didn't see pictures of drunken dull-wilted Poles any more, slouched on sagging porches or hawking
a few sickly turnips at the village market. All a thing of the past, like rutted dirt roads that once
turned to slop in the rainy season, bogging down the carts.
But Africa. They had simply let their enthusiasm get the better of them there, and you had to
admire that, although more thoughtful advice would have cautioned them to perhaps let it wait a bit
until, for instance, Project Farmland had been completed. Now there the Nazis had shown genius;
the artist in them had truly emerged. The Mediterranean Sea bottled up, drained, made into tillable
farmland, through the use of atomic power — what daring! How the sniggerers had been set back
on their heels, for instance certain scoffing merchants along Montgomery Street. And as a matter of
fact, Africa had almost been successful . . . but in a project of that sort, almost was an ominous
word to begin to hear. Rosenberg's well-known powerful pamphlet issued in 1958; the word had
first shown up, then. As to the Final Solution of the African Problem, we have almost achieved our
objectives. Unfortunately, however —
Still, it had taken two hundred years to dispose of the American aborigines, and Germany had
almost done it in Africa in fifteen years. So no criticism was legitimately in order. Childan had, in
fact, argued it out recently while having lunch with certain of those other merchants. They expected
miracles, evidently, as if the Nazis could remold the world by magic. No, it was science and
technology and that fabulous talent for hard work; the Germans never stopped applying themselves.
And when they did a task, they did it right.
And anyhow, the flights to Mars had distracted world attention from the difficulty in Africa. So it
all came back to what he had told his fellow store owners; what the Nazis have which we lack is —
nobility. Admire them for their love of work or their efficiency . . . but it's the dream that stirs one.
Space flights first to the moon, then to Mars; if that isn't the oldest yearning of mankind, our finest
hope for glory. Now, the Japanese on the other hand. I know them pretty well; I do business with
them, after all, day in and day out. They are — let's face it — Orientals. Yellow people. We whites
have to bow to them because they hold the power. But we watch Germany; we see what can be
done where whites have conquered, and it's quite different.
'We approach the Nippon Times Building, sir,' the chink said, his chest heaving from the exertion
of the hill climbing. He slowed, now.
To himself, Childan tried to picture Mr. Tagomi's client. Clearly the man was unusually
important; Mr. Tagomi's tone on the telephone, his immense agitation, had communicated the fact.
Image of one of Childan's own very important clients, or rather, customers, swam up into his mind,
a man who had done a good deal to create for Childan a reputation among the high-placed
personages residing in the Bay Area.
Four years ago, Childan had not been the dealer in the rare and desirable which he was now; he
had operated a small rather dimly lighted secondhand bookshop on Geary. His neighboring stores
sold used furniture, or hardware, or did laundry. It was not a nice neighborhood. At night strong-
arm robberies and sometimes rape took place on the sidewalk, despite the efforts of the San
Francisco Police Department and even the Kempeitai, the Japanese higher-ups. All store windows
had iron gratings fitted over them once the business day had ended, this to prevent forcible entry.
Yet, into this district of the city had come an elderly Japanese ex-Army man, a Major Ito Humo.
Tall, slender, white-haired, walking and standing stiffly, Major Humo had given Childan his first
inkling of what might be done with his line of merchandise.
'I am a collector,' Major Humo had explained. He had spent an entire afternoon searching among
the heaps of old magazines in the store. In his mild voice he had explained something which
Childan could not quite grasp at the time: to many wealthy, cultured Japanese, the historic objects
of American popular civilization were of equal interest alongside the more formal antiques. Why
this was so, the major himself did not know; he was particularly addicted to the collecting of old
magazines dealing with U.S. brass buttons, well as the buttons themselves. It was on the order of
coin or stamp collecting; no rational explanation could ever be given. And high prices were being
paid by wealthy collectors.
'I will give you an example,' the major had said. 'Do you know what is meant by 'Horrors of War'
cards?' He had eyed Childan with avidity.
Searching his memory, Childan had at last recalled. The cards had been dispensed, during his
childhood, with bubble gum. A cent apiece. There had been a series of them, each card depicting a
'A dear friend of mine,' the major had gone on, 'collects 'Horrors of War.' He lacks but one, now.
The Sinking of the Panay. He has offered a substantial sum of money for that particular card.'
'Flip cards,' Childan had said suddenly.
'We flipped them. There was a head and a tail side on each card.' He had been about eight years
old. 'Each of us had a pack of flip cards. We stood, two of us, facing each other. Each of us dropped
a card so that it flipped in the air. The boy whose card landed with the head side up, the side with
the picture, won both cards.' How enjoyable to recall those good days, those early happy days of his
Considering, Major Humo had said, 'I have heard my friend discuss his 'Horrors of War' cards,
and he has never mentioned this. It is my opinion that he does not know how these cards actually
were put to use.'
Eventually, the major's friend had shown up at the store to hear Childan's historically firsthand
account. That man, also a retired officer of the Imperial Army, had been fascinated,
'Bottle caps!' Childan had exclaimed without warning.
The Japanese had blinked uncomprehendingly.
'We used to collect the tops from milk bottles. As kids. The round tops that gave the name of the
dairy. There must have been thousands of dairies in the United States. Each one printed a special
The officer's eyes had glinted with the instinct. 'Do you possess any of your sometime collection,
Naturally, Childan did not. But. . . probably it was still possible to obtain the ancient, long-
forgotten tops from the days before the war when milk had come in glass bottles rather than
throwaway pasteboard cartons.
And so, by stages, he had gotten into the business. Others had opened similar places, taking
advantage of the evergrowing Japanese craze for Americana. . . .but Childan had always kept his
'Your fare,' the chink was saying, bringing him out of his meditation, 'is a dollar, sir.' He had
unloaded the bags and was waiting.
Absentmindedly, Childan paid him. Yes, it was quite likely that the client of Mr. Tagomi
resembled Major Humo; at least, Childan thought tartly, from my point of view. He had dealt with
so many Japanese. . . but he still had difficulty telling them apart. There were the short squat ones,
built like wrestlers. Then the druggist-like ones. The tree-shrubflower-gardener ones. . . he had his
categories. And the young ones, who were to him not like Japanese at all. Mr. Tagomi's client
would probably be portly, a businessman, smoking a Philippine cigar.
And then, standing before the Nippon Times Building, with his bags on the sidewalk beside him,
Childan suddenly thought with a chill: Suppose his client isn't Japanese! Everything in the bags had
been selected with them in mind, their tastes —
But the man had to be Japanese. A Civil War recruiting poster had been Mr. Tagomi's original
order; surely only a Japanese would care about such debris. Typical of their mania for the trivial,
their legalistic fascination with documents, proclamations, ads. He remembered one who had
devoted his leisure time to collecting newspaper ads of American patent medicines of the 1900s.
There were other problems to face. Immediate problems. Through the high doors of the Nippon
Times Building men and women hurried, all of them well-dressed; their voices reached Childan's
ears, and he started into motion. A glance upward at the towering edifice, the highest building in
San Francisco. Wall of offices, windows, the fabulous design of the Japanese architects — and the
surrounding gardens of dwarf evergreens, rocks, the karesansui landscape, sand imitating a dried-
up stream winding past roots, among simple, irregular flat stones . . .
He saw a black who had carried baggage, now free. At once Childan called, 'Porter!'
The black trotted toward him, smiling.
'To the twentieth floor,' Childan said in his harshest voice. 'Suite B. At once.' He indicated the
bags and then strode on toward the doors of the building. Naturally he did not look back.
A moment later he found himself being crowded into one of the express elevators; mostly
Japanese around him, their clean faces shining slightly in the brilliant light of the elevator. Then the
nauseating upward thrust of the elevator, the rapid click of floors passing; he shut his eyes, planted
his feet firmly, prayed for the flight to end. The black, of course, had taken the bags up on a service
elevator. It would not have been within the realm of reason to permit him here. In fact — Childan
opened his eyes and looked momentarily — he was one of the few whites in the elevator.
When the elevator let him off on the twentieth floor, Childan was already bowing mentally,
preparing himself for the encounter in Mr. Tagomi's offices.
At sunset, glancing up, Juliana Frink saw the dot of light in the sky shoot in an arc, disappear to the
west. One of those Nazi rocket ships, she said to herself. Flying to the Coast. Full of big shots. And
here I am down below. She waved, although the rocket ship of course had already gone.
Shadows advancing from the Rockies. Blue peaks turning to night. A flock of slow birds,
migratory, made their way parallel with the mountains. Here and there a car turned its headlights
on; she saw the twin dots along the highway. Lights, too, of a gas station. Houses.
For months now she had been living here in Canon City, Colorado. She was a judo instructor.
Her workday had ended and she was preparing to take a shower. She felt tired. All the showers
were in use, by customers of Ray's Gym, so she had been standing, waiting outdoors in the
coolness, enjoying the smell of mountain air, the quiet. All she heard now was the faint murmur
from the hamburger stand down the road by the highway's edge. Two huge diesel trucks had
parked, and the drivers, in the gloom, could be seen moving about, putting on their leather jackets
before entering the hamburger stand.
She thought: Didn't Diesel throw himself out the window of his stateroom? Commit suicide by
drowning himself on an ocean voyage? Maybe I ought to do that. But here there was no ocean. But
there is always a way. Like in Shakespeare. A pin stuck through one's shirt front, and good-bye
Frink. The girl who need not fear marauding homeless from the desert. Walks upright in
consciousness of many pinched-nerve possibilities in grizzled salivating adversary. Death instead
by, say, sniffing car exhaust in highway town, perhaps through long hollow straw.
Learned that, she thought, from Japanese. Imbibed placid attitude toward mortality, along with
money-making judo. How to kill, how to die. Yang and yin. But that's behind, now; this is
It was a good thing to see the Nazi rockets go by overhead and not stop, not take any interest of
any sort in Canon City, Colorado. Nor in Utah or Wyoming or the eastern part of Nevada, none of
the open empty desert states or pasture states. We have no value, she said to herself. We can live
out our tiny lives. If we want to. If it matters to us.
From one of the showers, the noise of a door unlocking. A shape, large Miss Davis, finished with
her shower, dressed, purse under her arm. 'Oh, were you waiting, Mrs. Frink? I'm sorry.'
'It's all right,' Juliana said.
'You know, Mrs. Frink, I've gotten so much out of judo. Even more than out of Zen. I wanted to
'Slim your hips the Zen way,' Juliana said. 'Lose pounds through painless satori. I'm sorry, Miss
Davis. I'm woolgathering.'
Miss Davis said, 'Did they hurt you much?'
'The Japs. Before you learned to defend yourself.'
'It was dreadful,' Juliana said. 'You've never been out there, on the Coast. Where they are.'
'I've never been outside of Colorado,' Miss Davis said, her voice fluttering timidly.
'It could happen here,' Juliana said. 'They might decide to occupy this region, too.'
'Not this late!'
'You never know what they're going to do,' Juliana said. 'They hide their real thoughts.'
'What — did they make you do?' Miss Davis, hugging her purse against her body with both arms,
moved closer, in the evening darkness, to hear.
'Everything,' Juliana said.
'Oh God. I'd fight,' Miss Davis said.
Juliana excused herself and walked to the vacant shower; someone else was approaching it with
a towel over her arm.
Later, she sat in a booth at Tasty Charley's Broiled Hamburgers, listlessly reading the menu. The
jukebox played some hillbilly tune; steel guitar and emotion-choked moaning . . . the air was heavy
with grease smoke. And yet, the place was warm and bright, and it cheered her. The presence of the
truck drivers at the counter, the waitress, the big Irish fry cook in his white jacket at the register
Seeing her, Charley approached to wait on her himself. Grinning, he drawled, 'Missy want tea
'Coffee,' Juliana said, enduring the fry cook's relentless humor.
'Ah so,' Charley said, nodding.
'And the hot steak sandwich with gravy.'
'Not have bowl rat's-nest soup? Or maybe goat brains fried in olive oil?' A couple of the truck
drivers, turning on their stools, grinned along with the gag, too. And in addition they took pleasure
in noticing how attractive she was. Even lacking the fry cook's kidding, she would have found the
truck drivers scrutinizing her. The months of active judo had given her unusual muscle tone; she
knew how well she held herself and what it did for her figure.
It all has to do with the shoulder muscles, she thought as she met their gaze. Dancers do it, too. It
has nothing to do with size. Send your wives around to the gym and we'll teach them. And you'll be
so much more content in life.
'Stay away from her,' the fry cook warned the truck drivers with a wink. 'She'll throw you on
She said to the younger of the truck drivers, 'Where are you in from?'
'Missouri,' both men said.
'Are you from the United States?' she asked.
'I am,' the older man said. 'Philadelphia. Got three kids there. The oldest is eleven.'
'Listen,' Juliana said. 'Is it — easy to get a good job back there?'
The younger truck driver said, 'Sure. If you have the right color skin.' He himself had a dark
brooding face with curly black hair. His expression had become set and bitter.
'He's a wop,' the older man said.
'Well,' Juliana said, 'didn't Italy win the war?' She smiled at the young truck driver but he did not
smile back. Instead, his somber eyes glowed even more intensely, and suddenly he turned away.
I'm sorry, she thought. But she said nothing. I can't save you or anybody else from being dark.
She thought of Frank. I wonder if he's dead yet. Said the wrong thing; spoke out of line. No, she
thought. Somehow he likes Japs. Maybe he identifies with them because they're ugly. She had
always told Frank that he was ugly. Large pores. Big nose. Her own skin was finely knit, unusually
so. Did he fall dead without me? A fink is a finch, a form of bird. And they say birds die.
'Are you going back on the road tonight?' she asked the young Italian truck driver.
'If you're not happy in the U.S. why don't you cross over permanently?' she said. 'I've been living
in the Rockies for a long time and it isn't so bad. I lived on the Coast, in San Francisco. They have
the skin thing there, too.'
Glancing briefly at her as he sat hunched at the counter, the young Italian said, 'Lady, it's bad
enough to have to spend one day or one night in a town like this. Live here? Christ — if I could get
any other kind of job, and not have to be on the road eating my meals in places like this — '
Noticing that the fry cook was red, he ceased speaking and began to drink his coffee.
The older truck driver said to him, 'Joe, you're a snob.'
'You could live in Denver,' Juliana said. 'It's nicer up there.' I know you East Americans, she
thought. You like the big time. Dreaming your big schemes. This is just the sticks to you, the
Rockies. Nothing has happened here since before the war. Retired old people, farmers, the stupid,
slow, poor. . . and all the smart boys have flocked east to New York, crossed the border legally or
illegally. Because, she thought, that's where the money is, the big industrial money. The expansion.
German investment has done a lot . . . it didn't take long for them to build the U.S. back up.
The fry cook said in a hoarse angry voice, 'Buddy, I'm not a Jew-lover, but I seen some of those
Jew refugees fleeing your U.S. in '49, and you can have your U.S. If there's a lot of building back
there and a lot of loose easy money it's because they stole it from those Jews when they kicked
them out of New York, that goddam Nazi Nuremberg Law. I lived in Boston when I was a kid, and
I got no special use for Jews, but I never thought I'd see that Nazi racial law get passed in the U.S.,
even if we did lose the war. I'm surprised you aren't in the U.S. Armed Forces, getting ready to
invade some little South American republic as a front for the Germans, so they can push the
Japanese back a little bit more — '
Both truck drivers were on their feet, their faces stark. The older man picked up a ketchup bottle
from the counter and held it upright by the neck. The fry cook without turning his back to the two
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