01:03

The car jerked up and down as it rolled toward the lake. Ono held on to the ceiling straps. With his weight off me I slipped through the gap into the driver’s seat. Maybe I should have slammed on the brakes, hit the accelerator, pulled a hand-brake turn or something.
But I can’t drive.
I just sat watching the car go faster. Ono was squealing. My head was throbbing and my chest felt dead.
There was no stopping the car now. We were going to hit the lake. I flipped up the door lock, threw the driver’s door open, and jumped.
I hit the ground feet first, but lost my balance. I rolled to the edge of the lake, flailing my arms and legs around to stop myself before I hit the water.
I leaned my head over and spat small stones and dirt out of my mouth.
The Mercedes was drifting toward the middle of the lake. But it was taking on water through the driver’s side. I didn’t know cars could float.
“The car! Shachou’s going to kill me! Hana, you bitch!”
I’ve been called names all my life so that didn’t bother me much, but it didn’t make me want to help him. Anyway, he’d be fine. Teganuma is only two meters deep, I remembered that much from Abiko Junior High School.
The phone call.
I brushed myself off and checked my phone. One voicemail. I couldn’t hear it very well from all Ono’s shouting, so I jogged back to the main road.
I hit playback.
“Yes, hi. This is Joe, Joe Blackmore, just off the delayed flight from Seattle. I was told to call this number any time and there would be an English speaker to help me. Well, I’m here now at some Narita Airport business hotel. Hopefully I’ll see you at 9 a.m., as arranged. I just needed to check in, and I wondered if you had any news of my Emi. I can cash the traveller’s checks for you tomorrow, but only when I see you. OK? Much obliged.”
I played the message again. Then once more. He spoke English like Tachibana-san. Mr. Blackmore must be the American man. This was the call I had been waiting for. I should have called the Japanese man I was supposed to call immediately. But something was bothering me. I knew Aunt Tanaka said I shouldn’t ask too many questions but she didn’t say I couldn’t think them.
So I thought these ones: Was it his first time in Japan? Who was Emi? His wife? Girlfriend? Daughter? How did Ono know about the phone call? Was he the man I was supposed to call? Or Ono’s Papa? Was it Tachibana-san? Was this my lucky moment?
Aunt Tanaka was right, stuff does get confusing when you ask too many questions. But I had my phone. Maybe Google-sensei had heard of Emi.

***

Start the novel from Chapter 1 here or use the next/previous arrow keys to flip through the book.

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That was a chapter of Half Life: A Hana Walker Mystery. I’m publishing a chapter a day in sequence on this blog to promote the book. You can buy HALF LIFE as a paperback from Create Space here or as a Kindle download from any Amazon site including links to the book here at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.co.jp.

The sequel, Prime Life, is coming out in the New Year.

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