The March Story: Story Bounce

Like foot soldiers making the last few steps in formation toward the enemy battalion, the marching band marched on.  Their instruments reflected the lights of the football field all across the stadium, blinding some of the fans with their brilliance.  The band kept their heads held high and played triumphant songs.  They would win this day.  They had to.

On the other side of the field, the football team prepared their offensive formation.  The words of their coach still ringing in their heads and making them feel as though they could take on anyone.  They were adorned in their armor, the high-school sanctioned football equipment passed down from player to player, and they were ready for their opponent.  They would win this day.  They had to.

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As the marching band left the field, the home team prepared their defense. The spectators in the stadium roared with excitement. This final game would determine this year’s winning team. The fans of the home team of the Spartans all cheered the name of Matt Duke, the senior star quarter back who all say is destined to join the Professional League. Matt waved to his fans from the sideline, himself anxious to prove his greatness.

The kickoff was flawless from the home Spartans. The Trojans received the ball and pressed their offense with vigor. Like gladiators of old, the players crashed into each other with a clap of thunder. Half the stadium stood and cheered as the Trojans fumbled the ball. The Spartans were quick to react, recovering the fumble and taking control on the fifty yard line. As the teams switched out, Matt Duke rushed in to take control. Again, waving to his fans before barking the orders to his team.

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Matt’s offensive line shuffled to the left as he shouted his orders.  The defense looked confused as the entire offense shuffled in unison to the left.  Some even shuffled into the sidelines and stood as if poised to tackle the cheerleaders.  After a few more moments only Matt remained on the field.

The defense stood up in confusion and looked around.  Why hadn’t the refs said something?  Hell, why hadn’t their coaches said something?  And who could possibly hike the ball to him now that the entire offensive line was pressed against the side of the stadium, shuffling in to each other and against the wall like a swarm of confused ants? Matt smiled.  This was just the kind of way he liked to play.

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The overcast evening sky rumbled with fury causing some spectators to look up into the darkness. The warm air smelled of rain. Matt took hold of the ball and eyed the other team. A little bad weather would not stop this play. Maybe it was not the smartest play and he would likely hear from the coach on this one. However, he wanted to start the game by confusing the Trojans and keep them guessing for the rest of the match.

Matt stood alone on the field with his team standing off to the side. He huddled down and called out “Red 22, Red 22.” As he called, two men ran onto the field behind him. The Trojans’ coach jumped toward his team calling out for caution. The spectators on the home side all cheered Matt’s name “Matt Duke, Matt Duke,” as the Trojans’ fans all yelled in disbelief. Matt yelled, “Hike” and tossed the ball behind him where the receiver caught it and placed it on the ground for the kicker. The Trojans rushed the three Spartans motivated by their coach’s words. The kicker successfully kicked from the fifty yard line. Matt smiled as he watched the ball sail over his head and the oncoming team.

Just as Matt saw the ball just make it over the goal he was hit hard by a tackle from two large Trojans. The entire stadium gasped in disbelief and the Trojans’ coach yelled from the sidelines his comments on the bad sportsmanship. He was also frustrated by the play but a call for unnecessary roughness will cost the Trojans dearly. The whistles from the referees called out and the players stood up from the tackle. However, Matt Duke remained motionless on the ground. The referee checked Matt and called for the medical team. Matt’s coach ran onto the field and bend down to check the condition of his star player. Rain started to fall as the coach saw Matt’s eyes were still open with a smile on his face, but it was obvious his neck had been broken and Matt Duke was no more.
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Duke Mattson, the Spartans’ head coach, grimaced. Since Matt was out, he knew what had to be done, but he desperately didn’t want to. “Matt! If we tie you to a dolly and have one of the linebackers roll you around, could you still play?” The coach asked in one final, desperate attempt to avoid calling in the backup quarterback. Matt didn’t respond. He couldn’t.

Duke stood up and resigned himself to his fate. “Call in…” his throat closed up at the mere thought of saying it. He took a moment to calm himself then tried again; “call in Darkwater Stormcloak.”

Mist rolled onto the field from the Spartans’ bench. The space around the mist seemed to go dark, although the bright lights were still shining onto the field. The mist began to coalesce into a black shape in front of the coach. The shape became a six and a half foot tall column of pure darkness. The coach put his hands up, ready for what was next. The column shattered into thousands of small shards, scattering in every direction and turning to black rain as it approached the ground.

Where the column once stood, there was now a man. He wore a black leather vest over a tan deerskin shirt. His pants were made of some kind of slick cloth that appeared to be made of the same darkness that preceeded his grand entrance. His hair was shoulder length and black, except for the one gray section lying directly in front of his left eye. His right eye was pure black, with only a small red pupil in the center. The left eye was a normal shade of blue, but was obstructed by the hair that never moved out of its way. The remaining features seemed normal enough, but could look almost serpentine if inspected for too long.

“Darkwater Sssstormcloak, at your sssservissss my coach-liege.”

“God, that’s so annoying,” the coach thought to himself, “if you’re going to legally change your name and you have a serpent tongue, maybe you should pick something without an ‘s’ in it.”

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As Stormcloak suited up and made his way to the field, almost the entire stadium began to boo and hiss. The Trojans’ coach could be heard yelling and making dramatic hand gestures toward the Spartans, “That’s some screwed up Harry Potter Bullshit right there!”

Matt Duke’s body was removed from the field as the teams took their positions again. The Spartans were up by three points and the Trojans now faced a new quarterback. The rain fell hard as the Spartans made the kickoff.

Stormcloak’s supernatural speed and ability proved too much for the Trojans. At halftime, the score was Forty-Eight to Zero and many of the spectators had left leaving the stadium mostly empty. Either the rain or the painful defeat at the hands of the new quarterback caused their premature departure.

The teams left the field and the remaining spectators were all anxious to watch the halftime show. It was a highly publicized event that could likely change the mood.

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The audience watched as the lone figure approached the center of the field. They weren’t sure what to expect from the halftime show, but they knew that they would finally get to see Sun Mat Duk in action.

Everyone in town knew who he was; he was the quiet young son of welsh – corgi immigrants who kept to himself and almost never spoke a word. He had never shown any interest in sports or exhibiting community spirit, but he took a sudden interest in performing the half time show for some unknown reason.

They didn’t know what he intended to do since he wasn’t even supposed to perform, but since Katy Perry cancelled after realizing at the last minute that this wasn’t the Super Bowl, the school administrators had no choice. They let Sun go out and hoped that he could do something incredible to liven up the crowd.

The crowd came to a hush as Sun stood ramrod straight in the very center of the field. He raised his right hand and produced an object so small and shiny most people couldn’t see it right away. After their eyes adjusted to the reflection, the crowd began to murmur. All he had was a triangle.

Sun Mat Duk raised his other hand and quickly brought the straight silver mallet inches from the triangle. Small sections of the crowd started groaning and exhaling disappointed sighs. Just then, Sun began to play.

He played the triangle with such enthusiasm that the crowd immediately hushed. His wrists moved with amazing speed as he seemed to be playing so quickly that it almost sounded like an entire orchestra of triangles. He began to march to the beat he had created until his March became more of a dance.

Sun’s routine became a breathtaking spectacle of one man’s dedication to an instrument generally reserved for calling farmhands to dinner in the 1800’s. He flipped the triangle through the air as he danced back and forth. His energy and focus seemed to be joined together in perfect harmony and nothing could stop him.

One hour and forty five minutes later, Sun Mat Duk finished his routine. The triangle and the mallet were visibly red with heat from all of the striking and his hands were clearly burned. No one came to help him; everyone was still in shock. Sun bowed to one half of the audience, turned around and bowed to the other half, and then turned and walked off the field in the same marching stride he entered with.

The audience sat in silence. No one knew what to say. Suddenly, violently, the entire stadium erupted with excitement. Tears ran down cheeks and hands clapped as fervently as possible. Shouts of encore filled the air and people whistled as loud as they could. No one had ever seen such an amazing performance and it was likely no one ever would again. Unless they asked him back next year. But that wasn’t going to happen because Taylor Swift agreed to do next year’s half-time show.

The roar of the crowd could be heard in the Trojans’ locker room. The team sat silent, gazing downward. Their coach, Mattson Duke-Duke, glanced over the letter in his hand. It was the same as the others he had received in the past. Apologies from the Spartans’ coach about having to bring out Darkwater Stormcloak yet again. More apologies regarding Matt Duke’s spine breaking yet again and how they plan to replace it with rebar soon. And even more apologies about having to play Stormcloak yet again simply because he’s the principal ‘ s son.

Mattson looked over the letter, but didn’t cringe like he usually did. His players were still glancing down at their feet, so none of them noticed the change. Mattson was smiling. He was ready for this to happen again, but this time he had a plan.

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Mattson carefully folded the letter and tucked it away. He summoned his errand boy and instructed him to get Sun Mat Duk back with his triangle and hammer as quickly as possible. The teams took the field and prepared their formations. Stormcloak shouted orders to his team with determination. The crowd, that reappeared from under their umbrellas and plastic sheets as the rain stopped, remained unusually quiet. No doubt they all knew how the remaining part of the match would end with Stormcloak’s continued victory.

Sun Mat Duk walked up to Mattson with confusion in his eye. Mattson took the small framed boy by the arms, “you have to play your triangle for us!” Sun shook his head, I just played for the halftime show.” “No!” Mattson shouted, shaking the boy. “Play it for the team!” Sun nodded his head. Mattson let him go and Sun stretched his arms and shook his hands. “I’m ready!” During the Half-time show, Mattson saw Stormcloak stand seemingly magically captivated by the sound of Sun’s triangle. He hoped this would work.

Stormcloak took hold of the ball and looked for a player to pass it to. “Now!” Mattson said, pointing to Sun who started beating on his triangle with vigor. As the sound of Sun’s song hit the field, Stormcloak again became captivated. He dropped the ball and stood there staring toward Sun with a sparkle in his right eye. Mattson screamed at his team, “Grab the ball!” The Trojans recovered the ball from Stormcloak’s feet and rushed it through the Spartans for a touch down. The spectators sprung to life with excitement by standing and stomping on the bleacher steps.

Every time the Spartans recovered the ball and Stormcloak hiked, Sun would play his triangle to incapacitate the supernatural quarterback. Stormcloak’s couch argued with the referees about Sun’s music, but they refused to stop Sun because it did not break any rules.

As the final horn sounded, the score was Spartans Forty-Eight, Trojans Forty-Eight. It was a tie! The Trojans were all excited and were patting each other on their backs. While the Spartans all head their heads in shame. Stormcloak cried in the coach’s arms like a baby.

On the first seat of the bleachers in front of the Spartans, Matt Duke’s lifeless body was propped up in a lifelike sitting position with the same smile on this face.

End.

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March Writing Challenge: Story Bounce

Subject: Bounce a story back and forth and see where it goes

Setting: Any

Time Period: Any

Length: It will get as long as it wants to.

Restrictions:  You can’t add on until the other person has made an entry.  You can respond with as long of an entry as you would like.  It’ll just be fun to see where it goes.  I’ll get it started.

Due: All throughout March

Taking the Train

While the story is set in Japan, I decided to focus more toward exploring a character’s thoughts through one short event.  I wanted to see if I could write someone that could be quickly understood and very relatable.  I think I did a decent job, although the final sentence was thrown in to give it some sort of an ending.

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She stood on the platform and waited quietly for the train.  Amongst the other soon-to-be passengers, Haruko didn’t seem to be any different; just another person waiting in silence while the train sped along its track toward their stop.  She kept her shoulder length black hair in a bun, her face emotionless and cast downward, and posture as straight as it could be.  She was in her work uniform, an attractive pink blouse with a short pink skirt that ended just slightly above the knees.  Amongst the gray and black business suits, she was noticeable, but not peculiar.  Just an ordinary girl going to her job as a waitress.
Internally, Haruko was barely able to hold still.  She focused on her breathing and tried to keep a steady rhythm.  Just a soon as she would calm down, her mind would lose focus and drift back to the same thoughts that made her stomach tense up in anticipation.  Her excitement would occasionally expose itself on her face with a small twinge of a smile, but then she would realize what she was doing and suppress it again.  Above all, she didn’t want the other passengers to catch on to her feelings.

This thought alone caused her to blush.  The thought of the other passengers recognizing her feelings was horrifying.  She wasn’t some young little girl in love and she didn’t want to be perceived as one.  But she couldn’t help it; that was how she felt.  In a few more minutes, she would be on the train, then one more stop and he would be on and he would sit next to her.  She wanted to shout out to everyone within hearing range at the station that she didn’t care what they thought.  She wanted to say this, but somewhere in the parts of her mind that refused to acknowledge certain facts, she knew this wasn’t true.  She cared very much for what they thought.

As the train pulled up, Haruko stiffened.  She was suddenly terrified of getting on.  She was terrified of seeing him, sitting next to him, starting a conversation with him, telling him exactly how she felt, saying that she knows the woman doesn’t usually ask the man out on a date but that she was going to do it anyways, and then waiting for his response.  She was terrified of being rejected. She was terrified that he would look at her with embarrassment and shame, that he would get off the train at the very next stop without even caring where it was, and that he would never speak to her again.  She was terrified of everyone laughing at the foolish girl who threw herself on some unsuspecting stranger only to find out he’s not even remotely interested!  She…

She realized she had gotten on the train already without even thinking about it.  She was so used to going through the motions that she didn’t even consider where her feet were taking her.  It was too late now.  She had committed herself to this and she was going to do it, no matter what!  In just a few moments she would take her destiny into her own hands and shape her own future!  This is what she was here to do!  She could have taken a later train and arrived at work on time, but she was here for a reason!  For this purpose!

She saw him watching the train as it pulled in to the stop.  His beautiful, captivating eyes caught hers as the doors began to open.  She quickly put her head down and stared at the floor.  She couldn’t do it!  She thought of never being able to see those lovely eyes or catch the occasional smile again and it destroyed any hope she had of taking matters into her own hands.  To lose the chance to see those perfect features set upon such a slim and elegant face was too much for her to bear.

She kept her head down and decided that just being able to see him once in a while was enough.  The time they spent together on the train was all she would ever have and that would be enough.

“Excuse me.”

Haruko was shocked out of her own thoughts and back into reality.  She looked up to see him looking directly at her.  She couldn’t look away but she didn’t want to either.

“May I sit here?” he asked in a careful and gentle tone.  His voice was shaky and his face seemed almost flushed.  She noticed that there were many other seats available, but he asked to sit next to her!

She lost all conscious thought and seemed to respond through instinct alone.  “Yes.  Please do,” she responded in as cordial of a manner as she could create at that moment.

“Thanks.  M..my name is Taji.”

“Haruko.  It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

It was in that moment that she realized she could have planned all she liked, but fate had already made plans for her.

The Fury of Evets. Writing Challenge Entry – February

Subject: Japan
Setting: In Japan or about Japan
Time Period: Any
Length: Let’s keep it short
Restrictions: None
Due: February

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It took over twelve hours for Evets to reach Japan by airplane. He was tired and hungry and sitting in coach had cramped his legs to a painful level. He slowly stood up, running his fingers over his face, his skin was dark and wrinkled like weather worn leather. His hand moved from his face down to his long, straggly, gray beard grew from his chin and mouth, stretching down to his chest

He picked up his small bag from the overheard compartment and anxiously entered the Osaka airport. After picking up his checked baggage that was a long-thin case he walked in the airport. It was time for his to get to work.

The hustle and bustle of the airport made him nervous. With a grumble of dissatisfaction, Evets searched the crowd for someone looking in his direction.  Soon, a young, attractive Japanese woman approached him. “Are you Evets Relhots?” She asked in Japanese.

“That’s me,” Evets replied in perfect Japanese.

The woman looked him in the eyes and paused. “My name is Saruyi Matsunaga,” she said with a bow. “I thought you would be … younger.”

Evets returned the bow with a nod. “It’s common for young eyes only to see age … and not appreciate the wisdom that comes with it,” he said with a grin.

Saruyi replied with another bow.

“Now, let’s get on with this.”

The two walked out of the airport and into a waiting car outside. They drove for about an hour to a large house outside the city of Kyoto. They drove behind the house where there was a large compound where men and women were training with wooden swords, yelling with each strike.

“We are here,” Sayuri said, exiting the car as soon as it stopped. Evets remained in the backseat surveying the area, his hand rested on his case. He looked out to see Sayuri talked with two young men. Soon, they bowed and walked away while the other approached and open the back door. “Evets-San, please come with me.”

Evets slowly got out of the car with a sigh of discomfort, taking his case with him. The sigh seemed to agitate the young man who shook his head with a frown. Evets paid him no attention and followed Sayuri into the house. The man followed.

Passing a number of rooms and down several hallways they came into a large open area where a gray-haired man sat in a chair. Upon seeing the small group, the gray-haired man stood.

“Master Relhots, it is an honor to finally meet you! I have heard much of your abilities,” The gray-haired man said giving a deep bow.

“Mister Matsunaga, I presume,” Evets said with a nod.

“You have answered our call at a critical time. We need your help to defeat the Hoshuyama Ninja Clan that plagues our family. We are a proud ancient Samurai family. However, our success has attracted many enemies over the years. You must defeat them.”

Evets sat down his long case and smiled. “Matsunaga, I am sure I can deal with your problem,” he said, rocking back and forth on his feet.

The man who followed them in rushed forward. “Father, this old man cannot fight off our enemies! How do you—“

“Silence, Yoichi! This man who stands here in front of you is more than you can see. He is one of the only masters of the sword art called Muto Ryu.”

“Muto Ryu? That’s a fantasy art! If he fights with “muto” that means he has no sword! He clearly has a sword with him in that box of his.”

Evets stood silently, his eyes still fixed on Mr. Matsunaga.

“Father, just look at him! He must be eighty years old!”

“Young eyes only see age, not the wisdom it produces,” Sayuri’s voice could be heard from behind Evets.

“Ah, my daughter speaks with hidden wisdom,” Matsunaga said with a smile.

With a growl, the young man stormed out of the room.

“You must forgive Yoichi. He is young and foolish. Please forget his words,” Matsunaga spoke.

“I’ve forgot him already,” Evets replied.

“May I have the honor of seeing it?” Matsunaga asked, eyeing the box sitting at the feet of Evets.

Evets smiled. “Of course,” he said. He bent down to open the box. He pulled out a sword with the strings tying the sword to the sheath. He flashed a look to Sayuri who quickly walked over to take the sword from his hands. She looked at it as she slowly walked to her father. She held it with both hands horizontally, giving it to her father.

“Ah, very nice,” Matsunaga said, starting to untie the blade.

“I have to ask that you do not pull the blade free,” Evets said.

“Yes, Yes. Of course,” Matsunaga said leaving the strings. He looked it over and handed it back to Sayuri. “We fear the Ninja will attack tonight, so please be ready.”

“Of course.” Evets said taking his sword back. “Please show me to my room. I am tired.”

Matsunaga nodded.

#

A knock on the door woke Evets from his sleep. He sat up on his bed on the floor. “Yes?”

The door opened, “It’s late. You’ve slept twelve hours, the Ninja may soon attack,” Sayuri spoke.

“Yes, yes, yes… I’m up.” Evets said, standing up as his bones cracked in discomfort. He placed his sword in his belt and walked out.

The two walked back into the large room where Matsunaga sat with Yoichi and five other men with swords. “If they attack tonight, it should be soon.”

Evets nodded and sat down, but soon fell back asleep.

The sound of clashing swords woke Evets. Three Ninjas had slain two of the six guards and gained ground toward Matsunaga. Evets slowly stood and stretched his arms. He moved in between Matsunaga and the three, setting his footing. Another guard fell leaving only Yoichi and one other guard. They backed up behind Evets. The three Ninja took notice of the old man and seemed confused. They stopped and looked at each other. Evets stood in a ready position staring down the Ninja. As they moved forward, Evets reached down for his sword, wrapping his finger tightly around its handle. The Ninja hesitated, then tried to move around Evets. But Evets moved to match their each step. They stood for what seemed minutes locked into the confrontation. The Ninja seem to gain confidence and moved forward.  Evets moved his hand to free his sword. He slowly pulled the glistening blade and held it in front of him. The Ninja backed up, with their weapons in front of them. Evets held his ground without waiver. The Ninja, backed up again.

“I’ll tell you this once,” Evets said in a commanding voice. “Bring your leader here tomorrow to deal with me, or I will hunt you all down and end the legacy of the Hoshuyama Clan.”

The Ninja nodded and slowly backed away into the darkness of the night. Evets sheathed his sword and sat back down.

Yoichi rushed over and bowed deeply to Evets. “Thank you,” he spoke.

Evets replied with a nod.

“Master Evets, your skill has saved us for this night. However, tomorrow I fear it may be our end if the head of the Hoshuyama Clan does come. For now, we can rest easy.”

Evets returned to his room and laid back down. Soon he heard a soft knock at the door. Sayuri walked in. “Master Evets, I saw your skill tonight from the back room. I wanted to thank you for saving my brother and father from harm.  I wish to share your bed tonight,” She spoke as she removed her clothing.

Evets did not need to be thanked, and he thought Sayuri had a strange way of thanking him. But, it would be rude if he declined. “Alright. Well, I usually sleep on the left side, so you can have the right.” Evets rolled to the left and quickly fell asleep.

In the morning, Evets woke to find Sayuri gone. The right side did not seem to be slept in. He guessed Sayuri did not sleep much that night. He rolled back over and slept until noon. He ate a little for lunch and took a nap until dinner. After dinner he slept until he was waken up near midnight to face the Ninja Head.

Evets placed his sword back into his belt and walked into the big room where only Matsunaga sat. “No guard tonight?” Evets asked.

Matsunaga looked up, “They do not seem to have as much faith as I have in you. They know the Head of the Clan comes.”

Evets nodded.

Soon, a large figure appeared from the darkness. “Are you the one who challenged me?”

“I am. My name is Evets and I fight for this family.”

“Fool,” the Ninja head laughed. “Then you will die along with them!”

The Ninja pulled his sword and slowly approached. He was cautious and moved with grace.

Evets stood at the ready with his hands at his side. As the Ninja approached, Evets reached down and freed his sword. The Ninja let out a battle yell that caused Matsunaga to move back.  Evets answered the yell by pulling his blade. He held it in front of him, with the tip pointed at the Ninja. As he continued to inch forward, Evets let out a battle yell that seem to rumble the walls and floor. The Ninja stopped in place. The two locked their weapons together waiting for the other to move.

The Ninja shifted in place, but Evets remained still. Soon, the Ninja moved around Evets, but each step was matched by him. The Ninja moved in just a small step, Evets was quick to move his blade toward the Ninja’s throat. The Ninja stopped … then took a step back. Evets let out another battle cry and stepping forward. The Ninja quickly stepped back, without returning the yell.

After several minutes, the Ninja looked under strain. He back up once, then twice. Soon, the Ninja dropped his weapon to his side. Evets stood still, his presence still pushing forward.

“I understand,” the Ninja said. “Now I see what my men spoke of. I will leave this family alone.” With a slight bow, the Ninja backed into the darkness.

“That was incredible!” Matsunaga said. We must celebrate this victory.

“Yes, you can celebrate but I am going back to bed.”

The next morning Evets’s car was ready to take him back to the airport. Matsunaga stood with Yoichi and Sayuri by his side. Yoichi looked at him with bright eyes, but Sayuri avoided all eye contact. That was strange, thought Evets.

“From our family, we thank you again, Master Evets,” Matsunaga spoke, giving a bow.

Yoichi ran up to Evets. “I wish to train in your Muto Ryo, Master Evets,” he spoke. “It is very strong.”

Evets shook his head. “I cannot teach Muto Ryu”

“What, why?” Yoichi spoke.

“Muto Ryu is not a style, it is an idea,” Evets said. “To win a fight without killing. To defeat an enemy without the need of using your sword. The power comes from within, not from brute force. You must show your enemy that they would have no chance of winning if they attacked.”

“But you won!” Yoichi said.

“The point is that the problem was solved without the need to fight.”

Yoichi bowed deeply.

#

Evets took the car back to airport and was happy the hear the Matsunaga family paid for a first-class seat for his return.  If he ever saw Mister Matsunaga again, he would offer to share his bed to show his thanks.

The End