Shadows of Hiroshima – Prologue

Author’s note: This is a new project. It will be a continuing story, updated periodically. I won’t be updating on a set schedule but I’m going to shoot for at least once a week. At this point I have no idea how long the series will run.

This work is completely fiction. Any similarity with actual individuals or events is coincidental. All electrons used in the creation of this story are free range, organic, non-gmo, and cruelty free. Enjoy…..

My grandfather was in the air over Hiroshima on August 6th 1945. It wasn’t something he really discussed with the family, until he was on his death bed. Even then, it was only to tell us where to find the journal he recorded his perspective in. He was not, however, aboard the infamous Enola Gay. Rather, he was aboard the somewhat ironically named Necessary Evil.

Most people who don’t take a deep interest in military history forget that the atomic bombing of Japan involved more aircraft that just the bombers themselves. They were accompanied by reconnaissance craft, planes equipped with scientific monitoring gear, and cameras. Necessary Evil was the camera plane for Hiroshima. In the interest of privacy, I will not divulge my grandfather’s name or anything else that may reveal either of our identities.

His participation in that day haunted him for the rest of his life. He didn’t discuss it often. He certainly didn’t bemoan the stresses he endured afterwards. But there were certain tells. He refused to fly, for example. At least if he could avoid it. From the moment he set foot back on U.S. soil, if he had to travel, it was via car. If he couldn’t get there via ground based transportation, he would have to be either very intoxicated or sedated or both before he got on the plane. I remember going on vacation to the Adirondack mountains as a family and we spent more time in the car than we did at the cabin we’d rented. Every August 6Th, he’d get shit-faced drunk and very angry. He was a good man, but a very haunted one.

As I already mentioned, on his deathbed he told us about some journals and where they was hidden. More accurately, he told ME about it. When nobody else was around. He and I had always been close. I wasn’t the oldest of the grandkids. I wasn’t the first male grandkid. I don’t know what set me apart from my brother and cousins. Given all that, I wasn’t really surprised when he told me there was something I should see but it was only for my eyes. He begged me to keep it quiet until after his funeral. Once that was done with, I could share it with the rest of the family, or the rest of the world. And it was totally at my discretion. I just had to wait until he was gone.

After the memorial service (he was cremated), I found an excuse to sneak down into his underused workshop. I asked all my aunts and uncles and cousins. Nobody remembers him ever going in there to work on anything. Grandma said he replaced a few lamp cords, but that was all she remembered. I distinctly recall us grandkids NOT being allowed in without supervision. Since the pretext of my entrance into this inner sanctum was to inventory grandpa’s tools, I felt obligated to take a look around. The thing that stuck out the most was the condition of the tools. Everything was hung neatly on a pegboard with outlines in faded magic marker to remind where each tool should go when a project was complete. Except most of the tools looked as though they had never been removed from their hooks since being removed from whatever packaging they came in. Nor had grandpa been very studious about dusting them. Which is how I knew they’d been in the same spot for a very long time. By contrast, the bench was immaculate. Like someone had spent hours sitting on the high stool that sat in front of it as though someone had just gotten up and walked out.

Hidden right where Grandpa had told me they would be, I found the leather bound journals. I also found a note, addressed to me. It was a brief overview of what I was about to read, and a very special request that I will get to later. There was also a note for my grandmother, explaining that he had left the books specifically for me and not to give me any trouble about taking them.
As much as some historically minded folks would probably love for me to release the journals as is, I simply can’t if I want to protect my privacy and that of my family. It would be a very arduous task to sanitize all personal reference from the entries and would render most of them unreadable.

Like so many men who enlisted back then, my grandfather had a sweetheart waiting for him at home. But she wasn’t my grandmother. According to the journal, he never even told my grandmother about the sweetheart. You see, the young lady was the daughter of a Japanese immigrant. Not long after my grandfather enlisted, the girls father decided it might be a good idea to return home until after the war. Tensions were high and the internments were starting on the west coast. The decision was made on such short order that she didn’t even have time to send gramps a “Dear John” letter. And since he was attached to the 509th Composite Group, he was out of communication for much of his time abroad. So as far as he knew, she was still waiting for him back home. Once the war was over, they could marry and go on with their lives.

I feel like I don’t even need to type the next part. A jaded reader will see it coming a mile away. Or at least a paragraph. When the man took his family back to his country of origin, they went back to his home town. Hiroshima. On the morning of August 6th 1945, my grandfather watched an atomic bomb kill the woman he loved, although he didn’t know it at the time. He didn’t find out for several months. When he returned home after the war, he found a note that she had left with his family explaining that they would be together again as soon as it was safe for her to come back.

 

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