KOREA in the summer of 1953 is quiet...something like the calm waters after braving white water rapids in a river falling off precipitous flanks of the Allegheny Mountains.
I had a dream...a disturbing dream...I am old...flying a P-51 Mustang many years in the future...propeller inches above the waves of the Sea of Japan...throwing back a rooster tail of water; I flash by an ancient tree bent parallel to the white sandy beach...a blur of white on the tree; I circle...flaps down...wheels down...I land...coasting to a stop before the tree.
Assigned to both 8th Fighter Bomber Wing and UNC-MAC, Panmunjom, certain liberties are afforded me. One privilege is use of the communications center overseas telephone. I telephone Kokura a number of times, the world listening, chatting with Keiko;
....Bruce, Keiko says to me...I had the most frightening dream...I was very very old, sitting on our tree...an airplane landed on the beach...I ran to it...you jumped down off the wing into my arms...my pink belt came open...you threw it onto the wing...we walked together back toward my cottage... I looked back, your airplane was gone.
Crazy...absolutely impossible...and yet, arriving at Seaside I stepped off the bus and instead of walking "home", I took the path past the hotel, past the tree, and out onto the sand. I stood in that spot turning turning turning...twice more in my life I am to encounter V E R Y unusual events.
Even my mother experienced clairvoyant events: Early one morning many years ago on our stump ranch, breakfast discussion freaked me out...in the middle of the night, my mother told me...I woke up, shaking your dad...Ben, I just saw Will Rogers crash into a river in Alaska. The news that day was...WILL ROGERS DIES IN ALASKA AIRPLANE CRASH.
On my second visit to Seaside, Kokura, Japan, Keiko meets my bus...hugs...kisses...tears...leads me to her cottage. I stay with Keiko and her Mom/Auntie...our home is your home, Bruce.
World War II was over soon after Keiko lost her father and mother from the "bomb" that fell on Hiroshima. Keiko was 12 years old. At 15 years old, Keiko agreed to become a "hostess" to the hotel across the street. In return, she and Auntie would receive protection and support during the difficult times everyone was facing in defeated Japan. Americans swarmed throughout Japan...in occupation and reconstruction of the destroyed nation. Keiko became what some might call a Geisha...allowing she and Auntie to survive.
My first night with Keiko is in the hotel...in the tiny room, heat coming from charcoal buried in sand...little trays of snacks and drinks delivered by the little man at very odd times during the night...the night I am welcomed into the ecstasies of passion...love... unbelievable tenderness...followed by walks together into the nearby city of Kokura...a look of pride on Keiko...approving smiles greeting me from every direction. I am captivated. How is it possible such a place exists rising so soon from the ashes I helped deliver upon these people; how is it possible such a place could exist so soon after I was imprisoned and banned into the wilderness.
I return again a few weeks later...failing, however, to phone Keiko that I am coming. I arrive...Keiko is working, says Auntie. My world crumbles. Bewildered, but understanding...after all, I was brought into this cottage home with full knowledge of Keiko's obligations.
I catch the bus, not knowing where it is going...knowing that I must not remain in Seaside. The bus travels East across the island of Kyushu. The road is a shambles of broken pavement. Rain pounds the passing countryside...out of sight. It becomes dark. The bus stops. All passengers get out. The roadway in front of the bus is gone...washed down the mountainside.
I follow, dressed in my Class A Blue uniform, down a narrow twisting muddy trail...down down down; finally crossing a raging stream...a crude bridge of fallen logs; back up the mountainside...up up up; another bus is waiting for us on the roadside. I fall asleep...a sound sleep, awaking when the bus comes to a stop. I step out of the bus...my uniform still wet and splotched with mud. My highly polished brogans (boots) a mess. We enter a small hut...warm and dry...it is daylight. I am the only American...everyone else is Japanese...I speak not a word of Japanese (except goziemusska and a couple more). I pee in the community trough, wipe off my boots, and step back into the mud...
* * * * * * * *
My day on the UPS delivery truck two days ago caused inflammation of my left knee...from climbing up and down the steps, delivering dozens of packages, envelopes and boxes throughout the Marina area of Bellingham...did not receive a call yesterday (Friday) from UPS...perhaps a call will come on Monday. I have received a new UPS uniform...pants and insulated jacket, so I must believe that I will be called upon again.
This morning, I walked another Arthritis Run/Walk Jingle Bells event. I hoped to complete the 5 K (3.2 mile) event in 37 minutes. I am breathing unusually hard...crossing the finish line in 38minutes - 30 seconds. I am not pleased. My waistline has also grown from 36 to 40 inches since June...not good !
A word about Keiko: Keiko remains my primary reason to live for the next two years. Unknown to me, forces are at work to deprive me of her...vicious forces from a totally unsuspecting source. Nevertheless, Keiko remains one of the "loves of my life" which guide me through many confrontations which, without the lasting influences of my unforgettable moments with that magnificent person, could well have ended in disaster...Keiko guides me still.