Salsa's on the trail of a local killer, but why has he been shutting Taketo out of his investigation? Taketo wants answers, but he may not like what he learns. (slash!)
Outside the garden, Salsa was barking.
Taketo swung his legs off the verandah, and he watched the boy digging holes in the garden with a trowel. "He sure likes to dig, doesn't he?" he said, for lack of anything better to say.
"He's looking for the other side of the world," the young woman sitting next to him said.
"Salsa's annoying like this," Taketo said, ashamed. "He never listens."
She smiled. After a while, Taketo asked her, "Does he ever find it?"
"Of course." She seemed surprised by the question. "Look." She held out her hand, palm upward, then tipped it -- light flowed out, falling to the earth in shards then vanishing. "Do you understand about water?" she asked him. "It's also steam. It's also ice. But it's still water."
"Did we have that in school?" Taketo said, uncertain.
"I wanted him to go to school," she said wistfully. They watched the boy start a new hole. "He was very bright. I thought he would like it."
Taketo said, "He's old enough to go now, isn't he?"
"No," she said, "he'll never be old enough." The boy had set down his trowel and stared at them with an unblinking gaze that struck Taketo as familiar somehow.
The woman touched Taketo's cheek. "We're very sorry," she said simply.
"That stupid Salsa won't stop barking, will he?"
"Maybe later," she told him. The boy went back to digging holes.
Why wouldn't he stop barking? Taketo wondered. Stupid dog.