Here is another chapter from my detective novel. Be sure to check out the other
posts, and let me know what you think.
Charlie Parker Jones felt nothing, sensed nothing except the raw ache of the rejection he could not believe was real as he stared at the subway ticket kiosk below the streets of Roppongi. He had no idea how he got there. His mind was a blur as he tried to grasp what happened: flashes of Kimi Yamada saying she had to see him, then saying she could not see him anymore. Words like “please leave,” “my parents,” “I cannot anymore,” but her body telling him more truth words ever did, melting into his embrace, clinging to him, fighting her unwanted promise to let go.
Her rejection wounded him, made him flee when he knew there was nothing he could do, nothing he could say to change her mind when she broke free of his grip and hid her face, unable to look at him as she lied. He wanted to stay. He never ran from anything in his life. But the weeping, the “please go” was more than he could take.
Some inner autopilot guided him to a train. It was minutes before he was aware his mind settled on this: talk to someone about Kimi, about what just happened. Now.
The evening began well enough. Jones got Johnson and Ballard settled then turned his attention to Kimi. He told them he was leaving with Kimi once she got off work, to go to her friend’s place. He could see Johnson and Ballard didn’t care, they were just glad to be away from the Marine Corps for the weekend. Still, Jones kept an eye on his friends while scanning the room for Kimi. When he finally made eye contact he did not like the look of the smile she gave him, but did not think much about her announcement “I need to talk to you” when she finally made it over to his table. So later one, when she signaled to him to meet him, he followed her beyond the shadows of the dim hallway past the restrooms. Then his eyes adjusted to the dimness and saw she was in tears.
“What’s wrong, baby?”
“Oh, Charlie, you know I love you …” she began but sobbing was all he could hear.
“C’mon now, baby, what is it? I’ll take care of it, I promise …” he whispered, trying to be strong and soothing at the same time, embracing her.
“Oh, Charlie, we …”
She paused to collect herself, and then began her speech: “I can’t see you anymore. My parents won’t allow it. They do not approve of me seeing an American and a soldier and a black soldier…”
“Whoa, Kimi …” Jones said, pulling away, looking deep into her eyes.
His hurt look was more than she could take. All she could do was shake her head “no” and look away.
“Is that how you feel?”
Kimi just kept shaking her said, pleading: “No, Charlie, no, … I don’t want to … I don’t want to …” yet she could not bring herself to defy her parents.
Jones gently put his finger under her chin and lifted her face up so he could look into her eyes. “Is this really how you feel?”
“No, …” and with all her might she wrapped herself around Charlie, never wanting to ever let go. In his arms she wasn’t a student or a waitress, Charlie wasn’t a foreigner or a GI. Together they were perfection. She gripped his body so tight he couldn’t breathe. And when Charlie could not mistake the heat of her desire, he raised her onto a table and Kimi took him in. She never felt his tears falling on her hair.
Jones’ someone to talk to was Des Washington, a Navy chief petty officer who lived in the navy housing area in Yokohama. Just last week the chief said his family was in the States visiting in-laws, and that Jones should drop by while the wife was away. They’d drink scotch and listen to some Diz and Miles and of course, Charlie Parker.
Washington was what Jones’s father would have called: “a brother of the highest order.” They met one cold January night when Jones scraped up enough money to catch a show at the Blue Note in Aoyama. There he met Washington and his wife, a lovely Filipina with huge black eyes and an unforgettable smile, made it her business to adopt him.
Jones introduced Kimi to the Washingtons shortly after that, and was pleased when Kimi said she had no idea GIs lived so well in such large homes in their own community. Charlie was proud of his friends, and hoped that the impression would help win Kimi over, help her see her parents were wrong about American military, and accepted his friends not as foreigners but as sincere, caring people.
With a plan becoming clearer in his mind, Jones settled in for the ride to Yokohama and Chief Washington’s house. Welcoming the relief he felt, his mind shifted to a calmer, steady place. He had a plan, somewhere to go and someone to talk to, someone he respected, someone he knew could help him get his mind right. As the train spend through the darkness, he tried to make sense of what had happened, to get his mind right.
Des Washington, scotch in hand and a new music system at a mellow volume, his stocking feet propped on a copy table, was blasted into the here and now when thunderous knocking crashed his reverie. His “damn it, who’s at my door?” punctuated his moans and sighs as he got on his feet.
Spying through his front door peep hole at the kid Marine, “shit, what’s that kid doing here?” was all he could to think to say, but then he saw the pain and anger in Charlie Parker Jones’ eyes.
Washington opened the door.
“Chief,” was all Jones could think of to say, suddenly realizing he was face-to-face with a man who probably didn’t care about his girl problems, who probably wanted some alone time without some fool knocking on his door after midnight.
But Washington managed a “Charlie? Well, don’t just stand there, c’mon on in, man!” If the chief was surprised by the boy’s presence on his doorstep, Jones didn’t see it. Before he knew it he had a tall scotch in his hand, was stretched out on the chief’s sofa, and was telling everything that had gone on that evening. One scotch became three. Jones did all the talking. Washington sipped his scotch, never saying a word.
Washington was smart enough to know a young man has to talk himself out before anything else could be accomplished, and Charlie Parker Jones had plenty to say. The music and the Cutty Sark fueled Jones; Washington was sure the young man would eventually get it all out of his system. No man could keep up that rush of emotion and regret and optimism all night
Charlie’s barrage of reflection and misery continued even as Des found a frozen pizza to bake. Realizing how starved he was, and how perfectly the pepperoni and gooey cheese appealed to his sudden, intense hunger, Charlie gave in to the chief’s suggestion to help himself, and had half the pizza in his belly before Washington finished one slice. After a trip to the kitchen for some more ice, he found Jones fast asleep right where he sat, his head having fallen neatly on the padded arms of the sofa. After a long look and a decision to clean up later, Washington went to bed. He decided to deal with the young Marine in the morning.