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53 Tyne Matherson

Tyne was surprised by Sean and Kei's forwardness. It was unexpected.

From the reports he had read on Sean's profile, he knew of his parent's mistreatment (noted in a psychological examination) and had read on the court martial that led to where he was today. It was the first time Sean had spoken aloud of those personal troubles. He was also aware of Kei's gang background and his family's demise. The reason why he pushed for Kei's recruitment to his superiors when his profile was put to the table.

For Kei and Sean to trust them with their stories warmed his heart.

"What's your story Tyne?" Eiji asked him again.

The other men waited patiently, with intense gazes on his face, for his story. Another chance leap of faith to trust.

"What can I say that you don't already know?"

"How'd you meet your wife?" Eiji asked to get the ball rolling.

"At a luau on my arrival." Tyne lapsed into a pleasant memory of meeting his wife.

He was fresh off the boat at Pearl Harbor. It was evening with the sun streaking the sky a vibrant orange, green and blue. The weather was mild and cosy. The crisp sea air, smell of fresh fish, fruits and all that was island life was a welcome to him. He felt too much at ease and had to be reminded that he was an army medic for his country.

He accepted his lei from the welcoming local and headed straight to his infirmary at the army barracks for his duties. The infirmary was an initial bliss after having to bunk on an escort carrier with other men who reeked like off pork.

"I was a newly graduated medic back then, for an army medical unit working with the Peace Corps. My infirmary was close enough to the Japanese navy hospital." Tyne lapsed further into his memories.

"Because my unit were full of good boys, we were granted some R&R."

Tyne took advantage of the night life.

"Now that I think about it. I do remember seeing you at Mad Louis's one night," Tyne said to Sean.

"Probably. There wasn't any other bar to drink a decent beer." Sean shrugged and prompted Tyne to carry on with his story.
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Tyne found his way to a luau with others from his unit. He shared a table that was next to his wife's.

She had been too busy serving drinks to the senior nurses and doctors at her table to notice Tyne. Until she accidentally bumped into him and spilt a drink on his uniform.

"It was on purpose. Couldn't see any other way to get her attention." Tyne chuckled. "To this day, I've never told her."

"Your wife's Japanese?" Eiji asked to confirm.

"Should be obvious by now." Tyne answered.

Eiji nodded and waited for Tyne to continue.

"She was wearing her nurses uniform that bore the insignia of an Imperial Navy unit. I'd never seen a woman so lithe and pretty as a picture before. More beautiful than a Geisha."

Kei sat up to pay attention to this detail. "Did she have a nice rack, set of pins? Have a picture do you?"

"Not telling!" Tyne snapped at Kei.

"Hog." Kei mumbled and slunk back down.

"I helped her calm down and gave her an excuse to take a break. We spent the whole night talking, whilst her table excused themselves to find other fun."

Then he had a weird fruit drink that made his body go into shock from an allergic reaction.

"I recovered the next morning on a sick bed, but too weak to move and stuck on a drip. My wife was nursing me back to health. She had saved my life by keeping my airways clear and organizing me into a jeep for her hospital."

Tyne was treated at the nearest medical facility that happened to belong to the Imperial Navy. Japan wasn't at war with America at the time, so this occurrence was a rare occasional thing.

"I treasured those days I spent recovering by her side. I learned why she was able to speak English. She taught me basic Japanese. We exchanged names and promises to meet when I was well." Tyne stared dreamily in the distance. "Hinata Aiyama. That's my wife's name. Aiyama-san."

"Wait! Your wife's name is Hinata?!" Eiji blurted.

Tyne nodded.

Eiji felt a weird emotion sweep over his heart. They both had lovers named Hinata. Was their meeting coincidence or providence? He had consoled Sean early with his views of Okamisama, but this common connection was uncanny. Almost to show proof of his convictions that Okamisama was indeed watching over them.

Tyne continued his story.

He had run-ins with his wife on occasion when he went about his duty. They'd sneak glances and plans to meet at Mad Louis's or some other private place to be alone.

"She was unsure of my intentions at first. A woman's instinct as well as cultural. I carefully courted her for two months, reassuring her that my heart was hers. I was learning Japanese to the point of being a fluent speaking five-year-old. She was impressed I had mastered the basic manners." Tyne chuckled.

Towards the end of their third month of dating, they were married in a shotgun ceremony. And fortunate to experience a brief honeymoon weekend.

A month later, Pearl Harbor was attacked by enemy planes. Tyne was frantically trying to save his unit's lives after they had been gun down before him in an air raid.

He wasn't sure what was going on other than his infirmary was being destroyed along with the barracks. By his quick thinking and training, he was able to organize a makeshift infirmary at a nearby church, which was out of range from enemy fire.

A lot of the critically injured were rushed to the new infirmary for continued treatment. He worked in survival mode. Focused on saving and healing as many of the injured as possible. Word was spread. Soldiers and civilians were being rushed into his infirmary for treatment.

There were too many pouring in.

He felt frustrated by his struggles to save lives and maintain order over his infirmary. There were more civilians injured than soldiers who needed treatment. Many woman and children were heavily wounded with shrapnel still burning into their skin even after he had managed to remove most of the shards from their limbs and other body parts.

"It was an unending chaos. I was running out of supplies and more people were being rushed in for life-threatening inflictions." Tyne gulped.

His face lapsed into a sober expression. "I couldn't cope. All the other capable medics and nurses were about to collapse themselves. Constant cries of pain and agony... We couldn't stop lives from being lost."

Then he heard the cause and what was going on at other places of the island through inbound soldiers. His heart feared the worst for his wife.

Japan had attacked an American base. An intent that was a declaration of war. They had done so by claiming the lives of most of the island. At least, the US marine forces and some of the army units stationed there.

"It didn't make sense. I didn't understand what Japan had to gain from attacking our forces. Didn't they know the blood ties that existed between our nations?" Tyne whispered unevenly.

He had no other option but continue with his duty. The people in his infirmary were his priority. Day and night he worked tirelessly, until a few weeks later he was free to take a break. He focused on finding out what happened to his wife.

"I had to be careful who to ask." Tyne sighed.

"How did you learn she was sent back?" Eiji asked.

Tyne called in a favour with one of the majors he had treated to be part of an operation focused on medical aid to Japanese-American internment camps. He was useful because of his ability to speak basic Japanese. A skill he further developed during his duties.

"I was hoping to either find her at one of those camps or learn she had boarded a ship bound for Japan. In the meantime, I was doing my best for my patients. Everyone in my infirmary was treated well, but outside my walls I knew it was a different story."

Tyne learned of the names of Nisei who were smuggled onto Japanese ships for escort into Hiroshima. The information happened his way through a dead informant. He recognized his wife's name on the list the informant carried.

"It's a common name." Eiji noted. "You were taking a risk for a chance?"

"It wasn't a common name on that island. I knew it was her and suspected she found passage on those ships," Tyne answered.

Eiji frowned. He felt something weird about the scenario, like it was almost as if his wife had made the decision to be away from Tyne. Was it to save him from being marked as a traitor by his own? Or another reason? How much were these stumble upon coincidences by the hands of fate?

"My orders led me to this mission and here I am." Tyne finished off his story.

"That confirms it. We're all boring." Sean joked.

The men let out a chuckle at the ironic comment.

"We need to get moving," Tyne said when he checked the position of the sun towards the west.

They resumed their trek along their destined path.