The Bakeneko: A Lawson Vampire Short Story
By Jon F. Merz
I stood and looked over my shoulder at Higashi. He shook his head, and then walked out on the verandah to light a cigarette. I joined him.
“Giant cats,” he said after taking a long drag on the butt.
“The world is a crazy place. Full of strange things.”
He blew out a trail of smoke. “Cats in Japanese history…we’ve always believed they had magical abilities. Split-tail cats, shape-shifting cats…you name it, we’ve got them embedded in our culture. But I never thought I’d see it become a reality.”
“Maybe you could just write it up as something else.”
I shrugged. “A bear attack?”
Higashi eyed me. “That would be lying.”
“Think of it more as keeping a secret that people don’t want to know about anyway.”
He took another drag on his cigarette. “What about you? What will you tell the parents of the Canadian man who was murdered?”
I looked out into the night. The rain continued to fall. “We understand bears back home a whole lot better than we understand shape-shifting cats. It’s probably a lot easier to just let them think one thing over the other.”
Higashi nodded. “That seems to be the case with a lot these days.”
Higashi smiled and sucked on his cigarette. “You’ll be leaving soon?”
“Nothing more for me to do here.”
Higashi finished his butt, turned, and shook my hand. “In that case, it’s been a pleasure meeting you. I’d better get back to the station and summon some help to get this cleaned up.” He started to walk down the gravel path. “Oh, by the way…”. He looked back at me. “Be sure to say hello to your colleague.”
“Yes, the nice man from the Canadian embassy who came here two days ago. Just before you arrived. Mister Anderson, I think his name was.” His smile deepened. “But I’m sure you know all about him. Don’t you, Lawson-san?”
I started to say something, but then Higashi merely waved, turned, and walked back down the path. Back to his world.
And soon enough, I’d be back in mine.