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Smashwords Edition, License Notes - старонка 5

I'm really too tired to go see her tonight. Besides, she said that she would be in Naha at school. And I don't even know her. She may have a GI boyfriend who is spending his money on her right now.

A perfunctory hello to Bob Kruse was all he said on the way to job control.

"My, aren't we talkative tonight.

Did he break his beautiful airplane, Don?"

"No. As a matter of fact we haven't had even a minor write-up since before we left Fairchild." Rick spoke up before his assistant could answer Kruse.

"So why so quiet?"

"Just tired I guess. It has been a long day. On the flightline since 0800."

"How is your assistant working out? Any problems?"

"Oh hell no. He's really good. Knows the tanker and works hard and I can trust him to do it right.

Even caught a couple of minor write-ups coming back from Maelstrom AFB one night. Truthfully, I slept through them."

"Hey listen up guys. I'm here. Really in person." Don Naylor protested.

"Think he'll get a swelled head if we keep talking about him, Rick."

"Doubt it. But we better cool it. Let him suffer wondering until he sees his performance review."

"You guys are really cruel." Naylor quipped.

"I'll cover job control for you guys after I drop you at the barracks. I'll put your forms in the nose compartment after I get them from job.

Better get some sleep. By the way, you have to fly at 1100 tomorrow morning. Just a short flight if all goes well. Got a Marine Corp F4 coming off a carrier south of Taiwan inbound for Naha. He'll need an escort and a load or two of gas to make it."

"He's coming alone?"

"Yeah, back seater is going home on emergency leave and will fly out of Kadena, but he has to check into Naha on his way."

"We have to be wheels up at 1100?"

"You got it."

Rick had taken a long, hot shower before crawling between the cool sheets on his bunk. Don Naylor was already asleep and so Rick had only the small reading light over his bunk on. But he wasn't reading. With both arms under his head he was just relaxing on his back and thinking about the last few days since he had left Fairchild. Both Okinawan women, Tomi, married and very pregnant. Kim, a young bar girl of unknown circumstances, came to mind in between flashes of flying and stops along the way. He glanced at his watch in the dim light. 0020. I should get some sleep. I do need it. Preflight at 0900 but that shouldn't be a problem especially with Don helping me. He was appreciating his new assistant as he drifted off to sleep.

"Hey Rick. You going to get up or sleep all day? It's almost 8 o'clock so we still have time to get coffee and some breakfast before preflight."

"Christ. What time did you get up?" Rick asked Naylor when he was awake enough to see that his assistant was not only up, but was in his flight suit.

"Only long enough to get dressed. You didn't hear the alarm?"

"Hell no. You set it last night?"

"I wasn't sure if we would wake up early enough or not. Yesterday was a long day and I for one was dog tired when I sacked out."

The two crew chiefs walked the four or five blocks to the flightline snack bar were they knew they could get passable coffee and some really good hash browns, bacon and over easy eggs.

"Who is Kim?" Naylor asked Rick just as they were going into the snack bar.

Rick looked at Don and wondered where that question had come from. "Who?" He faked it knowing full well who Kim was, but wanting to know what his assistant and friend knew about her.

"You asked her name once when I was getting up and then asked, 'Kim here?' just before I woke you up. Or have you been reading Rudyard Kipling and Kim is a native boy?"

Should I tell him, or fake it. Hell, he'll find out and meet her if I see her again anyway.

"She's a bar girl that I had a drink with and took to supper night before last."

"Gate 2 Street?"

"Yeah I think so. Does it matter?"

"No. Just curious. Cute and young?"

"Definitely. About 20 years old or so. A real baby-san."

"What bar?"

Rick laughed before answering. "Damned if I know what its' name is. Just a little ways down from the gate where Gate 2 street and BC come together. She walked to the gate with me after we ate. I can find it again. It had a palm tree painted on the front door."

"It's the Palms. Can you remember that? It's not that hard a name to remember."

After they finished their breakfast they sat sipping on coffee waiting for Bob Kruse to pick them up.

Kruse had hardly started down the flightline after picking them up when Naylor announced, "Rick is in love."

Kruse looked at Don then turned to Rick across the wide front seat of the pickup with a questioning expression. "Naha?" He asked.

"Gate 2 Street" Don answered.

ìThat was quick. When did you go to Gate 2 Street Rick?"

"You bastards. Payback is going to be hell for that one Naylor." Rick threatened with a friendly smile.

"So tell us about her, Rick"

"No. I only met her Sunday. Bought her a drink and dinner and I was back on base to meet you at the NCO club as I said I would Bob."

"Now it's dinner. First thing this morning he just had supper with her. Now he's buying her dinner, Bob. Draw your own conclusions." Don expounded.

By 1030 the crew chiefs had finished their preflight and the flight crew had the tanker ready to leave.

1100 hours and no word from command post to start engines so crew chiefs and flight crew sat around on the ramp enjoying the morning sun. They had left the junior copilot in the cockpit to monitor the radio.

By 1115 the A/C was getting impatient and told the copilot to call the CP and find out if they could provide them with a wheels up time or at least get a status of the Marine F4 that they were supposed to refuel.

Finally at 1200 hours the CP said to stand down. The F4 had never taken off and wouldn't be taking off any time soon.

"Okay guys, let's call it a day and go downtown." The pilot said and the crew started to gather their gear in anticipation of a bus coming to take them to the BOQ.

"So much for a day off" Bob Kruse said when he arrived at 3653. "Get your gear down and button her up. Your off until 0500 tomorrow. Then you're going to fly a round robin to UT, Guam and be back here early afternoon on Thursday. I'll take you guys to the barracks."

Just before Kruse pulled up in front of the enlisted barracks he asked both crew chiefs. "You guys want to meet me at the NCO Club for supper? I get off at 1700."

"Why not. You in Don?" Rick asked "1800 at the club?"

TEN

The round robin trip was basically uneventful. 3653 performed almost flawlessly. A minor hydraulic leak kept them on the ground at UT for 40 minutes longer than expected but with Don and Rick taking off wing panels for the hydraulic shop a hydraulic line with a small rub spot in it was found and replaced quickly.

Rick started all four engines and ran the hydraulic system through its paces and was satisfied that all was well. He was about to shut down the engines when the flight crew arrived and the pilot motioned to him to just shut down engines 3 and 4 to facilitate replacing a wing panel and for the copilot to get in his seat while the pilot and Rick did a fast walk around and loaded the flight crew's gear aboard 3653.

It was 1300 on Thursday, 8/24 when he and Naylor came off the tanker to meet Kruse.

"I'll do the forms, Rick. Go ahead and get out of here." Don said as he took the aircraft forms from Rick and sat down by the nose gear to read them and make any entries that had to be done.

Rick jumped on the base shuttle bus to Gate 2 Street with the intention of getting something to eat and cruise the pawn shops. He wanted to get a Panasonic portable radio which he could keep on the tanker without feeling bad if it was stolen somewhere in his travels.

Rick walked down Gate 2 Street towards BC Street and only got as far as the Goya restaurant before his hunger pangs overwhelmed his desire to find a cheap radio. He went to a small table with just two chairs next to a front window so he could watch the people walking up and down BC Street. There were a few airman from Kadena on the street with a small mix of Navy and Marines from outlying bases. It was easy to tell the difference. The sailors and particularly the Seabees, had short hair and the Marines had what they called 'white side-walls'. Though they had some hair on the top of their heads, from the line at the bottom of their uniform hats down were hairless. In many cases shaved just like their beards and a tan line showed where their hats ended.

There were some couples amongst the walkers. Many of them were mixed couples of GI and Okinawan girls. A few round-eye couples who were either married or members of the military. He watched several Okinawan girls in pairs or alone hurrying along the street before disappearing into one of the many bars, small stores, pawn shop or restaurants lining the street. He watched an Okinawan girl coming across the street and felt that he had seen her before. He lost sight of her when she reached the sidewalk on the Goya's side of the street and continued to watch for her to come back into his vision.

At the same time as the waitress came to take his order, the restaurant's front door opened catching Rick's eye. Sure she's familiar. Is she looking for me? He felt an upsurge of hope that Kim was in fact coming to meet him, but he also realized that she might not care if he was there or not. She might have already forgotten about him.

Kim knew exactly where he was sitting and looked directly at him. They made eye contact both breaking into smiles when she started across the restaurant towards him.

He watched and appreciated the small, but nicely put together girl walking towards him.

With her now familiar smile she spoke when she reached his table. "My turn to buy lunch."

Then with a smile she spoke to the waitress. "Chotto matte kudasai."

The waitress smiled and nodded before walking over to a table of two GIs to take their orders.

"Can I join you? I’ve been waiting for you. Hoping you would get time off and come to Koza."

"Please, sit down. I'm glad to see you, Kim. I was going to stop in the bar after I ate, hoping you would be there."

"You flew yesterday, neh."

"Yeah. And were on standby today until almost 1200 this morning. Then I came here to get something to eat and see if I could find you.

"I knew that you were flying and would not be here last night. I didn't come to the Palms last night. After class yesterday, I went shopping in Naha, then spent the night at home with my sobo. That is my grandmother. I came to Koza about an hour ago, then I watched to see if you would be here."

"You must be psychic to know I was flying."

"I just knew. Early yesterday morning before I got out of bed I felt that you were leaving the island."

"I guess that I should have gone to the bar first after I left the base. I was not sure that you would remember or even care whether I did or not."

"I do care and hoped to see you even for a little bit of time today. I won't go back to the bar if you want to spend the afternoon with me. Go to a movie, or maybe I can show you some of my home. Okinawa I mean."

"I'd like that. Maybe see more of the island than BC Street and Kokusai Dori."

"What would you like to see? We can take a taxi or ride the Okinawan buses anywhere that we want to go."

Rick thought and was interrupted when the waitress came back to their table.

"Would you like to try some yakamesa today and share some sushi again?" Kim asked him.

"Yakamesa? That's fried rice?"

"Hai. It is. And you want chicken with it, neh?"

Rick smiled, got brave and answered in what he thought was the correct Japanese words. "Hai, yakamesa and sushi would be great, dozo."

"Kim smiled, gave their order to the waitress before turning her smiling face back to Rick. "You are learning Japanese, neh?"

"Hai. I'm trying. Hai is yes and neh is do you agree?"

"Hai. A good start at learning and I'm glad and impressed that you are trying to learn my language."

"I doubt if I'll ever get as good speaking Japanese as you speak English, and I don't think that I will be able to speak but a few words to anybody but you."

"Oh? Why is that?

And thank you for telling me my English is so good, I try very hard but the only Americans that I can practice on are GIs and I'm not too sure how smart some of them are."

"In case you haven't noticed, I'm a shy person. Especially around pretty women."

"Really? I hadn't noticed. We have never had any trouble talking though we don't know much about nor have known each other very long.

Does that mean that you don't think that I'm a pretty woman?" Kim smiled letting him know that she hadn't taken offense, but wasn't letting him get away with such a statement all together.

"Oh, hell. I'm sorry. I didn't mean you. I think that you are a very pretty girl who makes me wonder why she is interested in someone older than herself."

Still smiling, Kim retorted. "A girl? Interested in an older man? How old do you think I am? I think I'm older than you think I am."

"I think that I'll just shut up and maybe I can stay out of trouble." Rick retorted.

Their food came and they were quiet for several minutes. Rick watched Kim manipulate her chopsticks and tried to emulate her which brought a burst of giggles from across the table.

"What's so funny?"

"Here." Kim took his hand and wrapped his fingers around the chopsticks, held his hand and chopsticks with her left hand while with her right hand started to eat some of his fried rice. "Take your time, Rick-san. There is no hurry especially for a learner."

"Yes, Teacher. Thank you" He smiled and was rewarded by a bright and friendly smile on her face.

"You did not answer my questions. You are not getting a reprieve because we're eating."

"What were the questions, again."

"Rick Davis-san." Kim spoke in mock frustration. "You know what I asked you. Now answer me. Dozo? Please, My Dear?"

"Yes, yes. I know the questions.

I think that you are about 20 years old, which makes you a woman, but very close to being a girl in my way of thinking.

I'm 32. That makes me 12 years older than you. I guess that could be taken as an older man depending on your culture and way of thinking."

Kim was laughing and was having a hard time stifling her outburst so she could answer Rick. "Really, it is only 8 years. I'm 23 now and will be 24 in January.

When is your birthday?"

"October 20th. I'll be 32."

"So you are 8 and one half years older than I am. Thank you for thinking I am still a girl. A woman always wants to remain a girl whether she admits it or not. To me personally, 8 or 9 years between us does not make you an older man. Also, on Okinawa such a difference either way, is not important. I could be 8 or 9 years older than you and it would be acceptable."

"I stand corrected. I didn't mean to belittle you or think less of you, Kim. You know that, yes?"

"Are you ready to go? I think that we should go to Naha. I want to show you my school. The University of the Ryukyus. and where, if you would like, you could meet me when I don't come to BC Street."

"You won't get in trouble and lose your job or something in the bar if you don't go back?"

With a small laugh and kind of a crooked little smile Kim took his hand as they went out the door of the restaurant.

"You didn't pay?'

"No. They charge it to the bar.

I won't have any trouble if we go to Naha. My oba owns the bar."

"Oba?"

"My aunt. She is my father's sister. I am not really a bar girl. I am the cashier and sometimes tend bar when Kayoko, you saw her the day you picked me up, tending bar."

Rick started to speak, but Kim stepped off the curb to hail a cab.

"Hey, Kim. Why don't we grab the base shuttle bus to Gate #1 and we can catch a cab there to Naha."

"You do not mind taking me on base?"

"Of course not. Why should I? You're my tomodachi and girlfriend."

"I'm your girlfriend? For sure?"

"Do you want to be?" Rick asked her as Kim hurried to catch up to him. She took his hand again and they walked towards the base gate.

"You walk so fast. My short legs have a hard job to stay up with you. Of course I want to be your girl friend. But how do we know we want to be. This is only the second time we have been together."

"Nice way to find out isn't it?"

"Yes."

The bus came just a couple of minutes after they went in the gate. When they sat down in the back of the almost empty bus, Kim leaned over and pressed her head on Rick's shoulder speaking so low that he had to lean down to hear her. "Rick, I want to be your girlfriend, but I have never slept with a GI. Or made love to a GI. Do you mind if we wait?"

He placed his arm across her slim shoulders and drew her closer against him. "I think it is a little too soon to think about sleeping together. After awhile, if that is what we want, we can talk about it."

"GIs always want Okinawan girl friends that they can stay with overnight or to live with as long as they are on Okinawa. That is why they come to the bar and buy the nesans drinks and pay to take them home or to a hotel. It's okay because the nesans need the money and the GIs need to be men."

"As I remember correctly, it was you who picked me up. I was minding my own business listening to the music and enjoying my drink."

"Hai. You are correct. I was not needed to be the cashier and I wanted to talk to you. It was nice wasn't it?"

"Yes it was. But why talk to me?"

"Because you were quiet and seemed very nice. You weren't paying any attention to the nesans. I knew you were a bit older than I was, but you didn't wear a ring like married GIs sometimes do."

"What will your family think about you having an American boyfriend?

We have to get off the bus here." He told her.

"You have never rode the bus across the base?"

"No. I was only on the base once before. A baby-san airman took me to the club one night. He was so young and quiet I liked him when he came into the bar. He never tried to buy any of the nesans drinks, or take any of them to a hotel. I thought he would be nice to me. I was only 18 years old, but in the base club he bought me drinks and no one seemed to care. Then he wanted me to go to a hotel with him. I said no and had to walk from the club to the gate, then to the bar because he would not leave the club and take me home. He said that since he took me out and bought me dinner and drinks that I should fuck him. That is not a nice word, I know, but that is what he said.

Before you, he is the only American that I have ever gone anywhere with." Kim's voice trailed off and she changed the subject.

"My obasan and oba also, have told me I have been a very nice girl not to get involved with a GI or even an Okinawan boy. But they have been concerned that maybe I have put too much time into work and going to school.

They will learn what a nice person you are and say, 'smart girl' You picked a nice GI."

"What are you taking? Majoring in?"

"I have already completed a minor in English. I will have enough credits at the end of December in 1969 to graduate my major of Philosophy.

I want to help my Okinawans have a better education and understand their world."

"You have to get your degree. No questions, no matter what happens between us. That is not up for discussion."

"You really care that I get my degree? I have never told you about what I want, but you want me to do it?"

"Yes. For sure."

ELEVEN

"Let's catch an Okinawan bus. Can we ride one all the way to Naha?" Rick asked as they walked hand in hand out the air base gate and went towards the civilian bus stop on Highway #1.

"Honto. It is the long way around, but we can change buses in Futenma and take one that goes through the area where there are farms. It goes to Nishihara where my home is, which is not far from the University. Maybe next time we will catch the bus in Koza. It would be more direct."

Rick wasn't sure what to expect once they left the area of the base and BC Street, but Kimi again took his hand after they changed buses in Futenma. As they moved half way to the back of the bus to find a seat. "You sit next to the window so you can see more. I have passed over these roads many times and can tell you where we are." Kim said before she sat next to him on the outside seat and slid close so her hip was against his. The seats on the bus were smaller than an American bus since the Okinawans and Japanese people were smaller than the average Americans.

Coming down a long hill Rick caught glimpses of the blue/green ocean and white breakers coming over the coral reefs and amongst the darker green of the trees the red tile roofs of a small town.

"What's this town, Kimi?"

"It is Nakagusuku. The water is Nakagusuku Bay. Way out there is the Philippine Sea. Watch and in a minute we will see where the Okinawans make salt. See? They have built pools of salt water in the sand. The sun evaporates the water.

There. That white sand is really salt. They will scrape it up and package it to sell."

"It looks like a very old town. It survived the invasion?"

"Parts of it did. Most parts have been rebuilt using the first stones. I think that is the wrong word. Original stone? That is correct?"

"Yes, that's the right way to say it. What is that growing in those big fields?"

"It's sugar cane. It grows really well here on the island. See those chimneys a long ways in front of us?"

"Yeah. I've seen something like that somewhere else. Maybe in Hawaii?"

"You're probably right. It is a sugar plant. They take the sugar cane there and make sugar. It smells really bad when they are processing the cane."

The bus stayed on the road which followed the coastline for a few more miles passing through several very small villages and many fields with crops growing in them.

That is cabbage in the first field. Behind it is field of onion. The sukoshi plot next to the farmers home has daikon. Radish you call it. It is for the farmer's okusan to use. You can see this is mostly farmland. Some of the fields are very large. They're used to raise vegetables to sell in the city and to the American bases."

"We call them truck farms."

"I think I have heard that term used.

This is Nishihara. My home is just a little ways up the hill. We will get off the bus here and walk there. Then later we can catch a bus to Shuri where the University is."

A few steps from where they left the bus was a typical Okinawan style store. The whole front bordering on the street was open. Two or three glass showcases lined the front making a wall of sorts, but still managing to display the store's wares. Pots, pans, and other cooking utensils as well as clothing hung from the walls and ceiling allowing just narrow walkways through the merchandise. A glass fronted cooler stood against the back wall which divided the store from the owner's home. Inside the cooler were maybe a dozen bottles of Orion the locally brewed Okinawan beer. A dozen mixed bottles of Coke, grape and orange soda, next to several quarter and half liter bottles of milk lined the right side of the cooler. Beside the milk bottles was a basket full of brown shelled hen's eggs. Next to the basket was a ceramic bowl with five eggs and a small sign in Kanji on it.

Seeing Rick looking in the cooler Kim spoke up, "I'm thirsty. I think I want some Coke but not a whole bottle. Will you share one with me, Rick?"

"Sure. Why a basket and a bowl of eggs?" Rick looked slightly perplexed.

"Do you have trouble reading? It is quite clear. The ones in the bowl are all ready cooked." Kim answered laughing.

"You're picking on me again. First you make fun of how I eat with chopsticks, now the fact that I can't read Kanji. I just guess you're not much of a teacher. We've spent about five hours together and you haven't taught me all of those things I should know." Rick said trying to keep a straight face but failing and a smile spread across his face.

Unexpectedly Kim rose up on tiptoes and standing in front of the store and mama-san kissed him quickly on the lips and spoke a couple of words softly in Japanese, "Ai suru, Rick-chan, watashi no kobito." As she looked in his eyes. Then she took his hand and started up the road towards her home.

Slowly moving up the slight hill so Rick could look around, they shared their Coke matching sip for sip.

"This is my home." Kimiko stopped in front a large house with a red tiled roof. Typical of Okinawa, the wood sides of the house were not painted, but the door and door frames, as well as the sliding windows and their frames were varnished. The red tiled roof extended over a wide porch which ran across the front and both sides of the house. Surrounding the house was a four foot high, two foot thick rock wall made of dark brown basalt. Directly in front of them was a hand carved wooden gate with an arching top that was at least a foot taller than the wall. The gate was attached to the rocks with big, hand forged, wrought iron hinges and a hand forged wrought iron latch that could be locked.

Kim swung the gate open and motioned Rick through it ahead of her. "The dog is big, but does not bite." she said seriously. But one look at the questioning, apprehensive look on Rick's face and she started to giggle.

Kim smiled then spoke loudly, " Obasan, Obasan. Konnichi wa, Obasan."

She was answered by the excited barking of a small dog which slid through the open front door, literally flew off the porch and jumped into Kim's arms and started deliriously licking her face.

"There's no big dog." Kim laughed.

"I will get even." Rick muttered under his breathe.

"This is my obasan's dog. I call her Baka. It is a play on words. Baka is fool or foolish in Japanese. And to me it is a variation of the English word bark. You know the dog barks?"

Rick nodded, rolled his eyes a little, but agreed with her.

"When she was very little, she barked all of the time. All right, all right. I know it is weird, but I am but a poor uneducated country girl who is not very worldly."

"Do not listen to this foolish girl, Rick-san. She makes up things trying to shock and fool us." The voice was strong, but not loud or demanding.

Kimiko's grandmother was standing in the doorway. She was not as Rick expected. A tiny Okinawan lady with her grey hair done by a hairdresser. She wore a traditional informal yukata which was not in the usual subdued colors that Rick had observed many older women wearing. It had bright blue flowers and green leaves on it and was made of a very fine cotton fabric. Her complexion was clear though wrinkled, and it was easy to see where Kim had inherited her beautiful unblemished complexion.

"Kimi-chan." Her obasan admonished her. "Invite our company in. It is not nice to have him standing out in the hot sun."

"Okay, Obasan." She answered her grandmother with a laugh taking Rick's hand again and leading him up the front steps while she still held Baka in her left hand and arm.

"And put down that silly dog. She is quite capable of climbing the stairs by herself, even if you have trouble with them."

The tiny Okinawan lady held out her hand Western style and with a firm grip shook Rick's hand before she bowed. "Konnichi wa Rick-san. Welcome to our home. Kimi-chan did not exaggerate when she told me about you. You are indeed a fine looking young man with soft trusting eyes. Dozo, come sit down and Kimi-chan can fetch us some iced tea from the kitchen."

"Yes, Obasan. Did you make the tea for yourself, or are you psychic?"

"You must not tell family secrets. Rick-san will think that he is amongst a very weird family."

Rick smiled. Made eye contact with Obasan before he spoke. "I have already been treated to Kimiko's psychic abilities. Truthfully, I don't know if she was just lucky or really knew that I was flying and knew when I would be in Koza.

Also, what can I call you? I have just heard Kim call you Obasan."

Kim laughed. "See Obasan, He is so respectful for an American that he's scary."

"I would be honored if you would do as Kimi-chan does and call me Obasan. My full name is Satchako Toyama.

You're only going to be on Okinawa for a short time, Rick-san?"

"Yes, Obasan." Rick answered trying out the new title.

"The Air Force sends my tanker and I to different places constantly. Sometimes for a couple of days and sometimes for as much as 120 days. This trip is for two weeks. Fourteen days, not counting travel time."

"Can you always predict where you are going to be? Know in advance?"

"Sometimes. But many times we just have a day or two notice. Since I'm single and love to fly I don't need much notice."

"That was the impression that Kimi-chan gave me after she met you the first time. She said that you are a Man-of-the-Wind."

"Obasan! You have embarrassed me. I'm sure Rick can imagine all kinds of things that I might have meant by that."

"Oh, I don't think so. He is a very intelligent man and will not jump to conclusions.

But, just what did you mean by that, Kimi? I was never quite sure myself where you were coming from."

"Obasan. Please, where did you pick up that expression? You are a refined and educated teacher and you are using expressions like, I quote,'where you were coming from,' unquote."

"So what is wrong with that. I am a progressive lady and I am always listening to my students and the terms that they use."

"My sobo teaches English part time at the university. To first and second year students. I believe they're corrupting her. She's 70 years old and thinks she's still 30. Her real full time job is an English translator for the Okinawan Prefecture. That is the government of Okinawa.

Since Rick is looking at me strangely and you are going to keep embarrassing me until I explain myself so I will do just that.

I meant that you are not held down by the normal hang-ups of your society, Rick.

I believe Obasan, that the Americans say he is a 'Free Spirit'. It is not derogatory or a put down. You're still a man of values and morals, Rick.

All right, Obasan? Does that explain what I meant?"

"Very nicely Kimi-chan. If Rick-san understands also. He is the one who you must be sure of."

Rick reached across the low table that they sat on the tatamis next to and took Kim's hand. "Now, I'm the one who is embarrassed, Kim. But thank you.

Domo arigato gozaimasu, Kimi-chan.

Is that correct, Obasan?"

"Yes, very good, Rick.

Now, you two must leave if your going to go to the university and go to dinner in Naha.

Come see me again Rick-san. You are very welcome in our home. Though I do wonder how much longer Kimi-chan will live with me. She is getting more independent by the week."

"You know that you cannot get rid of me for very long, Obasan. Even if I have my own apartment, I will always come to our home."

"We'll take the bus that goes to Naha City. That will take us to Shuri and the university. If you would like, we can walk from there to Kokusai Dori and find a restaurant to have dinner in."

"That sounds like a good idea to me. There used to be a castle where the university is now?"

"Yes. The castle was destroyed during the war. There is talk of finding a new place for the university and rebuilding the castle."

"I gather that the castle is important to Okinawa. But that the Japanese military used it and had a bunker underneath it as a command post."

"That's true. The Japanese military didn't care about things that meant something to the people of Okinawa, or anything that was part of our Okinawan heritage. Some Okinawans also felt that way. A short time before the invasion these people were sent to Japan with the nonessential Japanese like clerks and teachers. That is when my family moved into the caves of the north and some of our neighbors went to Brazil.

My father was a teacher in Naha. He wanted to stay and help his students. No one could imagine that the Japanese would impress teenage students into the military and as laborers. My father was also impressed to construct bunkers and help put make-believe guns on top of the hills."

"Make-believe guns?"

"Yes, they made bunkers to place big guns in, but did not have the guns to put in them. So they made guns from logs so it would look like there were many big guns all around Naha."

They were quiet for a few minutes and were watching the houses pass by as the bus took them into Naha.

Coming to the top of a hill the bus slowed and Kim spoke. "This is Shuri, Rick. We will get off here. Just up that side street is the entrance to where the castle was."

When they stood on the side of the street waiting for the bus to leave, Kim reached for Rick's hand and pressed her face against his arm. "My father was last seen working near here when the American ships started to shoot their big guns and the airplanes came. He was never found. Nobody knows what happened to him."

"I'm sorry, Kimi."

"It was a long time ago. Obasan said it was two months after he disappeared before the family found out he was missing. We were way far north and hiding in the caves so we did not know what was happening here in the city. Of course I was too young to know or understand anyway.

Both my grandparents were also teachers. It was decided that they would go with their daughter and granddaughter to the caves. Then they could teach the children who were in the caves with them. My father had only us, and his students, no other family. Obasan said that he wanted to stay with his students to protect them from the Japanese military as much as he could."

Walking up a dirt street together, Rick saw a tall, and fancy structure with a high peaked red clay tiled roof. It stood at what appeared to be the end of the street. "What is that, Kim?"

"That is the Shurimon. The entrance to the castle. Shuri Gate in English.

The university is just over there. I pass the gate whenever I go to or come from school. If you want to find me at the University you can wait here and I will come here to meet you. Before you leave I will give you my schedule and I would like to send you my new schedule when I get it."

"I'd like that. I'll give you my address in the states where you can send it.

I don't know when I'll be back, Kim. A while ago I thought I was coming back in the middle of October for 120 days. Then they sent me here now. So I don't know if the October TDY is still going to happen."

"I will hope and pray that it does. That is what, two months away?"

"Yeah, something like that.

Let's find a place to eat. It's starting to get dark and I'm hungry. You must be also?"

"I am. We can walk through the University then go down Kokusai Dori."

Kim led them to an Okinawan restaurant that she knew and liked. "It has no 'A' Sign. Do you care Rick?" Kim asked him when they paused outside a somewhat fancy restaurant on a side street near the Ryubo Department store and Kokusai Dori.

"Makes no difference to me. Especially if you say it's good and would like to eat here."

"Sometimes I meet Obasan here to have dinner after she finishes work and I get out of school. We come here almost every week."

The maitre d' ignored his reservation list after he greeted Kim. They exchanged a few words in Japanese as he guided them to the back of the restaurant.

As she always did, Kim told Rick what had passed between them. "He is an old friend of my family. He asked about Obasan and was concerned that I was with you instead of her. I don't think that I ever come here alone and have never been in here or anywhere else with any man Okinawan or GI."

"I'm amongst the honored. Thank you." Rick said with a smile as Kim reached across the table and took his hand.

ìShould I be really happy and excited?"

"I hope that you will be happy and maybe a little excited.

I know that you will be traveling a lot and not be on Okinawa very often. Then just for small periods of time. But I hope that you will want to see me and we will spend as much time together as we can. I'm saying that I really want to be your girlfriend and later," Kim hesitated and Rick could hear her and see her chest rise as she took three or four deep breaths. She looked down at the table and then looked deep into his eyes matching Rick's intense look. "Later we will be more than friends and closer. Become lovers." Kim's voice trailed off until Rick could barely hear. Her blush rose from her neck and up onto her face. Her high cheek bones seemed to take on a color of their own.

"I like you very much and have enjoyed every minute we have been together. I won't make any promises today, right now. As you said, I'll be flying many places and I have no idea when I'll be back to Okinawa.

I do promise to find you and see you when I am on Okinawa and will always be truthful with you."

"I have an 8 o'clock class in the morning. So I am going to stay with Obasan in Nishihara tonight.

You didn't say anything about your next flight. Do you know?"

"No, I don't, but I should know when I get back to the base tonight or first thing in the morning. I'll tell you as soon as I can. All right?"

"Hai, domo. I would like that.

Obasan likes and respects you. Sometimes she can be very critical of my choice of friends. I had a boy friend, Okinawan, who she could not stand. All she would say is, 'You can do better. What is his future going to be? You are ambitious and educated, Kimi-chan, find somebody else.”

I finally realized that what she was saying was true. The fault was not that he was Okinawan. He just didn't want to improve himself. He would be happy driving for the American Navy forever."

"What made you see that Obasan was correct? He must have done something to make you aware of who he was."

"I have a cousin who is a translator and dispatcher for the Navy in Naha. My ex-boyfriend worked for him. That is how I met him. The Okinawans who work for the Navy had a party and Kusii, my cousin invited me, actually took me so he could impress everyone to what a beautiful cousin he has." Kim giggled at her own words. "That is what Kusii said when I told him that I was not going to go out with his friend anymore."

"He's right. You are a beautiful cousin. So, are you going to tell me more? Did he do something bad or did you just know he wasn't for you?"

"Other than try to take me to bed? I think it was just that he wasn't for me.

No!"

"No, what?"

"I never slept with him. I never wanted to. Even after being together for a dinner date and a few drinks, I never had any desire to take off my clothes with him. It was not like what you are doing to me. Now I am going to leave you and catch a taxi to Nishihara before I embarrass myself further."

Kim got up and came around the table to Rick. Bent and kissed him on the lips for a long, more than sisterly kiss.

"Finish your kohi and I will talk to you tomorrow." With a warm smile she waved to him as she went out the door and hailed a passing pink cab.

Rick paid for their dinner and catching the warm smile from both the waitress and maitre d' left the restaurant to also catch a taxi, but to go in the opposite direction Kim had taken.

TWELVE

It was about 2330 when Rick unlocked the door to his room in the Kadena transit barracks. The desk light was on and on the desk were two ripped out blue lined pages of a small pocket sized notebook. He picked up the two notes and read the top one which was from Don Naylor.

"I'll be back about midnight. Went to see Yoshi.

As you can see we will have a busy day tomorrow with a 0900 take off. Set the alarm for about 6 so we can get breakfast. Please."

He didn't bother to sign it.

The original, first note was from Bob Kruse who had worked the day shift on the flightline.

"Greetings; You have an exciting and fun filled mission tomorrow. Takeoff at 0900 so I'll pick you up at the snack bar about 0700. Or meet you before for coffee if I can make it. Your turn to buy.

Did I mention that you are going to Yokota, Japan for lunch?"

Love Bob K."

Rick chuckled as he stripped and headed for the shower.

2010-07-19 18:44 Читать похожую статью
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