Wuxiaworld > To My Sunflower > 51 Kei Ito

They walked for hours, following a direction of the sun with focus towards their destination.

After a while, Tyne declared they should take a break when he noticed Eiji holding his stomach to keep walking. They decided to break against a rock crop beneath the shade of tall maples.

Eiji's mind began to wonder on the story of his companions. He wondered on Kei's story that led him to being an American informant.

"Hey, Kei. What's your story?" Eiji blurted and avoided the look of daggers Kei threw his way.

"I know your name's Ito, Kei. You have a mother and sister, and suffered some."

"I didn't just suffer some. My family got the shits cause of you pricks."

Eiji's heart almost broke at the hefty consequence Kei, his mother and sister suffered because of his Japanese blood after Pearl Harbor struck.

His family were living in Detroit at the time. Already they had a hard time fitting in with their Asian looks. Before the Pearl Harbor attacks, they were able to pass of as Chinese except his mother who was a white American.

"Every time my mother dragged us down the street. People thought we were her slave kids." Kei spat at the ground. "She stopped explaining the truth after a policeman wanted to take her in to get her head checked."

Then poverty in his area made it impossible to nab a meal. So, Kei stole a loaf of bread.

"I was ten and nimble. Got away with cut-pursing, until a local gang runner saw me when he was on his way for a pick-up."

The runner saw potential with Kei's instincts and street smarts, so offered him protection as a member of the local gang.

"Steely trained me to steal with honour. Pfft. Like what the f'ck is that anyway." Kei sighed. "Still, can't complain. Those were happy days. My mum and sister got food. Taylor, my sister, was too young to understand. She was just happy to eat. Mum never said anything, but I think she knew."

By the time Kei had reached the age of 16 years, he became of the same level as a Kyodai of a local Asian gang. Running extortion rings and protection rackets around the poorer Asian populated areas. He didn't get familial tattoos to his skin since his gang operated as an independent association to a family. So, he used this clean skin as his advantage of being an informant between strongholds.

"A run in with the Ohara family made me face my true heritage." Kei laughed bitterly.

We sat enthralled by Kei's story of how he almost bled out on a bloody battlefield that was actually a car manufacturing warehouse on a shipping docks.

"There was a scuffle with our car theft gang and another of some other unit. Our family faced off with one of the Nishigawa's. Turns out it was a f'cking territory claim between two related oyabun's." Kei fell silent. His face paled. "F'cking half-brothers."

He skipped over the rest of his gang life.

"Obviously, I lived. A few years later, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor whilst my gang's arses got handed to us. People narked on anyone with an Asian face as Japanese."

The incident had happened in the Hawaii Islands, but all Japanese half-cast's were facing the consequences of Pearl Harbor all across the United States not long afterwards.

"My sister and I were nabbed by the local pigs. Right out of our f'cking home. Four gits had to break down the door."

Kei left his hiding spot to stop an assault on his sister with a bat. Eiji realised that Kei didn't let his sister and mother be taken away (as he first had mentioned back at the bus depot), he had done his best to save them and was taken himself to protect them.

He suffered a few punches, before they were thrown into a truck with other Nisei like cattle. His mother joined them, which earned both scorn and sympathy from the other victims jammed into the truck.

"Stupid woman. Could've got it easy. No one saw her as a Jap." Kei sighed and lit up another cigarette.

He turned his talking to puffing, leaving the men hanging in silence.

"Come on Kei, darling, finish the story." Sean goaded Kei.

"Why? Can't you use your f'cking imagination for the rest?!" Kei argued.
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"How'd you end up here?" Eiji soberly asked his question.

Kei sighed, saying it was the only way to save his family.

His mother received the harshest treatment when they first arrived to the desert internment (a.k.a labour) camp they had travelled the long roads to reach.

They were dumped in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by miles of barbwire, sand, hot winds, rocks, bugs, predatory animals and soldiers with guns and god-complexes.

Various generations of mixed American-Japanese were doing their best to cope with starvation, sickness, no amenities and racial slurs from the guards and others.

"You can say I was in my element. Stole a few meals from the guards to share around, like f'cking Robin Hood. Got a hero status." Kei chuckled. "Don't matter. Got people off my mum and Taylor's backs after that."

Eventually the lack of everything transitioned into everyday life. Fortunately, Kei's family was spared most pain and trauma because of his connections.

Kei had befriended an old Nishigawa-gumi general who had also been taken to protect his children. The general had recognised Kei from the battle back at the warehouse. They made a pact. He bribed a few guards to be runners for the general's contacts. The general recruited muscle and loyalty from others imprisoned.

Within the three years they were living the camps, Kei became both feared and revered. Running a Nishigawa gang unit that had all the guards in its pocket after he had killed an egotistical bastard of a guard leader. He ensured single mothers and their brats were treated well. Anyone who abused them, the frail or elderly, Kei shot in the head. On sight. No excuses. No one had ideas of taking advantage of the weak and innocent afterwards. There was no other authority to bear down on them.

"Then a military jeep with a big wig navy officer drives dust into our shit hole." Kei groans. "I listened to an 'on-the-books' offer. Took a deal to give my family a shot at that famous 'American Dream'. You know the rest."

Eiji smiled and patted Kei's back with understanding. You could say he was a survivor of circumstance, but his heart always did the honourable in the end.

"F'ck off." Kei grumbled to Eiji. His face relaxed into a thankful smile.

"So, what's your story?" Kei passed the question to Sean.