Scrolls is a new 'experimental' collaboration in progress by James C. Hopkins and Yoko Danno. One of us writes the first half of a sentence and the other follows up the rest of the sentence. The latter begins the next sentence and drops it halfway, which is taken over by the former. Writing thus in turn we draw 'picture scrolls' with words. There is no rule except that a scroll should consist of five paragraphs. When we start a scroll we never know how it will develop and end. We have set out for adventures in an unknown land without a map or a compass.

♥  Scroll 27

I wandered alone in the forest until I came to a place where they told me the murder had occurred. I looked around, but didn't see anything except a black dog, whimpering and limping into a clump of bamboo trees. I followed the dog into the trees and onto a sandy path that seemed to lead deeper into the forest. "Why not" I thought, and headed down the path behind the dog, which seemed to be scenting along the path. The dog then stopped short and started digging the sand until he had uncovered what looked to be the remains of a small animal, perhaps a rat.

He pulled the animal out of the sand, and sped off down the path, despite of his supposedly wounded foot. I expected he had dug up a piece of sock or cloth or something that belonged to the victim, but I supposed that would have been too easy. With no idea how to proceed, I began walking down the path and came to a dead end, beyond which a big wooden house loomed up in the fog. I couldn't help but knock on the front door, and after a long while an old man appeared, seemingly irritated at having been awakened, and stood there glaring at me without speaking.

"Excuse me for bothering you," I started, but before I could finish the sentence, the black dog came out from behind the old man, barking at me. What is this?" I wondered, as a strange sense of dread began to rise up the back of my neck. "I've lost my wallet" I blurted out, without thinking, and tried to make sense of the weird situation. It might be that I had been killed by the old man and now awakened to a nightmare that was only starting to unfold, but that didn't seem to fit either. How could I be sure that there had actually been a murder, and what for I came upon the place?

I pinched myself to make sure that I was not dreaming, and all the while the old man kept staring at me, with the door wide open. Finally he spoke, as if someone coming out of a long sleep, and said, "Did I ever know you?" I wasn't sure because I felt no pain when the dog, coming outside, bit me in the leg suddenly—then everything went silent. I pulled my service revolver out of its holster and shot the man dead, spun, and regardless of the body lying peacefully in the entrance, I went into the house and to the living room, which, to my surprise, looked familiar to me.

There I found the box of shells that I had left behind the day before, when I had killed the man's wife and I reloaded the gun. Outside the sun was just beginning to decline and I left the house wondering why I had killed blindly those elderly people. By any chance they might have been my own parents and perhaps that was reason enough. "Now where's that dog?" I thought. The whole thing started because I followed the dog deep into the forest to get a clue to a murder which had been supposedly committed there. I had no idea that it turned out a real stroke of luck when the dog dug up the old lady's heart. "Here boy" I shouted down the empty path, whistling into the razor night.

Photo by Yoko Danno: Ohyamazaki, Kyoto.

Posted September, 2016.