Dangerous Children (Story by R.C. Peris)

Takasatsu emerged from the warren of caves on Iwo Jima. He was afraid and looking for food and provisions. Anything really. He searched the pockets of dead rotting bodies. On his fourth night of looking for food, the Americans found him. They shined a light on him and one soldier pointed a rifle at him. However, they were soft-spoken and casual. Takasatsu didn’t know English, but he thought their tone seemed friendly. They offered him water, cigarettes, coffee, dried beef, and then a large Hershey bar of chocolate. Takasatsu wasn’t sure what chocolate was. It melted in his mouth and it was sweet. Pleasant. The soldiers led Takasatsu down from Mount Suribachi where an American flag was stuck in the ground and whipping in the coastal wind. He was taken to Father Doheny who smiled when he was escorted in the tent. He had a young Japanese-American woman with him. Doheny could speak Japanese, however, some words the woman helped him translate. She had worked on the pier in San Francisco. She knew the Japanese words for military terms and parts of boats. Her family was interned somewhere in California. She took the job because it meant freedom from the camps.

Doheny asked about his regiment, the number of soldiers left, how many fought, what he knew of the government in Tokyo, his leader’s name. They were simple questions. Takasatsu didn’t have very much information. He was only nineteen and living in Hokkaido when he was called to war. He made soy sauce. He worked for a company that made soy sauce. That’s all he knew. And fishing. He caught fish for his family to eat.

Doheny gave him more chocolate, brandy, cigarettes. Takasatsu wondered about a country that had so much stuff that they could easily give it away. There was strict rationing in Japan. Provisions would never have been given to an American prisoner. Takasatsu gave all the answers he knew. He figured the Americans already knew it. Doheny smiled during the entire talk and the Japanese woman looked serious. She was pretty. Her prettiness was sanded down by weariness. Takasatu thought she was very pretty though. Despite looking weary.

After several hours, Takasatsu was processed as a POW. He thought the Americans were quite pleasant. They smiled and were generous with their rations. As they led him to an encampment, he saw something. A head. A Japanese head crudely cut and impaled on a bayonet. Then he saw another one. And another one. More Japanese heads. How could the Americans chop off heads and then offer him brandy? They are like children, he thought. Dangerous children. He wondered what the world might be like if the Americans won the war.

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