Congratulations to Kiik AK for his story, “whiskey over barbed wire” which is the first in a series of connected shorts he is currently at work on. We loved this story for its sense of whimsy, even though it hovers — and often flies near — a difficult topic: a Japanese-American internment camp during WWII.
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whiskey over barbed wire
By Kiik AK
The doctor told Kane Araki it happened that sometimes, in extreme circumstances of weather or diet, a Japanese man or woman might spontaneously sprout a set of wings. He had heard of three or four cases from his colleagues in Japan. A woman from west Osaka had saved her village from drought when she’d seeded the clouds, by hand, with silver iodide and pellets of dry carbon dioxide. A man from Kumamoto, that had eaten nothing but sweet potatoes for five years, awoke with wings and began supplementing his diet with tall-hanging fruit and birds’ eggs. Research was being gathered, but what with the war, frivolous projects like these were shelved for greater concerns. The doctor was unsure what could have triggered such a large, severe pair of wings amidst Arizona desert. An allergic reaction? Had Kane been eating a lot of peanuts lately? Too many uncooked radishes?
In any case the doctor told Kane not to worry. He would contact a surgeon the next day and arrange to have the wings removed sometime in the following months. It would be costly to fly an anesthesiologist to camp during wartime. But reserve funding existed precisely for these types of situations. In the meantime it was important for Kane to push hot clear fluids. To pick his plumes clean of burs and mites. And to take an aspirin at night to amend any discomfort. The doctor handed Kane a tiny glass bottle of tablets and gave his wings a little pat.
Although they were mostly an inconvenience, Kane found his new appendages did afford him a unique opportunity. Because his feathers were a raven’s black, flight after dusk was nearly undetectable. When the wind favored him he was over the fence and into the nearest Chinatown in under an hour. There he could walk freely through the streets, in restaurants, in shops. He was guarded from police that couldn’t comprehend the differences between their local foul chicken-coop Chinamen and the sinister yellow-menace Japs being battled abroad. On the one occasion he’d been stopped by a policeman for jaywalking, he eluded capture by asserting a disoriented Chinese gibberish. In Chinatown he could buy whiskey and cigarettes to share back at camp. Kane, who had never garnered much consideration, was everyday meeting new friends that stuffed bills and whiskey orders into his shirt pockets. Pretty girls that had previously ignored him showered him with pity. Some stroked his ugly wings tenderly and promised to knit them a decorative covering.
To read the rest of “whiskey over barbed wire” click here.