HISTORICAL FICTION By Michael G. Malaghan

Chapter 136

The blood drained from Haru’s face. Five years had passed since Ume died — it was just after the Massie trial. Haru had last visited Irie and his three children three years ago.

Haru rose to her feet, putting her hand over her mouth in a hushed “Excuse me.” In the living room, she picked up the phone that had been left lying on the dining room table.

“Teiko-chan, my child! What happened?”

“Oh, Haru-san,” came the halting voice of Ume’s eldest child. “Our lives . . . they have not been good for some time. On your last visit, you did not see what had become of our family. Otösan was drinking shöchü again, but he sobered up for your visit. My mamahaha,” said Teiko referring to the stepmother who had long ago replaced Ko — who had run off to California — “hired her cousin to manage our coffee farm.” She spat out the word “cousin” in an ugly voice, leaving no doubt the man was anything but a cousin.

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