Tonight it is quiet. I am alone. I think of the rumors and it makes me nervous. I don't want to hear such things because it disturbs my peace. I come here at night to walk. This is the Barton Field Parade ground on the army base where I work, and I've finished my shift. Its late at night and dark and peaceful, and I'm going to put in my two miles of walking. In the morning this two mile circular track is filled with soldiers in their PT clothes, running in a group, shouting out cadence with their drill sargents. It sounds like gospel music in the early morning fog, a gruff heavenly choir with crude lyrics. I come here to dream. As my feet move through the red dust and the trees and lamps pass, my thoughts wander. There are stories I'm working on, none of them going well. It's a good night for a walk. This is where I compose ideas.
In the dark I pass by the line of ceremonial flagpoles. The wind blows the ropes against the steel cylinders and they ring like a line of huge wind chimes. Up ahead a streetlight has gone out and that whole section of the track is in darkness. For me that's just perfect. A great place to chew on ideas. I walk past the clanging flagpoles and into the deep dark.
I look up into the starry sky to see if I can pick out the big dipper and locate the north star along its edge. I used to know how to do this when I was in cub scouts.
There's a guy here, stepping out of the shadows. Oh fuck me, he's got a knife. Some kind of big fucking hunting knife. I hold my hands up in the air.
No matter what happens next, no matter how this turns out for me, its ruined. I can never walk here again and I hate him for it. "What'd you want?", I say trying to tough it out. "I don't have any money with me."
"Shut the fuck up!" he yells. "Fuck that shit. I'm gonna mess you up. I'm gonna fuck you up the ass with this, bitch!" He waves the big knife. The hell's wrong with this guy?
Oh God. Why are there people like this?
There is a kind of leisurely clopping sound coming up behind me, like somebody wearing cowboy boots. This guy has a buddy and now they've surrounded me. I'm not getting out of this. It's going to be very bad.
The guy hears the cowboy boots too, but I don't get him. He's looking past me, and the look on his face says this wasn't part of the plan.
The clopping sound comes up close. I venture a look behind me. In that moment I know I'm either dreaming or insane. What I'm looking at is impossible.
They're not cowboy boots. They're wooden geta platform sandals, making odd little rectangular tracks in the red dust. They belong to a tall, slender Japanese woman. Even here, in the dim light, she is regal and elegant, authoritative, wearing an immaculate white kimono with fields of golden butterflies. Around her waist is a wide sash with something tucked in it. Our eyes meet, and she is beautiful.
"I know who you are." I whisper.
"Hai! Wakari masuka?" Her wonderful almond eyes crinkle and almost disappear as she smiles with open joy and in the moonlight I see that one of her teeth, her right lateral incisor, is slightly crooked, as I once described it. She brings up her wide sleeves over her face and, holding her back and legs straight, bows from the waist as perfectly as a ballerina, an archaic gesture so graceful and respectful that without thinking I bow back to her. Her eyes are looking up at me coquettishly over the tops of her sleeves.
Suddenly a steely arm snakes around me from behind, seizing me tightly by the waist. The guy, I'd forgotten him. I'm yanked backwards, almost off my feet. Goddamn he was quiet! I never heard a thing as he snuck up behind me.
I don't know how to fight but I'm determined not to go down in front of this magnificent woman without showing some guts. I raise my arm, determined to smash my elbow in this guy's face and take out some teeth for him to remember me by before he gets the knife in.
A hand snatches my arm faster than I can see, and pulls it down with irresistible strength almost popping it out of my shoulder.
"Wie gets mein gute freund!" A girl's strongly accented voice hollers joyfully in my ear. "I've got you, lovey-lovey!"
The Japanese woman breaks up laughing and I'm spun around in the strong arms of this small German girl. And then I recognize her; the unruly mane of silver blonde hair, and the beautiful, bottomless eyes, hard blue with glowing flecks of crimson. She knows I'm afraid to look into those eyes. She shoves her face in my face, trying to meet my eyes and I keep looking away. Finally she laughs and kisses me hard on the lips. Her lips brush my throat; I feel a sharp sting like a cat's claw scratching me, and she jumps away laughing. I slap at my neck and when I look at my palm there is a drop of blood there.
"Whatever are you doing in this dark place, funny man? Are you a fool?"
I wipe the blood on my jeans. "I have a problem." I indicate the thief who has been watching all this with his mouth open.
"And who is this rough boy? Is he your friend?"
"No, he wants to kill me and rob me or rape me or something. You'll have to ask him."
"No!" She says theatrically. "Is that so?" She gives him a look, like a wolf regarding a rabbit. "Why do you want to do such nasty things to my friend? Are you a nasty man?"
He wakes up when he hears himself being addressed. "Shut the fuck up bitch!" He waves the big knife at her and steps towards her. "I'm gonna fuck up your friend then I'm gonna fuck you up the cunt bitch! You see this?"
In a way, human beings are dumber than animals, because animals always have to deal with things that want to eat them. When a predator sees a prey that isn't afraid of it, it backs off until it finds out what hidden weapon the prey has going for it. She's not afraid of him or his knife. Neither is the other woman. Alarm bells should be going off in this asshole's head, but he just doesn't get it.
"Get it off - bitch!" He's waving the hunting knife at her clothes. "I done told you - " he makes an aggressive face, raising his chin "Take that OFF - bitch."
The women are delighted with him. The girl's clapping her hands. They think he's a trip.
"Take what off?" she says. "I'm sorry? What do you want me to do? I'm so frightened!" She sticks out her big tits and the guy stares at them, mesmerized.
"Oh its so big." she coos, looking at his knife. "I'll bet it feels so gooood inside!" She actually licks her lips and narrows her eyes. "What do you think?" She's speaking around me, to the Japanese woman. "Is his dodel bigger? Or is his knife bigger? What do you think? Can we find out?"
The Japanese woman looks over to her with a sisterly smirk at the corner of her mouth, and something that a thousand years ago, might have passed for a wink. The guy's still looking at the girl's tits, when the Japanese woman reaches into her sash.
It's an antique sword. It's short, less than three feet, but even in its lacquered sheath it radiates power and beauty. It belongs in a national museum, and yet it seems so natural in her hands. A soft click as she unlocks the hilt, and then draws the blade with evident pleasure.
Now the guy sees it. "What the fuck…"
The German girl hops clownishly up and down, breasts bouncing, putting her hands to her cheeks. "Oh! Oh! Mr. Nasty Man! Look! What a big knife she has!" She points at him. "Don't you wish you had a big knife too - like she has?"
He lowers his knife, which seems very small now. He can't believe it. And it's not really the sword. It's her. It's the way she handles it. She doesn't just hold it, the way he does. She brandishes it, whuffs it emphatically. Planting her feet, she steps her left foot back, balanced as solidly as a tree.
"Fuck this shit." He turns and runs for the little grove of trees hidden in the darkness. He's out of sight and just as the girl is about to say something to me, I hear his little scream. There's a flat chopping sound, and something that sounds … wet … hitting the ground under the trees. I don't see anybody running anymore. The Japanese woman makes a face and shakes her head. "Aie ya." She whispers.
She turns to me with great dignity, rolls the sword in her hands and takes it in her fingertips by the back of the blade. With the hilt tipped forward she offers it to me to admire. I take it gently by the grip and the back of the blade, the way she does. The blade is dense, but so perfectly balanced at the hilt it doesn't seem heavy. It's a masterpiece of old craftsmanship. The moonlight gleams off the wavy line along the blade where the edge work begins. The edge is perfectly straight and clean without a nick. The German girl is admiring it over my shoulder. I hold it by the back of the blade with my fingertips, and pass it to her with the grip forward and she takes it from my hands also with great respect. She thumbs the edge of it and whistles.
The girl steps away and waves it in the air a little. She likes it. She likes it a lot.
Someone is coming down the road. A fellow night walker? If it's the MP's and there's a dead body in the trees, I don't know what I'm going to say.
The person comes into view, and I know her instantly. It's a Polynesian woman with high European cheekbones and a compelling figure. I know she has a stunning figure because she is wearing a tiny, sheer, black lace teddy that reveals all of it. It's hard to see her face, but she walks like she has a huge chip on her shoulder.
"I know you." I say, suddenly feeling afraid. "Did you just kill that guy?"
"What did you expect?" she says. "That I would go tick tock tick? That I would dance and sing 'If I Only Had a Heart'?"
The girl rolls the blade in her hands, takes it by her fingertips and passes it back to the Japanese woman. She replaces it in the sheath and tucks the sheath back into her wide sash.
The angry woman in the tiny teddy comes up to us. In a low voice, but loud enough for everyone to hear, the German girl says "Jah, you know something leibling, she is not so much happy with you."
"Fucking right." snaps the woman in the teddy. "You made me jump off a building, you asshole. You killed me!"
There's no point in pretending I don't know what's going on. Any hope I may have had of getting lucky tonight with anybody here just went away. In fact, I think I was better off with the guy with the knife. "I'm really sorry. Its not personal, its just the story. That's the way the story went."
"You could have done it differently!"
A sharp finger jabs me in the ribs and makes me jump. The German girl doesn't look so playful anymore. "Jah, you know, shiessekopf - I am not so much happy with you either!"
I look to the Japanese woman for help and she is looking sternly down her nose at me. "Kingyo no fun."
"What?" I wave my hands. "She said I'm no fun?"
"High Japanese." The Polynesian woman says. "She called you 'goldfish shit'."
"We need to talk to you about the way you write your shitty stories."
The Japanese woman, the one with the nice little old sword who has just called me 'goldfish shit', tosses back her wide sleeves and I'm scared all over again that I'm going to get whatever's coming to me. But instead, she slips her arm inside mine and holds it there firmly. With her other hand, she pats my arm reassuringly. My chances of not being filleted into sashimi are improving. The German girl laces her arm into my other arm and I'm pinned snugly between them. Any other time in my life this would be an enviable position, the kind of thing you'd want to show off to other men. But I don't feel that way tonight.
The scantily dressed Polynesian woman looks me in the eye and says "It's a nice night for a walk together. Don't you think so?"
"Yes," I quickly assure her, assure all of them. "It's a wonderful night. I'm always looking for ways to improve my writing. I'd love to hear your advice. I sure would. Oh boy, that would sure be great."
The ladies start walking me forward, almost lifting my feet off the ground.
"You see? He's good." says the German girl. "You can reason with him."