I always know when it is going to be a bad day. From the time that I was a child, I would get headaches so intense that I would barely be able to see my hand in front of my face. These headaches always preluded some sort of horrible event. In fifth grade, I was in bed with a headache for three days before we received news that my grandpa had passed away. I had another one the morning I found out that I had failed my college entrance exams.
But, on this particular morning, I woke up with the mother of all headaches. And sure enough, it turned out to be the worst day of my entire twenty-five years of existence.
My name is Yasuda Shota. Twenty-five years old. I work as a counselor at a mental health and rehabilitation clinic for what you might call 'wayward youth'. I'm your average young Japanese man.
I work way more than is healthy for any human being.
When I am not working, my friends drag me out for drinking and picking up trashy women. Two things of which hold very little interest for me. Working as a counselor at a rehabilitation clinic, I have seen substance abuse ruin many people's lives. Even drinking socially has little appeal.
Likewise, women have never had much appeal for me either. For as long as I can remember, I have never been attracted to a woman. The last woman I was in love with was my first grade teacher. And that was because she smelled just like my mom. In college, I dated a nice girl from Hokkaido before realizing that I have zero interest in the opposite gender. I don't consider myself gay, either. I can't really remember ever being attracted to a man either. That is, until I met him.
But then, I am getting ahead of myself again. Before I tell you about him, let me finish with the story of the worst day of my life. He was a big part of that day anyway.
I had left work early that day because my headache was so monstrous that I could focus on nothing but the throbbing. I bid my Co-workers farewell, assuring them that I would be back again the next day. Stepping out onto the sidewalk, the sunlight shone so bright that I had to lift my bag to shield my eyes, fearing that my head was about to explode.
The walk from the clinic was excruciatingly long, made even worse by the deafening sounds of traffic. By the time I reached the station, the pounding in my head had increased tenfold. I sighed in annoyance when I finally reached the train station.
Outside, there was a long line of police cars and ambulances. This usually only meant one thing. Someone had jumped off of the tracks into a speeding train. I mentally berated myself for getting upset over the situation. In my line of work I dealt with suicide on a daily basis. Hell, at least half of the patients at our clinic had attempted suicide at some point. It was one of the many curses of living in a society where suicide is socially acceptable. No matter how inconvenient 'the jumper' had made my day, he was a human being who had worries and fears. And if someone would have reached out to him, it might never have happened.
As I was beating myself up over feeling annoyed, the emergency response team emerged from the station carrying a stretcher. Around all sides of the stretcher, police men were holding up green tarps to keep onlookers from seeing the body. Another police officer was walking behind the stretcher, holding, what I imagine, was the deceased's belongings. In one had he carried a plastic evidence bag with a bloody shoe in it. In his other hand, was a brown leather Gucci bag.
My heart skipped a beat. I recognized that bag.
I squeezed through the crowd of curious onlookers.
"Sir, you have to stay back," an officer warned me as I rushed towards the stretcher.
"I think I know him..." I said breathlessly, praying that I was mistaken.
When I got close enough, I circled the stretcher, looking for any possible gap in the tarp. I finally found one towards the back, and peered through despite the officer who was trying to pull me away. The moment my eyes landed on the body, a limp, lifeless hand slid out from under the sheet. A silver ring adorning his finger flashed in the sunlight, blinding me temporarily.
I collapsed to my knees as the world fell down around me. It was him. Ohkura Tadayoshi.
It is probably ironic that on the night I first met Ohkura, I had one of my headaches.
The clinic where I work is a non-profit organization. Most of the boys who come in and out of the clinic are homeless. It was a very rare occasion that a kid would ever check himself into the clinic of his own free will. They were usually brought in by police officers who had nowhere else to put them. As minors, jail was out of the question. The streets were also too dangerous for children.
Rather than putting them into orphanages or with families who only took them in for the money that the government gave them, the chief doctor at the clinic allowed homeless boys of all ages. Murakami Shingo, the chief doctor, opened the clinic five years ago, after he had first graduated medical school. Although during work hours he was a bit of a hardass, he was one of the most compassionate and sensitive men in the world.
Without a penny to his name after graduation, Murakami went door to door collecting donations so that he could open a clinic. His dream was to open a place where he could help young boys so that they could succeed in the future. In the five years since the clinic opened, it has gone from a five member staff taking care of a handful of boys to a fifty plus staff serving over one hundred young men.
Murakami Shingo was not only my mentor, but also a true friend.
That night was particularly quiet. So quiet, in fact, that Murakami and I were standing around in the admissions area chatting. Around midnight, the front doors burst open and an officer entered. Behind him, he was dragging along a teenager in handcuffs.
"Ah! Yoko-kun!" I greeted happily, waving a bit. Officer Yokoyama usually always lightened the mood around the clinic.
Yoko was an officer with the local police department and was responsible for bringing in the majority of our patients. Like Murakami, Yokoyama also worked hard to help youth on the streets. Whenever we (or one of the boys he helped) thanked him, he would simply smile a cocky half smile, fold his arms over his chest and claim that it was all part of the job.
"It's Yokoyama-SAN," he gritted out, putting emphasis on the 'san'.
I bit my lip to keep from laughing. He was putting on his tough cop act. This usually only happened when he was bringing in a teenager who was dangerous or belligerent.
"I found this one sleeping on a park bench," Yokoyama muttered, pushing the teen forward.
I hurried over to the desk, where I grabbed a clipboard and slid some admissions paperwork under the metal clasp. I tossed it to Murakami, who caught it easily and pulled a pen out of his pocket.
"Name?" He asked, poising the pen over the paper.
"That's the problem," Yokoyama muttered. "He won't tell me who he is, where he's from, what he was doing..."
"Maybe he would be more willing to talk if you took the handcuffs off?" Murakami suggested.
Yokoyama looked reluctant, but reached into his pocket for the keys. After unlocking the cuffs and removing them, the young man turned up his nose in defiance. Yokoyama growled at his insolence and unsnapped his gun holster.
"Put it away!" Murakami scolded, smacking the officer on the head with the clipboard. I looked over at the young man who was biting his lip to keep from laughing.
"There must be some reason why he won't speak," the doctor continued to wonder.
"Maybe he's deaf?" I suggested. I turned to the young man and shouted, "ARE. YOU. DEAF?!"
This time, Murakami smacked me with the clipboard, "How is he supposed to hear you ask if he's deaf?!"
Just then, the young man burst into laughter. He doubled over, alternately smacking his knees and holding his sides as his laughing fit continued.
"Why you little..." Yoko began, eagerly rubbing his gun.
"Don't worry," I leaned over and whispered to the young man, "I heard his boss won't even let him have bullets for the gun."
This sent the young man into another fit of giggles.
"I heard that! And he does let me have bullets! I just can't keep them in the gun..."
"That's enough," Murakami scolded us. "Now, Yasuda, why don't you take him to room 156. We'll worry about the paperwork tomorrow."
I nodded and motioned for the young man to follow me. He stood still, seemingly refusing to come with me.
"Look, kid," Yoko began, "You have three options: you can stay here, or you can go to jail, or you can tell me where you live and I can take you home."
The youth sobered up at the third option, becoming compliant, "I'll stay."
Yokoyama nodded and tossed the kid a bag that I hadn't noticed. It was brown, genuine leather with 'Gucci' printed on it. It looked extremely expensive.
The newcomer caught the bag easily and slung it over his shoulder before coming to stand next to me.
"Let's go," I smiled, leading him down the hall. "There's no bedtime here, but quiet hours start at 10. You have to stay in your room during quiet hours, but you're free to read or whatever."
He nodded in understanding, still not speaking. From the corner of my eyes, I looked him up and down. He wasn't like our usual patients. His clothes looked new, his hygiene was impeccable, and then there was that designer bag. I guessed that he was probably some well-to-do kid who was bored and decided to run away. He would probably be gone within a week. I'd seen it a million times before.
"I'm Yasuda. I work as a counselor here, so if you need anything let me know."
He again nodded in understanding but did not reply. His behavior was strange.
"What's your name?" I decided to ask.
"It's Oh-" he paused, hesitating, "Tadayoshi. Just call me Tadayoshi."
I smiled, proud that I had gotten further than Yoko and Murakami.
"This is your room." I stopped outside a closed door. "You'll have a roommate," I commented as I knocked lightly on the door. The lights were still on so I assumed that Subaru was still awake.
The door opened a few seconds later and we were greeted by a shirtless young man. "Oh, Yasu. You are paying me a late night visit?" He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively. His eyes moved over to Tadayoshi. "And you brought a friend? Kinky..."
"This is your new roommate," I explained, ignoring his innuendo.
"A new one?" He hungrily eyed Tadayoshi, who was shifting uncomfortably under Subaru's gaze.
"You have to behave," I warned. "Don't you ever want to leave here?"
Subaru pouted. "It's hard. Besides, why would I want to leave when you keep giving me such cute roommates?"
I ignored him again. "Tadayoshi, this is Shibutani Subaru."
"Hi," Subaru shook Tadayoshi's hand. "I'm Subaru. Seventeen years old." He smiled. "And I'm a sex addict."
"Ehhhhh?" Tadayoshi's voice echoed through the hall.
Returning to the front of the clinic, Yoko and Shingo were drinking coffee and chatting.
"Why would you put such a good-looking kid with Subaru?" I wondered out loud. I was usually not one to question Murakami's methods, but it seemed to me like he had put a sheep in the lion's den.
Yoko perked up at the sound of Subaru's name. Shibutani-kun was the only reason that Yoko hung around so regularly (although that was only a hunch of Murakami's and mine at this time).
Interestingly, Subaru was one of the only patients in our care, currently, that Yokoyama did not bring in himself. Also noteworthy, is the fact that Subaru is one of the only patient's in our history who has ever walked in off of the streets and checked himself in.
From what I had gathered in our sessions together, Subaru's mother died when he was twelve. He had no other relatives to take care of him, and thus he became a ward of the state.
The courts put him into a foster home and shortly thereafter he ran away. He had been living on the streets, eating out of dumpsters and sleeping in parks, for a few weeks before he caught the attention of the yakuza. According to Yokoyama, the yakuza are recruiting members at younger and younger ages.
Now, for as long as the yakuza had been around, they have been involved in prostitution. Particularly popular in modern Japan is the prostitution of underage boys. Subaru has never told anyone the whole story (except perhaps Yoko), but from what I gathered, I believe he was probably prostituting for the Yakuza.
Two years before Tadayoshi had arrived on our doorstep, A fifteen-year-old Shibutani Subaru had walked into the clinic and asked to be admitted. At the time, he weighed only seventy pounds and was addicted to drugs.
As a ward of the state, we were legally obligated to report him. Not twenty minutes after calling the authorities, Yokoyama showed up. At the time, as it turns out, Yokoyama was working as an officer in the family courts and was assigned to Subaru's case.
"Where have you been?" He scolded Subaru, but hugged the boy close, ruffling his hair.
Subaru stepped back and shrugged. "Around."
Yokoyama looked displeased with that answer but grabbed Subaru's hand. "Come on. Let's go."
The young boy slipped his hand out of Yoko's grasp. "I want to stay here."
"No. Now come on. We're leaving."
"Yoko-san," Subaru began. "I'm sick. They can help me here."
Yokoyama looked at the boy with sad eyes. "What happened to you?"
Subaru answered with a simple, "Please."
In the end, Yokoyama couldn't say no to the boy. It was clear even back then how much he cared for him. Subaru was admitted to the clinic.
Weaning him off of the drugs and getting him to a healthy weight was the easy part.His real problem, however, was much deeper. The fifteen-year-old was far more damaged than anyone thought.
His problem showed up the first time about a month after he had arrived. I was sitting in my office going over some case reports. I was surprised when the door burst open and a very distressed looking Subaru entered.
"Ah, Shibutani-san, we don't have an appointment today," I mentioned as I watched with curiosity as Subaru locked the door behind him.
He turned to me, finally, and I noticed that he was pale and sweaty.
"It hurts..." He moaned, sitting himself in the chair across from my desk.
"What hurts?" I shot up, fearing that he had turned to self mutilation or had gotten ahold of some kind of drug.
He unbuttoned his pants and pushed them past his knees.
"What are you doing?" I exclaimed. "If it's physical, I can't help you. I'll call Murakami-sensei."
"No!" Subaru shouted, putting the phone back on the receiver. "You're my counselor. You said you would help me."
"I don't understand what the problem is," I began. "I don't know how to help."
"It's been a month..." Subaru began.
"Since you came here? Yes, and your progress has been amazing," I smiled and reached over, patting his hand.
He flinched away from my touch, getting even sweatier. "NO. Since I had sex." He rubbed his hands up and down his bare thighs.
"Oh," I said, stupidly. It had confirmed my suspicions that Subaru had been sexually abused prior to arriving. In many cases, those who run the prostitution rings get their prostitutes hooked onto drugs so that they are willing to have sex for a drug high. It would explain both his drug and sex addiction.
"I think its important that you remember that sex isn't a necessity." In all of my psychology classes, I'd never studied any cases of teenagers with sex addictions. In all honesty, I didn't think I would ever have to deal with it working in a youth clinic.
"I do need it," Subaru stood up and crossed over to my chair.
I was feeling extremely nervous. There was a half-naked fifteen year old boy in my locked office. I could get into a lot of trouble. I reached for the phone again. "I am not sure exactly how to help you. Let me call Murakami."
"I know how you can help me." Subaru leaned in close to me, and I could feel his hot breath on my neck. "Fuck me."
I shot out of my chair and backed away from him, "This is d-d-deviant behavior, S-s-subaru." My voice cracked, and he smiled, creeping closer towards me.
"I'll let you be on top," He said sweetly, staring at me with his big brown eyes.
I ran towards the door, trying to unlock it quickly, "Shin-chan! Help me!" I yelled for Murakami through the locked door.
"What are you doing? Why is the door locked?" He called from the other side.
My fingers finally managed to undo the lock and I yanked the door open. Murakami burst through the door, dropping his coffee on the floor. "What the hell?" he shouted, as he stared at Subaru chasing me around the room with his underwear pushed past his knees.
In the two years following that incident, Subaru had come a long way. He had finally realized that sex was not important, although he still claimed physical pain due to sexual absence.
After a year at the clinic, Murakami and I decided that it was time for Subaru to get a roommate. His first roommate lasted roughly twelve hours before demanding a room switch. He was not happy that his "faggy" roommate had tried to crawl into bed with him. Other roommates lasted longer. Most had already left the clinic.
For the most part Subaru was able to control his sexual urges. I decided to trust Murakami's judgment in putting Tadayoshi with Subaru.
"I think it will work out fine," The doctor smiled at me.
"He better be nice to Subaru," Yokoyama muttered into his coffee.
But at that time I was more worried about Tadayoshi.
So, that is the beginning of our story. Tadayoshi seemingly entered my world as silently as he left.
Back then, f I had known how the story ends, I never would have started it in the first place.