambler again and force Ameko to cut off everything with you.”
Takeda Tetsuya kept quiet. Then after a moment, he smiled, “I have to, at the very least, try. I can’t just do nothing, right?”
The seafood shop owner looked like he had already made up his mind. Ameko began to panic. She opened her mouth to say something but blushed instead.
Zhang Heng got up and picked up the coat next to him. “You were the one who taught me how to drive. No matter what kind of person you were, at least let me send you off.”
Takeda Tetsuya thought about it, not refusing the offer. Instead, he looked at Zhang Heng in the eye and said, “Take good care of Ameko for me.”
The three left the eatery with Takeda Tetsuya walking in front. He had just opened the door to the minivan when his eyes suddenly rolled to the back of his head, and he collapsed into the carriage.
Zhang Heng retracted the soup bowl he was holding and told the dumbstruck Ameko, “His guilt over what happened in the past is overshadowing his judgment. He’s not thinking of managing the situation. He only has a deathwish. I’m sorry. This is the only way to keep him calm for a while.”
“Ah? Ah…Oh.” It took Ameko a minute to come to her senses. She was puzzled about why Zhang Heng had pinched her hand so flippantly when she was just about to speak. Apparently, she had misunderstood him.
But the strange thing was… Ameko came to the realization that she wasn’t repulsed by these things. Not as she initially imagined.
Ameko was still deep in her thoughts when she heard Zhang Heng saying, “This car does not have insurance and has not been inspected. We better leave this place first.”
“Mm.” She climbed into the van and shut the door.
Zhang Heng started the car, then deliberately took the same route twice to make sure no one was following them. Fifteen minutes later, he parked the L300 in the parking lot of a supermarket. He opened the door and stretched out his right hand.
“There’re a few problems with Takeda… your father’s story.”