Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Waiting Sentinel

This happened in Atami, Japan, Summer of 1977.  I was visiting Japan at the time, and was invited out to the seaside of Atami, to a vacation home of  a former Kempeitai (憲兵隊 “Law Soldier Corps”) woman.  She was probably in her sixties at the time; the peculiar thing about this woman was that she had served in the Japanese military during WW2 in some kind of higher-ranking leadership capacity in that brutal, fascist-police; she supposedly wasn’t just a cadet (taking into account the sexism of the culture (especially at the time)). 

She was a friend of my dad’s, and although I had (and still have) no idea how they had come to be friends (my dad isn’t Japanese), I acknowledged her as a cordial family friend, and accepted her invitation.  My dad had told me that she was extremely scary in her day, and though the years had mellowed her completely, what he had told me (several times) never left the back burner.  I was sixteen at the time of her invitation, and as a matter of fact didn’t give a shit about what “Kempeitai” was, and never bothered to ask about the details.  I just knew that it was some kind of Gestapo during the war, and that point had been made clear to me by my dad several times over while she was present, and she would smile and make nothing of it.  Well, it so happens that the Kempeitai not only ruthlessly enforced loyalty, they ran prison camps and tortured their prisoners, and are known today for their hellish atrocities and war crimes. 

I was a teenage party animal at the time, and I invited my friend Frank to join me for a trip to the woman’s Atami vacation crib.  Frank and I had just met in Tokyo, we had fast become friends, and had resonated well with each other.  Frank was a genius guitarist and rock aficionado, and for some unknown reason, had brought with him the first album of Black Sabbath, which was stuck in the wrong album cover, “Master of Reality.”  We listened to it over and over again, smoked one cigarette after another, drunk a hell of a lot of beer, and got gassed out of our gourds.  We joshed and laughed our asses off.  My favorite song on the album was the theme song of the group:

What is this that stands before me? 
Figure in black which points at me 
Turn around quick and start to run 
Find out I'm the chosen one, oh nooo! 
Big black shape with eyes of fire 

Telling people their desire 
Satan's sitting there, he's smiling 
Watches those flames get higher and higher 
Oh no, no, please God help me! 
Is it the end, my friend? 

Satan's coming 'round the bend 
People running 'cause they're scared 
The people better go and beware! 
No, no, please, no!


The invitation to Atami was for a night, and I think that she had made the both of us dinner, and pretty much left us alone to our inebriated devices.  After a long evening of boozing and Black Sabbath, we retired to our respective rooms.  She had already gone to her room.  I passed out on the futon on the floor in the upstairs room, looking up at the wooden rafters. 

That night, I dreamed in real-time.  In the dream (or, rather, utter nightmare), I was sleeping on the futon in that room, and was looking up at the rafters.  A frenzied demonic being mainfested, and it swiftly dashed around the room; it jumped up to the rafters, jumped out the window, came back inside, and so on, repeatedly, while screaming, shouting, hollering, and cackling; it was in a fit of absolute rage that had driven it mad, stark, raving, psychotic mad. Its presence pervaded the room.  He (it was male, I think) knew I was in the room, and was letting me know that he was right in there with me.  It disapproved of me, and was letting his fury be known.  When it zipped out the window and stared back at me from the windowsill, I woke up in a startle.  I was frightened out of my toasted wits.  I have no recollection today of what I did afterward, but I probably went to Frank’s room and slept there. 

The morning light was welcome.  As we left her and Atami, I reflected on what my dad had said again, that she had been a Kempeitai officer.  I pondered about the kind of miasmic field that must surround her, and the terrible karmas that were still with her, waiting for their time of reckoning.

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