“After all, tomorrow is another day,” Saigo’s father said as they stood at a street corner, waiting for the traffic light to change.
“Do not let go of my hand as we cross the street,” his father reminded him as the light turned green.
“Yes father,” Saigo replied, “but why are you so fond of that quote from Went With The Breeze?”
His father chuckled. “I find it suits times in life where we must wait for things.”
“Like how it is April and I still have not seen an American plane?”
His father nodded.
Saigo sighed. He loved airplanes. By now he had seen many of the planes that belonged to the Empire of Japan. He yearned to place a checkmark next to the American planes displayed in his identification cards, however, especially the bombers that bore designations such as B-17, or B-24. Saigo wanted to see just one, even if was falling from the sky in flames.
“What if no American planes ever come?”
Saigo’s father smiled. “Then that means Suzuki and his friends have shot them all down.”
“Suzuki is lucky. He can see American planes, and shoot them down, too.”
“Your cousin and his friends are heroes of Japan. They will make sure no American plane ever approaches Tokyo. Now, speaking of planes, remember that model of the Type 00 I told you I saw in the window of Yoko’s toy store?”
Saigo’s eyes brightened. “Yes.”
“Well, that is where we are going today. I see no reason you should get your birthday present early, eh?”
Saigo giggled, his eyes glowing with anticipation. A Type 00! Saigo had long wanted to get his hands on a model of the type of fighter plane Suzuki flew.
They drew closer to Yoko’s shop. Saigo strained his eyes to get a glimpse of his present.
The sound of airplane engines made Saigo stop. “Wait!” Saigo cried. “I want to see what plane it is.”
His father chuckled. “All right.”
The plane drew nearer. Saigo’s brow furrowed. Strange, he thought, this plane sounds like it has twin engines, but I have never heard this type before.
There was a loud explosion. Then Saigo heard what sounded like hundreds of firecrackers. The sounds were distant at first, then drew closer, as if they were following the plane.
A businessman stopped to join Saigo and his father. “Did the news mention any drills today?” he asked. Saigo’s father shook his head.
Saigo’s eyes widened as the plane came into view.
It was a twin-engine, twin-tailed land plane painted olive drab green with a grey underbelly. It was flying so low, it practically hugged the rooftops.
An anti-aircraft shell burst in front of it.
“They are using live ammunition,” the businessman noted.
“Live ammunition?” Saigo’s father replied, shouting to be heard above the din. “Those gunners must be mad, shooting at one of our planes.”
The plane roared overheard. Saigo got a glimpse of multicolored stars painted on the fuselage and the underside of the wings. He caught a glimpse of English words spelled out in black block lettering on the wings as well: “U.S. Army.”
Saigo’s eyes widened.
“That was a B-25!”
“What?!” his father shouted back.
“If I were you, I’d get to the shelter!” the businessman cried, racing off down the street, “Did you not see those stars?”
“Yes,” Saigo added, “that plane had stars on its wings, not suns.”
His father blanched. Then he snatched Saigo up and began to follow the businessman towards the nearby air raid shelter.
“Father?” Saigo asked as they entered.
“Will Suzuki and his friends be coming to protect Tokyo?”
His father put him down, looked his son in the eye.
Saigo’s eyes widened. “Why?” He had assumed Suzuki and the other pilots on his aircraft carrier were invincible, and could do anything.
His father knelt before him. “These Americans somehow eluded Suzuki and his friends. It is up to Japan’s other heroes to defend Tokyo today.”
(Story copyright © 2015 by Tony Held, all rights reserved.)