Saucy and Scandalous Tales from Herodotus – 2: The Character of the Persians.

Saucy and Scandalous Tales from the Histories of Herodotus – 2: The Character of the Persians.

 

No race is so ready to adopt foreign ways as the Persian…Pleasures, too, of all sorts they are quick to indulge when they get to know about them – a notable instance is pederasty, which they learned from the Greeks. Every man has a number of wives, and a much greater number of mistresses. After prowess in fighting, the chief proof of manliness is to be the father of a large family of boys.

 

The period of a boy’s education is between the ages of five and twenty, and they are taught three things only: to ride, to use the bow and to speak the truth…They consider telling lies more disgraceful than anything else and, next to that, owing money.

 

The Persians are very fond of wine, and no one is allowed to vomit or relieve himself in the presence of another person.

 

If an important decision is to be made, they discuss the question when they are drunk, and the following day the master of the house in which the discussion was held submits their decision for reconsideration when they are sober. If they still approve it, it is adopted; if not, it is abandoned. Conversely, any decision they make when they are sober, is reconsidered afterwards when they are drunk.

David Turri - Amazon.com

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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 Unquiet Spring: an extract from "Shig"

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

 

In the spring, the cherry trees bloomed and fulfilled their poetic role as symbols of the impermanence of life by being pelted off the branches by heavy early April downpours within days of blossoming. 

The Tokyo spring of 1938 was an unquiet one.

           The China Incident, which the Army had promised would be over in three months, continued to drag on, and a shortage of raw materials and foodstuffs was beginning to be felt in the capital.

In a gesture against Britain’s interference in negotiations between Japan and the Chinese National Government, a mob disrupted an art exhibition mounted by the British Council, slashing canvases and vandalizing the premises.

           The American Embassy compound was nightly besieged by demonstrators protesting the US government’s hardening attitude toward Japan. Foreigners suspected of British or American nationality were harassed in the streets.

           In a combined operation, units of the Kempeitai arrested four hundred Socialists and charged them with violating the Peace Preservation Law of 1925. The offices of the Labor-Farmer Faction were ransacked and all of the windows broken. The leadership of the Marxist Japanese Proletarian Party was rounded up. Card-carrying members of the proletarian Youth League disappeared from their homes.

           The purges swelled the population of Sugamo Prison within the walls of which inmates were starved, beaten, and harangued into signing the Tenko, a document in which they recanted their perverted ideologies. On signing, they were judged rehabilitated and released, but many were already broken in body and spirit, and many more would die in the Manchurian holy war and later in the Pacific.

           One morning before the April rains began, when the single cherry tree in his garden was at the height of its bloom, an elderly professor of economics at Keio University, a man well-known for his liberal social views, closed his front door and paused on the path to admire the blossom before going off to work.

           The tranquility of the Tokyo suburb in which he lived was broken by a squeal of tires as a car pulled up at the gate. A young man dressed in a thin cotton kimono and wielding a sword jumped out of the passenger side, burst through the gate, and pursued the professor back into the house, where he killed him. 

By the time the military police arrived, a muted crowd had gathered in the road near the gateway that was guarded by a uniformed officer. The Kempeitai officers found the professor lying in the vestibule of the house. He was dressed in a neat, three-piece suit and still clutched his briefcase. He had been cut deeply across the chest and shoulder by the sword, and his throat was slashed by a dagger.

           Azuma was careful to avoid the blood as he stepped around the corpse and poked his head into the living room, from which he heard whispers and muffled voices. It was the professor’s wife being comforted by her neighbors. 

He closed the door softly and turned to the police officer in charge for a report of the incident. While Shig took notes, a thin line of blood meandered along the vestibule and dripped off the end into one of the shoes that were lined up there.

           Shig was struck by how peaceful the crime scene was. The widow was hardly making any sound at all; the police spoke in whispers, and the crowd outside was silent. Even the ambulance crept along the road without a siren.

           Shig and the other Kempeitai officers followed Azuma up the stairs to the professor’s study. Azuma sat down in the fine leather chair behind the desk, flipped open a gold-leafed appointment book, and found in a drawer a large address book and pocket diaries going back three years.

           “Well, Professor, what traitors can you lead us to?”

While his men began to search the file cabinets and the cluttered, wall-length bookcase, Azuma uncapped a fountain pen he had found and which he later pocketed, and drew three vertical lines on a sheet of paper.  He headed the columns: Follow-up Checks; Surveillance; Arrest.

By noon, all three columns were filled with names, and the   office floor had become a mountain of ripped and spine-broken books.

Some files were carted away in cardboard boxes. The rest were torn up and thrown out of the windows, floating down into neighbors’ gardens like cherry blossoms. The desk and the walls were destroyed with a pick-ax in an attempt to locate hidden compartments.

The assailants’ getaway had been botched. The driver took a corner too fast and smashed into a telegraph pole, forcing both men to escape on foot.

In the garden, police found a wooden clog belonging to the killer, with his surname written on the side. They found the same man’s wallet in the glove compartment of the car. The registration of the vehicle was traced to a militant right-wing organization. 

In spite of all the evidence, no inquiries were made, no one was arrested, and the murder was attributed to unknown assailants.

           Two days later, Shig got the promotion he had been waiting for.  He celebrated by buying a new trench coat from the Mitsukoshi Department Store on the Ginza. It was French, made of the softest leather, and he wore it all the time, despite the warming weather.

 

 

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.

 

When Jesus was minded to Return to Nazareth

When Jesus was minded to return to Nazareth (Oscar Wilde recounts to Andre Gide in “Oscar Wilde: In Memoriam”) Nazareth was so changed that He no longer recognized His own city. The Nazareth where He had lived was full of lamentations and tears; this city was filled with outbursts of laughter and song. And Christ entering into the city saw some slaves laden with flowers, hastening towards the marble staircase of a house of white marble. Christ entered into the house, and at the back of a hall of jasper He saw, lying on a purple couch, a man whose disordered locks were mingled with red roses, and whose lips were red with wine. Christ drew near to him, and laying His hand on his shoulder said to him, "Why dost thou lead this life?" The man turned round, recognized Him and said, "I was a leper once; Thou didst heal me. Why should I live another life? "

Christ went out of the house, and behold in the street He saw a woman whose face and raiment were painted and whose feet were shod with pearls. And behind her walked a man who wore a cloak of two colors, and whose eyes were bright with lust. And Christ went up to the man and laid His hand on his shoulder, and said to him, "Tell Me why art thou following this woman, and why dost thou look at her in such wise?" The man turning round recognized Him and said, "I was blind; Thou didst heal me; what else should I do with my sight?"

'And Christ drew near to the woman and said to her, "This road which thou art following is the pathway of sin; why follow it?" The woman recognized Him, and laughing said, "The way which I follow is a pleasant way, and Thou hast pardoned all my sins."

'Then Christ felt His heart filled with sadness, and He was minded to leave the city. But as He was going out of it He saw sitting by the bank of the moat of the city, a young man who was weeping. He drew near to him, and touching the locks of his hair, said to him, "Friend, why dost thou weep?" The young man raised his eyes, recognized Him and made answer, "I was dead and Thou hast raised me to life. What else should I do with my life?"'

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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.

 

When Narcissus Died

'When Narcissus died, the Flowers of the Fields were plunged in grief, and asked the River for drops of water that they might mourn for him.

'"Oh," replied the River, "if all my drops of water were tears, I should not have enough to weep for Narcissus myself—I loved him."

'"How could you help loving Narcissus?" rejoined the Flowers, "so beautiful was he."

'"Was he beautiful?" asked the River.

'"And who should know that better than yourself?" said the Flowers, "for, every day, lying on your bank, he would mirror his own beauty in your waters."'

Wilde stopped for a moment, and then went on:—

'"If I loved him," replied the River, "it is because when he hung over my waters I saw the reflection of my waters in his eyes."'

[Quoted from “Oscar Wilde: In Memoriam”, by Andre Gide.]

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 Stages of an Exorcism

My novel “29 Argyle Drive” contains an exorcism.

 

In his book titled “Hostage to the Devil”, Fr. Malachi Martin identifies six distinct stages of an exorcism.

 

                      Presence

                      Pretense

                      Breakpoint

                      Voice

                      Clash

                      Expulsion

 

He writes of the first stage that it is the awareness that something alien and evil is in the room.

 

“…Invisible and intangible, the Presence claws at the humanness of those gathered in the room. The Presence is an inaudible hiss in the brain, a wordless threat to the self you are…

 

“…In early stages, the evil spirit will make every attempt to hide behind the possessed – to appear to be one and the same person. This is the Pretense. The spirit uses the voice and characteristics of the possessed as its own camouflage…”

 

The exorcist must destroy the Pretense and bring the Evil Spirit into the open. As the exorcist breaks down the pretense, the possessed person becomes even more violent.  

 

“…As the Breakpoint nears, the exorcist must undergo confusion. His ears seem to sell the foul words, his eyes seem to hear offensive sounds and obscene screams. His nose seems to taste a high-decibel cacophony. Each sense seems to be recording what another sense should be recording…”

 

The break point is reached when the pretense collapses – the voice of the possessed is no longer used by the Evil Spirit, which begins to speak of the possessed person in the third person.

 

And so emerges the Voice of the spirit itself – “a disturbing and humanly distressing babel” – of echoes, prickly voices that scream, whisper, laugh, sneer and groan. Martin writes, “Using his will in the name of and authority of Jesus Christ and the Church, the exorcist must command the Voice to be silent and to identify itself intelligibly… 

 

“…As the voice dies out, tremendous pressure of an obscure kind affects the exorcist. This is the first indication of the direct and personal collision with the evil spirit – the Clash

 

“The clash is the heart of a special and dreadful communication, the nucleus of this singular battle of wills between the exorcist and the evil spirit…

 

Expulsion calls finally on the evil spirit to desist, to be disposed, to depart and to leave the possessed person. When this is achieved the exorcism ends…”

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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 & Scandalous Tales from The Histories of Herodotus [1]

Written around 440 BC, The Histories tells of the epic clash between the Persian empire and the Greek city states - the Battle of Marathon, of Thermopylae and of Salamis. But it is also a rich tapestry of the ancient world, its peoples and their cultures, full of saucy and scandalous tales. I would like to highlight some of those stories in this and future blogs. All extracts are taken from Penguin Classics edition of Herodotus: The Histories.

……….There is one custom among these people which is wholly shameful: every woman who is a native of the country must once in her life go and sit in the temple of Aphrodite and give herself to a strange man.

Many of the rich women, who are too proud to mix with the rest, drive to the temple in covered carriages with a whole host of servants following behind, and there wait; most, however, sit in the precincts of the temple with a band of plaited string around their heads – and a great crowd they are, what with some sitting there, others arriving, others going away – and through them all gangways are marked off running in every direction for the men to pass along and make their choice.

Once a woman has taken her seat she is not allowed to go home until a man has thrown a silver coin into her lap and taken her outside to lie with her…The woman has no privilege of choice – she must go with the first man who throws her the money.

When she has lain with him, her duty to the Goddess is discharged and she may go home…Tall, handsome women soon manage to go home again, but the ugly ones stay a long time before their can fulfill the condition which the law demands, some of them, indeed, as much as three or four year………

……….The most ingenious (of the Babylonian practices) in my opinion is a custom which, I understand, they share with the Eneri of Illyria. In every village once a year all the girls of marriageable age used to be collected together in one place, while the men stood around them in a circle; an auctioneer then called each one in turn to stand up and offered her for sale, beginning with the best-looking and going on to the second best as soon as the first had been sold for a good price.

Marriage was the object of the transaction.

The rich men who wanted wives bid against each other for the prettiest girls, while the humbler folk, who had no use of good looks in a wife, were actually paid to take the ugly ones, for when the auctioneer had got through all of the pretty girls he would call upon the plainest to stand up and then ask who was willing to take the least money to marry her – and she was knocked down to whoever accepted the smallest sum. The money came from the sales of the beauties, who in this way provided dowries for their ugly sisters.

 

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 Very Drunk Snake

An extract from “Escarpment”

https://www.amazon.com/Escarpment-David-Turri-ebook/dp/B0725JJS71/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

Awamori is the potent firewater of Okinawa. Distilled from rice, it is between sixty and eighty percent proof. Some brands pack a punch of 120 percent. The liquor figures prominently in the pages of my novel “Escarpment”.

 

A particular horrendous brand of Awamori is called “Habushu”. The Habu is a Japanese pit viper, related to the rattlesnake. A bite from it results in nausea, hypertension, vomiting; occasionally, death. A bottle of Habushu contains one of these big, fat creatures curled up inside it. It is drunk for its reputed aphrodisiac properties. The Habu can engage in coitus for up to twenty-six hours without flagging.

 

Dave, the narrator of “Escarpment”, buys a bottle of Habushu as a souvenir – for its curiosity value; being too old himself to expect any rejuvenation of his virility.

 

The extract follows.

 

We rolled and rattled eastwards, into one tunnel and out of that into another. At Kamigori, we transferred to the Chizu Line. The train that took us into the mountains was musty-smelling, a relic of a former age. The few passengers on it looked as ancient as the train.

It chugged between peaks that towered leathery-brown above the deep green all around us. It went into tunnels and came out of them into narrow valleys filled with chessboard-patterns of rice fields and small clusters of houses. Once in a while, it stopped at tiny, lonely platforms, empty of waiting passengers.

The odyssey was deadening.

Our legs got cramped and our shoulders became stiff. The sun had come up on us in Okinawa. Now it went down deep in the mountains of Okayama. Soon, outside the tunnels was as dark as inside them. The lighting in the old train flickered dimly. It got cold. We had nothing left to talk about and nothing outside the windows to look at.

My bag was on the floor between us. Once in a while, one of our feet nudged against it.

“What’s that keeps clinking around?”

I took the bottle of habu Awamori out to show him.

“That snake is as thick as a vacuum cleaner hose. How did they get it inside the bottle?”

The habu kept uncurling and curling, being forever disturbed in its rest by the swaying of the train and the bouncing of the bottle as we passed it between us.

“They fight the habu against mongooses,” I told him. “It’s a tourist attraction in Okinawa.”

“Which one usually wins?”

“The snake, I think.”

           “How big is a mongoose?”

           “I don’t know.”

           “Isn’t a mongoose Australian?”

           “I don’t know, Matt.”

           “Isn’t it a kind of a little kangaroo?”

           “It might be.”

“They must be one tough breed of snake. You buy the bottle for a souvenir?”

“I did.”

“For anyone special?”

“For myself. But open it if you want.”

“You don’t mind?”

“Go ahead.”

The smell that was released when he twisted the cap off was like a field full of dead animals. He took a slug, gagged on it and shuddered, and handed me the bottle. Imagine rotten herring, basked in paraffin, if you can. That was what it tasted like

But we got used to it after two or three swigs.

The liquor warmed us and insinuated itself into our brains. We found things to talk about and to smile and laugh at. We grew happy and content. The minutes that had weighed so heavily suddenly began to fly by. We forgot time. And when we approached the end of our journey, we were reluctant for it to end.

We had managed to get ourselves pretty bloody drunk.

By then, we were the only passengers left aboard. I had been checking our progress periodically on the route map printed above the doors. We were not too far from our destination. I strained to catch the conductor’s latest announcement and staggered down the aisle one last time to reconfirm with the map.

The train went into a tunnel, plunging us into darkness. The brakes hissed. It came out of the tunnel and shuddered to a halt at a platform. The doors opened.

The map told me the station we wanted – Awakura Hot Spring – was the one after this. I turned to return to our seat, but Matt wasn’t there. He was standing on the platform, holding the bottle and my bag.

“Not this one,” I shouted. “Get back on.”

He didn’t move.

“This is not it. Get back on the bloody train.”

He still didn’t move. I jumped off before the doors closed. If I had had the bottle in my hands, I would have battered him to death with it, and no court in the world would have convicted me.

The train chugged away and was swallowed up by another tunnel.

“Why did you get off?”

“I don’t remember getting off. I’m just standing here.”

The station was unmanned. There was a rusty tin on a wooden turnstile for disembarking passengers to throw their tickets into. The platforms were lit by fluorescent tubes that were covered in cobwebs. The single wooden bench was eaten away by age. To our right and left were mountains. Across the tracks was another mountain.

We sat down on the bench, shaking with the cold. Our knees rattled and our teeth chattered. The wind howled around us. The stars glittered above without any beauty. How long before another train came out of the mountain? What do we do if no train came out of the mountain?

“You want some more of this?”

I didn’t. He put the bottle down under the bench, out of the wind, and the snake settled and curled up to sleep again.

They say Awamori has hallucinatory properties, like mescal. There might be some truth in that, because soon the wind became an eerie chorus of disembodied voices.

Female voices, bickering female voices.

Matt turned his head to look over the rusty railing that ran behind us, in the direction from which the strange sounds seemed to emanate.

           “Isn’t that Keiko?”

           “Who?”

           The Awamori had destroyed all recollections of my past life.

           “Your wife.”

           At the far side of the deserted, weed-covered roundabout facing the station, under the muted hazy glow of a single street lamp, she huddled in the cold with my daughter. We heard a car engine approaching through the mountains, and then the headlights of a taxi burst out of the darkness.

 

 

Fall Off Your Seat Funny

Top Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars

Fall off your seat funny

By Douglas Phillips on 11 January 2017
Format: Kindle Edition
It is not often I come across a story that is so funny that I could fall off my seat. This incredible tale of murder and mayhem had me in tears from the first page to the last. Without giving too much away I'd have to say that the two main characters are so different from each other yet somehow, as the story unfolds, their friendship and undying loyalty to each other binds them together as they face a series of traumatic experiences involving their 'loved ones', their friends and of course the 'long arm of the law'.
Do yourself a favor - get a great dose of laughter and at the same time realize how lucky you are NOT to be like the two geezers in the book.
A brilliant story from author David Turri. I can't wait for his next effort. Hopefully it will be a sequel to "A Pig with Three Legs".

Available in paperback and kindle from my webpage:


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


Benidorm: Purgatory on Earth - An excerpt from A Pig with Three legs

Benidorm is located on the east coast of Spain between the Costa del Sol to the south and the Costa Brava in the far north. It is a cheap and nasty, in-between kind of place.

Like Purgatory.

Benidorm is the biggest holiday resort in Europe, attracting five million visitors a year, many of them working-class Brits.

Images of its beaches, hotel pool-sides and noisy pubs are preserved in the dusty photo albums of generations of English families. In those pubs and on its pavements, a lot of British blood has been spilt over the years.

Benidorm’s motto is Wild until Breakfast

British men lie comatose on the beach all day, protected by big parasols from the sun they have come in search of. They’re too knackered to step out into the painful sunshine and walk over the baking-hot sand to paddle in the water.

They are content to moan, because your average Englishman is only happy when he’s moaning. That’s why he pays all the money to take a holiday in Benidorm, just to be able to moan in a bit of luxury.

Muttering things like this:

“…This sunburn is killing me. Look at me arms. Like red pokers…”

And this:

“…I had forty quid in my wallet last night. Look what’s left. You couldn’t catch a bus with it back home. And all I had was two pints of watered-down ale and a roast chicken butty that was all lettuce. Thieving Spaniards. Why do we keep coming back here every summer?”

The answer to that riddle only becomes apparent when the sun goes down. Then the Brits come to life again. Like vampires. Swooping into the karaoke bars, the show bars; the clubs, cabarets, casinos. On and on to the night’s waning and the throwing up of curry into the gutters.

Bugger Benidorm.

Take an evening off. Get out of it. Take a cab down the coast about half-an-hour to Alicante. Lovely place. The Roman legionnaires used to get drunk here two thousand-odd years ago.

A big rocky crag, called Mount Benacantil, dominates the port, casting its shadow over everything. Perched on the top is the Castle of Santa Barbara.

Up one side of Benacantil, reaching almost to the walls of the Castle, clings the Barrio de la Santa Cruz, a maze of ancient houses and steep, narrow cobbled alleyways. It’s called, simply, El Barrio, and is the heart of Alicante’s night-life.

But we warned.

In Benidorm, you can find a place to start getting drunk five minutes after you leave the hotel, if you don’t fall into the swimming pool first. To get to El Barrio, you have to tramp up the side of a mountain.

It can be a bit like climbing the lower slopes of Everest just to get a beer. And remember that more people are killed every year descending Mount Everest than going up.

But right there at the top is where you’ll find Tommy and Alec.

Get to know them better by reading their story from the start. Find it on Kindle.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Pig-Three-legs-David-Turri-ebook/dp/B01M1YITQA/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

No Way Out - an extract from #Escarpment

An extract from “Escarpment”

https://www.amazon.com/Escarpment-David-Turri-ebook/dp/B0725JJS71/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

Her uncle was waiting for us at the edge of a narrow country road. A grizzled old man, with his thick gray hair cropped to his skull and white stubble growing from his cheeks and chin, he carried a flashlight and a big gnarled stick.

“The stick is for the habu snakes,” Sachiko disconcerted me by saying as we got out of the car.

He gave her a big hug, and then looked me up and down in a very unfriendly manner, growling at her:

“Tell him it’s very dark inside. There are insects and snakes. Tell him that if he gets bitten by a habu, he could end up in hospital or dead. So he better stay close behind me and not go wandering off on his own.”

“Dave-san speaks Japanese very well, uncle.”

I smiled, trying to break the ice, and told him, without going into any detail:

“I got bitten by a habu a few months ago.”

He led us down a steep bank. The entrance to the Gama was very low, and the darkness swallowed us up. He turned on the flashlight and kept beating the ground in front of us to scare off snakes.

“The beaches where the American forces landed are not far from here. My village was directly in the path of their advance. We escaped into this cavern, 140 of us – mothers and children; sisters and teenage girls; grandpas and grandmas, older uncles and aunts. No able-bodied men. Our fathers and older brothers had been taken away from us months before.

“We knew what to expect if the Yankees found us. The Army had told us what to expect. Flyers were handed out. First, the flyers said, the Americans would rape the teenage girls; and then the children. They enjoyed children very much, boys as well as girls. They liked to rape them and to slice their throats in front of their mothers. Then they would rape the mothers, cut off their nipples and disembowel them. The Americans were not human. They were devils from Hell.

“The flyers instructed the men-folk that if they were threatened by the approach of American troops they were to kill all children first, then the women and finally themselves. If there were no men around, then the mothers must kill the children before ending their own lives.

“As the Americans moved inland and spread out, a unit found our cave. An officer called down to us not to be afraid, that nothing would happen to us; and he asked us to come out. But no one understood what he was saying.

“I was a toddler. I couldn’t do anything to protect my mother and my grandma from these devils. But there were some older boys among us. By older I mean ten or eleven, and they were armed with bamboo spears.

“They believed themselves already to be soldiers of the Emperor and had been given a kind of rudimentary training by the young men from the village before those young men were taken away to the front lines of the defense. The boys had marched up and down in the fields and charged with their bamboo spears bales of straw set up to represent American soldiers, killing them instantly.

“And now, they did not hesitate. Too quickly to be restrained by their mothers, a platoon of about ten little boys charged towards the entrance of the cave with their bamboo spears. Screaming death to the enemy. The screams only of little boys, but screams that the cave amplified into terrifying sounds.

“Remember that the Americans had fought their way up the Pacific against the constant nightmare of the blood-curdling banzai charge. At that moment, they did not know they were facing little boys playing the hero.

“They saw only figures bursting into the dark cave mouth. A nervous soldier fired his rifle at them; then another did likewise. Realizing the mistake that was happening, an officer shouted for his men to hold their fire, but by then it was too late. The boys lay dead.

“To the people cowering deep in the cave, that act was an affirmation of everything they had been told to expect. The devils had mercilessly gunned down ten little boys. Now they would sweep into the cave to rape, torture and kill everyone else.

“The old people had the strength to act immediately. They used the scythes they had cut the rice stalks with. By the time the American officers reached the carnage and put a stop to it, more than eighty of the villagers were dead.”

The old man’s flashlight beam showed me the scene of that brutal day, preserved over the decades as it was.

He showed me white bones, many of them small, some tiny. Fragments of skull, broken rice bowls, a sake bottle clogged with dust. He showed me cooking utensils, a wooden hair comb, an old hoe, a blood-soaked kimono. Showed me the rusty scythes.

“That comb belonged to my mother.”

I had seen. I would remember. I needed to get out. I turned my head, and my eyes searched for the sunlight at the cave’s entrance, but couldn’t find it. Panic gripped me; and a thought – there is no exit from this place.

For me, there was; and, sometime later, a seat on a flight back to Kobe. But for Sachiko’s uncle, and many thousands like him, there really is no way out of those caves.

 

 

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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.