From: Oregon, USA
November 19, 1944
Attached to: Disbanded in port
System Damage: 0
Float Damage: 0
It is nighttime. In the narrow machine space where they sling their hammocks five members of the crew are pursuing various activities before turning in. Shiro, as usual, is sitting on a crate, his back against a bulkhead, carving something from a small piece of wood. Oizuma is changing the water in Benzaiten’s terrarium. Riku and Shoji are sitting cross-legged and playing cards while Yoshitake watches from his hammock and offers occasional unnecessary advice.
Shiro stops carving and sets aside both wood and knife. With his hand he carefully sweeps up stray wood shavings that have dropped to the deck,
“What do you guys think you’ll do after the war?” he asks the other four. There is a pause. It is a question none of them has asked in some time. Early in the war it was a favorite topic of conversation among the men but sometime in the last year it simply stopped being discussed. Somewhere along the line their glorious youthful inability to really believe in the possibility of their own deaths came to an end. It was replaced, slowly, by doubts about whether or not they would survive and then by a growing feeling of fatalism and doom.
Riku folds his cards. Perhaps he discerns that Shiro has intentionally asked this question to get them thinking about living again and to boost their spirits, because he speaks before any of the others has a chance to inject a negative comment.
“I think I will go into business,” he says. “Perhaps some kind of import/export business.”
“You would be good at it,” says Oizuma. Riku’s ability to acquire money is still legend among the crew, despite the fact that he has played things straight for some time now. “You’ll be rich in no time.”
“It isn’t about getting rich,” says Riku. This inspires chuckles from some of the others. “No, really!” he says. “I would not complain about it – I will have six children to feed, remember! – but things in Japan must change after the war, whatever happens. Look at this war we are fighting. We are trying to fight a modern war with an economy that still has one foot in the last century. It is very hard to do. I really think that if Japan is to take her place among the leading nations of the world it must be done financially.”
“I will have to see that we remain in touch,” says Yoshitake. “That way I will never lack for someone to turn to when I need money! Now me, I would like to be an inventor. I like tinkering with engines and things.”
“Ah, a partnership!” says Shoji. “Ariga can finance Yoshitake’s workshop.”
“Of course,” says Riku. “In exchange for a fair share of the profits, naturally.”
“What, eighty percent?” asks Oizuma.
“I would not be greedy,” says Riku modestly. “Seventy percent would be enough.” There is general laughter.
“What about you, Snake Man?” says Yoshitake. “Do you still want to be a veterinarian?”
“A biologist,” says Oizuma. “I think I will return to school for a degree in biology. After that we will see what happens.” Everyone looks at Shoji, who shrugs.
“I don’t really know,” he says. “I want to get married and have a family. Maybe I will join my parents in running the shop.” The others know his parents run a small noodle shop.
“And you, Shiro?” asks Riku.
“I will return to Tendo and become a carpenter,” says Shiro. “I would like to make furniture. It would be pleasant to make beautiful things. And who knows, maybe I really will try to write that book.”
The conversation continues for a while and eventually drifts to other topics before the men turn in. Still, it has been pleasant for them to imagine for a while that there might be a future beyond the war. It is sometimes easy to forget that possibility.