Family Visit

Karen Savoy / Sputnik Photography

Koichi Domo Smith got off the train and looked around the empty station. The vast green emptiness he had witnessed wasn’t bad to look at. The air here was so crisp. It made sense since he was so far from the city. In a way, this is precisely what Koichi felt he needed. He sat on a bench to check his phone to see if he had any messages from his grandfather or parents.  He noticed he had only one bar. And a message from his mom saying they won’t be able to make it. Seriously, what was the point of them deciding to have a family holiday if they weren’t even going to attend?  

“Oy there, is that the young mister of the Domo house?” 

Koichi turned to see a young man poking his head out of the ticket booth. The man saw Koichi nodding and rushed to greet Koichi in person.  

“You should have come to the booth, sir! I tol’ Mr. Domo I’ll be bringin’ his boy over. Yes, I did! Oh, I forgot to introduce myself! My name is James.”  

The man wiped his hand on his uniform and extended it to a perplexed Koichi. Koichi shook his hand, questioning why someone would behave this way towards him. Koichi’s mother, Marie, had never told him much about her life. However, having someone treat him with such respect was something he wished his mom would have told him about.  

The two men drove for a while until they reached a western mansion ten minutes from the village. Koichi’s grandfather walked out. He gave Koichi a once-over before approaching Koichi.  

“You look just like your mother… Don’t just stand there; come on in. Your room is on the top floor to the right with the violet door. Get changed. We have guests tonight.” 

Koichi nodded, not sure what to say to the man. He didn’t know him, and it seemed he would spend the holiday meeting more people he didn’t know. His grandfather walked him to his room and the man hugged him before Koichi could go in.  

The inside of the room seemed to have been cleaned up. There was a giant picture of two women hugging hung over the dresser. Koichi could discern one of them being a younger version of his mother, but he had never seen the other woman before. He assumed this must be his aunt, Anne, whom he had rarely ever heard about. The topic of his aunt had only been brought up around holidays, as this was when his mother would do a small prayer in remembrance. They never talked about her, but Koichi knew she was a memory that haunted his mother eternally.  

There was also a window overlooking the grounds and a roadside temple just a little bit away from the house.  

It was around eight when Koichi heard knocking on his bedroom door.  

When he opened the door, his grandfather was beckoning him downstairs. A woman in a western blue gown stood at the bottom of the stairs. She looked up at Koichi. Koichi saw shock in her eyes for a second, but she quickly schooled her expression back to a disinterested look.  

“Honzo, that boy truly does look like his mother. You must be very proud.” 

The way she spoke seemed to have a double meaning. Koichi looked towards his grandfather, who appeared to ignore the woman.  

It didn’t take long, but soon, the dinner table was surrounded by three people Koichi had never seen before, the man from the ticket counter and his grandfather. There was a man with a highly bushy beard named Jaque Blanc, the woman in blue named Adrienne Greene and another man with a scar across his face named Bushwick Rogue.  

Throughout the conversation, whenever Mr. Rogue would speak, Madame Greene would cut him off or make a face.  

“Are you trying to insult me?” Bushwick laughed, making everyone around the table look annoyed and uncomfortable.  

“I couldn’t even if I wanted to,” said Madame Greene. 

“This will be the last time you insult me for sure.” 

The clock struck 10 p.m., and Mr. Bushwick got up. The others looked towards the clock and got up as well. 

“Well, time for tradition. Bring over the box,” said Bushwick. 

Koichi was confused as the grown adults around him looked uncomfortable, except for Bushwick, who had a grin plastered on his face.  

James brought a small lottery box and handed it to Koichi’s grandfather.  

“Koichi, you may not know this story. Our town has a story. We have a lonely god of the land named Saach, with whom we have  

someone from the main families spend the holidays. You just go to the temple and spend your night there.” 

“I see,” said Koichi. 

“Did Marie not teach the boy a single thing?” asked Jaque. 

“That’s, frankly, none of your business. Anyway, the history is more like it was a place for wanderers and someone was meant to make sure they had someone to help them during the holidays and it eventually came to this… The tradition stands that someone stays there for 12 hours. The whole thing is just one big room with no back entrances. It’s really simple…” 

Honzo went on for a bit longer, explaining the situation as the group travelled to the temple.  

The temple itself was as described by Honzo. It indeed was very simple. In itself, it was just one room. However, Koichi noticed the fact the ceilings were high. The windows were all close to the roof as well.  

There was one bed placed in a corner of the room. This was all it seemed. The group said their goodbye to Bushwick and moved on.  

In the night, Koichi woke once during his sleep. Everything was dark, but he had felt a little uncomfortable. He had, after all, never stayed in a place like this. The air felt damp, and he felt his heart racing. He walked to his balcony for some fresh air. It was around 3 a.m. on his watch. He looked outside and, in the distance, he noticed the light was still on in the temple. He took a few deep breaths and came back into the room.  

It was 11 a.m. the following day when James came rushing into the house. Koichi had spent his morning in his room. He felt a little embarrassed because he was sure he saw his grandfather out gardening the moment he woke up.  

Madame Greene and Mr. Blanc had also been summoned. Everyone stood in front of the temple. James brought out an axe, and Jacque and Madame quickly moved out of the way with worry in their eyes.  

“What’s the meaning of this, James?” Madame Greene looked red in the face.  

“Mr. Bushwick still hasn’t come back. It’s been an hour.” 

“Perhaps he’s still asleep?” asked Jaque. 

“I thought so, but no one responded, no matter how hard I banged on the door. I am getting worried, sir.”  

James brought his axe down. The broken door let in light to the hanging body of Bushwick. There was a barrage of screams and gasps. James rushed to try to find something to climb on.  

“Be calm, boy!” said Jacque. 

Koichi took a moment to gain his composure, then began looking around the room with James. There was nothing around the room where someone could hide and the place had no hidden rooms. They began looking around the temple and found no ladder or any way there could have been someone else. The group went to Koichi’s grandfather’s home to call the local authorities. The police officer took over an hour to make it to the temple and then another five to the house. At that time, Koichi noticed everyone had left for at least 10 minutes out of the room themselves. 

“I saw the door, but are you sure, Bushwick was there?” The police officer made a spitting sound as if saying the name was some sort of sin. “We didn’t see his body.” 

“We ALL saw it! What do you mean the body wasn’t there? We saw his corpse hanging from the rafters,” said Greene.  

“Well, Ma’am, we didn’t see him.”  

Greene huffed, got up from her spot and started pacing.  

“The door was locked when we got there, but there was no ladder in sight. Plus, the door was locked from the inside. How could he have possibly hung himself and then hidden a ladder somewhere?” Blanc asked the policeman, who looked confused.  

 “Perhaps there was someone else there?” asked James. 

 “But the door was locked from the inside,” replied Koichi, pondering the whole situation. 

 “Perhaps it was Saach. They finally punished Bushwick for…” James began but then trailed off without finishing his sentence.  

Everyone seemed very uncomfortable at the implications. They found nothing indicating the corpse, but Bushwick was missing. Until the morning, at least. The next morning, when Koichi woke up, his grandfather was just getting off the phone.  

“What happened?” 

“They found Bushwick’s head in Greene’s home.” 

Koichi gasped. How did the killer hang the body and lock the door from the inside and escape? And why was the head found in Miss Greene’s home? 

To find out what happens next, tune in to the audio version of the rest of the story here. 

This article was originally published in print Volume 23, Issue 4 on Thursday, Dec. 7.

You May Also Like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *