Summary: Chapter 11
Doc Hata has spent the day with his grandson. He took Tommy on a shopping spree, and though Sunny was a bit annoyed by how many toys Doc Hata bought him, she also clearly appreciated her son’s good mood. When he dropped Tommy off at the mall, Doc Hata felt caught off guard by the emotions that swept through him when he shook his grandson’s hand goodbye. He strained to keep a straight face as he left, and once he was out of the store, he wondered if he was too late to play a significant role in either Tommy’s or Sunny’s life. Yet he also felt like a young man again, experiencing a mixture of possibility and vulnerability that he had always dreaded.
In the parking lot, he watched as the same Middle Eastern-looking group who had opened the Halloween store the previous week now packed up their wares. He noticed a teenaged boy and girl inside the shop. While the girl diligently folded various pieces of cloth, the boy messed around and interrupted her work. She wrapped a cloth over her head like a veil, and the boy looked confused. Doc Hata thought he understood the meaning of her act: she repelled the boy’s insults by disappearing.
The girl’s cloth reminded Doc Hata of a similar textile that had belonged to Kkutaeh. His mind returned to the time just after Corporal Endo’s execution. Captain Ono placed K in Doc Hata’s care, fearing that she might be suicidal after her sister’s murder. Ono instructed Doc Hata to keep K safely detained in the infirmary until he requested her presence. Ono said he’d place a black flag on the infirmary door to let Doc Hata know when he wanted to see K. Doc Hata recognized that Ono’s choice of signal referenced his adopted surname, Kurohata, which means “black flag.”
On his morning walk, Doc Hata recalled how he’d felt uneasy the previous night seeing all the men line up, waiting for their turn with one of the girls. After the first full evening in the comfort house, one girl was swollen, bleeding, and could barely walk. Though he wanted to keep her in the infirmary for a few days, he had to give her only the minimal treatment required to ensure she could return to the house as soon as possible.
Continuing to walk around camp, Doc Hata considered how the present moment takes on a “superreality,” and he imagined time coming to a stop so that all things “might remain just so, unto themselves, as it were, peaceable and unmolested.” These thoughts kept Doc Hata from thinking about Endo, but he still worried about failing his community as Endo had done.
Doc Hata encountered Captain Ono, who appeared angry and was dragging K along behind him. He explained that Colonel Ishii had sent K away because she was menstruating. After chastising Doc Hata for not catching the issue, Ono left K in his care.