“When I say I can’t lend you, I mean not right now, Nobuhiko.”
Nobuhiko’s wailing stopped suddenly. Then, he raised his head and stared at me so hard that it burned a hole in my face.
It wasn’t just Nobuhiko’s cries that stopped. I was enveloped in a world of silence where I could not hear the wind or even the chirping of birds.
In a world where everything was silent, Nobuhiko and I stared at each other.
“Hey, Kingo. What are you talking about?”
Ryoko broke the silence. I saw Ryoko’s face with her eyes wide open at the side. It was as if she had just met a dead person.
“You’re not going to let him use your song at this very moment, are you?”
“Are you an idiot !? How can you help a man who treated you so badly and then deceived you to get his own reward !? You’re hopeless. Come on , we’re going to campus !”
“Ryoko, shut up !”
Ryoko grabbed my arm. But I shook her hand off and continued to exchange glances with Nobuhiko.
Ryoko was trying to keep Nobuhiko away from me for my sake. I was grateful for her kindness. Still, I could not obey her now.
If I turned my back on Nobuhiko at this point, I would regret it for the rest of my life.
“What do you mean for now? Why can’t you lend it to me now?”
Nobuhiko shouted so loudly that I was afraid his throat would tear with his own voice.
His pathetic desperation was almost painful to watch. But that didn’t move my heart. Nobuhiko is clearly lacking something. No, it is more correct to say that he has lost something.
“It’s because you don’t have the brilliance of a band member.”
That was my answer.
Nobuhiko had no answer. Ryoko, standing next to me, was also speechless.
Was she surprised or dumbfounded, or both?
I was feeling really calm as the two of them looked at me
“Nobuhiko, it looks like you had a hard time in Tokyo. Because of that, you’ve become a completely boring guy. When I thought you suddenly showed up at my place, you talked about money and men’s honor, and I was disappointed.”
“What are you talking about, you……”
“If you don’t understand what I’m trying to say, it’s because you’ve changed. You used to be ingenious in your lack of money. You can find a lot of different types of shoes and boots for sale in the market. Remember, Nobuhiko? Our first live……festival when we were freshmen in high school.”
“We were a terrible live performance, weren’t we? You were so nervous that you got the beat wrong and I couldn’t keep up with the rhythm. Yua also was trying so hard to sing that she couldn’t move her fingers, right?”
Bitter memories are like green, unripe fruit. A wry smile was on my face, but my heart was strangely warm.
“After we finished, the guys in class made fun of us, saying we were terrible at it and that we should stop. I was so embarrassed at the time that I really thought about quitting. But you were different. You took a bite out of them. Saying we’ll be better next year. I wondered where you got that confidence. But because you were the leader, I was able to keep going. Because I was with you, the cool rock star……”
I worshipped Nobuhiko as Ari san worshipped me. I was proud to follow his back and stand on the same stage with him.
“But I don’t see that spark in you now. Not only have you lost the spirit to pave the way, but you’re trying to cling to warmth by begging. That’s not rock ‘n’ roll at all. You’re not a band member worth lending a song to right now.”
I was willing to lend him a song because I believed he was a band member worthy of it.
Even if I had been kicked out of the band, even if I had been cuckolded, I had no doubt that he was a real band member with a passion for music and a glistening ambition.
Even though I hated him as a person and as a man, I could not deny his passion for music.
In other words, that was the only reason why I lent him my music.
If there is someone in this world who wants to hear my music, I need to get it through him.
I thought I could entrust that role to bandman Harada Nobuhiko, although it’s frustrating.
I didn’t need money or fame for that.
But that was only until a few days ago. I thought he still had a lot to offer as a band member, but I lost that feeling when I saw his disgusting behavior that showed no passion.
He is no longer a band member.
I can’t lend a song to someone who has no passion for music.
“No way…… How can I get you to approve of me then? I-I’m serious, okay !? I’m not giving up my dream of making it to the big stage !”
“You can say that as many times as you want, Nobuhiko. You know that there are a lot of band members who only talk, don’t you?”
“What should I do then !?”
“It’s obvious. If you are a band member, speak with sound, not words ! Unite the new Lyconess and play something that will make a difference. If you think I can trust you with my music……the prove it to me.”
Nobuhiko bit his lip and stared at me with tear-filled eyes that bored a hole in me.
I could tell from his reluctant expression that the new Lyconess was not going well. He hadn’t been able to finalize a contract with the firm, which must have caused the cracks to appear.
The ordeal he was given in that situation must have been a very high hurdle for him. It seems a bit harsh.
However, my pride as a provider of music would not be satisfied if a band that I lend an important song to did not overcome such a hurdle.
Nobuhiko accepted the condition. He stood up and held out his hand to me, wiping away his tears.
“I understood. I’ll make a sound in your heart and I’ll convince you. Just wait for me.”
I squeezed his hand back. I held his hand back, strongly, as if I would never release it.
“Yeah. But the limit is one month. One month from now, today, call me in Tokyo. I’ll see if I can find the new Lyconess there.”
This is a promise between band members, between men. We have nothing to say to each other.
So we parted for a while.
I had lost a lot of time. I had to go.
I jumped into the passenger seat and fastened my seatbelt. Next to me, Ryoko was fastening her seatbelt with the same disapproving look on her face.
“You’re really going to lend him your music?”
Ryoko is preppily angry. It doesn’t seem like she’s getting angry at Nobuhiko.
“I haven’t decided to lend it to him yet. I’ll see if it’s worth lending. It all depends on him.”
“Why are you going to such lengths? Do you still consider him a friend? Or do you feel guilty about breaking your promise?”
Ryoko’s fist pounded on the steering wheel. Her eyes, which had been filled with anger, were now filled with a seething emotion that could neither be described as sadness nor frustration, and they were slightly tearful.
“I don’t know why. I don’t know myself. Maybe I didn’t want to leave any lingering regret before the big concert. Even if I had the right to get back at him, I couldn’t be so duplicitous as to encourage Ari san with the same mouth that had brought Nobuhiko to the brink of despair.”
The most important thing for me right now is to go and deliver a song to Ari san. I’m going to encourage her to overcome the obstacles in her life, but on the other hand, I don’t think it’s right to put an end to someone’s dream.
Even if it’s a decision that people don’t understand, it would be a lie if I don’t stand in front of the microphone with a series of actions that would make Ari san proud.
“Besides, I didn’t want to destroy the potential.”
“Potential? As a band member?”
“Yes, that’s right. It would be easy for me to hate Nobuhiko and not lend him my songs. But that would be to destroy the potential of one band member. It’s the same as Nobuhiko who destroyed my potential once.”
“You mean you hate both of them?”
“That’s part of it. But more than that, I want Nobuhiko to realize that it’s not like a band member to drown out the sounds of others. It is easy for me to teach him, but it is meaningless unless he realizes this philosophy by himself. I think he will realize that when he has a setback as a band member. That is why I want Nobuhiko to have a proper setback. After that, I want him to become a real rock star. I don’t want to crush his potential as a band member.”
“I’m sorry, I really don’t get it. I don’t know what you mean.”
“I don’t get it either. I was pretty impulsive. But this is how I really feel. It’s the sound that’s echoing in my heart.”
“You really are a music fool. I’m coming with you to Tokyo. Don’t go to see them alone !”
“You’re going with me?”
“Of course ! I can’t let you meet them alone, it’s too dangerous. YOu signed the document as instructed…… You must consult me before signing any contracts in the future !”
Oh well, she’s starting to sound like an overprotective mother.
You’re a worrier, aren’t you? I was confused and did as I was told and signed it, but it won’t be the same in the future. …..I’m sure.
“I mean, even if you forgive him, you should get even more angry ! Don’t you even think about punching that insect !?”
“There’s no need for me to get angry. Ryoko got angry and punched him instead. Thanks to you, I feel better.”
“Haa……. You’re really pompous, we’re losing time….. I’ll get you out of here.”
“Oh, that’s right. Let’s go. Ari san is waiting for us.”
Ryoko’s tone was still twitchy. But I didn’t miss the slight smile in her eyes reflected in the room mirror.
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