Chapter Twenty-Five: Backed Into a Corner:

Back at home, Anna found herself trapped. It all started with a trip to Chijou. She went up to visit Rihoko and Yoko-chan. Initially, she wanted to buy the little girl a gift. However, her trip took a small detour.

Anna browsed the doll aisle in the toy store. Her hand reached for her selection when she sensed someone standing behind her. Anna glanced over her shoulder.

“Yes?” she whispered.

“Kimoto-san,” a man spoke up. Anna pressed her lips together.

“Hello, Okamoto-san,” she said. “I didn’t know you had children.”

“I kind of do,” the detective said.

“You’re not toy shopping today, are you?”

He shook his head. “No.”

Anna remained still. “Then… Why are you here?”

“I really need you on this case!”

“The Mori-chan case, right?”


Anna lowered her hand. “You followed me here for that.”



Okamoto-san drew in a breath. “We’re stuck.”

“The police department or just you?”

“Mostly me.”

“And you need my skills for your case?”


“Ah. May I ask why?”

Okamoto-san pressed his hands together. “You should listen to the step-mother. She’s innocent, I just know it!”

“She could be lying.”

“You should’ve been there. The step-mother sounded so sincere. She really cared about that little girl like her own daughter.”

Anna turned to face him. “Do you have any other suspects?”

“No,” the detective said. “That’s where you come in.”

“Oh?” She saw where this was headed. “Let me guess: You want me to bring her soul to Chijou. Right?”

Okamoto-san pressed his palms together. “Please?”

“It might not work. What if the child doesn’t remember? Who would believe you or me? She could give us false memories.”

“Please?” He grabbed her by the hands. “Mori-chan’s the only hope I’ve got.”

Anna raised an eyebrow at him. “How did you find me?”

“Does it matter?” he asked. Anna pressed her lips together.

“My ad is rather hard to find,” she admitted. “Only grieving hearts can see it in the papers.” The detective sheepishly looked away.

“A doctor at a bar showed me,” he said in a quiet tone.

“A doctor?” Anna asked.

“I don’t know how he did it, but he put his fingers on the blank square and the ad appeared.”

“Is that right?”

Okamoto-san bit his lower lip. “Yes.”

“Tell me, did this doctor look like a charming old man in all white?”


“Did he smell like death and roses?”


“Did he?”

“I guess…”

Anna frowned at herself. Figures! What’s that bastard up to now? She glanced over at Okamoto-san. “You won’t let up, will you?”

“I really need a break in this case!” he pleaded. Anna sighed.

“I’ll think about it,” she said. The detective bowed his head.

“Thank you, Kimoto-san!” he replied. Anna nervously chuckled as the detective bowed. She didn’t like where this could be headed.