Perils of Sleepwalking - A short extract from Escarpment

Keiko had spent the time engaged in an intense Google search. When I got home, my dinner stood on the dining room table, each dish and bowl carefully protected with saran wrap, and she was waiting for me with the results of her investigations.

“Listen to this.”

As I peeled off the wrapping and ate the cold fare, she read out:

“Two weeks after our honeymoon, when the dreams were still continuing, I went to a psychologist and he told me I was being taken over by a ghost for minutes or even hours at a time.”

Thus it started, and so it went on.

A man in America, while sleepwalking, had stabbed his mother-in-law to death and tried to throttle his father-in-law.

Another, who had started sleepwalking when he was a teenager, once, while staying over with a friend, awoke to find that the friend’s kitchen walls were filled with doodles he had done while sleepwalking. Now he paints in his sleep, and galleries buy his works.

There are cases, Keiko informed me, of people sleepwalking outside and freezing to death.

Of falling out of windows.
Of engaging in sex with strangers.
Of mowing the lawns naked.
Of trying to strangle their wives as they lay in bed together.
(This last I did not feel, of course, sympathy with, only an intuitive understanding of.)

She related stories she had found on the internet of inanimate objects being possessed by spirits – a haunted grandfather clock, an eerie stuffed leopard, a possessed rocking horse…

While I tried to dislodge a fish bone from between my back teeth, she sat down at the table opposite me and read out from her notes in a slow, morbid tone:

“…Latent energy is the name given to the individual, collective or residual energy that remains with a specific object after the passing of its owner, who had a strong connection to it in life, or the energy left by a traumatic event that had once taken place involving the object…

“…At times, uneasy or unnerving feelings may be experienced when handling artifacts. Frequently, this experience occurs with items that have been picked up on wartime battlefields…”

Find “Escarpment” at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/161296866X/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i2

Petula - an extract from A Pig With Three Legs

https://www.amazon.com/David-Turri/e/B00IR6C5KM/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

 

Part of the sea wall that runs along the Front dates from Roman times, and the buildings in Cribble-Sodding’s High Street look like they haven’t had a lick of fresh paint since before Christ either. 

The sky was a leaden colour, low and roiling. Under it, the gulls wheeled and screamed in an insane fashion. There was no one out on the sand. The deckchairs were stacked and battened-down under canvas, and the Dodgem track was padlocked. The wind blew cold and harsh, full of a stench of rotting seaweed.

           “It’s a bleak bloody place, isn’t it?” Alec commented.

           “It’s a bit cheerier in summer.”

Then, the beach was packed with smiling Swedes and pot-bellied Yanks; with smelly Greeks and preening Frenchmen and flirting Italians; with Spaniards cavorting over the sand pretending to be flamenco dancers, and Germans being miserable, and Japanese throwing up.

They left the car near the Promenade, and Alec followed Tommy up the High Street, past a closed gift shop, a scruffy cafe and a boarded-up game arcade, seeing not a soul abroad.

Tommy stopped before a peeling signboard that showed the silhouette of a geisha with what looked like a pair of knitting needles plunged into the back of her skull. Across it were the words:

The Moonlight Lady.   

They went down a stairway that smelt not of the Orient but of beer bottles and cooking grease. The premises at the bottom were cavernous, the whitewashed walls undecorated, and the tables solid wood.  

A bar ran the length of one wall, and down the far end was the small stage, oblong and only slightly raised, like a memorial slab over the grave of Tommy Dugdale’s career as a comic. 

An unshaven man in a red bra and panties and black stockings sat on the stage on a stool, picking at his teeth with a fingernail. Around him lay the frilly female clothes he had shed and the things he had used in his act – a parasol, a water pistol and some broken eggs on a sheet of newspaper. 

Sally Shaw was at the bar, talking about him with another man. 

“What can I say, Harry?”

           “You liked the act, Sally. Don’t tell me you didn’t.”

           “He’s just not pretty.”

           “He’s not got his makeup on. I told you that. Of course, he’ll shave and wear his wig.”

           “Look at that belly.”

           “He’s a bloke, isn’t he? It’s natural in a bloke. But that’s the point, isn’t it? If he was a real woman, it wouldn’t be interesting, would it? Listen, Sally, when you were watching the act, what was going through your mind? I’ll tell you. This is different, you were thinking. This is original.”

           “What was going through my mind was, this could get me closed down.” 

Sally glanced at Petula, for that was his stage name.

“He’s blank. Do you see what I mean? Wooden.”

           “He’s had a hard life, not much to smile about.”

           “Can he sing?”

           “If he could sing, he wouldn’t be doing this shit for a living, would he?”

           “I’m sorry, Harry.”

           From the stage, Petula asked, “Can I get dressed?”

           “Yeah.”

           “Does she want me to pay for the eggs?”

           “I don’t know. Do you, Sally?”

She smiled at Petula. 

“It’s all right, luv.”

           Petula picked up all her things and went into the kitchen behind the bar to change. Tommy stepped onto the vacated stage. His fingers tapped the mike awake, and his smoker’s rasp echoed off the walls.

“Have you heard of the Canadian Wu-Wu Bear, ladies and gentlemen? You haven’t? It’s fabled. It’s very rare and it lives in caves only in the far north of Canada. I’ve got this pal, he’s a hunter, and the passion of his life was to shoot a Wu-Wu Bear.

“So he hired a guide and they spent the whole hunting season tramping about in the far north of Canada. They didn’t have any luck, winter was coming on and the guide had had enough. But my pal was made of flintier stuff. He decided to carry on alone. The guide gave him a piece of advice.

“When you come to the mouth of a cave, he said, give the Wu-Wu Bear mating call. If there’s one inside the cave, it’ll answer. The Wu-Wu mating call goes like this:”

He put his lips close to the mike. 

“WuuuuuuWuuuuuu WuuWuu WuuuuWuuuu.”

He paused.

“So, off my mate goes. For a few more days, nothing at all, then, just when he’s beginning to lose heart, he comes to this cave and pokes his head inside and gives the mating call…

“This time, there’s a response, very faint…WuuuuuuWuuuuuu WuuWuu WuuuuWuuuu. He cocks his rifle and steps inside. He makes the mating call again, and again comes the response, closer this time and louder…Closer and louder…Closer and louder…And the train ran right over him and killed him dead.”

“Hello, Tommy!”

“Hiya, Sally.”

           Petula, in jeans and a biker’s leather jacket, sat down at the bar next to Harry.

           “Have you got your stuff?” Harry asked her. “Have you got the water pistol? Because it’s my son’s.”

           “It’s all in the bag.”

           “Come on, then.”

           Petula looked at Sally.

           “You don’t like me, then?”

           “It’s nothing personal.”

           “I left the eggs in the kitchen, wrapped in the newspaper.”

           “Thanks. Lose a bit of weight, luv. And get a bigger bra. You’re young now, but you’ll feel the benefit of a bigger one later. Bye, Harry.”

 

 

 

 

Comment

David Turri

Although I was born in England, I have lived in Japan for the past forty years. That’s why this country, its people and history, form the backdrop to many of my novels. I have no big ideas to peddle; I consider myself a simple story-teller and work hard at my craft. I spin my stories in such disparate genres as horror, espionage, war, occult - and humor. I live in Osaka with a wife, two grown daughter and two young grand-daughters – the whole catastrophe, as Zorba describes married life.

 

SAUCY TALES FROM HERODOTUS: SMELLS SO GOOD!

 

Kings are chosen in a variety of ways, but perhaps the most bizarre is recorded by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, that anthologist of the bizarre, the strange and the weird – how Darius became king of Persia around 520BC.

Following the death of King Cambyses, the throne of the Persian Empire had been usurped by a powerful Median religious cult called the Magi, which had installed its own puppet to it.

Seven Persian noblemen plotted a coup d’état to topple the puppet and destroy the influence of the Magi. In this they were successful. What remained was to choose who among them should become king. Let Herodotus tell the story in his own words…

 

They discussed the fairest way of deciding who should have the throne. To choose which should be king, they proposed to mount their horses on the outskirts of the city, and he whose horse neighed first after the sun was up would have the throne.

Darius had a clever groom called Oebares. After the meeting had broken up, he went to see this fellow, and told him of the arrangement they had come to. “So if,” he added, “you can think of some dodge or other, do what you can to see that this prize falls to me, and to no one else.”

“Well, master,” Oebares answered, “if your chance of winning the throne depends upon nothing but that, you may set your mind at rest; you may be perfectly confident – you, and nobody else, will be king. I know a charm which will just suit our purpose.”

“If,” said Darius, “you really have got something that will do the trick, you had better hurry and get it all worked out. Tomorrow’s the day – so there isn’t much time.”

Oebares, accordingly, as soon as it was dark, took from the stables the mare which Darius’ horse was particularly fond of and tied her up in the outskirts of the city. Then he brought along the stallion and led him round and round the mare, getting closer and closer in narrowing circles, and finally allowed him to mount her.

Next morning, the noblemen, according to their agreement, came riding on their horses through the city and when they reached the spot where the mare had been tethered on the previous night, Darius’ horse started forward and neighed.

At the same instant, though the sky was clear, there was a flash of lightning and s clap of thunder; the double miracle was like a sign from heaven; the election of Darius was assured, and the others leapt from their saddles and bowed to the ground at his feet.

That is one account of how Oebares made the horse neigh. The Persians also have another, namely that he rubbed the mare’s vagina and then kept his hand covered inside his breeches. When the sun was rising and the horses were about to be released, he drew his hand out and put it to the nostrils of Darius’ horse, which at the smell of the mare at once snorted and neighed.

In this way Darius became king of Persia.

Comment

David Turri

Although I was born in England, I have lived in Japan for the past forty years. That’s why this country, its people and history, form the backdrop to many of my novels. I have no big ideas to peddle; I consider myself a simple story-teller and work hard at my craft. I spin my stories in such disparate genres as horror, espionage, war, occult - and humor. I live in Osaka with a wife, two grown daughter and two young grand-daughters – the whole catastrophe, as Zorba describes married life.

 

A Review of Wild Willful Heart

One complaint about this thing – it came to an end all too soon. Because I hadn’t been so snatched up and carried along by a book in a long time.

 

“Wild Willful Heart” is W. Boone Hedgepeth’s quest for spiritual authenticity. It is a book full of magic and true grit. Full of grace and darkness. Full of demons, UFOs and miracles. Of brutal honesty. Of sadness and hope. Of the South.

 

There is real horror in Black Mountain; and real beauty in the writer’s descriptions of that mystical North Carolina environment that was the dramatic stage for some of his spiritual struggles.

 

Boone’s writing style is clear, taut, measured and down-to-earth. He is a skillful storyteller. Wisely rejecting a straightforward chronological narrative, he weaves his tale out of different strands of his life in order to create maximum suspense and anticipation.

 

There is much that is fascinating in these pages, a lot to ponder and many things that linger in the head and the heart after the book is closed.

 

What lingers for me is the powerful image, early on, of the “marginal man”, a state to being to be avoided, but one that threatens all of us at one time or another; and, near the end, Boone’s (or Christ’s?) command to not be plagued by guilt or self-loathing, but to love yourself.

 

He writes, again near the end:

 

“…In the present and in the future, I will not cling to traditions of the past, but will seek new light and direction as a revolutionary, patriot, and saint in Jesus Christ…I am just an authentic person filled with countless flaws just like you. I am not greater than you are, I am your servant, you are mine, and we are learning simultaneously…”

 

I like that very much. We are all fellow-travelers.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Wild-Willful-Heart-Boone-Hedgepeth/dp/1483462986

 

 

Comment

David Turri

Although I was born in England, I have lived in Japan for the past forty years. That’s why this country, its people and history, form the backdrop to many of my novels. I have no big ideas to peddle; I consider myself a simple story-teller and work hard at my craft. I spin my stories in such disparate genres as horror, espionage, war, occult - and humor. I live in Osaka with a wife, two grown daughter and two young grand-daughters – the whole catastrophe, as Zorba describes married life.

 

Cold Case Japan: The Miyazawa Family Murders

The Wikipedia entry is itself chilling…

Location:  Setagaya, Tokyo

Date:  December 30, 2000

Target: Miyazawa family

Attack type: Mass murder, home invasion

Weapon: Knife

Deaths: 4

Perpetrator:  Unknown

 

The murders happened during the night of December 30, 2000, inside a house in Setagaya, a Tokyo ward.

Mikio Miyazawa, a businessman, lived there with his wife, Yasuko, who was a teacher, their 5-year-old daughter Nina and six-year-old son, Rei. The time was about 10:45 at night. Mikio was downstairs finishing a work-related matter on his computer. Yasuko and Nina were in the loft room watching TV. Rei was asleep.

The intruder, armed with a sashimi knife he had purchased at a hardware store earlier in the day, climbed over the back fence and up a tree to a second-floor bathroom window through which he gained access. He went first to Rei’s room, but he didn’t use the knife on the boy; smothering him with his own pillow instead.

Mikio must have heard some suspicious noise. He went up the stairs to investigate and surprised the intruder on the second-floor landing. He attacked Mikio with the sashimi knife – ten stab wounds about the face and neck that sent him tumbling dead to the bottom of the stairs.

Mother and daughter, coming down the ladder from the loft, watched the attack in horror. The intruder came after them, stabbing and slashing at both in a frenzy.

But suddenly, in the midst of the attack, he pulled back – coming to his senses and appalled by his own blood lust? Afraid the screams would bring people to the house before he could escape? He ran away, down the stairs.

Yasuko and Nina were badly wounded, but at least they were alive. Crawling about through their own blood, they found the family first-aid box and began to treat each other’s injuries as best they could, at least to try to stop the bleeding.

But the intruder has not escaped. He had just gone to the kitchen. The sashimi knife had broken during the attack; he needed a sturdier weapon to finish what he had started. Running back upstairs, he renewed his attack on the mother and her daughter with the cutting knife he had found in the kitchen. Even after they were dead, he continued stabbing at their corpses. The ferocity of the assault was far worse than the one he inflicted on Mikio. Afterwards, he covered their faces.

The family had been butchered; and the intruder paid them a final indignity. He stayed in the house. He stayed for several hours. He made himself at home. He was hungry, so he raided the refrigerator for ice cream. He took a crap, and didn’t flush the toilet. He took a nap on the sofa. He used Mikio’s computer to browse the internet. It was broad daylight when he left.

He had cut himself in the hand during the struggle; the wound might have been deep. He tried to stanch the bleeding with bandages from the first-aid box, so that his own blood was left there with the wife's and daughter's. His was Type-A.

In his roaming around, he left bandages strewn about the kitchen and the living room. When the bandages ran out, he used sanitary pads he found, leaving them sodden with blood in the bathtub. That became the repository for a lot of his trash – the ripped up ice cream cartons, for example.

He hunted out various items of personal identification – bank books and cards, Mikio’s driver’s license – and tried to deduce the PIN numbers. Two empty wallets were found lying around. Police estimate that about one-hundred and fifty thousand yen was missing. About $1,500.

He walked out of the front door sometime mid-morning.

Later that day, at a station a long way from the Setagaya district, a man in his thirties and wearing a black down jacket and jeans came into a medical center attached to the station to get treatment for a deep cut in his hand. He didn’t identify himself, more did he explain his he got the wound. After getting the cut cleaned and bandaged, he walked out of the clinic.

The investigation of the murders has involved 246,000 police officers. More than 12,000 pieces of evidence were collected at the scene. Sixteen thousand tips from the public. A twenty million yen reward. Eighteen years later, there are 37 officers still active in the investigation.

The house remains as it was – cordoned off, the windows boarded up,, police tape coming loose, weeds growing high in the garden. It is a duplex. The Miyazawa family lived on one side, and the mother, sister and brother-in-law of Yasuko on the other. At one time, it was part of an upper-middle class neighborhood that ranged along the edges of a municipal park. 

In the years immediately before the murders, extensive plans were made for the park’s expansion into the neighborhood. Negotiations had already been completed with the other households, compensation paid and they had already moved. Only the Miyazawa family remained, and they planned to move out the following spring.

Some things had happened in the days before the murders. Mikio had gotten into a confrontation with a group of rowdy teenagers in the skateboard arena; or it might have been a gang of bikers. Yasuko mentioned an unfamiliar car parked in front of the house; strangers wandering around.

At about 10:00 thee night of the murders, a passerby reported hearing the sounds of arguing coming from the house. At 11:30, Yasuko’s mother heard a loud banging noise from next door. Sometime after midnight, a cab driver picked up three middle-aged men in the vicinity of the house and dropped them off at a nearby station. They sat grim and silent during the ride, the cabbie remembered. After he dropped them off, he noticed some blood stains on the back seat.

The amount of evidence the murderer left behind was bewildering. Items almost like a deliberately manufactured crime scene, in which some pieces fit very neatly, but others just cause confusion.

The intruder discarded a lot of the clothes he came in and left the house in an old sweater from Mikio’s wardrobe. Police found – a sweatshirt, a pair of gloves, a hat, scarf, a handkerchief, jacket and a fanny bag. And he left his bloody foot and fingerprints all over the house.

A statement sure to have upset the Tokyo skateboarding community: “Thee outfit the perpetrator wore resembled clothes a skateboarder might wear.”

Traces of a cologne or aftershave called Drakkar Noir were found on the handkerchief. Again, another rash statement; “Drakkar Noir is said to be popular with the skateboarding crowd.”

From the footprints, his sneakers were identified at Slazenger’s, but not of a size easily bought in Japan. Size 9 is sold in Korean.

All of the clothes had previously been washed, but in “hard” water. Japan uses “soft” water. Hard water is used in Korea.

DNA analysis revealed that the killer was of mixed race. His father was probably Korean; his mother having her roots in a Mediterranean country.

The fanny bag revealed the most bizarre pieces of evidence. First, a piece of grip-tape that was used in the care and repair of skateboards. Next, traces of zelkova and willow leaves, of which the park behind the house was full. Finally, a grain of sand that was identified to have come from the Mojave Desert, near Edward’s Air Force base.

But as the years passed, and with technological advances, the evidence is constantly reevaluated. Now it is believed that the grain of sand came not from an American desert, but from the Miura peninsula, in Japan.

The motive. What was it? What are possible scenarios?

The most accepted is a psycho skateboarder brooding over the upbraiding in the park he got from Mikio a few nights before. The resentment consuming him until it drove him ballistic. Perhaps he was the American-Korean son of a military officer stationed at one of the US Army bases.

Robbery? A lot of drawers and cupboards had been ransacked. Some cash was missing, but not a great deal. One theory, the subject of a sensational book a couple of years ago, is that the family had recently received a huge amount of compensation in cash from the city for losing their house and land to the park’s expansion. According to the theory, a shady real estate developer with connections to the yakuza had gotten wind that the cash was in the house. He had hired a Korean hit-man to kill the family and then find the money. The Japanese writer of the book claims to have personally interviewed the hit-man. But against the claim is the fact that any financial transaction between the city and the family would have gone through the bank no not involved a cash handover.

One specific piece of evidence snagged my attention. 

Forensic analysis found a red fluorescent agent in the perpetrator’s discarded clothes. This was identified as used in stage property painting and design. Similar trace amounts were identified in the garage. But that was a place the intruder didn’t enter that night. Does this indicate a previous visit to the house? Or at least to the garage?

He accessed websites on Mikio’s computer, twice. The first time was at 1:18 in the morning; the second time, at 10:05, after which he unplugged the computer no finally left the house. Both times, he went into only bookmarked sites. 

One of these was of a popular Japanese theater company. Mikio is believed to have had a passion for the theater, especially for that particular group. The perpetrator made an unsuccessful attempt to buy tickets from that bookmarked site.

Was there a personal relationship between them? Could they have been linked by a shared passion for things theatrical? Could that relationship have been more intimate? Consider the ferocious amount of violence inflicted upon the two female members of the family, even after they were dead. Was he jealous of them? And, in contrast, the way the little boy died – smothered or strangled, almost without pain.

Looked at in this light, the intruder’s long sojourn in the house takes on an even more sinister meaning. The family was dead. He was no longer an intruder. This was his house now. To roam about in; to eat and take a nap in, to crap in. To luxuriate in. He was home.

And at Mikio’s computer, looking with fond memories at the bookmarked theater group site, maybe he thought: Shall we go to a performance together, Mikio-san, one last time? Let’s see if I can buy us two tickets. Nope, I can’t. Too bad.

The brutal murders of the Miyazawa family is one of the most heinous crimes in modern Japanese history. Will it ever be solved? For the thirty-seven detectives still actively working the case nearly twenty years on, the answer must be an affirmative.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comment

David Turri

Although I was born in England, I have lived in Japan for the past forty years. That’s why this country, its people and history, form the backdrop to many of my novels. I have no big ideas to peddle; I consider myself a simple story-teller and work hard at my craft. I spin my stories in such disparate genres as horror, espionage, war, occult - and humor. I live in Osaka with a wife, two grown daughter and two young grand-daughters – the whole catastrophe, as Zorba describes married life.

 

It's Not Martin - a funny chapter from A Pig with Three legs

https://www.amazon.com/David-Turri/e/B00IR6C5KM/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

 

 

The woods grew thick around them. The tree trunks were twisted, the bark swollen and scarred, the roots bursting out of the ground like deformed feet with great gnarled toes. Vines crept and slithered, cobwebs shook in the wind, yesterday’s rain was still falling from leaf to leaf to the ground.

But there was no one around.

They came out of the woods onto a bare hillock strewn with rocks and weeds. The track ran around it, along the line of a rusty fence.  Beyond the fence, the ground fell steeply to the fields below. In the distance, a morning mist touched the spire of an old church. 

In front of the fence, there was a post with a weather-beaten sign nailed to it that said, Sodding Hills Barrow Mound Next to the post stood a rusty wire rubbish bin, with another peeling sign tied to it. Keep Historical Britain Tidy And under the sign was written, CRIBBLE-SODDING WAS THE PROUD RECIPIENT OF THE KEEP SEASIDE BRITAIN TIDY AWARD, 1967

Alec glared at the hillock.

Barrow Mound? How do they know it’s a Barrow Mound?”

“Made in the Iron Age, it says here.”

“Who is to say it’s not just an ordinary bloody little hill?”

“2200 BC.”

“Because it looks to me like an ordinary bloody little hill.”

“By the Beaker People themselves.”

“Come on. Let’s get on with it.”

They swung the shovels onto their shoulders and retraced their steps along the winding track. Tommy was carrying a pair of rusty garden shears he had borrowed from Mrs. Eaton’s tool shed and with which he planned to cut the tent cords. 

“A nurse in the hospital is running down the corridor with a pair of shears just like these. She’s chasing after a patient, a man who’s stark naked.  There’s a mad glint in her eyes. The doctor comes running after them, shouting – Nurse! Nurse! No! I said slip off his spectacles.”

“At least it’s stopped raining.”

“Next day, the same nurse is running down the corridor chasing after another naked bloke. This time, she’s carrying a bowl of boiling water and her tongue is hanging out. The doctor comes running after them, shouting – Nurse! Nurse! No! I said prick his boil!”

Alec squinted down at him. 

“What?” 

“Nothing.”

They came into the clearing.

“Where was it?”

“Over there, under those trees.” 

The earth smelt of graveyard. 

“The first time in my life I’m unfaithful to my wife, I end up in bed cuddling a bloke.”

They thrust their shovels into the soil, and soon the edge of Tommy’s hit Martin Bullock. At that moment, Mabel called. Alec stepped away and stood under a dripping branch.

“Good morning.”

“I cannot believe the coldness of your heart, Alec. I am accustomed to being treated like a piece of the furniture. I have felt like one for many years. But now I realize that I am nothing more to you than a bag of rubbish you forgot to take out.”

The big raindrops from the branch hit the crown of his head like cold bricks.

“We waited, but you didn’t come home. And now I have nothing left to say to you. But there is someone here who does have some words for you.”

The telephone changed hands.

“Mr. Swipple? My name is Derek Whitby. We met briefly at my front door yesterday. I’m in love with your wife. And she is in love with me.  I can’t say it anymore plainly. We love each other deeply. We’ve both wrestled with this passion and agonized over it. We can’t go on leading double lives like this.”

Tommy tapped his shoulder.

“Alec…”

“What?”

“It’s not him.”

“What? Give me a second, Derek.”

“It’s a dead body, but it’s not Martin Bullock.”

“Derek, something unexpected has come up. I’ll call you back later.”

The corpse wore a worm-eaten jacket in which all kinds of crawling things had made their homes. Beneath the jacket was only bones. Alec stepped up for a closer examination.

“He doesn’t have a head.”

“Isn’t that it?”

“Where?”

“Near your feet.”

Alec jumped.

“I must have brought it up with the soil.”

The skull was wearing a black knit cap pulled down low over the gaping eye sockets.

Alec kicked it back to its owner.

“I wonder who he was.”

“It’s none of our business who he was, Tommy. Cover him back up.”

The dirt blocked out the brief light that had disturbed the corpse’s rest and returned him to darkness.

“So where’s Martin?”

“He can’t be very far away.”

Comment

David Turri

Although I was born in England, I have lived in Japan for the past forty years. That’s why this country, its people and history, form the backdrop to many of my novels. I have no big ideas to peddle; I consider myself a simple story-teller and work hard at my craft. I spin my stories in such disparate genres as horror, espionage, war, occult - and humor. I live in Osaka with a wife, two grown daughter and two young grand-daughters – the whole catastrophe, as Zorba describes married life.

 

Souls of a Thousand Unclaimed Dead Allied POWs Still Cared for at a Temple in Osaka

An extract from “Shig”

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CSVM1MD/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

 

They walked among the tall, moss-speckled poplars, stepping into the sun again onto a wide stretch of parched grass. In the distance, there stood a small temple.

“It’s dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy.”

He pointed to the priest who was raking weeds out of the gravel in front of the temple’s steps.

“That’s Tanigami-san.”

  He was a tall, bony, round-shouldered old man, with a shaven head and white bristles on his chin.

“They drafted him when the war started, but he refused to fight because he’s a priest. They gave him a hard time, but in the end assigned him to a body-bag detail. After the big Osaka air raid, he was reassigned to the Ambulance Corp.”

           His gaunt, hollow-cheeked face crumpled up into a merry grin when Shig introduced Buscemi. He took his hand in both of his own and pumped it up and down.

           “I want to show you something,” Shig said.

He spoke to the priest, and Tanigami led them to a pagoda hidden in the trees in the rear of the temple. He unlocked the heavy door with a key he kept tied by a cord around his neck, and his hand felt in the dimness for a switch. A weak electric bulb came on, and Shig took Buscemi inside.

           It smelt of stale incense and moldy copper. The stifling humidity made Buscemi’s skin prickle. They were facing a large glass-covered panel bordered with intricate Buddhist designs. In front of it, there was a long table of polished oak on which stood votive candles. Behind the glass, faded photographs were pinned up on the panel—more than a hundred of them—photographs of young foreign servicemen.

In some, they were posed proudly in photographers’ studios before going off to war. In others, the camera had caught them relaxing off duty at camp, surrounded by pals and beers and poker games, or on R&R in exotic locales. A few were actual childhood snaps that must have once graced a mantelpiece or a side table.

“There were more than a hundred thousand allied soldiers held in POW camps around Japan and an awful lot of them died.”

He waved a hand toward the photographs.

“These men died, too. But they are the unclaimed. Either their families couldn’t be contacted in the confusion after the war, or they had no families. Or they just got lost in the bureaucratic shuffle, and because they were dead, couldn’t stand up and have themselves noted. Tanigami-san became their spokesman.

           “He collected the remains and keepsakes of about a thousand and stored them in the temple. There are still about eight hundred guys left there. Every evening since 1946 Tanigami-san has recited sutras for their souls.”

           Shig bent down to open a cupboard beneath the oak table.

“He sends letters out every year. I translate them into English for him. Most of them are returned, address unknown, but sometimes he gets a letter back. A few months later a family shows up to collect the remains of a lost son. And they leave these photographs as a token of their thanks. I interpret whenever a family comes.”

           He put two thick bound volumes on the table. One contained visitors’ messages. In the other were the details of the thousand souls Tanigami has in his charge, all neatly written in faded blue ink and divided by country: the US, Britain, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, Italy, India, and Norway.

           The columns contained name and rank, the POW camp he had been interned in, the cause of death, and his last-known address. Buscemi ran his eyes down the Cause of Death column:

 

Pneumonia

Malnutrition

Injuries sustained in air raid

Bayonet wounds

Malnutrition

Executed

Shot while trying to escape

Bayonet wounds

Malnutrition

Executed

Dysentery

Bayonet wounds

Executed

 

           Buscemi read some of the messages the families had left in the other book, but the sorrow of it all was too much to take in, so he closed the big book, and Shig put both books away.

They followed the priest back to the temple and knelt on the polished floor, wrapped about by clouds of incense, as he prayed for the souls of the dead boys. Buscemi could feel the gaze of their helpless eyes in the sweltering darkness.

When the sutra finished, they came out into the blinding light and the muffled roar of the overhead traffic and the smell of Osaka’s dirty air. Buscemi shook Tanigami-san’s hand again, and they left the temple, their shoes moving heavily through the shingle as though it were deep sand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comment

David Turri

Although I was born in England, I have lived in Japan for the past forty years. That’s why this country, its people and history, form the backdrop to many of my novels. I have no big ideas to peddle; I consider myself a simple story-teller and work hard at my craft. I spin my stories in such disparate genres as horror, espionage, war, occult - and humor. I live in Osaka with a wife, two grown daughter and two young grand-daughters – the whole catastrophe, as Zorba describes married life.

 

The Wounded Madonna

Around the Urakami Cathedral in Nagasaki, the humid stillness of the midsummer morning was broken only by the constant humming and buzzing of cicadas in the trees.

Inside the church, two priests were hearing the confessions of about thirty parishioners, most of them middle-aged Japanese women. From her place high atop the altar, close to the ceiling, a wooden statue of the Madonna, based on a motif of the Immaculate Conception and carved in Italy, looked down on them.

It was August 9, 1945. Fat Man tumbled through the clouds at 11:02. The nuclear flash seared through the lives of 70,000.

Ground Zero was a mere 500 meters distant from the Cathedral. The shock-wave blew in all the stained glass windows and melted the church’s bell. The walls caved in. The roof collapsed. Fire storms consumed altar, pews, confessionals until only shadows were left standing. A fragment of wall here, another there atop a field of smoldering debris, scorched brick and stone. Three-quarters of Urakami Cathedral’s 12,000 parishioners died in the blast.

Kaemon Noguchi had grown up in a district of Urakami, a devout Catholic boy in a Catholic family in the most Catholic community in Japan.

He recounts in a letter how he was twelve years old when the Madonna was brought from Italy and mounted above the altar. “Her celestial beauty made a deep impression on my boyhood soul.”  

In 1929, Noguchi joined the Trappist order in Hokkaido. Before leaving for the far north of Japan, he paid a visit to the Cathedral and knelt down at the altar to pray to the Madonna. In 1939, he was ordained a priest.

The war broke out. Noguchi was conscripted into the Japanese Imperial Army, recalled to Nagasaki and assigned to the Kurume Regiment. He was stationed in Okayama when the bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the war ended.

Before returning to Hokkaido, he went back to Nagasaki to visit his mother and brother. The field of rubble that the Cathedral had been reduced to shocked him; he stumbled through it in a daze, intent on finding some object of spiritual significance he could take back to the cloister with him. A crucifix, perhaps, a missal or hymn book, a candle stick.

But there was nothing, only desolation.

“Then, all of a sudden, I saw the holy face of the Virgin, blackened by fire, looking at me with a sorrowful air.”

He snatched the burned head up, took it home with him and from there to the monastery, where it stood on the desk of his cell. The cathedral was rebuilt in 1959. On the 30th anniversary of the bombing, Noguchi brought the head back to Nagasaki.

Today, it stands behind glass in a special chapel. It is called The Wounded Madonna.

“The Madonna’s eyes have become scorched, black hollows,” writes The Asahi Shimbun. “Her right cheek is charred, and a crack runs like a streaking tear down her face.”

From a Misty Cluster of Stars

My novel “Escarpment” begins with these lines:

“…The events described in these pages could not possibly have happened as recorded here, although they did happen exactly as I have written them…”

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/161296866X/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i2

Although many of the episodes in that book are based on incidents told to me by people who have Second Sight (the gift – or curse – of extrasensory perception) “Escarpment” is essentially a work of fiction.

So I guess that in the book’s opening I lied. Here, I don’t lie.

Kamishinden is part of the sprawling bed-town suburbia in the north part of Osaka city. It lies in a basin adjacent to a busy expressway. It used to be a bamboo forest and is still dotted with clumps of tall bamboo that sway and rustle in the wind.

I worked in Osaka’s commercial district, commuting by subway. It was just a forty-minute ride to Senri-chuo, my station at the end of the line. From there, a fifteen minute walk – out of the station complex, over the expressway and down into the Kamishinden basin – to where I lived with my wife and young daughters. The way was a winding path between high apartment buildings.

My own apartment was on the third (and top) floor of a small building. When the path made a final turn to the left, I could see it up ahead. Immediately behind it, rises up a hillside covered with foliage and undergrowth. On top of this, there is a golf-practice range, the high netting standing out against the sky.

I was making my way home, the time around nine o’clock at night. Behind me, I could hear another man wending his way home, too.

I often enjoyed a few drinks with colleagues after work, but that evening I had come straight home. I feel it important to point out that I was completely sober.

It was a clear, cold winter night. Because it was winter, the sky was dominated by the constellation Orion, which seemed to fill the sky above the netting of the golf-practice range. I looked at it as I walked; then my eyes followed the direction of Orion’s Belt to the south-west, coming to rest on The Pleiades, the misty cluster of stars also called The Seven Sisters.

           As I stared at that curious little cloud of stars low down in the night sky, the stardust that fills the cluster began to stir. To move, then to roil; finally, to expand.

I stopped in my tracks. The man who was walking behind me must have stopped to stare at it, too, because I have no recollection of his passing me.

Within moments, the stardust grew into a cloud much bigger than The Pleiades, so big that it blotted out that constellation entirely. I was mesmerized, rooted to the spot, watching an object move soundlessly out of the stardust.

           It was composed of three parallel, long and narrow rectangles, each one flush to the other, as though welded. The texture was metallic, the color lead. Their appearance made me think of some kind of undercarriage.

           There was no sound as it moved through the sky from the cloud of stardust, in a south-westerly direction, passing high above my left shoulder. How high it was, I couldn’t estimate. Nor could I judge its size, although it seemed to be very big.

           I have always regretted what I did next.

           Instead of continuing to watch it and communicate with the man standing just behind me, I let myself become overwhelmed by excitement. I bolted to my apartment building, thinking I would be able to track the object’s progress better from my third-floor veranda.

           My wife was cutting vegetables at the kitchen sink. I still remember rushing past her, shouting, “I’ve seen a UFO! I’ve seen a UFO!” I still remember her expression; it said, “Idiot.”

           Of course, there was nothing out-of-the-ordinary in the sky to see by then. And I never bumped into the man who had been behind me so I couldn’t verify what we had seen.

Or hadn’t seen. Or had dreamed, or hallucinated.

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

David Turri

Although I was born in England, I have lived in Japan for the past forty years. That’s why this country, its people and history, form the backdrop to many of my novels. I have no big ideas to peddle; I consider myself a simple story-teller and work hard at my craft. I spin my stories in such disparate genres as horror, espionage, war, occult - and humor. I live in Osaka with a wife, two grown daughter and two young grand-daughters – the whole catastrophe, as Zorba describes married life.

 

The Man Who Could Think Only In Bronze

Oscar Wilde once told André Gide this story…

There was once a man who could think only in bronze.

And this man one day had an idea, an idea of The Pleasure that Abideth for a Moment. And he felt that he must give expression to it. But in the whole world there was but one single piece of bronze, for men had used it all up.

And this man felt that he would go mad if he did not give expression to his idea.

And he remembered a piece of bronze on the tomb of his wife, a statue which he had himself fashioned to set on the tomb of his wife, the only woman he had ever loved.

It was the image of The Sorrow that Endureth for Ever.

And the man felt that he was becoming mad, because he could not give expression to his idea.

Then he took this image of Sorrow, of the Sorrow that endureth for Ever, and broke it up and melted it and fashioned of it an Image of Pleasure, of the Pleasure that abideth for a Moment.'

https://www.amazon.com/David-Turri/e/B00IR6C5KM/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Comment

David Turri

Although I was born in England, I have lived in Japan for the past forty years. That’s why this country, its people and history, form the backdrop to many of my novels. I have no big ideas to peddle; I consider myself a simple story-teller and work hard at my craft. I spin my stories in such disparate genres as horror, espionage, war, occult - and humor. I live in Osaka with a wife, two grown daughter and two young grand-daughters – the whole catastrophe, as Zorba describes married life.