WATCHING SATO QUESTION THE STAFF, both Lance Corporal Ty Johnson and Private Henry Ballard had the feeling they would be spending the night in a Tokyo jail.
Johnson tried not to worry. He knew he had done nothing wrong. He did not know exactly what was going on, but the waiting was getting to him. Still, it was easy for him to tell that the cop that spoke such good English was a man you did not mess around with. Johnson decided to just be cool and ride out whatever this situation was.
Ballard was another story. He knew any brush with the law, especially in a foreign country, was no good for a black man. And when that waitress came in screaming, stopping the show, he knew he should have left right then. Any hope he had for a weekend away from the ship and from being a Marine was all gone. Here were the cops, and one of them talked American. “Typical Ballard bad luck,” he muttered over and over.
Johnson did not know Ballard well enough to know for certain if Ballard could keep his mouth shut and stay out of trouble. Not knowing gnawed at him.
While Sato talked to the staff, Ballard muttered, “I should have known, I should have known. Go out on the town, wind up with the police. Happens every time.”
“Shut up!” Johnson hissed. “Shut up and be cool. We didn’t do anything. We don’t know anything. The sooner we’re out of here, the better off we’ll be.”
“We shoulda left when that girl came screamin’ in here.”
“And what about Charlie?”
“Charlie was already gone, man. You know that.”
Johnson shook his head. “We didn’t do anything. We’ll be all right.”
“How many times you been arrested?”
The two Marines watched Sato walk over to their side of the room, grab a tiny black chair, and sit himself directly across from where they were sitting. Abe and Endo kept their distance, milling about by the bar. The police sergeant did not move.
Sato flipped to a page in his notebook, clicked his pen, and said, “My name is Sato. I’m with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police. Thank you for your cooperation. I have a couple of questions for you. Do I have your names right? Johnson and Ballard?”
Sato heard two suspicious “Yes sirs.”
“Was there another man with you tonight?”
Ballard began to say “No!” but Johnson cut him off.
“Yes sir, there was one man, Charlie Jones. Lance Corporal Jones. Another Marine. We’re all Marines.”
“Ah.” Sato scribbled in his notebook. “Embassy?”
Surprised, Johnson finally said, “No. Yokosuka.”
“Ah. The navy base.”
Johnson and Ballard exchanged worried glances. They wondered how some Japanese cop knew about the American navy base down south of the city, and that Marines were stationed there as well as at the American Embassy. They realized this was no ordinary cop.
But then, the entire evening had been one big surprise for the two young men, visiting a foreign capital for the first time. It was all overwhelming – taking the train up from Yokosuka, the immensity of Shinagawa station, riding on the Tokyo subway and praying Charlie knew where he was going, finding out the Sanno was a nice hotel, then coming to the club and hearing music being better than Charlie described.
For Johnson and Ballard, it had all been a great adventure until that waitress came in screaming, the other waitresses began running around crying, the manager began offering free drinks to calm the crowd, the band began packing up, and then the cops arrived and began sealing off the place. The worry on the Marines’ faces told Sato the men probably did not know anything about Kimi Yamada’s death, but their missing friend was another matter.
“Here for the night?” Sato asked calmly, looking directly at Johnson, then Ballard.
“We’re staying at the Sanno, sir,” Johnson replied, nervous and faking what little confidence he possessed.
“Ah,” Sato murmured. The American servicemen’s hotel. Of course. It was close by.
“Is that where your friend is? The Sanno?”
Ballard did not like how innocently the question came out. Johnson could tell Ballard was about ready to say something stupid, so he kicked Ballard’s foot. Ballard reached down to rub the aching spot and shot Johnson a dirty look but kept his mouth shut.
Sato ignored it all.
“A phone call is all it takes to find out if he’s there,” he said.
Ballard’s frustration overcame him. “OK! We don’t know nothin’! What’s this all about?”
“Someone was badly hurt earlier this evening,” Sato said in a quiet, even voice. “We want to talk to everyone who was here.”
Ballard noticed Sato emphasized “badly hurt,” and knew cops did not ask lots of questions when someone gets hurt unless hurt meant dead. And the waitress running in, screaming, all upset, was not any ordinary “badly hurt,” not with the cops showing up as fast as they did.
Ballard stared at Sato’s calm, patient, expressionless face. “I got nothin’ more to say!”
“Ballard!” Johnson exclaimed, but Ballard’s fierce look silenced him.
“It’s all right,” Sato said, studying the two men. “My questions are all in the line of duty. You don’t have to say anything. But this is a criminal investigation, and I can hold both of you for 72 hours. I have room at my police station for guests. Nice way to spend the weekend, no?”
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