Gabriel Henning and Cole Finley, the most prolific illegal abortionists in New Zealand’s history.

[An extract from “29 Argyle Drive”]

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1495980960/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i4

 

Some of the women talked about their experiences on TV, with their faces hidden. Some gave interviews to the Christchurch press. More, following a public call for assistance in the investigation, told their stories to the police, under a guarantee of anonymity. 

For example: 

 

“Doing what they were doing…Gabriel didn’t think it was wrong at all. She believed they were doing a good thing. She hated men, actually.  She loathed them. The only thing a man wants, whatever he says, well, we all know what it is, don’t we? – And when he’s had it, he discards the girl and finds another one. It wasn’t murder, she said. Those fetuses weren’t children yet. There was nothing human about them yet. More than them, she was worried about the girls.”

 

And: 

 

“This was the Sixties and the early Seventies and things were different then. There wasn’t a lot a girl could do. She could abort herself with knitting needles, or by falling down the stairs, or jumping off a table, or mixing a bottle of gin with laxatives and sitting in a hot bath. I did that once. I don’t recommend it. I just ended up totally drunk and sitting in a bath full of my own shit. Or she could find a butcher, someone a lot, lot worse than Cole Finley was, and maybe get sepsis and die of it. Sepsis is bacteria that come from dirty instruments. It makes pus in the blood and it rots the tissues. A lot of women died of it in those days, thousands.”

 

And:  

 

“At the time, I couldn’t have supported another one, not on my husband’s wages. I didn’t have any other choice but to abort it. And watching my other kids grow up, I often thought about him, he was in the back of my mind and in my heart. But I never regretted it. I had to do it. It was necessary.”

 

And:

  

“It was the perfect place for young girls who had been abused by men to recover their spirits and their self-confidence and start afresh. The girls went there feeling shame and fear and resentment that their lives were being ruined because of a little thing inside them no bigger than a gob of spit. By the time they left, Gabriel had made us feel it was the most natural thing in the world to get rid of an unwanted baby as it was to have one that would be welcomed with love.”

 

And:

          

“Gabby was lovely to me. Like a mum. And Maggie was great too. Always there, with something hot to drink or something delicious to eat.  I’m a Catholic. I mean, I was. I mean – whatever. Gabby understood what I was going through in my head. The things she whispered in my ear while she stroked my hair really helped me come to terms with what I was doing. She was like Mother Teresa.”

 

Considering that Gabriel Henning and Cole Finley were ranked as the most prolific illegal abortionists in New Zealand’s history, the local newspapers self-censored only when comparisons to Mother Teresa came up in their interviews, which was surprisingly often.

 

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.

 

Diogenes: mad, bad and dangerous to know

 

Aristophanes, perhaps the funniest man in history, often characterized the crooks, villains and scoundrels he wrote about in his plays as, “men you wouldn’t want to bump into in the Agora.”

The Agora was the central marketplace of classical Athens; also, the location of the city’s law courts and various other temples and government buildings. It was a busy place, the hub of Athenian life from sun up to sun down.

One of the maddest, baddest and most dangerous denizens of the Agora was Diogenes of Sinope (404-323BC). By occupation he was beggar and philosopher; by vocation, a royal pain in the ass. Plato once described him as “A Socrates gone mad.”

He hailed from the city of Sinope, where his father was a banker and which he was forced o flee because of his involvement with his old man in a scam to debase the local currency.

Diogenes was the archetypal representative of the ancient Greek philosophical school called Cynicism. The root of that word in Greek is “dog” and it actually means “dog-like”. The Agora crowd nicknamed him The Dog. When someone asked him why he was thus called, he replied:

“Because I fawn upon those who give me anything and bark at those who give me nothing and bite the rogues.”

According to Wikipedia: For the Cynics, the purpose of life is to live in virtue, in agreement with nature. As reasoning creatures, people can gain happiness by rigorous training and by living in a way which is natural for themselves, rejecting all conventional desires. Instead, they were to lead a simple life free from all possessions…One can become free by unshackling oneself from any needs that are the result of convention…By embracing shamelessness.

Diogenes embraced shamelessness shamelessly.

The bugger lived in a bloody big pot. Some writers call it a tub. It was lying cracked and unused in a corner of the Agora. Tired of waiting for a cottage someone had promised to get him, Diogenes moved into the pot or the broken tub or whatever it was and lived there for many years.

When asked what wine he enjoyed most, he responded: “The wine other people buy me.”

He used to beg in front of a stone statue. When asked why there, his answer was, “To get used to being refused.” When should a man marry? “A young man,” he said, “ought not to marry just yet and an old man, not at all.” Someone once criticized him for drinking in a tavern. He replied that he also had his hair cut in a barber shop.

I don’t know if the Gods exist, he said, but they ought to.

He is most famous, perhaps, for walking through the Agora in broad daylight, with a lit lamp, peering intently around. When someone asked, what the hell are you doing, he responded: “Looking for an honest man.” Finding in the Agora, alas, only rogues and rascals.

Where in Greece do you see good men? His answer, “Good men, nowhere. But good boys at Lacedaemon.” No doubt with a lecherous twinkle in his eye.

The story goes that one day he was invited to a rich man’s mansion and warned by its owner, who obviously knew him very well, “Don’t spit on my floor, please.” Diogenes cleared his throat and spat phlegm mightily into the host’s face, with the comment, “I couldn’t find a meaner receptacle.”

He used to bait Plato mercilessly, eating and drinking with great gusto during the great man’s lectures, belching and farting with abandon. Plato defined Man as – an animal, biped and featherless. Diogenes bought a fowl in the marketplace, plucked it and brought it into the lecture hall, announcing, “Here is Plato’s man.”

(As a result of Diogenes’ cynic performance, another characteristic was added to the definition: Man is an animal, biped and featherless, having broad nails.”)

Once, in Corinth, while Diogenes was sunning himself, Alexander the Great came upon him. I have admired you for years, sir, Alexander said excitedly. He offered to give him anything he desired. Diogenes lifted his head, frowned and said, “You’re blocking the sunlight. I’d really appreciate it if you’d move your ass a step to the side.”

As a man who is getting old at an alarmingly fast rate myself, one of my favorite anecdotes is when Diogenes, because of his advancing age was advised to slow down. “If I was running in the stadium, ought I slacken my pace when approaching the goal?”

Finally, the most scandalous thing about Diogenes’ behavior was that he used to urinate, defecate and masturbate in public, whenever the mood took him. Once he said, ruefully. “I wish it was as easy to banish hunger by rubbing my belly.”

 

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 Hours of the Ox: Hell Hath No Fury

Kiyomizu – the name means “pure water” – is perhaps the most famous and beautiful complex of temples in Kyoto. Throughout its history, it has been renowned for the wide platform that juts out over an 18-meter drop; and for people jumping off it. There is an expression:

                      清水の舞台から飛び降りる

Which translates as: “to jump off the Kiyomizu platform.” The meaning is similar to take the plunge; to throw caution to the wind. People used to believe that if they jumped off the platform and survived, their wishes would come true. According to Wikipedia, 234 people took the plunge during the Edo era; and the survival rate was and excellent 85.4%.

 Wikipedia further states that no nails were used in the building of the entire structure.

 Nails…

 On the eastern extreme of the Kiyomizu complex stands a small shrine called Jisshu. It is dedicated to the God of Love Okuninushi. Young women go there to pray for good fortune in love; to meet Mr Right. Very popular with female visitors are the so-called “Love Stones”, two stones placed far apart – if a girl can walk successfully from one to another with her eyes closed, things will work out well in her love life.

 Standing in prominent place in the shrine is a great cedar tree, called the Prayer Cedar. Visitors, again mostly women, come from all over Japan to stand before it and pray for love and a happy marriage. But there is a dark side to that cedar tree. If you look closely at the trunk, people say, you can see small holes made by hammered-in nails.

Heav’n has no rage like love to hatred turn’d

Nor Hell a fury, like a woman scorn’d

[William Congreve]

There is an enduring tradition of women whose love has turned to hatred making voodoo-like dolls out of straw to represent the man who is the object of their hate. Taking them into the shrine in the dead of night to that cedar tree. Dressed in white. Hammering them to the trunk, with curses against the man on their lips. According to the tradition, it takes seven days for the curse to take effect. And for the man to die.  

 The straw doll is called wara ningyo in Japanese. The tradition says that the ritual is not confined to that specific shrine, but is widespread among the cedar groves of shrines throughout Japan. And in the mountains, too. I have heard many stories of wara ningyo being found by hikers along trails in Kobe’s Mt. Rokko range.

 In the dead of night…

 According to the Chinese system of reckoning time, each two hours has one corresponding animal. The hours between one and three in the morning are called after the ox. These hours, according to tradition, are most effective for curses. Evil is abroad and most productive between one o’clock and three in the morning.

 And so there exists the expression Ushi-no-kokumairi.

Literally, “Ox-time shrine visit.”

Here is a photograph of an actual straw doll that was once used to put a curse on someone. It is on display in the National Museum of Ethnology.

The Interrogation of Margaret Thomassen - an extract from "Shig"

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

 

Azuma’s destination was a nondescript stone building set back among trees in the Kasumigaseki district of government buildings. The Board of Audit stood just over a grassy knoll to the left, and an annex of the Ministry of Finance loomed to the right, beyond a pool graced by an elegant pagoda.

They entered their destination by a rear door, and Azuma led Shig up several flights of stairs to the top floor, leaving him panting, wheezing, and sweating. They went along a corridor to another steep staircase that took them into an attic room.

The air was frigid because the room’s two windows had been thrown wide open. Snow, driven in by the wind, was starting to form mounds over the floor, and Margaret Thomassen, blue from cold, sat naked on a stool, her spindly arms thrust down between skinny legs to hide her genitals. An obese, unshaven detective stood behind her.

           Azuma ordered him to close the windows and he sat down at a table on which lay paper, pencils, eraser, an ashtray, and a thermos flask. He waved Shig to take the other chair.

           “Before we begin, assure her that she will not be harmed. Tell her that her two colleagues from the school, after answering the questions put to them honesty and directly, have been released. Tell her that she, too, will be released, if she answers my questions as they did, honestly and directly.”

           He lit a cigarette and smoked it while Shig translated. Miss Thomassen raised her head and looked at him. Her face was tanned and creased, and when she spoke, Shig was impressed by the power of her voice, the tone of a schoolmarm facing down a classroom of ruffians.

           “The Reverend Moat must be informed that I have been detained. Until he gets here, I refuse to answer any questions. Tell this man that I must be taken from this room immediately, given my clothes back, and given some warmth. Tell him, if he hasn’t already noticed, that I am an old woman. I am also an American citizen. The United States and Japan are not at war. I hope and pray that the day will never come when we are. But if anything happens to me, the relationship between our two countries will suffer further.”

           Azuma’s eyes glowered with anger as he listened to Shig’s interpretation of her words, and his lower lip trembled. He drew himself up out of the chair and came around the desk, stabbing the air with his cigarette and letting forth a torrent of Japanese over the old woman’s head.

“You and your country do Japan a great injustice. A million people from our overcrowded nation have migrated to Manchuria, where they have been given the chance to start their lives afresh. We are improving the railways and the ports, opening mines, and making the area safe to live in.”

He waved away Shig’s attempt to interpret what he was saying, and his voice rose in pitch and passion.

“We plan to build a new state based on righteousness, a nation in which our various peoples, the Japanese, the Chinese, the Mongolians, and Manchurians can live together in peace and prosperity. And what does the United States do? It imposes trade restrictions, encourages the boycott of Japanese-made goods throughout Asia, pressures the League of Nations to demand our withdrawal from Manchuria, and intimidates the Japanese nationals who live in America.”

           At the end of this rant, he stubbed out the cigarette with great violence and snarled at Shig.

“Translate what I say from now on.” His eyes bored into Miss Thomassen’s. “And what do you do? You, who call yourself a missionary? You spy on us.”

           She shook her head when she heard this in English from Shig and repeated her earlier demand.

“I insist that Reverend Moat and the United States Embassy be notified immediately that I am being detained here illegally.”

Azuma ignored her.

“Ask her if she knows a young man by the name of Hori.”

           “She says there is a young man of that name enrolled at the Academy.”

           “In whose class?”

           “In one of her own.”

           “Ask her if she is aware this young man is a Communist with links to illegal Japanese agrarian organizations.”

           “She says she is not aware of that.”

           “Ask her what level class he is enrolled in.”

           “She does not recall.”

           “I can refresh her memory. He attends an advanced English conversation class that meets Monday evenings. But Hori has no education. He speaks no English. How does she account for the fact that he is enrolled in an advanced class?”

           Miss Thomassen explained her reasons.   

“All the lower level classes were full. Mr. Hori could only get away from his work on Monday nights. And he has a great yearning to learn. Times are hard at the school. We are in financial difficulties. I didn’t want to lose his enrollment fee, so I put him where I could.”

           Azuma accepted her answer with a nod.

“This class is held, not at the school, but in her house. Isn’t that irregular? Ask her why she conducts the class at home.”

“It is an advanced discussion class,” she told Shig. “I believe the more relaxed atmosphere of a living room, with coffee or tea, is more conducive to general discussion than a classroom.”

           “How many students come to her house on Monday evening?”

           “She says four.”

           “She gave each one an English name. Mr. Hori was Peter. The others were Mark, Luke, and Mathew. Hori does not know their real names. But Miss Thomassen does. Tell her I want those names, and insist that I want them immediately.”

Miss Thomassen said nothing. Azuma waited, but she remained silent. He nodded at the detective, who stepped up behind, closed his hands around her throat, and began to choke her.

She broke her fingernails clawing at the hands, and her heels beat the floor like hammers as her lungs screamed for air. Just before his fingers snapped the bones in her neck, he loosened his grip.

“I need their real names,” Azuma said again.

           She retched and coughed, and the words came out in a harsh rasp.

“I don’t remember.”

          Azuma glanced at the detective, who pulled her head back to his lips and thrust his tongue into her mouth. She screamed. His hands wandered over her body, to her breasts and into her pubic area.

He lifted her off the stool and bent her forward over it. His weight on her back kept her pinned down while he fumbled with his trouser buttons. She screamed at God and pleaded for the man to be called off her. Before he assented, Azuma wanted a point clarified. He asked Shig, “She will give me the names?”

“She will.”

           Azuma sent the detective out of the room for blankets and dismissed him from her sight after he had brought them. He poured hot vegetable soup from the thermos.

After she had drunk it, he asked his questions again, this time in a reasonable and quiet tone. She answered them, and Shig recorded those answers.

It was dawn before he was released from the nightmare into a blue and cloudless December sky. He crossed the parkland, crunching the frosty grass. Morning gongs sounded in hidden temples, and solitary monks raked the gravel. The air smelt of incense and cedar wood. Tofu sellers passed him ringing their bicycle bells. In Shimbashi, sleek military cars, their ID numbers covered and their windows darkened, carried home generals and admirals from the geisha houses.

He walked on, eventually reaching Tsukiji, where the sky was full of gulls driven crazy by the smells of fish from the market, flying in aimless, screeching circles in the air above his apartment. For once, they didn’t disturb him. He fell into bed and into oblivion.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.