The Return of the Emperor

by Mark Wynn

The pacific NW is a natural paradise. It draws people who have an appreciation for a slower more natural pace of life. This is what Dennis thought would add something to his life that he felt was missing.

He had married his high school sweetheart Susan after graduation before moving to New Orleans. While in New Orleans he found work as a set dresser building movie sets for the bustling film industry there. After many years he had grown a little tired of life in "The Big Easy" .

One day he had received news that his grandfather had passed away and left him a significant amount of money and other things including a house. The house was in his hometown and with no desire to live there, he sold it and took the money and some of the artifacts his grandfather had collected and moved to Hoquiam WA.

The neighborhood was tiny but interesting. It appeared shortly after their arrival that a Chinese gang lived acrossed the street. This became obvious when indeed the federal authorities raided the house one morning removing a large number of girls and weapons. Despite this the neighborhood was superior in every way to New Orleans. It was quiet and very close to the shore where Dennis would walk his dogs every morning.

They took time decorating the house. They had brought many things with them from New Orleans and also some of his grandfather's things they could pack in the car. His Grandfather was old and had a long history that included serving in WWII. He had fought in both the Pacific and European theaters of conflict. He had taken souvenirs in both wars.

Dennis was sure to take an old Luger pistol that his grandfather had taken from a Nazi officer that he had killed in hand to hand combat. His grandfather had also taken a Japanese rifle and a samurai sword from the island battle for Iwo Jima. His grandfather remembered often the moment his comrades raised the flag on the island and the iconic photo taken. Susan wasn't exactly a history buff and didn't think they fit in with the living room but she let Dennis think he was in charge. They were all prominently displayed around the mantle.

After about a month of living there Susan noticed Dennis was having trouble sleeping. She would wake up and find him gone from bed. She didn't think much of it at first but started noticing Dennis appeared more and more tired everyday. Some days he would refuse to walk the dogs and would be quite short tempered with them. Susan became very concerned with the nightly absences from bed.

Finally one night she rolled over to find an empty bed beside her and she got up and went looking for Dennis. She found him in the living room standing quietly and she spoke to him. He did not respond but when she took him by the hand he quietly turned and followed her back to bed.

In the morning Susan asked if he thought he would benefit from sleeping pills and Dennis answered with complete surprise asking why she thought he would need pills to help him sleep. She tried to remind him of last night, how she helped him back to bed but he had no recollection. Puzzled they both accepted that Dennis had developed a sleep walking habit. Susan promised to keep an eye on him.

The following night she arose to look for Dennis and again found him standing in the living room in front of the mantle. This time when she gently took his hand Dennis let out a shocking vocalization half way between a scream and a sneeze she thought. She took hold of his hand again and he again let out a guttural exclamation. She finally got Dennis to return to bed but she herself had trouble falling asleep.

The sleep walking continued for a few more weeks until one night Susan found Dennis in the living room holding the samurai sword. This frightened Susan and she shouted Dennis's name. Dennis turned on her and ran straight at her swinging the sword violently in a crescent through the air. As he did this he again let out that strange sound. She shrieked hysterically and Dennis woke up clutching the sword.

She did not tell him until morning what she had seen the night before and again Dennis seemed completely unaware of it. She demanded Dennis get rid of that sword. Dennis resisted but he could see there was no option. So he agreed to take it to the pawn shop.

When Dennis returned from the pawn shop he was very excited. He said the owner was very knowledgeable about WWII memorabilia and was very excited by the sword. The owner said he did not doubt the provenance of the sword being removed from the field of battle because of the intact Imperial Chrysanthemum seal on the tang of the sword. The shop owner explained to Dennis that after the surrender of Japan, MacArthur allowed the soldiers to remove this from all their weapons. The weapons that still had this were taken from the field. He explained this seal represented the spiritual embodiment of the Emperor Hirohito.

Susan immediately walked to the mantle and took down the Japanese rifle and searched it for this Chrysanthemum seal. It was clearly visible on the rifle and she turned back to Dennis and demanded that he get that gun out of the house.

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