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Mr. Tanaka.

1.

It was Sunday.

Sitting with his steaming coffee at the kitchen table, the burgeoning day cresting the ridgeline like arc light, then, moments later, spilling like runnels of milk down the cliffside, lighting the crown of the plumeria tree in his backyard, sparking white hot on the metal rims of his glasses, Kenji paused from his reading, as Bach's "Air" Suite danced down the hall, accompanying the light. He sipped from his blue mug and relished the light that washed over his face, the birds still chattering from the first faint glow. He set aside the obituary, the sports, the entertainment, the business, the classified sections, and turned to the national news. His eyes immediately fell on the man crouched on his haunches, his head bowed, his two hands covering his entire face. He was crouched over an empty pair of black combat boots, in a vast field of combat boots--standing, leaning, drooping, fallen--3,400 pairs of boots in a memorial display in Chicago's Grant Park. The caption read: "Anthony Martini mourns his brother, Marine Lance Cpl. Phillip John Martini, while visiting a memorial to American military deaths in Iraq."

Warriors.

"Kenji!" Elsa called from the kitchen.

"Yes?!" he said, startled. He felt suddenly hungry.

"Mr. Tanaka here!"

Mr. Tanaka? It's barely 6 o'clock.

"I'll be right there!" Odd.

Mr. Tanaka was already in the kitchen, ensconced, this time, in Elsa's chair, his eighty-two-year-old, brown and shrimp-colored feet barely touching the tile floor. He reminded Kenji of Bilbo Baggins, the Hobbit, now old and retired. Mr. Tanaka visited Kenji every so often to talk about his dead brother, the plantation village of 'Ola'a on the Big Island, or Grace, his wife of sixty years. The last time he had come to visit, Mr. Tanaka talked of his chickens and ducks and the Hawaiian egret which came to feed each evening at his fishpond and how Grace forgot the names of some of the vegetables that they grew in their garden, like tomatoes, beets, pumpkins.

"How are you doing, Mr. Tanaka?" Kenji said as he sat opposite the old man, both fully lit by the morning light.

"Thank you. How you?"

"Good. Good."

Elsa, Kenji's live-in housekeeper, slid Mr. Tanaka a yellow cup of coffee and set down a basket of freshly baked biscuits, a silver tray of butter, and a jar of golden, Waimanalo honey. She sat at the far end of the table over a cutting board, before a bag of carrots and a bag of potatoes.

"Ho," Mr. Tanaka said, taking a big whiff of the biscuits. "You one good cook, Kelsey."

"Elsa," she said.

"Yuh, I remembah, Elsie. Elsie"

Elsa never looked up, just kept scraping the outer skin of the carrots. Every now and then she would check the clock above the stove.

"Please take," Kenji said, pushing the basket closer to Mr. Tanaka, as he took a biscuit for himself, buttered it, ladled a teaspoon of honey on top. "So how's Grace? Your precious?" Then he took a big bite.

Mr. Tanaka rubbed the top of his knobby head, barely covered by a short gray stubble. "You know, I tell you. She more and more forget stuffs. Scared when she go iron the clothes. Other day she wen' burn one of my pants, and yesterday my good shirt. Gotta watch now. And later she put 'em the wrong place."

"The shirt?" Kenji asked, concerned, since he had known Grace and Bert for years, ever since his moving into the neighborhood.

"Gotta watch."

Grace was like a mynah bird, a chatterbox, but very generous, always bringing over vegetables from her garden and foodstuffs from her trips to Vegas or San Francisco, where their daughter worked as a pastry chef. Their son Clifford sold cars in Pearl City and had two sons of his own, Cory and Chase. Bert had a hard time remembering their names.

"And last week, she wen' forget the names of tomatoes, eggplant, and da kine squash."

After cutting the carrots into one-inch pieces, Elsa started scraping the potatoes.

"You told me last time. Didn't he, Elsa?"

"Yeah?" Mr. Tanaka said, puzzling over Elsa's face. "I told you about the bird, yuh? The regret that come evening time fo' feed in my fishpond."

"Regret?--Oh, you mean egret," Kenji said. "More coffee, Mr. Tanaka?"

"And I no can find the big frying pan."

"How come?"

"Grace wen' hide 'em, I tink. Ho," Mr. Tanaka said, taking a bite of biscuit, "who made the.?" and here Mr. Tanaka was very still. Only his eyes shifted from the food to his coffee cup and back and then across the table. And both Kenji and Elsa, each alone, felt the empty void of that momentary blankness. Until Elsa restored them to the present:

"I made the biscuits," Elsa said. "Grace gave me the recipe long time ago. Said she had 'em since 'Ola'a days on the Big Island."

"You know, I tell you. She more and more forget stuffs. Scared wen' she go iron the clothes. Other day she wen burn one of my pants, and yesterday my good Aloha shirt. Gotta watch now. And later she wen' hide 'em."

Elsa nodded.

"Did you tell Cliford about Grace?" asked Kenji.

"Who?"

"Cliford. Your son."

"No. No bother. Clifton got kids, you know."

Elsa had finished the potatoes and began cutting them into chunks, eyeing the clock.

"'Nother thing. More and more, Grace think we still living in 'Ola'a Village. That was...forty-five...fifty years ago. Other night she wen tell, 'Daddy, go start da fire.' I ask, 'What fire?' and she tell, 'Don't ack numbskull. For the furo! The furo, old man!' And then she tell to cut warabi by the stream. One time Grace wen' point to the Ko'olau mountains. She thinking it da volcano Mauna Kea on the Big Island, and tell, "When I die, Bert, take my ash and scatter the ash the highest point. The highest point in the whole islands. The highest point in the whole Pacific. It the temple of the islands. The temple of the whole Pacfic."

Elsa stood with the cutting board of vegetables and took them to the counter where she dumped them in a pot. After cleaning the table she said, "I'm going to church. You should come, Kenji. Good for your health."

"No thank you. I'm one Buddhist."

"Not. Mr. Tanaka is Buddhist. Right, Mr. Tanaka? You going to the temple this morning?"

Speaking into his coffee cup, Mr. Tanaka began again: "More and more she forget stuffs. Other day when she stay ironing--"

Elsa gently shook her head, while Kenji thought; Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling bell.

"Kenji! Kenji!" It was Grace at the front door.

"Come in, Mrs. Tanaka," Elsa called.

Kenji stood to greet her. She was dressed in her Sunday mu'umu'u and wore a wide-brimmed lauhala hat.

"There you are," Grace said, sounding relieved.

"Hi, hi," Bert said.

"How 'bout some coffee, Grace? Homemade biscuits, too. Your recipe, I believe."

"No, no, really. Thank you. I gotta get this old man home. He gotta get dressed. I thought he wandered off down the road again. Gotta watch him more and more. Other day, I find him sitting on da curb front of the piano man's house."

"Lenny's?"

"Ho, the roll is 'ono. Try eat, Grace."

"C'mon, old man. Gotta speed the freeway now."

Kenji stood with them at the kitchen door, where Grace asked, "Where your slippahs, Bert?"

Bert looked around puzzled.

"No more. Some damn kid take 'em," Bert mumbled.

"Take the rubber ones," said Kenji.

"Thanks, we bring 'em back," Grace said, touching, warmly, Kenji's eyes with her own.

"Keep," said Elsa, who was suddenly dressed in her church clothes.

Grace escorted him down the uncertain street in the bright sunshine. Some sunny Sunday, Kenji thought, pausing, his hand on the screen door. What was there to look forward to? He could still see Mr. Tanaka shuffling down the street, Grace at his elbow. Who knows? In a few years that could be you. Or Christine. The memory slowly dissolving, wearing away, eroding like the shoreline, the front steps, this gradual disintegration of brain cells, the stones in the riverbed, small as Bert and Grace at the end of the street. Then speech falters, flounders, the sudden gaps growing longer, the reasoning reduced to confusion and bitterness and depression, this disease that eats you alive. What residue of nobility or grace or dignity does this onslaught leave untouched?

All is vanity, saith the preacher.

Only the earth abides.

" And art." Professor Straice reminded his young charges. Straice

(Kenji) was now Macbeth, center stage;
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.


Kenji felt better now, as he knew he would. Great art always had a positive effect on him. For art, as Straice had said, is made by man. And as such, it is different from nature, beyond the reach of time and the elements, as men are not, who are cast into oblivion. Nonetheless, against oblivion--against this vast domain, this omnipotent power--stand monuments to mankind's being; brave, deathless voices standing upright in marble and steel, in bold oil paint and delicate watercolors, in gemlike words, in recordings of song and dance and drama, who assert again and again; "I am for life! This is life! I am alive!" Fearless voices and figures standing up on a hillside against the wide, empty sky, whose business is not eternity but this godlike gesture and inimitable phrasing that fills the soul with both peace and longing. Removed from time, careless of the elements. As the bloom of the cherry blossom, the fall of a sparrow, the Tanakas, Grace and Bert, walking down the street in the morning sun--are not.

And passing them in her black Civic was Elsa.

And so, as Kenji remembered Straice's outpouring, art became his hedge, his shield, his medicine against cynicism and self-pity, against despair and defeat before the boundless void. The weapon against meaninglessness. It restored his balance and his sanity, recalling him again to the here and now, inspiring him, giving him courage. And for that he was grateful. And so he smiled.

"Come," he announced to the hallway as he entered the house, "bring me my armor and my sword!"

2.

As he lit his screen, he heard the television announcer report: "As of 6 a.m. this morning, Hurricane Flossie was about 545 miles southwest of Hilo and about 750 miles from Honolulu. The hurricane is expected to pass 100 miles south of the Big Island by late tomorrow or early Wednesday, but by then, the cooler ocean water should weaken Flossie to a Category 1 hurricane with winds of at least 75 mph. But even a slight change of course in the unpredictable storm could bring it closer to our shores. Experts say to take precautions now and batten down the hatches."

"Elsa! Hurricane's coming!" he said, walking to the kitchen.

"I know. Flossie. Funny kine name."

He remembered Hurricane 'Iwa in 1982 and its 100 mph gusts damaging buildings and houses on the islands of Ni'ihau, Kaua'i, and O'ahu and, worst of all, Hurricane Iniki in 1992, causing six deaths and 1.8 billion dollars in damages, Kaua'i taking the brunt of it. Poor Kaua'i.

"Let's hold of on Friday's dinner party until this thing blows over. Never know. Meanwhile put the potted herbs in the tool shed. Take down the birdfeeder from the plumeria tree. Tie down or store anything loose. I'll go to Costco and get water and batteries. We have enough beer and wine?"

"Always that. But maybe toilet paper."

"Check."

Then he emailed Christine, his former wife, inquired about her supplies and preparations. Her parents. If she'd like him to come over and help.

Christine had responded quickly. Everything was under control. He need not come. "Thanks anyway."

Hearing the back door close, he rose and walked down the hall and saw Elsa's friend Barbara--big, dark, rugged, like an Easter Island icon--ill the kitchen doorway.

"Howzit, professor."

No matter how many times he told her that he taught 8th graders, he was still "Professor Kenji."

"Howzit, Barbara."

"Look," said Elsa, pointing to the potted trees in black rubber planters. "Lemon and a Japanese maple." The latter had delicate purple leaves.

"Didn't want to leave 'em outside. The wind getting strong." She was also holding a plastic Safeway bag, which she placed on the kitchen table.

"They're beautiful," Kenji said, when the front door bell rang. "Busy morning."

"It's Mr. Tanaka," called Elsa.

Mr. Tanaka walked into the kitchen, holding in his arms a lat plastic container like a revered idol and shoved it into Kenji's paunch.

"Grace said you liked her biscuits. Just come out da oven. Still hot."

"Bert," Kenji said, "this is Barbara, Elsa's good friend."

"Hi, hi," Bert said, impressed with Barbara's size. "What, truck driver?"

"Barbara and her good friend Erlene own a plant and tree nursery behind Hawai'i Kai."

"Not such a good friend any more," said Barbara.

"What's your name?" asked Bert.

"Barbara."

"Hawaiian, yuh?"

"Hawaiian-Samoan-Portuguese-Filipino and what not. One poi dog."

"Me," said Bert, "I'm retired. One broken-down Japanee. Look," he said opening his mouth wide, "no more teeth."

Everyone laughed.

"Everybody sit down, sit down, have coffee and Grace's biscuits," said Elsa, taking out cups from the cupboard, spoons and knives from the counter drawer. "Kenji, get the butter and the soy milk. Sugar on the table."

"What's in the bag?" asked Kenji.

"Almost forget," said Barbara, removing three squeeze tubes labeled 'Erlene's Lavender Honey.'"

"Mr. Tanaka," said Elsa, "Barbara them make honey. They have about twenty hives--"

"Twenty-five," corrected Barbara.

"At the back end of their nursery."

"Good?" asked Bert.

"Try 'em."

"And if you like, take one tube back to Grace," said Elsa.

"How come you name the honey Erlene's?"

"'Cause sound better than Barbara."

"Who's Barbara?"

"Me. Erlene's my partner and used-to-be girlfriend who lives with me."

"I get it," said Bert, his mouth full. "She your honey."

"I don't know now. Used to be."

"Don't worry. Me and Grace fight all the time. Specially 'cause I put things back the wrong place. She says that's why I lost my teeth. But I don't think it's me that cannot remember. She forget a lot of stuff, too. But I don't get habut about stuff like her."

"Erlene thinks I give away too much stuff and drink too much fancy wine and eat too much spicy foods. Funny thing happen the other day," said Barbara, buttering a biscuit. Kenji noticed how small her hands were, how quick and deft, how feline. "My other friend take me to see this Vietnamese old lady in Kalihi. Soon as I walk in the door she tells me I'm having problems with my lover--I mean, just like that. I tell you, she gave me the willies. Then after we talk and she touch me here and there, she tell me I have to change my diet and exercise, beginning tomorrow, or I going ma-ke in two years. That really scare me. So I going change. Got to. So I going walk every day and cut out red meat, li'dat, and only going drink little bit wine on weekends."

"How do you know she's telling you the truth?" Kenji asked.

"Some people just have that extra sense, yuh?" Barbara said.

Elsa then told her and Mr. Tanaka about how Kenji saw the mo'o last night and the guys who disappeared in the graveyard.

"Wow! You might have that kind of gift, too," said Barbara.

" Some gift," Kenji said.

"Ever see stuff like this before?"

"Never."

"I remember one time in Pahoa on the Big Island--used to be one country doctor," Bert said, "--went to this old plantation house to set one kid's broken bone. And the madda say their house stay right in the path of the Night Marchers."

Elsa shook her head and crossed herself.

"So after I bandage the boy," continue Bert, "the whole house start shake like one earthquake, and the electricity wen' die. The mother whisper loud like, 'Night Marchers, they back. No move.' But my legs shake, too. And bumbai everyting back to normal. But I never did go back to that house."

"That too spooky," Barbara said in the hush.

"Another time, after I make one 'nother house call, it's real late at night and cannot see a thing 'cause no moon that night. But I know the road home pretty good," Bert said. "After this big tree where the road stay cool and hard, I stay to the right and feel along this mock orange hedge. When I feel this hot wet buru-buru on my face and this horrible sound like bubbling watah. And, you know what they say when one Japanee get scared, da legs cannot move and get like rubber. So I fall on my okole and yell. Next thing I hear is this cloppity clop of the horse running away. Got so mad I started trowing rocks any kine way. Scare me to death, I tell you."

They all laughed a good couple of minutes, especially Elsa with her cackle, while Barbara seemed to be bouncing in her seat.

"Which just goes to show," Kenji said, "that half the stuff we think is supernatural is a bunch of horse shit."

"Careful, professor," Barbara said. "There's always that other half."

Elsa's black cat, leaped up onto Bert's lap.

"Hey you, get down, Spooky," Elsa scolded.

"Neva mind," said Bert. "Probably smell my tabby Poki. Like to catch doves and bulbuls."

Before they left, Elsa gave both Barbara and Bert a tub each of her frozen chili. "Defrost quick," said Elsa. "Never know when the electricity go out. Can remember that, Mr. Tanaka?"

"'Member what? What the cat's name?"

"Spooky."

"And dis what?"

"Chili."

"I'll drive you home," Kenji said.

3.

His left foot on the low rock wall, sipping from his blue coffee mug, steam rising, Kenji, at the edge of his backyard, looked to the mountains, which were still dark, still in silhouette, though the light, moment by moment, was gathering along the crest of the range and would soon burst full force upon his glasses. It was his favorite part of the day, feeling the warmth of first light upon his face. And it was almost that time again. He set his coffee mug down on the same flat surface of the same rock of the lava rock wall and removed from his pocket his music player and inserted its earbuds and listened to Bach's "Air," slowly rolling his head from side to side with the violins, as the sun's effulgence washed over him like grace, like a shower of gold. His eyes closed, he danced a ballet in the ballroom of his mind, gilt-framed mirrors reflecting a thousand suns.

When birdsong arose full-throated.

When he heard the sirens.

"Kenji!" screeched Elsa through the screen door. "Something happening down the street. Please go look. Might be the Tanakas."

His neighbors, the Wongs, were standing in their yard among their pikake plants. Miriam Wong said to Kenji, who stood poised on the sidewalk, "One police car and ambulance, see, down by the Tanakas'."

Myron Toledo was walking toward them up the street. The Saijos, Kenji's neighbors on the right, joined Kenji.

"What happened?" asked Sachiko Saijo, her forehead wrinkled.

"I don't know. What happened, Myron?"

He shook his head.

"The Tanakas, right?" said Miriam. "Somebody hurt?"

Elsa joined them.

The squad car drove past. They could see Bert Tanaka in the back seat, his round face at the window, as if peering from a space ship. He seemed to grin as he waved to them.

Instinctively Kenji waved back.

"Where they taking him?" asked Mr. Wong.

"What about Grace?" asked Sachiko.

"Grace all shook up and little bruised," said Myron. "Old Mrs. Trimble, the neighbor, she said that Bert wen' choke Grace."

"Sweet Jesus and Mary," said Elsa, crossing herself.

"No kidding," said Ichiro Saijo.

"She heard the screaming and yelling, but more worse this time. Said she knew something wen' happen so she called 911. Mrs. Trimble said that Grace is all right now and won't need the ambulance."

"I'm going down and see if she's okay," said Elsa.

"I'll go with you," said Miriam.

"Go on. I'll catch up after," said Sachiko.

"Gotta go," said Myron. "Kids waking up soon."

"Can you believe it? Bert choking his wife?" said Ichiro.

"Sure. I can believe it," said Mr. Wong.

"Huh? You're not serious," said Ichiro, facing him square.

"Funny," Kenji said. "When I was married, I was never even tempted."

"Lucky," said Mr. Wong.

"Lucky? Him? He's divorced," said Ichiro. "You're still married."

"Lucky on two counts, then," said Mr. Wong, looking down the street.

"Oh, you're joking," said Ichiro.

Mr. Wong turned full face to Ichiro again and said, deadpan, "Do I look like I'm smiling?"

Funny.

Mr. Wong looked like a wrinkled doorman for a mortuary.

Kenji burst out laughing.

Then Mr. Wong chuckled.

And Ichiro smiled, shaking his head.

"Poor Bert," said Mr. Wong.

"Poor Grace," said Ichiro.

Later that morning, as she was making a stock from last night's chicken bones, Elsa said, "So Grace says that this morning, after she shakes him awake so he can take his medicines, Bert stands in the middle of the room and pees in his pajamas, dripping onto the rug. Says this was the second time, in the same spot where she had to scrub it, down on her knees. One other time, he peed in the hallway. So she yelling at him, scolding him about his lack of control--"

"Incontinence--" What we can look forward to?

"She can't believe that he cannot make it to the bathroom. She's angry and afraid, too, that Bert is getting like this, getting worse, but she can't help it, all frustrated, too, and she feels guilty now for making him more shamed than he already is. And you know Bert, early-stage Alzheimer's."

"I know," said Kenji. And this, too?

"And some of them get violent sometimes...like Bert. Grace said he just had it, and he lunge at her with both hands and start choking her. But she break free and run away yelling help and bloody murder and I forget what else she told me, and Bert is chasing her through the house and catches her in the kitchen, where he pushes her down and get on top of her and starts choking her again, swearing at her, and she try to punch him with both hands, but hard, yuh? And then old Mrs. Trimble comes in and start screaming at Bert to stop. And Grace say Mrs. Trimble saved her, because Bert seem to regain his senses. Next thing, they hear the siren down the street getting louder and louder. She said she tell the cops what happened, while Bert just stands there kind of grinning, but not, and they take him away."

He remembered the police car, like a spaceship, and Bert's round face at the window; and he could picture himself in Bert's place, staring out at the neighbors standing in wonderment along the curvature of the earth, as he headed toward Neptune.

In the silence of Elsa's cleaning and cutting the carrots, then the celery, then the potatoes for the soup, the soup she will take to Grace, Kenji tried to imagine what Bert must have felt as Grace railed at him, berating him, belittling him, in that high-pitched screech that pierced his brain and scratched at the roof of his skull, over and over again, that unrelenting voice, now void of everything, even scorn and humiliation, only that voice, that unbearable sound, that's what got to him, that sound that filled him with rage and war, his hands the hands of retribution. He could dig it.

Kenji had been in a similar place himself, though the prelude and aftermath were different. Just thinking about it made his fingers tremble. More than thirty years ago. In Hess' Poolroom on 96th Street and Broadway. The last time he ever raised his hand against another human being. Frankie. The last time he lost it. Little loudmouth Frankie. The thought scared him now; he could have killed the man. Could have gone to Sing Sing, upstate, Ossining. All because of Frankie. Kenji had been playing 9 Ball with Puerto Rican Pizza at $10.00 a pop, no mean chump change, at the time. Kenji and his pal Sully had pooled their meager funds. He even remembered that they'd been playing on Table 9, near the pool stick rack, against which stood 6'6" Eddie the Face, Pizza's partner and a very rough customer indeed.

It is late at night, a small crowd around the table making side bets, Irish guys, Italians, Hispanics, Jewish refugees with numbers on their arms. Kenji is down maybe sixty dollars, on a six-game losing streak, and Frankie, in an evil mood, a little tipsy from some party, saunters down the pool hall to their table; he is wearing a trench coat over his gray herringbone sports coat and loosened tie, looking disheveled, and right away he starts talking, talking, talking about Kenji's play. "You should've banked it, ya dumb Jap," which usually Kenji took as thoughtless banter, saying in return, "You ignorant spick," or other such nonsense. Only this time there was a meanness in Frankie's voice, a taunting sharpness to the sound that lodged obscenely in Kenji's ear, that rankled, that distracted him from the play at hand, costing him money and nerves. "Shut up, Frankie," undermining his concentration and confidence, "Ya stupid Jap," and it burned. "I'm not telling you again, Frankie, I swear." "I swear," mocks Frankie, and Kenji misses the 9 ball, an easy shot, and Frankie's on him again, taunting, that humiliating voice, that terrible sound, that's what got to him, that terrible sound, when, without warning, Kenji turns and, in a flash, rushes Frankie, wielding his pool cue like a sword, whipping it, high to low, across the side of Frankie's head, his face, his raised arms, his shoulders, his ribs, swinging with both hands, over and over again, until the bystanders restrain and disarm him, until he can regain his senses. Until he could loosen his grip on his thighs beneath the kitchen table, and Elsa asks, "You okay, Kenji?"

"What? Yeah, yeah, I'm okay. Just my left hip's sore again," which was true.

"You look all pale."

"I'm okay," he repeated, as he rose from the table. "Just need to stretch. Let me know when you're ready to take the soup to Grace. I'll drive."

"Not for few hours," said Elsa. "Anyway, it's only down the street."

"A pot of soup can be pretty heavy. I said I'll drive you."

Then his teacher-friend Thornbush emailed and said they needed Kenji to fill out their foursome. They had a 6:58 tee time the next morning at the Prince in 'Ewa. "I'll pick you up at 5:30."

He emailed back and said, "Okay, but make it 5:45."

Then Thornbush emailed back and said, "I'm driving. Be ready at 5:30."

Ever the supervisor.

"Elsa, I'm going to the driving range. I'll drive you with the soup when I get back," he called down the hall.

He felt like hitting something. Over and over.

He sped to the range, his foot heavy on the accelerator.

Impatient.

His nerves on end.

He propped his golf bag at the rear of the stall, bought two buckets of balls, set up his rubber tee, and took out his driver, the big stick, and started whacking ball after ball, mindless of the ball's direction, trajectory, or distance. He didn't care if he struck the ball cleanly, square on the face, perspiring, the sweat stinging his eyes, he didn't care, his left hip sore and getting worse, his right shoulder aching from tendonitis, his hands tingling from so many off-center hits, his wrists, he didn't care, again and again, exhausted, and still he bought two more buckets and blindly, maniacally, he struck again and again, until the club felt like a sledgehammer and he stopped to catch his breath, not bothering to wipe his face, his shirt and pants sopping, dark with perspiration, and then he hit again until the sky grew dim and he hit into the night, into the vast darkness, then set up his last ball and swung with his remaining strength, finally thinking, And this one's for you, Bert.
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Author:Tsujimoto, Joe
Publication:Bamboo Ridge, Journal of Hawai'i Literature and Arts
Article Type:Short story
Date:Sep 22, 2013
Words:4855
Previous Article:Seeing Shellee.
Next Article:This Thing Called Infinity.

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