CHAPTER 5: INTRODUCTION
When I was in deep sleep, I heard the girls’ voices coming from outside, all in a bad mood.
“Hey boys, will you gather up?”
She didn’t even finish talking that everyone got up promptly and came out in rage. I went to sleep at dawn so I woke up slowly while rubbing the sleep out of my drowsy eyes.
“What the hell… I’m so fucking tired.”
An irritated Sudou came out from the tent looking at the others around him.
“Uhm Hirata-kun… Sorry but can you wake up all the boys here? It’s serious.”
Shinohara notified Hirata looking apologetic. Whether she was confused or angry, Shinohara’s appearance was not the problem regardless. A little far away, the girls were glowering at our side.
“Understood. I think they’ll soon come out as I give them a shout.”
Then, in a couple of minutes the boys came out of their tent rubbing their sleepy eyes. When they began looking at the girls gathered outside the tent, the half-asleep boys sensed an alarming situation.
The girls’ eyes, that stared at us boys, were all unusually scared.
“What’s wrong, so early in the morning?”
“Sorry Hirata-kun. It’s something that doesn’t concern you, Hirata-kun but……..We’ve gathered here because there’s something I have to check at any cost.”
Shinohara gave everyone, except Hirata, a look of contempt and then she spoke.
“This morning, well… Karuizawa-san’s underwear was missing. Do you know what that means?
Even Hirata, who was always calm, appeared shaken and upset at the completely unexpected situation. Which reminded me, I couldn’t see neither Karuizawa nor the other girls.
“Now Karuizawa-san is inside the tent, crying. Kushida-san and others are comforting her but…”
Saying so, Shinohara looked to the girls’ tent.
“Eh? Ehhhhh? What, Why are you glaring at us knowing that the underwear is missing?”
“We decided that someone, in the middle of the night, went through the bag and stole it. The luggage had been put outside so if someone thought of stealing all of it, they could have done so after all.”
The boys, still dominated by drowsiness, looked at each other simultaneously.
“NONONONONONONONO!? EH? EHH?”
Ike looked alternatively to the boys and girls in total panic. A boy, looking at the situation, coughed out in a calm voice.
“Come to think of it Ike, you yesterday… You went to the toilet quite late. You took a long time.”
“No no no! I was struggling because it was dark!“
“It’s true. You’re the one who stole Karuizawa’s underwear.”
“Well, you’re wrong! Don’t do that!”
The boys begun putting the blame on each other for the nasty and offensive crime.
“Anyway. I guess this is really a big problem? But it’s impossible to live camping in the same place as those underwear thieves.”
Shinohara, who looked like she was about to lose her temper, offered a monish with her arms crossed.
“So Hirata-kun. You can manage to find the culprit somehow, right?”
“That’s…… But there’s no evidence that the boys have stolen it. There’s a possibility that Karuizawa-san has lost it.”
“That’s right! We have nothing to do with this!!”
All the boys shouted at the top of their lungs from behind Hirata, proclaiming their innocence.
“I don’t want to think that there’s a culprit here.”
It seemed vile to doubt our classmates and not to shield them.
“I know that Hirata-kun is not the culprit… But, for the time being, let me check the other boys’ luggage.”
Apparently it seemed like the girls didn’t change their idea, and they perpetuated the idea of the culprit who is on the boys’ side. Well, it’s impossible not to think such a thing in this kind of context.
“EH? Stop saying bullshit. You don’t need to do such a thing. Hirata, just say no.”
“For now, we will gather and talk with all the boys. We may have a little time, right.”
“………If you say so, Hirata-kun…………… Ok I understand. I will talk to Karuizawa-san as well. But if the culprit can’t be found, we have an idea as well on who is on it.”
After saying this, the gathering dissolved. Hirata quickly gathered all the boys again to have a talk in front of the tent.
“Let’s just ignore what the girls said. You’ll feel bad if you’re suspected. I will fight!”
On the first day, I thought Ike obtained a certain degree of trust from the girls but it seems like it was pretension after all. It’s obvious that even the suspected boys will get uncomfortable if they are falsely suspected.
“Exactly. There’s no way that one of us has stolen Karuizawa’s underwear.”
Yamauchi, following the rest of the boys, looked at each of them. It’s not that Karuizawa isn’t pretty. But since Karuizawa is Hirata’s girlfriend, it’s more convenient for guys to chase after Kushida or Sakura.
“I’m not going to doubt you, guys. But I think this problem won’t ever be resolved like this….”
The girls, who were talking and conspiring together over there, were now nearly jumping towards us.
“To prove your innocence, it’s better for you to respond to your luggage inspection in a confident and dignified way.”
Having said that, Hirata himself brought out his bag.
“As miserable as I am, I still responded to the girls’ request, that’s why you guys have to keep up by doing the same. Are we good?”
“Of course, I can open it first.”
To mobilize someone, although I thought we had no choice but to start acting by ourselves, there would be no one who thought that Hirata was actually the culprit, including boys, not just girls. To say that he stole his girlfriend’s underwear, in the first place, is a bit of a contradiction. However, if the first one disclosed his luggage this way, we couldn’t help but follow the example. It was inevitable that the students who didn’t show the content of their bags were going to be suspected. Hirata’s bag, naturally, was bound to not to have any underwear.
“There’s no other choice…”
Influenced by Hirata’s actions, all the boys began pulling out their bags from the tent, one after another.
Ike and Yamauchi have been disliking this the whole time but they couldn’t go against the flow of things. Including me, us 3 became the last to go. So I guess I was finally going to the tent. I was following the other two.
“Shit, I’m mad. Men are suspected unconditionally and irrevocably. It’s too unreasonable.”
“Well, let’s prove our innocence in a confident way and triumph over them.”
Ike started to stand up while grabbing the bag but suddenly he stopped and stood still.
Abruptly, he turned his back to Hirata and the others and sat down. Checking the inside of his bag, he closed the zipper like he was confused.
Ike was rigid with a pale face. He was unmovable like he was having a temporary feeling of paralysis.
“Come on, let’s go?”
Yamauchi was watching Ike, whose appearance became suddenly strange, and he said half-jokingly:
“Maybe you stole it”
“What..?!! You’re… You’re wrong!”
Ike hastily denied it, shaking his head while holding the bag in his hands. What a blatant reaction. We haven’t become that dull as if we don’t have any emotions, after all.
“You… Don’t tell me…”
“What? Are you suspecting me?!”
“No, that’s not it… Just… The bag… Show me what’s inside.”
Yamauchi grabbed the bag as he was really going to examine it. There it is…
White underwear that men absolutely do not wear. It was curled up and well hidden.
“Eh! That’s not mine! Somehow this was put in my bag!”
“Hey now, give me a better excuse.”
As Ike was in panic, Yamauchi’s look towards him was one of pity.
“I am telling you, I do not know! Seriously! Why there is… u… underwear in my bag?!”
“This is shameful. Anyway, let’s explain the rest to Hirata and the others.”
“Huh? If I do that, then it would mean that I confess that I am the culprit!”
“And the culprit was no one… Right?”
Yamauchi asked for his consent, but what does this mean? It is obvious that Karuizawa’s underwear came out of Ike’s bag. So, is Ike the culprit? The case is not that simple as to come to such an easy conclusion.
When and how did he steal the underwear? Also, I don’t think that the thief would hide casually the underwear in his own bag. He should know that his act would soon cause an uproar and that we would start searching for the culprit as soon as possible. He sure failed to keep his composure. However, the moment we talked about opening his bag to search his belongings I thought he would panic. In Ike’s case that didn’t happen until after we found what we were searching for.
The conclusion drawn from this, is that the culprit is someone else and they put the underwear in Ike’s bag.
Well, there was a small possibility that the thief was really Ike if only he wasn’t so simple-minded and foolish. However… That’s not true, is it?
“Hey, Ayanokouji, you do believe me right? Because I haven’t stolen it.”
“Judging from the situation, there is no concrete evidence that Ike is the culprit.”
“However, I cannot deny that there is a high possibility that he is the culprit. If he is the culprit though, then he is too stupid.”
“Well, that’s true… But… Then… What happened? You mean somebody put it in Kanji’s bag?”
“That is what I must figure it out.”
“Hey! Hurry up!” A boyish voice flew from Hirata’s companions.
“Wh… Wh… What am I going to do? I am in serious trouble”
If the stolen thing was found here, no matter what the boys said, the girls would declare that Ike is the culprit.
“Anyway, we have no choice but to hide it. For now.”
“Hide it? Where? There is no place to hide it!”
It’s true that given our situation, we couldn’t hide it at the moment. If we went to the toilets or the tents, the girls watching over this place would be suspicious of our movements and maybe would demand to search us. Above all we are spending too much time here. We may already be suspected.
“No other way. Put it in your pocket.”
That was all the advice I could give him. There was no time to hide it in my underwear or my socks and we should draw no further attention to any suspicious activity.
“I… I can’t do it… I am already in a panic.”
Still, I believed, now, we had no choice but to hide it.
“Then I’ll leave it to you, Ayanokouji.”
Ike took out the curled up underwear from his bag and pressed it swiftly in my hands.
“If you think that it is better to hide it, then do it, right?”
“I am leaving, now.”
With an “I am leaving the rest to you” Ike tries to run away. Unwilling to be involved further, Yamauchi, too follows suit.
“Hey, hey! Are you serious…?”
I felt a little sweaty from the pressure. Nonetheless, until the end, the situation will only get worse. If I hid it, I’d want to make it difficult to find it, but I don’t have any spare time for this. Without having time to think, while holding my bag I squeezed it in my back pocket and headed towards Hirata’s group.
“My bad, sorry. My bag got a bit dirty, so I was cleaning it with my hands.”
By making this excuse, Ike handed over his bag.
“If you want to search it, then search it. Because I am innocent. Right? Yamauchi?”
The two of them put down proudly their bags. Hirata at first declined the offer to do the inspection, but eventually he did it. I also put my bag down softly, and then I left the scene. After finishing inspecting everyone’s belongings Ike called out to Shinohara who was waiting with her arms folded.
“We searched everyone. But we found nothing.”
“Yup. We are sure now. None of the boys is the culprit.”
“Wait a minute.”
As Shinohara approached us, she began looking inside the tent. It looked like she was suspicious and thought we kept something hidden in here. But of course, nothing came out. After inspecting the two tents, Shinohara went back to the girls and whispered to them.
“You know, that Hirata. Maybe he hid it in his pocket or something? I am curious as Ike, Yamauchi and Ayanokouji were talking to each other in whispers.”
Of course we were, after all the girls demanded to search all over the place carefully.
All the girls, including Shinohara began attacking Ike.
“Wasn’t Ike acting suspicious from a little while ago? Maybe he is hiding something after all!”
“What!? I’m… I’m hiding nothing! If you want to search me, then search!”
Spreading his arms and pleading his innocence. Hey, now… If he keeps talking like that….
“Well, let’s search. Hirata, could you do it please?”
“All right. However, you girls must understand one thing. If we find nothing here, then from now on I would like you to stop investigating the boys constantly.”
This was the worst outcome. Under the supervision of the girls began a physical examination of Ike, Yamauchi and me. Of course the underwear won’t be found on Ike and Yamauchi. They didn’t move against Hirata’s careful examination and he was able to inspect every corner. And finally my turn came. It was too late to escape from this. I guess it was me that put myself in this situation after all. I wish I could turn back and redo things.
No… Not really. There was no turning back now. So, I should bet on the possibility that Hirata might overlook even by 1%. I decided to stay still like a dead fish and be examined by Hirata as he was slowly checking my upper body.
And then, Hirata put his arm inside the back pocket where I put the underwear.
——— Has he finished?
Resignation started. Without a doubt, Hirata’s arm was transmitting the sensation of feeling the underwear. Although I wasn’t sure if that was really the underwear and not just the sensation, it was enough suspicious that a rolled-up piece of cloth was in the pocket. Hirata, whose body stiffed for a moment, looked into my eyes. But after our gaze entangled in a moment in which even one second didn’t pass, Hirata, examining my jersey without taking the underwear out, turned his head to the girl.
“Ayanokouji doesn’t have it either.“
Saying this, he started walking towards Shinohara. Ike and Yamauchi surprisingly exchanged looks.
“These guys didn’t have it.”
“That’s strange… I thought it would be someone from those three. But if Hirata-kun says so…”
If Hirata who’s overflown with sense of justice isn’t telling a lie, Shinohara had no choice but to believe it.
“It should be fine once I tidy up the luggage. We can discuss if from then on.”
After all the inspection ended, I hurriedly returned inside the tent. Soon after Hirata came along.
“Hirata… Why didn’t you tell them?” I honestly asked.
“It is the underwear that you were having in your pocket, right?”
“Karuizawa’s underwear… Did you take them, Ayanokouji-kun?”
“No, that’s wrong.” How will this good young man take my short denial?
“I trust you. You’re not that kind of person. But why having them in the pocket?”
There was no way I couldn’t answer that after he told he believed me without hesitation. I told him honestly about them being in Ike’s bag. Hirata showed his brooding gesture for a moment.
“Is that so? Then it wasn’t you for sure. But I don’t think Ike-kun and Yamauchi-kun did either. If it’s a culprit in the first place I wonder if they couldn’t put it in their own bag. I have a theory they hid it in another place.”
Without telling some difficult explanation, Hirata saved me with his usual quick-wittedness.
“I can take care of the underwear, if you’d like.”
“Sounds good… But is it okay?”
Having this is similar to holding the joker card – something that is hard to process.
“Even if I turn out to be the worst culprit, it will have minimal damage on me. They’ll think I’m pretty much her boyfriend.”
With saying this, Hirata put the underwear inside the plastic bag used for the toilet. I wonder if Karuizawa would be happy knowing he touched her underwear with bare hands.
“However… With this we’ve found out one bad news. Knowing the underwear was in Ike-kun’s bag, high chances are there’s a culprit in the class.”
“I see…” No matter what, if other class’ students were wandering around then someone must have seen them for sure.
After leaving the tent, I looked around the surroundings. Our bags were wrapped in plastic one by one and put casually in front of the tent. A few meters away there was a tent where Karuizawa and the others were sleeping. Until the incident happened, the girls’ bags were piled up unprotectedly as well. You could easily steal something if you wanted to. I easily searched through Ibuki’s bag on the first day.
The question is – when it was stolen. It wasn’t for sure until we had a shower, so crime was conducted between yesterday around 8 PM until early morning around 7 AM. If that’s the case, anyone in the class could have done it. However, I didn’t think the crime happened in the middle of the night. Someone would have carried a flashlight in the pitch-black surroundings and would have been caught by its light if they had snooped around the bags. If so, the sunrise around 5 o’clock in the early morning was highly possible to be the time.
Well, even if we narrowed down the time of crime, it would be hard to narrow down the culprit from there.
What if… We change the perspective a little bit? The reason why Karuizawa would be the one stealing her underwear is to hide them inside Ike’s bag. But what did she want to achieve with that?
“I believe you’re not a culprit. That’s why I saved you.”
“O-oh. Thank you.”
“But that’s not all… I want you to find the culprit.” Hirata requsted earnestly while taking my hand.
“Me, to find?”
“It will be uneasy if the culprit isn’t found, boy or girl regardless. Truth to be told, it would be the best if I find them, but it looks difficult to devote time to put everyone together…”
Well, there are behavior restriction tagged along to the class’ center person such as Hirata.
“Person involved in the crime is certainly worried about the culprit. I don’t think a person who would do things like hiding the underwear in Ike’s bag can be easily found.”
Were we fully aware of that thing? Even Hirata was supposed to know that finding the culprit is hard.
“… Well, I’ll do as much as I can for the time being. Don’t have excessive expectations.”
“Thank you! Thank you, Ayanokouji-kun!” While saying thanks with embracing spirit, Hirata deeply and thankfully lowered his head. It’s not that I didn’t understand Hirata’s grateful feelings, but his response seemed a little over-excessive. The theft of this underwear was probably an extremely troublesome case to Hirata. It would be an evidence of him as a leader taking seriously a crisis that had come to the class in order.
“And then, if you find the culprit… At that time I want you to tell me first. Certainly don’t tell it to anyone else.”
His ability to convey strong emotions with appealing eyes is strongly assertive. It was eerie that they looked too dignified.
“If it becomes public, this class will again sustain a big damage. I want to avoid this. That’s why I want to think of a method of getting a peaceful settlement through talking with the culprit. And if they reflect, we could be done with this story because of me.”
“In other words, you’ll hide the truth?”
“Hide, huh… It’s a bad wording, but even if it’s taken that way it cannot be helped. Even if someone from the guys is the culprit, I think the truth should be hidden.”
He fixed his pupils on me intensively. It looks like he’s saying he’s willing to protect the perpetrator.
“I understand. So I’ll report to you first. Is that alright?”
“Thank you. …So, I’ll go back to work.”
Coming outside the tent, Hirata soon called out other students as if starting something. Multiple silhouettes I’d seen from the seat were becoming distant.
“Yousuke Hirata. Are you D class’ hero?”
I felt one contradiction in Hirata’s story. He said the truth should be hidden even if the perpetrator is a boy right after he said he saved me because he trusted me. In other words, even if someone had the underwear, the truth will be hidden from girls. Hirata didn’t have full trust in me. Let alone that, he probably highly supposed there was a chance that I was the perpetrator. That’s a natural thing, of course. From outsider’s perspective I, who had the underwear, am saying that Ike is the culprit. That’s why Hirata by giving me, who might be the culprit, the role of the detective spilt the thread of salvation and gave a warning not to cause second offence at the same time. While thinking this way, I could grasp the story. The only thing certain is to forget the incident.
I also had thoughts of Hirata being the culprit, but… Well, it would soon come to light.