Feb 7, 2011

Deliberate Acts

Chapter 1 teaser:

It’s late at night, four months after the attack on Pearl Harbor – two brothers, Dickie and Handy Shultz, sit in a car in an industrial area of Los Angeles. Dickie keeps talking about the women he has bedded or wishes he could. He repeatedly slicks his blond hair back and he uses a penknife to clean and trim his nails. He thinks his clothes look good, but they’re a khaki green worker’s clothes, clean and pressed, but still the dress of a laborer. Handy is bigger than his brother, thicker through the chest and two inches taller. His scalp is scarred and red, so he covers it with a hat no matter what the weather is like. He sweats a lot. He put on a fresh suit just before they left tonight, but it is already wrinkled and wet beneath the arms. Born and raised in the U.S. to German parents, they’ve never been part of anything, even though they knew some people in the American-German Bund who wanted to recruit them simply because they’re big, tough-guys. They liked the idea of lording it over other people, but they were unreliable, showing up only when there wasn’t something more interesting to do and they liked victimizing people too much and caused more problems for the bund than they solved.

As they sit in the dark car, the man they were waiting for, Yoshiro Sato, walks into a fenced yard around a trucking company. He is working the graveyard shift, a phrase Dickie thinks is funny. They plan to go to his house and steal anything of value they can find while he works. They leave and drive to a close-by neighborhood and park at the end of the street. Most of the lights in the houses are dark and they wait for the last lights to go out. They wait a few minutes more, get out of the car and walk casually to the front door of a house. Dickie looks up and down the street while Handy jimmies the door and lets them in. Minutes after entering the house there is a woman’s voice. They did not know he was married since his wife never leaves the house. There is the sound of a fist hitting flesh and a muffled cry followed by sobbing followed by grunts then silence. Something breaks and a woman’s voice shouts out in Japanese. A man curses and a woman gasps. There are more words said in anger, then nothing. Later the men emerge, carrying a large case and walk back to their car. Dickie says, “I told you we should've waited until this weekend, then all of them will be out of their houses and it will be easy pickings.” “Shut up,” Handy says, “You liked her too.” They get in the car and drive away.

Dickie questions Handy about how they’re going to evade the police because of the woman. Handy tells him he was right, they needed to wait until the houses are empty – he thought there wouldn’t be enough left to steal, but it would simply be easier if they could depend on no one being around. Then he thinks about what these people would leave behind and wonders how much they’d pay to get some of it back. He says to Dickie, “How would you like to get paid by the Government to steal?”