1 – 6 : Chapter 1 ALMOST PARADISE : Good bye, WADATSUMI / He and a little witch of Tokyo Bay

 Because baitfish coming back to the purified river kept increasing their quantity, in recent days it was not rare that sea-mammals were entering the inner part of Tokyo bay chasing their prey. They often reached even points in the pretty distance from the estuary. For example, like a regular in a restaurant, tiny whales, dolphins appeared and ate enough fish such as anchovies, and went back to the sea after had filled up their bellies like balloons. Moreover, some kinds were even living in the river. In this river, ‘other big mammals’ was not a special species which we hardly see them.

 Especially, the very familiar existence was Finless porpoise living in the inner part of the estuary area. Without a doubt, they were a good neighbor for the children. The pirate children basically put a distance from other sea mammals for several reasons, but some groups of Finless porpoises choosing the river mouth area as their territory were the precious exceptions to the kids. Finless porpoise that is classified as a kind of little whale has a body about from 1 to 2 meters in length, and this area’s individuals mostly has light gray skin like milky white.

 They were making a good relationship with pirates around the river mouth, not only to show wisdom and deep curiosity as their characteristic of species but were almost all the time gently behaving like senior friends to human kids on this river. On each spring, when new human kids joined each pirate, they appeared to a welcome swimming party very naturally with faces like senior students, who were welcoming the freshmen or purposing to evaluate the youngers for scouting to club activities. Or, after breeding season, they usually came up for showing their newborn babies to the human kids. The pirate’s kids also were very looking forward to the chance to meet the babies every year. And of course, in every daily life, the time to train together with young individuals about methods of new fishing ways which mastered recently was one of the best joyful times for the kids.

 But all of these occasions were strongly relying on a social relationship with the trusted neighbors. Because a dangerous possibility of a stray dolphin had been well known by people of the river.

 As well known, a high intellectual ability has two aspects, the good aspect, and the dark-side.

 For example, some years ago, at the time when people had groped yet for the way of the making relationship with the renewed river, the one case showing the dark side had happened.

 A young female tourist from overseas excited by the encounter with the new lifestyle in the pure environment like prehistory had recklessly dived into the river and as a result, had been attacked by a ‘pacific white-sided dolphin’. This dolphin had been a straying matured male, and being in the situation with highly serious sexual frustration for had getting forced out from its flock.

 At first, the male dolphin had tried to rape the woman but naturally because the purpose had not been accomplished, so it had seemed that he had decided to consume his unsatisfied greed by direct violence against her in the public. He had endlessly beaten and poked the woman using his snout and tail, thoroughly toyed with her as if intending to kill. During the time, until some people had dived to save her, it had seemed that the animal was even showing a smile that humans could understand.

 As the sad fate of a high intellectual animal, as same as humankind, dolphins too hold both a cruel side and a good side. Some of them secretly hide the atrocious nature behind a smile as same as a psychopath of mankind. Some video reports about this fact can be found on the Internet, and they show a very violent nature, and sometimes kill other tiny kind dolphins as toying, sometimes even neighbors’ babies too. 

 So, ‘If you notice unknown dolphins, you must go up from the water soon, anyway.’, this was an important slogan of the pirates of the river. (*About the cruel nature of dolphins there are many hypotheses still now. Please believe in the opinion which you want to believe in.)

 For this reason, when he received the report calling and heard that his first mission as a new ranger was about a dolphin, Ho’ori could not help feeling nervous. Naturally in his office also it had been known that the one stranger dolphin strayed into the river since the night two days ago. And so, the process to stream emergency news about stray mammals to children of the river had been already taken. But despite such efforts of adults, when he received the phone call in at early afternoon, that report was conveying that some kids were trying to approach the dolphin.

 Because it was in spring yet, under the water also must be so cold yet. At the time when he arrived at the point on the river shore, the root of the Tsukuda bridge, Ho’ori noticed the two kids, who wore thick wet suits and being surrounded by many kids. The two were shivering at the center of the noisy crowd despite their chloroprene armors.

 It seemed that they had gotten ashore just before his arrival, the two kid’s heads and bodies were completely wet with the cold water yet. The breaths were deep white and from their nose holes the mucus was leaking out endlessly, and their teeth sometimes chattered pitifully. But, the two kids seemed never to care about their own condition at all. Having their arms folded, they were only staring at the distant water surface with keen eyes very seriously.

 “Dry your body well, anyway.”

  Ho’ori gave them dry towels and tried to begin a little preaching, but,

  “That dolphin, being injured!”

  “A lure is hooking up to his mouth and its long nylon line is binding his snout. If no one will remove them, and he will be kept in that situation, he can’t eat fish and should die within a few days! Why such a thick line has been used in such a season?! Who is an such idiot?!!”

 “But he avoids us. He is strongly showing wariness against humans.”

 “That is ‘common dolphin’! This is a species that has very strong wariness!”

 The two kids, the girl and the boy, told at a fast pace and didn’t give Ho’ori a chance to open his mouth. And in the end, a lower-grade boy called ‘Dr. sea-mammal’ shouted and added a scientific explanation.

 After all, to take the lure and the fishing line off from the animal, the children and some adults decided to catch by leading the dolphin into fishing nets fixed on the shallows during the lowest tide time of the next day. So, Ho’ori was left at the scene as a watcher of the children preparing for tomorrow’s work. Also, he had been given a role to become a chaser of the dolphin on the next day as a public employee related to the river.

 He was watching the kids while feeling some anxiety about his own mission of the next day.

 Spurring the bayaks, the kids were cheerfully sliding on the surface of the river, and entering into the water here and there without hesitation, carefully and tightly making metal pipes stand to the bottom of the shallows to construct the prop of the net.

 (I can really work well like them?)

 At the time, suddenly, from his rear,

 “Are you a new ranger? What are they doing?”

 Looked back, Ho’ori noticed a girl, who he never met until then, had been standing in his rear. The girl was wearing a sailor-style uniform of a nearby junior high school and giving off the clear atmosphere like pure water. She was quietly smiling at the center of his view sight.

 “You can look at that dolphin. It seems a stray individual. And being emaciated because the fishing hook and the nylon line are binding the mouth. So, we have a plan to save him by leading him into the net at the low tide tomorrow. That kids are preparing for that. They are really amazing kids, aren’t they?”

 He replied so, turned his eyes to the river again. After that, because something was making small sounds in his rear, he was thinking it seemed that also this girl decided to observe the kids by her curiosity. 

 But after more minutes, he was very surprised at the girl who took a step to his just side. Before noticing it, she had changed clothes from a sailor uniform to a black tight dive skin suits covering the almost whole body from under the neck to wrists and ankles. That slender body looked like a shadow that suddenly stood up in the spring warm sunlight.

 She was strongly rubbing the surface of the body from on the thin chemical cloth of the suits. Of course, though her subcutaneous fat looked not to be enough yet for that purpose, Ho’ori got startled again by one idea suddenly appearing into his mind, about what she would try to do from now.

 “Hey, you…,”

 “Oh, this wear? I’m wearing this suit under the uniform almost every day. In my school, black tights are allowed, so teachers cannot notice this usually.”

 “No, I’m not interested in what your teachers are interested in. Are you thinking seriously, to try to dive into this cold water with your style of now? Hey, look at them, they are wearing 5mm-thickness full wet suits. But…, you, look wearing summer style. Isn’t it?”

 “Yes, of course. Cause this thinness gives my motion smoother.”

 She said just so in a very natural face, and soon, dived into the water.

 When her face showed up onto the surface of the river, some pirate children working not far from the two noticed this girl. They stopped their job and stared at her.

 “Toyomi!”  “Toyomi has come!”

 Ho’ori heard some voices like that from the crowd. But at that moment,

 “Sure enough, it so cold yet!”

 The girl, Toyomi who was showing the face on the water surface, made her whole body toward Ho’ori and said so like shouting with a shivering voice while breathing out white breath. But it echoed very cheerfully.

 “It must be very natural! …Wait!”

 He stopped her, just before Toyomi tried to show the back to Ho’ori. Somehow, in that time, he was believing in that she would perform that work very well, without any doubt.

 And for that reason,

 “Use this!”

 He threw his multi-tool which had the tip of the cutting-plier, to her. If the hook point had been catching the skin of the dolphin deeply to over its barb, directly to cut the hook itself by a plier will be so better and earlier than untying complex fishing line or pulling out the tip of the hook by force. Moreover, it can enable us to expect the damage to the mind and skins of the dolphin to be lower as a result because of reducing the time of touching the wild dolphin with the hands of a human.

 Toyomi stretched up her body on the water surface and succeeded in catching the tool well. And then, the girl glanced at him. Ho’ori saw her eyes were filled up with vitality. The pure and clear aura was perfectly in the harmony with colors of the river water. Soon, she deeply breathed in and disappeared into the water as if sliding into the invisible slit deeper and deeper. What a brave and bold girl. Ho’ori had unconsciously grinned.

Ⓒ2016 Takagi Tokio

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