|Title||Mitsuru Traubert's Blues|
|Chapters and Volumes|
One day while living in Tokyo Yamanoi Mitsuru, age 12, goes to his school on parent-teacher day. His mother however is not with him. His teacher says she would have liked to meet his mother, since she was a famous actress whom she admired. Then she looks down at Yamanoi's hands. There are is a wide bandage covering his left palm. When she inquires, he tells her that he was practicing kick-mounts on the uneven bars. She tells him not to push himself so hard. He was already the student council president and the representative for his grade after all.
When he leaves his teacher makes a note to herself that he has injuries to his hands, which he quickly made up a lie about. She thinks he may be getting abused at home. She then questions the need to send Child Protective Services (CPS) over to his house to investigate.
When he gets home from school he removes numerous past due bills and letters demanding money from around the outside of his apartment. When he enters he quickly shreds them. His mother greets him and asks what he's ripping up. He tells her they are letters from obsessed fans. His mother was once an actress who has "retired." She says that whenever they move her "fans" continue to find her, begging for her to make a comeback. She is obviously delusional, her son easily lies to her about bill collectors in order to spare her feelings.
She then approaches Yamanoi and asks to see his test results. She's flexing a conductor's baton, ready to discipline him even before seeing his scores. She does indeed beat the palms of his hands bloody, even though he has received perfect scores on his tests. She then expresses pride in her son, stating that perfection is what she expects from a Yamanoi. She tells him she doesn't like to whip him, to which he says understands, but she gives no explanation as to why she does it even when he brings home perfect test results.
Then it is time for dinner. Their refrigerator is practically bare, and in their trash-filled kitchen mother and son eat an onion and bread for their meal. When Ms. Yamanoi comments that there is so little to eat Mitsuru tells her that she needs to eat very little in order to stay slim and attractive for her acting career. She agrees with him, and complements his meals.
Suddenly she has a moment of clarity. She begins to apologize to her son for not being able to cook and clean like other mothers. He begins to tell her that he doesn't mind, but then she begins to lose her temper. She angrily says that she doesn't have the time to behave like everyone else because her time is consumed with lessons or theaters. Anger quickly escalates to rage. Mitsuru watches in shock as his mother rages on about her inability to find acting work. Raving, she claims that “no-talent whores” who have sex with producers are stealing the parts she deserves. At the height of her fury she's screaming loudly, and tosses her drink and dinner across the room.
Once she's out of breath she calms down, coming to her senses and feeling sad for having ruined dinner. Mitsuru quickly smiles at her and tells her that she really is a pure-bred actress for putting on such a performance. Overcome with emotion for her son, she thanks and hugs him.
It is after this drama that someone rings their doorbell. Mitsuru cautiously opens the door a crack and a man named Yamashita Natsuo introduces himself. He says he's from Child Protective Services and would like to speak to him. Mitsuru asks if they can speak somewhere away from his mother. So they go elsewhere in the apartment complex to talk. After assuring to Yamanoi it is safe for them to talk he immediately asks to see his hands. Yamanoi raises his palms and Yamashita is shocked by the raw, bloody condition they are in. He grasps Yamanoi by the shoulders and firmly tells him he will keep the him safe. He says he is taking him to the CPS center, but Yamanoi asks what will happen to his mother if he gets taken away from her. Yamashita tells him not to worry about her, the important thing is that nothing like this ever happens to him again. He decides that they should probably go to the hospital first. As he turns away to go Yamanoi snaps. He grabs the CPS worker by the tie, runs behind him, and crouches down, pulling the man down and backward. Using his own back as a lever's fulcrum, Yamanoi strangles Yamashita to death. As Yamashita dies he asks why Yamanoi is killing him, to which Yamanoi says
"I won't let anyone take mother."
Once the CPS worker is dead, Yamanoi drags his body up many stairs until he reaches roof of the apartment building. Looking up high he sees a water tank.
A week later, an email begins to circulate. It is from Yamashita Natsuo's wife. She says that her husband has been missing for a week and works for Child Protective Services. She is afraid that he has been in an accident or a victim of some sort. She would like any help in finding him.
Yamanoi realizes that he and his mother cannot stay in the area any longer. So he takes her to purchase tickets to the town of Karuizawa. While in the ticket office he notices a snow globe with a ballerina inside at a gift shop. He buys it for him mother's up-coming birthday.
As Yamanoi makes his way home a man who lives in his apartment building pours a drink of water from the faucet. It tastes disgusting and as he looks into his cup he notices a fingernail.
Once Yamanoi gets home there are police cars around his building. When he enters his apartment there are police officers talking to his mother. She looks up at him with a warm expression. She says the police are telling her a very odd story, but he's a good boy, right? An officer steps forward and says,
"We're here about the water tank. I think you know where this is going."
He drops the snow globe and it shatters on the floor.
The title of this chapter, “Mitsuru Traubert’s Blues,” is a reference to the song “Tom Traubert’s Blues” by Tom Waits.