Let The World Go By
This is a story that involves sex between males. If such a story is offensive, or illegal for you to read where you live, then do not continue, go and surf elsewhere.
This is a work of fiction and in no way draws on the lives of any specific person or persons. If there is any similarity to any real persons or events it is entirely coincidental.
The work is copyrighted by the author and may not be reproduced in any form without the specific written permission of the author. It is assigned to the Nifty Archives under the terms of their submission agreement but it may not be copied or archived on any other site without the written permission of the author.
I really appreciate the e-mails that I have received, especially those that tell me about the memories you have recalled upon reading this part of the story. It is very encouraging. I know that I have not answered all of the e-mails — please forgive me.
Fire In Winter
The next morning Tommy made hot tea and pastry for breakfast with fruit. Being a Saturday, Tommy suggested that they take the train to Amorri, which was north along the coast, a ride of about two hours. It was a quiet Japanese tourist resort town. Not too many GIs visited there, they could be quite alone, and on Sunday they could come back early since James would be up early on Monday morning.
James agreed, but said that he would have to get more Japanese money. Tommy said, no, he had plenty of yen in his secret chest.
"Okay, Tommy, I'll give you the dollars, you can change them when you need to." James knew that Tommy could probably get more yen on the black market for the dollars, then he could get on the regular exchange, but it was illegal.
"No, Jamesan. I no need your money. We good friends. I treat this time, next time you treat, okay?"
"Okay," James kissed him. They hurried and dressed for the trip. Tommy packed his little bag with enough things for the trip, along with a roll of bills from his chest, and they hurried off to catch the train.
The train was an electric train with overhead lines, in spite of the fact that it was over a hundred miles. The train sped along quietly over the rails weaving along the coast at almost seventy miles per hour.
They sat in the bar car drinking beer and looking at the scenery along the way. It was a rocky coastline, but almost like a park most of the way. They did pass several small towns that interrupted the park like setting. Near the towns were small fields in which men worked hauling human waste with which they fertilized the rice fields. They carried it on yokes across their shoulders and walked barefooted through the water and mud of the fields.
It was just past noon when they arrived in Amorri, and Tommy suggested that they catch the ferry immediately and go out to the island park, off the coast.
The park was a well-maintained garden paradise. Every kind of flower imaginable grew there, from water lilies on the pond, to orchids growing among the rocks that lined a shaded hillside. A small shrine with an ancient Buddha sitting cross-legged under its shelter looked out toward the shore. A small waterfall cascaded down its rocky floor to the sea from a spring hidden deep within its hills. James marveled at it all.
Tommy brought his camera and was taking pictures of everything, many with James posing in them. James took some with Tommy in them. Such great memories they would evoke years later, James thought. He would send a few home. Perhaps even to Elaine. But how could he go back and marry her, after being with someone like Tommy? How could he even leave Japan, with Tommy here? He just would think about it, he had six more weeks before he had to leave. There was plenty of time to decide what to do. Maybe he'd ask to be transferred to the permanent base at Missawa. That would give him another almost three years. He would give that some thought too.
Right now he was enjoying his time with Tommy, and that was enough for now. After the ferry ride back from the island, they stopped and had a soft drink and a snack. Tommy suggested that they find a hotel so that they could leave their bags. The one they found was one he had stayed at before.
"It's nice, not too expensive," he explained, "And close to downtown."
The hotel was located on a hillside three blocks from the main shopping area. It was typical of hotels of it class, in that its rooms were all on the second floor. The office, living quarters for the owner and his family, and the dining room were on the main floor. Also it had only ten rentable rooms. Since it was so small, it was easy for the staff to ensure that no one except guests were allowed in the guest room area.
The room was different from any hotel room in which James had stayed before. It was a hotel for Japanese families, and was very similar to Tommy's apartment except that there was no kitchen and the bathroom including shower and tub were connected to the room. The furniture was sparse, and low to the floor, and beds were just as at home, the roll-up mattresses. There was a charcoal heater for warmth and heating tea. There was a small low table to put the tea things on, and one for writing.
James went to the window and looked out. "Did you see the view of the bay?" he asked.
"Hai! It is beautiful with all the ships in the harbor."
"And the park island to the north!"
They hung up their spare shirts and laid out their sweaters. James stood looking out the window.
"What's wrong?" Tommy asked.
He turned around and smiled at Tommy. "Nothing is wrong," he said, "I was just thinking how nice it would be to never have to leave here. To be here with you forever."
Tommy put his arm around James waist.
"Yes, we are good friends now. It makes one wish for only the good things of life."
"I guess it is foolish to think that we can have only the good things, and never the bad."
"The grandfather says that only when the bad times come can we remember the good times."
"He is a wise man," James said. "He's been good to you, like a grandfather."
"Yes," Tommy said, and he turned away so that James would not see the tears coming into his eyes, "More than that too." Tommy said.
James, however, did not have to see to know what was going through his mind. He put his arm around Tommy's shoulder and pulled him close. Someone so young as this should not have to be so sad, he thought. He recalled something his mother had said to him one day when he was feeling down in the dumps, "Live" she said, "As though you have only today. You can never come back to this moment." She was right, he thought, now is the only important time.
"Let's go see the rest of the city!" James said. He turned Tommy around and looked down into his eyes, and kissed him tenderly.
Tommy locked the door as they left, and bowed to the woman at the desk as they went passed. She smiled and returned the gesture.
The Saturday afternoon crowd was beginning to this as they made their way along the streets. Since they were not shopping for anything in particular, they stepped when they saw something interesting, and went on to the next store. Only occasionally would James ask Tommy to inquire about the price of something, and then only if it was not clearly marked. They spent the most time looking at the jewelry items. Elaine had asked James to watch for a certain size and style necklace for her. She did this when he had asked her what she would like if he had a chance to get something for her.
Since he did not intend to buy anything large, and had already spent most of his Japanese money, he wasn't going to buy anything anyway. He enjoyed looking at the various things in the stores. Tommy enjoyed explaining what some of the items in the specialty shops were to his American friend.
As the sun began to set, they headed back toward their hotel. By the time they reached their room they needed to put on the lights. There were curtains over the windows to cut the glare from the sun, and heavy draperies to keep the heat in during the winter, and the heat out in summer. Since it was neither now, the only reason to close them was to provide complete privacy. There were no buildings directly across from them, and none that looked into their room, so it was not necessary to close them.
The soft light from the two lamps made the room seem cozy. While they gone, but just shortly before they returned someone had lighted the charcoal in the heater in their room, and the dampness which was always a problem along the coast in the late fall had been removed from their room.
"What kind of food you like tonight?" Tommy asked.
"I'm not fussy, Tommy. Whatever interests you is fine with me."
"There is a place, have good food last time I was here."
"That's fine with me."
"And after dinner, we go dancing, one place here where men can dance with men."
"You're kidding? That's great!" James said excitedly. "I didn't think that a small city like this would have one."
"It is because of the ships."
The tea water which Tommy had set on to heat when they first arrived was now hot. He poured it into the teapot and then from his handbag he took a small tin and put some of its contents in also.
Almost immediately James recognized the fragrance of the special tea from the day before. After it had steeped for a short time, he poured the tea and they sipped the warm potion. When they finished their tea, they put on their warm sweaters and left to have dinner.
The tempore was as Tommy had said, something special. The restaurant was more modern and catered to the tourists. And the meal was simpler when compared with the previous night's fare, and it was more expensive.
After dinner Tommy had a taxi summoned for the ride to the dance-bar he had told James about earlier. It was near the wharfs north of the city's center.
The entrance was at the top of a stairway on the outside of an old warehouse. It lead into the bar area which surrounded the dance floor. A polished brass railing surrounded the dance floor which was three steps down from the bar area. There were two serving bars located at either end of the nearly square room. Directly over the dancers an array of multicolored spotlights were arranged in various patterns and was controlled by a panel at the sound system where a young man sat playing the records.
When they arrived the gleaming dance floor was already crowded with whirling dancers. James was surprised to see several non-oriental dancers on the floor. James and Tommy went down and mingled with the dancers already there. Tommy was an excellent partner, his small size allowed Jamie to manipulate him in an ever changing pattern of lifts, dips, and twirls.
Several records later, the DJ changed the mood of the music and lights, and the tempo slowed to a waltz that nearly cleared the floor of dancers. Tommy and James didn't mind the change of rhythm however, and continued dancing. It wasn't until the music stopped that they noticed that they were the only ones still on the floor. The applause that greeted them also surprised them. Apparently their giant swooping swings across the floor, and graceful turns and dips had impressed the crowd.
They climbed the steps to the bar level as the lights and music changed again. James picked up two beers from the bar and joined Tommy was standing talking in Japanese with two young men who had been watching them when they were dancing alone on the floor.
"Jamesan," these are two visitors from Tokyo, Yasha and Mishahito." Tommy introduced them. The two young men bowed as their names were mentioned. James extended his hand to them in turn, bowing slightly as they accepted the western greeting.
When they finished their beer, Yasha asked James to dance. Mishahito and Tommy followed them down to the dance area. Yasha was not close to Tommy in his dancing skill, but James was careful not to do anything that would have embarrassed him, and thus they looked quite accomplished together.
After the music shifted back to a very slow ballad, they returned to the bar for another beer. Yasha and Mishahito bowed and excused themselves, leaving Tommy and James alone again.
Tommy excused himself to use the rest room. James watched as Tommy made his way through the crowd toward a hallway near the entrance through which they'd entered. He would need to know where it was very shortly himself. He switched his attention back to the dance floor and did not see the approach of one the European dancers from behind him.
"You are a very good dancer, Sir," the dark-haired youth said in perfect English, but with an accent that James could not identify.
"Thank you," James said smiling.
"Pardon me for interrupting you, but I had to tell you how much I enjoyed watching and your friend dance," he continued, "My name is Mischa."
"I am pleased to meet you Mischa," James answered extending his hand, "My name is James. I am from America, a city called Great Falls, in Montana. I am in the Air Force and stationed in Missawa."
"It is my pleasure to meet you, James. I am from Ustka in Poland, I sail from the Danzig."
"Your English is exceptional, Mischa. Where did you learn to speak it so well?" James asked.
"You are most kind to say so, James. I have traveled to New York and London often. I have many American and British acquaintances, they have taught me," he answered shyly.
"May I buy you a beer?" James asked noticing that his bottle was empty.
"Thank you, you are most kind to offer," Mischa smiled.
James went to the bar and returned with two beers, one for Mischa, and one for Tommy who was just returning.
"Thank you most kindly," Mischa said when James handed him the bottle. James introduced Tommy and Mischa.
"Tommy, may I ask where the rest-room is located?" Mischa asked.
Before Tommy could answer, James said, "I was just on my way."
"Very well," Mischa said. "It was very nice to meet you, Tommy."
"We'll be right back," James said smiling at Tommy and giving him a quick kiss.
Mischa followed along side James as they edged their way to the rest room. It was at the end of a short hallway, then entrance to which was located near the main entry to the bar.
There was a short line waiting for the urinal. When it was their turn, Mischa and James stepped up to it together.
Mischa, although very polite, was not shy and did not hesitate to observe James as they stood next to each other. James could not help but notice the attention, and the result was his penis responding without shame, and although it did not become erect, it did expand nearly to its full size.
"It is exceptional," Mischa said, and then looked at himself. He was fully erect. It was like James', uncut, and quite long, but not so thick as James'.
"Thank you," James said shyly, "So is your," James pushed himself back inside his shorts and zipped up. Mischa did likewise, with somewhat more difficulty. They walked back to the bar where Tommy was waiting. He smiled when he saw them returning. He could not help but notice, Mischa's condition as he was wearing very light colored trousers that were quite tight fitting and emphasized his crotch area. James' trousers, on the other hand, revealed just a faint outline of its contents, but it was just as inviting to anyone who observed him.
"I see you have become better acquainted," Tommy said looking at Mischa.
"You are quite correct, Tommy. You are very lucky to have a friend so handsome, and so very well endowed," Mischa responded.
"Thank you," Tommy said.
James was somewhat embarrassed by the attention, and asked, "Shall we dance, Tommy?"
"Please excuse us," James said as he and Tommy walked to the dance floor. They danced the next six selections.
When they returned, they saw that Mischa was dancing with an Oriental. They watched as he and his partner whirled and turned on the shinny metal floor.
"He is very handsome," Tommy said.
"Yes, he is indeed," James said looking at Tommy and smiling. They kissed long and sensuously, bringing them both to a warm, tingling arousal.
"Shall we invite Mischa to spend the evening?" Tommy asked when they parted.
James wasn't certain what Tommy's feelings were on the subject, and he had to know, before agreeing to the suggestion.
"Do you like being with two people at once?" James asked.
"You are more than enough for me, but I have no objection to sharing you with someone who pleases you," Tommy explained.
"Just as long as you're sure that you don't mind," James said. "I do like the way he looks, and he seems to be very nice."
"Yes," Tommy said, "Very nice. It is agreed? You will invite him to stay with us tonight?"
James nodded. When Mischa and his companion returned from the dance floor, and Mischa had returned to stand next to Tommy, James said.
"Tommy has suggested that it would please us, if you would join us for the evening."
"I should enjoy that very much. Thank you for asking me."
It was agreed and when the dancing was over for the night, the three of them took a taxi back to the hotel.
When they entered their room, a single lamp was lighted, and the hibachi was glowing pleasantly warming the room. Tommy put on the water for tea.
They sat on cushions about the first trading stories of their travels. Mischa, they learned was older than he looked. James had guessed that he was twenty-two, and was surprised to learn that he was thirty-one. He'd been sailing on Polish cargo ships since he was fifteen. He'd turned down promotion to a more elegant passenger ship twice, because of his lover of seventeen years, the first mate on the ship on which he sailed.
"But," Mischa said sadly, "In April of this year, Bart was killed in a car crash while he was visiting his family in Szczecin while we were in port for the holiday. He'd dropped me off at home, and then driven on to his families'. It was on the way there, that the accident happened during a heavy rainstorm. I didn't find out until I called his home two days later, and found out that he never made it.
"At first I wanted to die. I would have too, if a letter from the ship's captain had not arrived while I was home. It seems that he learned about the accident from the police, and enclosed a letter that was sealed and was from Bart to me.
"In the letter he told me, that if anything should ever happen to him, that I should not mourn him overly much. And that I should get on with living as soon as I could. Also, I should contact a friend of his at the Danzig, who would make sure that I would get the money he'd saved," he paused and looked pensive.
"Since then, although I miss him very much, I have learned to go on. Also this will be my last trip to Japan, as I have accepted the promotion, and will sail between Poland and America via Amsterdam and London.
"I have the money he left to me, safely in Bern where it grows for me. It is a modest sum, ten thousand dollars, American."
"You were lucky, Mischa," James said, "To have had such a good love for so long."
"Yes," Tommy said. "I hope someday to find someone whom I can live with, and love for a long time."
"Thank you," Mischa said, then looking at Tommy, and taking his hand, "I am certain that you will some day."
After the tea was finished, they undressed, and climbed between the sheets of their somewhat hard floor bed.
Their lovemaking was slow and easy. Such was their mood.
No one was left out of anything. It was a total experience for each of them. When they were finished, they collapsed on the bed and rested. Later, after washing, they cuddled together under the warm comforter and slept in the security of the love which they felt for each other, a strange grouping, yet somehow one in spirit.
James awakened first the next morning, and hurriedly went to the bathroom. When he returned he found Tommy and Mischa still asleep, Tommy cuddled in Mischa's strong arms. They looked so peaceful, he didn't disturb them. He rebuilt the fire in the heater and put water on for tea. It wasn't until the fragrance of the steeping tea filled the room, that they stirred from their dreams.
"Good morning, sleepy heads!" he smiled down on them as they stretched and separated.
"Good morning, James," Tommy said somewhere embarrassed that he had been asleep in Mischa's arms.
Mischa got up and went to the bathroom; just a James had done earlier, without a robe. His erection bouncing as he crossed the room and went out of sight. Tommy got up and put on his robe, covering him morning erection. Quite a size difference, James noted, but only when compared with each other, not when compared to the body to which they were attached.
When Mischa returned, Tommy went to the bathroom.
"You are lucky, James," Mischa said as Tommy closed the door. "Tommy is so adorable. It is not wonder that you love him. He is also lucky to have you to love him." Mischa put his arms about James' neck and kissed him softly, pulling his body close to him.
"Thank you, Mischa."
Mischa and James were dressing as Tommy returned.
"Well, Tommy where shall we have breakfast?" James asked.
"I think the dining room here will be good," Tommy answered hurrying to dress too.
After breakfast, and exchanging addresses, they went with Mischa to the waterfront where they said their goodbyes, well out of sight of the ship and the passersby in the area.
James and Tommy waved goodbye as Mischa walked up the gangway and disappear from sight. Then they turned back and headed toward the train station where they boarded the train back to Missawa. The ride was quiet, and they sat next to each other, each alone with his thoughts.
It had been a good weekend for both of them, they enjoyed the trip to Amorri for all of the things that they had seen and done. James had come to appreciate Japanese culture more than he thought were possible, and enjoyed being with Tommy and Mischa. Tommy had enjoyed being away from his apartment even for the short time. Twice in one weekend he had met two delightful me, both foreigners and he was in love with both of them, but he knew not how it was possible to choose between them.
James, the American was thoughtful, self-assured, gentle beyond belief, and a delight to make love with. Mischa, on the other hand was sensitive, sad-eyed, personable, firmer in his lovemaking, and somewhat more earthy in his touch, but his voice was elegant beyond words. Both were handsome, though differently so. He was glad that he didn't have to choose between them. Mischa was gone, but James was here, there wasn't any choosing to do. He put his hand on James' elbow next to him and squeezed causing James to look down and smile. No, there was no need to choose.
Tommy insisted on cooking dinner over James' protests. It consisted of vegetables in a savory sauce into which baby shrimp were stirred, and poured over steamed rice. Served with a spicy hot tea, it was delightful to behold as well as to taste. They ate quietly speaking only occasionally.
Such was their reluctance to end the weekend, which they undressed and made love, sleeping for an hour afterward. Tommy lay awake several minutes before he leaned over and kissed James on the lips waking him. James responded by once again taking Tommy in his arms.
It was ten o'clock and James had to leave for the base and his life in the military. He dressed slowly, wishing that there were some way to avoid going back. There was none.
"I will see you on Thursday, Tommy," he said as he kissed him.
"I miss you, GI," Tommy teased feigning the indifference of a local girl. James swatted him on the butt and kissed him again.
As James picked up his hand bag to leave, Tommy smiled and whispered, "Good bye Joe!"
James rode the bus back to the base deep in thought. His mind raced back over the events of the weekend. The pictures flashed before him: the train, the ferry, the park, the food, the dancing, Mischa, but most of all Tommy. He could still feel the warm moist kisses on his lips. He seemed so far away.
It was quiet in the barracks when he returned. No one with whom he was a friend was awake. He passed bunk after bunk looking down at the sleeping faces of the men he knew. He nodded to several of the people he passed who were co-workers, fellow-GIs. He was surprised how little he had in common with them. He knew how they'd react if he told them of his weekend, but he longed to tell someone. He also knew that he couldn't tell anyone, even those he knew well.
He fell asleep easily still feeling the effects of the recent lovemaking. He dreamed, but they were gone when he awoke.
Monday dragged by slowly a drizzle filled the air, and Tuesday was no better. On Wednesday it rained hard, which made the day even longer as there were no training flights, and only one alert, and that did not fly. Thursday the rain let up for awhile, and the planes flew four training flights and two alerts. Even so, he had nothing to do but testing before and after the flights, there had been no malfunctions in two weeks.
Nightfall came quickly as the rain continued lightly once again. James hurriedly packed his things and rode the bus into town, getting out the gate on the last one for the night.
James rapped lightly on the door to Tommy's apartment. The door opened slowly and the bright shinning face which looked out into the darkness confirmed what he'd known all week, that Tommy would be waiting for him.
"Hello, Joe!" Tommy teased.
"Hello," was all the James could say. They embraced, just holding onto each other for a long time. The weekend passed as quickly as the week had dragged. They saw everything in Missawa of interest to anyone, Tommy showed him the shops and buildings and temples. They went to an American movie wit subtitles. They both enjoyed it. It was not a good movie, but Tommy kept translating the subtitles to English, w hich proved to be more amusing that the movie itself.
They spent the following weekend planning something special since it was Tommy's birthday, and he would be nineteen. James was starting to think also about another date coming soon, November 12th, their departure date for the States. It was now October 14th, they had less than a month remaining, giving them at best, nine days together.
It rained continuously the following week. It was depressing for James. There was virtually nothing to do. He had written letters to everyone he could think of to write to. He found the pearls Elaine had asked him to buy. In addition he had bought earrings to match, which he would save for another occasion. By Thursday he was very depressed.
He had asked Tommy what he wanted for a gift for his birthday. Since there was nothing that he really wanted that he couldn't buy for himself, it was difficult for him to tell someone else. What he really had always wanted to have, but had never though to get was a set of drawing pens, so that was what he told James. They were inexpensive and easy to get. James found a complete set of the ink pens set in a velvet-lined box with brass lock. He done all the shopping he needed to do at the Base Exchange, picking up a card and a few other things that he'd noticed that Tommy could use for the apartment. James had it all gift wrapped at the Exchange, which brightened his day.
As he packed the items in his bag for the trip into town, he managed to lift his spirits in spite of the weather. It wasn't that he didn't want to go, he was anxious to go, but the short time he had left was beginning to become dejected by the thoughts.
When he got off the bus and was entering the street where Tommy lived, the rain began again, soaking him even though he was wearing a heavy poncho. He rapped on the door lightly, there was no answer. He knocked louder.
The door opened slightly, and he quickly went inside. Tommy was dressed only in his kimono. He smiled as James entered. James took off his poncho before greeting him.
"Happy birthday, Tommy," he said kissing him.
"Thank you, James," he answered weakly.
As soon as he heard him speak, he knew that Tommy was sick. "What's the matter, Tommy?" he asked.
"Nothing, just a cold," Tommy lied.
"Are you sure?" James asked. He wanted to feel his forehead, but knew that his hands and face were too cold from the rain to be able to tell anything from them.
"Hai, I just have a bad cold." His voice was harsh and very weak. The hibachi was glowing and the room was warm.
"Let's sit by the fire," James suggested. Tommy nodded and shivered. James filled the kettle and put it on to heat.
While they sat waiting for the water to heat, he held Tommy bundled in a comforter. Before the water was hot, Tommy was asleep. Carefully he laid him on the bedroll which he kicked open with his foot.
He made the tea and set it where it would stay warm. He then looked around the apartment to see if he could find anything that would tell him how long Tommy had been sick. He looked in the trash, and from the condition of what was there, he could see it had been several days since anything had been placed there. He put on his poncho, picked up Tommy's keys and headed out into the rain. He went to the market that was getting ready to close and bought several pieces of fruit besides half a dozen oranges. He found some fish that still looked good, and headed back to the apartment.
When he got back Tommy was sitting sipping the tea. The rain had not let up and James was soaked once again. He put the food in the kitchen and warmed himself by the fire. He didn't have to ask Tommy why he hadn't eaten, he could tell from the way he swallowed the tea. His throat was obviously quite sore.
When he was warm and partially dry, he went and squeezed the oranges and brought a glass to Tommy.
"I sorry I cause you so much trouble, Jamesan," he said, "I thank you for getting the food."
"It's okay, Tommy. I wish I'd known, I would have come just to see that you were okay."
"The weather so bad, I stay inside," Tommy said.
"You were right to keep warm," James said, "Can you eat if I fix you some fish and rice?"
"I think so," he tried to smile.
"Okay, you rest, and I'll fix something." James went to the kitchen to get the rice and other things for the meal. When he returned, Tommy was again asleep. When everything was ready, he located a bottle of aspirin in his own handbag and woke Tommy. Tommy took them with the remaining tea, still warm from the pot. He ate a small amount of the fish and rice that James had prepared. After he had eaten he soon slept again.
James cleaned up the kitchen, after eating a bit of food himself. When he finished, he warmed himself thoroughly by the stove and then quickly undressed and climbed into bed with Tommy. The aspirin was doing its job, and Tommy was already feeling cooler than before. James snuggled up close and held him in his arms. They slept.
In the morning the rain had stopped and the sun was beginning to show through the broken clouds. It was Friday morning. James fixed the fire and made a pot of tea. He was dressed only in a kimono, but he was comfortable. He offered the tea to Tommy when it was ready. He sat still bundled in his bed.
"I feel much better now," he said.
"That's good," James said. He felt his forehead and it was close to normal. Tommy finished the tea and this padded off to the bathroom.
"Do you feel like a bath this morning?" James asked.
"That would be nice." James helped him get dressed and bundled him up in a warm sweater. When they returned Tommy was feeling much better, and looking better too.
"I'm sorry you missed your party last night," James teased. "We had a grand time, singing, dancing, and carrying-on."
"You what?" Tommy started, and then realized James was teasing. "You very good to me. I glad you come here."
"Me too. I'm glad I was here to help."
"I hungry now," Tommy said starting to go to the kitchen.
"You sit," James ordered. He got up and went to the kitchen where he fixed a plate of the fresh fruit and rice cakes he'd gotten at the store. On the tray he carried back to give to Tommy he placed the gifts he'd brought with him.
Tommy pretended not to notice the packages at first, tasting the fruit first. Finally he asked, "May I?"
"Of course," James smiled, "Happy Birthday!" He leaned over and kissed him lightly.
"Thank you, Jamesan," he smiled as he unwrapped each gift. "How did you know I needed this?" he asked each time. When at last he opened the box of pens, his eyes misted and just looked a James who was smiling broadly.
"They are beautiful! You are too good to me." He hugged James tightly.
James cleared away the dishes and while Tommy folded the paper wrappings, which he carefully placed with the other scraps, he was saving.
When they were all finished, and sitting sipping tea, he said, "This is my best birthday ever!"
During the next two weeks, the men of the 407th Strategic Fighter Bomber Wing began preparations for their return to Great Falls. Most seem anxious to return to the States. A few, like James, had made friends with the locals, and were feeling sadness at having to leave them. None felt the sadness more than James.
It was their last night together, and James had gone to town after work, in spite of the late hour. They had but one short hour together before he would have to leave to catch the last bus to the base.
Tommy had fully recovered from his illness, and would ordinarily be full of life. But he too was feeling the loss of his new friend. He knew full well that the chances for James to return to Japan would be slight. He held no illusion about that.
"You will write to me, Jamesan?" he asked.
"Yes," James said looking at him wistfully, "Of course, and you will write too?"
"Hai! Yes, and someday I go to States too. I see you again."
"I hope you come soon," James said. He realized that this too was but a dream. He took Tommy in his arms and held him close to his own body, feeling the trembling of the small body next to his own.
"I must go," he said kissing Tommy tenderly.
Tommy blinked away a tear, and tried to smile. "You have good trip, Jamesan."
"You stay well, Tommysan. Be happy!" James kissed him once again and then started out the door.
"Good bye Joe!" Tommy called. Tommy stood in the doorway in the dark glad that the light was behind him so that James could not see his tears. James looked back one last time and waved, glad also that Tommy could not see the tears on his own eyes.
To be continued
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