Excerpt: Kurofune: The Black Ships


Here is an excerpt from my very first book, Kurofune: The Black Ships

“The routine at Tripler didn’t change much. Sleep, eat, read,
Saturday night movie, terrace, workshops, and group therapy and on
and on it went. Group therapy, as in how to survive being a gimp, for
the rest of your life. Being a cripple. Disabled. Many of the inmates,
as Ted liked to call them, were very vocal and angry about their
predicaments, cursing the therapists, nurses, and doctors for their
perceived pity and condolences.

“I don’t want your fuckin’ pity,” one soldier cried. “I want my
fucking leg and arm back, my life, for Christ’s sake.”

Ted was beginning to dread these daily afternoon sessions. He
was more reserved with respect to his own condition. He felt that he
would rather wallow in his own self-pity than to face the group and
wallow collectively.

“Corporal Culp?”

“Yes, Major.”

“Would you like to share your story with the group?”

Ted looked around at the group, about thirty amputees, of various
degrees of exposure.

“Uh. Nope,” Ted answered.

“C’mon, Corporal. Don’t be afraid, we’re all friends here.”

“I’m sure that these guys have heard a story like mine many, many
times, here or back in our ward. I don’t think they want to be
reminded on a continuous basis of their own misfortunes and why
they are here. At least, that’s the way I see things.”

“Okay, okay, I can see that,” the Major responded. “But there is
some comfort in numbers, Corporal Culp. That you are not alone
here. As you can see, there are many of us here just like you.” And
with that the Major raised his right pant leg to reveal a prosthetic.

“Is that supposed to impress me, sir, or us?” Ted responded in
kind, looking around the room for mutual support. “So, you’re one of
us. A gimp just like me.”

“I guess I am, Corporal,” the Major said.

“Well goody, goody for you… sir,” Ted said.

Gladys was watching Ted throughout this whole discussion. She
cringed at that last bit of verbiage from him.

“I think we’re good for now, men. Dismissed.”

“That went over rather well, wouldn’t you say, Corporal?” Gladys
remarked, as she came over to wheel him out of the room.

“You think, Sergeant? That’s fine.”

“I’m taking you back outside so you can cool off.”

One day, Sergeant Gladys noticed a few unopened letters in Ted’s
waste basket. They all seemed to be from the same person, from a
Miss Noble out of Bremerton, or Seattle. She had seen this before but
would have to be very careful about how she broached the subject
with Ted. For all of Ted’s bravado and jibes against her, she sensed a
young man who had a heart of gold underneath a rough and cynical
exterior. She would have to focus on that side of Ted to get him out of
his funk.

“Who is Ruth, Corporal?” Gladys asked one day out on the

“None of your business, Sergeant Gladys,” Ted responded.

“Hmmm, okay, Corporal. You don’t have to tell me, but I think I
can guess.”


“A beautiful view from up here, isn’t it?” Gladys said.

“Humm,” was about all Ted could say to answer her.

“Y’know, I was up here on this very spot when the attack started.
We were all in disbelief, at first thinking that it was some sort of air
show or display being put on by our military. That is, until we saw the
markings on the wings of those planes. And then the explosions.

“It was hell to see what was happening. Helpless, to think that
there was absolutely nothing we could do to stop it. It was an awful
feeling, standing here in abject horror and terror as our island was
under attack, without provocation. The sad thing about all of this was
the loss of life. Young men and women, in their prime, lost their lives
that day trying to stop or respond to this act of Japanese aggression.”

Ted just looked out across the wide blue expanse of the Pacific
Ocean. He was listening to her, and not listening to her. How peaceful
and inviting it all looked to him. He just wanted to dive right in to the
azure waters of the Pacific and drown himself. “Pacific, to pacify,
meaning peace, so nice,” Ted thought.

Gladys left him on his own.

Ted wheeled about. He watched with interest the hustle and
bustle of the port of Honolulu. He could also see various ships:
destroyers or cruisers entering and leaving Pearl Harbor. “Where are
they off to?” Ted thought. “What is their mission?”

It was amazing to see and witness the resilience of the island and its ability to recover from what must have been a devastating blow to its sense of wellbeing, security, and fair play. But they did respond and stepped up to
the crisis. You could see that response in the hard work as evidenced
all over the island in overcoming the odds that were pitted against
them that terrible day.

“You know, Gladys lost her husband in the attack on Pearl,” one of
the patients remarked to Ted. “He was a worker in the yard. His shop
took a direct hit. They never did find his remains. Yet Gladys
remained here on duty, working all hours to care for the wounded
and dying, even after receiving the news about her husband. Rough
around the edges perhaps, but she is a wonder to behold.”

Ted thought of his own father, Eddie, who also died in a shipyard,
in a freak accident. But his death and his contribution to the Puget
Sound Naval Yard did not go unnoticed and was no less tragic than
the death of Gladys’s husband during an air raid.

Ted nodded but said nothing. He wheeled around in his chair just
as Gladys was returning.

“Well, Corporal, feeling better?”

As tough and as cynical as Ted tried to be given his current
circumstances, his sense of compassion and empathy for his fellow
human beings could not be suppressed. Thoughts of the Katagiri
family, the Chamorro schoolgirls, the Japanese soldier he killed at
Betio, and the mother and child lodged in the burrow on Saipan
choked him emotionally. As hard as he wanted to be, he just couldn’t
stand to watch or hear about the suffering of others.

“I am so sorry to hear about the death of your husband, Sergeant
Gladys. And the sacrifice that you endured while working here
during the crisis in spite of your loss. It must have been very hard for
you. I am so sorry. I did not know. Please forgive my indifference
toward you these past few days.”

Gladys looked down at Ted, but in a different light, at this somewhat
pathetic looking young man sitting there in his wheelchair
looking back up at her.

“You can call me Gladys, Corporal.”

She pulled up a chair and sat beside Ted.

“I know it is none of my business, Ted, but I think you are doing
that young lady a disservice by not responding to her letters to you.”

Ted looked at Gladys, saying nothing.

“She is probably being torn apart by the lack of interest or the
indifference that you are showing for her feelings for you. Oh, I can
tell, Corporal. I have seen this before, many, many times. A young
man comes in here, downtrodden and in the darkest depths of
despair as a result of his own personal circumstances, feeling so
much sorrow for himself and self-pity yet never acknowledging the
pain and suffering that his loved ones are experiencing on his behalf.
You may have lost your leg, son, and your will to live, but your loved
ones are equally impacted by this injury because of their love for you
and concern for your well-being. I can only guess that this Ruth girl is
anxious to hear from you and is willing to bear your tragedy on equal
terms with you in dealing with the pain and the suffering that you are
experiencing. I think you owe it to her to at least listen to her feelings
for you and to give her a chance.”

Ted looked out to the horizon and could feel the tears starting to
well up and fall down his face. He started to cry on hearing those
words. He couldn’t stop. It was as if all the events of the past few
weeks and months and years had come to the fore for an emotional

Kurofune and other books I have written. Good reads with great reviews.


Check out my books at: www.johnmorrisonauthor.com

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