Private Payne Books
Excerpts from RIDE THE EAST WIND
The splendor of Palmetto's summers is like a dream . . . rolling hills, lush valleys, and clear running streams jumping with fish. Fields of beautiful wild flowers border magnificent forests of gum and oak trees. Soaring high up in the sky- the scream of the red-tail hawk is heard as it circles under soft white clouds. The fragrance of honeysuckle vines fills the air during hot, humid nights. The call of the hoot owl echoes off in the distance. In the wild are delicious pecans, hickory nuts, chestnuts and persimmon trees, wild blackberries, large yellow plums, summer grapes, possum grapes and our southern Muscatine grapes. Throughout the countryside are fields of large, luscious watermelons basking in the early morning sun. Across the land for miles and miles are the cotton fields. Listen to the colored folk singing as they walk to the fields: Swing low, sweet chariot,coming for to carry me home . . .
In Palmetto, we Payne kids have a good friend; he is an old colored man- his name is Moses.
We love Moses; he sings to us and tells us exciting stories such as Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby. We don’t like that bad ol’ Brer Fox! He is evil- wantin’ to kill Brer Rabbit!
It is a warm sunny afternoon; we are sitting outside on cane chairs talking and laughing about the time Geri got a bath in the washtub, when we see Moses slowly walking down the road. We jump up and run up the road to greet Moses, wanting to be the first to hold his hand. As we walk along getting closer to our home, mama can hear us happily calling out, “Mama, mama, Moses is here!”
Cousin Elbert's Weddin'
I see they have moved the rocking chairs from the front porch and made room for the band- including guitars, fiddles and a washboard. A barefooted man wearing a store-bought straw hat- his pants held up by wide, well-worn brown suspenders- is tapping with sticks on a crosscut saw making a clanging rhythm. A large woman with a bright red bonnet smoking a corncob pipe who looks like she has sampled too much from the jugs of moonshine is slapping large spoons together on her knees and her hands. Some ol' man with a long beard is rubbing the washboard up and down sompin' fierce- the fiddles are ah whining away. Gnawing on my roastaneer, sitting on the edge of the porch, I am bug-eyed!
The music is fast and the fiddlers are high in pitch. Cousin Elbert, daddy and all them others are now ah dancing around in front of the band. The women are twirling around and ah clapping their hands; Cousin Elbert's coon dogs are sitting up and ah howling like mad. The men are stompin' their feet and jumpin' around like cats on a hot tin roof. They are keepin' time with the music; some ol' man is standing on the porch stompin' his foot sompin' wild as he is ah hollerin' out a song . . . about mountain dew.
Miss McKinley's Band
There is a lot going on in our little city of Tupelo, Mississippi; at least I think so- y’all know what I mean . . . everybody knows what’s happening in Tupelo; well, most everybody does. Aside from the usual chatter about the football team, there is a lot of talk about the coming school play. The whole town is buzzing with excitement, and the talk turns to the students of our school . . . Milam Junior High. People are telling one another about us puttin’ on a school play titled . . . “STRIKE UP THE BAND”
A Shy Boy Named Elvis
Miss Camp and Blue Moon over Kentucky
In our school, there is a shy boy named Elvis Presley. Geri and Elvis are in the same schoolroom. He likes my sister Geri, as a friend. I do not see a lot of Elvis, except now and then playing or walking with my sister Geri, as I am older than he is. In their sixth-grade school picture at Milam Junior High in Tupelo, Elvis is the only boy wearing overalls.
Geri said,“No one knew we were going to have our picture taken that day. It was not a picture taken by the school. Our teacher, Miss Camp, took our picture with her Brownie Camera.” Looking back on these times, those were fun days for Geri and Elvis. Geri’s memories are richly sprinkled with stories and remembrances of her playmate, a shy boy, Elvis Presley.
Miracle of the Ring and Cousin Bert
Cousin Bert is a ladies' man- he shore looks mighty handsome in his white ruffled shirt, pink bow tie and gray striped pants just touching his well-polished high top shoes. His pants are held up for all to see by wide purple suspenders. Sitting at a jaunty angle upon Cousin Bert's head is a little straw hat. The hat has a purple band that holds a toothpick. The purple hatband matches his purple suspenders with style. Cousin Bert is a sight to see! He sure knows how to get the attention of the ladies! I am mighty proud that cousin Bert, a real fine ladies' man, is my cousin!
Pull It! Pull It!
Paratroopers on the ground are yelling,"Pull it! Pull it!" Holding our breath, waiting for him to pull his reserve chute, we increase our tension-filled voices, calling loudly to him as a group . . . "Pull it! Pull it!"
As we look up, he is falling rapidly. At twelve hundred feet - there are only eight seconds to death. Running Horse, with his hands held high towards the sky, is chanting to the Great Spirit.
Purify my devotion with all- surrendering love unto thee."
August 1945- American army troops and marines are loaded on ships in Tokyo Bay waiting for the order to go ashore. They are spinning stories like fairytales of being the first American troops to enter Japan, but this is not so.One group of the many pretenders is the 4th Marines. They call themselves the "Magnificent Bastards" Now you heroic
4th Marines have a lot to be proud of, but you were not the first to arrive in Japan, so just be yourselves. No doubt, some clerk in the 4th Marines sitting out in the bay on a ship, writes home, "Mama, mama, we are the first troops to land in Japan! Joe says so!"
The staff calls her Mama Copa. The Americans know her as "The Dragon Lady." She is the Tokyo nightclub Queen! Nightly, she watches over the club, teaching her girls the tricks of the trade to sell more drinks and to make money. She is dressed in a long black silk Chinese cheongsam gown, greeting her customers with an enticing seductive smile. Over her right breast embroidered in white is the Imperial Dragon. As she gracefully walks from table to table, the long slit on her gown exposes her lovely leg from ankle to thigh, like new fallen snow, lending an aura of mystique. Sensually and provocative, she is well sought after.
There is a Difference
To get along in this army, it is important to know the proper way of saluting. The main concern of the officers, besides having the sergeants march us up and down, is the salute. One salute they don’t like is a private to slowly bring his right arm up and tilt his head to the right to meet the palm of his hand. They think this salute is a lazy private. You don’t want them to think of you like that.
Another way of saluting that they don’t like is the flip. The flip is when you swing your right hand far out with a wide left return, coming back to briefly touch your head and then flip your hand up into the air. The officers think this is arrogance. If you don’t want to call attention to yourself . . . you had better not do that!
The proper way to salute is slowly bring your right arm up- placing the side of your hand over your right eye and pause . . . before bringing your arm down. This makes the officer feel that he is recognized. Don’t go spreading your legs far apart- putting your hands on your hips, swinging your head from side to side, looking all around, as to do this will land you in the guard house. These positions are for officers only. As I say- if a private wants to get along in this army, he must learn these things.
Private Perkins is AWOL
Near the entrance of the hotel, over a small stream is a wooden water wheel, slowly creaking the years away. Streaks of fading sunlight shine through a small pine tree, casting shadows, telling me the lateness of the day. Perk is greeted by the innkeeper. He is so happy to see Perk . . . like a long lost friend. There is no doubt in my mind that Perk owes the Innkeeper some money. With a big smile, the innkeeper proudly displays his two gold teeth. I think to myself, “Oh my goodness gracious! He carries his wealth in his mouth!” Perk anxiously speaks up, “Pay Mister Takamura for three nights, six large bottles of Kamikaze sake and several bowls of fish head noodle soup and then . . . let’s get the hell out of here! We’ve got to get to the Whoopee Club. Those pretty gals are ah waitin’!”
“Wait a minute, Perk, what about this loaded carbine? I can’t run around the Ginza with a loaded carbine in my hands.”
“Give it to Takamura-san.”
“What? Give my rifle to a Jap! Are you sure he knows the war is over?”
“Give it to him; it’s ok. What do you think he’s gonna do with it, start another war? C’mon, give it to him! Let’s go, the girls are waitin’!”
I turn to Takamura-san, “You take good care of my gun, you hear? Now, don’t you go ah shootin’ nobody! Let’s go Perk- we is ah wasting time! Whoopee Club, here we come!
Those Privates Should be Ashamed of Themselves
“Horace . . . do you hear what I am saying? Listen to me, Colonel Herpeck; how dare they let those GIs purchase lingerie in our PX! They are buying up our ladies’ silk underwear for those Japanese girls faster than the PX manager can replace them! What in the world is that PX manager thinking of? Can’t you stop those GIs from buying up our silk underwear? Horace, ask the General to make a regulation!”
“Honey, we can’t do that. Those GI’s are in the military and that is what the PX is for, unless the GIs are trading that underwear for something. If the girls are trading something for silk panties, then that’s black market! I will do some personal investigating . . . to learn what those girls are doing and how they are doing it.”
Mrs. Herpeck blinks twice, is open-mouthed, raising her eyebrows listening to what her husband is saying.
The Sacred Shrine of the Fox
High up on the mountainside comes the spine chilling call of the fox to announce a human has entered into the sacred mysterious spirit world of the fox. "But I will lead you through the portals of eternity, to wander in the great wilds of infinity." Chang Tzu
Two large stone foxes on either side of the short stone walkway guard the entrance to the shrine. The pine boards are old and withered. The slanting roof shingled with gray slate, lends itself to the reverence and serene tranquility of the moment . . . It looks as if it has been there
since ancient times. Could this be the Sacred Shrine of the Fox?
Sequel: THE WILD WILD EAST, sample chapters:
The shadows of the night are fading away with faint streaks of light appearing in the sky. I open the window for some fresh air. Off in the distance- I hear the crow of the cock.
This early morning, my plans are to visit the Post Exchange Headquarters Complex in Cholon, located in the outskirts of Saigon's Chinese section I am concerned about Cholon. There are good reasons to be concerned about Cholon.
I exit the hotel elevator and walk into the lobby. Quietly, standing tall, waiting for me is a neatly dressed Caucasian- well-tailored, wearing a thin white silk summer suit, and complementary white suede shoes . . . appropriate for Viet Nam's hot humid heat. In East Asia, the mark of success is an 18-carat gold Rolex watch, a gold Cross-pen and no doubt, in his pocket is a gold Dunhill lighter.
He has a stone-fixed face with the hardness of granite. I can see . . . and I can sense . . . a feeling of the coldness of his stiletto. His deep penetrating steel blue eyes . . . can freeze the balls off an Eskimo.
There is no doubt in his mind as to who I am. He looks straight into the depths of my eyes. I can feel the icy chill in his voice as he says, "You are Ray Payne!"
Watchfully, I reply, "I am Ray Payne!"
He reaches into his coat pocket. Immediately, I think of the cold stiletto. His hand comes out with a square envelope sealed with a wax impression of a cobra. After a moment of hesitation, I slowly extend my hand and accept the envelope.
"Mister William Crum is inviting you to Chateau Le Saigon for cocktails and dinner. Mister Crum's villa is in Ton Duc Thang on the Saigon River. This invitation has the address. You are on his select list to attend. The invitation is for six p.m. this evening. He will be expecting you!"
With no name . . . with no adieu- as if no one . . . refuses an invitation from Mister Crum, he turns and walks away.
My eyebrows raise in curiosity as I ponder the conversation. Watching the stranger as he leaves the hotel, I am mystified as I slip the invitation into my pocket. I look up as he enters a chauffeur-driven black Mercedes. The car slowly maneuvers its way into the heavy traffic of Tu Do Street and is soon lost to sight. Concerned . . . I feel it in my bones . . . the stranger and I will meet again!"
Do not be concerned about what you know!
Be concerned about what you do not know!
CHATEAU Le SAIGON
Entering Cholon, the streets are thick with crowded moving traffic; cars, trucks, taxis and smoke- popping mopeds, zigzagging in and out of the lines of vehicles. The traffic slows to let a Chinese funeral procession pass, led by a marching band playing Asian melodies. The hired mourners are making a tearful show as the procession winds its way through the streets of Cholon. Young girls dressed in colorful matching uniforms looking like high school cheerleaders are marching along carrying large silk banners. I tell the taxi driver to keepmoving! Breathing a sigh of relief as we exit Cholon, I return to the hotel early enough to relax over a cup of coffee- running through my mind is the invitation. Why me? I can sense . . . a feeling . . . of danger in the air. It is an unspoken mysterious foreboding of days to come. I decide to retire to my room and sleep on it.
If you don’t enter the tigers den, how will you get the tiger’s cub?
It is evening, with a hint of darkened shadows gaining positions along the street. Down a wide tree- lined boulevard, my taxi pulls up to the gates of a large white colonial villa on the banks of the Saigon River. The narrow driveway leads up to a large wrought- iron gate. Above the gate- CHATEAU Le SAIGON is plain to see. The gate is closed; two guards ask to see my invitation. Upon seeing the seal of the cobra they slowly open the gate to let me enter; they send the taxi away with a hand gesture. One of the guards escorts me down a long winding driveway that leads to the front of the villa. Through the portals, I am escorted to a garden with a large swimming pool, surrounded by tables of two dozen or more men and a bevy of beautiful Vietnamese girls.
My escort leads me to the table of Bill Crum. Standing up, leaning on his cane, Mr. Crum hobbles to greet me,
“Ray, welcome to Viet Nam! Come, let me introduce you to some of my friends from the press, correspondents covering the Viet Nam War. No doubt, they will enjoy hearing about your stories in Okinawa and your plans to . . . soon return home! I will join you later, as I have more guests arriving.”
I am soon to find out that the guests are other members of the Syndicate and the top managers of the Army Club Complexes. A few of them I recognize from my visit to Long Bhin. They acknowledge me with a nod and turn to their conversations.
Surprisingly, I notice that some of the top PX people are also present, lounging around the pool, enjoying their cocktails as if they were at home. Everyone seems to know everyone. No doubt, they get together often. Mister Dippwell sees me, turns his head and looks off into the distance. From others, I receive sideways glances of curiosity, as an outsider . . . they seem to question in their mind. . . why is he here? I am actually thinking to myself, the same thought!
One of the correspondents points out,“Over there in that corner is General Mole. Brigadier General Mole is over all non-appropriated funds for the Army in Viet Nam, which also includes the Consolidated Army Open Mess Club System. Standing next to the general is Colonel Shaker, head of the Army Post Exchange in Saigon.”
I nod my head . . . that one statement tells me everything - Bill Crum has it all covered . . . I am impressed. I take a drink from a waiter with a silver tray full of glasses and listen to several of the correspondents spin their stories. As the evening winds down, the guests begin to depart, the crowd thins out as Bill Crum makes the rounds to say goodnight. He slowly walks towards my table and says,.
“Ray, most of my guests have left. Come over to my table. Let’s have a little private conversation about your visit to Viet Nam.” As we sit down, Bill flips the ashes from his cigar, takes a sip of his cognac and says, “Ray, I hope you are enjoying your vacation. I assume that’s why you are in Saigon.”
He knows and I know . . . vacation is not . . . why I am in Viet Nam.
“No vacation, Bill, I have hopes of doing business in Viet Nam with Army Military Clubs and other Army non-appropriated fund activities, also the Post Exchange Headquarters people.”
He squints out of his one good eye, pauses and slowly takes a long sip of cognac . . . as if in serious thought. He turns his head to me and says,
“Well, unfortunately, Ray, a system for doing business with the Army and the Post Exchange System has already been taken care of. It is well set up and I can assure you that it is well- organized. There is no place for others; in fact, intrusion will not be tolerated. Now, listen to me carefully, for your own good!” He slowly sips his cognac and takes a puff of his cigar. He leans in towards me and in a lowered tone informs me,
“Everything goes through our supply and service channel, working closely with the administration that manages Army Consolidated Non-Appropriated Funds. This system has been pre-arranged. It is in good hands . . . it is not possible for you to enter this market.” Studying my face for a clue to my reaction, he takes another sip of cognac and continues his informative talk..
“Our supplies of products and services have been well- established in Viet Nam. This is something that I am sure that you can be well aware of . . . and understand. It is just like the business arrangements that you have in Okinawa, a market that I was unable to penetrate, as you know.
To make it understandable, I say this to you!
“Army Non- Appropriated Funds and Post Exchanges in Viet Nam are off limits to you, also to others that are not in our syndicated supply channel.” He takes another sip from his cognac, leans over and quietly says . . .
“For your good health, heed my advice. Life is cheap in Viet Nam. Once a contract has been put out with the Cholon deserters . . . your life is not worth a plug nickel. As U.S. military deserters, their lives are over; they will do anything for money! Be happy! Stay healthy! he says as a dismissal. Then warns . . . stay out of the Syndicate’s territory!” He grinds his cigar demolishing it in the glass tray.
“Thank you, Bill; I am listening to what you have to say. Your message is well- conveyed. I give you my word . . . I will not be calling on Army Non-Appropriated Activities, nor the Post Exchanges.”
My Cathay Pacific flight lifts up from Tan Son Nhat Airport, slowly banks, climbing higher and higher, heading north over the South China Sea. I am going home to Okinawa. In my mind, regardless of Bill Crum and the Cholon deserters, I will return to Viet Nam, as there is money in Viet Nam. One of the stewardesses hands me a Time magazine and says, "Sir, it is a beautiful morning; would you like a Bloody Mary?"
"Yes, a Bloody Mary will be just fine, thank you."
As I relax in my first class seat and sip my drink, my mind begins to wander. I think of the welfare of my family in Okinawa and the careful choices that I must make . . . the risks I must take . . . if I choose to enter the Viet Nam market.
My mind is made up- I will cross the Rubicon- Alea iacta est!
MOUNTAIN POTATO JUNIOR HIGH
Yama Imo Chugakko
Surrounded by high mountains, nestled among the foothills of Mount Imo in Japan’s Nagano Prefecture lies the little village of Yama Imo, home of Mountain Potato Junior High. Unknown to most of the world, since ancient times, Mount Imo is also the home of Japan’s intelligent Macaques Monkeys. Looking down from the tree line of Mount Imo, the Macaques Monkey Primates are fascinated beyond curiosity by the game of soccer as played by the Homo sapiens boys of Mountain Potato Junior High.
“Hello! My name is Amanjalar. I play midfielder for the newly integrated Mountain Potato Junior High soccer team. I am also team captain. I call out our secret-coded plays for winning games. We are known as, the MPJH GORILLAS.
Montan, my best friend, is our forward striker. Montan can turn the perfect hat trick into a neat golden score. Montan and his super-fast dribbling teammate Manak are lightening on the field.
My girlfriend Lanan is the head cheerleader of our integrated team, and no opposing team had better mess with her. Lanan gets angry! Lanan and her cheerleaders, with our bamboo drum and bugle corps, will take to the field jumping and cheering. "Let's do the Go Go!"
Lin Lin is Montan's girlfriend. She is a little on the shy side, but most romantic. Lin Lin lovingly takes care of Montan. She brushes Montan's hair and picks his fleas. Lin Lin's special perfume PBB, with the fragrance of Peanut Butter Banana, just drives Montan ape.
We are all residents of Yama Imo (Mountain Potato.)
Yes, we are Japanese Primates, as you can see by our names.
Names passed down to us through the years . . . by the ancient ones.
The last thing we want you to call us . . . is monkey!
Momoko, whom you will meet in our story, is a Japanese Homo sapiens. We love Momoko. Momoko is like a grandmother to us primates; well . . . Momoko could have been . . . a long long time ago.
It was Momoko's exciting adventure that made it possible for our newly integrated Mountain Potato Junior High to become the National Junior High Soccer Champions of Japan.
We are destined to play the New York Sour Apples, move to battle the London Red Coats and then on to South Africa where we will take on the world-renowned Johannesburg Hyenas for The World Cup- the most challenging soccer game of our lives!
Now, let us tell you our story; you will learn how our integrated Junior High School of Homo sapiens and Primates revolutionizes the game of soccer”.
The bonding of humans and animals are some of the world's most beloved stories.
Readers of Mountain Potato Junior High will find a story packed with excitement, humor, romance and intrigue.
Playing together as a closely integrated soccer team, their combined game tactics are a brilliant and mystifying force
revolutionizing the world's most popular sport.
The whole world loves soccer.
The game of soccer will never be the same again!
* MOUNTAIN POTATO JUNIOR HIGH
is available in English and Japanese
for publication and/or animation.