Ryo tread softly in his shoes one particular snowy morning in Yamanose as he walked towards town. Ine-san had warned him not to stay out too late. Perhaps she suspected that Ryo had fallen in with a dangerous crowd. Undeterred, Ryo set out from the Hazuki family dojo with a bit of cash, some chewing gum, and a notebook whose last written words were, “Must track down Charlie”, scribbled in ominous, black ink.
Suddenly, Ryo heard the faint cry of a kitten from a nearby playground. “Huh?” he uttered out loud and stopped in his tracks. His thoughts were interrupted; his quest was put on hold. He instinctively walked towards the shrine in the small park, and gazed silently at little Megumi, who was standing beside the kitten’s box, keeping a solemn, continuous vigil.
Come rain or snow, she never moved. She was there – an angel, a guardian, a surrogate mother. And even more, she was a symbol of innocence. Even Ryo, who was possessed by motives of vengeance and destructiveness in his heart, was compelled to stop for a moment to consider the contrast between himself and Megumi, and their circumstances. “I see…” he remarked to himself quite profoundly.
“You got a kitten in there?” Ryo asked Megumi.
She lowered her head in disgrace and stayed silent a moment. “….Do you promise not to tell my mommy?” She pleaded. Ryo nodded, and she moved out of the way. It was indeed a kitten, gray with sparkling eyes and joyously radiating the freshness of new life. Seeing the kitten stirred something deep within Ryo, something warm and fuzzy.
“Is this your kitten?” Ryo inquired.
“Nope,” Megumi responded. “But see, this kitty – she’s all alone!”
Ryo hesitated a moment. “…All alone?” he echoed.
“Yup. See, the other day when it rained, a car ran over her mommy!” Megumi exclaimed tearfully. “My big sister saw it – she said it was a big, black car!”
Pause. Slow motion. Ryo’s expression took on a concerned, thoughtful frown. He didn’t respond for about ten seconds. “….A black car?”
And then things were never the same. They couldn’t be, after what Ryo had seen and heard that morning. The kitten was so tiny, but already an orphan! Ryo had lost his father a few days ago, and had sworn revenge. His father’s killer was undoubtedly the driver of the same black car which had run over the kitten’s mother. It was an unspeakable horror – two consecutive, heartless murders by the same evildoer.
But the kitten could not blindly swear revenge. It could not kill in rage, or commit violence in response to such an injustice. She would never need to, as long as the love and compassion of a young girl who risked getting in trouble with her mommy persisted – and it always would. Ryo knew this as he watched her standing there in the cold. And in that moment, he felt a sort of longing connection with the kitten that he had never felt before.