Hajime: Before The Desert
Hajime had cocooned himself in his apartment for two days. He wondered how long it would be before Wit found out about Shawn, but luckily for Hajime, these two days away from work were already scheduled. No one would expect anything from either one of them. Still, he didn’t even wanted to try to leave town. This would of course look suspicious, and Hajime wanted to steer clear from any confrontation with Wit until he knew what exactly to do.
Anyone who did not know Hajime would not be able to tell he was an enforcer. His hair had started to grow slightly longer than regulation cut – looking more like an ex-athlete or a fitness-centric civilian than anything else. His clothes were plain on his days off. Although he liked the feel of dress clothes, he preferred to look like everyone else when the work week was over. But most of all, Hajime was not at his desk, looking over files in the kitchen, or watching the news like most enforcers would do to get ahead. Anyone who walked into the apartment would find him – not right away, but after a few minutes of looking – wrapped lightly in a bed-sheet in the corner of his room next to the bed stand. He was watching the window as the sunlight came in, thinking of the main land.
Most of his thoughts followed the same patterns – his family, his wife, his daughter…the town he had left them in while he worked the Regions. It would be another two years before he was given retirement leave, unless he voluntarily left. This was not unheard of in his line of work, but most men had ambition and would not leave early. He once had ambition too when he was young, and he wondered if he had somehow traded his wife and daughter for it. For a long time he believed they were the cause of him taking up work, but now he was unsure why he did any of it.
Clouds obscured the sun and his thoughts were interrupted. This happened periodically. The sound of the faucet would distract him, or a garbage truck would crash outside. Somehow his mind would lapse to the last moment he had seen Shawn, the processing plant, the steel containment drums, the sound of water rushing, but his mind would not let him fully see the whole picture. And it was that stubborness of the mind that kept him cocooned in his room. He could barely remember the day before, but he remembered the important bits.
Each time he thought of Shawn, he wondered if he made the right choices, taken the right steps. He imagined being there now, reliving the previous afternoon. As if swept up by a dream, the sunlight would break through again and he would stop thinking at all about it. Perhaps the light gave him an excuse to think of happier things, or perhaps he was prolonging the period of time between denial and acceptance.
In all cases, Hajime had made a decision. He would take his time today and recoup, and then, tomorrow, he would gear up and drive back to Region Three. He could find some answers, even if he had to go out to the outskirts of town. If anything happened to him, his family would be notified, and he had specified in Wit’s contract that no details of his death would be disclosed. This was one of the nicer features of his career. Even if they considered him a traitor, they wouldn’t tell his family. He was sure this was for business reasons more than some act of integrity.
He thought of his daughter again, and then the offender. In a haze, it seemed as if the two were similar, although their physical builds and look were completely different. Maybe it was their shared habit of defiance that bridged the two of them in his mind. No matter what it was, Hajime needed to let it go. If his name was to be cleared, he would need her, and if he wanted any answers, he would need her alive. He preferred the latter scenario, but only for the relief that clarification could give him.