I thought about what i had been doing for so long, these ten years. I thought about how I should've done more to help Lucy during her recovering process after the incident.
But when I remembered that I'd only been thirteen years old myself, and remembered that there wasn't much more I could've done in the first place other than being there for Lucy. I ended up thinking that the only thing that I could've done was exactly what I'd ended up doing.
But now, after my conversation with my former student counselor, I felt more and more trapped by the hope of…vengeance. To get back, big time, on the people who'd made Lucy so afraid of her own body, so afraid of being intimate and so hopelessly certain of her own role in the assault.
I could not bear the thought of these two people living freely, with no one to tell, force them, to make amends. I knew that, in the event that I should accomplish it, it was not at all certain that I would feel any better in any way.
But all I knew was that I couldn't stand the thought of these people living happily when they'd done something like this.
Lucy, had been scarred for life that day.
I went over in my head what Ms. Walker had told me.
She told me that those two people had split up after junior high school, and that they'd both "fallen out of society", as she'd put it.
When I thought of that, I thought that there was a very good chance that they weren't exactly enjoying life as much as I'd assumed at first. But I knew that I wasn't content with simply assuming. I wanted to at least know what these people were like today, before I would decide if I wanted to go any further.
I bicycled home to Lucy.
"Where have you been, Takashi-kun? I was worried! You haven't been answering your cell all day!"
Lucy was upset. Based on all the fresh sit-marks on the sofa and on certain chairs, she'd been rather restless for a while. I looked down at my feet. I hadn't meant to worry her.
"You could've told me you wouldn't be reachable for a while; I was half-way before I took off again!"
I slipped off my shoes and went into the small apartment.
"I'm sorry, Lucy; I didn't mean to worry you."
"Where were you?"
I went over to the sofa and sat down. I knew better than to try lying to her.
"I was over at our old school. I was searching for someone who could help me find two people."
To say anything more was unnecessary; Lucy had understood the rest.
"Are you crazy?! What good would it be to hunt them down? I assume you haven't been at the university at all today, have you?"
Her tone was sarcastic.
Lucy sighed, and exasperated sigh that gave me the feeling she'd held it in for a long time.
A few moments of silence passed between us. A small bird flew down and placed its small feet on our windowsill, looking into our living room. It had such small eyes.
Lucy walked over to the sofa and sat next to me.
"Takashi-kun, look at me."
I looked at Lucy. She had a serious, yet understanding look on her face.
"Searching for them is not going to make anything better. What are you going to do even should you find them?"
I thought for a few moments.
"I want to get back at them, for what they did to you."
Lucy smiled a sad small smile.
"I understand your feelings. Then, afterwards, after you've succeeded in this foolishness, what would you do, after it was all over?"
The bitterness I'd detected in Lucy's voice from yesterday was not there.
"I don't know."
Lucy put her arms around me and pushed me gently downwards, so I lay on her lap. She stroked my hair backwards in her usual manner.
None of us said anything for a while.
I felt it as if something unfamiliar and ugly tried to force its way into me, from all sides, and the only thing that was there to keep it at bay, was Lucy.
"Don't tense up, baby, be calm. Everything is alright. I'm here, and they're not going to come get me, you know?"
I took a deep breath.
"Lucy….I need you. I need your help."
I didn't recognize my own voice.
Lucy turned my head, so I looked into her eyes.
"That's it, Takashi-kun. Good boy. Everything is okay. Just tell me what's on your mind, you know?"
I lifted my hand and touched her cheek.
"Your skin is so soft…"
I mumbled. Lucy took my hand and squeezed it.
"Do you want to visit your mother in the weekend? I can buy the newspaper and we can get something from a bakery?"
I smiled, and the cold, sharp feeling that had filled me that day was gone.
I loved how she always tried to find new, constructive ways to get bad things out of the day.
"Mrs. Anderson is ready to receive visits now."
We almost ran into my mother's ward, and her face broke into a delightful smile when she saw us.
"Lucy-Chan! How are you?"
Lucy reached down and hugged her.
"I'm great! How are you? How long will you be hospitalized?"
"They're saying I should at least expect two months."
My mom smiled reassuringly. I stepped forward and hugged her.
"Don't worry, Takashi-kun; I'm safe here, you know."
I looked my mom in the face. She had regained some of her color
"We brought you some pretzels, mom, and some real coffee on a thermos."
We sat down on two chairs, and we talked about how things had been going for the three of us since last time we saw each other. This way, it felt as if the situation wasn't quiet as dire as I'd thought at first.
"How are things at your course, Lucy-Chan? Last time we talked you'd been run over by a pile of homework."
Lucy chuckled and sipped the hospital tea.
"It's still a lot to do, thank you. Many students are having trouble keeping up at that course. On top of that, we had a guest yesterday who talked to us about all the public slander that was common for people in that line of work. Among my classmates, we call it doomsday-lecturers".
My mom nodded, her smile wasn't exactly big.
I couldn't imagine that Lucy, of all people, would be spoken ill of in that manner. My mom nodded and sipped her coffee.
I was really glad that she was being well cared for.
When Lucy and I went home, my thoughts trailed back to finding these two people. It had not helped that Lucy had tried to talk me out of it. I still felt trapped by that feeling.
My darling, so energetic and lovely with her smile, had been a victim of the gravest immorality, and I felt myself getting consumed by the idea of finding these people.
According to some things an unknown source had told Ms. Walker, these two people seemed to enjoy alleys and plazas in general that were known for narcotic activity. This meant that it wouldn't necessarily be hard for me to find them. I only needed to know where to look, and perhaps a few contacts in the right places wouldn't hurt either.
The only problem was that "alleys and plazas" couldn't have been vaguer. Seriously, how was I to find them by just that? I felt that I would have to start of by doing research to find out where addicts would hang at what hours.
I realized that it could take a long, long time.
"What are you thinking about, baby?"
Lucy asked, and I was brought out of my thoughts.
A few moments of silence passed between us.
"I was just thinking that I am not sure if she will be alright. She has a weak bone structure, after all".
I decided to keep it a secret from Lucy.
Lucy put an arm around my shoulders and led me home.
Later that night, Lucy was sitting by a desk in our bedroom, reading one of her subject books in child welfare. I was sitting by the computer again; I didn't feel like studying.
I was looking at the Google pictures of the places where it was rumored that a lot of drug addicts used to hang.
I looked at the picture of the entrance to every café and restaurant, every clothing store and disc shop. I was trying to determine where it was likely that people would decide to gather. The entrances and backyards of certain blocks in streets known for a high crime rate was also a possible candidate.
After a while, I gave it up. I understood that, if I was going to look for these people, I would have to take the trips down to such places, at the proper hours, without Lucy feeling upset or worried.
This of course, meant keeping secrets from her, lying to her about where I would be going at unusual hours and covering my own tracks.
It pained me that I would have to do such things in order to restore her confidence.
I realized that I would have to do things that would make anyone feel more insecure and afraid.
A sickening feeling started building in my throat. I closed the laptop and went to the bathroom.
I stayed in there for a while, trying to figure out what I was going to do.
When I came out again, Lucy turned in her chair and looked at me with a worried expression on her face.
"What's wrong, Takashi-kun? Upset stomach or something?"
It took a while before I answered, and Lucy rose from her chair and walked over to me, cupping my face with her hands.
She kissed me.
"You have a lot on your mind, Takashi-kun."
I averted her gaze, and nodded.
She turned my face toward hers again, stroking my chin with her slender hands. I didn't want anything to happen to her. That included her feeling trapped by that incident all those years ago.
Can we lie down on the bed for a while? Can you hold me?"
Lucy smiled knowingly and kissed my forehead.
We went inside the room and Lucy closed the door.
She led me to the bed and we sat down on it. Pushing me gently down on the pillow, Lucy lay on top of me; giving me soft, short kisses that made my muscles loosen up slowly.
"That's it, baby; don't be so tense."
She looked me in the eyes, undressing me with a gaze that could see through anything.
I knew that Lucy was not a person one could keep a secret from for long.
She knew too well how to deal with people who kept secrets from her. Her mother had done this for too long, after all.
She held me with that gaze, while at the same time letting her right hand slide underneath my shirt, stroking my abdomen. I sighed, closing my eyes and allowed her to touch me. I was hers.
"I'm not going to do anything either, Takashi-kun, than what you want me to. I know some girls say stuff like "his body belongs to me", or similar, but it doesn't. Your body is only yours, and your sharing it with me; that's it works. You know that, don't you?"
I nodded, feeling something warm and soft welling up inside of me.
Lucy lifted me up and held me, rocking back and forth as if lulling a child to sleep. She stroke my back up and down in a slow motion. Her body felt warm, and it made me drowsy.
She bit my earflap tenderly.
"You are my compass."
Her voice was so rich, so steadfast. As if those four words were words that came from somewhere more than the heart.
The next day, Lucy was about to close her bicycle within the school gates, when she suddenly stopped in her tracks.
"Oh, I forgot to tell you! I'm going to be very late today! That day when we skipped work to visit your mom; I'm going to have to take a double shift!"
"That's okay. When do you think you will be back?"
Possibly very late, like 2200. Is that okay? I'm going to have to get dinner at work or something…"
"That's okay, Lucy! See you tonight!"
She kissed me on the cheek and went towards her school building.
Later that day, when school was over, I took the bus down to the first place where I wanted to check. I'd decided that the first place where I wanted to start researching was the one of the places most known for drug dealing or other kinds of what was regarded as "immoral jobs".
It wasn't anything big, or exceptionally flashy, but that was probably the reason why it was suitable for drug dealing, drug abuse and whoring.
It was simply a small, narrow street with few street lamps. Many of the windows on the buildings to the left and right were broken, and graffiti covered many of the walls. Racist motives seemed to flourish among people who were tagging in these places.
I picked up my mobile and turned on the flashlight it was equipped with. A few people were sleeping there, or at least lying down on the pavement. I could make out four or five individuals; many of them dressed in thrifty clothes that made them seem unsuited for this kind of life.
One of people sat up at that point, and I was careful not to let the flashlight shine on her face. She had long, blonde hair, was dressed in a big, blue bubble jacket with holes in it.
"You're not from here."
Her voice had a kind of drag to it, as if she had heroine or other things in her veins.
"That's right,. Miss. I'm just visiting."
The girl rose to her feet and took two steps towards me.
"Got any money on ya?"
Involuntarily, I took two steps back. I had a feeling what my money would be used for.
"You don't suppose you could gimme some, huh?"
I didn't say anything.
"Maybe you would like to receive something first?"
She unbuttoned her weary jacket and the blouse partially.
For some reason, my lips curved into a smile. I felt nervous for the first time.
"I'm practically a married man, miss. I must decline, I'm afraid. I'm just a student, and I cannot say I'm swimming in cash, though."
I got my wallet and gave her the rest of my bus money.
"Sorry, that's all I've got."
She took the bucks with shaky, cold fingers.
"Thanks. Name's Lizzy. You?"
"Takashi. Do you think you could give me some….information, in exchange for that money?"
I said on a whim. Maybe this woman could be of some help.
"Sure, whatcha need?"
"I'm looking for two men. Name's Jackson Belville and Justin Hawkins. Ever heard of them? One of them is British-American, so to speak. The other is American."
Lizzy seemed to think for a few moments.
"Black or white?"
"Sorry, never heard of them. Around here, most of us are black, really."
Something sank in me.
"I see. Thanks Lizzy."
"No prob! If you aint "practically married next time, I'll give you a discount."
A careful smiled played in the corners of my mouth and I went down to the bus station. It had gotten clear to me that if I was going to find someone, I needed to start with acquiring information about them, rather than beginning with the environment in which they supposedly hung.
Suddenly, I remembered something Ms. Walker had told me just before we parted.
"If you need any more help, you know where to find me."
I decided to find out as much as possible about their lives at this school, including who they'd hung out with, who they'd scared and who they'd ever been friendly to. I needed as much as possible. If I found people in their old class, for instance, I could be closer to finding out where they were.
"I'll find them".