Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Slam and Soar

Pain-killing clarity within a shot glass. It slices like a paper cut. Still stings. Face reflected in a Russian liquor bottle.  She doesn't even like the taste.  Take another shot and wince. It's better with orange juice but works harder straight.  The libator's equivalent of cutting oneself. Her razor blades burn her throat and leave no scars. Non that he can see. Not that he'd notice.

Why doesn't  he 'get it'. She's told him often enough. Perhaps that's the problem. She should  'suggest', 'ask', surreptitiously, program his responses. Women's wiles no? Not so wiley this fox.  Change him she would. Not much. Install a little more kindness. Instill less selfishness. Engineer a few more affectionate responses to make herself feel validated. Turn him on, switch him off. Make him march to the beat of her drum instead of being at his beck and call.

He controls her. Pushes her buttons, scrambles her circuits.  He yanks her chain, forces her to jerk, react, behave contrary to her nature.  Her response always predictable, robotic. She knows she's being manipulated but it's sweet manipulation and better than the alternative.  Being left to rust in some dark corner. Unnoticed. Unwatched. Unloved.  She thinks too much. Installs another application. Slams another shot.  She's feeling dizzy. A reminder that she is still human. This over imbibing isn't normal. This is a self-destructive coping mechanism. He has no heart. No capacity for real love. He's mechanical, all wires and motherboards, thoughtless. She loves him and despises him.. He loves and despises her but they are programmed to persist.

She reminds herself that he isn't mechanical, he's a man. Warm-blooded, thin-skinned and vulnerable. Wears his heart on his sleeve. Sometimes in his hand. She isn't the bottom of a bottle, it doesn't define her.She's pragmatic, sensitive, sensible. Their liaison is driven by mechanical compulsion and emotional extremes.  They love and hate with voracity at both ends of the spectrum. No middle ground.  Slam another. This time it dulls the pain but intensifies emotion. She thinks too much. 

He calls . . he always does. She answers. Switched on, turned on. Light in her eyes, affection in her voice. She can hear the smile in his. The program's on repeat.  He says "Jump!" she asks, "How high?"

She doesn't wait for an answer. She's already started to soar.

Posted for The Tenth Daughter of Memory "Extreme Robot Vodka"

Friday, December 17, 2010

Taken

The box arrives discretely packaged in brown, marked “DELICATE:” and leans seductively against the porch like a hooker in the doorway of a peep show. As his Camry pootles into the driveway a wry grin emerges on his normally sullen face for he knows what lies within his early Christmas Present.

Gears disengage and park brake ratchets. He scoops up the bottle hidden within a brown paper bag, disengages keys from ignition and excitedly exits his car. He walks purposefully towards the porch and prepares his house key for the lock. Looks briefly at the address on the box to ensure his delight is justified and opens the door.  He turns, tenderly lifts the elongated package, as you would a woman by the waist and carries it over the threshold.   Once inside he lays it gently on the dining table.
As a surgeon removes sutures, he gently scissors each line of packing tape, unseals the box and stares longingly at its contents, for they are stunning and exceed all expectations.

Lying nestled among white tissue paper is a woman. Perfectly fleshed and proportioned, manicured and pedicured with seductive partly-opened lips and longing lashes. She wears nothing more than a black lace bra and g-string. Her skin is tanned yet tiny veins protrude from the backs of her hands, the crest of her ample breasts and the tops of her delicate, nail-painted feet. She is gorgeous.

Discretion being the better part of valour, he draws the blinds against possible prying eyes. She is for his eyes only. Dim orange light highlights her rouged cheeks. He takes a glass from the buffet and pours  himself a stiff drink while something else begins to stiffen.  Just a fingerful of Stolichnaya which he sips rather than slams before dabbing his lascivious lips with the back of his hand and sighs as the the tasteless liquor burns his throat.

Always one to read instructions, he fumbles beneath the tissue paper and retrieves the book and remote control. Written concisely with diagrams for maintenance and repair, he absorbs all salient information about operation, body function and all-important hygiene.

Thrilled with his surrogate lover but not yet ready to test drive the beauty, he leaves her languishing in all her glory on the dining table. Tonight is Bingo night at the RSL and he might have a chance with that rather fulsome woman he’s been eyeing on table 10 and he relishes the thought that a sexual liaison with real flesh might be on the cards. Another swig of Vodka and Dutch courage kicks in. He exits the house, off to
 Bingo, in the hope of romance and a win, totally unaware that he is under observation.

His observer has been noting his abject predictability.  Bingo on Wednesdays, late-night shopping on Thursday, a  'constitutional' walk at exactly 7pm every other evening. Rising at 6, work at 8 and is never home before 5:30.  He knows there’s an awesome sound system inside. He’s heard Barber’s Adagio streaming from the house, even seen the man conducting the invisible strings with a chopstick in his hand.  He knows that he’s recently purchased a wide screen, digital television. It’s large enough for him to see the porn on screen when the curtains are not properly drawn. He’s even had a hard-on more than once thanks to glimpses of naked women, writhing and 'enjoying' each other’s company. He's rather partial to lesbian sex.

Prizing the latch is easy and the old wooden doors at the rear of the house, give way. He's in the family room, adjoining the dining room and his eyes are drawn to a large box resembling a cardboard coffin sitting on the dining table. Accompanying the box, a barely opened bottle of Stolichnaya ready for the drinking. “Bonus!” he thinks aloud, “Telly, sound system and  . . . well, well, well! What have we here?”  The box piques more than curiosity.

"Fuck’n ‘ell" he surprises himself with the volume of his response.  "You’re hot! And those tits? Gawd they look real!”  He gazes on the scantily clad beauty and is unable to resist fondling the araoli visible beneath her bra.  Their light and rubbery texture causing a ruction in his trousers.

He removes the 50kg woman from her resting place as gently as if she was flesh and places her neatly on all fours upon the Berber rug. Her limbs are pliable and easily bend into position.  He removes her underwear with gentleness, almost forgetting she’s not real and admires the purpose-made orifice between her buttocks and legs. "Jesus you’re lifelike," again, said a little too loud but since the object of his desire hears nothing, she won't be offended.

Not waiting to read the instructions and with plenty of time to spare, he fumbles at the remote control, mouthing the words adjacent to a plethora of buttons, “Oral, anal, vaginal . . .hmmm. Voice . . sultry, dominatrix, motherly.”  He makes appropriate selections before checking speed and gyration, “Fuck this is awesome!" He selects a mid-range speed and presses the green button. Eyes roll with delight as madam begins to pivot back and forth, moaning and groaning in what could only be described as her sultry voice. Mouth opening and closing, soft nippled latex breasts wobbling beneath her so realistically he has to check them out with fingers and tongue before he admires the said replica of female sexual anatomy forcing itself back and forth in his general direction.

Cajoled and bewitched by the moans of "
Take me baby, yeh, there . . awww, you're so big . . yeh . . touch me there . . " He takes a goodly gulp of vodka, drops his daks

Before he can disengage and attend to his primary purpose, his seed is swimming upwards with the same robotic determination demonstrated by its recipient who is still moving back and forth and begging “Take me baby, yeh, there . . awww, you're so big . . yeh . . touch me there . . "  

Zealous sperm are unaware that the complex wiring they desire is not a fallopian tube and cause the lady to mechanically vibrate and quiver with the onslaught. They swim through and beyond the ICAXE-25 Project board, ignoring the USB PICAXE Programming table, soaking the LD293d Motor Driver and totally sizzling the Servo S03N,  Infra Red Rangefinders, Male Pins and Female Header jumpers. His microscopic swimmers are banjaxing the whole shebang.

Panic sets in as the little woman seems to have developed an extraordinary pelvic grip and vaginal muscles befitting a lifetime of hard core Kegel exercises. The vice-like combination now refuse to release the flaccid love tool. She wobbles like a jelly and rocks with gay abandon, rather faster than is sexually stimulating. Her voice now sounding frantic, its erotic effect completely evapourated. " Takemebabyehthereawwyou'resobigyeh," Takemebabyehthereawwyou'resobigyeh," Takemebabyehthereawwyou'resobigyeh."

Panic turns to pain as the intrepid burglar realises he's not going anywhere too soon. The sexbot is not about to release her carnal grip. Arms flail as he attempts to reach for the remote control and knocks over the bottle of Stolly, soaking every button. Despite desperate attempts, the extreme soaking will not turn our latex  Lolita off. She in fact metaphorically and physically, remains very much ‘turned on.’

For what seems an eternity the poor man is pushed, pulled and thrusted. Tears stream while his paramour is fixed with her latex smile, come-hither eyes, jingling bosom and crushing grip.

As the lovelorn homemaker returns from a loveless and luckless night, he is now eager to road-test his boxed beauty.  Upon entering his home, he’s far from impressed to discover the violation of his palace and worse still, his new toy.  He is however, in no hurry to admit to any police officer that the contraption belongs to him, even if she has ‘nabbed’ an intruder in the most intimate of embraces.
Because he has perused the manual, he is able to disengage a safety switch beneath the darling's hair, just below her ear and cease her constant grinds and thrusts. Although the vibrations continue for some time until the whole thing short-circuits with a fizz, voice and motion ends. The only sound now audible being the desperate groans and anxious pleas of the hapless burglar. His wedding tackle still tightly wedged between our latex leviathan's buttocks.

Feeling no sympathy, he roughly ushers the now blanket-covered burglar and his paramour, into the back seat of the Camry and tries to drive inconspicuously to the local hospital. The lovers still locked and loaded. Waiting Ambos and nurses can hardly suppress their amusement as the unfortunate couple are assisted onto a gurney, "One two three . . Lift". Both are still kneeling and tight in each others ‘embrace,’ now headed with some urgency to the operating theatre for surgical disengagement.

At this point, our mild mannered friend seizes the opportunity to do a runner and escape any embarrassing questions, safe in the knowledge that this particular intruder is unlikely to return.  He resolves to court the living doll on table 10 next Bingo night, since it's patently clear that a liaison with a sexbot can be . . . well . . extreme! 


Posted for the 10th Daughter of Memory "Extreme Robot Vodka"

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mother

"It'll seem different in the morning darling" she says with warm empathy tainting her normally pragmatic voice, "Everything's clearer in the light of day" she soothes.

"How? How will anything be different! " he protests, with anger and upset, making his voice quiver, "I'll still feel like shit. It's all fucked up I tell you totally fucked. Everything I did to make things good has turned out to be fucked. Everything. It's all been a waste of time. Good guys do finish last. I should be a total bastard!"

Her consolatory words are clearly missing their mark but she persists, "Not so. Uni wasn't a waste of time, it was an achievement and jobs, hey they come and go." He raises a disbelieving eyebrow, he's heard these words before from his overly optimistic and luck-charmed sister and he's in no mood for a 'pep' talk but she continues, "You have a wonderful partner, a loving family, a roof over your head. Things aren't so bad. Trust me, it'll all work out in the wash, be patient"

He gives her the 'don't lecture me' look because he doesn't really believe her but knows he's being self-indulgent. He's not going to give into guilt and he's certainly not going to be encouraged by her words but he will take them on board.

How does she know? She's his mother.

She holds him close. Actually she forces him close, since he's reluctant to engage in physical contact but he acquiesces out of respect. He'd rather be somewhere else than fussed over right now, let alone clinched in a seven second hug.

He's huge. A formidable bulk of manhood unshaven and unkempt. Hair scruffy but smelling sweet. His lumberjack arms tensed by his side. His  clothes slept-in and stinking of man sweat and beer but she does not release her grip. She hugs him tight and hard. He doesn't resist.  Then there's a change in his stalwart posture. He rests his head on her shoulder, drops his stiffened stance, slumps his shoulders, encircles her shrinking frame with his and allows rivers of tears to flow. It breaks her heart but she knows he needs the release.

How does she know? She is his mother.

Instantly she's transported to another time, while he takes solace in her embrace.

She is transported in that moment to 3:15am, 11th December 1986  and her husband isn't home. She's been having Braxton Hicks all night but they don't hurt. In fact they're strangely pleasant as she feels the pressure of the baby's head gently bearing down.  Just 20 minutes apart now and regular so she's on the phone every half hour giving him updates and begging him to hurry up, wind-up and come home. She knows that soon the back pain will kick in for he's her second, she's been through it before and she'll need to do more than straddle a dining chair, facing it's spine, and pretend that Le Mar's will assist before too long.

Finally he arrives. Starving after night shift, she cooks  him a hearty breakfast. Honey cured bacon and fried eggs, tomatoes, beans and toast and freshly brewed coffee that alert her two year old to the fact that the house is awake and the day about to begin.

The first twang hits the small of her back as she clears the  plates and he has his morning shower. He's tired. He should have finished at 11 but computers foul as if timed to foul when emergencies are imminent. She stands at the sink, legs spread apart to distribute the discomfort and washes all the dishes whilst biting her bottom lip and wincing as the tension escalates to pain.

In earnest now they hit  in waves of unbelievable veracity and velocity. She can feel them welling upwards from her inner thighs through her groin, deep through her pelvis and into the small of her back and the rise of nausea brings bile into her throat.  The wave crests, lasts about a minute then dissipates on some invisible shore and she smiles. This is sweet agony with an ultimate reward.

Ten minutes apart and it's time to go. The waves are literally beating the shoreline and she holds back the tears as the intensity rises and their frequency increases. She cannot sit, she cannot stand, she cannot lie. No position is comfortable save on all fours but with the weight of her extended belly, even that  bizarre pose pulls at her already tight skin and causes ructions.

"For fuck's sake what are you doing man?  Dress the kid and get me to the hospital"

She can feel this one is in a hurry. The toddler dressed in a combination of  red ribbed tights and a pink flanellette pyjama top, she begins to chastise him for his lack of wardrobe nouse but another wave stops her in her tracks and shuts her mouth. She breathes.

They bundle into the car. Every bump, every stone, every stop, every turn has her unravelled. This baby's coming now. They drop the toddler off at her mother's who is herself a midwife but cannot attend her daughter's birthing for fear of being too emotionally involved. She walks to the car "How are you darling?" . .  "I think I'm going to be sick" she says as nausea combines with another excruciating contraction.

"Ray, stop chatting and get out here now, this baby's not going to wait!"



They're ushered speedily to labour ward. This is intense. No really, this is very intense. Waters broken, a name unchosen, the love of her life feeding her ice and consolatory words. "Fuck off for goodness sakes!" she yells as another wave crashes and overwhelms the breathing that's supposed to help. "Gas, gimme gas . ." the harpie commands. Ray reaches for the outlet and mask against the wall and tenderly administers the oxygen and nitrous mix. She sucks it in as if just risen from a deep sea free dive and the contraction ends, the pain subsides.

She asks for an epidural, her daughter was born pain free and she was desperate to emulate her previous delivery but no time with this little one. No doctor, just an Indian nurse named Hadra who stands in wait, not even needing to verbalise instructions to push.

The bearing down is awesome, the pain is overwhelming but within seconds, small cries and a vernix covered slimy boy is in her arms. His father cuts the chord and he's  filling both their hearts with abject joy - a son. Our son. This amazing thing we made together, created by love, with love. This tiny little human, defenceless, quiet and submissive, beautiful and . . . blue! They're allowed a fleeting cuddle before he's whisked away and warmed under fluorescent lights.  A cup of tea, a painless stitch, an hour of worry and he is returned to latch upon her breast. 


She hasn't seen him  cry in years. Even as a small child, he rarely did but now, he's letting go and  letting her in. This massive man who thinks his woes are insurmountable as defenceless as the child she once embraced. She loves him now as she did that day.  She sometimes sees  him now as she did that day. Vulnerable and in need of nurture and protection. Her funny boy, her happy child, her constant gardener, her gourmet chef . . her son is sad beyond sad. Blue beyond blue and it strains her heart.

But she is stout of heart, sound of mind and warm of spirit. She is no stranger to pain or loss. She has survived, she lives, she loves and she has wisdom. She has two precious gifts and one of them needs her, now, so she willingly complies.

This is a hold, a hug, a heartfelt moment.  But she knows for fact that he will bounce back, things will be better in the morning.

How does she know? She is his mother.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Skinwalkers Part 4

The deed done, he notices Jenson face down in the sand, blood seeping and turns him roughly onto his back, enjoying his wincing. This is not a mortal wound. It's bleeding badly and Jenson's not in good shape but Lawrence has mortal thoughts. "You'll be OK Redneck" and slaps the man firmly on the side of his arm. Jenson has lost his mess tent arrogance and resembles a frightened child, he grabs the Navajo.  "Hurts man, fuckin' hurts real bad!" The Navajo inspects the wound, unsympathetically spits, "Put pressure on it. Stay put, I'll be back."

He moves towards the Pillbox and his first aid kit but thoughts he doesn't want to think enter his head, terrible thoughts.  Jenson would have killed him had he not sprung to his feet. This is his chance to take the life that would have snuffed his own. Perfect, pre-determined by a Japanese bullet, enemy fire.
A wave of resolution crashes over him and his soft heart becomes dark. He pulls the bayoneted rifle from the dead Jap, and walks back towards Jenson's groaning frame. Looks fair and square into Jenson's terrified eyes, speaks something, in Navajo "Ashiiké tóó diigis" and plunges the foreign blade into his chest. Body vibrates, air is gasped, blood gurgles like a sticky spring and another of America's finest lies still, bleeding and contorted on the sulfur sand.

The flares desist and all is quiet.  Lawrence, sophisticated as he is, lets superstition take hold.  The ritual begins.  He strips, naked apart from his boots and rubs his body with black ashen sand.  For now, he is invisible to the spirit world, dusky and stinking. He does not speak. It's important to keep quiet. Jenson's journey into the spirit world must not be interrupted. He must not find his way back. The Navajo reverses slowly away from Jenson's body, dusting bootprints with his jacket, as he moves. Jenson remains exposed for others to find.

The Navajo kneels and scoops dry sand into his hand, allowing a thin trickle to escape and draws an intricate pattern. A picture for the Holy Ones.  Four symmetrical elements for each compass point. He is meticulous as circular heads form in relief on the charcoal silica and grainy rosemary sprigs connect his art with the natural world. He isn't proud of what he's done and knows his shadow may well leave, opening a portal for the Skinwalkers to claim his soul.

He heads back to the field tents and washes the dark sand from his body. Water shears off the ashes but he is tainted as a woman raped. A dog howls. He didn't even know there were dogs on this God-forsaken island but this one resonates and gives him chills. He imagines Skinwalkers tearing at his corpse and shakes the image from his mind. He performed the ritual, sent Jensen on his way.  Self-preservation is a mighty thing, a wrathful thing, a soulless thing but Jenson deserved it and will be thought of no more.

Another casket is shipped  home. Another American son buried, and a native survivor declared "Hero."
Amid the rows of uniforms, aboard the US Hornet, Hunter Lawrence's name is called.  A Navy Cross pinned on his chest for code talk and the not-so-stealthy killing of five Japs on patrol, for trying to 'save ' a fallen comrade.  Beneath congratulatory smiles, superstition runs like acid through his veins. He's lost his shadow in more ways than one but doesn't know it yet.

Once home, life takes over. Wife, no kids but life is good. Unlike the other five, he's survived. All but two perished and they return damaged and distraught. Like so many they drink to forget and sobriety forsakes them. They don't speak of the war and wait for welfare checks.

Hunter Lawrence puts all behind him until widowed and begins to age. As advanced years encroach, so does the wolf to his door and images of his treachery seep like Jenson's sticky blood into his heart. He's aware of his mortality and fears the retribution of death.  Jenson's face comes back to haunt him as does the sensation of steel through skin, muscle, organ and bone. He turns to the solace of the bottle and drinks himself into oblivion.

A Navajo without a shadow is open to the darkness and the guilt he harbours deep inside has led him there. He is condemned to an existence of remembering, after a lifetime of forgetting.  He lies awake at night, dogs howl, coyotes yelp, shape-shifters gather, banging hard on his walls and sleep evades. Gunfire is in his head and guilt his only bedfellow. Jenson's eyes burn his back and he feels the blade between his shoulders. The bottle provides solace and he pours another mind-numbing draft.



At 86 years old, his heart is weak, his liver tainted, his comrades dead, his family gone.  He reaches into his pocket and fondles the shiny thing.  He gazes through glazed eyes at the Navy Cross and makes a last apology to his murdered protector.

An old man sits on the porch, left alone as is tradition. Medicine man already naked and smoothing ashes on his skin. Grave dug, mourners holding back as is their way.  Navajo die alone.

Feeling a shiver and a presence, Hunter Lawrence looks down on sunbleached boards. Breath rasping and his black heart failing. At last, a shadow is cast, looming long and dark and menacing. An animal howls the howl of Hell.  The wind gains force and once more a billow of dust is at his feet. Yee naaldooshii, the Skinwalker has come to make a claim.  "Forgive me" are his last words as the medal falls spinning towards the boards, slips through the gaps and rests quietly for posterity to ignore on reservation earth.
Only the Holy Ones will know.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Skinwalkers Part 3

Days are long as they hunker down. No enemy knows they're there. Contact with the others is restricted to Code Talk on the phone and the occasional trip to camp. They eat together, shit together and despite the tension between them, they talk.  Lawrence explains his morning ritual of taking a pouch of corn pollen from his pocket. This keeps him calm, balanced and safe. Pollen is touched to tongue and head, then lifted to four sacred directions in an act of remembrance and faith. Jenson reminisces about his mother's Cornjacks, pancakes and maple syrup and kisses a photograph of a swimsuit model, since he has no sweetheart of his own. There are moments of connect between the chatter and the gunfire. Moments when one believes he might make a friend of the other but these are few and far between.

Weeks go by.  The 'rabbits' are driven from their burrows and forced north. Flushed from their holes, cut down or watched, as warriors of the rising sun take their own lives rather than become prisoner. As the enemy moves in bloody retreat, a tented encampment on the south end of the beach becomes a welcome distraction. The safest haven on this moonscape. Providing short respite for Lawrence and his watcher. Short sorties of leave are granted from their Pillbox prison and they are permitted to seek the camaraderie of a mess tent, the comfort of a lime covered latrine and sharing chow before returning to their hell hole. This also provides an apartheid of sorts, talkers hang together, whites continue with their antagonism and hostile posturing.

 One 'Indian' joke too many and Lawrence finally snaps. He rushes his compatriot and foists a well placed elbow smacking hard across his adversary's neck and sends him flying back across the makeshift table. Enamel plates and cups fling off in all directions with a tinny clamor.  It's on! This hatred's been pent up and stir crazy gladiators pitch a personal battle.  The fight is dirty but both men are evenly matched, hand to groin, elbow to head and well placed fists to solar plexus. They're beating the pulp out of each other, egged on by a rowdy crowd. The beatings rage for almost 20 minutes before both can barely stand. Arms limp, sweat pouring, noses and lips bloodied and eyes swollen. Clearly there's no point continuing. Both shake off their furor reluctantly and silently acknowledge that they are a fair and equitable match. Time to clean up and return to their pillbox. It's going to be a long night.

Small arms fire, becomes more evident at night as other noises cease. Star parachute flares, fired by destroyers off shore, light the battlefield. Every few minutes throughout the night the flares burst far above them, and then drift slowly down, creating shifting shadows in their blue-white light.  Lawrence checks his own. A man without a shadow may as well be dead.

Returning bruised and silent to their station, after the mess tent fracas , both men attune to whispers adjacent to their hideout. Quiet, distant, foreign, blocked infrequently by the release of parachute flares.  Jenson gesticulates with a silent hand, knuckles still bloodied, swollen eyes adjusting to the dark. Both are savvy enough to hit the blackened earth, weapons flush to the ground, fingers poised on clip and trigger, praying that the flares desist.  What the Japanese patrol is doing so far in reclaimed territory, neither can fathom.  But they're armed to the teeth, literally, knives in mouths, bayonets glinting with each descending flare, grenades dangling ominously from their belts. This is a brave or stupid unit of five men. Equally wary, senses are sharpened and desperate to reclaim the Pillbox, so that comrades can spill like fire ants, close to their enemy's camp.
 
The adversaries, now in unison are afraid to draw breath but need to move. They're in the open, exposed. One more flare and they're dead or captured. Jenson knows it. Lawrence fears it.  They commando crawl towards cover when Lawrence feels the cold press of steel against his temple. It's not a Japanese pistol pointed at his head.

"What the fuck?" the Navajo silently mouths. Jenson's finger moves to his lips to signal 'hush' but terror courses through the Navajo. He isn't prepared to die, least not at the hand of this idiot. He might be his physical match but is arguably his intellectual inferior.

The Japanese patrol is nervous, they scout in the dark sure they've heard something move. The air is thick, fit to be cut by knife as one man faces death and the other its delivery.  "I can take 'em." Lawrence whispers, nervous sweat, clouding his eyes.  The barrel of the Colt M1911 still pressed hard against his temple. "Can't risk it" says Jenson, a meld of anger and delight welling in his. "They get you, they get me, they get us. All of us."   Lawrence hears the tell-tale click.

This whole thing is fucked. Sanity kicks in and Jensen realises the shot will draw attention.  He draws knuckled trench knife. Seeing it glint in fading flare light, Lawrence springs wildly to his feet and fires at the oblivious patrol. Jenson's moment lost, usurped, he joins the massacre cutting each Nip down, mercilessly, brutally, accurately.  Unseen, one flanks both men and charges screaming.  Arisaka firing, bayonet loaded and pointed. Lawrence pivots at speed and punctuates the Jap's uniform with deadly perforations. The Nip shudders violently with the impact and falls but not before clearing a well placed shot. Jenson's hit. The Navajo doesn't notice.  Standing over each lifeless corpse he unceremoniously slashes yellow throats. 'Take no prisoners' repeats in his head as he ensures they're all extinguished.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Skinwalkers Part 2

Lawrence's main antagonist is a hick, a redneck. Country through and through. Cliff Jenson does not hide his disdain referring to him as "Tonto."  Jensen has no love of the 'Indian' especially since one ran off with his mother. All adulterers and thieves. "Filthy whorin' fuckers, ain't got the intelligence of a mule," said well within earshot but elicits no reaction. Jenson is aggressive, strong and the most accomplished of the whites. His prowess, although falling short of the Navajo, is also noticed and he’s summoned by command. Unsure whether this is to be a debrief or discipline for his insults he is sheepish on approach.

"At ease." commands the officer, "Take a seat."
 Obediently Jensen sits and awaits his fate. "Jensen, you're aware of this Code Talking initiative?"
"Yes Sir," he replies as his superior continues, "The survival of the talkers is paramount. They will transmit essential information to aid the war effort. This places them in an unusually vulnerable position. To counter this risk, we are assigning you to one as protector."
Jensen's displeasure is not hidden as his freckled face reddens with rage. He thinks himself above protecting an Indian and has blood lust for real fighting not babysitting.
 "I know you don't get along with these men but this isn't a school picnic. These talkers need armed support so abandon whatever grievances you have and stick to the man like glue."
Jenson nods obediently, hiding his displeasure as the commander lowers his voice, "However," Jenson likes the 'however' despite being mystified, "Should the talker be even threatened with capture, he must be dispatched. Do you understand me son?"
Jensen can hardly hide his delight. A licence to kill a motherfucking sonofasquaw, this is just too good!
 "Of course sir, I understand completely."
And the conversation ends.
 
In training camp, Lawrence is assigned a shadow, a protector, a fellow Marine. Cliff Jensen.

His taunter will keep him safe, protect the secret of the code.  Both men have much in common despite their ethnic difference.  Both are young and fit, keen hunters, laden with testosterone and longing for the kill. Both are skilled in combat and stealth, whether armed or not.  Both longing for adventure but neither tainted by action. Both share an animosity approaching hatred of each other but only one discloses. "Yo Tonto!" yells Jensen, "I'll be your Kimosabe, lick my boots!" Lawrence flicks him the bird, says nothing. "Ha! I'd like to take your squaw out for a good steak dinner and never bring her back!" Again the Navajo ignores the taunt. His race are used to abuse but he will not forget.

The evening before deployment, enemies of a different kind lie on cots, side-by-side. Gleaming tags on green T shirts, their hands clasped behind their heads. Eyes focused on an invisible and elusive target high above.   "You scared?" Lawrence asks. "Fuck no. Can't wait to kick some Jap ass, the sneaky fuckers.  We're Marines Tonto, kick ass is what we do." Both  roll but neither sleeps a fitful sleep. Lawrence feels the eyes of his reluctant companion burning holes into his back, imagining a blade between his shoulders. He dreams the wolf is at his door, a Skinwalker come to claim his soul.  Jensen dreams of treachery. He can't wait to ship out.

Huddled in their landing craft, they encounters scattered fire as the beach speeds into view. They're unaware of the labyrinth of tunnels beneath this stinking hole, protecting their aggressors, secluded deep, like rabbits and shielded from aerial attack. They make landfall on Iwo To amid ash and black volcanic sand. Halfway between Japan and the airfields of the Marianas, its strategic importance is well understood. The vulnerability of his comrades, immediately comprehended. It is an altar prepared for the immolation of seventeen thousand men.

Marines scramble onto the beach and the bloodbath begins. Japs open up and men are pinned by withering fire. Their Amtrack, accompanied by Ducks among the first assault, Lawrence's shadow is omnipresent, pushing him forward onto the beach taking his arm and stabilizing him as waves lash at his waist. Lawrence holds the field phone and radio above his head. He's a target and he knows it.   This is an uneasy partnership with protector and protagonist as one.  Made all too real by a beach already littered with the corpses of blackened amphibian tractors and green-clad marines, still helmeted and twisted where they fell. One more Navajo  body would barely change the toll. A mortal garden of exploding shells. For now, Jenson is his Lord Protector his brother in arms.

A spigot mortar lands and propels both men.  Their flight limp and helpless before landing hard upon damp sand. Lawrence scrambles for his equipment, crawling to take cover, feeling numb. He shakes the ashen dirt from his head, shoulders, face. Ash is a funeral right and he wants none of it on his body. Shell deafness rings in his head as he tries to get his bearings. A Pillbox rises above. Japs fire at will within its protected walls, wild and random. He crouches at the base to avoid detection. "You OK Tonto?" whispers Jenson close behind, barely audible above the Japanese fire. He keeps one eye on his charge, the other on the tower. "Fine! Deaf but fine!"snaps the other, still shaken but alive.   Jenson reaches for a grenade, removes the pin and hurls the missile amid the blood-lusting sentries within. Both hit the deck and silently count, wait, for the inevitable smell of burning flesh, acrid metal and falling rubble.  Scrambling below fire, they clear a way, drag body parts beyond it's perimeter and secure the Pillbox.  This is their bunker now, home for a while. It’s time to talk.


Lawrence sets up his radio while Jensen blocks the tunnel extruding from the far interior wall of the Pillbox. The Nips will be back if the Marine's can't hold position. Hard to tell with Nips, they're crafty little shits and tough adversaries. Guerrillas all and full of surprises.

A Navajo conversation begins between Lawrence and a fellow talker the US Hunter off the coast. Instructions are relayed, positions marked all in Navajo tongue, coded to disguise meaning. Their messages are fast, less than 2 minutes each they code assaults, warn of danger and find a safe place for bivouac along the littered beach. He is a link in the Navajo net keeping everything connected like a spider's strands spanning distant branches. The talker talks while Jenson, ever present, watches.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Skinwalker Part 1

An old man sits on his porch. Military cap on head and cane by his side. His face creased with the ravages of alcohol. Eyes hardened by the blood of war. He stares at the boards beneath worn Moccasins but cannot see his shadow.  This perturbs him greatly. A man without a shadow is a man without a soul and both left him long ago.  He’s never spoken of his past. His wounds have barely healed.  At 86 years old, he's dying and needs to tell the wind of his shame. He fingers shining metal and remembers.

Running wildly, rifles in hand, teenage boys chase rabbits. Fire flushes them from warrens and pot-shots echo through the valley.  It’s Saturday, 'free day' at St Mary’s Catholic Boarding School. Lapin roasts over an open fire, watched carefully by another, when he hears the news that sends him screaming towards the young hunters,
 “Pearl Harbor was bombed! Pearl Harbor was bombed!”
Startled they stand steadfast in their tracks.
“Where’s Pearl Harbor?” asks one.
Incredulous that Hunter Lawrence doesn't know, a chorus of five then yell, “HAWAII   Fool!” 

“Who did it?”
“Japan”
“Why did they do it?”

“They hate Americans”

“What us too?”
“Yeh, us too”



Each tender brave then makes shakes hands and makes a promise, sealed with rabbit blood and spit. They will enlist and shoot Japanese, not rabbits.

The dry dust of early summer billows as two Jeeps speed along the school’s driveway. Five boys sit on the cooling steps and watch the approaching vehicles, "They're military," says Hunter Lawrence who hasn't forgotten last year's promise. "Wonder what they're after?" The question goes unanswered as five braves, elbows on knees and chins in hands watch the tiny convoy grind to a dusty halt and a uniform emerges.
 
"Where's your headmaster son?"

Hunter leads the way. Boy and man walk briskly down a phenol scented hallway.  Headmaster Logan is in his quarters, probably having a nap. The uniform is ushered into an ante-room and politely asked by the boy to remain. Leaving him behind, Hunter bolts at speed to raise Logan.

 He hammers on the door. A sleep deprived senior emerges, massaging his eyebrows between index finger and thumb. "Hunter what's the fuss?"
"A soldier sir, he wants to speak to you?"
"A soldier? On a Saturday?"
Logan turns and grabs his jacket before both return to greet their guest.
 The Marine stands as they enter and proffers an open hand. The two men sit on large leather chairs with a table in between. A briefcase is revealed and papers shuffled.
"That'll do Hunter."
The boy retreats and closes the door but is soon joined by his companions who clump together, ears against the wood.
 "Mr Logan, we're on a recruitment drive," begins the Marine. "We're experimenting with a new initiative involving native speakers. You have a few candidates of interest. Since they're wards of the state, all you need to do is sign a release and the boys can enlist."
 Excited mufflings from behind the door are unnoticed.
 Logan looks perturbed, "These boys have another three weeks of school and they're only 17."
"I'm aware of this Sir, but we have need of them in San Diego. They have value to us if this project gets wings. I'm afraid I'm not at liberty to tell you more."

 Not one to stand in the way of warriors, Logan signs, releasing all five boys.
 The scrambling behind the door is clearly audible. All five scuffle from the door as the knob turns and stand in line like wooden Indians as Logan and Marine emerge.
 "Men, you want to help your country?" Each beams and nods in agreement. This is the fruition of their pact. "Grab your things then, you're coming with me."
 Hasty efforts are made as bags are packed and excitement burns. "You won't need that son," bellows the Marine, as Hunter tries to slide a .22 rifle into a soft leather sheath. "We'll give you a gun soon enough."
And in another billow of dust, two Jeeps depart with their new charges. Headed for what? They do not know.

Heads are shaved and billets assigned. Uniforms folded neatly on each cot. Today boys become men and arrange themselves scruffily when instructed, amid a troop of white recruits. The colour of their skin appears to both amuse and disgust their comrades who whisper disparagingly and ridicule their race. Hunter is aware but does not react. He's going to be a Marine and that in itself is enough.

After roll call, he is approached, "Marine! Do you speak Indian?’ Hunter resists the urge to say ‘No’ and nods respectfully, stands square and announces, ‘Yes Sir, I speak Navajo.’ After years of being discouraged to speak his native tongue, he is ecstatic but does not yet understand the importance of the question or the impact of his answer. He is to be chosen to send messages that the Japanese can’t interpret as a code talker. He will hone the craft, speak his language in ways it has never been used, confuse his enemy, pass secrets, aid victory. But first, he must learn the military craft.

Bootcamp is tough but times are desperate and enthusiasm kicks in. Hunter Lawrence is fit, he’s always been fit. A fine physique due to good genes and the flush of youth and he excels. Boarding school has instilled discipline and he is commended for his fastidiousness and attention, much to the chagrin of his white companions who resent his every accolade.  Already accomplished with a gun, he masters bayonet, scouting and patrolling.  At commando training he’s a natural and leaves his troop eating his dust. He effortlessly endures thirst and lack of food while the others gasp for their canteens and complain about rations. There is a widening rift between the white and red men made all too obvious by their under-breath deprecation. Hunter Lawrence hears it all but does not react. Their time will come.

With boot camp completed, it is time to learn the code. English into Navajo - Navajo into code. The Japs are comfortable with Morse and many have been educated in the West but they've never heard anything like this. Colonels are "Silver Eagles," Japanese, "Slant Eyes" each first letter of the Navajo translation forming the letters of the message. It's intricate and complicated despite the principle being so simple. It works. What was a trial will be implemented and a bright eyed, Navajo boarding-school boy will get his chance to change the direction of the war.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Why?

They lived a life of fantasy and seclusion, pushed into submission by scuttlebutt and bullying. Cornered in the playground, victims of careless whispers. It hurt like a bull ant bite and shaped the way they evolved. But they had each other. And for a while, they had God, or so they thought.

At Uni they were studious and academic, nerds, geeks, with few friends but for each other. Plain to look at, lacking in charisma they were quiet girls, 'loners', friendless. "Oh my God?" they will exclaim in front of cameras, "I'd never have suspected!" Pick anyone, report anything for the scoop. The truth? Nobody knows them or what they think. They are anonymous, unimportant, uncool and undiscovered landscapes. 

Sisters with a mirror image sit opposite each other, amid dim light in a tawdry cheap cafe. A blase waiter ignores their presence until one attracts his attention with a sheepish hand gesture and apologetic order. "Two coffees please." Polite and succinct, no indication of the melee whirling in her head.  He nods, dispassionate and disappearing to hide behind his espresso hiss. Nothing to look at there. Frumps, studious and dull, his froth is more exciting.

Strange how twins so targeted in their youthful past now so invisible in the present.  Their conversation hushed as cooling coffee. Expressions intense, since they are making morbid plans and questioning their faith. "You sure? You ready? Got no problems with God?" asks one of the other, while staring blankly into a tiny universe of milky bubbles. It's a topic preying on both women's minds these days as they rebel against a life of Bible bashing and indoctrination.  "Yep, never more ready." replies the other. It's been a long time since Holy sun shone on their faces.  It helps to know the creator has abandoned them, since books touting religion as delusion have been absorbed. Salient paragraphs highlighted in Stabilo Boss.  Letters long written and all arrangements made. Plans are now complete. No interference suspected from an interventionist God. They don't need God at all. "He's such a fucking disappointment." Mirrored images agree.


Envelopes are filled and stamps adhered. Each Will and Testament dedicated to each other. Letters written to key people in their lives. The wherefores the what's and the who's but no explanation of the why. All will be mystified. This is between themselves, twin to twin, soul to soul, they will make a mighty mark that none will comprehend. A mysterious legacy to survive murderous intentions.

They've been researching. Absorbed by a high school massacres. Clippings are bundled meticulously, articles, news papers, letters parcelled neatly in a backpack. Both have a macabre interest in the perverted, betrayed by the faces of quiet innocents. 

They can't remember the first time they wrote to the mother of a victim. At first a consolatory note for someone who'd attended their old school. An exchange between a son-less mother and two lonely girls.  Her letters had the warmth that their own mother had denied. The mother of twins pressed them to achieve, was critical of their dress, resented them living so far away from home, not realising that she was the cause of their evasion.  Yet she would never visit, "Too far, too cold, too hard, too expensive" she would say.  Marie, the mother of a murdered child  would offer condolence and suggestions to overcome their isolation. "God will prevail" she'd said but that had not rung true. God took her son, God ignored the twins, God had left the planet, both were sure of that. 

Time magazine tucked beneath the mattress, the killers on the cover. Both knew why they did it while all others were clueless. They were inside their heads and cognisant of minds that cut down peers turning weapons on themselves.  Now that God has left, they know what must be done. The blackness of the abyss holds appeal. No heaven, no hell, no rebirth no retribution or angels wings. Just quiet. Silence, nothingness, emptiness, an end absolute in its finish. Peace. 

"Won't they think that we're crazy?" one says to the other. "Why?" then remembrance of a quote The delusion of one is insanity but the delusion of thousands called religion. The question is rhetorical and both see humour in the thought, since neither is insane. They've never been more lucid in their lives. 

God' a furfy. A way of controlling  the fearful. It's a fucked up concept if you ask me," one replies. "With all that religion shit out of the way, it makes stuff easier. No retribution, no guilt, no afterlife, no repercussions."  Eyes lift from coffee and breach smiles. Sisters take hands rested on damask and declare affection, "We understand each other," whispers one and squeezes the other's fingers. Their script now well-rehearsed, their moves decided, they slip on their overcoats, haul handbags over each left shoulder, leave the confines of the cafe and with gloved hands, simultaneously hail a taxi.

They are the picture of normality. The cabbie not even remembering the colour of their hair. Anonymous, invisible. Talking between themselves about nothing in particular. They pay him cash and wish him a 'nice' day before walking down damp bitumen towards the firing range.

Nonplussed man behind  the counter barely looks up but realises they're beginners.  "Twenty-two's for you girls"  and shows them how to load and cock a gun.  They smile excitedly and look up at the CCTV camera filming the deadly delivery. 

The rifle range is packed. Old men in fatigues pretending that they're snipers. Young guns with hormone-charged intent, pretending to be gangsta. The odd competitive shooter, practising a round. Nobody blinks twice as mirrors hand-in-hand check cubicle after cubicle until finding their right one. 

Finger pulls, converting kinetic energy from tendon to trigger. A series of sears and springs drop  hammers into the firing pins. Energy hits the primer and explosions ignite powder. Expanding gas forces missiles from cartridges through barrel and temple. But their pact is incomplete, one lies dead, the other barely breathing. 

CCTV shows all and nothing.  One survives but has no memory.  

Newscasters go ballistic. Early editions headline. Coffee conversations and tabloid media collude. Bus stop and water cooler chatter merge with  over-dinner banter. All will saggitate and postulate but never have an answer when all they want to know is . . ."Why?"


Posted for Tenth Daughter of Memory "Shooting the Breeze"

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

You're an Idiot

 Words cut like knives, spread like cancer when they're put together badly. He's keen on words. They're his craft, his trade and when he pens them they are captivating and exciting, emotive and destructive. They hit their mark. Cause pain and joy. Such joy. She takes every word literally whether deliberate and thoughtful or chosen for effect. Oh he's good at pushing her buttons and choosing for effect. Read aloud they move her core. Make her cry, raise her hopes, evoke emotion. Then watching him read aloud, moves more than her core. That curl on the left side of his mouth, the way he licks his lip, the intonation in his voice. He could read her nursery rhymes and she'd smile that seductive smile that turns him on.

Yet when words are spoken off the cuff, he is oblivious. Mouth engages before brain and he has no concern for their impact. Carelessly tossed as last nights leftovers, all mooshed up meat and cold gravy, sometimes he's an idiot.



“I’ve upset her. She’s crying”

“Oh yeah? What did you do”

“I fired her. Not my fault she’s crying”

“Of course it is, she’s taking it personally. Did you call her into your office and explain why?”
“No, I sent her an email. I tried to telephone but she wasn’t there.”

“So you sacked a friend via email?”

“I gave her warnings, plenty of them”

You sacked her via email? You really don’t know much about friendship or women do you?”

“Fuck off!”



 "Tell her I love her"

"No, tell her yourself"

"Be on my side, keep me in sight, in mind"

'I'm your friend, of course I'm on your side"

"I'm sending an email, that'll piss her off. If I can't have her. I need her to hate me."

"What? Where's the sense in that?"
 


“Come sit on my throbbing cock”

Do you love me?”

“Sometimes”

“Do you like me?”

“Sometimes”

“So if you only love and like me sometimes, why on earth would I sit on your throbbing cock?"

“Because this is one of the times I like you”


He's an idiot. Just as well I love him.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Illumination Part 2

Jurd is escorted, strapped to a hospital gurney within Boggo Road prison en route to the infirmary. The cancer in his testicles spreads with terminal tentacles into his spleen and liver. His skin is yellow, the whites of his eyes now sallow, his breathing shallow and sympathy for his palliative condition felt by no-one. Once a large and forceful man, his frame is wasted, diminished. His hair tainted with silver and his face lined and hardened. He did it. Oh yes, he did it but the hussy deserved it.

There was a time when he loved her. She was the child he never had. The waif and stray he'd taken in. The lover in his arms despite her protestations, he knew that she liked it. He cared for her, he fed her and she darned his socks and made his supper. In actual fact, he'd been her saving grace although that's not how she saw it. She'd been his 'gift' a ward of the State, a foster child, a slave. He'd touched her tiny body where no man had been before. He'd lunged at her, mauled her, tied her to the bed. He made her put his dirty penis in her mouth and call him 'baby'. He'd grunted as he came inside her and called her his 'little girl'. He'd fuck her sideways before whispering, "Shhh . ." . He'd coo, sweat dripping from his brow onto hers, his smoke stenched hand across her mouth. "You must never tell, they'll send you back to places worse than this." She knew it to be true and tolerated his perversion.

How sweet she was, her slim tanned legs, her dancing arms, her flowing hair. He barely noticed the sun dress growing tighter round her waist. He barely noticed that she was ashen in the mornings. He barely noticed her enlarging breasts and the miasma that appeared across her forehead. He barely noticed at all until she told him she was pregnant.

This eventuality he had not anticipated. She was too young. He'd been told he could never sire children of his own. How could she? Unfaithful wench, spoiled child, slurry, slag, whore!

Jurd's rage, guilt, suspicion suspended all rationality as he tried to bludgeon the truth from her. He dragged her from the house by the hair. She kicking, screaming, crying, pleading her innocence but nobody voice remained unheard amid 10 acres of hinterland by Avocado trees, Macadamia and a neat row of Banana Palms with heavily laden fruit. Nobody heard the shed door slam, the shrieks, the yells. Nobody heard the cries as he bound her wrists to iron rings on posts. Nobody heard the thud of his fist connecting to her belly. Nobody heard her sob as blood oozed from between her thighs forming a maroon puddle on the red dirt floor. She denied an affair, there was no-one else, he was mistaken, he was the only man to have violated her body, the only one snuffing the life within. Nobody heard the mattock connect with the side of her head or the sound of her falling to her knees with angelic grace as her world went black and silent.

He's out of it. His body has given up. Morphine courses through his veins deluding him that he feels no pain. Oh he feels pain but is too weak to complain and he's hallucinating. A shadowy figure hovers over his groin wearing a bloodied and torn sundress. Face smashed and congealed with blood. It grins a grimace so threatening that he know the end is near. "I'm sorry" . . his false contriteness seen transparent by his long past victim. She hovers and flickers, screaming revenge in noises only he can hear. His face is grimaced with terror when she spits a metaphysical spit and plunges an icy hand hard around his painfully engorged testicles. He screams, a scream of agony as she had done, before fading into oblivion. Jurd flatlines. It's over.


***


Today, the sun streams as it often does, beams patterning the floor and the corner beckons. Today however, her baby does not move. Without so much as a sideways glance she hears the familiar whisper, closer, louder "You saved me, now save her . ." The shed is empty and the blood drains from her face. The left hand corner is now covered, no sign of blue or bones but the child is here, ever present. It is not yet over.

Afraid that she's imagining things nothing is said to Adam at dinner. They eat, they talk, they make love and sleep but she is troubled. The drone of cicadas is not enough to drown out the pleading voice. It's 3am and she is roused from intermittent sleep and wanders towards the kitchen for a glass of water.

Passing the baby-ready nursery she peaks inside at the infant's room, painted white and lemon, a wooden cot against the window. Sheer buttercup patterned curtains are drawn and cast flower shadows on the polished floor. A pretty mobile of dancing butterflies hangs silent and still in the heat of this moonlit night. She smiles at her decorative handiwork and scans the room before her glance settles on the rocking chair in the corner. She screams a silent scream. The scream you scream within a dream, no noise emanates from her parted lips.


"Adam! Adam! . . . for Christ's sakes there's a kid in the nursery."

"What the . . are you crazy . . . Angie? You look like you've seen a . . "
She is white and breathless, incredulous and embarrassed.


"Jesus . . I think I have! There's a girl in the baby's nursery, in the rocking chair smiling . . shimmering!"

Swathed in disbelief, Adam races towards the baby's room. Nothing. Flicks on the light. Nothing. He turns and holds his trembling girl. "Baby, it's just the hormones, your imagination, this old house. Seriously, come back to bed, it's nothing." She says nothing as he embraces her but sees the chair, over his shoulder, in the corner, empty . . . still rocking.

Convinced that these last few weeks of her third trimester were causing delusions and doubts, Angelique slides beneath the sheets and lies awake until the butcher birds begin to call and morning is heralded by yet another sunny day. She knows. It's all about the bones.

Angelique is panicked, the baby hasn't moved in hours and the voice is still reverberating in her head. He's never seen her like this, terrified and flustered, pale and short of breath. An ambulance is called and she's rushed to emergency. Within minutes a foetal monitor confirms the baby's falling, failing, dying. "She told me!" Angelique's sobs and delusions are now out of control, "Adam, that girl, she told me, she knew, she TOLD me, save the baby!" Adam smooths her hair and kisses her forehead tenderly, "It'll be OK, you're in good hands" but he's hiding his own hysteria. A needle pierces the cephalic vein and she barely notices before she sinks into oblivion and her world too, goes black.

Angelique wakes, groggy and confused, her belly tight and sore. Drips connected with both saline and morphine for the pain. Adam sits by her side and slowly comes into focus. "The baby?" she whispers, mouth still dry from the anaesthetic and throat sore from the intimating tube. "She's fine"  he tenderly strokes her face, "She's beautiful and big, and bright. You had a Caesar but you'll be OK and she's just gorgeous." The remnants of anaesthetic still making her swoon, she closes her eyes and sleeps.

Sun streams once more through the slats as Angelique returns to a shed she feels compelled to visit for the last time. Her baby is alive because of battered bones she had uncovered. Her gratefulness overcomes her fear. Tomorrow, bulldozers will level the scene and it's sordid past will be forgotten. There is someone she needs to thank. Try as she might, no icy hand pushes firmly on her back. No whispers surround her. No flickering figure appears in the sunbeams. The girl has gone, left, she is at peace.

Angelique, lays her sleeping princess in the cot. Crickets chirp and the curtain moves ever so slightly in the evening zephyr. She strokes the tiny head covered with velveteen strands and walks towards the door. So amazed with her little miracle she's loathe to leave but is suddenly halted in her tracks as a chill swirls upwards from the floor, enveloping her body.

She glances backwards over her shoulder. Instinct tells her something is wrong, terribly wrong. Moving with speed towards the cot, the child is blue. The baby has stopped breathing. Enveloping the tiny fading body in her arms she turns towards the rocking chair. Resuscitation is useless. As she cradles her own dead child, there sits the apparition, baby suckling at a ghostly breast.


Angelique, her face incredulous, terrified and resigned falls gracefully to her knees and her world turns black.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Illumination

Standing sylph-like and straight as sunlight streams into the darkest corner of the room, she is illuminated by shafts of light. Dust dancing, shimmering and playful particles stream through the slats. She lingers in that moment between terror and acknowledgment. Her teenage face bleached with fear yet resigned to fate. This is the end of a terrible day. The end of a terrible life. Terrible in every sense of the word. She is paying the price for being 'loved' by the wrong man, carrying his unborn child, enduring a wrath so dreadful, so deranged that her bruised body can take no more and feels nothing.

She is bound at the wrists by skin-tight cable ties. Arms outstretched and Christlike, linked to iron hitching bolts. She feels the impact of the blow, the blunt end of a mattock against her temple but not the pain. Blood streams from her battered face forging a fateful path beneath gossamer threads of blue, emerging warm and oozing like acrylic paint, thick and glossy.  Her face angelic and expressionless, she sinks to her knees and her world goes black.


***


The city suited Adam Croft but his wife Angelique had reservations about their baby being born amid the skyscrapers and traffic. She feared for a child so special, raised among the bustle and pollution and violence and longed for the peaceful life. She was country born and bred and craved the lushness of the hinterland, the salt air of the sea. Moving back into a rural lifestyle was for her, a natural conclusion and a sensible decision. Adam's career was 'portable' so that wasn't an issue, although he liked the city life, the noise, the madness, the convenience, he adored her and would indulge this folly, sure that it would never come to fruition.

 Driving north on the Pacific Highway along Queensland's Sunshine Coast, they'd ventured off the beaten path and saw it. High in the hinterland hills of Montville, above the surf, a typical Queenslander home. Raised on piles, neatly hidden by latticework and skirted by a wide cool verandah its newly painted timbers gleamed in the morning light. It's renovated colourbond roof, sage green against an endless blue sky.  As they drove up the straight gravelled driveway, both glanced at each other, recognition and resignation in their eyes as they scanned the "For Sale" sign  -  It was perfect. Neither saw the bedroom curtain gently pulled aside or the figure at the window.

The Queenslander  was nestled among 10 acres of arable land, dotted with Avocado and Macadamia trees and a neat row of Banana palms heavy with unripened fruit. The vista from the front sloping down into the valley and out towards the sea, rolling breakers and white sand far off in the distance. It came complete with a large wooden shed, slightly dilapidated but repairable - perfect for Jim's architectural studio. Other small outhouses formed weatherproof shelter for the tractor and one had already been converted into a three car garage. 

The house was spacious and on a single level. Eleven wooden steps led to the front door adorned with a large lion brass knocker and stained glass panels that streamed coloured light into a wide polished board hallway. Extending past two bedrooms on either side, then a living room, dining room all opened into a spacious and modern open kitchen with new cedar trimmed bi-fold doors opening onto a shady patio. Newly planted, the fragrance of star jasmine announced the onset of summer and Rainbow Lorikeets delved hungrily into each Grevillea blossom, heady and oblivious to company as they devoured sweet nectar.

Everything about the house felt right, from the sheer curtains billowing in the spring breeze to the smell of wood oil, lovingly rubbed into every timber surface and crevice.

Angelique's belly grew and fluttered. Flutters progressed to rolls and kicks, reminding her of the precious gift she carried. She'd miscarried twice before in her first trimester so this baby was to be nurtured, kept safe to term and was indeed a blessing as she approached her 34th week. 

As Adam worked wonders with his floor plans, she wandered around the property, spending quiet moments alone.  Angelique explored the outhouses. Encroaching on the larger shed, she peered through each shrunken slat into the must and dust. It had  little inside other than an old washing copper and a rusted manual plough. This one was sound, appealing and begging for conversion.  Slight gaps between the ship lap allowed the sunlight in. Cobwebs had been brushed away. The rusting FJ Holden hauled out for scrap metal, revealing a rammed earth floor. Its roof suspended by glorious hardwood exposed beams. With a little TLC, flooring, cladding on the wall, a small loft office and a bathroom installed in one back corner, it would be the perfect workspace for Adam.

Something drew her to the shed. It's rural charm perhaps, or the fact that the baby moved comfortingly when she approached. It had become her special place. Somewhere to walk among the shadows and dream about the future. Today is no different to any other day. She unlatches the door and wonders into the comforting space for 'quiet time' and to visualise it's charm once the renovations were complete.  The baby moves and she places a tender hand upon her protruding belly to calm the little mite, secretly enjoying its lively murmers.  She is startled as the door swings hard shut, the latch catching violently yet no breeze is present. She turns on a sixpence and retreats towards the closed door to unhinge the heavy iron latch before she hears it.  A sob? A whisper? A sigh?

The sound is indiscernible but strange. There's no-one there but it is clearly audible yet unintelligible.

"Anyone there?"

She barely utters before silently chastising herself for feeling fear. 

"Save her, find me! . . " 

She spins to ascertain its source.



"Save her, find me . . !" 

Now sure that it's not her hormones or imagination at play, she surveys the shed. It's clear beyond some old paint tins and streaming light forming a latticework of light. For a moment she swears she sees something. A shady form, an apparition, pixelated and shimmering. A pleading hand extends before a wayward cloud obscures the sun and the beams retreat. The vision disappears. Angelique sprints to the closing door and escapes before it slams hard shut behind her.


She knows not why but she compelled to return to the shed. She visits every day. Sometimes she hears things, sometimes she sees things but says nothing of her visions to her husband. The baby stirs whenever they enter. She stands full centre and pivots 360 degrees before she feels an icy hand upon her back,  pushing her towards the far left corner. She swivels and the hand desists but the urge to explore the usurps her fear as she teeters on the brink of curiosity and terror. Her cleavage sweats, her hands shake, her heart palpitates out of control but she is driven. Someone . . something . . . wants her to explore.  Between the right angle of the rear shed wall are two hitching posts. Tall and solid, each bearing a single well-battened rusted iron ring. The earth is rammed, hard, firmer than the rest of floor and from it protrudes the tiniest piece of rotting blue fabric.

The baby is writhing ballistic, turning and kicking and brings her to her knees. She practices her Le Mars and breathes fast and strong before she begins to tug at the tiny piece of blue. The hard earth is unforgiving as she scrapes with hand and nail and releases sods, pulling at the fabric which reluctantly gives way and forfeits treasure. It protrudes carelessly from a large wooden box buried just four inches below the surface. Against the wall rests a mattock and with renewed vigor and tremulous hands she takes the mighty tool and smashes it hard against the weak timbers. Hands now bleeding and painted with red earth she tears at the planks and exposes what was not meant to be exposed, what should have remained undiscovered. The body of a woman, no, a child. Ravaged by two decades of neglect now bone and dried flesh, swathed only in the remnants of a bloodied blue dress.

Posted for 10th Daughter of Memory "Shafts of Grace in the Corner of A Room"


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pearl, Harbour: Cherry Blossom

*Continued from Pearl, Harbour: Pearl in the Water

He is overcome, overwrought, overtired as she wraps him up with her arms. No words are spoken, it's enough to breathe, to blend, to converge. He's fragile and exhausted and she feels new strength coursing through her veins. She will be his rock, his saviour.

Ill-prepared, she tears a strip of fabric from her skirt and fashions a dressing for his bleeding thigh. For now the makeshift tourniquet will stem the flow, but his wound's slashed deep from contact with concertina razor wire. The prospect of proper medical attention swept away with the dawn chorus, and they know to dare not even try.

Fuchsia sunrise breaks blackened silhouette of gum trees and the laugh of Kookaburras shatters the quiet, mocking the lover's plight. Exposed, she surveys the scene. Brown paddocks stretch before them, dotted with grazing sheep. No habitat in sight. A small dirt road snakes lazily over the ridge. Where it leads she doesn't know, but there is the distant familiar scream of steel on steel as freight train draws to a noisy halt. They need to move.

She's had no contact with her family, but in a world torn by madness, they are now her only refuge. She resolves to bite the bullet and take her lover home. The journey isn't long, but will be arduous with the need to retain low profile. She helps him to his feet. There is worry that his garb will betray his escape, but there's nothing to yet do. They make haste south. Always south.

The station is quiet in this backwater town as they slink between the carriages, careful not to be discovered. The balance of Cowra inmates have wandered north, making way for the lovers to escape. They scramble aboard the guards van, empty, dusty but sheltered and ignored and wait until the train gathers momentum and pulls away from this hellish place. They are on their way.

Wedged close together against the wooden carriage wall, they relax. The rhythm of the steel against the tracks in harmony with the rhythm of their breathing. They sit quiet and contemplative as the wide brown land speeds by, a blur between the wooden slats. Blue skies reign glorious above, but they remain oblivious.  He sleeps, blood soaking through the makeshift dressing and tiny drops of sweat beading on forehead. He is feverish and needs a doctor. The train slows as they approach the Victorian border and is halted by a small posse of militia. She urges him up and they slip silently below the carriage, sheltered by its cold metal wheels until the danger's passed. Again, she hauls him onto the boards, as he was once hauled from sea onto lugger, his weight is heavy and his body weak, but they are now just hours from home.

The train slows once again, amid the cherry belt at Seymour, his fever is worsening. He can't go on. Her decision to depart is hastened, too noisy and wantonly enthusiastic. Puckapunyal recruits board for Melbourne, the safe haven of their carriage now threatened by the invasion of adrenaline-starved young men - only recently boys - eager to enter into battle. The pair make silent and hasty retreat away from the bustle of the station.

They slip towards the Cherry Range. As the density of pink blossom increases, blown randomly by the breeze, it's beautiful. Confetti without ceremony, snow without cold, she can't help marvel at this natural wonder and he suddenly realizes what his father meant.

Secluded, unnoticed and invisible, two shadows lie exhausted beneath cherry tree. Showered in its blossom, she unwraps his wound. Angry and exposed, she masks a silent gasp at the severity of the gash now crimson and glistening. Another tear from her dress replaces his congealed dressing. He strokes her face with palm and thumb, dirty this time, but she doesn't mind. She's the love of his life.

She kisses his lips, longing and intense. He's looking wan and pale but energetic in her arms, feeling her warmth and softness against his skin. Painful heat rises from his wound, but is tolerable with her by his side. She slides a gentle hand under his shirt and strokes his chest with her thumb. It's been so long since, that his lust outranks his pain and he slips her underneath, fingers and tongues exploring. There is a desperation in her lovemaking, borne of absence and fear that this may be the last. She lies supine, arms raised above her head, his hands in hers as he explores her breasts with his mouth and penetrates her with gentleness and ease. Soon they are tangled, engaged, in an intercourse threatened by loss. With the crescendo of their bodies, her heart rises to her throat as the sensation in her loins escapes order into chaos and she begins to cry.

***

He leans alone beneath a flowering cherry tree, waiting for her to return with medicine from Seymour. She didn't want to leave him but his wound and ethnicity made it necessary. Mind spinning, infection and blood loss preventing any clarity beneath the red and pink hues of a false Autumn.

Her own appearance garnered attention within the town, and it is sheer fate that a soldier once stationed at Cowra recognises her in the streets. A world too small in a war too large. Torn garments, smudges of dirt, soot and blood, all conspicuous spotlights in a typical Australian town on a typical Australian day. Silent alarms raise and constables gather. In her worry she fails to notice the hasty posse surreptitiously trailing her steps.

It's not until she reaches the orchard that she knows she's being followed. Panic overpowers her and she starts to run, consideration for deception or leading them away never materialising. She runs through the trees in search of her cherry blossom, ignorant of the concept but familiar with its emotion.

He pulls himself up, groggily, at the sound of footsteps pursued by footsteps and struggles to a standing position, ready to flee. He wants to sleep. The crack and its echo frightens her, but not as much as the sight of Kintaro forced back to the ground. She drops the medicine and kicks off her shoes, doing anything to pick up speed before there's nothing left to run to. The firm grasp of a soldier restrains her.

Kintaro's vision is blurred, but he can see her struggling against her captor's grip, hear her crying. Another shape approaches, rifle leveled at his head. Kintaro reaches, arm and hand outstretched toward Elise. Fear or hatred misinterprets the gesture and bayonet impales heart. An arm drops, limp. Another shot frees the bayonet stuck fast within ribcage and an exit wound blossoms onto the trunk of a cherry tree as its own blossoms attempt to bury one of their own.

***

It's nearly a week before the mystery of her identity is solved, forlorn and laconic with little reason to live. Her father arrives at Puckapunyal to take her home to Geelong, where her family enjoy the fruits of her father's reputation and industrial interests. He's happy to see his once wayward daughter, but doesn't show it. He can tell from her eyes that she's been through much, a thousand-yard stare the result of a final battle that happened mere inches away.

He takes his time with her, letting her settle herself in, even providing interference with an over-anxious mother and curious sibling unable to contain themselves. Paternal concern does not go unnoticed and Elise appreciates the kindness. Of all in her family, only her father could possibly understand the life that she had lived. She fears the others might not even accept it as a reality.

When she is fit to travel, father and daughter embark on a quest for answers, though father secretly knows such a journey is futile. The fate of Kintaro's body is never discovered. His family never found. The only evidence of his existence, a fisherman in Broome who thinks he might remember her lover. But they all look the same to him.

***

She's buried just north of Sydney after the turn of century. Her husband, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren nearly all present. None have heard the story of Kintaro and she never wrote it down for any of them to discover. She loved her family, yet nothing ever came close to what she felt for Kintaro. Her one and only soul-mate. A man who exited her life as quickly and randomly as he'd entered.

At her memorial, a grandchild notices something identical in every photo of Nan. In her wedding photos, in her vacation photos, in her random photos of nothing important at all.

A necklace. Cheaply strung. With three stolen pearls.

FIN.

The Complete Pearl, Harbour

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pearl, Harbour: Safe Harbour

*Continued from Pearl, Harbour: Far Enough

She's tired. Tending house is hard and her contact with the outside rare, but it provides opportunity to listen to the radio. "Loose lips sink ships," she hears ad nauseum as the war wages.

Weeks of sitting across a humble dinner table, watching him talk and smile placed firm focus on his mouth. His lips full, belying Caucasian genes. A slight nose dividing his face into perfect symmetry. His words wash over her, listened to but unheard.

While he speaks she fantasises about his hands upon her body, his tongue gliding across her belly and back, his breath warm and sweet upon her skin. As she listens, the urge to lean into and kiss his mouth is overwhelming but as yet, she has resisted.

"You're not listening," he quips, jolting her back into reality.

"I am. Sorry. Just... thinking."

He rambles on about his garden, the sun, his life in the water, how wonderfully she cooks with the simplest of ingredients. For him, the talk is mindless and pours onto the brushed hardwood table without thought. He's actually just watching her watching him. Cleavage slightly visible in the scoop of her pale blue sun dress, bra-less and baring nipple. Sunkissed face and shoulders. A tiny crop of freckles across the bridge of her nose. He drowns in her eyes, hazel or green - he can't really decide - and intense. There's something deep behind them, an awareness, some sort of knowing, and he wants to unlock their secret. He wants to surprise her with a kiss but fears his inexperience in the ways of love.

Yes, love.

***

White sheets billow on the line and she sees him across the field, hoeing and watering, the stream of spray rising and falling like minute pearls in the sunshine. Her heart races. She feels that urge between her legs, nipples firming and breath shortening. This is not how it was with Ned.

Her mind retreats to a memory she would rather forget. Infatuation with country lad fueled her need to leave the confines of city and parents more concerned with appearance than adventure. She fooled herself into believing she loved Ned. He was tall, handsome, country-hardened and rugged and in need of a wife, but at 18, what did either know of love? Ned's rough hands knew nothing of her need for gentle touch

An epiphany that Elise never actually 'made love' makes her visibly wince. Never experienced the soulful bliss, heart-wrenching emotion, euphoria of sex with a true lover, waxed so lyrically in romance. Ned was abusive and demanding, abandoning foreplay before entering her, dry and resistant, grunting heavily, thrusting rapidly and offering no shared satisfaction - she had only been fucked and it had hurt the first few times. Her heart had never skipped, or ached at separation. Tears welled out of sadness, never joy. Of fear, never safety. Kintaro offers both and she wants him more than either realises.

***

Kintaro glances beneath his brim towards the window as she beckons him, her hair falling across her shoulders. He wipes earth-tainted hands on the back of his grubby trousers and walks towards her.

The homestead is empty, its owners away. He ventures into the large kitchen and scans the room. Windows wide open to welcome the summer breeze. An open Arga stove spreads warmth and kangaroo stew simmers gently. The aroma permeates the air and reminds him of his hunger, but the food will wait. He removes his shoes before ascending the staircase.

She waits by the window in one of the bedrooms. Beautiful and serene, she smiles behind her amazing hazel eyes.

"Come here," she whispers, pouring water into a porcelain bowl. She takes his hands and soaps them, her fingers entwined in his and lets the slippery medium reduce the friction of her caress. The motion of her hands firm and gentle, massaging between his fingers, around his wrists. She takes a softened towel and pats him dry, kissing the tops and palms with velvet lips. Her intent now clear.

She wipes his soil-stained face, first across brow and then his lovely eyes. He stands, clean, sweet-smelling. She nuzzles her cheek against his and moves her lips across his mouth into ardent kiss. She leads, stroking her tongue gently against his, taking his top lip between hers and deepening her embrace. He holds her face in his hands as she undoes button and zipper and dungarees fall to the floor. Flannel shirt removed, gliding slowly from his back, leaving him naked and beautiful as a kiss continues.

He slips sundress from her shoulders and slides sweet smelling fingers along her neck, down to her hips, as they move backwards towards the freshly made bed. She pushes him gently back and straddles his thighs, kissing him gently on the neck, the chest, the belly. She runs nose and tongue across his hips. He strokes her hair - glorious and fragrant - as she nuzzles his groin, soft and tender.

Kintaro bites his bottom lip as he enters gently, afraid he might come too soon and spoil her moment. Her heart fit to burst as a wave of heat emanates from soul to skin. This time she will not cry. She breathes, deep. There is pleasure beyond pleasure as she moves in rhythm and song. He can't stop looking at her. She's beyond beautiful, smooth and soft and lovely. And no longer a separate shadow.

He thumbs her nipples, firm and erect, goose bumps rising amid tiny blonde hairs on her arms and belly. He grabs her waist and watches as she closes her eyes, tilts her head back, elongated so stunning a neck. A gasp is seen and felt as his companion enters bliss. Her arms behind her grasping his inner thighs, not merely a burst of lust, but a surge and stream of emotion, of wanting, of necessity. Tears water in his eyes as they finally consummate what each has felt for weeks. She collapses languidly on his chest, replete, smiling and serene. He wants to stay inside her, now and forever and she lets the moment linger as he brushes her hair from her face. She also wants to stay. In this moment, their beginning, no gold band necessary to bind them. Together, complete, their embrace held through the night.

***

The sound of wheels on gravel springs them to their feet. No longer ashamed of their nudity, they smile at each other before the dramatic realisation that being caught is not an option. He hurriedly draws on his dungarees and with hat and flannel shirt tucked underneath his arm, bolts like a rabbit down the stairs and through the kitchen door. She straightens messed sheets and worries not about the heady, salt fragrance of sex. Elise dresses quickly and pours the dirty washwater down the sink. The towel, she tucks behind the dresser - she can dispose of it later - and glides effortlessly down the stairs to answer the door.

As she unlatches the brass bolt, all the bliss that had entered her just moments before evaporates. She feels as if she's going to faint, her pulse racing. Brass buttons, blue suit, round topped and visored cap... it's the police.

"You're harbouring a Jap. Where is he?"

***

*Continued in Pearl, Harbour: Pearl in the Water

The Complete Pearl, Harbour

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pearl, Harbour: Rising Suns

He breaches the briny aqua and exhales. He can barely see the sunshine glistening on the water. They haul him upward over the deck - this rubbery monster with a brass mask - and stand him upright, the weight of gravity and leaden boots preventing him from doing so alone. They release the brass dome and his almond eyes squint in the light as the rubber suit that hides his muscled yet diminutive form is divested. The rope net full of pearl oysters falls carelessly on the sodden timbers. Standing still, almost naked in the light, beads of salty water trickle down the indentation in his spine, collecting in a small pool within the cleavage of his buttocks. His once-gloved hands now prunish, he's been so long underwater. His loose cotton shorts translucent, divulging well muscled curves. He is a pearler, the eldest son of a youngest son, an Australian-born half-Jap whose family have pearled here for over 20 years. But all is not calm in his watery garden of Eden. Far across the Pacific, under the same blue sky, cries of Tora! Tora! Tora! reign as distant cousins harvest quite a different Pearl.

"Why am I up?" Kintaro asks, wondering why his dive time was cut nearly in half.

"You're gonna wanna listen to this, Kint."

As he lands upon the white sands, old men caress their beards and listen intently to a broken newscast announcing the atrocity committed. Kintaro is Australian, speaks only English, but he looks like them - the perpetrators of a heinous crime - and he will be persecuted for it. He knows it's just a matter of time and makes the decision to leave. He needs to disappear. Thanks are exchanged. These friendships will be fleeting, but for now they are steadfast, loyal.

He packs a few belongings, a couple of photographs, three pearls for insurance and stows away on a steamer bound for Fremantle. Where he's ultimately going he does not know, but it will be as far from the northwest coast as he can manage. Away to hide, stay safe, resist internment. He heads southeast to enter a life of anonymity, to become a shadow until the furor of a Rising Sun blows over.

***

She's not even sure what she's screaming, only knows why she's screaming. Her only defense against a slap that she earned for, what? Burning dinner? Failing to remove a stain from his work shirt? It does not matter to him that she tried. Elise grew up privileged, the fourth child and second daughter of a British Army Major who decided to pack up and enlarge his brood in the Antipodes after the end of the Great War. She was not accustomed to domestic duty, but she tried, for him. It should have mattered to Ned, but as with many things under this country's too-hot sun, it did not.

"I gotta get to work." Ned says it with spite, as if he'd prefer to stay to add another bruise or crack to her fragile state.

"You do that."

He's not gone ten minutes when her will resurfaces, again buoyant amid waves of emotion. She doesn't take much. Clothes, some loose cash, letters from her mother filled mostly with lamentation of Elise's departure, all shoved into a suitcase once bearing books for school. Ned will return and she can only imagine his anger, fostering a determination to find and drown what's left of her. She needs to disappear. Prayers are spoken. Her God left her long ago, but for now it is reassuring, calming.

She sits at the bus stop. The lines of dusty tears visible on her cheeks. Astride the ancient leather valise tied with string, its locks long broken like her heart. Why she followed that mug into the bush she'll never know. She wears her last remaining city dress, v-neck at front revealing just a hint of porcelain breast beneath a sunburned decolletage. Its skirt pinched in tight around a waist that two hands could nearly enfold. Billowing in the spring breeze, just enough for the pink rosebud print to ruffle and reveal a shapely golden thigh and make the road train driver stop. Scorned and violent lover behind, she heads south ashamed of her brazen chase for love, to enter a life of anonymity, to become a shadow until the furor of failed dream blows over.

***

In the hot and dusty cabin of a prime mover, four trailers weaving mechanically through twist and turn, traveling long from west to east, two shadows converge. The homeless and heartbroken, guests of a generous stranger. The trip is long and the truck driver short on words. He's used to picking up waifs and strays and delivering them interstate. They're good company and break the monotony of a 2,000 mile drive.

"So both your fathers fought in the Great War, eh?"

Nods and smiles from each and they take turns telling the stories of their patriarchs. Each notes the subtle wink of fate as the same battle garners mention from both mouths. At the Siege of Tsingtao her father fought with the South Wales Borderers. His father with the Japanese 18th Division.

"Maybe they knew each other. Wouldn't that be somethin'?"

A homeless romanticism borne of too many trips across the country elicits reflexive grin across the faces of all three. Kintaro unaware that it was a burgeoning friendship with several British soldiers that convinced his father to move to an English-speaking country. England denied entry. Australia asked for Japanese pearlers.

***

*Continued in Pearl, Harbour: Far Enough

The Complete Pearl, Harbour

Created for 10th Daughter of Memory