中学校をサボってまで成田空港まで見送りに来てくれたK君

色々と殺伐とした事件が発生しているこの世の中だが、「生きていて良かった」という話をしよう。それは、1987年10月24日のことだった。オレは、立川市立第六中学校に通っていたのだが、アメリカに転校することになった。クラスの友人、部活の友人から盛大な送別会を開いてもらえ、実に幸せな瞬間だった。


10月24日、ついに人生初の海外、しかも、アメリカの学校に転校する――こうした実にストロングな人生の転機を迎え、飛行機に乗る前のオレは「あぁ、もう戻れないのだ......」と嘆息していたのだった。

その時だった。なんと、その場に現れたのは、K君だった。小学5、6年生の時に同じクラスで、中学1年生で一緒の卓球部に入り、その後彼が野球部に転部したが故にオレも後追いし、未経験の野球部に入るほど彼のことが好きだったのだ。

彼は、5年生の時肥満児だったオレに対し、「あのさ、これ、いや、もしよかったらでいいんだけど、うちのオヤジが飲んでいるんで、もしよかったら飲んでよ。いや、無理強いするわけではないからさ」と大人のような丁重かつ低姿勢な態度でオレに「減肥茶」をくれた男である。

デブという事実を彼も問題視しており、その後いかにオレのことを痩せさせようかと考えた結果の物言いだったのだろう。そうした彼の後押しもあり、オレは145cm・57kgの肥満児から翌年は158cm・42kgの普通の体型に戻るのである。このダイエット法についてはいずれ発表しよう。

で、話は成田空港に戻る。K君は立川から成田空港まで電車を乗り継いで来たのだった。学校をサボって。駅までのバス代と合わせて、往復4000円ほどはかかったことだろう。

当然、学校を無断欠勤することは厳重注意、場合によっては停学処分になるほどのものである。だが、K君は、日本を去るオレを最後に見送ってやろうと成田まで来てくれたのである。

「いや、最後をちゃんと見送りたかったんだ。後悔したくなかったし、よく分からない世界に行くから不安だろうと思ってさ......」

そうK君は言った。オレは、K君のその言葉に感動し、二人して抱き合い、泣いた。

さて、学校は果たしてK君にどんな処分を下したのか。

実は何もなかったのである。学校側は一切「何も知らなかった」というスタンスで、K君を叱責することもなければ、学級会でも問題にしなかった。

それから約5年、18歳になり、オレは日本に戻ったが、その時K君はとあるスーパーで、深夜に警備員として働いていた。その場にK君は中学時代の同級生を集め、スーパーの屋上で色々と語り合った。今、こんなことをツイッターに投稿したら絶対に炎上しているはずだが、こうしたバカなことをやっていたのである。

オレはK君にあの時のことを聞いた。

「あのさ、あの時はありがとう」

「いや、行かなくちゃいけないでしょ。別にオレは停学になろうがどうでもよかったんだよ。お前と違って勉強もできないし、先生から怒られるのには慣れていたしさ。でさ、オレ、みんなから色々な餞別も預かっていたし、それを渡すのはオレしかいなかったから。先生だって『授業よりも大事なものがある』ってことは分かっていたと思うよ。だから、あの時は本当にまったく怒られなかった。オレはあの時行って良かったよ」

そして、その場にいた7人は「Kはエラかった。でも、中川がいなくなったことは本当にみんな寂しかったんだよ。今、こうして帰ってきて嬉しいよ」と言ってくれた。

K君は警備員をやりながら、夢を語った。

「オレはいつか居酒屋をやりたいんだ」

そして、それから1年後、K君は居酒屋のバイトになり、それから店長になり、31歳の時に自ら居酒屋を開いた。若い従業員からは慕われており、オレもその店で散々飲ませてもらった。その時、中学の同級生のO嬢は「私たちの中で一番K君がカッコイイ。10年前のことを有言実行した」と言った。それにオレも同意した。

まぁ、実に青臭い話ではあるが、K君のあの優しさがあるからこそ、私は今でも人間のことを信じていようと思っているのである(もはや「オレ」なんて言えないぜ、くそ)。

(文・中川淳一郎)

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