Even so, I couldn't forget my own preservation. A letter on the desk immediately caught my eye. As expected, it bore my name. Feverishly, I removed the seal. Inside, however, were none of the words I'd expected. What I'd anticipated were stinging words of censure, expounding on my sins. Such words, I'd feared, would utterly damn me in Okusan's or her daughter's eyes. On quick inspection, I knew I'd been spared. (I'd been spared, of course, only in the eyes of society, but the eyes of society, in this circumstance, dominated my thoughts.)
The contents of the letter were simple. They tended toward the abstract. K, by weakness of character, saw no hope of realizing his ambitions, and was therefore ending his life. After that, he'd added his thanks to me, in very plain language, for the assistance I'd provided. As one last act of assistance, he asked that I handle his affairs after his passing. The distress he would be causing Okusan was unpardonable, and I should by all means apologize on his behalf. He requested that I notify his kin back home. He touched briefly on all he needed to touch on, but there was no mention of the daughter. It occurred to me, after reading the letter through, that he'd purposefully avoided her. What pained me most of all, though, was the final phrase. He'd appended it, it appeared, to exhaust the ink in his pen. He should have, he wrote, died sooner. To what avail, he wondered, had he lived so long.
With trembling hands I rerolled and resealed the letter. I made a point of placing it back on the desk for all to see. I turned then, and for the first time noticed the splash of blood on the the fusuma.