—We continued moving North.
The interior of the car was filled with a tense atmosphere… or at least that was what I thought.
“Seriously, he calls himself Moria just because of Moriarty? That’s really funny.”
Sitting in the back, Akihito-san roared with laughter as he slapped the seat next to him.
In a way, he’s the strongest person, because he’s doesn’t read the room, or perhaps he cannot read the room.
“Now that you mention it, Akihito-san, you said that you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes. Have you read the entire series?”
Yes, he did say that he was a fan the first time we met.
That was why he couldn’t stand for Holmes-san being called Holmes, causing a quarrel between them.
I wonder how much of a fan he is?
It might be impertinent for me to say this, but I’m surprised that Akihito-san has an interest in reading.
“Nah, I haven’t read them. I became a fan because of the anime.”
Upon hearing that response, Holmes-san and I asked, “Anime?” in unison.
“Yeah, don’t you know of that anime where Holmes-san is personified as a dog? It’s seriously interesting and cool, y’know? Because of that, I got hooked and watched all the movies and puppet shows1. I’ve always thought of playing as Holmes on the stage or in a movie.”
“W-What about the original work?”
“I haven’t read a single line. What of it?” Akihito-san replied with a straight face, causing Holmes-san and I to instinctively exchange looks.
In the next moment, Holmes-san burst out laughing.
“What are you laughing at?”
“Well, it’s just that seeing you go at your own pace helped me cool off. Thank you for that.”
Holmes-san said as he chuckled.
“O-oh, really? You cool off, then.”
“T-That’s right, Holmes-san. Enshou using the name ‘Moria’ might just be a ploy to rile you up.”
I remarked, leaning slightly forward.
“…I think you’re right. It seems that when it comes to Enshou, I just lose my cool and become useless. Thank you, Aoi-san.”
Good, Holmes-san is back to normal.
“So, where exactly are we going?”
I asked again, but Holmes-san was staring off into the distance.
“We’ll reach there soon… it’s actually right here,” he replied as he stopped the car.
The car slid into the gravel-paved parking area with a screech of the tires. The place had a white fence, as well as a tiled roof.
Is this— a temple?
The building was almost at the end of Senbon-dōri, after turning north from Kitaōji- dōri.
“Is this Takagamine in Kita-ku?”
Akihito-san asked as he alighted from the car.
“Yes, that’s right,” Holmes-san said as we also got off the car.
So this is Kita-ku.
Come to think of it, Akihito-san did say that his family used to stay at Kinugaki in Kita-ku.
The road here was quite a mountainous path, and it seemed like we were right at the foot of a mountain.
While I usually go everywhere by bicycle, I would definitely regret it if I rode my bicycle all the way here.
“This way,” Holmes-san said as he started walking off.
Perhaps because it was already some time after 4:30 in the afternoon, there were hardly any other cars in the parking area.
(Since most temples close at 5pm.)
After going down a narrow passage, a small, old wooden gate came into view.
On a pillar was a sign with the words, “Genkō-an Zen Meditation Group”.
“—Genkō-an…” I’d heard that name before.
“Yes, this is place that Enshou called me to— Genkō-an.”
Holmes-san asserted with a firm gaze in his eyes.
His words were soft, but with a strong tone. He then passed through the gate.
We immediately followed right behind him.
The first thing that met our eyes was a beautiful, refreshing garden that wasn’t big at all, but was certainly well-tended.
There was a reception counter at the veranda, where we paid the entrance fee before stepping into the temple itself.
It was a really old mountain temple.
Even so, the entire building seemed to give off a dignified atmosphere that made you want to straighten your back and hold your head high.
The floor and tatami mats had been polished to the point where they were glistening. Also, flowers had been arranged on the tables and corners of the corridors.
As soon as we stepped into the main hall, we could see a rectangular window and a round window next to each other.
Bright red autumn leaves could be seen on the other side of the windows, making it seem like two beautiful pictures.
—I knew about those two windows.
I might have seen them on TV.
They’re called the Window of Confusion and the Window of Enlightenment2.
A wooden trellis had been built at ankle height to deter people from getting too close to the windows.
Further inward from the windows was an object of worship. There was no one else in the room.
“H-Huh? There’s no one here.”
I muttered absent-mindedly.
“…Shall we put our hands together for now, then?”
Holmes-san suggested with a grin. He then stood by the object of worship, inserted some monetary offerings and put his hands together.
Akihito-san and I hurriedly followed suit.
When I opened my eyes, a shiver ran through my spine as I realized that someone else was in the main hall.
He looked to be in his late twenties or early thirties. Like a monk, he had no hair, and was wearing a grey kimono.
He was looking at us with a gentle smile on his face.
If I knew nothing, I would have thought that he was just a monk of this temple.
“Good of ya to come here.”
As he looked at Holmes-san, his eyes narrowed in delight.
—This man was definitely Enshou.
“You’re the one who called me here.”
Holmes-san quietly stepped forward, also wearing a smile.
Akihito-san and I stood stock still and swallowed our breaths as we looked on at the two of them.
“…It was fun waiting for ya here. I’m not even sure if I wanted ya to come here or not.”
Hiding his mouth behind an open fan, Enshou chuckled.
“So, what are you feeling now?”
Upon hearing Holmes-san’s quiet question, Enshou stopped chuckling.
“—By the way, good job on seeing through my forgery. What was the clincher?”
“…It was ‘light’.”
“I see, so it’s light, huh. Because of the shade, it’s quite difficult to accurately depict the light.”
Enshou gave another chuckle, then lifted his head.
“So, ya immediately knew about this place?”
“Yes, because of ‘Strayed Sheep’ and the round mirror. ‘Strayed Sheep’ is a rectangular painting, and the mirror is also known as a ‘window of the heart’. That immediately brought to mind the two windows of Genkō-an. The rectangular window, or the Window of Confusion3, represents the ‘trials and tribulations of human life’. The round window next to it, the Window of Enlightement, shows the core of ‘Zen and Entsuu4’, and represents the great universe. A round mirror that reflects oneself can also be said to be showing the inner universe… You put quite some thought into that riddle, huh.”
Holmes-san grinned as he finished his explanation.
Enshou replied as he returned the exact same smile.
While both of them were smiling, it was as if a duel was about to begin. The atmosphere was also sharp, to the point that the tension made it difficult to breathe.
On the other side of the two people facing off with each other were the two windows.
Bright red autumn leaves danced in the wind.
That scene was unsettling, but at the same time, incomparably beautiful, causing me to be unable to utter a single word.
“As I mentioned earlier, I really enjoyed the time I spent waiting for ya here. I was guessing if ya would come or not, and wonderin’ if I wanted ya here or not. It was as if I was waitin’ for a lover I broke up with.”
“I don’t feel happy in the slightest being described like that.”
“My, what a sharp tongue ye have!” Only Enshou’s eyes were laughing as he took a breath.
“…Somewhere along the line, most forgers will suddenly feel the need to appeal to the world that they are the individuals who produced the forgeries, and want to leave their mark on the world. Thanks to that, some of ‘em get found out, and I always wondered out why they would want such a thing.”
Enshou spoke as if talking to himself as he gazed out of the Window of Confusion.
“I was brought up by my father, who was an artist, in Amagasaki.
“He had quite some skill, but he was heavily addicted to alcohol. Whenever he got a job, he would often splurge the advance payment on alcohol, drink till he collapses, and ultimately fail to complete the artwork by the deadline. One day, I couldn’t stand to see him like this, so I created one of his paintings for him, in his exact style. My father was delighted by this. He’d treated me as a burden before, but he called me a genius, and pushed me to create other forgeries. That was the start of my life as a forger.”
While standing a short distance away, I swallowed my breath again.
So that’s how it is.
He’d started by creating forgeries.
His starting point was producing a work exactly like that of the person closest to him, his father…
And that totally fits Holmes-san’s profiling, too.
“So I produced perfect forgeries, never leaving any traces of myself behind, and I was being praised by my father, the person I most wanted to hear praise from. I was satisfied by that. But then, my father let drink get the better of him and died… After that, even when I received orders for forgeries, it just seemed so boring. Wonderin’ what to do with my life, I turned to Buddhism. But when a work of mine that hadn’t been discovered by anyone was exposed by someone as young as ya, I felt excited. I’d been nothing but a shadow, but someone found me as I was hiding in the darkness. I was also nervous about this work. I was torn between wanting ya to see through the painting, and wanting ya to be unable to see through it at all. Now I understand the feeling of my predecessors when they left their mark on the world for the first time. That’s why I didn’t know if I wanted ya to come or not.”
Enshou then quietly looked at Holmes-san.
“But when you asked, ‘So, what are you feeling now?’, I understood immediately.”
With that, he flipped open the fan in his hand and lunged straight at Holmes-san’s throat.
With a clap, Holmes-san immediately caught hold of the fan.
“…How dangerous. Were you going for my neck?”
“Of course not. I’m just returning your property.”
Akihito-san and I couldn’t say a thing in light of the tense situation. We placed our hands on our mouths, our faces pale.
“It’s all clear to me now. As I thought, I can’t stand ya at all. Yer the type to be all prim and elegant, liked by everyone but no one can understand what yer thinkin’, and yer completely black inside. It’s like yer a man representing Kyoto itself. I just can’t stomach that.”
Holmes-san put some power into his hand and snapped the fan he was holding on to.
“—Thanks for that. It’s an honor to be compared to the city of Kyoto,” he replied, an intrepid smile appearing on his face.
“There it is, yer true personality. Yer making such a frightful face.”
“As you say, the men of Kyoto are dark inside.”
“I find ya unpleasant, but I like that part of ya.”
“On the other hand, I find you repulsive in every way.”
“As I thought, this is good. It seems that I can’t retire yet. Not until I make ya suffer a huge humiliation.”
“Unfortunately for you, I don’t plan to be humiliated. Now, could you retreat already?”
“Don’t say that. Somehow it seems to me that ya want a compliment or something from me.”
“I don’t need a forger’s compliments.”
“My, how harsh.”
Enshou quietly lifted his hand off the fan and chuckled.
“Hey, did ya know? The ceiling of this hall is stained with blood.”
Enshou looked up at the ceiling and changed the subject. Holmes-san nodded cautiously.”
“Of course, I know that.”
Akihito-san and I also turned to look at the ceiling.
There was a black stain as well as footprints, causing my spine to go cold.
“W-Wow, why are there footprints there! Did they come from a ninja?”
Akihito-san raised his voice, causing Holmes-san to smile wryly.
“There was no battle here at Genkō-an, but the ceiling is made up of the floorboards of Fushimi-Momoyama Castle. The loyal subjects of Tokugawa Ieyasu and the army of Ishida Mitsunari had a battle there, resulting in multiple casualties. To honor the souls of the dead and bring them happiness in the next world, they distributed the bloodied floorboards among five temples, and one of those temples is Genkō-an.”
“I, I see.”
I nodded, but when I looked back, Enshou’s figure was missing.
Akihito-san and I were left speechless, while Holmes-san sighed.
“…I see, he is indeed like a shinobi.”
After a moment of silence, Holmes-san spoke and opened the broken fan that was still in his hand.
“…Seriously, he’s so irritating.”
He looked at the fan and scowled.
“Eh, what’s wrong?”
“This was originally my fan, but he wrote the word ‘Victory’ on it.”
—I see, that is certainly annoying.
“B-But you were the one who were victorious, right, Holmes-san?”
“Exactly. You saw through his forgery again. There’s no reason to be annoyed by something like that.”
The two of us leant forward, but Holmes-san bent his head down.
“…That ain’t it.”
“I only managed to see through his forgery because I had the knowledge that ‘it is the best among Hunt’s paintings of natural light, and that he won the Birmingham Award for it’.
“If not for that, I wouldn’t have been able to detect the forgery. When I admitted that the clincher was ‘light’, he laughed as if he’d won.
“I was able to detect the forgery, and ya might think that I won— but this is actually his victory, and my loss.”
Holmes-san tightly gripped onto the fan as his shoulders trembled.
I could tell that he was suffering with regret.
What should I say at a time like this?
“Even so, Holmes-san, you managed to see through his forgery. With your knowledge, it’s your victory!”
…I could say something like that.
But I don’t think he needs to hear a line that just sugarcoats the entire situation.
I clenched my fists and stared at Holmes-san.
“—I-If that’s the case, then when Enshou comes back with another forgery, please see through him properly!”
I exclaimed with a strong tone, causing Holmes-san to look at me in surprise.
Akihito-san also stared at me with his mouth wide open.
“Please don’t lose the next time.”
I continued. Holmes-san eyes widened, but in the next instant he relaxed.
“Yes, I will smash him to smithereens the next time we meet.”
Tears welled up in my eyes as I noticed a sunny countenance return to Holmes-san’s face.
The inner corners of my eyes felt hot, so I looked down.
“Hey, now. Forgive me for scarin’ ya, all right?”
His large hand patted my head gently.
I shook my head.
“Sorry, but we’ll be closing soon.”
At that moment, a voice rang out, causing us to hurriedly look up.
“—Shall we go, then?”
Holmes-san asked, and we nodded in response.
Captains (Tier 3) : SuperKatsu, Marieta Tan
Editors (Tier 2) : Joshua Fisher, Yazmin Arostegui, Slush56, Ashley Soffietti, Cristie Ledesma
Assistants (Tier 1) : Jaime Cuellar, Karen Kronenberg, Anna, Definitelynotme, Rolando Sanchez, Kevin Kohn, _Maki
Thank you very much for all your support!
- Apparently, there have been Japanese puppetry television series of Sherlock Holmes, like Puppet Entertainment Sherlock Holmes (2014).
- Errata: The title of this chapter is obviously a reference to the two windows, so I have changed the translated title to fit the translated names of the windows.
- The term for “Confusion” is exactly the same as the term for “strayed”.
- A Buddhist term that means understanding the truth by putting wisdom to good use.