Michael G. Malaghan
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald
Editor’s note: We continue Michael G. Malaghan’s serialized historical novel, “Picture Bride — A Family Saga,” based on the Japanese immigrant experience. Malaghan’s trilogy takes readers from turn-of-the-20th-century-Japan to Hawai‘i in the picture bride era; the Islands during World War II, highlighted by the exploits of the Nisei soldiers; and beyond.
The novel, which is now available as a printed softcover book, opens with 12-year-old Haru-chan, fleeing her home in Amakusa, Kyüshü, for Hiroshima, where she becomes the picture bride of a Buddhist priest in Hawai‘i.
Author Michael Malaghan is a retired businessman who divides his time between Hawai‘i, Georgia and Japan.
“These local jigaboos will never convict one of their own,” spat Grace Fortescue. “The judge will order one retrial after another until poor Thalia can’t take it anymore and those animals will get off scot-free.”
Grace held court in the shade of the Moana Hotel’s giant banyan tree while ‘ukulele were strummed under the swaying palm trees. Tommy Massie and his Navy buddies, who were at the Ala Wai Inn on the night in question, drank whiskey. No sissy tourist drinks for them. Grace sipped a gin and tonic.
“The police and prosecutor will present evidence to dispute the coloreds’ timeline,” Massie offered.
“And the defense will once again note her memory lapse and attack the honor of your wife. Make her out to be a whore and a liar,” snapped Grace in a tone of voice that questioned his manhood. “We need a confession . . .” She looked each man in the eye, tipped her glass into her mouth and then added with a regal air that, by now, had irritated most of her social class in Hawai‘i, “. . . One way or another.”
* * *
Taka padded down the hallway barefoot to his dorm room from the communal shower, a towel wrapped around his waist and his hair still wet. He usually timed his shower to end before 7 a.m. so he could catch the KGU morning news. But today had been a shaving day, so he was 30 seconds late.
“Queen’s Hospital reports that the victim of the beating is in stable condition. ‘Remarkable, given its severity,’ according to the attending physician.” Another horrible nightclub altercation, thought Taka. But the look on his roommate’s face suggested otherwise. He mouthed a silent “Ida” over the radio report, which continued.
“‘The other four men in the Massie case will be given protection,’ said the chief of police, ‘and every effort will be made to bring the perpetrators to justice.’”
Takeshi threw on boxer shorts and slacks and grabbed a shirt, which he buttoned haphazardly while running down the stairs. He jumped on his bike and cycled to Queen’s Hospital in 12 heart-thumping minutes.
Taka dropped his bike on the grass next to the hospital’s emergency entrance. Chaos reigned. Above the din of police officers, orderlies, newspaper reporters and relatives, a doctor dressed in a smock stood eyeball-to-eyeball with the chief of police.
“What is it that you don’t understand? The patient is sedated. I am trying to keep him alive. You talked to him when he came in. Men beat him senseless. Get out of here and find them.”
In the sudden silence, a cop murmured loud enough for everyone in the suddenly quiet reception area to hear: “If the jury had done its duty, this wouldn’t have happened.”
Taka spotted Candi, Ida’s sister. She was smouldering. Candi had attended every session of the trial. Communication between them had been limited to greetings and an occasional “Good story, Takeshi.” Candi was a naturally glamorous woman who worked as a teahouse geisha. But on this morning her face was drawn and her hair was tangled in a ponytail. She wore a house yukata (informal kimono) — not surprising at 7:30 in the morning. She must have been there since 3 a.m.
“I’m so sorry,” Taka offered, looking at the loudmouth cop. “I wish there was something I could do.”
“Get the truth out,” she replied in her throaty voice. “Look at these brave police.” She counted mentally. “Seven brave men milling about.”
Candi eyed Pafko talking to the chastised police chief. “The chief demonizer!” She turned and burrowed her bitter eyes into his. “You want to do something? Get the truth out today. Let’s go get some coffee and I will tell you about five Navy cowards who couldn’t beat a false confession out of a brave young man.”
When Candi had given Taka all he needed for his story, she continued. “You want the real story behind the story? Maybe you should take some time to learn more about who we are, about those of us who must live in Mosquito Flats. It’s easy for the haole (Caucasians) to drive by, see our squalor and vilify us as a lower form of life. Let them know there is more to us than the poverty we live in.”
Taka wondered if she was talking about the haoles, or Nisei like himself whose parents warned, “Stay away from the Flats.”
“Yes. My columns could use more . . . context.”
“Come on Friday night,” said Candi. “Come see the parade.” She gave him directions, adding with a knowing look. “It’s the roundabout way.”
“Thank you,” said Taka, closing his notebook as he began to rise.
Candi grabbed his arm. “I know the back stairwell way to Ida’s room. I want you to see what they did to him.”
By mid-morning, Taka had turned in his column to Makino. Taka’s restrained approach to the ongoing battle of the columnists wilted the moment he had seen Ida’s battered body. He made up his mind: He would out-Pafko Pafko.
Makino quickly skimmed down the page and nodded his approval.
BEATING PROVES IDA’S INNOCENCE
By Takeshi Takayama
The belt-buckle welts on his back; the missing teeth; the white gauze wrapped around his head, oozing blood; the broken ribs — all prove Horace Ida’s innocence. If any one of us had suffered the beating Ida endured, we might have confessed to anything to save our lives. But Horace Ida, left for dead on the Pali, would not break. He would take any kick, punch or flogging his cowardly attackers rained on him before besmirching his honor. This courageous young man would rather die than admit to something he did not do.
Neither he nor the others accused ever touched Thalia Massie.
Horace Ida is a hero.
Who is guilty? Certain newspapers and writers whose unfounded accusations and evil mongering created the atmosphere that made this beating not only possible, but likely.
I talked to Horace Ida. Through a wired-jaw, he mumbled, “I was beaten because of the hysteria whipped up by the Advertiser.”
Will our territorial government continue to turn a blind eye and watch the fabric of its community destroyed, the possibility of statehood extinguished and turn our justice system over to Navy mob rule?
Makino’s extra hit the streets for the lunch crowd. Even some haoles snapped up the English version. The Advertiser held back its own extra to give Pafko a chance to print the Navy’s official response and demolish Taka’s rhetoric.
IDA WAS LUCKY
By Andy Pafko
“He got off with a beating. It could have been worse, given the nature of his crime,” says Admiral Stirling. “Of course,” he continued, “the Navy does not condone a forced confession, but given the fact that a fair jury cannot be impaneled, it is only natural that righteous men take action.”
There are newspapers, foreign-owned newspapers, bent on pandering to their non-American readership, that completely distort the facts. The prosecutor proved his case. But a native jury would not do its duty. That Horace Ida, a despicable heathen, did not admit to his heinous crime only points out the dangers of an alien culture in Hawai‘i so completely at odds with the ideals of American democracy, a form of government that grew from American soil and the American experience and its Christian religion. Japan has been, and will forever be ruled, by tyrants, be it shoguns or emperors, who create in their populace the desire to reach out and take what they want, be it a foreign land or a white woman’s virtue. So it is there, so it is here.
Just look at the Japanese — their flat features, protruding teeth and short legs — mixing with other races is an abomination. This brutish element must be sent a message. Find them guilty and execute them to save our civilization.
To be continued . . .